Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tempestuous!

I haven't recommended a book for a while, but I'm really excited about yesterday's release of Lesley Livingston's final book in her Wondrous Strange series, Tempestuous. Seriously, check out this gorgeous cover!




But not only is this an awesome series (about faeries, natch ;)) but the author is also a wonderful person. And funny. SO funny. Lesley is a Canadian actress turned author and one of my favorite things she acted in is this commercial.:D



Heehee! I still laugh every time I see it. Anyway, Lesley is the lovely blonde girl. Her series begins with Wondrous Strange and Darklight (below) and concludes with Tempestuous which just came out yesterday.




Wondrous Strange is, essentially a fantasy about faeries and Shakespeare involving two lead characters, Kelley and Sonny. For a taste of Kelley's writing style, I want to give you a little excerpt from pages ten and eleven of Darklight (you can find the full first sixty some-odd pages on Harper's site, here). It's an excerpt she read when we toured together in Canada last year, and even though I heard it multiple times, it's still one of my favorite parts of the whole series!



Kelley reached the Ladies Pavillion on the shores of Central Park Lake and mounted the steps. Her four-leaf clover firmly attached around her neck, she leaned on the railing, gazing out over the still water.

"This bud of love by summer's ripening breath . . ."

She murmured her lines and pictured Sonny climbing a trellis to her balcony.

"May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.
Good night, good night! As sweet repose as rest
Come to thy heart as that within my breast!"

"Oh wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?" asked a voice in the darkness.

Kelley glanced up, startled. "Uh . . ." she stammered, flustered at being taken off guard.

The moonlight pouring down onto the pavilion steps illuminated her like a spotlight.

"Sonny?" Kelley peered hopefully into the darkness of the surrounding woods, trying to make out where the voice had come from. No . . . not Sonny. Sonny wouldn't joke with her like that. It had to have been one of her fellow actors from the theater screwing around. "Alec?" There was still no answer. To cover her momentary unease, Kelley laughed a little. "Fine, I'll play your silly game," she said, and answered with her next Juliet line. "What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?"

"Well," the voice answered, "I'll take that pretty necklace, for starters."

Kelley put a hand to her throat as a stranger stepped out of the shadows and into the light. It wasn't Alec Oakland.

"And I'll take any other jewelry you got. I'll take your wallet too, just for the hell of it. And your watch, if it ain't a knockoff." The man radiated casual menace as he ambled toward her. Her was lean and tattooed and wore a dirty denim jacket and motorcycle boots.

Great, Kelley thought, a knot of fear tightening in her stomach. A mugger with a taste for Shakespeare. This could only happen in Central Park.

*Any typos or formatting issues are mine; please do read the actual, typeset text here!*

Anyway, it's a fun series with a great world building and a healthy dose of theatre! (Which makes me really happy.:D) So Tempestuous came out yesterday so if you are looking for a new faerie series, you may want to try this one.

And for a final treat, here is Lesley's awesome book trailer!




**ETA*** D'oh! I'm a moron and forgot to mention that I am giving away a copy of the entire series. Please leave a comment letting me know why faeries (of any kind) are awesome to enter. (See? Super easy.:D)

Ciao!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Last Three Weeks

Wow! I have had such a crazy last three weeks!

What I have done:

*Had a baby (:D)
*Put in about 50 hours finishing up the first round of revisions on Life After Theft and turned it in! (Not quite by my self-imposed deadline, but before my editor-imposed deadline, phew!)
*kissed the baby about a trillion times
*Made about 15 pounds of hand-dipped chocolates (Penuche in milk, truffles in milk, Strawberry-lime in white, orange creme in white) plus Velveeta fudge.
*Just sat and looked at my baby for about an hour a day. . . maybe more.
*Finished 100% of my Christmas shopping!
*Took about a hundred pictures of the baby.
*Selected and contacted ten winners from the Illusions cover contest and sent out prize packs. That included winners from Finland, Sweden, Australia, and Canada! (I get excited about foreign readers.:D)
*Tweeted about 50 of the said one hundred pictures.
*Finished practicing and then directed the choir Christmas performance at church yesterday.
*Spent hours trying to make the baby smile (which she does!)



*Did I mention kissing the baby?


What I did NOT do in the last three weeks:

*Blog


Ahem.

Okay, couple of items of business.

UK cover for book three!!!!



Wait, what? That doesn't look quite right, you say? I have known this for a while and keep forgetting to tell you guys! In the UK book three will be called Wild, which I absolutely love! . . . for reasons I can't tell you yet . . .:D But I'm really excited about the new title and this beautiful cover!

*Bonus content: One of the things we are doing as a lead up to Illusions is that I am writing some bonus content that will be posted in various places over the next few months. They will be short pieces that take place either between Spells and Illusions, or during Illusions but from a different person's point of view. I'll be writing them over the next month and they will be posted the first couple of months of 2011. I will let everyone know where they can find them as soon as they are up.

*I will also be posting some bits from Illusions as well as some fun cover copy as we lead up to the Illusions release. . . . Starting today! Special holiday gift, the following is the short scene Harper is putting on the back of the book jacket. However, two disclaimers:

1.) David fans, this scene is taken completely out of context.
2.) Tamani fans, this scene is taken completely out of context.

You have both been warned.:D

And with the standard ***SPOILER ALERT***, here you go:

"When you kissed me, I got all these . . . ideas. For potions I've never heard of." Laurel thought of the way the word poison had invaded her mind. "I think maybe they're forbidden."

"Why?" Tamani asked.

"It told me how to make potions from you." Laurel lost herself in thoughts of potions, powders, and poisons she somehow knew she was never supposed to learn.


***END OF SPOILERS***

Happy Holidays!

Ciao!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Excuse:)

Okay, I admit, things have been a little . . . sporadic around here the last few months. But I have a good reason! (I mean besides the normal writerly excuse of I'm writing/editing my next book.";))

I've kept this very much to myself this time around, but now that she's here, I'm telling everyone!

Meet Gwendolyn, born this morning, at home.



She arrived thirteen days past her due date (silly kid--didn't she get that calendar I swallowed??) but she's here at last, to everyone's relief--especially mine!

And no, this does not mean more babies will suddenly start popping up in my books.:D

Ciao!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Starting a Business

(I've been thinking about this subject for ages, so this is going to be really long--you've been warned.)

Yesterday my husband and I met with an accountant to begin the process of incorporating. (Yes, yes, I know there are a lot of people saying, "I told you so," right now. I have bucked against this for years!) So in another month or so, I am going to be a company.

Officially.

Technically I have been a sole proprietor of my own company since I got my first contract with Harper three years ago. (My how time flies!) Even though I'm taking some official licensing steps now, when you become an author, you become a business. When I think about it that way, I smile and think how apt that is. But I wonder how many aspiring authors think about it in those terms. Do you consider writing as working on starting up a new business?

I don't know a lot about business, but I do know some basic rules of thumb and they are that starting a new business generally requires a hefty investment, and you can expect to run in the red for about five years. You have to be willing to make that kind of commitment if you really want your small business to work. I have seen a few small businesses start up and fail lately, and one in particular (I'm not going to mention which one, so don't ask) started up on a shoestring with only a vague business plan, had no back-up funds to get through the first non-profitable period, and closed just as the holiday shopping season was beginning. It didn't even get a fair shot!

And whose fault was that? The person who opened the store. They did not find a way to invest heavily enough to give the store a real shot. (Really, a store needs the holiday shopping season to survive!!! Ask any boutique store owner!) In the end, this store owner was so disappointed because this was her dream! She was really emotionally attached to the idea of running this store!

But she didn't actually commit to it.

I guarantee this store owner would vehemently disagree with me. But the fact of the matter is, she would be wrong. She did NOT commit. She only thinks she did.

Committing to it would have meant putting her own money where her mouth was (in the form of getting a small business loan, committing to a full one year lease and paying upfront, maybe taking a business class or two at her local community college to prepare herself, etc.) and basically putting her financial life on the line. That is what it takes and any successful small business owner will tell you the same thing.

So why do we as aspiring authors (and I say we because I did it too!) think that starting our writing business should be so much easier than that?

Here is what I *koffkoff* did *koffkoff* and see all the time. An author writes a book. Spends a month polishing it. Spends a week writing a query. Sends it off. Lather, rinse, repeat for 100 agents. New book. Write, revise for a month, query, send off. Two, three, four years down the road, they have five or six books, and still no agent or publisher. They clearly love writing, they clearly have committed years of their lives to this endeavor, why are things not working?

Because they're not committed.

No seriously.

The author I've outlined up there is almost certainly not committed to being an author. They are committed to writing books, but in the end are waiting for the numbers game to see them through.

And maybe it will. Some people write and write and then find that sparkly idea that catches the right agent/editor's eye, and published they become! But not usually.

I have heard many a published author say that writers write, authors revise. So here is my challenge to you. Commit. Really commit. Starting with your time.

"But I write ten hours a week!" you may protest. "I write after kids are asleep/early in the morning before work/on my only free night all week!" (The length some aspiring authors go to to get those few precious hours a week is truly inspiring! Please do not think I am knocking this!) But I'm not talking about writing time.

Take your very favorite novel that you have written. The one that made rejections hurt the worst because it's the best thing you've ever written. Yes, that one. Now, commit to editing it for no less than six months. Don't write anything new during this time. Edit that book for six months.

The fast writers out there are looking at me like I'm crazy. Isn't writing fast a good thing? Well, let's see, I write my first drafts in about six to eight weeks. Yes, yes, I do think it's a good thing. That's not the point. I honestly believe that 90% of all authors cannot get published until they have had the experience of editing a book for at least six months. Why? Because you learn how to kill yourself over a book. You learn how to look for criticism because you've run out of things to change. You need someone to help you find the flaws because you can't see them anymore. You learn to stop being in love with your own words. You learn to delete. You really learn what it's like to sweat blood and tears over a book. You cannot learn this by editing for one month. A lot of you think you can.

A lot of you are wrong.

I was one them.

A couple of rules. Your six months starts AFTER you would normally consider your book ready to query. You MUST do more than tweak sentences. Gut. Your. Book. You must get feedback from at least one reader who was very critical. You will not see all the flaws in your own book--you will need help. And you must stop querying this book while you are doing it. You will unconsciously hold yourself back from really tearing your book apart if you are still trying to be ready to send it out. That doesn't mean you can't query other books. If you feel you must. But pull this one, and rip it to pieces. For six. Months.

Then, take your new, shiny manuscript (that you will now feel more unsure about than any other book you've ever queried) and send it out to your top 10-30 agents.

Then put it away. For good. And write a new book.

Wait!!! But you just had me do SIX MONTHS of work on this novel!!! You want me to shelve it now???

Well, after that much work, chances are much higher that you won't have to shelve it. That one of those agents is going to pick it up. But if not, yes. Shelve it. Because now you know how to really make a novel good, and you can do it again, but better. Not only that, you've seen your work go from what you thought was your best, to what you really can do. And you won't allow yourself to do anything less from here on out. It may not take you as long to edit a book ever again. But by spending that time setting your bar really high, you've gone somewhere there is no returning from. THAT is the important part of this challenge. Not getting published with that particular book, but resetting your bar.

Commit six months. Seriously. In the scheme of things, it's not that long.

I did it. On a book you're never going to see. It was the book that got me an agent, but it wasn't the book that got me a publisher. But I would not trade those six months of tears and frustration and impatience and desperation for anything. They made me an author, even though that wasn't the book that made me an author.

Revising is hard. And it takes time to learn. And most authors give up on their books way before they should, because they aren't willing to really dig in and rip it to pieces. Six months. Try it. I guarantee you won't regret it. You know how many authors express how sick and tired they are of their books by the time they come out? It's not because they spent a month editing it.

Ciao!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Cheating

Instead of doing an blog entry full of insightful tips I am going to . . . link you to an interview I did recently that is full of insightful tips . . . hopefully.:D

This is an interview I did for J.S. Lewis, who is super awesome and possibly the most pessimistic author I've ever met (and I don't mean that in the pejorative sense, really!) He is a local author here in Phoenix with me and writes great Middle Grade fantasy AND is a comic book artist! (Check out his books here and his comics here.)

I am still sorting through entries for the cover contest and I will have those VERY soon, I promise!!!

Ciao!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Cover . . . .S!!!!:D

I hope that everyone who wanted to hunt for puzzle pieces has had a chance to! But, as promised, because the point was not for this to be difficult for the non-tech-savvy people (like me!!) I am posting the full image here!

So here you go!!!



Yay!!! Man this cover makes me so happy!!!!!

But wait a second, you may be saying. This cover doesn't look quite like it belongs with my other books.

Well, you're right. As the Harper design team was putting this cover together they kept saying that it just worked out so much better to have the title off-set and the image zoomed in more. But . . . well, it doesn't quite match the others that way. Then someone (someone brilliant and amazing) suggested that maybe the whole series could benefit from a bit of a make-over. A more grown-up look, perhaps. And so my special surprise is that the whole series is getting a very slightly tweaked look that I think is totally gorgeous. Not so altered that those who already have the series will feel like their first two look funny, but a little spiffing up!:D

So here is the newly redesigned Wings series!! (Click for bigger;))



(Note that these aren't quite the final designs--the Illusions cover in this group has extra text and repeats the blurb from Spells, the covers for Wings and Spells will also change a bit before printing)

But anyway, the new covers will come out on the Spells paperback on May 3, 2011 (same day Illusions comes out!) and whenever the paperback of Wings goes back to print you will see the new covers on there too.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I also wanted to share the jacket copy (the stuff that goes on the inside flap) but be aware that it is rather spoilery, especially if you haven't read the second book.

You have been warned!!!:D

"I don't do patrols, I don't go hunting, I just stick close to you. You live your life, I'll keep you safe," Tamani said, sweeping a lock of hair from her face. "Or die trying."

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life returns to normal, Laurel realizes that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

***END OF SPOILERS***

Thank you guys so much for doing this puzzle piece hunt with me! I hope you had as much fun as I did and once Jen and Espe have all the entries we'll be announcing winners!

Oh, and what you won!:D (It's been a busy week.;) But it'll be awesome!)

Ciao!

Puzzled

I will post more later... but I wanted to give puzzle hunters time to assemble the cover if they feel so inclined!

For those of you having trouble with the resized pieces, check here. If you are feeling really adventurous, my husband says GIMP is a great free alternative to Photoshop, but the learning curve is a little steep so don't worry about it too much! :)


Those just arriving... the rest of the cover is scattered across my fan site Late Bloomer and affiliated sites Mundie Moms, Eve's Fan Garden, and Page Turners!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Illusions!!!

***ETA! Don't worry too much about putting the puzzle pieces together. You'll only need to mail in all five files to be eligible for the prizes and I will put up the full image here tomorrow!***

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's COVER TIME!!!:D

I am SO SO excited to start the cover reveal for ILLUSIONS!!! It is really warring for my favorite cover. It's so gorgeous and I have been DYING to share! However, just to make things fun, we are doing a little puzzle piece hunt.

All of the rules and clues are at L8BloomerOnline. The hunt starts today and ends on Friday right here!

Oh, and I have an extra special surprise that I will be revealing at the same time!:D

Happy hunting!!

Ciao!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Learning to Fail, Preparing to Succeed

First off, I have a new second place winner! However, since my other three winners replied promptly, technically they all have moved up and I have a new fifth place winner.:D

And new fifth place is Meghan Kirkland!

Same as last time, please reply to aprilynne pike at gee mail dot com. I need to hear from you by Saturday please!!

Other winners, I will get your prize packs mailed out this week!

Okay, the actual writing related post I promised you.:D I was a guest speaker at an event and my children's school earlier this week along with several other women who had successful careers in areas many people strive for. (A doctor, a lawyer, an artist.) The school has an elite gifted program that is rather renowned throughout the state and I am always hearing about the program's success, so I was a little surprised when the coordinator asked me to speak on the challenges that gifted young women face in going out and pursuing careers (all of the speakers were former gifted students, not necessarily at that school, though two were) and how to overcome them.

It was fascinating hearing from all of them and the work required to reach where they are now. I spoke first and the main theme that I spoke on was learning to fail. (And although my talk was specifically aimed at gifted students, I think it really applies to my readers here too, because both readers and writers tend to be on the gifted end, even if they are not specifically diagnosed as such.) As students, most gifted (or just plain bookish :D) kids find that school comes easy. They get high grades without trying, concepts root in their brains easily, etc. One of the main challenges that gifted students face is that when life and school do become challenging, they don't know how to handle that and have a tendency to shy away from these challenging fields. And in any of the four areas, all of the women could attest that at some point their goals became very, very difficult to attain.

For writers, it's rejection. One person asked me what the hardest part of being an author was, and though the answer to this changes frequently, that night I said, "Rejection." And that's because when you are an author, even when you're not getting agent and publisher rejections anymore (or at least not as many :D), there is always someone waiting to tell you what's wrong with your book. In the beginning it's your editor via ed letters. And even though ed letters are very constructive and meant to help you improve your book, the fact is that they are a big long letter outlining what's wrong with your book. And it's always hard to swallow. Especially that first read-through.

Then reviews roll in, and they can be harsh too. Even critically acclaimed books of awesomeness get burned by reviewers. Then the book is released and the readers are unleashed upon you. And trust me, they are more than happy to point out all the mistakes in your book.

And guess what happens with the next book? It starts all over! Every book is the same way. The rejection and criticism never stops. Learning how to deal with that is hard and has put a stop to more than one author's career.

Listening to the doctor and Lawyer speak was enough to make me feel like a major slacker.:D The doctor had attended 13 years of school (including her residency) without a single break. And because the lawyer had gotten a Masters degree before starting law school, she had gone to nine years of school with no breaks. Makes my 180 rejections over the course of two years seem really piddly.:D I was interested to hear, however, that the artist had a degree in scenic design (she paints and designs sets.) This was interesting to me because she and I both fell into the artist category and both of us had a Bachelor's degree in our field.

I gotta say, I don't think that's a coincidence.

Between my husband and I, we have several friends who are aspiring authors. For some of them, they have built their entire lives around eventually being big bestselling authors. (Please don't do this. Hope, dream big, but don't actually set your life up so it depends on being a self-sustained author.) But strangely, the people who are most determined to be big authors both refuse to go to school for it. At all.

Now, I'm not advocating that everyone who wants to be an author go out and get a writing degree. For the same reason you don't base your life on getting published. There are too many factors that are out of your control. But if you are serious about getting published, there are aspects about the process and the industry that you need to learn. Perhaps the best way to learn that is not in a class at all, but online with the myriad resources available to anyone who knows how to Google. Perhaps a night class at your local community college can help you get a better grasp on grammar/plotting/pacing/structure/ whatever it is that you need help with. There are so many ways to learn about writing--including just sitting down and doing it! But don't fall into that rut where you believe that you don't need to learn, you just need to write the right book/find the right editor/be introduced to the right person.

We can all learn. I learn something at every single writers conference that I attend. And the biggest and best authors out there will tell you that they are still learning new things. It's not a static skill where you reach a certain level and can dust of your hands and say, "Well, I'm done learning now." Every book is different, the industry changes daily, readers demand different things, etc. Learning is essential if you want to succeed. I firmly believe it is a necessary precursor to being able to succeed.

Writer's conferences won't magically make you publishable and having a degree in Creative Writing doesn't mean you know how to write a novel. Not having a college degree doesn't keep you from self-educating yourself nor does having a degree in a wholly unrelated field keep you from having the skills to be a brilliant plotter. There is no A+B=Published equation that will guarantee you success, but if you can't handle rejection and criticism, you are chasing the wrong dream, and if you refuse to let others teach you, you're probably never going to catch the dream at all. Learn to fail, but prepare yourself for success.

And yes, it is much more difficult than it sounds.

An author friend and mentor of mine asked at a writers conference last summer, "Why do so many people want to get published? To be full time writers? Because it's the best job in the world. But that's why it's so hard." It really struck me. It IS the best job in the world. But, like all truly attractive jobs, there is a lot of competition. Don't hold yourself back. Trust me, there are plenty of others who will try to do that for you.:D

Ciao!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Winners!

So it took me a while to figure out how to get five people their preferred prize packs without emailing back and forth for like a month. So here is what I like to call my Winners' Pyramid Scheme!

The first winner sends me their top choice. The 2nd place winner sends me their top two choices, the third place winner the top three choices, etc. to fifth place. Then, if, by chance, everyone wants exactly the same prize packs in exactly the same order (which would be weird!) then I can still accommodate everyone. And well, if you listed everyone's choices altogether, one line apart, it would look like a pyramid!:D (Yes, I am easily amused.)

So here we go!!!

1st Place Abbi, who listed herself as Anonymous originally and came back to correct it.

2nd Place Tina (Book Couture)

3rd Place Kalina Kay

4th Place Ashley whose birthday was October 17th.

5th Place Kelsey who would like Laurel to be with Tamani.:D (Hey if you're making requests you may as well make requests, right??)

Please email me at aprilynne pike at g mail dot com with your preferences for prize packs listed in order, as well as your actual name and mailing address. Also, please let me know if you would prefer Wings or Spells to go along with your prize pack and what name you would like it personalized to. Once I have this info, I will mail stuff out as soon as possible!

**If I do not hear from you by Saturday, I will announce a new winner to take your spot!!**

Thank you so much to everyone for entering!!!

And now for some really fun news, I will be revealing the cover and jacket copy for ILLUSIONS next week!! I will be doing a fun puzzle-piece hunt with my awesome fansite, Late Bloomers, as well as some of their affiliates. More details will follow, but the fun starts Monday! I cannot WAIT to show you guys this cover, it is SO gorgeous!! (Also, the jacket copy rocks SO FREAKIN' MUCH!!!!!)

And on top of that, there will be a special surprise to go along with the cover reveal at the end of next week that I have also been bursting to show people! So mega excitement next week, and an actual writing-related post this week!

Ciao!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Massive Giveaway!

It's still this week! (Technically.) So I am NOT late posting this giveaway. *whistles innocently*

First off, for people in the Phoenix area, just in case you're not sick of seeing me yet, I will be signing at Changing Hands Bookstore, with the super awesome Lisa McMann and Linda Gerber! I love doing group signing with authors who not only have fab books, but are also super nice people and Lisa and Linda are both! So come on out to see us!

Okay, Giveaway time. I am doing four sets of books and they are all signed.

And heck, since I'm giving away signed books, I may as well throw some of mine in there! I'll have entrance rules below, but basically, I'll pick winners and in order they will get to pick a prize pack. In addition to their prize pack, they can choose either Wings or Spells signed and personalized. Clear as mud?

Okay, here are the books!!

First up, the Flame Finder Pack! (Yes, all of the names will be this corny.)



Dark Flame by Allyson Noel and The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting!

Second, the Demon Cat Pack!



White Cat by Holly Black and The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan!

Oh, and total bonus (and made me not want to give it away!!!) Holy drew a cat in White Cat!!!!!



The next pack is the I Am A Loser pack because, well . . . I am a loser.



The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong and an ARC of Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr. Here's the loser part. I got these signed while at the Smart Chicks tour and was trying to be all organized and everything but, well, I failed. So I had Kelley generically sign a book that very clearly has "From the library of Aprilynne Pike" stamped onto it, and forgot to have Melissa leave my name off of any of hers! So here is the exhibit of my loserness.



Oh, yes, I rock SO much. But I wanted to give something away from them! So if you decide to choose the prize pack filled with the evidence of my loser-ness in exchange for the awesomeness of signed books, you're also going to get not just Wings or Spells, but both.

And last but not least, the Waking Trance pack!

This pack will include Wake, by Lisa McMann and Trance, by Linda Gerber, but I don't have a picture of them because I won't get them until tomorrow night. But I will have them!

Okay, so this giveaway is basically to make up for my awful blogging since I started drafting Wings 4, so you've already done the hard part!!! All you have to do now is comment with something startling obvious (like, "Hi, please enter me in your giveaway!") to let me know that you want me to . . . enter you into my giveaway.:D Then Check back on Saturday, October 23rd and if you are a winner, I will need you to email me. (I'll give details then.) See? Super easy!!!

Ciao!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yeah . . . That . . .

First, go read this post. No seriously--I'll wait.

Man, was this a timely post. Some things that particularly struck me:

-"I'd just pulled a completed novel from my publisher that I wasn't happy with and decided to disappear for awhile."

Holy crap!!! So people, if you didn't follow exactly what this means, she wrote a book. A WHOLE book, did self edits, ran it past her agent, turned it in, and then decided it wasn't good enough and pulled it. People, that is some integrity! Personally, if I've put the work in to get that far and the publisher accepts it, then that's my next book! I have to say, I really look up to that level of commitment to quality. I'm honestly not sure I could do it.

-"I had another book done I sent to my agent while I was writing it, which she turned down---it happens, they can't all be winners."

All aspiring authors out there; the next time you get a form rejection on your full manuscript, come read this sentence. This is Sarah Dessen, people. Multiple #1 NYT bestselling author, beloved by millions, Sarah-frickin'-Dessen. Had a book rejected by her agent. The agent SHE pays. Wow! I was blown away. I think we all know that famous authors get to a point where they *can* write just about anything and someone will publish it. (Can is different than should, but the point is, they *can*.) I suspect that Sarah Dessen is at the point. But not only does SHE not do that (see example number one) but her agent doesn't either. Wow. High standards, people!

-"I also know that to my agent, and my editor, and everyone at my publishing company, my in-process freakouts have become as predictable as Christmas. "Oh, right," I picture them saying in their conference rooms and offices in New York, glancing at the calendar, "it IS about time for Sarah to decide to go back to waitressing again, isn't it?""

Hehe. I just like that part.

I am turning my fourth book in tomorrow. Wednesday morning at the very latest. But pushing for tomorrow. I remember tripping along through my first draft and thinking, Wow! I've been thinking about this book for so long that it is practically writing itself! I should have seen the writing on the wall then. The easier first drafts are for me, the more revisions I tend to do. *cringe*

It's been quite a process on this one because I feel a lot of pressure (not from fans, really, mostly from myself) to really get this one right. People have been asking me from day one if I know the ending of the series and I have said, quite boldly sometimes, that yes, I do, and when readers have finished Book Four they will be able to see all of the little seeds I planted throughout the first three books. Gathering up the fruit from all those seeds and getting them to fit cohesively into a plot structure that makes sense has turned out to be . . . challenging. Plot points and character motivation I have had in place for three years suddenly don't make sense on paper. And I can't just change them, because I have been leading up to them for three books! No, it's much more difficult than that. I have to make them make sense. Believe you me, that square peg trying to get into the round hole has nothing on this book.:D

Essentially, I guess it really is just finessing, because the backbone of the plot is still there, the ending I always planned is still there and it is still (IMO) the *right* ending. That hasn't changed. But how we get there, the details involved, have to be malleable.

And it is so frustrating! If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen the saga of the #plotholeofdeath that my husband found. And, sadly, once someone finds such a plothole, as much as you would like to cover your ears and sing, "lalalalalalalalala!" at the top of your lungs until they go away, you now know it's there and darn it! you have to fix it!

And I totally fell down at my hubby's feet and thanked him for finding the problem that made my novel better.

See? I'm good at making stuff up!

No, in truth I--who never yells at my husband--yelled. Twice. And I don't mean two sentences escaped my mouth at a higher than average volume. I mean he got yelled at in two rather extended yelling sessions on two different days. (I'm sorry!!!!!) It was a two-yell book. I don't think I've ever had more than a one-yell book.

I will tell people any day of the week that I have the best job in the world, and I do. I DO!!! But don't mistake that for the *easiest* job in the world. This is a hard job. It is a job with deadlines and schedules and demands and bosses, just like any other job in the world. But it's so much more personal. If you make a mistake on your spreadsheet, you probably don't fall into a cycle of "IsuckIsuckIsuck and I should never write make another spreadsheet again because I am obviously a talentless hack and who the heck hired me anyway?!?!?!?" I think that a minimum of once a book. Usually three to four times. (See Sarah's quote about going back to waitressing.)

And sometimes it is nice to know that other authors--especially authors like Ally Carter, who I consider veterans (I'm still such a baby!)--feel the same way and go through the same struggles.

Anyway, my apologies that it has been two weeks since I last blogged. I've been at that point where I am eating, breathing, and sleeping Book Four . . . and then eating some more . . . and am trying to continue caring about it enough to finish this last draft and do it well! These words came out of my mouth on Saturday, "I don't care anymore; I hate this book." That's when I know I'm almost done.:D

I will be gathering the books for a rather large giveaway later this week, to celebrate being done (for the moment) so stay tuned!

Ciao!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Potpourri

I was always confused by this category in Jeopardy because it was never about nice-smelling stuff in a dish on the coffee table. Turns out it's an incredibly useful topic that says, I have no time to actually organize my thoughts/trivia questions into a real category.

Thus, the title of this blog entry. I do apologize.

1.) I am plugging away really hard finishing up the final self-edits on Book 4. I've seen copy-edits for Illusions and am really excited about them! I should have news about the cover reveal soon. That's the end of the book stuff.:D

2.) We are doing a HUGE giveaway over at the Debs in celebration of Banned Books Week and, particularly, in support of our lovely Deb, Sarah Ockler, whose book, Twenty Boy Summer, is currently being challenged alongside Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. I'm of the opinion that the best way to fight censorship is to make censored and challenged books available to people who choose to read them. So we are giving away 38 (yes, thirty plus eight) copies of Twenty Boy Summer over at the Feast of Awesome. Check it out. You have a week to enter.

ETA: Little, Brown (Sarah's publisher) has joined us on our giveaway and upped the number of copies to 100!!! LOTS of books to win now!! Go enter!!!

3.) Eric Herman is my new hero. He has these funny songs with videos that my kids--all of them--just adore! . . . and the fact that they are on a continuous play loop has nothing to do with it. *whistles innocently*

4.) I haven't gotten them organized into a post yet, but next week I will be hosting a giveaway of a bunch of signed books. Stay tuned!

5.) Cold cereal is the greatest substance on earth and I believe God invented it to be that ambrosia stuff and then the devil put it in my cupboards to tempt me to eat it three times a day. Corn Bursts are particularly evil this week. I think they call audibly to me.

6.) Apparently microwave popcorn is toxic. *crunchmunchcrunchmunch* What?:D

7.) I'm signing at Changing Hands Bookstore (Tempe . . . near Phoenix) tomorrow with Sophie Jordan and Kiersten White. Come see us! And take swag. I have a lot of leftover swag from my Spells tour. I'm an overplanner, what can I say?:D

8.) Um . . . is eight enough? I'm going to call eight enough.

Thanks everyone for still reading this blog while I got through crazy writing time! It's will get better, I promise!! And, well, if you get tired of me not updating, wander over to my Twitter. I'm an addict over there.:D

Ciao!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Appearances!

I wanted to make sure you guys know about what I suspect will be my last two signings of 2010. (On a side note, I can hardly believe 2010 is almost over. I swear it was 2009, like, yesterday!!)

Okay, on Friday, Sept. 24th at 7:00 PM I will be signing at Changing Hands Bookstore with the lovely, and recently titled NYT Bestseller, Kiersten White, author of PARANORMALCY, and Sophie Jordan, Romance and YA author of FIRELIGHT, both really awesome supernatural books! (Dragons and faeries and vampires, oh my!) Please come see us, it should really be a blast!

Then, on Monday October 18th, at 7:00 PM, also at Changing Hands Bookstore, I will be signing with Linda Gerber (if you haven't read her DEATH BY . . . series, you should! It rocks! But on this trip she will be celebrating the release of her newest book, TRANCE) and, oh, a little author some of you may have heard of, super amazing bestseller, Lisa McMann of the WAKE series including WAKE, FADE, and GONE! This should also be a really awesome night. (I know I'm looking forward to it! *wink*)

I love group events not only because it is much less pressure than going solo, but because I get to meet new authors and readers get to be introduced to books they might not have picked up off the shelf! Plus we always do some Q&A and it is fun to hear about multiple authors' experiences. So I would love to see you at one . . . or, hey, both! . . . of those events if you are in the greater Phoenix area.

And if you don't live around here, don't worry! I don't know exactly where I am going, but I have been informed that I will be doing more traveling for the release of ILLUSIONS next year! Hopefully I'll be coming to a city near you!

Ciao!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's A Good Day!

This post has nothing to do with writing whatsoever; you have been warned.:D

About six years ago my husband and I got into Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. I'm not normally a gamer, but I enjoyed this one, and my hubby was super-patient with my incompetence because he really liked getting to play a game with me! Over the course of the two months or so that it took us to beat it--playing in our free time at night after our daughter and charge had gone to bed--I got pretty good at it, if I do say so myself! Near the end of the game we encountered a boss called the Zombie Dragon. Basically, you had to wait for the dragon to stick it's neck out of its nest, and use a joint spell that you both cast concurrently to turn it to stone, and then beat on it. Oh, and you had to fight multiple (really hard!) little bad guys *while* doing this. It was SO hard! We spent about two hours one night trying to beat him and died about a gazillion times. And then, finally, with tiny specks of life left in both of us, we managed to kill the stupid boss! The animation of his death throes started and my husband and I collapsed against each other and laughed.

It was the only reaction you could have. Such a huge relief that all you can do is laugh in glee that it is finally over!

Keep that story in mind--I'll come back to it.

I have a son named Gid. He is so cute and snuggly and great! . . . And when I count the trials in my life, I count him first.:D He is by far, my most difficult child. My mother calls him hurricane Gid and often marvels at how much trouble he manages to make (and she has five kids, so she knows!) I have a stay-at-home husband and even with two of us at home every day, we can hardly keep up with him. High. Maintenence. Child.

He likes movies . . . for fifteen minutes or so. He likes his toys! For about ten minutes. He just will not stay focused on one thing long enough to actually give me a chance to sneak away and get anything done. Getting the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded in the same sitting is a miracle in our house. Which is why it usually gets done after the Gid goes to bed. It's why pretty much anything productive gets done after he goes to bed. (Also, why I work behind a locked door while I am drafting and he still will sit and yell at the door often enough.)

But there is one thing he LOVES. YouTube. He will watch YouTube (usually clips of Pixar movies or LOLcats) for an hour. Only problem, he doesn't know how to use a mouse. So you have to either come back every two minutes and start a new video for him, or sit there with him the whole time. Either way, not productive for me.

We have tried to teach him to use the mouse multiple times. (Who am I kidding, I've been trying to get him to use a mouse for a year!) I mean, Aud learned how to use a mouse at two and Bren even a bit before he turned two. Shouldn't three yo Gid know how to use a mouse by now?!!??:D But no luck.

Yesterday Gid declared himself finished with dinner and trounced upstairs to watch YouTube, because his sister had been doing the honors of switching videos for him before dinner. (Thank you Aud!!!)

I kind of shrugged and said, "Well, I'm not turning on shows for you--we're all still eating."

A minute or so passes and I hear sounds coming from the loft upstairs where the computer is. I turn to Kenny and say, "I think he just started a video."

Kenny listens for a second and was like, "Well, it was probably just paused. He knows how to use the space bar."

Back to eating.

A few minutes later I hear a distinctly different sound. "Kenny," I say, hardly daring to hope, "I think he started a new video."

We both peek out of the kitchen up at the landing and sure enough, he has started a new video for himself.

We stand there while the video finishes and I swear, we were both holding our breath. And our little troublemaker carefully edges the mouse over a new video and clicks.

Kenny and I stepped back into the kitchen, collapsed in our chairs, and started to laugh. He watched his very own videos for fifteen minutes. That has never happened before. My son is grasping the concept of how to use a mouse!

And Kenny and I just kept laughing. At one point he looks up at me and says, "You know, I feel like we just beat the Zombie Dragon again." Which just made us laugh harder.

So today I put him on YouTube again and he watched Pixar videos for about half an hour while I folded bedding, towels, and blankets, and put away all three of my kids' baskets of laundry. All at one time. I think I can safely say that since I have had three kids, that has never happened.

It is a good day!

One of the things that we are really excited about is that in another week or so when he has really gotten the feel for the mouse, we can put him on Starfall.com which taught my other two kids to read. (and is the "secret" behind my son teaching himself to read at age two. Not that hokey Teach Your Baby to Read memorization system, real phonetic reading. Yanno, the kind they do in school.) If you are a parent and haven't seen this site, please go check it out! It is deceptively simple and kids love it!

Gid already loves Starfall (and can tell you what sound all the letters say), but I have to sit and do everything for him and the fact is he will learn better if he can do it himself. Also, yanno, an hour of uninterrupted chore time. Or writing time. Or whatever.

My son knows how to use a mouse. Seriously, the possibilities that opens up for both myself and him are rather staggering. The computer is the most important learning tool in our home and my son just unlocked that door for himself.

Take that, Zombie Dragon!

Ciao!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What's In A Name?

First, an announcement.

The third book in the Wings series will be titled...

Illusions!!

I know it was a long time coming, and I apologize for that. But now that it's public knowledge, you might be interested in why the book remained untitled for so long. You also might not, in which case you will want to skip the rest of this entry. :)

When I first sold Laurel's story, I had titled all four books. The original titles were:

Autumn Wings
Winter Spells
Spring Enticements
Summer Illusions

The plan was for each book to take place during the season in the title, but fairly early on I realized that this wasn't going to work. Furthermore, the sales team at HarperTeen pointed out that with the books tentatively releasing annually during the early summer months, "Autumn" and "Winter" might not draw much of an audience.

So we scrapped the titles and tried to think of new ones.

One serious contender for the first book was Forget-Me-Not. We thought perhaps each book could have a flower name, but while Forget-Me-Not seemed like a decent replacement for Autumn Wings, naming the rest of the books proved more difficult.

We tried on a lot of titles--some serious, some not. Flower Girl and Petalwings didn't make the cut. I was only kidding when I suggested Roots and I'm pretty sure my husband was only kidding when he came up with Venus Boy Trap, but some days it was just easier to think of silly titles than serious ones. :) (My mom suggested Petal Pushers and I told her she was dating herself.:D)

After much deliberation, my fabulous editorial team settled on simply dropping the season from the title and calling the book Wings. Sadly, the struggle for evocative titles had scarcely begun.

I did enjoy some respite, as there was no rush to title the rest of the books. For a while, books 2 through 4 were just called Spells, Enticements, and Illusions. It was suggested early on that Enticements didn't stand on its own, though, and for about a month we called it Enchantments. Somehow that title made it to Amazon Canada, and from there to the rest of the Internet... but it was actually vetoed pretty early on. Like, six months before Wings even came out. (Yanno, ancient history!;))

Spells, however, stuck to Book 2, and eventually HarperTeen gave me permission to announce the title. Which I promptly did! And one month later, I was told that we needed a different title. I was worried, because I'd already announced the title, and I didn't want readers to be confused!

But there wasn't much to be done but brainstorm, and the process began anew. Should we continue with one-word titles? Should we keep the word plural? Wings was both a metaphor and referred to a particular passage in the book--was there something similar we could use from Book 2? It was either my editor or her assistant who came up with Essence, and I prepared to announce the new title on my blog.

And then it was Spells again. I don't know where in the process Essence got trapped--sometimes booksellers express concerns, sometimes it's sales or marketing, you'd be amazed how many people have to "sign off," literally or figuratively, on decisions like this sometimes! But everyone went back to calling Book 2 Spells, and that's how it was released.

So hopefully that explains why I was reluctant to announce Illusions until the title was finally finally final! I would hate for someone to miss a release because they were looking for something with a different name. And sometimes I was very jealous of other authors who managed to get their titles finalized early on in the process! But then again... it's hard to complain about a publishing team who works hard to get things just right.

Now, before you go asking for the title of Book 4: it doesn't have one yet. :) My hope is to post the final cover art for Illusions before Christmas this year, and while I still don't have a firm release date, you should still be able to expect Illusions to arrive at your bookstore around May of 2011.

Ciao!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Better Way?

I hate censorship.

All censorship, but especially in children's literature because I think children and teens are SO important to the social structure of our future. The idea that one adult--quite frankly, usually a conservative parent--should have the power to say what other children can and cannot choose to read is a problem. I think parents have every right to censor their own children (whether or not they *should* is a whole different argument) but do not think you have any right to censor MY children.

So I've been following the events of the Humble ISD Libraries' Teen Lit Festival and I suspect many of you have as well.

The events in short--Ellen Hopkins, a critically acclaimed, bestselling, oh and also oft-banned and censored author who writes very gritty novels in verse was invited to attend the festival. Upon reading (or, more likely, skimming) her books, a few parents enlisted the help of one librarian in protesting Ellen's participation in the Festival because her books are "inappropriate." She was then uninvited by Superintendent Guy Sconzo.

Clear censorship. Let's have no mistake about that.

As Ellen herself said, "I'm offended by the idea that I or a handful of people can be allowed to speak for an entire community." I completely, 100% agree.

Over the next week or so, most of the other authors withdrew in protest, including Matt de la Peña, Tera Lynn Childs, and Melissa de la Cruz. A boycott, essentially. The links in the previous sentence go to their blogs where you can read about their motivation for pulling out. I appreciated reading Melissa's in particular with her discussion about how she grew up under a dictator who supported censorship. If you don't think censorship is a big deal, please, take the time to read these entries.

Earlier this week it was announced that the Festival had been canceled due to, well, a lack of speakers.

The YA authors stood up against censorship and won.

So why am I not happy?

Because I think the wrong people suffered.

Now, instead of a handful of parents and one librarian denying the teens of Texas a chance to meet the awesomeness that is Ellen Hopkins, they have now been able to deny those same teens a chance to meet any authors at all.

And we helped them.

And don't think those censoring parents feel bad. I have no doubt they are sitting back right now and congratulating themselves on their victory. Because, well, that's how personalities who promote censorship generally roll.

Don't get me wrong. When there is a problem like censorship it is ALWAYS better to do something than nothing. I salute the sacrifice and bravery of all of these authors who withdrew from the Festival. I'm not saying that what they did was wrong.

But I can't help but think that maybe there was a better way.

I generally avoid saying anything political on my blog. It's my rule. Which is why I haven't said anything about this before. And maybe I should have. I acknowledge that I probably should have. And if I thought this was an isolated incident, I would probably continue to not say anything. But I know it won't be. It WILL happen again. In fact, it will probably happen to Ellen again. And so I am breaking my own rule to say something political. Probably controversial. And well, it will probably make people mad. But someone has to say it, so here goes.

The people who suffered the most in this whole conflict are the teens of Texas.

Guy Sconzo definitely took some flack. Perhaps the librarian who stood with the censors as well (though I doubt either of them got fired.) But ultimately, the people who bore the brunt of the punishment were the teens who would have attended the festival, and the authors themselves.

And I started thinking, isn't there a way to make the *right* people suffer? And I think there is. I have to say, if I had been one of the authors invited to Humble, I would not have withdrawn.

I would have brought Ellen to the Festival anyway.

Not in person. But make no mistake, the presence of an author does not have to be physical. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. We as authors are acutely aware of that because we know that word of mouth sells books better than anything else.:D Authors could use that force to fight censorship.

What if every author agreed, not to withdraw, but to make Ellen's presence known at every single event at the festival? Every panel they were on, every speech they made, they could mention Ellen. Mention her books. They could say straight out something like, "This reminds me of an author I admire, Ellen Hopkins, who couldn't be here today because the organizers of this festival decided to censor her, and I think you all have a right to know that."

Think that's not enough? All of these authors had to give up a very nice honorarium when they pulled out of the festival. What if they took that money--the same money the administration paid them--and bought cases and cases of Ellen's books to bring with them, and at their signings, gave one away to every person who brought a book to have signed. "Thanks for reading my books! Have a free Ellen Hopkins book! She wishes she could be here, but the festival organizers decided to censor her and I as an author am standing up against that. You should check her out." I would donate my own money to support that project.

Can you imagine if every author in attendance did that? Ellen's presence would be at that festival more strongly that she ever could have been alone, as a single speaker. Every person in attendance would hear about her; children and adults. And, every teen in attendance would be informed about the problem of censorship. The best response to censorship is MORE information, not less. You want to silence us? We will show you our roar!

And there would be complaints. Those censoring parents would be outraged!! And you know who they would complain to? Guy Sconzo. He would be assailed from BOTH sides with complaints. And who deserves it more?

But more importantly, every teen at that festival would know that someone tried to censor them. Because really, do you think they have any idea what happened? A majority, probably a very heavy majority, of these kids are not reading our blogs. They are not reading School Library Journal or Publishers Weekly. There's a good chance they'll never hear about what really happened. And if they do, it will likely be from the same organizers and administration who supported the censorship to begin with.

Again, please don't think that I think any of these authors did the wrong thing. They did not. But this will happen again, and maybe instead of just doing the right thing, we could find a way to do a better thing. I don't think I have all the answers, but I'm trying to think outside of the box. Creativity is the engine of a good revolution and believe me, I want this to be a good revolution.

Ciao!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wings Three

Copy-edits are done and in NYC! Yay! First draft of Wings 4 is done and really crappy, yay!!! And I am blogging again, yay!!!!! (Why am I the only one cheering . . . . ?:D)

Okay, so I have been rather deluged in Twitter, in fanmail, and in comments, about Wings Three. I guess I assume that if you are on my blog, Twitter, or have found my fanmail address, you know about Wings Three. But, well, I have to remember that there are NEW people finding my blog all the time! (Hi new people!!!!) So for anyone who already knows this, you can go read something funny. But if you don't, and have been confused by hashtags like #crypticwings4quotes and think you somehow missed Wings Three altogether, here's the scoop!

Wings Three is done. It has been done since the end of May when I finished line edits on a plane between here and Toronto.:D It is coming out early next summer, probably May again.

No, I can't "make" my publisher put it out earlier. For a good explanation of why, check out Ally Carter's Facts and Fiction post, here. (And why urging us to write faster isn't actually helpful.:D) I know it's really frustrating to see an author completely done with a book you can't read yet, but trust me, there is still a ton of work being done in the process of making it a physical book that you just can't speed up if you want a quality book!

It does have a title! And the title is not Wings Three! It's also not Enchantments despite what Goodreads said, then took back, and now says again.:D The title of the fourth book is also inaccurate. But Wings Three DOES have a title, and it is a great title that I am immensely happy about! And I will tell you this Fall when I do my cover reveal. My apologies for that, Harper likes to keep these things under their hat.

Yes, I did just finish the first draft of Wings 4. (Whoo-hoo!!! Yee-haw!! Boo-yeah!! No, no, I am not excited about this at all . . . .:D) This doesn't actually mean much to anyone except me. All this is is me getting the book done on time for it to come out in the summer of 2012. Yes, I know that is a long time away. But seriously, here is how the next eight months are going to go for me. I will finish Wings 4 in time to get it in by November (and in the interim will do another round or two of Wings 3 copy-edits). After Wings 4 is turned into my editor, she will send me edits for my ghost book (not related to Wings at all) and I will spend 1-2 months doing those. As soon as those are sent in she will send me edits for Wings 4 which means another 1-2 months. Then second edits for ghost book (1 month) followed by second edits of Wings 4 (1 months) which has me finishing both of those books in the spring of 2011, just in time to prepare to release Wings 3 in early summer of 2011. See, I really do have a very crowded schedule.

However, what finishing my draft does mean is that I have actually put the end of the series down on paper . . . er . . . computer screen. Which means that all of the emails I get saying, "Pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeeee have David/Tamani win!" are not going to change my mind. Or Laurel's.:D

Also, no, I will not tell you what happens.:D Endings are as much about the journey to get there as the destination. Trust me, you want to take this whole train ride. The scenery is fantastic! *wink*

What I will tell you is that Wings Three begins in September of Laurel's senior year, and that I will tell you the answer to the cliff-hanger (I really didn't think it was that much of a cliff-hanger!!! I'm sorry!!!!!!) in the very first chapter. No keeping you in suspense! I promise!

So yeah, that's Wings 3.:D

Ciao!

Monday, August 09, 2010

I Have Fallen Behind

On everything.

My blog, my fanmail, heck, my regular mail, and my housekeeping. I did, however, catch up on my laundry last night. Funny how the motivation to have your children wearing actual clean clothing on their first day of school (today) can be a massively motivating force!

I don't see any other catching up happening in the next week. That's because tomorrow the fabulous UPS guy of Awesome will be bringing me copy edits for Book Three! Which is so great! Seeing it in it's near-final form!!!

But it also comes with a deadline. Thus, the not catching up till next week part.

So just wanted to warn you, there will probably be blog silence till the 16th.

But you should follow me on Twitter if you don't already. I say weird things on there. Especially when I am very busy.:D

Ciao!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just For Fun With Meg Cabot!

Okay, Meg Cabot has blogged some reader and author do's and don't's along with some hilarious foreign covers over here.

And if you don't want to do the clicky thing, here is one of the highlights!


"Saying, “I love your work” is super nice, and will make any author SO happy to hear.

Special note about saying “I’m your biggest fan.” Most author’s BIGGEST fan is probably her stalker, the person who insists all of her books are secretly coded messages written about him, and who says he’s coming to get her at her next signing, so she better watch her back. HE’S her biggest fan.

So when YOU say that, even though you mean it as a nice thing, what the author is probably thinking when she hears it is: “Actually, technically, no, you’re not my biggest fan. I have a restraining order against my biggest fan.”

So “I love your work!” is probably best."




*snort* I love it!!

Back to word writing!


Ciao!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

As Promised!

68 Zillion bonus points to Adam Purple!

a) 1.72 meters
b) Yes, it would return to the 5 meter height.

And, uh, yeah, I'm just trusting this answer is right.:D

*goes back to writing fourth book of awesomeness*

Ciao!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Creative Thinking

My brother sent me an email the other day entitled, "How to Fail a Test With Dignity." It included a lot of . . . erm . . . creative but clearly wrong answers to test questions. However, this one was my favorite.



I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed! And I even considered forwarding it on, which, I have to tell you, I never do. (Yes, yes, chain letters, they always end with me. And I've suffered dozens of hideously monstrous death for it! *shiftyeyes*)

I certainly did not immediately think, Hmmm, this is a great metaphor for writing! But you have to admit, that is some creative thinking!

I have had a lot of questions about creativity thrown at me the last month or so, both in blog interviews and in real life. It's apparently a trend right now.:D Where does your creativity come from? (No clue.) Do you think you are more creative than non-writers? (Uh . . . no clue.) How do you come up with all these ideas? (Still . . . no clue. Are you seeing a theme here?)

Every author I know gets (and dreads) the question, "Where do you get your ideas?" After flippantly casting off the answer that I get my ideas at the idea store and if there's a sale I get two, I have to honestly say that I don't know. It's like asking trying to ask how I lift my arm. I don't know, I just . . . lift it . . .

I've also been thinking about creativity and ideas a lot lately because I am winding up the last novel in my series and then I will need to work on something new. It's a little scary to embark on a new project, especially a new series, because it has been so long since I plotted out the Wings series, I'm not sure I remember exactly how to do it. My hope it that it's like riding a bike.:D But who knows.

And I don't really have a conclusive ending to this blog entry, just a math problem with an elephant, some quandaries, and a shrug.

Ciao!

P.S. Sixty-eight ZILLION bonus points to the first person who can actually solve that question. Yanno, the RIGHT way.:D Just reading it made my brain hurt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Four . . . Whoa!

I am back from vacation!! Yay! I had a really, really wonderful time and saw so many people I only get to see every couple of years, but, I have to tell you, by the time we got down to that last day of traveling, I was ready to get home!!! (To my lovely bookshelves . . . oh yessss, my preciousessssss!)



*koffkoff* Anyway . . . Not only am I back from vacation, it is working time. The time when I hunker down and write every day and pretty much say no to everyone. (Sorry in advance . . .)

And what am I working on? Wings Book Four.

OMG!!

No really! I am writing the last book of the series. I'm over fifty pages in, actually. It's a little weird. I've had this book in my head for about three and a half years now, and I wrote out my outline a couple weeks ago. The whole story. Every single important piece of it. I admit it was a little weird to see all the secrets I've been keeping, laid out in a word document. (The only non-publishing team person who knows what happens at the end of this series is my husband. Even my mother does not know . . . so don't ask.:D) It felt like I was cheating. Or revealing state secrets, or something.

So do I get to The End and then I'm done writing?

Absolutely not! I've had a lot of questions about what comes after Wings and my answer has generally been, "Something, but I just can't think that far ahead right now." Turns out it's about time to start thinking that far ahead! The Wings series has been an incredibly passionate, career-altering experience for me, but trust me, I'm not done yet. So here's a little sneak preview of what you can expect from me over the next . . . oh . . . five years (assuming, of course, that Harper still likes me when the Wings series is over.:D)

I have a non-Wings stand-alone tentatively slated to come out between Wings Books 3 and 4 about a human guy named Jeff. I'm still working through the plot of a series about a magical human girl named Candace, and I am about a third of the way through another stand-alone about a semi-human girl named Haley. More long term, I have a series and a duo that are doing some long-term simmering on the back burner. So yeah, you haven't seen the last of me, mwahahahahahaha!!!!

But for now, I am dictating the final fates of Laurel, David, and Tamani. Hehehehe.

Ciao!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bad Blogger, No Cookie

The internet is a wonderful thing.

However, it is also a time-eating monster.

I want you all to know that I love you, you're fabulous, and I actually really do enjoy having an online presence. I want to apologize for my extended absence, and I want to apologize in advance for the extended absences you will continue to suffer. :) Because it really comes down to this: I am so busy writing books for you to read that I'm afraid writing blogs for you to read is sort of falling by the wayside.

(Besides, the blogosphere is a bit of an echo chamber anyway, where the shrillest voices tend to to overpower the most thoughtful ones... but that's a blog for a different day.)

Because there are super-convenient iPhone apps available for places like Twitter and Facebook where a once-sentence update doesn't look ridiculous (as it would here), I am actually more active on those pages, at least for the moment.

I'm NOT quitting blogging. At least not yet! ;) In fact, I have high hopes for the future. But it's been almost a month since I blogged and I figured you could all use an update. :) So here's your update!
  1. I'm done touring for Spells! It was lovely to meet so many of you. I'm sorry I didn't make it to more cities, but I love traveling and if I didn't catch you this time, I hope to meet you next time around! :)
  2. Spells enjoyed four weeks on a very tight NYT list--thank you again to all of my readers for putting it there! John Grisham and Rick Riordan are pretty heavy competition!:D
  3. I'm down to copy-edits on Book 3.
  4. I've graduated from outlining to scene writing in Book 4!It's just shy of fifty pages!
  5. It has been very busy around here.
  6. I got an iPhone 4. Eeeeeeee!!!!! (Also, thank to my hubby who found it for me.:D)
So that's me in a nutshell. How about you guys? :)

Ciao!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Party!


I met Tom at the YAllapalooza that Changing Hands held several months ago and heard about his book, PARTY. Honestly? I'm not really a contemporary realism girl and although I was pleased to meet him and happy to hear of his success with his book, I wasn't really rushing out to read it. What can I say? As I often tell people, I think books are boring unless they have kissing or magic, and preferably both. But I did get a chance to read an ARC a couple months later and took my friend up on it. (And proceeded to destroy the binding on her ARC on accident. I still feel very badly about that!!!)

When I am doing school visits, I challenge kids to read outside of both their demographic and their comfort zone. If they always read realism, I challenge them to pick up a fantasy now and again. If they always read fantasy to dip their toe in the real world now and again.

It is obvious that I need to take my own advice.

PARTY is a novel told in eleven chapters, and eleven voices, all of whom you only get to hear from once. More interestingly, the main character is chapter one. Never to be directly heard from again. It is about one night--about 18 hours--that change everyone. It's like a novel-experience of the movie Crash, which I have yet to see, but because of this book, now have on my Netflicks cue list.:D

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, PARTY came out at the end of April and Tom and I continue to be good friends and we thought that since our books are so closely related *sarcastic snort* we would do a signing together!

So come see us at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale at 7:00 tomorrow (Tuesday, June 8th) as we discuss what it's like to be a new novelist, how we got where we are, and why we write reality or fantasy (sadly, no mud wrestling will be involved.)

Hope to see you there! (And hopefully I will be able to stop talking about the new bookshelves in my office long enough to actually discuss the topics I mentioned.:))

Hope to see you there!!!

(Also, just as an added incentive, this is the last signing I am doing in the Phoenix area for a while. Please come!)

Ciao!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

You Are Not Your Book!!

It's something we hear constantly as aspiring authors. Mostly as a way to distance ourselves from rejections, blindingly painful revisions, rejections, apathetic agents and editors, rejections. You know.

But can I suggest that it is something you should keep in mind even after you are published? And not just to distance yourself from bad reviews. Do not judge yourself, or based your level of self- or professional-confidence on how "big" or awarded your book is. Please!

I have traveled a lot this year and one of the aspects of that that I have really enjoyed is meeting other authors. People like me who have the same oddities, obsessions, and neuroses!! Hooray!

But I am going to scream, if I hear another author say, "Oh, I'm just the author of (fill in the blank.)"

No!! You are not "just" anyone!! You are an author! A published author who has gone through the sweat, blood, and tears of rejections, revisions, the stress of launch day, the gut-rolling rollercoaster of sales. You are an amazing person who has accomplished great things! Some of the most wonderful people I have met are "small" authors who have books at specialized publishers. And those authors will often practically apologize for the niche-ness of their book. Please don't! Your book doesn't have an award next to it--it's not a bestseller. SO?!?!?!? You are still a wonderful author and you deserve my respect. More than that, you deserve YOUR respect.

Repeat after me, I am not my book.

And if you are on the other end of the spectrum and you are an awarded or bestselling author who treats other authors as lesser? I have no words for you. Not any that are appropriate for this blog anyway.:D

Ciao!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Supernatural Summer!!!

It's June! How did that happen!!

Let me tell you about my last week, and perhaps you will understand why I didn't blog.:D

Last Monday I went out of the country for the first time. (Yay Canada!!!) Tuesday through Thursday I got to participate in Harper Canada's Supernatural Summer with Kim Harrison and Lesley Livingston. Oh. My. Gosh!! What a fun week!! Lots of traffic, strange jokes from Kim's hubby (Hi!), and my first high tea with fellow Harper author R.J. Anderson (look for Wayfarer later this month!) were just a couple of the notable moments. I had such a blast! We not only did our nighttime events, but we also had lunches with librarians and corporate people (as well as each other! I LOVE hanging with other authors!) and some five-minute (which means 20-30 minute) meetings with store staffs. It was an amazing week!!

On Friday morning I headed to the airport after waking up at the equivalent of 3:30AM my time *takes a deep breath* got through customs and took a four-hour flight to Phoenix (during which I literally worked on line edits every moment from when they let me take my computer out, to when they made me put it away. Whew!

So then I got off the plane, went home, hugged my kids and hubby, took a shower, and headed right of to the Phoenix ComicCon. (I cut it a little close there, I admit.:D) I spent a good part of the entire weekend at ComicCon and got to meet John Scalzi (!!!) and a new author, Leanna Renee Hieber as well as Dean Lorey, Sam Sykes, and old favorite James Owen. A lovely, if somewhat rushed weekend.:)

That left me one day to pack and spend with my family. Oh, and clean my house. Thus, no blogging.:D

I hope you will all forgive me! Luckily, the Phoenix Airport has free Wi-fi, and my breakfast is awesome, so I am happy to munch and blog this morning.:) I am actually hoping to blog twice this morning as I've had a topic I've been ruminating on for a while. We'll see. They do get a little twitchy if you wait till the last minute to get on your plane.:D

But first things first, business!

It is Supernatural Summer this week and I want to make sure you all know where I am.:D

Tonight (Tuesday, June 1st):

June 1, 2010 – 7:00 pm

Rainy Day Books (Kansas City)

Please note this is an off-site event:

Johnson County Public Library

Central Resource Branch

9875 West 87th Street

Overland Park, KS 66212


Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 2):


7:00 PM

Barnes and Noble Mansell Crossing SC

7660 Northpoint Parkway Ste 200 Alpharetta, GA 30022 770-993-8340


Thursday, June 3rd:

7:00 PM

Borders

965 West Bethany Dr. Allen, TX 75013


The first two events will be me, Kim Harrison, and Ellen Schreiber. In Dallas we will pick up the inestimable Kimberly Derting as well! After that I am peeling off to Tulsa for a writer's conference (I'm the Keynote. Isn't that weird?!?!?) but the Supernatural Summer tour rolls on!! Check out the schedule here: Kim and Ellen and Kimberly will continue and they will pick up the awesome Kelley Armstrong for more events!


Seriously, come see us, people! Group tours are SO fun and if you are an aspiring author this is a great time to hear real experiences and get tips and suggestions. And if you are a fan, this is your opportunity to grill us for spoilers!;)


Ciao!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Party, Party, Party!!!!

It's launch party time and everyone is invited!!!

Please come join me in celebrating the launch of SPELLS at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ at 7:00 on Thursday, May 20th, 2010!

There will be refreshments (mini-cookies and brownies fresh-made from the bakery next door!) and a very small amount of talking from me (I promise!), and lots of mingling!

It's going to be a blast, please join me!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

Okay, not really, but it kind of feels that way.:D I have a ton of things to share and I think the best way to do it is bullet points, so here goes.;)

* SPELLS debuted at number four on the New York Times Bestsellers List this week! HUGE thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of this book and this series for helping to make it happen! You all rock!!!

*I started out my tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, but unbeknownst to me, the nearest airport to Cincinnati is technically in Kentucky. So I landed and my driver picked me up and said, "Welcome to Ohio! Well, it's not actually Ohio, you're in Kentucky!" And for half an irrational second I was like, "Oh no!! I got on the wrong plane again!! I'm in the wrong place!!" Luckily, I didn't, and I wasn't. We soon crossed a river into Ohio and I spent much of the next few days crossing the same state line. Good thing I hadn't done anything illegal.:D

*They have GORGEOUS schools in Ohio! Phoenix doesn't have the historical Euro-style architecture that they have back East (and yes, I have been assured by the Ohioans that Ohio is not "Back East." . . . but it's EST!!) But I love traveling Eastward and seeing the beautiful buildings!

*Books and Company in Dayton, Ohio is one of the most beautiful stores I've ever seen! It's also in a really fabulous shopping center and I may have done a fair bit of browsing while there . . . *whistles innocently*

*Chicago pizza. Mmmmmmm . . .

*Utah and Idaho--Idaho in particular--are having unseasonably cold weather. I left Phoenix on Monday morning and it was 90 degrees. I got to Idaho Falls that night and it was 40. It was enough to shake anyone's belief in global warming.:D

*My mother introduced me to The Pita Pit. Something healthy has no business tasting that good!!!

*I had really amazing signings everywhere I went. It continues to amaze me that people I don't know not only read my book, but then come to bookstores to hear me speak and get their books signed! I have the best fans in the world and I am so thankful for every single one of you!! Thank to all the attendees at my signings and the literally thousands of students I have gotten to see in my school visits!

*I am chatting with the awesome Mundie Moms on Monday, May 17th, at 9:00PM EST (6:00 PM Phoenix time.:D). They always needle me for details about future books and I am a big marshmallow and always tell them too much! So if you want to see them work me over, come join us!!!

*I am having my launch party at Changing Hands in Phoenix (well . . . Tempe . . . but Greater Phoenix ares.:)) on Thursday, May 20th. I will be putting more info up later this weekend, but suffice it to say there will be yummy food. (No, I do NOT bribe people!!*shifty eyes*) If you live in the Phoenix area, please come!!

I am currently sitting in the Salt Lake City airport getting ready to board my plane home to my hubby and kidlettes. After two weeks of traveling I will be home for ten days with them and I am SO looking forward to it! When I got home last weekend my two-year-old did the baby monkey thing and clung to me with his arms around my neck and his legs wrapped around my waist for a good 15 mins before he let me put him down. I love that. *lesigh* I miss my kids' hugs! I think I'll go get me one.:D

Ciao!

Friday, April 30, 2010

In Which I Catch Up . . . A Lot!:D

So . . . I thought I was super busy when I was doing revisions. Turns out trying to catch up on six weeks of housework and preparing for two months of on and off touring (not to mention a couple of writers' conferences in the middle) is even busier! But I am finally sitting down to catch everyone up!

I went to the LDStorymakers' writing conference last week and, man, but it was a good one! Dave Wolverton/Farland was the keynote speaker with Nephele Tempest and Laura Rennert as visiting agents and Krista Marino as the visiting editor. Also on the roster were . . . well . . . me:) and Dan Wells, Jessica Day George, Jeff Savage, James Dashner, and Bree DeSpain, among several others. I really had a blast visiting with old friends and meeting readers. I taught a class on writing fantasy for the YA market and really had a blast with that. I also headed a bootcamp table and since I very rarely critique manuscripts these days, it was actually quite fun! Took me back to my college days! All in all, I had a really great time and got to say hi to a lot of blog readers. (Sadly, often all I got to do was say a brief hi as there were about a zillion people there! If I didn't get to sit and visit with you, I'm really sorry! Jewel and Jessie, I'm looking at you!:))

So, Spells is releasing in four days. Do I look nervous? I should! I'm feeling nervous! Spells is really special to me because I really learned a lot about the craft part of writing between finishing up edits on Wings and beginning edits on Spells and I hope that it shows. On top of that, the success of a debut has so much to do with your publisher's marketing, but sequels have more to do with word of mouth. And word of mouth scares me!:D But regardless, Tuesday is coming quickly and I am excited to be touring this year and getting the opportunity to meet readers! I've had several readers message/email/tweet me to let me know that they will be attending one of my stops. Thank you! I worry about showing up to these cities I've never even visited and having practically no one there. *koffkoff* It may have happened pretty much exactly like that at one particular city last year. *koffkoff* So thanks for letting me know there will at least be a few friendly faces at each stop I'm going to! You guys' support means the world to me!

I think I have mentioned this before, but now that the events are set, I am so happy to announce that I will be participating on Harper Canada's Supernatural Summer this year as well as the US one! (I love group tours so I was beyond thrilled to get the invitation!) I will be touring with the lovely Lesley Livingston (Wondrous Strange and Darklight) and Kim Harrison (More books than I will ever write in my life including Once Dead, Twice Shy and Early to Death, Early to Rise.) We will be appearing at three events around Toronto and I even have a nifty graphic to go with it!



This is a publicity image, so if any of you Canadians want to grab it and post it elsewhere, please feel free!

HarperTeen has launched my microsite and I actually really love even the name of it. Castyourspells.com Isn't that awesome!!! And the site itself is gorgeous too! What can I say, Harper spoils me! That's why we're getting married.:D There will be more content added to the site as it rolls in (a quiz, some Q&A, a booktrailer) but one of the things they already have up is a fan video trailer contest that I am really excited about!!! You can go check out the details, but basically, they have a kit with everything you need (music, excerpts, etc.) and you can make your own video for Spells and win books and have your video highlighted on Harperteen.com! I LOVE fan videos, so I am really excited to see what you all come up with! So if you are video-graphically inclined, check it out!

If you aren't going to be in one of the cities that I am touring to, you can still come ask me your burning questions at a chat tonight with the Open Book Society! I am chatting at 5:00 PST (8:00 EST) here. Feel free to stop by!

And, last but not least, if you live around Dayton, Cincinnati, or Chicago, come seeeee meeee!!!!!!!:D Details here.

Phew! And I think that about covers it!!!:D

Ciao!