Monday, September 28, 2009

In Which I Share Pictures!

Starting with a banned one! Not that the picture is banned, but that it is about something that should not be banned.


Support the First Amendment, Read a Banned Book

(Graphic courtesy of Random House)

This week is banned books week!

I am not going to make much of a statement except to say that nearly every future dystopian book in which the society falls apart has banned books as part of its mythos. Fiction or not, there's a reason for that. Letting someone else decide for us what is and is not appropriate takes the power of judgment out of our hands. Do not give that power away! Some of my favorite books have been banned.:D Many others have been challenged. So I support Banned Books Week! To steal the old adage, I may not like what you read but I will defend to the death your right to read it!!

Okay, so the rest of these pics are seriously random. However, I am going to connect them all with very bad segues; you've been warned.:D

I love giraffes. A lot. Did you know that giraffes have purple tongues that can be as long as twenty-four inches? And did you know that despite having such a long neck, giraffes still only have seven neck bones, just like you? (And most vertebrates, not including the Arabian horse.) Yes, I adore giraffes. So when we went to the zoo last week and you could go feed the giraffes, I was SO all over that!!! So this is my up close encounter with a giraffe.:D Made me very happy. So worth the three dollars it cost.

And you know what was totally worth the entire four dollar admission to the zoo??? Watching a raven eat a rat. And not just eat a rat ***squicky details to follow!!*** but watching him rip this thing apart and carefully eat specific organs first and then swallow the tail whole. I kid you not. That was an amazing sight. Visceral, yes, and several people walked by us and surely wondered if we were future serial killers, but amazing none the less.

And speaking of amazing, my husband is amazing. Look at him sitting at our piano. He plays every day since we got it. It is not only beautiful, but it calms the children and makes me happy. I can't help but sigh and smile when I hear my husband play.

And while we are on the subject of playing, my son loves to play the DS. So much so that the other night he fell asleep with the stylus still clutched in his hand. That is a determined player.

And speaking of players . . . I kid, I kid!! I won't put you through another of my awful segues!! I will, however mention that I accidentally deleted the last picture I wanted to share which was of a car, about fifty feet off the road, crashed and propped up on a very steep mound. No other damaged cars in sight, I have no idea how it happened. But it was quite an impressive sight! (Especially since no one got hurt. Phew!)

So there is my picture journey this week. I have discovered that I have fully arrived in book land and find it difficult to focus on anything else. So I apologize that my blogs have been so infrequent.

Hopefully my pictures of awesomeness make up for it.:D


Monday, September 21, 2009

What. A. Weekend.

Wow! I have just had one of the craziest weekends ever! Whoo! So on Friday I had a doula client who was scheduled to be induced at 8:00 AM

At 5:00 AM I started puking.

Let's just say I spent the next twelve hours seriously contemplating if "puking your guts out" could be literal. And I was leaning toward the yes side.

Also luckily (although I suspect that she would disagree with my definition of the word luckily) the hospital my client was delivering at got really busy and couldn't take her for her induction. So I laid around and was sick all day on Friday and managed to feel better on Saturday. However, no luck at the hospital. Still super-busy. I figured we'd hope for Sunday.

Nope! A spot opened up for her at about nine on Saturday night. Gotta love all night births.:)

So I went to the hospital and we got started. And proceeded to have a birth that went slow, slow, slow, slow slow, slow, and then suddenly went so fast that, um, let's just say I had a "hand" in the delivery.:D It was very cool. Something I doubt I will ever do again as, well, doulas are NOT supposed to help deliver the baby. They just deal with the mom.

But still, it was fun. And mom and baby are doing great.

Every time I do a birth, I awaken this inner desire to go back to school for my nursing degree and be a labor and delivery nurse. And I always have to remind myself that now is not my time. I have other things to do, including, but certainly not limited to, raising my kids and writing my books.

But I want to!

When I was little, I pretty much always said one of three things when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. A doctor (at one point I specifically wanted to be a neonatal surgeon), an author, an actress. I find it very interesting that as I have gotten older, that really hasn't changed. The three things that I really, really want to do, are be an author (which I get to do, yay!), a labor and delivery nurse (because I am so not trying for med school), and an actress (I am determined to get back into theatre one of these days.)

Maybe I am thinking about this so much because Laurel's future, including a potential career, are a big part of book three. Which gets me thinking about all the life-changing decisions teenagers in high school have to make, and how many more they have to make in paranormal books.:D

Seriously though, think of the life-changing decisions you make at seventeen and eighteen. You decide what college to go to. If not college, you decide where you are going to live after high school. You decide what job to do, what you want to major in in college, and some people (including myself) meet their future spouse in their teens. Wow!

On top of that, teens are making moral choices that will affect the rest of their lives. Are they going to have sex? Drink? Do drugs? High school is a time when a lot of kids first try and get addicted to cigarettes. What a time to make these kinds of decisions! Throw peer pressure and the human's natural urge to experiment (and add a heady dash of hormones) into the mix and wow, that is a tough time to make these kinds of decisions!

I think teenagers are amazing, if, for no other reason (and there are a LOT of other reasons) than that they are making more life changing decisions in a course of about four years, than they probably will in any other four-year-period in their entire lives! Is it any wonder that so many authors find it so fascinating to write for this age group?!?! I certainly find it both a challenge and a pleasure.

So adults, if you are a parent, a teacher, a friend, or in any way associated with teenagers, respect them. They are making some truly pivotal choices in their lives right now!

And if you are a teenager? Choose wisely, your decisions now may have more more far-reaching consequences than you imagine. But have fun too.:D


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Late Bloomers

One of the most amazing things about fans, is when they get inspired enough by your book to go through the trouble to create something involving it. It is the very highest of compliments, in my opinion. I feel that way about all kinds of fan creations--fan art, fan fic, song lyrics (I got some of these the other day; very squee-worthy!), fansites, forums, etc. I already told you guys about, created by the amazing and fabulous Ben (thanks again Ben!!!). This is a comunity open to anyone, anywhere and I am part of the community there and comment in the forums etc.

But I also wanted to tell you guys about another fan forum that I'm really excited about! A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting two fans, Espe and Jen, at FiestaCon and we sat and talked books (not just Wings!:)) for about an hour and exchanged info, etc. Well, they have been busy ladies the last month and have created another forum that launched today! This community is a little different than Ben's--modeled a lot like both Twilight Moms and Mundie Moms, Late Bloomers is a community for fans aged 15 and up, and has a lot of older (well, compared to tween;)) women who are discovering how young their hearts are! So if this fits you, come on over and say hi at Late Bloomers! I will also be an active part of this community. Sp if you see someone on either this or Ben's site who looks like me . . . . it is.:D

On that note, it's been pretty amazing to see these two forums open and become active the last couple of weeks. I have to tell you, I am amazed by my readers! Have I thanked you guys lately?? I write the books, sure, but it's the readers and fans who really bring a book to life. You guys have brought Wings to life in a way that I honestly never thought possible. *blows kisses* You guys are amazing!!!!

Little update, just this week, I finalized my twentieth foreign rights deal. Twenty!! Blew. My. Mind. I'll post the list as soon as I can, for the little bird who keeps that kind of thing current on wikipedia. *Big smile at whoever it is. That's some fun coding there!*

In other news, I'm going to finish the first draft of book three next week. *Eeeeeeee!!!!!!!*


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I'm Speshul!!

Wow. Okay, so I left for Show Low on Friday and came back to almost 150 entries!! Wow!

Hey, wait a second, I didn't even get that many entries for a contest for MY book! What gives, James!!! *glares* No, I'm totally kidding. This is a book worth 150 entries!

And without further Ado, the lucky winner is . . .

Molly! (As in the Molly who has a blog called Utterly Absurd and only made it to comment on other people's blogs. Love that!)

Molly, please email me at aprilynnepike at gmail dot com with your address and I will get this well-loved copy of The Maze Runner in the mail to you asap so you can enjoy it and gloat to your friends as far ahead of publication as possible.:D

Big thanks to everyone who entered!!!!

Okay, I have managed to cool down about this, but now that I am getting ready to write about it, it's kinda ticking me off again.

Okay, I read a blog called Editorial Anonymous. She's great. She is a children's book editor and she gives some really great advice and insight into the industry. I adore her. The other day she put up this post. (Language alert.)

And it has sixty comments, half of them informing this editor that she is wrong.

Now, she may be wrong (I highly doubt it) but the point is, most of her readership are aspiring authors, and they are given a piece of advice and the first thing that pops into their heads is, "Well THAT'S just WRONG!" and they are so convinced that they are right, and she is wrong, that they say so on a public blog.

In any other industry, people would laugh at you.

Let's take my husband's industry for example:

Law Professor: *expounds upon some rule of law* When you do X, Z happens.

Law Student: *raises hand* No, that's wrong. You're wrong.

Law Professor: You're kidding, right?

Law Student: Well I know this person who broke X law and Z did NOT happen, so you must be wrong.

Law Professor: *thinks student is a moron*

Other Law Students: *think student is a moron*

When you are an amateur, you should listen to the professionals. I'm not saying the professionals are always right--they aren't--but you should listen. And then consider. And then try to be really, really honest with yourself.

Do you just think they are wrong because their advice goes against your book? No seriously, ask yourself that again.

Editors are not perfect. And there are always exceptions to the rules. But feedback from an editor, always, always has value.

And if your first reaction to a post like that is "I'll show her how wrong she is!" I'm fairly willing to bet that you are not published and, without changing that attitude, you never will be.

Maybe your book is speshul. Maybe it's the next JK Rowling/Dan Brown/Bible, whatever. No one is going to know that if you don't take a little advice from professionals and learn how to work within the system instead of this bull-headed determination to make the system work around you. It rarely works that way.

And if your first though upon reading that statement was, "Well, I know a guy who . . ." you need to read this entry again.:D


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fall Is Bustin' Out All Over!!!!

So, um, yeah, if you were raised on old-time musicals like I was you'll get the reference in the title. If not, it's waaaay to obscure to explain.:D

Anyway, it's September first! (For a couple more hours anyway.:)) I have been waiting for today since probably the middle of July. Why? Because publishing slows down in the summer. I'm ready for my cover! Marketing news! First pass pages! A very important acquisitions meeting! For Europe to wake up!

But even more than that, I am looking forward to the ESPLOSION of amazing books this Fall! There are so many huge books coming out this Fall and many of them are debuts. Here's the run-down:

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins: Cannot talk about the Fall books without mentioning this one. Nuff said.:D

THE HOLLOW by Jessica Verday: I admit I was about a third of the way through this one when I got my edits and I sent it to a friend so I could share the luscious love. And the perfume. I haven't gotten it back yet. But the cover? Gorgeous! I want this book just so I can have that cover on my shelf!

DEVIL'S KISS by Sarwat Chadda: I lost my heart to Sarwat at BEA this summer. Even if I hadn't read the ARC he so splendidly signed, I would still be buying this book. But on top of that, the book is GOOD! Modern day Knights Templar with the first female knight. Need I say more?

FOREST BORN by Shannon Hale: A new Bayern book. Are you a Shannon Hale fan? You should be!

ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS by Neil Gaiman: I admit, I don't have the foggiest idea what this book is about, not do I care. See who it's written by? I'm convinced!:)

FIRE by Kristin Cashore: The woman who is single-handedly putting high fantasy back on the YA map. Go Kristin!

LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfield: People, I stood in line for 45 minutes to get this ARC at BEA. A new series from the author of the UGLIES series!

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner: Book of overwhelming awesomeness that I am giving away at the end of this post. In. Credible. Awesomeness.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS by Jeff Kinney: My children want this. They have eaten up the first three.

HUSH HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick: A debut by a friend of my husband's friend. We're, like, related!

SPLENDOR by Anna Godbersen: My guilty pleasure. I actually always wait for these to come out in hardcover before asking my editor for them because the covers are so amazing!

And that is just September and October!!! There are more amazing books coming out in November and December (like Beautiful Creatures *koffkoff*) and I will do another rundown when we get there.

So this fall is amazing for readers. Let's just say that when the Publishers Weekly On-Sale calendar came out, I gulped and was supremely glad Wings came out in the summer.:) So yeah, publishing is exploding and I am very happily reading everything I can get my hands on in the very limited time I have between writing and keeping my two-year-old from dumping salt all over the floor.:D

Are you still reading? Wow, you're awesome. You deserve something cool.

You deserve a chance to win the most awesome book coming out this fall!!!!

I was kindly gifted an ARC of The Maze Runner by James back in April (okay, I stole it in front of his wife so he couldn't be mean and rip it back out of my hands, actually, but hey, let's not be picky about definitions!) and that one is going nowhere except under my pillow every night. (I kid, I kid! . . . it has its own bed.:D) but while I was at BEA, they were cleaning up and I happened to wander through a nearly deserted room and looked down and what did I find at an empty table but another ARC of The Maze Runner. And, well, everyone knows that when it comes to ARCs at BEA, the whole Finders Keepers Rule is law. So I picked it up, put it in my bag, and now you have a chance to win it!

Now, unlike most book giveaways I do here, this ARC is not new. I've passed it around a lot the last three months and its been well loved. (See exhibit A.)

But I bet you'll forgive me if it's signed, right??
So, one signed copy of James Dashner's THE MAZE RUNNER up for grabs a whole month before you can get it in stores! All you have to do is comment. I will keep this contest open until after I get home from Labor Day weekend because, well, I'll be busy till then.:D

Comment away!