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!!!


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.


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*



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!


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.



*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.