Thursday, February 23, 2012

Insane, but Necessary

I don't think I've mentioned this yet: I'm traveling up the West Coast, trying to find a place I want to live.

Disclaimer: these pics don't have much to do with this post, except for the journeying trope.

One of my favorite scenes in Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre is this one in the very beginning - where Jane is running away from Rochester.

Sounds very straightforward when I put it that way, doesn't it? It almost seems like I have a plan. This is not precisely true. It's a weird nomadic sort of life. I don't know precisely where I'll be sleeping a week and a half from now, and most people find that a very frightening thought. Actually, sometimes, I find that very frightening.

NOTE: Life is scary. And amazing. The trick is learning how to let it be both at the same time.

Living my life this way seems insane to most people. I'm fully aware of that, and I've just figured out why it makes perfect sense to me:

I've always justified my crazy-seeming actions. I'm used to it.

Jane finds herself at the crossroads, and she tries to figure out where to go. But she has a problem: she knows that Rochester will look for her and search these paths.


Q: What? You want to go to a semester-long program in coastal Maine where you live in log cabins heated by wood stoves, work on an organic farm, and learn about the environment with thirty-some other high school juniors? [The Are you crazy? is implied in their tone.]

A: Yes, it'll look great on my college applications.

(Note to young readers: If you want to do unusual stuff, I highly recommend this excuse. But then you should actually use it in your college apps. I did, and I got into a great school.)


Q: What? You want to move to New York, without a job? And go to a summer post-grad program designed to train professionals in publishing? The same industry that everyone says is dying and short on jobs?

A: Yes. I've talked about becoming a writer since kindergarten. When else will I get a chance to learn the industry from the inside?

So, eventually Jane decides to ditch the roads and cut across the moors.


Q: What? You want to give up your hardwon, well-placed job in New York and try to get published? In this terrible economy?

A: Yes. Unfortunately, the noise and energy of New York have given me insomnia, which has led to some unforeseen health problems. I need to move to recover.

Now, the answers I gave were not the whole answer. But what can we glean here?

#1. Where there is great risk, there will always be naysayers.

#2. I take risks. (But honestly, so do we all. I just didn't realize how many gambles I've taken with my whole life in the past ten years.)

#3. You can get naysayers off your backs by framing an answer around something most people value - education, career, and health.

Talk about the road less traveled. The moors are basically the wilderness. Nice, sheltered, educated young governesses just don't trot off into the wilderness on their own. It's just not done.

I love this scene in the book too, btw.

But I don't have a ready-made excuse this time.

My reasons are the same reasons I had for the above examples, the reasons that I didn't say outloud: I want to. It'll be a great experience. I've been talking about it for years.

And one more, which is even harder to define: It feels like the right thing to do.

Yes, it is probably insane. That doesn't make it unnecessary.

I am twenty-five. Both of my jobs can travel with me on my laptop. I know that I won't always have the opportunity to be so nomadic. I also know that if I don't do this, one day, decades from now, when I have children, a mortgage, and other responsibilities, I will wish I did.

The great and scary thing is, I'm not required to explain myself to anyone anymore. That's the benefit of being a grown-up.

Brace yourself for some cheese-tasticness, folks: I try to live my life the way my characters do. I try to be true to myself, and as cliche as it sounds, I am following my heart.

Those decisions? The ones that seemed nuts? They're the ones I appreciate the most.

In their aftermath, I grew the most.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Ever Afters #1 - Of Giants and Ice

You've seen the cover before, but I don't believe that I've mentioned what happens in the book.

Do you know what that means???

It's time to share the flap copy!

Happily Ever After can seem a long way off when you're waiting for your life to really begin...

Rory Landon has been known her whole life as the daughter of a famous movie star and an award-winning Hollywood director. So it is a surprise and a relief when no one at her new after-school program seems to care or even know who her parents are.

That relief quickly turns to disbelief when Rory finds herself faced with a real live fire-breathing dragon on her first day and she realizes that at Ever After School, the kids look up to a different kind of celebrity. For example Jack (as in the Beanstalk) and Snow White (like with the Seven Dwarfs) are not only real, but teaching Rory and her friends how to prepare for when their own tale begins. Never in the spotlight before, Rory is about to discover just what it means to have the starring role.

But is her tale destined for a happy ending?

It's interesting - what the editor/publishing house decides to focus on when introducing the book as opposed to what I focused on in my query letter to Joanna. For me, it was all about Rory's new best friend and new worst enemy, but I suppose it did have a few spoilers in it.

So, I won't post that query letter now, I guess. I'm tempted, but no, I'll be good. :-P

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Please take a moment, and CHECK OUT THE AWESOME!

Remember that vlog I mentioned last time???

Warning: contains geekiness and strange voices (all mine).

Wow, just realized that this is going up on Valentine's Day.

Well, that fits actually, because I'm in love with my galleys. :-)

(No, I could not resist being cheesy. Physically incapable.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Five - the Healdsburg Edition

No, this is not Healdsburg.
This is a field I saw on the drive over, outside St. Helena, forty minutes away.
I found out recently that the yellow flowers are wild mustard.
Feel free to drool over the pretty. :-P

  1. I did a vlog last week, to share two very important pieces of info with you. But I haven't edited it yet, so I can't post it. I will tell you the lesser of the two news bits: The Ever Afters 2 is in!

    I felt a little bereft after I sent it. After all, that book has been a major pillar in my life since July, and it feels strange to have it missing.

    But Courtney, my talented and savvy editor, has it now. My brain feels loose and free.

  2. This recent relaxation has been nice, but I'm afraid it has resulted in a Cold to End All Colds. Seriously, it's been a while since I've been reduced to a sniffly, coughing, tissue-laden mess. (This may explain why I haven't found the time to edit that vlog.)

    Don't worry, my friends. I'm combating it with chicken soup, rest, and my weight in honey-sweetened lemon tea.

  3. This month, I'm living in Healdsburg, CA - which is part of the Russian River wine country. You know Napa? Well, I'm kind of right above it. For cold reasons, I have not yet visited any of the wineries, but I have partaken of the awesome food.

    And I've visited the library. Because obviously, that's what I do. They have a cool wine library, full of books on grapes and vintages and history. And a case of old wine-making equipment.

  4. I've realized something recently: I really love books.

    You would think that this is obvious, considering that I spend the majority of my days with them, either the reading of books or the writing of books or the revising of books, but it struck me recently, hard and sharp like walking into a ladder you didn't notice (I know exactly what that feels like; I've done it). This love has structured the fabric of my life, enriched it, and comforted it. If I was bereft when I sent The Ever Afters 2 off to Courtney, then life without books would be so much different, so much emptier.
    Without books, with the words on the page that become stories in the brain and characters in the heart, my life would be hollow.

    Is that a terrifying thing? I suppose it is a terrifying thing, to look at it that way. It might even be hyperbolic to some people. But in a weird way, I'm grateful for it. Some people live their whole lives without a passion like mine for books. It's a gift to love something so much.

    (Illness and reading have clearly turned me into a contemplative, tissue-laden invalid. :-P)

  5. A couple books I have enjoyed recently (I'm on a YA kick):

Under the Never Sky,
by Veronica Rossi

This is the most hopeful dystopian I've read - ever, I think. It's kind of got that Romeo-and-Juliet/Savage and Sheltered Singer thing going on, but it's also about being alive. Being fully alive, and taking your own destiny back in your hands. The love story gave me tingles.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer,
by Michelle Hodkin

Paranormal + a teen with post-traumatic stress disorder = a page-turner that seriously keeps you guessing. ALL the clues are there, but you don't trust them. You don't trust them, because Mara doesn't trust her own mind. I was blown away. Like totally stunned, mouth hanging open, desperate for Book 2.

Why We Broke Up,
written by Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket),

Reading this one now, but I just found out it was a Printz Honor book. That made me smiley.

Oh, to have your heart good and thoroughly broken. This is just so gorgeously done - one of the few that depict how the bad things sting after a relationship ends, but it's the good parts you remember that fracture your heart the most. I often come across a passage, and the writing is so good I want to cut it out and keep it forever.

If you've had your heart broken recently, I recommend reading it with tissues.


Okay, my friends - I will get that vlog up soon. I'm aiming for Tuesday, but it really depends on my poor muddled head.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Epic Mother Daughter Cross Country Road Trip: January

New Mexico:
Land of A Thousand Pictures, con't

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

My mom's a painter. She feels the same way about Georgia O'Keefe that I feel about J. K. Rowling - they're more than just role models. We're glad that they exist, because these creative people have added so much to our lives. Their art is a thread in the tapestries of our lives.

Okay, I'm done being poetical now.

But we went to Ghost Ranch, the place where Georgia O'Keefe spent the last years and painted TONS.

I did not expect the burros on the way in.

The tour we took focused on the specific spots O'Keefe painted.
I don't remember what this painting is called, because I was a bad listener...

This one is easier to see.

For comparison, here's the painting, Gerald's Tree:

We crunched around on a lot of old snow,
which looked really cool against the scrubby plants.

I think this tree is the Lawrence Tree:

I told you I took many pics of trees and sky in New Mexico.
I'm sure it's because Georgia O'Keefe painted many of them. Her composition stuck with me.

This one is just preeeetty.

Lake Abiquiu, New Mexico

It was basically across the street. Of course, we went to see it.

It looks just like a car commercial.
I couldn't resist.

Here's a picture of the actual lake.
You know, if you AREN'T obsessed with Mini's, like me.

And here's Mom taking a picture of Pedernal Mountain.
Georgia O'Keefe kind of treated it like her backyard. Yep, the whole mountain.
That makes her one awesome old lady.

Then, we drove to Taos for the night, and the moon was huge and beautiful. Of the ten million I took, this is the one that turned out the best.

I know. Not a great picture.

But this is the painting of Georgia O'Keefe's that it reminded me of:

Ladder to the Moon, 1958

The Land of National Parks

Petrified Forest National Park

I've wanted to see the Petrified Forest since I was a little girl obsessed with semi-precious stones. I had some petrified wood, and I got excited when I found out there was a whole forest of the stuff.

We didn't get many pictures of it, though. We arrived there thirty minutes before it closed, and we had to rush across the park as fast as the park speed limit would let us (not fast).

You can't really see it here, but the prettiness is worth it.

But here's the Jasper Forest.

There is a lot of petrified wood, but not as much as they used to be. Pioneers used to grab some when they visited. The park rangers don't let that happen anymore. They made me declare any petrified wood I had in the car.

Grand Canyon

It's a crack in the earth. No, seriously. These pictures don't show the scale of it.

A DEAD tree and sky - a new twist! :-P

These are the trails we didn't go on.
People do this on donkeys...I can't even fathom...

Did you guys want to see our wildlife sightings?

A mule deer, I think.

Here's her buddies.

These ravens were everywhere and the size of my English bulldog.
This one was starting to get aggressive.
I won't lie - the DIVERGENT scene where Tris takes on the ravens flashed through my mind.

the Land of Destinations

Mojave National Preserve

I passed a lot of places in the Southwest that I thought were desert,
but this is the real deal.

It was awesome.

We didn't exactly stop for pictures though. This was taken via cameraphone.

Los Angeles

Okay, so I really wasn't there that long. I only took pictures of the airport (research for Ever Afters 2) and of the Warner Brothers Tour (also, research). The first is kind of boring, and I'm 98% sure that Warner Bros asked me not to post pictures.

Old Mission Santa Barbara, "The Queen of the Missions"

It was big. It was pretty. It was founded in 1786.

The front of the Mission.
Sorry, the picture is dark. The sun was setting.

The inner courtyard.

Is it wrong that my favorite part was the graveyard?

And especially this tree?

Hearst Castle

It was built by William Randolph Hearst and his architect Julia Morgan, the newspaper mogul. He basically bought a whole bunch of random fancy stuff, like ceilings and lampshades and greek pottery a couple thousand years old, and he built a place to house it. Then he invited up Hollywood royalty for lots and lots of parties.

I obviously didn't take this picture. I found it here.
I just wanted you to see how big this place is.

Lots of my pictures of the house's inside didn't turn out, so I'll just show you the highlights.

The grounds were pretty.

The view from the front.

That would be the ocean in the background.

And this would be the view from Hearst's bedroom.

The library!!

I looked for famous names, and I found one.
The Book of the Homeless, by Edith Wharton

THIS is his office.

Random fact: Hearst had these fruit trees planted everywhere, and he just kept the fruit on the trees for decoration.
Isn't that insane?? Those are oranges.

The pool!!!
Well, one of them.

I know - too pretty to exist. Basically.

The other pool!

There's actual gold on the mosaic floor.

Muir Woods

My mom wanted to see some redwoods before she left for Charlotte, so we went here:

Just like The Secret of Kells.

I didn't take this picture. Found it here.
It was just too lovely not to share.