Sunday, July 15, 2012

This Blog is Moving!

Hello, readers!

I have an announcement: this blog is moving, but only because I wanted a website with my name on it. :-) You can now find it at:

Thanks to all for reading and visiting! :-)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's always nice when someone is unexpectedly nice. And by someone, I mean Kirkus Reviews.

There comes a time in every author's life when she knows her book is out there, in galley form, and any minute, reviews will start pouring in. Just thinking about it makes this author want to curl up and hide under the covers.

Scariest of the scary is Kirkus Reviews, which the New York Times described as "reliably cantankerous." I have often read their reviews, cringed for the author, and then fretted over my own books. On the other hand, if a book gets a starred review from Kirkus, I automatically have a little more respect for it. Actually, if the review doesn't completely slaughter the book, I mentally give the title a pat on the back and congratulate it on escaping a scathing diatribe.

(I won't lie. I wrote that last sentence, because I wanted to use the word diatribe in a sentence. Then I double-checked at to make sure I used the word correctly. I did.)

But guess what? Kirkus gave OF GIANTS AND ICE a pretty nice review!!

I'm going to post it below. It has a few spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Only child of divorced celebrities, Rory is not your ordinary sixth-grader. She’s had plenty of experience with after-school programs in the many different places she’s lived. Nor is Ever After School your ordinary day care center. The children and grandchildren of fairy-tale characters, EASers are Characters-in-training, likely to be part of each other’s tales and certain to be sent on one or more quests of their own. Here, for the first time in years, Rory makes friends who don’t care about her famous parents. Here, she fights a dragon, with a real sword. And when her friend Lena’s first tale turns out to require beanstalk-climbing, Rory’s thrilled to be one of her Companions, even though she’s afraid of heights and even though her least favorite person, Chase Turnleaf, is coming along. Their accidental visit to the Snow Queen in her Glass Mountain prison changes their relationship and sets the stage for a promised sequel. Rory recalls her adventures in a first-person chronological narration that includes plenty of dialogue. 
This fast-paced combination of middle school realism and fairy-tale fantasy will appeal particularly to imaginative readers already familiar with traditional tales. (Fantasy. 9-13)
--Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2012
ETA (7.3.2012): Kirkus also put OF GIANTS AND ICE on its 30 Top July Children's Books list! WOOHOO!!! Check out the other titles on the list here

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Five - the One Month Out Edition, or LOTS of Update-y Things

This post is full of boring. I've just returned from visiting my family and friends in Charlotte, where I had a marvelous and busy time (I had a deadline four days after I arrived and a bridal shower to organize). Meanwhile, stuff has been blowing up in my inbox, and my mind explodes a little more every day. But in a nice way. 

Basically, stuff has been happening faster than I can write updates on all the AWESOME. 


Of Giants and Ice comes out in ONE MONTH. That is a crazy feeling. I don't know if y'all realized that I am full of ALL THE EMOTIONS about it, if these two posts didn't tip you off. :-P

But it's a good feeling. I'm trying to not let the scary aspects of it overwhelm the happy glow of knowing that with lots of help from my agent, my editors, my family, friends, and readers, I've created something I'll soon be able to hold in my hands.  

By soon, I mean REALLY soon. Julia emailed me to say that she has finished copies!!!!  

The only reason I'm not waiting by my mailbox right now is that it's physically impossible for a package to travel from New York to Oregon the short hours since I gave her my address. 

She also emailed me the cover of The Ever Afters 2: Of Witches and Wind, and it's SO AWESOME! And PERFECT! Julia says, it's just as great as the first cover, but with more action, and that's the perfect way to describe it.

I would LOVE to show you right now, but sadly, I'm not allowed to post it until it's final. 

Just know: it resulted in epic amounts of SQUEE. 

My agent, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, is starting her own company, New Leaf Literary! It's very similar to her old agency, Nancy Coffey Literary + Media Representation - except Jo is at the helm, rather than Nancy. Jo is awesome, by the way. I don't think I say this enough. She's brilliant, quick, and kind, and she works hard enough to be five people. I worry that she doesn't sleep. I'm actually proud to have such an awesome agent and honored to be on her list, and although NCLit was awesome, I'm thrilled that Jo's taking this leap. If you see her on Twitter, go congratulate her or digitally high-five her or something. 

PW's more official-sounding and grown-up version of this news can be found here.

The second S&S revision of that same book went in to Julia about this time last week. I'm writing a series of blog posts about the Dreaded Book 2, and my experiences writing it (a.k.a. the last year and a half of my life).

So, stay turned...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

That was a lie.

What I said in my last post, I mean. Being sick does not keep you from worrying about your debut novel. I've been up the past two nights, up late with THOUGHTS. That post was a strong case of wishful thinking.

But that's okay. I have a philosophy about that. (I don't know if it's obvious yet. I have a philosophy about most things. I pronounce them in confident declarations, and then when they're proven wrong, I voice the revised version in the same fashion. That's a disclaimer, btw: take everything I say with a grain of salt.)

Here's the philosophy:

Being a debut author is a lot like starting a new school.

The weeks before the first day, you're a jumble of thoughts and hopes and wishes and fears and insecurity - one day, you let yourself fantasize: you walk into your first class, and admirers flock to you, telling you how funny and pretty you are, like you're the most awesome development in the school since personal-size pizzas in the cafeteria. The next day, you're totally sure you'll show up, and you'll be wearing the wrong clothes, and you'll be too much of a dork, and no one will talk to you, and you'll have to eat lunch all by yourself.

During the annual school supply shopping spree, you pick out your pencil holders and Lisa Frank-knock off folders carefully - the same way a debut author shapes her promotional bookmarks and website copy with obsessive care. You take comfort in the friend(s) who will start at the new school with you - the same way a debut author feels a lot better when she remembers the reader(s) who already liked the book.

But despite all the terror and the excitement, when the first day actually rolls around, the reality is somewhere in between the two extremes of Everybody Loves Me and Everybody Hates Me.

You arrive on the first day of school. You are intimidated by the newness of everything. The learning curve is steep - but you manage to quickly memorize how to find the bathroom and the library. You introduce yourself to a lot of people. Some people don't care. Maybe a couple are actually mean.

But some like you. They sit with you at the cafeteria/pick up your book. They become your friends/readers. Eventually, you find your place, and life goes on as before. School is school after all. Publishing is still publishing. You return to a routine of classes and homework and tests/drafting and revisions and blog posts.

(I also really love extended metaphors - have I mentioned that? I can't use them much in my actual books, so metaphors invade this place instead.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is - yes, debuting is scary. And it's scary primarily because I want the book to be liked. But the trick - at least, for me - is to keep it all in perspective - to remind myself that Of Giants and Ice's release is one moment in time, and the moment probably won't be as earth-shattering as it seems beforehand.

But the whole process can be really cool. I'm ordering these chapter samplers to do a mailing, and my (new) editor sent me a PDF of the first chapters. Clicking through them, I saw all these new little embellishments that we didn't see in the galley version. Like the vines on this one.

My heart was full of SQUEE. One step closer to the final book and all its prettiness - the moment when I hold a finished copy in my hands and think, I'm a really really real writer now.

In other news, I'm still a Sniffle-Monster. Still running fever every day, even with aspirin. It makes the revising kind of slow. BUT I have antibiotics in my system - and I should feel better soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Sniffle-Monster

So...I just realized that my book comes out in about a month and a half.

Suddenly, I'm almost glad I'm kind of sick (cold/flu/sniffles/sinus infection sort of thing - nothing to worry about). You know how you are when you don't feel awesome, and you have stuff to do, and your mental capacity completely focuses getting through the task ahead of you, mainly because you don't have the energy for anything else?

Yep. That's where I am.

And if I had more energy, I'd probably be wasting it on the most EPIC FREAK-OUT IN DEBUT AUTHOR HISTORY. The kind of freak-out that keeps you up in the middle of the night, wondering if anyone is out there reading an ARC of your book right at this second, and if they like it or if they hate it, or if they find it (horror of horrors) forgettable. The kind that lures you to scour the internet for reviews of your book, tempts you to sit at your computer refreshing your goodreads page over and over.

So, this sickness has strangely filled me with gratitude. Being low on energy has made me really buckle down and focus.

I honestly don't have time to freak out. I have a revision to tackle, a transcontinental flight back to Charlotte, a doctor's appointment to schedule and attend, a bridal shower to plan, author signings to set up, chapter samplers to design and order, mass mailings to conquer - and that's just by the end of next week.

I would rather be a Sniffle-Monster than a Vortex of Angst, Insecurity, and (Possibly) Despair - and to be perfectly honest, that's kind of where I was headed before I started feeling sickly.

Of course, I'm still going to try and get better. But by that time, I'll be too busy to bother freaking out. And after that, I'll hold my finished books in my hands and I'll be celebrating too much to freak out.

Really, this is a post about stress management.

Okay, I need to go back to revising. I left Lena in a workshop with a bunch of matches, and Rory needs to make sure no one accidentally lights their sleeves on fire.

This is the Sniffle-Monster, signing off....

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Basically, dear readers, I'm still alive and so is the book. :-)

The top one is the big changes; the bottom one is the line-edit that makes sure the big changes make sense.
Looking at it this way makes me wonder why I write such long books.
The revision is in.

It went in Friday afternoon actually, and I crashed the way you crash after finals - sleep-deprived, mentally exhausted, and more pleased at completing the work than at the final product of your labors. This revision was tougher than usual. With that one big change I mentioned earlier, I think I ended up rewriting about 25% of the manuscript. Sometimes, I ripped out the best bits from the old scene and threaded new material around it to make it fit. Sometimes, it was completely new.

It was worth it, though. I really believe the book flows about a thousand times better this way. I'll know for sure after my new editor takes a look.

That's my other big news: I have a new editor!

Courtney Bongiolatti - the enthusiastic and astute editor, who acquired the books and ushered Of Giants and Ice into copy-editing and beyond - is leaving the industry. I was incredibly sad when I found out - Courtney loves the books SO much, and she just gets Rory; we've always been on the same page with revisions - it was hard to see her go. But at the same time, I'm absolutely delighted for her - glad she's starting this new phase of her life, and grateful she got Rory on the right track.

It also helps that my new editor - Julia Maguire - is similarly awesome. She worked with Courtney on Of Giants and Ice, and when I was too brain fried with my line edit to think of anything besides long lists of words, she and my agent Jo came up for a FANTASTIC title for The Ever Afters 2.

I'm actually not sure if I can share that title yet. Hmmmm. I'll need to check.

Julia has promised to get notes to me by Monday, so revising resumes next week!

Which means two things: First, I'm hurrying to get my To-Do list done before then. Yesterday, I cleaned my apartment with the ferocity of a tornado armed with a broom and lysol bathroom spray. Today, I need to race around to printers to get some quotes on Ever Afters swag.

And secondly, I'm devouring books at an insane rate in order to recharge my creative battery.

My current TBR pile

I need the mysteries, because there's a mystery element in The Ever Afters 2 that I'm not sure I totally pulled off. I finished Janet Evanovich's One for the Money last night and enjoyed it like whoa.

I try not to read in my own genre while I'm revising, so I'm SUPER excited about the middle grade. I feel like there's been a hole in my life without it. *hugs library books*

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Very Quick Announcement

Crunch time has arrived.

Stress hives have broken out.

My bedroom has been converted into an office.

I know what you're thinking:
Why is all my bedding folded up on the side table?
- Because I had to lean my air mattress up against the wall to fit a desk-like table in here.
My friends, the blogging hiatus has been made official!

See you after this revision is in...