Monday, April 30, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Yasmine glanced briefly at Laurel and Tamani before lowering her voice. “I can do great things,” she said, so quietly Laurel scarcely heard. “You have told me for years, that I can and will do great things.”
“That is precisely why you must stay here,” Jamison said, lifting one hand to touch her face. “What we go to do now is not great—it is only necessary. It is more important now than ever that you remain alive so that you can do those great things. Avalon cannot afford to lose you, or all our efforts will have been in vain, in the very moment they are nearest to blossoming.”
Whether Yasmine understood Jamison’s cryptic speech or not, she nodded her assent, then turned to follow Marion, who hadn’t waited for her. Jamison’s eyes followed the two Winter faeries until they reached the Palace and were safely inside with their Am Fear-faire. Only then did he turn back to the group. “Come,” Jamison said, his voice choked as he led them down.
“There are . . . so many,” Laurel said to Tamani, as they followed Jamison, passing lines of sentries still marching up the path that led to the Winter Palace.
“Two hundred, give or take,” Tamani growled.
“Two hundred?” Laurel exclaimed, her breath catching in her throat. “Does she really need that many?”
“Of course not,” Tamani said.
Laurel hesitated. “Can Avalon spare that many?”
“Of course not,” he repeated, weakly. “Let’s go.”
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
So here she is to share a bit about The Springsweet and a contest!
"Do you know what I've missed since coming here? Books. I do miss reading novels, don't you?"
-Zora, The Springsweet
Pretty much every writer started out as a reader; now that we're writers, we can't help but write about people who love books. Sometimes IN the books. It's meta upon meta, but it makes perfect sense to us.
To celebrate books, Saundra Mitchell's blog tour is all about sharing two great things that go great together: books + free.
Today, you can enter to win a copy of Aprilynne's WINGS, and a signed set of Saundra's THE VESPERTINE and THE SPRINGSWEET. All you have to do is comment in this entry, and leave an e-mail address where we can contact you. (US & Canadian residents only, please.)
And tell us about your favorite book, too. Growing a TBR pile is the best gardening there is!
A Companion to The Vespertine
by Saundra Mitchell
Hardcover & E-book
“A lovely historical romance takes readers back to the 1890 Oklahoma territory. (T)he author conjures a convincing picture of life on the Oklahoma prairie, painting an absorbing portrait of the landscape and of the people there. A high-quality, absorbing drama.”
It’s a long way from Baltimore to Oklahoma Territory. But Zora Stewart will go any distance to put the tragic events of her sixteenth summer behind her. So this city girl heads to the tiny frontier town of West Glory to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going.
When another Baltimorean shows up in West Glory, Zora couldn’t be more surprised. Theo de la Croix made the long trip out west hoping to court Zora, whom he has long admired from afar.
But Zora has developed an attraction to a rather less respectable fellow: Emerson Birch, a rough-mannered young “sooner” whose fertile land is coveted.
As Zora begins to suspect that there may be more than luck behind Emerson’s good land, she discovers an extraordinary, astonishing power of her own: the ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a “springsweet” to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land.
Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water. Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.
Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture-deliverer and a layout waxer. She's dodged trains, endured basic training, and hitchhiked from Montana to California. She teaches herself languages, raises children, and makes paper for fun. She's the author of Shadowed Summer, The Vespertine, The Springsweet, and the forthcoming The Elementals and Mistwalker. She's also the editor of the forthcoming YA anthology Defy the Dark. She always picks truth; dares are too easy.
Friday, April 13, 2012
David stepped hesitantly back, but stayed close by his side, wedging a foot in front of the door as Tamani reached it. “Then let me come with you,” he said. “I’ll drive. You can sit and think for a while. Decide if this is really the right choice.”
“Oh, so now you’re the hero? Now that Laurel’s here to see you?” Tamani said, feeling the grip he had on his temper begin to slip. “Last night you left. You ran away instead of doing what needed to be done with Yuki. I’ve been doing what needs to be done for eight years, David. And I haven’t failed or run away yet. If there’s one person who can keep Laurel safe, it’s me—not you!”
When had he started yelling?
Monday, April 09, 2012
Also, we have exactly three weeks left before DESTINED releases and I will be posting a new teaser that is AT LEAST a paragraph long every couple of days.:D So keep an eye out.
Tamani pressed his forehead against the chilly windowpane, fighting back a wave of exhaustion. Sleep wasn’t an option, not while the only thing between him and an angry Winter faerie was a thin line of table salt.
Tonight, he was Fear-gleidhidh twice over.
The old word was one he normally wore with pride. It marked him as Laurel’s guardian, her protector. But it had a richer meaning, one that went beyond the more traditional Am Fear-faire. Fear-gleidhidh meant "warden," and Tamani was charged with not only keeping Laurel safe but making certain she accomplished the mission Avalon had given her as a child.
Now he played prison warden too.
He looked over at his captive. Yuki’s chair sat on the scuffed linoleum in the middle of a thick circle of white, granular salt. She slept, her cheek resting on her knees, hands remained cuffed loosely behind her. She looked uncomfortable. Beaten.
“I would have given up everything for you.” Her voice was hushed but clear.
Not sleeping after all. And she could never be harmless, he reminded himself. The small white flower blooming from the middle of her back, marking her a Winter faerie, was proof enough of that. It had been over an hour since David cuffed her to the chair—an hour since Chelsea had exposed the irrefutable proof that she was, in fact a Winter faerie—and Tamani still hadn’t gotten used to the sight. It filled him with an icy fear he had rarely felt before.
“I was ready. That’s why I stopped you before you brought me inside.” Yuki looked up and unfolded her legs, stretching as best she could under the circumstances. “But you knew that, didn’t you?”
Tamani held his tongue. He had known. And for a moment he’d been tempted to let her make her confession. But it wouldn’t have ended well. Yuki would eventually have discovered that his affections were a sham, and then he would be at the mercy of a Winter faerie scorned. Better to cut the charade short.
He hoped he wasn’t deceiving himself about that. She posed a threat; he shouldn’t have felt any guilt about lying to her in the first place, much less now that he knew she’d been lying too. The power Winter faeries had over plants also made it possible for them to sense plant-life at a distance, so from the instant Yuki had met Tamani, she had known him for a faerie. Known Laurel, too. The Winter had played them all.
So why did he still wonder whether he’d done the right thing?
“We could have been so good together, Tam,” Yuki continued, her voice as silky as her rumpled silver dress, but with a malicious edge that made Tamani shiver. “Laurel’s not going to leave him for you. She may be a faerie on the outside, but inside she’s all human. David or no David, she belongs here, and you know it.”
Avoiding his captain’s eyes, Tamani turned back to the window and peered out into the darkness, pretending to look at . . . something. Anything. A sentry’s life was full of viciousness, and Tamani and Shar had both seen each other take extreme measures to protect their homeland. But always against an obvious threat, a violent attacker: a proven foe. Trolls were their enemy—had always been. Winter faeries were the rulers of Avalon, and though Yuki had deceived them, she’d never actually harmed them. Somehow, putting her in chains felt worse than killing a hundred trolls.
“You and me, Tam, we’re the same,” Yuki continued. “We’re being used by people who don’t care what we want or what makes us happy. We don’t belong with them; we belong together.”
Reluctantly, Tamani glanced at her again. He was surprised to see that she wasn’t looking at him as she spoke—she was staring past him, out the window, as if at some bright future she still imagined possible. Tamani knew better.
“There isn’t a door in this world that can be closed to us, Tam. If you vouched for me, we could even go peacefully to Avalon. We could stay there together and live in the palace.”
“How do you know about the palace?” Tamani asked reflexively, knowing even as he did that he was snapping at her bait. A barely audible sigh came from Shar, and Tamani wondered if it was directed at Yuki’s stupidity or his own.
“Or we could stay here,” she continued, calmly, as though Tamani hadn’t said anything. “Anywhere we wanted to go, anything we wanted to do, we could. Between your power over animals and mine over plants, the world would be ours. You know, the pairing of a Spring and Winter would work really well. Our talents complement each other perfectly.”
Tamani wondered if she understood just how right she was—or how little it tempted him.
“I would have loved you forever,” she whispered, bowing her head. Her dark, lustrous hair fell forward, veiling her face, and she sniffled quietly. Was she crying, or stifling a laugh?
Tamani startled when a knock sounded at the door. Before he could take a step, Shar moved silently to the peephole. Knife in his fist, Tamani tensed—ready. Was it Klea? That’s what everything was for—the circle, Yuki in cuffs—an elaborate trap to snare the scheming Fall faerie who might be trying to kill them.
And might not.
If only they could know for sure.
Until they did, Tamani had to assume they were a threat—a lethal one.
But with a shimmer of a grimace, Shar pulled the door open and Laurel entered the room, Chelsea close behind.
“Laurel,” was all Tamani managed to say, his fingers falling from the knife. Even after loving Laurel for as long as he could remember, and lately becoming something . . . something more, he still felt a leap of joy every time he saw her.
She had changed out of her dark-blue formal—the one she’d worn when he'd held her in his arms over a year ago at the Samhain festival, when he’d kissed her so passionately. It seemed so far away.
Laurel wasn’t looking at him; she only had eyes for Yuki.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Tamani whispered.
Laurel arched one eyebrow in response. “I wanted to see for myself.”
Tamani clenched his teeth. In truth, he did want her there, but his own selfish desires were at odds with his concern for her safety. Would he ever be able to satisfy both?
“I thought you were going after David,” Tamani said to Chelsea, who was still in her deep-red formal. She’d ditched her heels somewhere, so the bottom of the dress pooled at her feet like blood.
“I couldn’t find him,” Chelsea said, her lip quivering almost imperceptibly. She looked at Laurel, who was still studying their silent prisoner.
“Yuki?” Laurel said tentatively. “Are you okay?”
Yuki looked up, glaring at Laurel with steel and fury. “Do I look okay to you? I’ve been abducted! I’m handcuffed to a metal chair! How would you be?”
The Winter faerie’s venomous tone seemed to hit Laurel like a breaking wave and she took a step backward. “I came to check on you.” Laurel glanced at Tamani, but Tamani wasn’t sure what she wanted. Encouragement? Permission? He offered her a pained grimace and a tiny, helpless shrug.
Laurel turned back to Yuki, the Winter faerie’s expression unreadable, her chin held high. “What does Klea want from me?” Laurel asked.
Tamani didn’t expect her to answer, but Yuki met Laurel’s gaze and simply said, “Nothing.”
“Then why did you come?”
Yuki smiled now, a crooked, mischievous smile. “I didn’t say she never wanted anything. But she doesn’t need you anymore.”
Laurel’s eyes darted to Tamani, then to Shar, before returning to Yuki.
“Laurel, listen,” Yuki said, her voice quiet, comforting. “This whole charade is completely unnecessary. I’ll talk to you if you just get me out of here.”
“That’s enough,” Tamani said.
“Step in here and shut me up,” Yuki said, glaring at Tamani before turning back to Laurel. “I’ve never done anything to hurt you and you know I could have. I could have killed you a million times, but I didn’t. Doesn’t that count for anything?”
Tamani opened his mouth, but Laurel laid a hand on his chest, silencing him. “You’re right. But you’re a Winter faerie. You hid that, even though you had to know about us. Why?”
“Why do you think? The moment your soldier friends found out what I was, they chained me to a chair!”
Tamani hated that she was right.
“Okay, well, maybe we just need to start over,” Laurel said. “If we can all figure this out before Klea shows up, even better. If you could just tell us—”
“Tamani has the keys,” Yuki said, looking over at him, malice gleaming in her eyes. “Let me out of here, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.”
“No deal,” Tamani said, doing his best to sound bored.
Laurel spoke to Yuki again, cutting them off. “It’s probably safest for everyone if—”
“No!” Yuki shouted. “I can’t believe you’re even a part of this! After what they did to you? To your parents?”
Tamani frowned; what did Laurel’s parents have to do with anything?
But Laurel was already shaking her head. “Yuki, I don’t like that they made me forget. But I can’t change the past—”
“Forget? I’m not talking about memory elixirs. What about the poison?”
“Oh, come on—” Tamani blurted.
Laurel shushed him. “Yuki, do you know who poisoned my father?”
Tamani was pretty certain of the answer, and he knew Laurel was too—it had to have been Klea. But if Laurel could convince Yuki to confirm their suspicions . . .
“Your father?” Yuki looked confused. “Why would they poison your father? I’m talking about your mother.”
Again Laurel looked at Tamani, and he shook his head with a tiny shrug. What was Yuki playing at?
“You don’t even know, do you? Big coincidence that the couple who happened to own the land around the gate just happened to be childless—waiting for a little blond baby to pop into their lives. How . . . convenient. Wouldn’t you say?”
“That’s enough,” Tamani said sharply. He should have guessed; more games. Yuki was just looking for ways to get them doubting themselves—and each other.
“They did that,” Yuki said. “Fifteen years before you even showed up on their doorstep, the faeries made sure your mother was baby-hungry enough to take you without question. They damaged her, Laurel. Made sure she could never have her own children. They ruined her life and you’re siding with them.”
“Don’t listen to her, Laurel. It’s not true,” Tamani said. “She’s just trying to get into your head.”
“Am I? Why don’t we ask him?”
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Wings now has 32 publishers around the world, publishing in 28 languages--there are two English editions, two Portugese editions, two French editions, and a simplified as well as complex Chinese edition. Not every country has its own bestseller list, but I am aware of my books hitting bestseller lists in Brazil, Germany, and Italy for sure, and several of my international publishers indicated that the series is doing well all over the world. In fact, Illusions was on the children's bestseller list in Italy while I was there!
HERE'S A PICTURE!
(See all those Jeff Kinneys on there both above and below mine? Oh yeah.:))
Foreign rights is something I've talked about before. Some authors sell "world rights" to their publishers, and after that, don't give it much thought (except to post the pretty pretty covers on their websites!!!). Some limit the scope to "North American English" (so their publisher can only sell books in the U.S. and Canada). As I've said before, which rights you try to hold onto depends partly on where you think your book will sell, and partly on the terms your publisher offers--for example, if your publisher only offers 50% on subrights (honestly I've heard numbers all over the place, but 50% is not great), but your agent does them for 20%, keeping your world rights is probably a good idea
If you think your agent can sell them!
Fortunately, Writers House has a fabulous foreign rights team. Even so, early in my career I was warned that I should think of foreign rights as "found money" and I certainly shouldn't expect to collect royalties beyond my advances.
So that's sort of where my thoughts on the matter sat for a while.
Then one day I was talking to the hawt and fabulous Jamie Ford about his trip to the Frankfurt Buchmesse. He told me that he felt it had been a worthwhile experience for him, because he had several foreign publishers.
I thought, I have several foreign publishers...
But then Jamie went on to say that, for children's books, the real place to be was Bologna, Italy.
I thought, I would like to go to Italy...
The general tone of these international book fairs is very business-oriented. It is not like BEA where you have authors doing signings and all the publishers are giving away free books. In fact, very few authors go to these things because even if they have a lot of foreign publishers there's simply not much for an author to do. It's agents pitching books to publishers and making deals and just generally doing all the things agents do because authors can't, don't know how, or simply don't want to. It's one of those places where agents really earn their cut, and they seriously work like crazy. Like. Crazy.
Well, Jamie had inspired me, and I decided I would ask my agent her opinion. She passed along the idea to the foreign rights people, and they supported the idea. Supported it with a lot of exclamation points.:D
So I went to Italy!
My amazing sub-rights agent arranged for me to have a brief meeting with every single foreign publisher I have that attended the fair. In these meetings I had the opportunity to pitch books they hadn't already bought rights to (new books, but also, some of them have only purchased parts of the Wings series, for example), and got to hear about how my books are doing in their countries. It was super-productive for me, but again--if I didn't already have a bunch of foreign publishers, I can see how there wouldn't have been much for me to do there. As usual, Jamie was right. :D
I got to learn things like: there are no cheerleaders outside of America! Or few enough that most countries don't buy books about cheerleaders. I saw firsthand how many books that are popular in the United States are not very popular outside it... and vice versa. At least until there's a movie, then it pretty much gets popular everywhere. :) I got to learn a bit more about the workings of the industry and see some foreign rights agents in action.
So in addition to all the fabulous food, architecture, language, events, and ambiance... it was a very interesting business experience. I guess the only thing better than a trip to Italy... is a trip you can write off your taxes. ;)
Will I go back someday? Absolutely! Next year? No. The timing was perfect for this year because I had several new books to pitch. It will be a few more years before I have new books to pitch again. (Ah, the downfalls of writing mostly series-es.;)) But when the time does come, absolutely I would go back! In a second!
Now, I have to refocus and get my head back into launch season! Less than a month to Destined! So much to do! So little time! And I haven't given you guys nearly enough teasers... I think I should post the first chapter soon, don't you?
Friday, April 06, 2012
My trip actually started out with a two-hour layover at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. It was rather futuristic-looking!
I didn’t get to stay long—Paris! I am coming back someday!!!!—but I did manage to grab a bit of lunch.
Brie and spinach quiche, cream of carrot soup, and a pecan tart. (Pastries, NOM!) Then it was off to Bologna where I had a dinner appointment that night. I needed a nap, but I had to go out and walk around a little bit first. Can you blame me? Bologna is gorgeous! I kept telling people all week that I loved being surrounded by so many old things because we just don’t have anything like that in Phoenix. Even the Native American and Spanish structures are mostly out of Phoenix. In Phoenix, a fifty-year-old building is “old.” So imagine my utter delight when one of the first things I saw was this!!!
Ruins in the middle of a busy neighborhood? No big deal.:D Seriously. Right there at the head of the Via Independenza! RUINS!!! I was very happy.
I went to a gorgeous restaurant with my Dutch publisher that had exquisite décor and even more exquisite food! (You’re going to hear a lot about food in this entry.:D)
Walked both to and from the restaurant on Via Independenza which is the busy street in Bologna. It (and most of the sidewalks) is topped by portici or arches because, although it did not rain while I was there, it apparently rains a lot.
And I got a huge kick out of the fact that the sidewalks are marble.
In other places the sidewalks were stone, but rarely did you see a cement sidewalk. All stones, bricks, and marble!
But this became my home away from home.
The agent center at the fair. The sheer number of books being pitched at the fair was rather intimidating. There are 104 agent tables and every table had about fifteen appointments each of the four days. Each. Table. It was amazing!!
And that’s just the agent center! On top of that, there were five enormous (think Costco-sized) halls full of booths upon booths of publishers. Like my German publisher, who had the first three books in their catalog as well as the first two on display.:D
Some fun sights from the fair—the long version of the red carpet.:D
Seriously, this carpet stretched for about a block to the entrance of the fair, and from there, it went all over the place, down aisles and corridors. They must have had about three miles of this carpet!
And every night my fabulous foreign rights agent, Cecilia, had a different publisher take me out to dinner. Which is how I landed here:
And on top of that, she let me accompany her to THE party of Bologna (The Dutch party—apparently it’s legendary and after attending, I know why!) which was at this gorgeous old manor with amazingly maintained décor.
And the food! Did I mention the food?
Profiteroles. These are like three of the best cream puffs you’ve ever had covered in the richest chocolate pudding ever made. And they were just at the Fair’s self-serve cafeteria. I may have eaten them two days in a row. *innocent look*
Breakfast. Our hotel put out an amazing breakfast every morning. Breakfast, most important meal of the day, so you should eat a lot, right? Right.:)
Then some traditional favorites:
Caprese (Tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil, topped with red vinegar and olive oil)
Ravioli stuffed with sausage in a cream sauce with Gorgonzola cheese.
Panna Cotta in caramel sauce. (The first thing I did upon getting home was find a good recipe for panna cotta. OMG SO GOOD!!!!!)
Despite the lovely time I had, I did go to Bologna to work, so for the first three days that’s mainly what I did. I spend all day pitching my next books to foreign publishers, subagents, and scouts. It was fun but exhausting. And I didn’t even have as many appointments as the agents did! Seriously, guys, a lot of work!
But once the fair was over (for me) I had a day to do what I wanted. On recommendation, I decided to get up early and go running to Studio Saint Luca, which is set high on a hill that overlooks the entire city. But in order to get there, you have to go through 660 portici that run down Via Saragozza and then up a very steep hill.
But first, of course, you have to get to Via Saragozza.:) So my run started with me going through Piazza Maggiore:
Normally filled to the brim with people, but empty at 7:00 in the morning. (Italians don’t rise early; no shops were open either.) It was nice to see the architecture completely uninterrupted.
After having to turn around once (I missed a road and got to go into a newspaper stand and ask for directions with my limited Italian and it worked!!!:D) I finally got there. The portici start before reaching this plaque:
But this is the point at which they stop being flat and start to climb.
(For wimps they did have a road.;))
And along the way were about a dozen little arched alcoves with old paintings in them! (Excuse the bars.)
Once you reached the top their was a gorgeous church and a gorgeous view!!!
Of the city:
And the hillsides:
And then it was time to go back down.
I made MUCH better time on the way down.:D
For lunch the lovely Jessica of Wings Italia:
came to join me for lunch and we went to have real Italian pizza at a place recommended to me by some of the people from my Italian publisher (Sperling and Kupfer) the previous night. And ya’all, it was amazing!
Also, huge! They recommended I try the classic pizza Margherita and it was fabulous! But when I go back, I will definitely try something bolder!
One of my favorite things about Italy were the beautiful Catholic churches. I’m not Catholic, but I enjoyed taking a few minutes to duck into just about every church I came across to have a few minutes of peace and quiet and to observe the amazing architecture. I have scads of pictures, but this is one of my favorites.
I loved just walking in Italy and seeing the old buildings. I like staying off the main road because I think you find better—and, let’s face it—more authentic things a little away from the crowds. (I can’t imagine being a tourist who never strays from the Via Independenza and the Piazza Maggiore, but apparently most of them don’t.) And when you don’t get off the beaten path, you don’t get to see things like this:
And you might just miss something like this too!:D
However, speaking of the Piazza Maggiore, I did find this in the bookshop there.:D
But, alas, all good things do come to an end. 5:00 AM found me at the airport, ordering a glass of orange juice and a croissant. And this is what I got:
Blood orange juice! Never had it before! It was fabulous.:)
Then I proceeded to fly two hours back to Paris, and then 10.5 hours back to SLC where my family was with my in-laws. And, um, my feet were not happy with me. When I tried to put my shoes back on after landing, they barely fit!!!
Apparently your feet swelling on a long flight is common. Who knew? Well *I* do now.:D
Whew! So that is a really fast rundown of my trip to Italy! (And well, only about a fourth of the pictures I actually took.) It was amazing and wonderful and from both a personal and business standpoint, I’m so glad I went!!!! (And I can't believe you got this far!)
Ciao! (And yes, everyone does say that there.)