Friday, June 29, 2012

Emotion in Books

I write thrillers. Which, contrary to popular belief, is not ONLY about scaring people. In order to induce fear in my readers, I have to make them deeply care about the characters first.

This is a problem I have with some of the horror movies released in recent years. They are more about the blood and making the audience jump than anything else. The worst of them do no more character building than putting the girl about to die in mind-bendingly short shorts.

NOT characterization, people. Really NOT.

So, back on topic. Yes, I scare people. And I really, REALLY enjoy doing that. I totally embrace the frantic panicked emails I get from my beta readers and...hopefully soon my readers. It's so fun and I've pretty much perfected my evil laugh.

See watch: MUAHAHAHAHAHAHahahaha...

Good, no?

But here's the thing, my most recent WIP, while being my scariest book to date...is also my most emotional. I was doing a read-through and it made me cry.

Dude. This doesn't happen to me. I'm used to making myself afraid of the dark. Not making me all weepy. I'm not a cryer. I was SHOCKED. But, I figure this is probably a good sign. So, I decided to ask. What's the most recent book you've read that made you cry. Did you love it? And have a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Revamped Website--No, It Doesn't Sparkle

I spent the last couple of days reworking my website and so now I'm tired. Instead of making the effort to pull together a post that isn't nonsensical, I'll save the logic for Friday and just give you the link to check out my new website today. I'm really excited about it. And if you're a book blogger, bookstore manager/owner or librarian/etc. I now have a form both on the blog and the website where you can request an ARC. Which freaks me out more than a little bit and is also incredibly exciting. :) 


Anyway, check it out. Let me know what you think! And have a great day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Say Cheese! - Author Pics!

I had some new author photos taken recently, so I thought I'd post them here and see what you guys thought since you're all geniuses and oh so pretty. :)

I should add a disclaimer: any & all beauty in forthcoming photos is due in it's entirety to the genius that is Michelle Davidson Argyle. She somehow manages to both take lovely pictures and instruct me where to look, to put down my chin, stop blinking, smile correctly, stop drooling and all those other things that tend to create poor photos. I'd be lost without her. 

So, here are my three faves: 

This is my mysterious-sleepy pose. Am I happy? Am I tired? Am I just that confident and self-assured that I have nothing better to do than lean against nearby walls and smile? You may never know...









This is my watch-me-create-and-plot-out-entire-worlds-pose. Either that or my that-ice-cream-cone-looks-like-it-would-make-my-taste-buds-explode-pose...meh, those two poses look pretty much the same.







And finally, you may have noticed this one over on the side of my blog. It's my I-could-easily-write-you-into-my-book-and-kill-you-without-batting-an-eyelash-pose. Because, well...I could.








What do you think? Any particular pose you like more than the others? Why is that? Also, feel free to rename my poses if you feel so inclined. I'm flexible. ;-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Love You, My Pretties! - Awesome New Covers

I'm on this awesome blog called Friday the Thirteeners, you may have heard of it. If you have, you probably know I can't fake an accent to save my life and should be put out of my misery before attempting anything like this ever again.

Anyway, the other Thirteeners have been spewing founts of gorgeous goodness in the form of covers lately and I want some of that pretty on my blog. I'll be including a link in each of the titles so you can add them on Goodreads...because you know you want to. Now, without further ado:

Some lovely covers!


PROPHECY by Ellen Oh (release date: Jan 2, 2013)
Dude, I love so much about this cover. I love the extended P & Y that kind of frame Ellen's name. And...I have two words: smoky dragon. I adore the dragon. I'm sure it's dangerous and would probably kill me, but I still want to wrap it around me--how is that for twisted love? ;)



THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd (release date: Jan 29, 2013)
Oh, the beautiful creeptasticness of it! I love the way the red of the title and the bow pop and the ripples in the water. I love the fancy gown with the bare feet and the tumbled curls down her back. I can't even figure out exactly what is creepy about it, but it definitely has that feel. I <3 creepy.


DUALED by Elsie Chapman (release date: Feb 26, 2013)
Does anyone else feel like her shadow is stalking her? Love that! And dude, any girl walking through the streets with a gun and a knife is a girl after my own heart. I'm all about the kick-butt heroines. I adore how well the story is reflected in this cover. Fantastic!


LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger (release date: Mar 5, 2013)
The girl, and the hair, and the clouds--oh my! This cover is so stormy and lovely and as a person who is afraid of heights...down right terrifying. But I love it. Especially the way the blue of his shirt draws your eye is very cool. Love. Love. Love. :)


TAKEN by Erin Bowman (release date: Apr 16, 2013)
Oh...how I love thee. The frawesome tree and the emotion of the characters. I love the vulnerability of Gray and the strength and independence of the girl. I love how the K is being lifted away. Most excellent!

~~~ 

Seriously, how cool are these covers? I'm drowning in cover envy over here.

And... *drumroll please* there is another new reveal TODAY! The lovely Kasie West has her cover reveal for PIVOT POINT over on YABC today. Go over and check it out right now!

OR...you could leave a comment first on these lovelies...and then go over there...yeah, do that instead. :)

Happy Friday!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Personal Trainer A.K.A. Bringer of the Pain

I've been seeing a personal trainer the last couple of weeks. Her name is Melanie. She's adorable -- cute, sweet, smiley -- and it's stunning the amount of pain she can induce in my body.

I am no longer able to do even the simplest things without help. Reaching over my head, scratching my nose, putting on earrings, even typing is difficult. I can only hold my arms at this angle for a few seconds at a time.

So this is going to be a very short post. Blame Melanie the trainer...and pray I survive.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Today, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to all the good dads out there. The world needs you. Your kids need you. And your wives need you. So, to my husband, my dad, my step-dad and all the other amazing men in the world: Thank you! Thank you for every day being a little more like Arthur Weasley, and a little less like Lucius Malfoy. ;-) Hope you had a wonderful day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Writing Schedule

A couple of weeks ago, I had you ask me questions/topics you wanted me to post about. The lovely, Nichole Giles asked me to post about how I adjust to a summer writing schedule.

I think this is very different from person to person. For myself, I have two boys that are 7 and 10. They are good at playing by themselves for a couple of hours at a time, but I value the time I have with them during the summer, too. I don't want to miss out on that.

It ends up being a fine balance, but to start, I have them help with chores (giving me more time for both writing and family), then I play a card game/play outside/jump on the trampoline with them for 1 - 2 hours, then I have them play without me for that long while I write. I've also found ways to schedule time for them to have friends over & reading time in a way to open up time for me to write, also.

For us, it's all about having a good schedule. They know they're my priority, but they're also very up to date on my career and are proud of me for what I'm doing, so they don't mind me taking the time to do work.

Having all that said...if I had more (or less) than two, younger kids, etc... it would all be out the window. Still, I think if it's a priority for you, you'll figure it out.

What about you? How do you find time to write in the summer?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Someone Dared Me to Vlog & Make a Fool of Myself!

Over on Friday the Thirteeners, we are playing Truth or Dare. Today is my turn, so I picked a dare and it's pretty much the most embarrassing thing I've ever done...

And that's saying a lot.

So come by, check it out, and have a good laugh at my expense. :)

Never SURRENDER Blogfest!

As part of the celebration for the release of Elana Johnson's new book, SURRENDER, I'm posting today about a time when I did surrender...and also didn't.

I never wanted to be a writer. I didn't think it was something I'd ever enjoy...but at a tough time in my life, my head filled up with a story and it wouldn't go away. So I wrote it down, and I loved every moment of it.

It was a story that saved me in some ways. It kept me sane when my life was anything but...and I loved it. Then like most 1st books, I realized it wasn't very good.

I rewrote it from scratch three times and did at least fifteen rounds of hard-core revisions. By the time I finished, there wasn't a single page that was the same one I started out with.

Then I queried and got request after request(Yay!)...and rejection after rejection.(Boo!)

There was a simple truth that I had to accept: Even with all my hard work and everything I'd learned, my book still wasn't good enough.

So, I was faced with two choices:

1 - Surrender the fight to be published.
2 - Surrender the fight to be published with this book.

You know which one I chose, and I'll be forever glad that I did. I wrote another book and kept going, kept writing, and kept getting better.

See, the truth is, all aspiring authors have a reason, a temptation...even a hunger to surrender on a regular basis. There are millions of hurdles on the path to publication, and I'm just talking about one of mine, but know this...it takes strength and drive to keep going.

No matter where we are on the journey -- We are driven. We are strong. -- Because we're still trying.

If you want to know more about/be a part of Elana's Never Surrender Blogfest, click here. And you can buy SURRENDER here! Also, get entered here for a swag package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 8, 2012

How Much Can We Do? - And Congrats to Kasie!!

*FIRST THINGS FIRST* Have you all gone to congratulate the lovely Kasie West on her fantabulous news yet? She sold ANOTHER series to HarperTeen!!! She will be debuting TWO young adult series in 2013!! Stop by and celebrate with her! :)

Ahem, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

~~~~~



Marketing is an interesting part of our jobs. I feel like there are many things we, as authors, can do to help promote ourselves and our work. There are some basics that every author should consider doing that I mentioned in this Marketing 101 post, but outside of that, is there a limit to how much an author can really do to affect their sales?

I think the answer is yes. *cue audience gasp* I know, I know, I'm always preaching the virtues of marketing, but I have my reasons.

I don't know yet how much my publishers will be doing to help me in the marketing arena. It could be less or more than I expect and I honestly wouldn't be too surprised either way. I have very little control over what my publishers do. I can only control my own involvement. But, in regards to the investment of my time, how much is the right amount?

It makes me wonder, how many other authors/writers spend time thinking this question over? I would bet most of us, because it's a difficult balance to find and the answer probably varies from one person to the next.

What about you? How much time can/should you devote to marketing? Especially when considering that much of the time that goes toward marketing has to be taken away from time writing/editing/family/other areas?

I truly value marketing. I know what it can do, and I intend to use it to the best of my ability...but I also know it has limits. No matter how much time you put into it, I've come to believe firmly in one hard fact:

After an author has done all they can do to promote their own book, it all comes down to making sure that the book they're promoting is really good. Without that, all the marketing in the world won't matter at all.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post: Elana Johnson on the Hardest Part of Writing SURRENDER -- The End

As part of the Surrender Blog Tour, Elana Johnson is here today to talk about the hardest part of writing Surrender -- The End.
And dude, don't you just love the blue of this cover? :) So. Much.


If you think that's awesome, check out the blurb:


Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father's rules: He's the Director. It's because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent--a power so dangerous, no one is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.


All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.


Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque…. 


Dude, I got a sneak peak and I have so much love for this book. I know you're jealous, so you can buy it here because I'm better at sharing cool things than I used to be. It hit shelves yesterday and is available now! Hooray! Also, pop back on Monday when I'm going to blog about a time I didn't surrender and give away some copies of Elana's books! :)


And now, I'll turn you over to Elana for her brilliant guest post:


The Hardest Part of Writing SURRENDER -- the end
by: Elana Johnson

Okay, so if you’re an author you get how hard writing the end of something can be. Maybe. It’s different for everyone. For me, writing the end of a book is incredibly hard. See, I open all these little threads and most of those have to be tied off by the time the book closes.

And that’s a lot of suturing. I now know why doctors go to school for so long. Writing is like surgery for me. It’s messy and painful and in the end there’s this big scar. Okay, not really the part about the scar, but the rest is true.

So writing the end of SURRENDER proved to be just as painful as the end of POSSESSION. In case you don’t remember from last year’s blog tour, I cut a huge chunk of the end of POSSESSION and rewrote from blank pages. I didn’t quite have to do that this time, but SURRENDER is dual-narrated. Which means the stories in each narrator’s voice have to match up in the time line.

Oh, how I hated the time line. I moved chapters. Sections of chapters. Deleted chapters. Rewrote chapters or sections of chapters. I actually had to use a calendar to make sure the days and nights were all lining up.

It took a lot of mental effort. It took a long time.

In addition to the time line consideration at the end of SURRENDER, there were a lot of particularly nasty plot things (technical term—ha!) I needed to close. I never know how my books are going to end, so the revision process on the final ¼ of my books is intense. Let’s just say that there’s a scene in a farmhouse in the Goodgrounds at the end of SURRENDER. If you’ve read the book, you probably know which one I’m talking about. If not, yes! The Goodgrounds comes back into play!

Anyway, there’s this scene in the farmhouse. That particular scene was rewritten at least four times. The first time I wrote it, there were characters that don’t exist anymore. The second time, there wasn’t enough pain (spoiler). I can’t even remember the third time, probably because I cut the whole thing and started over. The fourth time, I think I figured out how the characters get out of the house and wrote that.

I think I finally got it the way it needed to be. That’s how writing the end is for me. A process in trial and error.

What about you? Is writing the end easy? Or do you labor over it the way I do?

This week, as part of the SURRENDER blog tour, you can win one of three $15 Barnes & Noble gift cards and become a winner winner, chicken dinner! All you have to do is fill out this rafflecopter widget with what you’ve done. NOTE: One of the options is to blog about a time you didn’t surrender. Go here for full details on this, including how to sign up for your free swag package!


~~~

Thanks so much for stopping in Elana! If you haven't met/heard of Elana, that must be remedied immediately. Seriously, she's one of the coolest, most genuine people I've ever met. She rocks.


Here are a couple of places you can get to know her better:
Blog: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some Fun News!

Yesterday, I mentioned some news today. So, I can finally tell you that I was invited to be a part of the Friday the Thirteeners blog. :) For those of you who don't know about it, they are a small group of young adult authors debuting in 2013. 

I've been a "Mystery Author" on there for awhile and absolutely love the group and the other authors in it. It's great to share publishing-trek experiences with other people in the same boat as me. 

Anyway, they announced me as one of their Mystery Authors today, AND they posted one of my new Author photos I was so nervous about yesterday! Hooray...and also...AAAACCCCCKKK! So pop over and tell me what you think. 

One more thing, as part of my induction to the group, I have to complete a dare. I'm more than a little terrified. Want to see me make a fool of myself? Have a fun dare in mind? Come check it out and follow this awesome blog!

P.S. SURRENDER by Elana Johnson came out today and it is SO good. Go buy a copy today!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Say Cheese!

This morning I have a date with the lovely Michelle Davidson Argyle to have my author photo taken. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but I'm so nervous. The words "will be on book covers in THREE separate countries" keep floating through my head and making me feel all floofy and nauseous.

Goals: Show up, look cute, smile on cue, don't look like an idiot, don't hide behind strangers, don't trip over self...I mean, it's asking a lot. Especially from me.

On top of that, I got a bad sunburn last week, but only in certain spots -- so my skin is currently rocking a definite polka-dot pattern. Not to mention the incident where my new kitten bit my eyelid and gave me a miniature black eye.

Come on, people. There is only so much that makeup can help with.

Aaaanyway, if you wouldn't mind throwing a few *be cute* thoughts in my general direction this morning, I'd very much appreciate it.

And I loved the suggestions I got from my post last week. Several upcoming posts are ruminating as we speak. If you didn't get a chance to ask a question, pop on over and bring it!

Also, tomorrow I have a fun announcement and on Wednesday, we'll be having a guest post from the lovely Elana Johnson! So come back and say hi!