Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Big Freaking Scary Giveaway!

This past couple of weeks have been so fun. Like seriously jump-up-and-down, toss-glitter-in-the-air, dance-around-in-my-pajamas kind of fun because *drumroll please*

I have, right now, on my laptop...



And I can't show you yet.

But it will be very soon! I promise. So, stick with me and in the meantime, I'll celebrate scary books by giving some away!

Ahem... try a little harder for some enthusiasm please?

Now that's more like it! Much better!

And on to the giveaway! Since we all know I have a fondness for the creepy & scary, I am going to be giving away some of my favorite scary books I've read recently.

TEN by Gretchen McNeil
ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake &
A signed copy of THE HOLLOW CITY by Dan Wells

Dude. So much scary awesome is happening right here! So enter below. I will announce the winners (yes, there will be 3!) next Wednesday, November 7th.

And as soon as I know the exact date of my cover reveal, I will post it here, on twitter, on facebook, the sidewalk in front of my house, and pretty much everywhere else the powers that be will let me write it down. Because, seriously, I can not wait.

Now go enter! Win stuff! And have a Happy Halloween!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 29, 2012

Natalie Whipple's TRANSPARENT Cover

I see a lot of covers. A lot is probably an understatement and it isn't even an actual number. Let's just leave it at 'SO MANY.'

And while I like a lot of them, there are few that leave me staring at my phone in the middle of a restaurant and saying, "Wow...this is just so--wow!" And then showing both of my kids so we can all talk about how cool it is.

That's what happened when I saw the lovely Natalie Whipple's TRANSPARENT cover. It's gorgeous. I think Harper Teen does very cool covers, but this is one of my favorites. I love everything from the popping colors to the tagline to the general vibe. It's just purely awesome. 

So, I waiting long enough after her reveal to be fashionably late...and now I'm putting that prettiness up on my blog so that if you happened to miss the reveal, you can now "ooh and aah" along with me.

Don't you love it? *pets* You can find it on Goodreads.

I love starting off Monday staring at lovely things! Happy Monday! And come back for a Big Freaking Scary Giveaway on Wednesday to celebrate Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration comes from the strangest places. When I was in Philly, I saw this gate and groundskeeper's building in Rittenhouse Square. My brain went something like this:

Thought 1 : Wow! How cool is that?
Thought 2 : It's really gorgeous.
Thought 3 : Hmm, I bet it could be creepy at night.
Thought 4 : I wonder what kind of situation would make someone have to break in and hide in there...

Yeah, I never claimed my brain wasn't a scary place. That's what has been on my mind lately, what's on yours?

ALSO -- you want to see something else mind-bendingly inspiring? Go see Natalie Whipple's cover reveal for her upcoming debut Transparent!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Setting Philly 2

On Wednesday, I posted the first part in this series: Finding a middle ground. Today I wanted to discuss how setting can define characters within their world.

Setting: Interacting with the World

In one scene, a character may feel embraced by the city surrounding her. All the buildings can feel welcoming. In another scene, perhaps at night and when she is afraid, she might feel more enclosed, trapped. All in the exact same place. That kind of interaction with her world reveals a lot about her character arc.

This is a statue in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. It depicts a lion fighting a serpent. It's awesome and gorgeous and totally sets the character firmly in the real world. This is a real thing that a reader can go and see for themselves. I like that tangible piece of reality in my book very much, but my favorite part of the statue being in the book, is how my character interacts with it.

A quick excerpt to show you what I'm talking about:

I open my eyes and squint at the statue across from my bench. It depicts a fight to the death, a battle. A massive lion crushes a serpent beneath his claw in final victory. Their lives are at stake, their combat fierce. In some ways, I relate more to these animals than the people in the park around me. I struggle to move past my own battle, still remembering every moment of the fight and never able to celebrate my triumph.

It gives a glimpse into her character while at the same time raising a lot of questions. This is my favorite way to use setting. I'm a character oriented kind of gal. Setting that does nothing to advance the story or the character usually feels a little flat to me. I know a lot of fantasy readers sometimes read books purely for the world building and don't get me wrong. I love me some well constructed worlds, but I'm more interested in the why than the what. Show me why the world needs to be this way to work with the plot or the character...that will keep me reading.

What about you? What keeps your attention in a story?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Setting Philly 1

I am home. It is good.

I promised pictures and discussion of setting today, and I'm delivering now. I'm going to stick to some of the basic points that I try to do with my setting. I'll probably post one new thought today and another on Friday. Just because I don't think my mind has recovered enough for more than one fully-formed tip. Hang in with me a bit.  

In the middle of downtown Philadelphia is Rittenhouse Square. It's this beautiful tree filled park surrounded by tall buildings and rushing business people. I love it. Depending on the lighting and the emotion, this place can look either like nature at war with the city, or nature in harmony with the city. It all depends how you play it. This is part of my focus today. Setting is relative. This photo (and more to come) are from this park.

SETTING - Finding a middle ground

There is definitely such a thing as too much AND too little when it comes to setting description. Too much, and the reader loses track of (and interest in) the plot. Too little and everything is occurring in a white room. I also like to try to think a little abstractly when it comes to description. I try to describe the setting through the eyes of my character. How would they see it? Then the description reveals both the setting and adds a new dimension to my character.

The middle ground is also a great territory to hang out when it comes to metaphors and similes. I try not to go with too common ones, but I also don't want to go so far into left field that it pulls the reader out of the story. This is another situation where the comparisons the main character makes can reveal a lot.

For example, in INSOMNIA, there is a line that says, "one fact kept bobbing back up to the surface like a body that wasn't weighed down properly". Is this line creepy? Quick, everyone nod together now. Of course it's creepy, but it gives some real insight into the state/mind of the main character.


Can you think of a book you read recently where the description was done well? What did you like about it?

I'll be back Friday with more thoughts on setting...and more pictures of Philly!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Setting in Your World

I'm traveling again. After this month, I may become a hermit. I love going places, but I admit...I miss my own bed, my own world.

And that leads us to the topic I want to discuss this week -- setting. I'm in Philly right now, and my most recent book takes place here. It's been fascinating to see the things and places I've written about up close. Being in the same place and feeling some of the same things as my main character is surreal.

Anyway, I wanted to start with a question and then I'll give my input into how/why/what I do with it on Wednesday. Complete with photographic detail. ;-) You don't want to miss it. The question is this:

How integral was the setting in the book you are reading/writing? How is it used? Is it more of a backdrop for the action or almost it's own character? Can you think of a way it could be used more effectively?

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Visiting the Publisher - Flux

Last week, after my awesome visit to Green Bay. I had the opportunity to go to the Flux offices and meet so many great people. My editor, Brian Farrey, is fantastic. It was so fun to meet him in person, and huge props to him for coming in to meet me even when he was sick. :( Thanks, Brian!

He gave me the tour, complete with color commentary, which I very much appreciated. We were basically winding in, out, and around a maze of quiet cubicles.

Extremely quiet.

I'd never really thought about this, but they have the accounting department next to the editors and when editors are reading(which they do a lot) , they prefer to focus in silence (at least the ones at Flux do). So, I got to meet the publisher, my publicist, my cover designer, my copy-editor and quite a few other amazing people who were SO friendly and excited to meet me. Our conversations went something like this:

Me: Hi! It's so great to meet you!
Awesome Flux Person: *whispers* It's exciting to meet you, too! I love INSOMNIA!
Me: *remembers to whisper* Oh, thank you so much! I can't wait to get to work on (insert area of the book they will work on here) with you.
Awesome Flux Person: *whispers* It's going to be great. I have you on my schedule for (insert time frame here). I'm looking forward to it.
Me: *whispers* *realizes this feels like a VERY friendly library* Oh, you're so organized! I love it!

Hushed epicness abounded. I loved it.

After the tour, I went to lunch with Brian, Steven (Flux's Publicity Director--Maggie Stiefvater describes him as 'dapper' and that he really should have a monocle and pocket watch. I couldn't agree more.), and Mallory (my publicist--she's new, adorable, and told me her main focus right now is not scaring authors. Well done, Mallory, well done). Lunch was great and so informative. I can't even tell you how excited I am about what they have in store for me and my book. I thought I'd learned so much since I got my agent and book deal, but there is still so much to learn and I can't wait for the next step. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Green Bay Packers, Fun & My New Motto

You may have noticed that I've been missing a bit around here lately. I've had a crazy couple of weeks with so many fun things happening. I thought I'd post this week to tell you a bit about what I've been up to.

From this picture, you might think I was standing nearby when there was a giant green and yellow explosion. Good guess, but you would be wrong. In reality, I dressed this way on purpose because I love the Green Bay Packers.

And this is only the dress rehearsal. This outfit is missing several key components...yes, I'm serious. Stay tuned, I'll prove it in a minute.

The good news is, I'm not the only one who doesn't mind looking like an insane person who got in a fight with a massive field of sunflowers.

See? There are many of us. You might even say a plethora.

Further proof that I'm not alone in my obsession. And my new motto for life is this:

Hey, if an entire city in Wisconsin does it, it can't be wrong.

We got to sit here. Quarterback Aaron *pardon me whilst I swoon* Rodgers (#12) was practically in my lap.

The in-my-lap-seats were already sold *cue sad face*, so I had to settle for these.

The last game we went to was the playoff game against the Giants last year. It was...painful. My only consolation was that at least we lost to the team who went on to win it all. The game we attended this time was against the Saints and not only was it a nail-biter, we won this one. Which is WAY more fun, and makes dressing up like this totally worth it.

Take note, if you plan to fly across the country to go see your team play a football game...try to pick one that they win. See guys? Invaluable information here. Pay attention.

On Wednesday, I'll be posting about how awesome it is to go visit your publisher! :)

What have you been up to?