Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Saw and How I Pretended It Was All True

I think most authors--above all else--look forward to seeing their book on the shelf at a bookstore. That is the ultimate proof of your dream coming to fruition!

But sometimes we cheat.:)

When I got my ARCs, Harper also sent me jacket proofs. This is basically the cover without a book. :D It comes in a big long strip of shiny paper that most authors (me included) immediately fold around another book about the same size and then pretend it really is their hardback book.

Well, I've never been one to be satisfied doing what everyone else is doing, so I had to take it one step farther.

I went to Barnes and Noble and put my fake book (it was actually Claudia Gray's Evernight inside, in case you were wondering) on the shelf. Look how pretty it was.:)




Awww, isn't that awesome. This is Wings on the new release shelf. . . and yes, yes, it IS right next to Hunger Games.;)

And this may sound odd, but I honestly had never, until that moment, thought about where it would go alphabetically. So I ran my fingers down the P's and . . . yes, there it is, right beside Christopher Paolini. *headthunk*



Nonetheless, I think it looks pretty there too.:)

And that brings us to the other part of the title of this blog--the giveaway portion!! This year's National Book Award winner is a book called What I Did and How I Lied I can't really say much about this book as I picked up my copy at the same time as I picked up the giveaway one, but the NBA people tend to pick good one and the cover is totally swoon-worthy. Check it out!



Here's the description courtesy of Powell's.:) "When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe's company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.

As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed to be a truth was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between her loyalty to her parents and her feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is . . . who?"

So the process of winning it is pretty simple. Post a fun holiday memory! You have till Midnight (MST) on Christmas Eve to enter!

I may or may not be blogging much during the winter break. I will be having TONS of family over right after Christmas and have a bunch of things on my plate, but even if you don't hear from me till then, I will be back with a fury in the New Year!! (Probably with a nostalgia-filled quote about 2009 being THE year.;))

So to all of you, have a good end of the year and holiday season!!!

Ciao!

Friday, December 12, 2008

At Long Last!

Here it is!!! (You will get a MUCH bigger picture if you click on it.:))



And it's been quite a trip to get here! We've actually scrapped two covers before this one and, luckily, this is the one I like the best. One of the things that I really love about it is that it has meaning. I.e., you will get to about page seventy and go, "Oooh! I get it!" Although the other covers were beautiful, they didn't have the same meaning that this one does.

So I hope it's not anti-climactic after this long, but here it is!!

Ciao!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick . . .

Check it! I am officially listed at harpercollins.com!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!!

Also, I have a very cool little ticker!

There's no cover art on it and *ahem* to be honest, even the links on it don't work . . . but hey! It is a ticker and it is all mine!!! Yay!!!!






Hmmmmm, and it appears it is such an early ticker that I can't even import it, so you'll have to go to the site I linked to and see it (or, yanno, see what it isn't yet) there.

145 days!! Whoo-hoo!!!!

Ciao!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

All Grown Up

So YouTube is totally not helping me today, but I love this part in the movie Mulan (well, I love the whole movie, but this one part is relevant today ;)) where Mulan is running out of the tent because she's late and Mushu calls, "Wait! Wait! You forgot your sword." *sigh* "My little baby, off to destroy people."

That's how I'm feeling.

My ARCs are out. (And yes, I will be having an ARC contest here. Just as soon as--yanno--I get permission to actually show a picture of the ARC.:D) Up until now, the only people (other than agent, editor, etc.) who have read WINGS who are not family are . . . well, close family friends who are basically family. That's pretty much it. I've kept this one pretty close to my chest (and book two is even closer!) So now, all of the sudden, people I don't know are reading it. People who I know but aren't close to are reading it. Complete strangers who I am never going to know, are reading my book!

It's a little terrifying.

I have never been the clingy parent. When my daughter started first grade (she didn't go to kindergarten) I sent her off to her first long day of school (minutes before leaving to catch a plane, actually) with full confidence that she was a brave, bold, strong girl who could take school by storm! And having watched her knock a boy two years older than her down for killing her caterpillars, I knew there was an aggressive side to her that would come out if she got in some kind of extreme situation.:) I was very confident in my baby's ability to conquer the challenge of school!

I'm not quite so confident in my book-baby. Not because I don't think it's the best book I've ever written (thus far!) because I SO do! But reading books is so subjective. There are people who will love it, there are people who will hate it. There's nothing I can do about that. I haven't had any haters yet, but I will. Everyone does. And I just have to deal with it.

Luckily, I get to put that particular challenge off for one more day.:) I recieved my first official review this week from a staff member at Borders! You can find it here. (You'll have to click on the little "Customer Reviews" tab.) And here's the text:

"Stephenie Meyer is nuts about this book, and it's easy to see why. Like the Twilight Saga, Wings mixes mythology with high school in a pleasing blend of romance and action. Aprilynne Pike uses botany and homeopathy to create a fresh twist on the tired idea of faeries, with northern California as her backdrop. If only the Cullens made a guest appearance. ;)"

And she gave it four stars. At first I was a little dissappointed to not get five stars (we all dream big, right??) but my friend Carrie pointed out to me that her book only got four stars as well. And if my book can be rated as high as the fantastic awesomeness of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, then I'm not doing half bad. I'll take that as a major compliment!:)

Oh, and my brother's best friend gave WINGS my first non-family male thumbs up as well. And that is a hard audience to catch with a teen romantic-fantasy.:D

Yay WINGS!!:)

Ciao!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Week . . . and a Half . . .

Wow, I totally suck. Actually, I have a good reason . . . several in fact, but still, I feel like I should be giving confession or something. Forgive me blog readers, for I have sinned. It has been eleven days since my last blog.

However, I do have some good reasons. Three days after my last blog, my brother got married! To a really, really wonderful woman. I am so excited; in the last three months I have gained two awesome sibling-in-laws! And gone from being the only married child in my family, to being in the majority. (Married people rule! Hi-yah!)

Then it was my seventh anniversary and my husband was taking me to dinner somewhere that was a surprise.

Well.

Dinner turned out to be a fabulous getaway at a fun little bed and breakfast where we had the most opulent suite ever! Check this out!



It's hard to see but the bedroom is upstairs on a loft made to look like a really gorgeous balcony.



And here is the view from said balcony.



And then picture rose petals strewn all over the stairs and rug and all around the edge of the bath. It was so beautiful!

Then we got home and got smacked in the face with a huge emergency that has taken the better part of the week to deal with. However, this was also the week I had to bake seven pies (from scratch!) and make about ten pounds of hand-dipped chocolates. (Also from scratch!) Luckily, we have come out nearly unscathed, the pies were delicious, and there are sixty little bags full of chocolate truffles, raspberry fondant chocolates, chocolate covered caramels, and chocolate-covered penuche waiting for the people on our list. Whew!

Oh, and Thanksgiving was in there somewhere . . . .

However, because of that, I have spent about ten minutes a day on the internet for the last week.

My apologies.

But what about you? I want to hear how your holidays were! Hopefully a little less busy than mine.

No really, please share!!

Ciao!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why Does It Take So Long???

So, the first question everyone asks when they hear I have a book coming out is, when? Now, although the time is getting shorter (5 and a half months!! Yay!!) back when I first sold I had conversations like this:

Random Person a year ago: Cool! When does it come out?

Me: Not this May, but next May.

RP: Like in two years?

Me: Well not quite two years. Like eighteen months.

RP: Hmm, okay, well, what's it called?

Me: We haven't decided yet.

RP: Ah, so you have a book coming out in two years, but haven't decided what it's called yet. Riiiiiiight . . . . *walks away laughing*

Okay, they don't usually laugh as they walk away, well, not loud enough for me to hear, anyway, but people do want to know, why does it take so long?

So, I hereby present you with . . . the timeline!!! Yay!!! *waits for applause . . . waits . . . waits . . . .* M'kay, moving on.

The Timeline:

Nov. 16, 2007- THE Call. My book sold to Tara Weikum at Harper Teen. Yay! Much glee and dancing followed.

Jan. 30, 2008- My first editorial letter from Tara. Note the dates. Two and a half months. Why so long? Well, part of the reason is that Christmas and Thanksgiving were in the middle of those months. But part of it is simply that editors have a lot to do and it takes 20-40 hours to read through a book carefully and craft an editorial letter. (Also, mine was eleven pages long . . . single spaced.:D)

Feb. 24, 2008- I turn in my revisions. Can I just say, some of the hardest three weeks of my life. Editors are fabulous people who will make you write better and harder than you ever have before. This was a very difficult learning experience, but it was a GREAT experience too!)

March 15, 2008- I got my contract! I actually got my contract a little early as six months seems to be the average. Mine was only four! Getting your contract makes everything seem even more official!

March 28, 2008- German rights sell for all four books in an awesome pre-empt the last business day before the Bologna Book Fair. (In fact, completing the deal before the fair was one of the terms.:D)

April 3, 2008- Ed letter number two. Again, over a month to get the second ed letter because editors are very busy!

April 24, 2008- second round of revisions turned in. Not quite as brutal as the first round, but it still took me three weeks. A nine page ed letter this time accompanied by a marked up manuscript.

May 21, 2008- We did a round of line edits electronically. That was fun. It was also fun to have line edits not accompanied by an ed letter this time.:)

June 16, 2008- I went to new York to meet Jodi and Tara and a bunch of the team at Harper Childrens! It was SO much fun and while I was there (the 17th, technically) I did some video interviews that will be used on Amazon.com, Borders.com, and BarnesandNoble.com. This is not something Harper brought me in for, it's a trip I planned on my own. I highly recommend that new authors take a trip in to meet their team if at all possible. Plus, I had a great time! It was my first trip to NYC!

At the end of June we started talking about my cover. We exchanged some sketches, talked about photographers, etc.

July 9, 2008- First cover photo shoot.

July 16, 2008- I get my first blurb. *squee!* (you'll see it on the cover art.:))

July 20, 2008- I get copy edits!

Sept. 12, 2008- I turn in my second book. (Notice how I'm finishing my second book before the first is even close to on the shelf? This is very normal. Timing-wise, if your books are coming out a year apart, you should be getting to about the copy-edit stage when you first book is released.)

Sept. 17, 2008- I get my cover art! . . . and it's not the cover art from the first cover shoot. I find out that they have scrapped the whole first cover shoot and re-done it. So I am presented with completely new cover art.

Oct. 10, 2008- I get more new cover art! No, I'm not kidding. My editor calls me and says, "I have bad new followed by really good news . . . I hope." Now those are words to strike fear into your heart! Sales (i.e. gods of publishing!) nixed the previous cover and so the art department started from scratch. Whole new concept and everything. Luckily, I LOVE the new cover art the best of the three!

October 22, 2008- I get first pass pages. These are your book type-set and actually looking like a book you would find in the store! It's an exciting step! However, it's also a step where you need to be very meticulous as this is probably the last chance you will have to change things. . . but still exciting!!

Nov. 11, 2008- I get ARCs! (Yes, yes, I know! Pictures are coming the moment--the moment!--I get clearance!) There was much dancing and squealing!

Nov. 17, 2008- I receive one final round of copy-edits on the first pass pages. This really is the very last time I am going to work on them.

And that brings us to now. It's been quite a full year! Publishers put so much work into getting your book as right as it possibly can be, that's why it's hard to rush it. And even though the book will, for all practical purposes, be done by the end of the year, they will still spend another four months doing early promotion before the book comes out on shelf. I don't know yet exactly what that will entail, but I do know I will be going on a pre-publication tour to five cities in January, my ARC will be featured and handed out at several trade shows (including NCTE this weekend, yay!), and will hopefully be reviewed by several trade magazines a little closer to the release. So there will still be tone of stuff going on between January and May as far as promotion goes. And, of course, I will be doing edits for book two during that time as well.

So even though it seems like a long time, there really is a ton going on behind the scenes to justify all that time. Publishing is a well-oiled machine, but it does roll slowly, if steadily. But while most of the public just sees that minute hand moving oh-so-slowly, there are a zillion little gears inside, all busily working to make everything look as smooth as it does from the outside.

Thanks so much everyone who partied with me this weekend. I will be sending out party favors tomorrow!

Ciao!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Anniversary to WINGS!!!

It was exactly a year ago that my agent and I accepted the offer from HarperTeen to publish WINGS. I am really excited about that. It has been quite a year, let me tell you!

But more importantly, I want to invite you to celebrate with me!!

So, for the next twelve hours, (till midnight, MST) we are having a party!! And there are party favors.:)

If you will send me your name and address at aprilynne pike at gmail dot com (with no spaces, turn the at into @, you all know how it goes) and thus "attend" my party, I will send you something!

*Disclaimer, I am not trying to collect addresses here or anything. Once all the party favors are mailed out, I will delete all the address emails. So please don't worry about that.:)*

Party favors include, but are not limited to, faerie paraphernalia, candy, *koffkoff* cover flats, and whatever else I decide looks fun (although I will not send either cake or ice cream.:D). It will be totally random, luck of the draw, as to who gets what, but if you come (via email), you will get something.

So Yay! Party Time!!!!

Ciao!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trailer

Dude, I gotta share the shiny!!

My friend, Carrie Ryan, has written an incredible book that I think I've mentioned here before; The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It's a literary, dystopian future zombie novel. And seriously, don't let the Z word throw you off. This is an incredibly written, emotional book with so much more depth than your typical zombie novel. Well a few months ago her book was selected to be included in a contest of students making book trailers. And I was SO impressed by the result. This thing looks seriously professional. So I wanted to share!





The Forest of Hands and Teeth comes out in March of 2009. (We're almost there!!)

Ciao!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The iPhone and the Process

So last week, after six months of my one-year-old son dropping my iphone on sidewalks, on my kitchen floor, in the dirt and off a balcony (albeit a short balcony) he finally managed to bust it by tossing it onto the tile in front of my fireplace. Luckily it was still under warranty and I sent it in and three very long, iphone-less days later I got a new one today!! Gone are the scratches and nicks, the gouge on the corner, the two small, yet annoying scratches on the screen. And now it is shiny and new and my son is NEVER touching it again! And it's going to stay in it's protective skin a bit more often.:) In fact I think I will stop by the Apple store while I'm in Salt Lake City on Friday and see if I can find one that works even better. But oh, man, I am enjoying the shiny!

First off, I was totally excited about all the comments for the contest! I love not only that I got to hear so much good news but that people were so excited to share good news! I love that positivity spreads so easily! So to cap off our week of awesomeness, the winner of their choice of The Summoning or The Hunger Games, is . . . MIM! Mim, please email me at aprilynne pike at gmail dot com and let me know which book you would like and where to send it!

I've been thinking a lot about ideas and the process of writing the last few weeks. I am almost done with my first draft of a book I have been working on for over two years. There's something about actively working on books that seems to get my imagnation going. About a month ago I got the idea for my next book after the one I'm working on.

And it's really hard not to switch.

I started working on my current WIP in the Fall of 2006. I worked on it for several weeks and then I signed with my agent, Jodi. The first thing we did was go through several rounds of revisions on the completed book she had signed me for. That meant that my WIP (I'll call it LAT from here on out) had to go on hold. Then, in the summer of 2007, my husband told me he would be giving me the summer to write. I set up writing goals and I got ready to finish LAT. But just a week into writing full-time I got the idea for WINGS. Something in me knew, I had to put LAT aside again. Good thing I did.:)

Now I have another idea trying to push LAT aside and I considered letting it for a while. I have been working on LAT for two years and the story has been fully formed in my head for almost that long. I have whole scenes written in my head that just aren't down on the computer screen yet. And because of that, sometimes I feel like I am writing it for like the tenth time. Even though it's a great book (no really, my sister is chomping at the bit for it!) I am getting a little tired of it.

But I'm not letting it get pushed to the side this time. Because if I do, it is never going to get finished, and I can't let that happen.

I used to think of writing books as rather romantic. A brilliant idea comes along and, sure, there's work involved, but you are driven by the idea, you write your story! You work, you polish and then it is your gem that you send out into the big, big world. I have never worked on a story long enough to get tired of it and I assumed that getting tired of a book was a sign that it was time to shelve it.

And sometimes it is.

But I'm trusting my gut on this one. This was an awesome book when I started it, it has gotten tons of good feedback from the people I have let read pieces of it, even my agent really likes the voice from the few chapters I've given her. Like so many other landmarks I have come to in my writing career, this is a new learning experience. Going with my gut on a book I'm getting tired of. I guess we'll see how it works out.

But I have high hopes.:)

And when I am done I will get to work on a proposal for the idea that is currently simmering, and that will be a new experience too. I'm really excited about diving into my new idea because to pull it off the way I envision it is going to take some very, very strong writing and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not sure I have the skill to do it.

But hopefully as the plot solidifies and the voice becomes more clear in my head, I will find that I am up to the task. Here's hoping!

So how about you? Things you're learning about your own writing process? Surprises? Things you're taking a gamble on when you don't actually know if it will work out? Share your musings!

Ciao!

Friday, November 07, 2008

This Is Just Too Cute!

Okay, I'm like, on post overhaul this week.:D But this was too cute to not tell.

My son Brennan is three and very, very smart. (Taught himself to read when he was two, reads at probably a first or second grade level now.) But I still was not expecting this.

We were driving to the gym yesterday and all of the sudden he says, "Mom, our car is cumbersome."

I replied, "Yeah, it kind of is. Do you know what cumbersome means?"

"Yes, it means bulky-heavy."

"That's right, where did you learn that?"

"Word Girl!"

Gotta love PBS.

Ciao!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Moonie The Editor!

We are having a little party over here celebrating two years of blogging for MoonRat, the Editor! If you are a reader, please come celebrate!

And if you're not, well, you can come laugh at us if you want.;)

Ciao!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's a Good Day

I refrain from saying anything political when I blog, but I do have to say this. I am a huge fan of Martin Luther King Jr. I don't think anyone can deny that he was a man who dreamed big--especially in the political climate of the time! I especially like this part of his famous I Have a Dream speech.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

No matter what you think of Barack Obama, and whether or not you think he was the best candidate, you can be proud that you live in a nation where--as a whole--we have overcome the biases of race. That this was a man judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. Even if he was not your candidate of choice, that is something worth celebrating.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program to Say . . .

VOTE!!!


That is all.:)

Ciao!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bullet Points and a Giveaway!

Why yes, indeed, I AM early.;) Go me!

I've been thinking all week about what to blog about and the problem is that I have a lot of little things going on. None of them big enough to really blog about, but things that are fun enough to mention anyway.:) So we have a bullet points entry today, with a giveaway at the bottom.:)

* It is ARCs month!!! (Okay, now you've discovered the real reason I blogged today.;)) It is November and I WILL be getting ARCs in November! Yay!!

* This week I got to see the design for my floor display. (Those cardboard things you occasionally see in stores that advertise the book and hold usually nine or twelve copies.) It's really, really beautiful and I will find out if I am allowed to share it at the same time I get to share my cover. This is a double-edged sword though, because if no one decides to stock it (in fact, I believe one of the big chains has to buy into it) they won't actually print it and all I'll have is a design. So help me hope that Barnes and Noble loves it like whoa and wants to stock it!;))

* I got my FPP in! It's both satisfying and a little nerve-wracking. This is the last time I will work on this book!! Hooray!!! . . . . On the other hand . . . this is the last time I will work on this book!! Ahhhhhh!! No!! It's not good enough yet!!! So yeah, weird mixed emotions.

* On the personal front, I've been working really hard at losing some baby weight the last few mnths. I'm down 25 pounds and it's time to shake things up. So wish me luck on those last ten pounds as I try something different.

* I attended my first homebirth last week and I have to tell you, anyone who thinks that midwives are not prepared to handle emergencies has never seen the loads and loads of medical equipment they bring with them, just in case. It was a great birth!

* I am talking to my publicist, Laura, for the first time tomorrow. I am totally nervous! I don't know what to say or what questions to ask, so I am going to spend the rest of the day making a list . . . then probably erasing the list . . . and making a new one . . . or maybe just re-making the same one. *eep!* Also, in case you didn't know, every author gets assigned to a publicist, so having a publicist is nothing special . . . but it sounds special, doesn't it? "Oh yes, yes, I was speaking to my publicist the other day . . ." I mean really, that sounds cool! So here's hoping my son sleeps when he is supposed to (he almost always does) and I don't have a screaming baby in the background for my phone call.:D

Okay, I know the internet has been totally buzzing about the book The Hunger Games, but there is a reason for that. This is one incredible book!! I have been going back and forth on whether or not to feature it in a giveaway, because I imagine a lot of people have it already. So this giveaway is an either/or giveaway. You have two choices: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, or The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong.

I am not feeling super-creative this morning, so I am shamelessly stealing the descriptions of these two books from Amazon.;)

Hunger Games: Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place. (Wow, this description so does not do the book justice!)

The Summoning:

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.


These are both really good books (although The Summoning ends on a totall cliff-hanger. Noooooo!! What happens!!!!!) that I have thoroughly enjoyed this year.

So here's how it works. I am gathering good news vibes. So the way you enter to win your choice of these two books is simply to tell me some good news you've gotten lately. Big, small, personal, professional, it doesn't matter. Tell me something good that has happened to you recently! There is enough negativity in this world that I was to see good stuff! That's it! You have till next Monday when I put up my next plog post to get your good news in! Bring it!

Also, vote on Tuesday!

Ciao!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some New Links

First, a cover update. For various reasons, mostly having to do with marketing, Harper has asked that I wait to post my cover until ARCs are printed and have started being sent to booksellers. That's about three weeks from now. So I apologize for the delay, but Harper is working really hard on my marketing and one of the key elements is everything unveiling at just the right time. So trust me, it's all good . . . but you do have to wait just a bit longer.

Okay, so I have a lot of blogs I read and places I visit, and you can find a lot of them over in my sidebar if you read this blog in Blogger. (If you read my LiveJournal, I apologize, I'm still figuring out my sideboards. . . . I'll get there!) But there are several places that are not in my sidebar that really belong there, and I wanted to highlight them today!

First, I always read Kristin Nelson's blog, PubRants. But after I'm done reading her entry, I always click over to Ally Carter's blog from Kristin's site. I hadn't consciously noticed till last week that no one knows I read Ally's blog because I have never linked to it or put it in my sidebar. So highlight number one is Ally Carter's blog. Ally Carter is the New York times Bestselling author of the Gallagher Girls series for young adults. I took the first book, I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You to a family gathering this summer and, I kid you not, I did not see it for three days and during that three days it went through seven girls. Ally has a really great blog that is a fun mix of personal and professional and she's always got something fun. You should go check it out.

Second, Sarah Prineas' blog. I've been reading Sarah's blog for over a year, but somehow I have only managed to get her blog into my bookmark list . . . on top of that, I'm not sure I have ever mentioned Sarah in this blog. Sarah is a really awesome person who is also published with Harper. She and I are also on a very similar marketing track, so it is not only fun, but informative to read her blog. Sarah is the author of the new series The Magic Thief, the second of which is coming out just after Wings. It's fun book for children ages 8-12 and I am looking forward to giving it to my daughter to read in about a year. So go check her out too; she's really friendly!

And last, not an author, but a reviewer! I keep tabs on Reviewer X, who in turn, keeps an eye on a fairly wide spread of the YA world. She reviews books very honestly and harshly (she's not afraid to give a popular book a bad grade!) and often has some very interesting points of view. But, of course, her best point is that she mention me now and again.;) So this is a fun blog! (Note, although she usually keeps her blog fairly clean, there was a *very* language ridden review in there lately, so just be aware.:))

So there are some of the blogs I frequent that I don't generally mention, but that you may want to have on your radar!

Oh, also, I got first pass pages the last week and am so excited about that. Because the cover had changed, it's not actually what THE book will look like, but it does look like an actual book!! It's very exciting! Check it out!

Yay! It is getting closer and closer to being a real book. Next step, ARCs!!!

Ciao!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Trade-Off

This post, again, is going to have very little to do with writing, but it's one I need to get out of my system.

A lot of you know that as well as being a writer, I'm also a doula (professional childbirth coach). I love being a doula. I haven't attended a birth in over two years. Doulas work all sorts of strange hours so the combination of being a doula and having a husband in law school didn't work very weel. But several months ago, a client who I assisted two years ago (the last birth I attended, actually) asked if I would come back and assist her in her next birth. I was thrilled just to have done a good enough job to be asked again! I knew the timing would be weird and I might have to leave my husband totally in the lurch for a day, but I couldn't resist. Not only was it my first repeat client, but she was going for her second VBAC, which is always a rather precarious situation. (They watch the mom like a hawk and she has much less freedom to do as she pleases for safety reasons, so you often have to be creative.) So I said yes.

She gave birth just after midnight last Saturday.

I've been in kind of a haze ever since.

I love attending births. I had forgotten just how much I love attending births. Not only that, but this was a very gentle, easy birth. The last birth I did with her involved (birth details ahead, you've been warned) almost twenty hours at the hospital with her, 14 hours of pitocin induced labor, and three hours of pushing due to a transverse head. But we did it. in the end she was exhausted and her body had worked harder than it ever had before, but she was able to have her VBAC. This one was different. She still had to be induced about six hours after her water broke and labor didn't start, but labor picked up on a very low level of pitocin and she only labored for about five hours, and much of that was in the tub where labor is much gentler. And her favorite part? Less than fifteen minutes of pushing (and not even a skid mark!). It was a beautiful, gentle, perfect birth. And her second successful VBAC.

I miss this.

I do have one more client (a homebirth, yay!) but after that, my births will again become sporatic and few and far between. Between Harper's plans for me, my own plans, and my husband doing lots of babysitting anyway, I just can't commit to being a doula as often as I would like to.

But this weekend has convinced me of something.

I can't give it up.

It's not my main job. Being an author is my main job. And I am perfectly okay with that.

But there is a trade-off. And that is that I can't do this other job that I love quite as much without straining my family--which is something I'm not willing to do. But if I can do a couple of births a year, I think I will be satisfied.

It's been two years since I attended a birth, but it's almost like addiction. You go back once, and it's like starting all over again.

That's how I'm feeling today.

Thanks for reading.

Ciao!

ETA: Yes, I am still waiting for final approval to post my cover. But the minute . . . the second I have it, I will share! I promise!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Post That Has Nothing To Do With Writing

I know, I know! I'm a day late!

But I have a good reason!

Okay, I have a kind of good reason.

I have new carpet!!! Yay!!

But there's a long story before that. My husband had placement break last week which means he didn't have school. (Don't mistake that for time-off, he was very, very busy. In fact he got his applications all completed for the nine schools that he's decided to apply to for his PhD program. Go Kenny!) However, he did have a bit more time than usual, so we decided that would be a great time to get new carpet, something we've been talking about doing for about six months. So I ordered the carpet and the guy said they could install Friday or Saturday. So on Wednesday I call to find out which day it is going to be and the woman says, "Oh yes, you are on the schedule for tomorrow." Thursday! Whoo-hoo! I say great and immediately start moving the contents of my living room into my family room which has very nice wood floors. This included a couch and two bookshelves which, of course, had to be emptied before the were moved. So I spend like an hour huffing and puffing and moving my furniture, and then--I kid you not--about two minutes after I get done moving all the things I can move by myself, the lady calls back and tells me it is a mistake. The carpet won't get here until Monday so they will install on Tuesday.

I about died.

So for the last six days I have had a completely empty living room and a very full family room. Then, all day Monday we took everything out of our bedroom/office, walk-in closet/nursery, and the entertainment center in the living room that I can't move by myself. The rooms we had re-carpeted comprise about half of our house so you can imagine what the squishiness was like. It was awful. There was a table and a desk and a bed in my kitchen. Plus we took the seats out of our van so we could haul all the carpeting, padding and drywall/closet I knocked out/old wainscotting from the great closet renovation of August to the dump, so I had a van seat in my kitchen too. I had three bookshelves, a dresser, a couch and all the misc. stuff in my family room as well as all the kids' toys that are always there.

And don't even ask about my laundry room.

My house was squish city!

But the carpeting is beautiful! Seriously gorgeous! And the installers did a really, really good job! It makes such a difference just to have a solid strip of carpet lead from the bedroom to the walk in closet, which has never had matching carpet! It looks like a complete room now instead of what it is, which is a leftover small bedroom that just happens to be tacked onto the master bedroom. It looks like someone had a plan when they added onto this house . . . which, I'm afraid to say, they didn't. (My house is a very odd jigsaw puzzle.)

So, needless to say, I am very excited about the carpet.

And I should probably make some kind of very wise comparison to writing or revising or something, but quite frankly, after two days of moving furniture and pulling out what felt like millions of staples, I'm too tired . . .

Exciting news though. On Friday my editor called to let me know that my cover has been changed. *cricketscrickets*

Again.

*cricketscrickets*

The good news is that I love it so much I am considering running away with it. We are talking about Europe. Maybe Ireland.

But the good news for you guys is that she also said I should get permission to show it this week. So once I get permission I will post it.

And Ah, it is a thing of beauty. I can't wait for you guys to see!

Ciao!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

You Can Pre-Order WINGS!!!

I did my daily search of Amazon this morning and LOOK what popped up!!

You can now pre-order WINGS for your very own.:D I also got to find out how long my book is. 304 pages! Getting over 300 pages excited me greatly (because I'm weird like that . . .) and now I can join all of my other crazed author friends and watch my Amazon ranking occasionally go from a million to a couple hundred thousand.:D Ah yes, the glamorous life of a writer.

*Squee!*

Ciao!!

*koffkoff* Also notice my nice little pre-order link on the sidebar. Cool huh?

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's Me, Eh!


For those of you who swear that this book I've been talking about for over a year does not actually exist outside the boundaries of my delusional mind, (I know you're out there!!;)) I now have proof. Please join me in singing the Canadian National Anthem as you click on this link to WINGS on Amazon Canada!!! Yay!!!!! And even cooler (to me) is that if you follow this link, you will find my nine copy floor display on sale. (I've never seen such a thing before, I'm not really sure why it's there . . . but it's AWESOME!!) So yes, I am in much glee this evening as I see the first genuine proof that someday, this book is actually going to be on sale somewhere in a galaxy far, far away . . . I mean in Canada. Go Canada!! (And yes, for those of you who are wondering just how weird I am, this is the actual "No Image Available" Image from my listing.:D)

I am seriously sitting here with a huge, sappy grin on my face. *squee!!*

Okay, and for the actual post of the day, I want to talk about cooking.

Yes, that's right, cooking.

When I first got married, I thought I was a great cook. I was such a great cook, I didn't even need recipes. I just mixed stuff together and *I* always thought it tasted pretty good. Recipes schmecipes. The great chefs did not use recipes. Did you ever see a chef on a cooking show stop to check his recipe? It took a while for me to realize that I was the only person who liked my cooking. (My poor husband was such a trooper.) I finally realized that in order to make food that was edible to more than me (I have weird tastes . . . not that I'm picky, but that I seriously like almost everything . . . eeeevrything.) I needed recipes. So for a couple years I used recipes and discovered that company actually started saying yes when I asked them to stay for dinner. When I offerred to host events for my family people did not say, "Can I bring the meal?" they asked, "Ooh, what are you making?"

And then I moved in with my husband's mom who is not only an excellent cook, but dabbles in gourmet. (And she has gadgets. Oh my, the awesome kitchen gadgets my MIL has!) So she went beyond rudimentary cooking and taught me how to make artistic, delicate, and ethnic dishes.

And when I had those skills down, guess what happened?

I stopped using recipes as much.

There are a ton of dishes I don't use recipes for because I have them memorized. There are many, many dishes that I start with a recipe and then I change things to suit my and my family's tastes. But it's because I know how to use those recipes and which ingredients are necessary and which can be substituted out. And I have to say, my cooking has become rather famous among my family and friends. I'm very proud of that.

My husband told the recipe story the other night (he loves to tease me about those early months of marriage because I am so much better of a cook now.:)) and it struck me how much that relates to my writing. Right after my first baby was born I went from the main breadwinner to not being a breadwinner at all. And that was really hard for me. So I thought, "Well I went to school and got a degree in Creative Writing. I should write a book to help out financially; I think that is a sound plan." (I'll pause while you all laugh . . . done yet? No? Okay . . . .Okay, now we're done.) So I decided that I would write a romance. Man, I could write one at least as good as the ones I saw getting published. (Yes, more laughter, I know.)

So I came up with a story and sat down to type. And you know what I found out?? It was kind of hard. Okay, it was really hard. So I left it alone for a couple of years.

Then (I love how both stories diverge here) I moved in with my husband's parents. A surprisingly impactful turning point in my life. And I met the incredible Stephenie Meyer about three months before Twilight came out. Stephenie would talk about her writing process and she is the kind of author whose writing process is all-encompassing. I totally fell in love with the way she wrote and it made me want to take up writing again. (I love when this happens--when an author's love of writing is so contagious it makes other people want to write!)

Well, now I had a recipe! I knew how Stephenie wrote--how she got lost in her characters and breathelessly pounded out Twilight in three months because she was so obsessed she could hardly function. I could do that too! And once I got a snatch of inspiration, I did. I wrote a 100,ooo word fantasy in about three months. My characters pulled the story this way and that, I got caught up in the emotions, I spent hours a day at the computer, I had music I listened to and I found actors who looked like my main characters (sadly, Heath Ledger was always in my head when writing my main character *sniff*) because those were all elements Stephenie described and I wanted to write like she did.

Which was a good plan, basically. She had a fantastic writing recipe. We all know how well her main dishes are working out.;)

But it wasn't the right recipe for me.

So I looked at Stephenie's recipe, and tried to figure out which elements were necessary, and which would be switched out.

When I wrote WINGS, I did write it in a flurry . . . actually, I wrote the sequel in a bit of a flurry too. Three months of long days seems to work well for me. I found a story I was passionate about (that's the ingredient that NO book should be without). I have experimented with music, and sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't. I've learned that matching faces to the characters in my head isn't that helpful to me, and that I prefer to have a very firm hand on my character's reigns. I drive them through the story rather than the other way around.

And once I figured out MY writing recipe, things worked.

Your writing recipe is probably different than the both of ours.

But what are some things you can do to learn how to make a writing recipe your own??

Read. Read everything. Things in your genre, out of your genre. Be immersed in literature. Don't either be too cool for literary works, or too elite for commercial fiction. They both have value in whatever kind of lit you are writing.

Try things, see how they work out, and listen to honest feedback.

Learn from other authors. There is always someone out there more successful/better/more prolific than you. Look at what you want to be, find someone who is, and listen to them. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed attending Bill Berhardt's class. Why? Because he is more organized than me and I learned about organization from him.

Make a sunken cake. Don't be afraid of failure. If you books sucks, that's okay. You can make another one.

But don't forge ahead blindly making the same mistakes. It's okay to use a recipe. It's okay to learn from others. They will not take away from your originality, they will help you discover what your originality is.

Ciao!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting Back on the Horse!

And it is Monday again! Where is the world did my last week go??

Actually, I know where it went . . . but I'll get to that in a minute.:)

Okay, so I have the most beautiful family pictures EVER! My friend Kali Jones took these at my sister's wedding two weeks ago and I am so thoroughly pleased with them, that I wanted to post them so you could not only see my beautiful family, but also my friend's beautiful photography! Thank you, Kali!!!



So, I rarely post anything even remotely political here, but I have to say that this has tickled me immensely (and it's really not that political, just news-ish.:)). An apt punishment for prejudices hidden behind a mask of religion. Ahem. Anyway.:)

In other news, my cover is getting it's final tweaks and will hopefully be ready to share soon, but let me tell you; it is beautiful! I'll share when I can.;)

Okay, so where has my week gone? Well, I have heard a lot of writers say something along the lines of, Writers Write! or Writers Write Every Day!

Um . . . I need breaks.:D

However, I've had a very nice break since finishing my sequel several weeks back, and this last week I have jumped back on the old writing horse and started writing every day again. And it's FUN! It particularly fun because it is the book I totally figured out in Maui; so not only am I writing, I'm writing with a clear purpose! (Which for me is always better than aimlessly wandering . . .)

However, I cannot write while my one-year-old son is hanging onto my ankles, so I write while he is napping. Nap time, is Mommy's work time!

Which, as my husband pointed out, leaves me trying to keep the house clean and do dishes while said child hangs onto my ankles.

But hey, you gotta have priorities, right?

That's what I thought.:)

In other news, I have a three-year-old son who is afraid of buzzers and will barely sit still for a five minute haircut using only scissors.

Guess who has the worst haircut in the neighborhood now. :D

Ciao!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Winners, More Free Stuff, and Book Reviews

Okay, it's Monday blog day again (I was trying to come up with a nice hybrid, but Mogday and Blonday just don't have much of ring to them . . . go figure.:))

Okay, first off, winners! It was so fun to see my Google alerts go off this week and I really appreciate you guys mentioning me! So without further ado, the winners are . . . Pink Ink and Amy!! Please e-mail me with your shipping info (Amy, I'll send yours to school with Kenny:)) at the email address you'll find up in my profile. Also, SpeedReader? When I get ARCs I will see if I can get you one for review. At this point I don't know, though. Thanks for the offer!!

And now . . . more free stuff!! In order to get a few more people watching our blog at feastofawesome.com before we start our big giveaways (The Twelve Months of Debsmas, oh yeah! It's gonna be huge!!) we are doing a couple of smaller giveaways in the next couple of months. The first one started this morning and it's super easy. All you have to do is go and comment on the thread. Super easy, and again, that's at www.feastofawesome.com.:)

Okay, I have been reading a ton of books lately and I have a ton more on my TBR list. Here's a few I've really enjoyed.




This is a book I picked up in Hawaii because I was intrigued by the jacket-description and the reviews. But I didn't actually flip through it until I was on the plane. I was rather surprised to see that it was a book in verse. Free-verse rather than rhymed verse. I have opinions both ways about that. In general I didn't see the point for it to be in verse (though there were a few funny visual poems!) and what it did is turned a fifty page very-well-written short story into a very-well-written 250 page novel. But regardless of how I really felt about the format, this was a fun story! It is about the least popular guy in the entire school landing a really popular girl as his girlfriend. But he gets very concerned when being with this girl makes HER unpopular as well. He desperately doesn't want her to have to live his life. I don't want to spoil too much, but this book is full of really lovely verse that manages to capture the teenage boy's voice, observations on art, self-confidence, and loyalty, and you just can't help but cheer for this underdog of underdogs and the girl who has seen through that to who he really is. A really really great book!

Okay, I'm cheating a bit with this one, because it's not out until February. But, hey! It's up on Amazon, so that makes it free game, right? Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell is, hands down, the best book I've read this summer. (And yes, my lovely Debs, there are some very VERY close seconds, but truth is truth.:)) I am looking to this book to be an award winner and nominee next year. I didn't think I would like this book because I am SO not into ghost stories. But this is so much more than a ghost story. Iris and her friend have always pretended to do magic, but the magic turns scarily real when a ghost answers Iris one day. He doesn't say much and haunting is the least of what he does to her. This is not a book about a ghost and a girl who make friends, nor is it about a scary ghost who will make you have nightmares. This is a tormented soul looking for peace. The amazing thing about this book is that, yes, there is a ghost in it, but it is about relationships. The relationship between best friends, between girls and boys, between a widower father and his only child. It is a beautiful, creepy, amazing book. Look for it in February. This is a book you will not regret buying!

Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale came out just over a year ago, but I only managed to read it this summer. This is a hard book to describe because while it is technically a retold fairy tale, it doesn't read that way at all. It reads like a rich, historic journal that surprises you with the fantastical elements at the end. The basic premise is that a sixteen year old rich man's daughter has been locked in a tower alone with only her maid, Dashti (the POV character) for company. They are condemned to stay there for seven years or until the young Lady agrees to marry the man her father has chosen for her. Although the reasons for being in the tower are all about the Lady Saren, this is really Dashti's story. A story of growth and will and rebellion and love. A really, really beautiful, if unexpected story. (Also, Shannon is one of the most friendly, funny people I've ever met!) If you haven't managed to read this one yet, you should. imagine most libraries will have it.

I have this terrible habit of getting so excited about books that I have to start reading them right away . . . because of that, I find myself reading many books at the same time as I flip-flop between them getting excited about one, then needing to read a little more of the other, then the other, etc. So here are some books I am bouncing between, but really enjoying!

Ophelia By Lisa Klein. Aside from having such a stunningly beautiful cover, this is--so far--an incredible book. It is a retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view starting from when she is a very young girl. It is meticulously researched and shows a lot about how courtly life was lived back during this time. This isn't a spoiler because it is in the first two pages of the book, but the prologue tells you right away that Hamlet dies at the end, just like in the play, but Ophelia discovers this in a letter from Hamlet's friend . . . so she must be alive . . . I am just under half-way through with this book and am looking forward to the big twist that the reviews refer to. A really beautiful book that manages to have lovely, artful prose that is none-the-less very accessible. Did I mention the gorgeous cover??



Rumors, by Anna Godbersen. So, here is my other bad habit. Reading the first twenty pages and the last twenty pages first. That's what I've done with this one.:) The thing I love about the Luxe books is that they are very beautifully and richly historical . . . without taking themselves too seriously. I have heard people comment that this character or that would never actually do that or that the times would not allow. And they are right. And I don't care.:) I enjoy the story too much to let alterations to history that enhance that story get in the way. This is not a serious historical novel. It is a historic romp meant solely to entertain. Many (most even) of the historic detail are well-researched and accurate, so don't think this is an unresearched bit of fluff, it's not. It is, however, a thoroughly enjoyable series with rich, lovely historical details . . . that sometimes strays. I just sped through the first one and can't wait to finish the second one and find out how in the world Anna got to the ending she did!! (I know, bad me.:))



Okay, last but not least, Sovay by Celia Rees. I am roughly half-way through this book and have reached just a bit of a lull. I need to get back to it and give it fifty more pages because I really enjoyed the first half. This is a Robin Hood retelling with a female protagonist set in the . . . 1700's I think? It's a fun and quite rollicking tale of adventure and love, and at this point there are three guys who could be the love interest and I'm not sure which one she is leaning toward! (Love square, anyone??) One thing to be on the lookout for, this book insists on using one quotation marks instead of two for all the dialog. I don't know who made that decision and it drives me nuts, but luckily, it has nothing to do with the actual story. This is a fun one that I really do need to get back too. It has a very interesting poem (also named Sovay) as is basis along-side the Robin Hood legends that is very interesting!

Okay, so there are some recommendations from me! If there are some books you've been reading this summer that you just adored, I'd love to here about them.

Oh and I am buying Hunger Games today. SO looking forward to that one!!!

Ciao!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Who Doesn't Like Free Stuff??

It a free stuff entry today! Yay!

Okay, first off, I mentioned my debut author community the 2009 Debutantes at www.feastofawesome.com, well, if you have a LiveJournal account and would like to become a watcher of our community, you will be eligible for our awesome giveaways that are starting in January of 2009. Plus we're fun to watch. :) So come over and check us out and maybe become a watcher. Cuz we are going to make next year super-exciting!


Second, we have our next contest! Last month my editor sent me a copy of Michael Grant's book Gone and oh my goodness! I could barely put it down to do essential things like, um . . . eat. Seriously, it was that good!

It's a pretty big hunk of a book, (over 500 pages!) and worth every one of them. Basically it's Lord of the Flies meets X-Men. The basic story is that suddenly, every person in a small California town who is above the age of fourteen disappears. I don't mean they pack up and leave, I mean in the blink of an eye, they're just . . . Gone. Not only that, but the town is surrounded by some kind of impenetrable barrier, so the kids are alone and trapped. As a rough martial government is formed, terrible things start happening. Bullying, starvation, murder, and something else. Something that might be worse or better. Some of the kids are developing powers. Supernatural abilities.

This is one creepy book. Not only do you have the Lord of the Flies theme that makes all of us question what we would do if our leadership was suddenly gone, but there are a couple of supernatural elements that weave themselves tightly around the story although they are themselves a completely different story altogether. Although this book is obviously the first of a series, there is a very nice resolution at the end that made me feel satisfied . . . while still hungering for the next book. I raced through this novel with absolute rapt fascination and the second I closed the book I went, "Man, I gotta give this one away next!"

(Also, this is the British cover which I really think captures the supernatural side of this story.)


The requirements are pretty easy. Just mention my upcoming book, Wings in your blog with a link to either my blog, or my website. (www.aprilynnepike.com) :) That's it! Well, almost it. Leave the link to your blog entry in the comments and once I verify that you mentioned me in your blog, you are entered!

Also, because you are doing me a favor by entering this contest, I'm offering up two copies of Gone. (And because the book is just so freakin' cool!!) So double chances here!

Entries must be in the comments section by Friday, September 19th, 2008, Midnight, MST. You got five days. Go! ;)

Next time, I will be doing a grab-bag of mini reviews on the zillion books I've been reading lately. And there are some really great ones in there!

Ciao!

Monday, September 08, 2008

What I Learned

Okay, so you all saw the pics of what I DID in Hawaii, but it's kind of hard to take a picture of what I learned. The whole point of going to Hawaii was to attend the Maui Writers Retreat (and no, it wasn't at Maui, it was at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. It was on the road this year. I am not sure where it will be next year.) The way that it worked is that we had whole group seminars in the mornings and afternoons, but for four hours a day, six days in a row, we met in small groups of 6-9 and had individual workshops with well-established authors. My instructor was the illustrious William (Bill) Bernhardt, thriller-writer extraordinaire!

Now, going into this retreat, I knew I wanted to work on my ghost story that I have been kicking around for a long time. I know at this point most of you are whining, "Oh man! That story again? Aren't you finished with that? We've been hearing about this book for two years!" Well yes, yes you have. And you want to know why? Because this book has a lot of voice and almost no structure. I have a great beginning, a wisp of an idea for the middle, and only a slightly more solid idea for the end. Basically I was wandering all over the place! Not good.

One of the main things that we focused on in Bill's class was structure. *heavenly choirs!! Laaaaa!!* We spent time talking about the Inciting Incident. The inciting incident is something big that happens very early in the book that leads directly, even inevitably to the Climax . . . but we'll get to that later. Ever read a book where you wander around for forty, fifty, even one hundred pages before you get the sense that the story has begun? That's because the inciting incident has been placed far, far too late in the story. So what exactly is an inciting incident? It not just action at the beginning of the story; the inciting incident must point the reader toward whatever is going to happen at the end of the book. If you have a romance where the heroine gets mugged . . . but the rest of the story is about how she's a dentist and meets a mouth fetishist and it's love forever and ever, well, the mugging scene at the beginning may have been big and exciting, but it's not the inciting incident because it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. However, if the beginning of this romance is the woman getting mugged and saved by a ruggedly handsome cop who's passion in life is catching this serial mugger and the two fall madly in love while sleuthing out the criminal, well! There you have an inciting incident! Do you see the difference there?

Sure, sure, you think, but why is that important? Because above all, understanding the inciting incident helps you start your story in the right place. I frequently hear from editors, agents, and other authors about how they read a book or manuscript where the story actually started on page twenty, forty, etc. If authors understood that in their first chapter--two at the most--they needed to have this inciting incident, that MUST point to the end of the book, then a lot more books would start in the right place.

Inciting Incident--very important. Got it? Next!

Now, the storyline that Bill taught us may not be right for every book, but I was amazed how well it worked for mine. Basically, the middle of the book should include two plot points. One 25% into the book, and one 75% into the book. Plot Point One should be a big event that changes the course of the book. Plot Point Two should be another big event that changes the course of the book. Let's go back to our mugger book. Plot Point One could be when the hunky cop realizes that this is not a random mugging--this is the serial mugger who the cop has been chasing for five years who always comes back to kill his victims! That changes everything. The cop cannot look at the woman the same way, he can't look at the case the same way, and the stakes are suddenly higher. So they sleuth around and fall in love throughout the next half of the book. Then we come to Plot Point Two. Beautiful but resourceful heroine is looking through the files and she and hunky cop have been making in-between shag-fests and she suddenly realizes that the mugger/murderer is the cop's partner who he is on a stakeout with! Again, everything changes. The friend is now the enemy, instead of everyone fearing for the heroine's life, now she is fearing for the cop's life, the untrained has to go save the trained, and again, the stakes go up. Got it?

Plot Points. Important. Keeps your readers on their toes which is right where you want them.

Then we come to the aforementioned Climax. This the the highest, most exciting part of the book. Heroine confronts the mugger and there is a huge shootout in which the men go back and forth using her as a body shield!! (Bad boyfriend!) Bullets are fired! Biceps are grazed! (Why is it always the biceps, thus forcing the hero to take off their shirt? . . . Oh, I guess I've answered my own question . . .:)) Bullets rain from the sky killing the bad guy and merely wounding the good guy! The climax. The part where the stakes are the highest and we know as readers that at this point the main character will either achieve their goal, or fail. We all live for the climax. (It's also one of the funnest parts to write!)

If you don't have a climax, you need a major revision. I don't think I know a single exception to this. Don't be fooled into thinking that climax means action though. Some of the most emotional books I've ever read have heart-wrenching climaxes that happen in a deceptively calm conversation. But there Must. Be. A. Climax.

After the climax comes the Denouement and as my college fiction instructor Claire Davis said, "Yes, you must say it with a French accent." :) This is the part that can range from a single word to maybe, MAYBE twenty pages that follows the climax and give the reader their resolution. In our fake book the hero could get out of the hospital and the heroine could toss him roughly into bed and say, "I will kill you if you ever use me for a body shield again." The Hero smiles and says, "Deal." They kiss, the end. Denouement. The main point of the denouement is to provide resolution. If that takes fifteen pages, fine. if you can do it in three words, fine again. This is not the same thing as wrapping everything up in a cute little box, but at the end of the book, your reader should feel satisfied!

So there are all the basic parts of a storyline. on top of that, Bill had us make a sixty-scene outline. And every scene had to be important. It couldn't just be a rundown of a bunch of stuff happening. Every scene should provide some kind of change that continues propelling the plot toward that inevitable climax. So now, guess what!!! I have a sixty-scene outline for my story!! I totally know where it is going and I have sixty little signposts to guide me along!!

It is SO awesome!

Plus I had a major epiphany as I was slaving away at my outline.

There was more to the retreat than structure. We spent two days learning how to pitch and query agents, and I admit I did not pay as much attention those days--I was busy refining my lovely outline.:D But it was a great experience and was particularly helpful to me with THIS book at THIS point in my career, and I love that the stars were so kind as to align so nicely for me.

Ciao!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hawaii!

Alrighty, I am back. And to celebrate my longest lapse between post ever, I think we should have . . . . the longest entry ever!!!

Okay, not really, but maybe the most pictures ever.:)

But first, some news I have just been bursting to tell and I've been given the green light. Harper has invited me to go on not one, but two tours for my upcoming series! I will be going on a pre-publication tour in January that will focus on meeting bookseller, librarians, and teachers who will be buying, stocking, selling and/or telling students about my book (hopefully!). Then in May I will be going on a traditional tour where I will be visiting bookstores and doing signings and maybe if I am very lucky, some readers will show up. :) I have been bouncing off the walls with this news for a month and am so excited to be able to finally officially announce. The cities are still tentative, so I will share those just as soon as I can. *squee!!*

Okay, back to Hawaii. It. Was. So. Incredible! Seriously! One of the most wonderful trips of my life. I had such a great time.

First, the people. I finally got to meet my incredible friend Pat Wood who I have been friends with for about two years. Before either of us was agented or contracted and before her incredible book Lottery was published and critically acclaimed and short listed for the Orange prize and . . . am I getting carried away? Anyway, she was incredible and the camera just doesn't do justice to her dark brown eyes. In real life, they just sparkle! Totally beautiful!

I also good to meet my bestest author bud, Sarah Rees Brennan who I talked into coming to Hawaii from Ireland. Why yes, I am incredibly convincing.;) She was crazy! Crazy in a lovely sort of way. We had such a blast all week!!

And then I mixed Pat with Sarah and, I tell you what, the good times rolled!! Here is all of us at dinner.



By the way I should confess that I shamelessly stole this picture from Pat because it's a great picture of me.

Yes, totally shameless.:)

Oh, and at this restaurant we have this incredible view:



And they set our strawberries on fire. It was AWESOME!!




One of the interesting things about this trip is that I brought my one year old son.




Which meant that I also had to bring my 28 year-old sister to watch him.:) (She was devastated, let me tell you.;))





But as well as being a great babysitter, she is also a great organizer, which means that while Sarah and I were trying to figure out how to put a little structure in our novels (I now have a sixty plot point outline thank-you very much!) she arranged a trip out to the Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii's number one paid attraction. And it was gorgeous and awesome!! Here are a few photo highlights!

There were dancers on a canoe parade.




Huge statues of gods. (I think this one is sleeping . . . .)




This is a hut of a spiritual leader and traditionally, the higher the roof, the closer you could get to God. The picture doesn't do it justice. It was very cool!



They hosted a luau that included one very, very whole pig cooked in a pit covered with banana leaves.




There were sexy guys on drums . . . er . . . I mean, studious college students in traditional dress playing drums.




And the show they put on that night was INCREDIBLE!! Traditional dancing from eight different Polynesian islands!




And there was lovely vegetation everywhere!




We took a quick trip before the show to the Hawaii Temple and, religious or not, it's a beautiful building. Plus we were all wearing our leis and found flowers to put in our hair. Yay!!:)





We also took a really incredible sail on the hotel's catamaran at sunset that was both gorgeous and fun! The sunset was beautiful. Lots of clouds out that night to turn bright pink and orange!



And the catamaran went way fast. Lots of wind and getting sprayed by the waves! (That's Sarah, BTW.:))




Other highlights included our very cute waiter, Tai (who was also a really great waiter. I'm totally not biased!!;))




And the teen spread at the Borders Express that was less than a block from our hotel.




Seriously, all. I came to Hawaii with four books and left with 23. I think I have a problem . . . .

In my defense, six of them were ones that Sarah was returning to me. I did not buy them . . . at least not during this trip!! . . .that only leaves thirteen unaccounted for. *whistles and walks away.*

Anyway, I had a really fabulous time but was so happy to get home to my hubby and other two kidlettes.

And my blog readers. *mwah!mwah!*

Ciao!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Which Aprilynne Wields an Axe, and Is an Idiot

I know I have both complained and raved about my house before. We bought a little fixer-upper and have been . . . fixing it up.:) I have a really big walk-in closet (eight feet by twelve feet) that also doubles as our nursery.

But it is super ugly. Like awful, awful ugly. Blue and pink floral wallpaper ugly. It hasn't been re-done in like fifty years, I kid you not. Check it:



Ug. Ly.

So this week I (rather impulsively) decided that if I didn't get my closet done this summer, before I went to Hawaii, it was never going to get done. So I started. The first thing I did was knock out the little closet within my closet. (Long story.) But it didn't come easily . . . so when my hammer failed, I went out to my shed and grabbed my handy, dandy AXE!! I totally knocked my little closet out with an axe! It was awesome!!! This ia what it looked like when I was done.




So re-doing my closet meant more than just ditching the little closet and slapping on some paint. The walls in my closet were way old and disintegrating and the windowsills all opened right into the walls (like, you could see inside the inner and outer walls from the windowsills. Very, very bad closet.) So I had to re-sheetrock the whole closet, then mud all the gaps because my house is not very square, then texture, then prime, then paint. It was a big job! Here are a couple of pics of the process.






And a couple from the finished product!




Sorry about the lighting on that last one, it just doesn't get any better with the sun behind it.:)

So yeah, I am way proud of my closet.:)

I could make lots of comparisons between re-doing my closet and revising my sequel . . . but trust me, this post is going to be long enough without it.:)

So yesterday was a big day for me. My daughter started first grade and, because she is skipping Kindergarten, it was also her first day of school. She was so cute in her uniform! (I wish I had pics, but my husband took them on our camera and I only brought my phone. *sigh* I will try to remember to post them later. So I dropped her off for school and headed right to the airport. (Audrey was like, "You can go now, Mom.") And somewhere between stopping for gas and getting to the airport, I. Lost. My. Wallet.

ID, money, everything. Gone.

Did you know that you can still fly without I.D.? Well, you can . . . it just requires a lot of searching. So the first thing I got to do on my vacation was cancel all of my credit cards and order news ones to be delivered in a rush since I leave for Hawaii on Thursday morning. *head thunk* However, my husband did find a way to order me a new driver's license online with next day delivery (gotta love Arizona!) so I will get a new license via DHL today. (Which I was happy about because I have a really cute driver's license picture. Now I get to keep it . . . not to mention avoiding a trip to the DMV. Thank you Kenny!) So yeah . . . I'm an idiot . . . but I'm an idiot who made it to Phoenix yesterday!!

So . . . I'm not sure if I have actually shared this; I am going to the Maui Writers Retreat this week . . . and it's not in Maui this year; it's actually in Honolulu . . . and I will get to hook up with friends Sarah and Pat as well as have lots of fun on the beach! (Mostly its a good excuse to go to Hawaii. Sssh!;))

So when I get back from Hawaii I have a really awesome book to give away and I will have lots of pics and stories from the retreat. So stay tuned!

Ciao!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Ultimate Feast of Awesome!

Man, I am so late with the new blog! However, it's mainly because I finished my massive revision on my sequel yesterday that I have been working really, really hard on for the last month. Yay!

I just realized the other day that although I have the button on my sidebar, I have not officially introduced you all to the 2009 Debutantes at www.feastofawesome.com. Also known as my very bestest writer pals in the whole cyberworld!

Another community of writers, you say with a groan. Why should we care? There's ten zillion of those out there.

Well, for starters, nobody has as cool a URL as we do.:D

Secondly, there is no other group on the web where you will find more of next year's hottest debuts in the YA and MG genres. If I do say so myself, we have a pretty elite group. We have the lead debuts from all of the six big publishers, several expected award winners, and some of the most original concepts I ever seen (rain for 22 years because of an unfinished baseball game anyone??) In addition, among our group we already have blurbs trickling in from Anna Godbersen, Justine Larbalestier, Stephenie Meyer, Scott Westerfield, and Melissa Marr. And several of us are going out on tour next year, both pre-publication tours and post. If there is a hot debut next year, you can bet that they probably belong to the Feast of Awesome.:)

There's not a ton of public stuff there just yet (don't let that fool you though, we have scads of locked posts,;)) but as 2009 approaches, (and man is it approaching fast!) there will be lots of fun stuff, contests, giveaways, and a bunch of all-around good stuff! So keep an eye on us.:)

Ciao!