Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Okay, readers, I have the go-ahead. After a few hours of technology malfunctions, I even have pictures.


Look at Rory! Look at the way she's staring out at you! You don't know whether to give her a big hug or challenge her to a duel. The expression on their faces is just absolutely perfect!! The artist, Cory Loftis, did a fantastic job.

Now look at it again:

Does the angle of this shot mean that I was lying on my stomach to get a decent pic?
You betcha. :-P

Excuse the poor camera work. It's mine. (But it's not from my cameraphone!)

This is not the finished book, by the way. My fantastic editor Courtney sent me cover proofs, which arrived yesterday, and I just wrapped one around another book to get an idea of what it will look like.


After that, I might even have carried it around the house and set it up beside me, pretending it was the finished book. I possibly may have told it, "Hey, booky-book" a few times and waved. I mean, allegedly. I confess nothing.

And now, look at the wide view:

Do you SEE the dragon? Do you see the pretty pretty spine? Do you see all the lovely details Chloë Foglia at S&S BFYR added??? SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

The cover makes me so SO happy. It's just...epic. Words are failing me with the amount of joy gushing through me right now. *pets cover*

Oh, and guess what?

According to S&S Canada and Amazon, I have a RELEASE DATE!!!

The Ever Afters: Of Giant and Ice comes out July 24, 2012!!

Yep, this is the day of the happy dance. Who am I kidding? This is the WEEK of the happy dance! :-P

Friday, November 4, 2011

Asheville, Part 3: ...and the BEST

So, the last week in Asheville turned out to be the BEST OF ALL.

On the writing front, the sometimes-a-chapter-a-day productivity returned for the last week. (To be fair, I also sent a serious email to Jo about my writing struggles, and we worked out a more realistic deadline. Not feeling like I was totally behind helped too.)


Sorry for the blurriness. My camera is old. But you see that look on my face?? Pure SQUEE.
I am the short one.

I got to meet Stephanie Perkins. (She lives around Asheville, you know.) I went to her launch party for LOLA & THE BOY NEXT DOOR at Malaprops. Actually, I'm pretty sure that I sat next to her in-laws.

This is her second book, and at the launch, she spoke openly about how hard this book was to write. Which was very helpful to me, because I was finding The Ever Afters #2 so hard to write.

I am newly obsessed with Ms. Perkins, in case you couldn't tell from what I said about ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS in this post. LOLA is just as fantastic as ANNA, by the way.

I'm not the only person who thinks she's awesome, by the way. Look at how many people showed up at the launch!
And I wasn't even at the back of the line!!!

Reading her books is like eating candy. NOT like gorging on Twizzlers or nerds or gummi bears, where you feel puketastic from sugar. More like savoring a fancy, artisan truffle - you get the omg, chocolate feeling right away, but inside, you also taste the threads of other flavors: the mint, or the caramel, or the cinnamon. With a Perkins novel, you get the giddy, cute-boy-great-love-story feeling right away, but it holds genuineness that some romances - YA or otherwise - lack. You see two very real characters with their own histories and dramas and insecurities. You watch them work through their issues to make their happy endings.

If you have not read either, GO FIND THEM. (Hayley T., you romantic you, if you're reading this, and if you're still a fan of P&P and Audrey Hepburn romantic comedies, seriously, I really think you'll be a fan.)

Also, one more thing happened, which was the weirdest and most rewarding of all.

You remember the cool teacher in high school? Sometimes younger than the rest. Her clothes are cooler, and her passion knows no bounds. You may not even be in her class, but because your friends love her and talk about her so much, her enthusiasm rubs off on you anyway.

I'm sure you remember a teacher like her, but ours was Ms. Lillian Crutchfield. She taught 9th and 10th grade English, and 12th grade Creative Writing. I sadly did NOT have her. She left the school before my senior year - to write her own novel.

And I thought about her in 2009 - when I decided to quit my own job and write my own novel. Remembering her helped me believe such a thing was possible.

So, I SAW her. In the Dripolator. The last Saturday afternoon I was in Asheville.

Have I mentioned how delicious the Dripolator is yet? Because it definitely was.

It was one of those strange, chance, gift-like meetings. I kept staring at the blonde woman, scribbling in her notebook, and when I realized she was Ms. Crutchfield, I really hoped that I hadn't weirded her out too bad.

They also do this with their lattes.
I was SO impressed. (No, that is not sarcasm.)

I reintroduced myself, and that thing happened that usually happens when two writers with a smidgeon of Shared History get together: we talked about writing. About finding the right balance of being close enough to your family to share their lives but far enough away that you can get writing done without interruption. About how cranky you get when you haven't written for a while, how writing becomes a necessary release valve once you get used to it. About how sometimes you have two callings sometimes (hers is writing AND teaching - she is now a college professor).

But the conversation was a rare kind. It made me feel so calm and so passionate at once. It was like a midair refueling, very improbable seeming but also necessary.

So, y'all - THAT was my trip to Asheville.

Full of WIN, yes?

But I have decided to move. Over the holidays, I think. I haven't decided where, but I think it'll be like Asheville. I'll try places on for size.

Stay tuned for more of Shelby's Hometown Shopping Adventures... :-P

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Asheville, Part 2: ...the Bad...

Okay, I almost didn't post this part, because I love Asheville to pieces.

So, just know, my dear readers - The problems I had after the first wonderful ten days had nothing to do with Asheville, and everything to do with me. Asheville is full of WIN.

And considering how well my routine worked, it was also clearly the place I should settle for a long, happy life of bookwriting, right?


Halfway through, I started seriously considering moving there. The writing was going so well. I sometimes managed to crank out a whole chapter in a day, and Asheville had so many lovely things.


You were sensing that But, weren't you?

Okay, people - this is where I get a little weird. Feel free to skip this post if it gives you the willies.

Do you believe in Signs from the Universe? Because I do. I believe that if something isn't quite right, you'll get a feeling - a creeptastic one that nags at you like that thing you forgot to do but you can't completely remember. I believe it especially now that Asheville told me in No Uncertain Terms not to wear out my welcome.

As soon as I started seriously considering relocating to Asheville, weird things started making me feel uncomfortable.

Exhibit A: Sleep abandons me.

I was staying in an older, stately home I found on Craigslist - under renovation by the owner. Very nice place. It had two rooms upstairs, and I took one. About halfway through my visit, the second room was rented out, and something changed.

I think it was, because my roommate had completely different hours than I did. And sometimes, she would call for delivery at 4AM.

I hear you out there. You're like, so? Just find a new place where you choose your roommate.

I thought that too.
Exhibit B: The writing began to dry up.

This made me cranky. I blamed the sleep situation, but I wonder now... Maybe my writing retreats should never be longer than ten days. I mean, there's a limit

Exhibit C: I got food poisoning, which was v embarrassing and uncomfortable when you're sharing a bathroom. (The restaurant in question - though delicious - has not been named on this blog.)

Exhibit D: A dog bit me. Hard enough to draw blood but not bad enough to need stitches.

She wasn't rabid or anything. The pooch belonged to the houseowner, and when she saw a stranger (ie. me), she defended her territory.

It was just so random. I haven't been bitten by a dog since elementary school. The weirdness shook me up and made me wonder if I was missing something very obvious.

Exhibit E: A bird pooped on me.

I really WISH I was kidding, because it's kind of gross to sit down to lunch outside, scaring off a flock of little sparrows -- and discover that one of those cute birdies left a thumb-shaped present of white caca on the left thigh of your jeans.

That finally made it very clear: enjoy yourself here, but don't get too comfortable. Stay for too long, and dogs will bite and birds will s**t.

So, I made a firm decision then NOT to relocate to Asheville.

And then, like someone had flipped a switch, the city was my friend again, and seriously awesome things happened.

To Be Continued in Part III.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Asheville, Part 1: the Good...

Okay, y'all - considering it's been over a month since my Asheville writing retreat ended, I figured I better write about it, or I might never get to it.

It was super long, so I'll divide it up into three posts for your bite-size reading pleasure. :-P


I have thought, more than a dozen times, that if Asheville was located on the coast, instead of in the mountains, it would be the perfect city for me to live in.

Technically, this is the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it's very close to Asheville. Feast your eyes on the prettiness!!

This definitely factored into my decision about where I would go write and try to finish this manuscript.

This is the Biltmore House. If you look up fancy in my brain's dictionary, this is what you would fine.

Maybe I've visited it one too many times at Christmas - to see the Biltmore House all lit up and sparkly, but to me, it feels like a Southern fairy tale world, like in a Sarah Addison Allen novel: old Victorian-era homes, small beautiful shops, an addiction to bookstores, and hill-like green mountains where small magics can happen, It's where living means pursuing passions and savoring happinesses. Bumper stickers proclaimed, Follow your bliss! and Don't postpone joy!

So, it's a happy place - happy in an artistic way, a mecca for creatives - full of coffee/teahouses, and vintage shops, and record places, and fun quirky restaurants, and art galleries, and stationary stores, and BOOKSTORES.

Malaprop's, indie bookstore of awesome, a.k.a. my new love.

I admit: the first and the last on this list were the ones I visited the most often.

I arrived at the end of August. I found a routine by the beginning of September:

-Wake at an hour that's not too ridiculous (ie. hopefully closer to 9AM than to 12PM)

-Head to Greenlife, the grocery store down the street, a.k.a. the breakfast land of delicious scones and cheap coffee.

-Write through two cups of coffee.

-Walk up the hill to the Downtown Asheville library, the next chapter's playlist pounding through my headphones.

This was the view from where I sat.
I know. It's a tough life. :-P

-Write until my finger hurts or my mind goes numb.

-Stop for lunch: at Bouchon's, a creperie tucked away in a courtyard off of Lexington Avenue. Or at Doc Chey's, a noodlehouse a few blocks away. Or Salsa's, if I was in the mood for something heavier. Or Malaprop's cafe, if all I wanted was a smoothie.

-Back to the library to write some more. The key at this point was WRITE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

-Head back, and maybe, depending on how much I had written and how much I felt like rewarding myself, stop for BOOKS.

It was almost impossible to NOT stop for books, by the way. Temptation #1: The library was having a half off book sale during the month of September, ie. basically the WHOLE TIME I WAS THERE. Temptation #2: Malaprops, Indie Bookstore of Indie Bookstores - literally less than a block away. Temptation #3: Downtown Books, the epicly well-stocked used bookstore on Lexington.

These are all the books I couldn't resist in Asheville. It doesn't even count what books I got on my LAST BORDERS RUN EVER. Sigh.

-OR I could stop at French Broad Chocolate Lounge and have cake before supper.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake - It's the Best Chocolate Cake I had ever had.
That is not an exaggeration.

(credit for photo goes here)

-OR head to the Dripolator for some delicious beverage to squeeze out a couple more pages and/or unwind.

-Dinner (sometimes at Greenlife, or sometimes leftovers)

-Reading of the recently acquired books, usually into the wee hours of the morning, which should account for why my wake-up times became more and more like a college student.


Because it WAS.

And then, like a switch had been flipped, something changed...

To Be Continued in Part II