Thursday, January 31, 2013

Witty Title TBD - Carla!

Next up on the Tour-de-Writers (new title for the series? Maybe?) is... Carla!  Carla and I were finalists in the Windy City Chapter of the RWA's Four Seasons Contest!  In December, we found out that we tied for first in the YA Category!

This is pretty much what happened when she found me on Twitter :)
Also, I miss this show.

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?
That I love meeting other YA writers and sharing stories and experiences. I rarely ever blog and I’m not as active on Twitter as I’d like to be, but I’m trying to reach out more.

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)
I wrote a lot of short stories for fun when I was a kid, but the first ‘book’ I attempted was a science fiction/romance mashup called “The Crew of the Alpha IV ship.” Think “Star Trek” meets “Love Boat.” Words cannot describe how lame it was.

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far.
For years, I wanted to focus on my writing, but something always got in the way: college, grad school, a career, having kids. In 2008, I decided to get serous about writing, and drafted an epic, 190,000-word (!) historical fantasy romance. Three years later, after a bunch of classes, numerous critique group meetings, and lots of editing, I turned it into an 85,000-word YA novel called THE FALLEN PRINCESS and sent it out into the world. I had a decent request rate, but ended up shelving it last summer.

I started my current ms, PIPER GIRL, in Feb 2012. It’s a modern twist on The Pied Piper fairy tale, set in a slum in Los Angeles. After nine months of writing and editing, I thought it was done, but in November, I decided to revise it again after a lot of feedback. It should be ready to query by February.

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?
Star Wars all the way. BUT the original trilogy only (Star Wars IV, V, and VI – the movies that came out in the 1970s and 80s)

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?
Last week, I saw an amazing community theatre production of “Next to Normal” (a Broadway musical that came out in 2009). I’ve had those songs stuck in my head for days. (Alex's note: My BFF from high school was recently in a production of this! I think I need to buy the soundtrack now...)

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?
I’m not sure why YA is my favorite genre to read and write. Maybe it’s because I remember being 17 and feeling like the world was wide open. That age is such a pivotal time, when you feel like anything can happen. I’m also a sucker for coming-of-age stories.

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?
Yes. Mid-morning, in my ‘office’ (a computer desk in my bedroom), with a big cup of coffee.

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’m going to cheat and pick the entire Harry Potter series.

I love that pretty much EVERYONE has kind of cheated with this answer :P

What was your favorite book of 2012?
“Seraphina” Rachel Hartman and “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer.

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?
Lots of them—but the two that come to mind are “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer and “Siege and Storm” by Leigh Bardugo.

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be? And why?
I actually did this when I wrote my historical fantasy epic: the settings and cultures were based on 16th century Iran, Ottoman Turkey, and Ming Dynasty China. But if I could write about a different culture, I’d pick India. I lived there for five months in 2009 and only scratched the surface. It’s an amazing place, full of fascinating religious and cultural traditions.

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Carla!  
Right. So. Tomorrow I'm leaving on a jet plane and hopefully landing in the Big Apple 'round 11AM!  Fingers crossed snow and ice doesn't delay me!
Stay tuned for another interview tomorrow, and a potentially awkward virtual tour of the conference hotel...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Witty Title TBD - Elodie!

I think I made it through everyone with a "J" name *phew*  Today's interview is with the wonderful Elodie!!!  Elodie's been an awesome friend to lean on and has an AMAZING story that I tweet about all. the. time.

I'm not a hugger, so when I meet Elodie in real life, this will happen.  Sorry in advance, Elodie.

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?
* I am French, used to call the US home for a while, live in Germany, but write in English.
* I am super grateful to a lot of people and need to say it more often.
* I stress a lot but am a pro at hiding it.
* During the past 4 years, I´ve spent more than 3 months of my life in busses, and trains.
* Writing and reading help me balance.

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)
* I can´t remember the very first thing but I do remember the poems I wrote in Junior High. Nope, not talking about them.

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far.
* I first tried my hand at writing an entire novel in high school but never finished. Then ,years later, I wrote a first full book, revised it a bit, and then realized it needed a rewrite…it´s currently on my laptop, hidden away.
* Then last year, talking about Center Stage with a friend, I had the idea of writing about a broken ballerina. Broken on many different levels and her journey with love and friendship. Natalya was born. She´s from Russian heritage while her love interest moved from Colombia when he was about 8 years old.
One Two Three went through a lot of changes, including one last major revision in the past two months. THANKS ALEX <3!

You are very, very welcome :)

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?
Star Wars for Alex – and I need to watch Firefly!!!! (Alex's note: You really do need to watch Firefly)

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys….

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?
All. The. Feelings.
The growing up. The discovery. And I get to write all the kisses I didn´t get/give in high school :P

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?
I use my commute to write so it´s mornings and evenings in the train. But I love writing in our guest bedroom/office/working out area (yes it´s a multipurpose room) with a view of the Rhine.

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That´s not a fair question and you know it :P

I´ve read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS several times already, it´s kind of a lift-me-up  book….but really, I´d take a kindle with me and load millions of books on there…

What was your favorite book of 2012?
JELLICOE ROAD – It wasn´t published in 2012 but I read it last year based on a recommendation from Katy Upperman and I LOVED THAT BOOK!

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?
I couldn´t wait to get my hands on SHADES OF EARTH and loved it! Now I´m impatiently waiting for the new Stephanie Perkins to come out (and many many others…)

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be?  And why?
 Native Americans – after going to Plymouth and hearing some of the old stories and seeing how hard they try to keep some of their traditions alive, I´d love to read a story about one of those teenage girls we saw there. How is her life between going to a regular high school and then going there on the weekends and showing to tourists what life hundred years ago was for her ancestors.

The Harkis – during the War of Independence of Algeria, some Algerians stayed with the French army and some of them also moved back to France. It´s a very complicated period and I´d love to read a story of either a teenager having to follow his/her parents to France or trying to decide which side to be on. It´s never black or white.

Anything else I might have missed?
You´re awesome :D (Alex's note: D'awwwww you are too!)

Thanks for hanging out with me and putting up with my constant stream of DMs! <3
Well, folks, it's the final countdownnnnnnnnnnnnn! The weekend is drawing ever closer and I am getting ever more excited!!!

Tune in for another interview tomorrow!  I'm off to practice what I'll say if I run into Julie Andrews in the hallway.  Or the bathroom.  Oh god, what if I run into her in the bathroom?!?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Witty Title TBD - Jamie!

You know what I noticed while compiling these? I have A LOT of writer friends who have a first name that starts with "J" hahaha

Anywho, today's interview is with my FAVORITE YA Misfit and my accidental twin, Jamie :)  

One of the things that makes us twins is our love of Andrew Lee Potts/Hatter :)

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?
Tough question! I kind of feel like the world’s most uninteresting person most days. But…let’s see. I loving video games almost as much as I love writing, I am slightly obsessed with Dr. Who, and I’d be a really happy girl if I could live in my PJs.

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)
I vaguely remember writing (and illustrating) a story about a princess and her sister who saved a captured unicorn. I think I was about 5. Things haven’t really changed much since then lol. I think the first book I wrote when I got old enough to be serious about writing was a romantic suspense set in England. It was pretty awful – there was no suspense and very little romance. And of course the heroine was a bit too stupid to live. But it was definitely fun to write!

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far. 
I had the brief thought that I was slightly embarrassed my writing journey is taking so long, but then I realized that’s exactly why I need to talk about it! Everyone’s path is different and there’s nothing to be ashamed about!

So - I started getting serious about being published 5 years ago. I joined an online critique group and met some amazing writers. I’m still really good friends/CPs with two of them. I worked on that first book almost two years (WAY too long) before querying it and realizing it was never going to get an agent.

I started writing an Urban Fantasy/Mystery hybrid after that, but it just didn’t work. There were some fundamental plot and characterization problems, but it did help me hone my revision skills. I didn’t even query that one.

Then I wrote Time Bound – my YA historical fantasy set in Japan. It took a year to research, write and edit, then I subbed it to some contests and started querying. I met most of my fellow YA Misfits just about when I started to query, and they had some invaluable feedback that made me pull back and work on it some more (Thanks guys!). I queried TB this over this past summer (2012), and got some great requests and feedback, but I haven’t found a home for it. Yet.

While querying, I needed a book to focus on or I’d go nuts waiting for responses on TB, so I wrote and revised Ultraviolet Catastrophe. This baby was fun to draft, and a great distraction. I highly recommend everyone work on a new book while querying. It definitely cuts down on the crazy! I’m in the process of querying this one as we speak. And I’ve started an as-yet unnamed YA Sci-Fi set in space. As well as a secret project just for me  I can’t seem to stop myself!

So there you go. I’m still on the journey, still loving how everything in the publishing business has evolved. So much of the focus when I started getting serious was on getting an agent, it’s really interesting to see that shifting away somewhat, with Self-Publishing. It’s becoming a really viable option for people now.

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?
Oh man. That’s a tough one! I’m gonna have to go with Star Wars b/c it was my first love…but Firefly is a super close second!

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?
Pretty much the whole Imagine Dragons album. But in particular, Bleeding Out, since it’s on the playlist for my next WiP.

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?
How much time do you have? Honestly, I read/write everything, but YA holds a special place in my heart because that age group is in such a time of transition, and of finding yourself. I think I love that feeling of discovery. It’s so easy when you’re an adult to forget how the world looks so new and exciting when you’re younger, that the possibilities really are endless. There’s such a sense of fearlessness. YA helps remind me of that.

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?
I love to write first thing in the morning, when everything is still quiet and I haven’t been distracted by anyone yet. Unfortunately, the actuality is that I sneak in my writing time whenever I can, which mostly means at work on my lunch break, or after dinner.

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Really? I don’t even know how to answer that question. I couldn’t live in a world without books!

What was your favorite book of 2012?
I did a lot of re-reading of favorites last year, so I think my favorite new book of 2012 was For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and this was a Sci-Fi retelling of Persuasion, so how could I NOT love it! I also finally read Graceling, and LOVED it as well, though technically it wasn’t new in 2012.

And of course I read some amazing CP manuscripts.

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?
ALL of them? I guess I’m really looking forward to The Nightmare Affair by Mindy Arnett. It sounds fun and Gothic. Also Prophecy by Ellen Oh. I love that it’s based on ancient lore and set in a non-European country. Can’t wait!

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be?  And why?
I actually did that with my last book – Time Bound. It was set in Japan, which I knew very little about, so I did extensive research to try to make sure I was being respectful and a good steward of the culture.

I think if I picked another culture to research and write about for a different book, it would be about either Pakistan or Zanzibar Tanzania. There are so many really amazing things about both cultures, but a lot of it gets lost in the politics of both regions. I’d love to be able to set a story in either place and really show what sorts of challenges the people of those countries face, in a way that’s respectful and based on their reality, not the privilege that I’ve always experienced. Who knows, maybe I will some day!

Great questions, Alex! Thanks so much for having me!

Thanks for answering my questions, Jamie :) Just to show you how much I luuuuuuuuurve you:

You're welcome :)

Another interview shall happen tomorrow! Getting closer to SCBWI New York!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Witty Title TBD - Jessika!

Next up in my interview queue is...Jessika Fleck!  Jessika is my CP, Jeannette's, CP (complicated, right?) and she has an awesome blog that you should follow!  She's pretty fabulous and has an awesome story to share!

Not sure why, but this reminds me of Jessika. She'd be the cat. Unless she's a dog person, then I suppose that would make me the cat...

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?

Let's see... I love words and I love images - often times it's an image that spurs an entire novel for me. I'm obsessed with boots and own far too many than one person should (well, that's what my husband says anyway...). I get giddy when I'm wearing a skirt and I find it has pockets in it I didn't know about. Giddy. Music is a must for me when writing - that and candles and coffee. I'm a Southern Texas girl turned Colorado hippy, though I'm quite sure the hippy was always in me, now I just let her run wild and free.

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)

I honestly didn't start writing until a few years ago. I always considered myself an artist - I loved to paint, sculpt, draw - but once I had kids that part of me was pushed aside by default. After several years of artistic starvation, I was beside myself and had to do SOMETHING. So I started writing. At first I wrote short stories that were more memoir style. Now, I can't imagine writing anything other than fiction.

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far.

The first novel I sat down and wrote ended up 180k words...uh...yeah. I had no idea that was a bad thing! I was all, sweet, I totally wrote a really long book! Impressive! Go me! Well, we all know that's not how it works, and I very soon found out myself when query after query came back as big fat rejections. When I started writing it, my plan wasn't to publish, but to see where it took me. Once I'd finished my epic tale (which was not epic fiction, but, ahem, NA Paranormal), I looked into the whole getting published gig and before I knew it was sending out queries. After a few months, and some research I should have done much earlier, I shelved it. I also had another story idea...

FAMILIARITY WITH THE DEVIL was born within a fleeting thought as a neighbor, whom I'm convinced is a witch (don't judge me), passed by. It was the day before Halloween and I finished drafting and editing in four months. This was the novel I had wanted to write! Long story short, I queried, edited, re-queried, re-edited, repeat - repeat - repeat, until FINALLY (and I'm talking two years later) the clouds opened up, fairies sang, and several unicorns ran by my window with leprechauns on their backs as my query fell into Jamie's hands!!!! I still can't believe it. I couldn't ask for a more supportive, more dedicated agent - it blows my mind I got so lucky (must have been those leprechauns!).

CONGRATS AGAIN ON BEING AGENTED!!! AHHHHH!!! *ahem, back to the interview*

Right now I'm working on final edits to a YA classic dystopian called The Offering and am in the early drafting stages of book 2, The Settling. I'm also attempting a YA contemporary with light elements of fantasy titled The Castaways. Busy, busy! And happy, happy!

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?

None of the above, *sheepish grin*. I actually had to look up Firefly and, um, not so much. When I was seven I did have an ongoing argument with a friend over movies: she always wanted to watch Star Wars and I always wanted Grease 2. We usually settled on The Wizard of Oz. So, there's that...

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?

All My Days by Alexi Murdoch (I watched Away We Go the other night and am totally obsessed with all things Alexi Murdoch now!)! Check him out, you won't be sorry!

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?

Actually, I never set out to write YA and - full disclosure - was never an avid reader of the genre (though I'm coming around quickly!). But, crazy as things are, I'm a NA/YA writer and I've realized that piece is kind of out of my hands! It's how my stories are told, the people my characters become...all of that, and I do lurve it!

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?

Yes! Time of day would definitely be morning/early afternoon. Place is my living room, but any coffee shop with good music will do :)

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh man...really? This is hard and I'm assuming it can't be a series (surely that would be cheating, but my answer would be Harry Potter - obvious), but one book. Just ONE book? Well, I love Sylvia Plath...I'm fascinated with her actually. And I know this makes me a total nerd (or will it redeem my lack of Star Wars enthusiasm?), but I think I'd bring the Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. It's something I could read snippets of here and there or as one long story about her life. It's inspirational and tragic and humorous all the same. Yes, that would be it.

What was your favorite book of 2012?

Favorite book I read in 2012 was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - it was so good. So so so good... I'm still both haunted and in-love with it.

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?

I have a ridiculously long 'to be read' list going on Goodreads (much in thanks to my awesome and avid reader CP who recommends the best books!). I think I'm most excited to read: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Giver by Lois Lowry (that cover just pulls me in). They've been out a while and I'm a little behind the times, so it really makes perfect sense.

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be? And why?

First off, HUGE CONGRATS!!!! Wonderful and well-deserving!

My first novel, the beast, really delved into Hawaiian culture both ancient and modern and my hope is to one day revisit that manuscript and try to tame it. My other choice would without doubt be the Irish. I've always (since childhood) been mesmerized by Ireland...the landscapes, the history, the music, the legends and myths, the people. I would love to dig pretty deep into Irish history and find a story to tell.

Anything else you want to add?
I'm a total Gilmore Girls fangirl! I own all 7 seasons on DVD and have watched them back-to-back too many times to feel comfortable sharing.

Since she's never seen Star Wars (blasphemy!) I must confess that I've never actually watched Gilmore Girls...I've seen a few episodes here and there, but never watched the series all the way through.  Woops!

Thanks for answering my questions, Jessika!  Check back tomorrow for another interview :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

In which I perform a Pitch Perfect song just for you!

More interviews with AMAZING WRITER FRIENDS are coming soon!

But, in the meantime, I did the "Cups" song from Pitch Perfect!

Sorry about how bad my voice is...remember when I said I had stage fright?

Right.  Off to eat dinner now :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Witty Title TBD - Jen!

Jen and I have many things in common.

A love of Sailor Moon is one of said things.
We're also in the same sorority and were sorted into the same House in Pottermore!


She ventures into how we became Social Media BFFs in her answers, so I don't want to steal her thunder or anything.  But if you want to follow her blog she does AMAZING book reviews!

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?

What I want the world to know and what I'm going to say here are probably two different things. ;) I'm an aspiring writer with shameful addictions to both diet soda and chapstick. I divide most of my free time between reading, writing, blogging, getting sucked into social media, and revising. I run a YA book blog called Almost Grown-up and the Fangirl Flail is my favorite dance move.

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)

Hmmm... first thing I remember writing for fun was basically a Nancy Drew fanfic starring my parents' teenage selves as Nancy and Ned. I think they found a baby and had to solve the mystery of its appearance. Compelling stuff, I know. I want to say I was seven? And yes, my mom definitely has said story filed away somewhere.

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far.

Okay, this is longish. BEAR WITH ME.

Up until high school, I barely wrote, but I was a voracious reader of both books, and (perhaps more importantly) Sailor Moon fanfiction. I loved it and spent a great deal of time clicking around the internet for quality fics. After spending a year taking a Creative Writing course as an elective, loving it, and honing my editing skills as a yearbook and literary magazine editor in high school, I starting writing my own fanfiction. This was spurred on by joining one of the best LJ comms around in the fandom. I also played around with Harry Potter fanfiction a teeny bit.

I majored in Creative Writing in college, but it zapped a lot of the joy from writing for me. And I think that had to do with a few things: the first was the knowledge that what I liked to read and write was either YA or "chick lit," which tends to get looked down on in academic literary circles. Another was that I was writing for a GRADE and tried to force myself into a style that I thought would please my teacher. And of course, part of my major requirements were non-fiction and poetry courses-- neither of which I have ever particularly enjoyed writing.

So. Then I graduated and found myself considering my first NaNoWriMo. In October of 2010, I took the seed of an idea that I had and I outlined it obsessively. I thought I was utterly prepared for the 1,667 words a day. I was not. I realized I do better first-drafting as a pantser to figure things out and fell short with Now and Again somewhere around 30,000 words. The next year (2011), I completely pantsed it with a throwaway idea called Word on Greek Street. I had a lot of fun with it, but ultimately it perpetuates a lot of sorority and fraternity life stereotypes, that I don't want to further on (there's more to Greek Life than drinking, I swear) so I have no plans to revise it. The good news: it helped me achieve my first NaNoWriMo win!

I started writing my current WiP (and third novel) about a year ago when a couple of other book bloggers and I started working on our novels and posting weekly progress on our blogs. I think I finished my first REALLY ROUGH draft of Apparent around September? Maybe October. I worked on revising Act 1 and when I was somewhat happy with it, sent that off to a CP or 2. I took Mandy Hubbard's YA writing class on LitReactor which was hugely helpful, and where I met Alex (along with some of you who are reading this probably ^_~).

This year for NaNoWriMo, I worked on draft 2 of Acts 2 and 3. Act 2 is mostly finished-- I'm now in the stage where I'm trying to tie scenes together and filling plotholes before I send that off to the CPs. Then there's just Act 3 to contend with! I plan to be querying agents this year, but only when I'm sure I've made it the best it can be after advice from my CPs!

And, I still cut loose and write Sailor Moon fanfiction from time to time.

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?

Firefly Firefly Firefly. I hadn't actually seen Firefly or Star Wars until last year, when I decided that they were necessary parts of my "nerducation." I still haven't seen Star Trek, and feel less strongly about incorporating it into my nerducation. I liked Star Wars well enough, but it didn't give me the feels the way that Firefly (and Serenity) did. I'm now the proud owner of the series on DVD and refuse to delete the 10th anniversary roundtable with the cast from my DVR.

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?

If it's Friday, you may assume that the unfortunate answer to this is "Friday" by Rebecca Black. If it's another day of the week, lately I've been listening to "I Like Giants" by Kimya Dawson on repeat quite often. I heard it when I watched the livestream of An Evening of Awesome at Carnegie Hall with Hank and John Green and it almost moved me to tears.

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?

Oh gosh, I think I actually have a blog post on this topic somewhere, but I'll go for a redo on the topic. Basically, I think that teenage years are years when things are so much more open to possibility than being an "adult" and settled into routines and well... selves. Teenagers are still becoming who they're going to be.

Plus, it's a period of life when I think that emotions can be more intense and strong emotions can bring us closer to characters sometimes.

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?

When I talk myself into getting to work right away (except I'm NOT a morning person), I find that the morning is best, before I have a chance to become distracted by what I need to do/haven't accomplished yet that day. I can just fall into the story without the "real world" concerns.

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This question is cruel, but not that unusual for us bookish folk, haha. I've cheated before and said "Harry Potter" meaning the whole series. If I was cheating still... THAT is my answer. Otherwise, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I've already read it a few times, but it makes my heart ache in an exquisite way half the time and swoon and laugh the other half.

What was your favorite book of 2012?

Oh... hell. I read like 100 books or something like that last year. And now I'm DEFINITELY cheating, but here are a few that I loved a lot: Code Name Verity, The Fault in Our Stars, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Cinder, Grave Mercy, and Bitterblue.

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?

There are MANY! But topping my list are Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (which I've actually already read and LOVED, but I want it to be out in the world so everyone can enjoy it-- it's out February 5th!)

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be?  And why?

Spanish culture, by which I actually mean Spain for a couple reasons: the first being that I already have an idea for my next novel if the Apparent duology doesn't work out. It'll be a historical and take place at least partly in Spain. Next reason: I speak a teeny bit of the language (thank you, 5 years of middle and high school Spanish).

Anything else I might have missed?

Nothing comes to mind!

Thanks for participating in my random Q&A session, Jen!  I'm going to add "not a morning person" to the list of more things that we have in common!  Also, I think the Fangirl Flail has the potential to be the next big dance move...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Witty Title TBD - Jeannette!

First up in my "Awesome Friends Who Agree to Answer my Silly Questions" Series is....

She asked me all the right questions, and without her input I would've had a super rough time revising.  But, thankfully, my first round of revisions (back in the day!) for this book were amazingly pain-free, and I attribute ALL OF THIS TO JEANNETTE.

Hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee's my interview with her :)  

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?
I'm a mom of two, a 5 year old superhero who has a heart too big for his little chest and a 3 year old who loves anything small and squirmy (worms are her favorite - I'm proud to say she gets that from me).  I'm happily married and have been with my partner for almost 14(!) years.  I love university and refuse to leave... even though I graduated a long time ago I still take classes.  Right now I'm in a Restoration of Natural Systems program, so I'm learning how to clean up messes and make the world beautiful again after we screw it up.  I'm most at home exploring a tide pool or walking through the forest.  Oh, and I'm totally awkward in "real life".  If I ever meet any of you I apologize in advance.  

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)
Haha!  You asked for it!  My grandmother unearthed a relic for me from the dank depths of her basement, and I think it's absolutely hilarious.  I was trying to knock down gender stereotypes even as an 8 year old!  This is unedited and unabridged:

My Adveture (pretty sure I meant "Adventure", but who knows) With George the Snowman:
One day I was building a snowman, he looked like this, his hat was a ladies hat with fruits and vegetables. (My comma issues started early) He has a body with three balls, (mind outta that gutter!) a clown nose, a mouth of rocks and eyes of buttons.  My snowman has ballet shoes (Yeah George!) he has hands of twigs, feet of paper rolls and a jacket of mink (woops - my apologies to mink everywhere).  I painted my snowman pink cheeks and I painted eye lashes on him also I put red flowers on his body.  My snowman is holding a teddy bear close to my body that has lipstick (I don't even know).  He has a pet fish called Homer (wow, that's random, and also PLOT HOLE!  How did he get the fish?  Logistically, how can a fish even survive outside with him?).  My snowman is called George.  (Finally)

The next morning when I got up on a Monday I put my clothes on and went outside to play.  I called my friends over to see the snowman.  One of my friends called Jenny, said he would be a good pupil if we played school with him (because he was the strong, silent type maybe? or am I implying he's uneducated and needs some learnin'?).  So me and my friends played school with him.  And if you can imagine that we were giving George so much attention that he came alive right in front of my eyes.  (Wow!  This calls for at least an exclamation mark!) We played with george all day long.  When it was time to go to sleep I wanted him to sleep with me but he said he would melt (I'm a harlot, but at least he's a gentleman).  

In the morning I said let's go and play.  Sure George said let's play catch so we played catch for half an hour.  (Apparently I wrote the rest of the story in a state of near-starvation, judging by the food references that take over)  After that our mother called us in for breakfast.  We had eggs and bacon and apple juice.  After we ate we wated two hours and after that time we went to the pizza store to have lunch.  I ordered pizza so did George.  Some time after we ate George and I went to the barber shop and the barber cut off so much snow that he was so skinny he couldn't talk anymore.  After that the barber blow dryed his hair and the wind was so hot that he melted.  (I'm so hungry I just want the story done.  Poor George though, right?  How did little-me feel about his demise?  Let's explore those feelings instead of throwing the reader off a cliff!)
April 24, 1987:

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far.
Writing has always been my creative outlet, but I only discovered a love for penning novels a couple of years ago.  Since then, a day without putting words down is a tragedy in my world.

My first novel features a unicorn, fairies, and giants, and is an unmitigated disaster (it starts with a dream sequence - gah!)  My second book is much better.  :)  In it, my unreliable narrator has been abandoned by everyone and everything, and has to navigate through semi-madness while trying to avoid getting eaten.  I wrote a sequel to that one because the characters wouldn't leave me alone (though it needs some serious editing!)  My current WiP is a foray into sci-fi... mad scientists and neuroscience and chemistry, oh my!

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?
After Alex's bang-on recommendation of Fringe, I decided to give Firefly a try.  And yeah... no.  Definitely not feeling the Malcolm Reynolds love.  I did have a kitten named Picard as a girl, but if I was stranded forever with only one of these three series, I'd definitely have to go with Star Wars.

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?
On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons.  It must be the happiest song in the world.  Totally on my WiP playlist and SO CATCHY.  Here's a link so you can have it stuck in your head too!

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?
Because of the emotion!  It's raw and uncut.  I remember my teen years well... everything is apocalyptic (and I say this with reverence, not condescension).  It appeals to me as a reader because I can tap back into that wild abandon.  It appeals to me as a writer because I can tap back into that wild abandon.  :)

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?
Early, early morning before the house wakes up and the chaos begins.  My computer sits right in front of a window that overlooks our backyard and the field behind it, so at 5:30 when it's still dark and quiet it feels like it's just me and the Douglas-firs in the whole entire world.  Perfection.

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hmm.  Wild Seed by Octavia Butler is one of my favorites.  But the classic I come back to every few years is Great Expectations.  I don't know why I love it so much, but my copy is well-worn and reassuring.  Why would you make me think about a world without heaps of books?  That's just cruel.

What was your favorite book of 2012?
Technically from late 2011 - A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  But again, this is a cruel question.  I read so many good books last year!

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi.  And about a hundred others, but that's the main one.  It's already been released, but I want to reread Under the Never Sky first and get immersed in that world again... it's loaded onto my playbook all ready to read and it KILLS ME not to open it.  I heart Perry.

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be?  And why?
Oh, this is a good question.  I can't narrow it down to one!  I'd love to research Japanese culture, mostly because of the "research" I would have to undertake about the food.  :)  I'm constantly inspired by the coastal First Nations culture around me and would love to immerse myself in that world more.  Inuit culture fascinates me, and I think it would be especially relevant to learn how climate change is affecting their way of life today.  One more, then I'll stop... Ever since I saw the documentary "Babies" I've wanted to learn more about Mongolia.  Something about how they showed the little guys upbringing there resonated with me.

Anything else I might have missed?
I love my CPs!!!

Witty Title TBD - The Intro post...

Hello friends!  In honor of my quickly approaching SCBWI trip (LESS THAN TWO WEEKS! AHHHH) and the wonderful On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award, I thought it would be cool to interview some of my fellow writer-friends to get some insight into their writing journeys and processes!

I've hopefully asked a few serious questions, and just as many silly questions, so sit back, relax, and see how my friends resolve the Star Wars/Star Trek/Firefly debacle...

Here are the questions I asked my awesome friends (and they answered them!  Oh, how they answered them!)

What do you want the world (or the 5 people who read my blog) to know about you?

What’s the first thing you wrote for fun? (that you can remember!)

Give us a little insight into your writing journey so far. 

Star Wars, Star Trek, or…Firefly?

What song’s been stuck in your head lately?

Why do you write/read/lurve YA?

Do you have a favorite place/time of day to write?

If you could only pick one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

What was your favorite book of 2012?

Is there a 2013 book you’re looking forward to?

And, since I won an award for culturally under-represented authors: If you could pick a culture that you might not be totally familiar with to research and write a story about, which culture would it be?  And why?

Anything else I might have missed?


First post is coming soon!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"You are my favorite thing. My very favorite thing."

This quote happened in the last episode of Fringe, which pretty much emotionally devastated me in all the right ways.  There were callbacks to past episodes, some old characters came back, and I really can't say anything more because I don't want to spoil it.

You just need to know that I cried.  I'm still crying.  And I'm going to watch that episode again tomorrow and cry some more.

This. All day, every day.

Yeah, one day later and I still feel like this.

Also, the Tumblr gods found this (I was too focused on Peter's name to see that last night.  I might also have been crying at that point...)

You're so welcome, Fringe.  You're so welcome.

I posted something on my Tumblr last night as a sort of last minute tribute before the finale aired.  I'm going to recycle that now because I don't want to spoil things, and I'm still a little emotionally numb, so this is about as eloquent as I'm going to be today.  So here's my ode-to-Fringe as seen on Tumblr...
I'm not really sure where this is going.

This applies to both my random stream-of-consciousness farewell to Fringe, and to the show itself.  For five seasons I've faithfully watched the little-show-that-could, and uttered that phrase so. many. times.  And, as someone who LOVES being able to predict how a movie will end (I called Salt in like the first five minutes, but I'm not sure if this is a good bragging point, because a lot of people probably did), or who can figure out plot twists before they happen, I am quite happy to report that this show has given me some pretty awesome WTF?!? moments.

For five seasons I sat by while Olivia, Peter, Walter, Astrid (Astro, Astral), Nina, Broyles, Charlie (remember Charlie?), William Bell, and Gene the cow fought to save the universes (and also fought themselves, other versions of themselves, fought each other, and fought shapeshifters, people with psychic get the idea).  They fought.  A lot.

But our beloved characters weren't the only ones fighting.  The show fought to stay afloat, the fans fought to get it to 100 episodes (wooooo syndication!), and the cast and crew fought to give us all the show we wanted, but not the one we ever thought we'd deserve.  

They took risks, killed characters (brought some back...didn't bring others back), time-traveled, almost destroyed the world, blew things up (or set things on fire with their minds), but, most of all, they kept coming back to the dysfunctional little family at the heart of it all.

They came back to Walter, a man who had pieces of his brain removed because he was becoming too consumed with success that he was forgetting about things like empathy and love.

They came back to Peter, a character who had one hell of a back story, and who was totally fine 
with being alone...until he realized that family was something worth fighting for.  And oh, how he fought for it. 

They came back to Olivia, who was both extremely badass and still a woman.  Yeah, there was a character who loved and was loved, who could fight better than any of the men on the show, who was smart, and intuitive and compassionate and just an amazing role model for young women.  You kicked ass and took names, and Anna Torv, you just rocked that role.  

They came back to Astrid (or whatever Walter chose to call her...perhaps the best running gag of the show), a character who was always there, always constant, and always ready to help.  Her relationship with Walter was amazing, and Astrid might be the ultimate embodiment of patience.  She was also quite intelligent, and I really couldn't imagine the show without her.

There were other characters, of course, but these four were what made the show work.  And they made it work so well.  Sure, things didn't always go the way they intended (wouldn't be much of a show if they did), and along the way they've suffered some terrible loses and crushing defeats.  But for every death, for every sacrifice, there was still that glimmer of hope.

Just like the White Tulip Walter needed to give him the strength to do something he never thought he could, this show has done more for me than I can ever articulate.  And the underlying message that family and friends are worth fighting for, worth saving, and that people, feelings, love, art, everything that makes us, well, us, MATTERS is something that I'll always hold on to.
Fringe MATTERS.  Tonight might be the series finale, but it MATTERS, just like we do.  So thank you, Fringe, for helping us all matter :) For mixing the paranormal with science, for giving us off-the-wall cases and story lines, for making us care about alternate versions of characters who miiiiiiiiiiiiiight not have been introduced in the best light.

Thank you for being the little-show-that-could.  Thank you for being you.

It's almost time for the finale.  I'm not really sure where this is going.

But I'm very, very glad I was along for the ride.

That's all I've got for now.  Well, that and this:



When I do come back I'll bring a few friends with me!  I've got something very fun (and possibly a little informative) planned for the next couple of weeks!  Hope you're ready for some shenanigans :)

Friday, January 18, 2013


...IS FINALLY (AND SADLY) UPON US!!!  Tonight at 8 the 2-hour cry-fest begins, and I've been feeling all bittersweet about it since I found out this was going to be the last season of one of my most beloved shows


This is how I've felt since the show got cancelled.

This is probably how I'll feel during the show...

So this is my "beginning of the end" post.  I tried to search for Fringe .GIFs, but I just started to tear up.  Here's the one I found before I got more sad.

I love Walter.  Also, this is how I feel right now.

I'm going to come up with a more eloquent way of expressing myself after the show is over, because I think they've still got a few surprises left for us, and I want to make sure I know how everything ends so that I can properly gush and mourn.

There are five hours left until the series finale starts, and I have a lot of chocolate to buy.  While I'm walking around Target, loading up my basket full of bags of Dove chocolate, I'll be thinking of this:

Yeah, this isn't how I feel but it's about to make me cry.

I'll also be thinking of all the characters we've (using the Royal 'we' for the amazing Fringe fandom) loved, the ones we've lost (sometimes we've lost them multiple times), the story lines that made us mad or wanting more, unbearably sad, or over-the-moon-happy (which was usually followed by something unbearably sad) and the episodes that made us cry, or cheer, or grossed us out.

But, most of all, I'll just be thinking about this wonderful, weird, and amazing little-show-that-could.  This show challenged me, made me think, merged science with the paranormal, and was a great example of how the "family drama/crime procedural" show can get twisted into something new and exciting.

So thank you, Fringe, for giving us all five seasons of new-and-exciting things to add to our lives.  And thank you for being one of the inspirations for my MS :)  I couldn't have done it without you, and I hope I tipped my hat to you quite well in my story.

If the show had to end, I'm glad it got to end on its own terms.  Much love, Fringe.  Let's do this thing!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"I didn't know you could sing like that."

My high school choir director said this to me right after I auditioned for a solo for our Broadway tribute show my junior year (yeah, we had a Broadway tribute show and it was awesome.  I was the emcee for two years, too!).

I didn't know you could sing like that.

He was always a very blunt, very to the point kind of guy.  He wanted things a certain way, he always wanted us to be better, and he never hesitated to tear us a new one if we were doing something wrong.  For the first two years of high school, I stayed pretty under-the-radar when it came to chorus stuff.  I'd been in chorus since the 5th grade, done a few of our city's All-District ensembles that you had to audition to get into (yeah, I know, fancy right?!?), and helped others stay on rhythm when they needed it by clapping at an obnoxiously loud level.  

I'd also always been fairly comfortable with my singing voice (my talking voice, though, is another thing).  Finding the right notes is about as easy as breathing for me, I can stay on key pretty much all the time, and lately I've gotten into harmonizing with the same 5 songs the radio plays over and over and over.  

Singing has always been something I was comfortable with when I was in a group, but never alone.  Not until junior year, when I auditioned to sing a song from Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Had I been writing a book about chorus kids, my song choice would totally have counted as foreshadowing for my character.  It was "Not for the Life of Me," and it was the MC's intro.  She moved out of a "one light town, where the light is always red," and moved to New York City to start a new life.

She also moved there to find a rich husband, but I'm going to ignore that part.

Anyways, it took everything I had to stand there in front of my choir director and a few other people and sing the song as well as I knew I could sing it.  Practicing by myself in my room was wayyyyyyyy different from actually auditioning, especially in front of someone who absolutely wouldn't hesitate to tell me if it was horrible.

I finished the song, shaking from both adrenaline and nerves, and turned to him, totally expecting him to tell me I had no business being there and that he wasn't sure how I'd stayed in chorus this long.

Instead, he looked at me, smiled, and said the words that were both a compliment and a challenge.  Words that, until I started writing, I didn't even know had stuck with me through the years.

I didn't know you could sing like that.

I responded by shrugging and saying that I didn't know, either.  But I kind of did.  I just didn't want to admit it to myself and I've always been a little self-deprecating when it comes to singing (or just life in general haha).  Long story short I got the solo and it was awesome.  

Some other awesome things we got to do because of our choir director?  We went on countless field trips to NYC, competed nationally and internationally (and won!), saw more Broadway shows than I ever thought I would see, we sang IN Radio City Music Hall, and during my tenure as a high school student, I was lucky enough to be in five musicals.  

I was always in the ensemble because 1) My stage fright is and always will be something terrible, so being in the ensemble was the safest way for me to perform 2) I was really shy in high school 3) My peers were way better than I was/ever will be.  A few of them are making their livings as performers now, and a part of me is jealous that they get to sing and act every day.  But I'm a terrible actor, so life on the stage was never meant to be.

The point, in all my rambling, is this: Our beloved choir director, Mr. Donald Nultemeier, passed away this morning.  My chorus friends have all been posting statuses and reminiscing, and are probably blasting showtunes at this very moment.  I've got our graduation song on repeat - a song I got to perform with my peers, for my peers, as we were all getting ready to leave high school and move on to the next part of our lives.

I found out about his death a few hours ago, and the one thing I keep coming back to is what he said to me after my audition.

I didn't know you could sing like that.

Like I said before, it was both a compliment and a challenge.  And it's also become a little bit of a life mantra.  I had a skill, a very good skill, and I hid it away because I was too shy to share it with others until that audition.  The same can be said with writing.  I've always loved writing, and I knew I was a decent writer, but I never thought I was a good enough writer to win awards, or grants that let me go to conferences, or just have someone else say that they loved my story.  Never in a million years would I have guessed I'd be honored enough to have someone else say they loved my story.

So yeah, Nulte, you didn't know I could sing like that.  I didn't know I could write like that.

And it's your honesty, your very blunt statement of fact, that drove me to prove myself.  I wanted to prove that I could, indeed, sing like that.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a book, and then that I could write a better book.  I don't think I'll ever stop trying to prove that I can do something, because I'm always going to want to be better.

I'll always want to learn, to grow, to push myself, and to change for the better.

You've been one of the voices in the back of my mind, always pushing me on, always challenging me to be better, because you knew I had it in me.  You knew all of your students had it in them.

Because we did.  We still do.

And, as we move on without you, we'll always remember the lessons you taught us, the trips you let us go on, how you were a second father to many of us, and how damn lucky we were to have you in our corner.

Even if you were yelling at us most of the time.

As our graduation song said, 
"A new world calls across the ocean.
A new world calls across the sky.
A new world whispers in the shadows, 
'Time to fly.  Time to fly.'"

You helped so many of us fly, even if it wasn't in the direction of performing on-stage.  I think we're all very thankful for that.

As for me, well, thanks for lighting that fire under my ass by inadvertently showing me how much I was underestimating myself.  I totally needed it.

Rest in Peace, Nulte.  Thanks for drilling those routines into us so much that we can still do them, six years after getting out of high school.

Oh, and challenge accepted.  I can sing like that.


Just for funsies, here's a pick of me and some of my high school friends getting ready to do Sweeney Todd (hands down, my favorite musical to perform out of the five we did!)

Yeah I looked twelve.  This was my senior year of high school haha :P  Also, that costume had so many layers to it, I'm pretty sure I sweated all that make-up off by the time the first song was done...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Updates! (AKA The Most Original Title for a Blog Post Ever)

Oh hey friends!

I feel like I've missed A LOT by not making the blog rounds these past few weeks - you know, like an awesome friend going on a cruise (still super jealous, Sus!).  Anywho, I'm trying to figure out ways to make sure that I'm blogging more, so I think I'll start doing book reviews, or book recommendations, or just lament about how I'll never be able to get through my TBR pile.

So, yeah, something book-related is coming because this blog needs something cooler than just me freaking out all. the. time.

Speaking of freaking out, have you seen this?!?

Yeah, that happened!!!

Oh, and the formal announcement was made on SCBWI's website!!!  If you want to read my awkward attempt at answering questions, or if you're curious to see who else won the award and what their stories are about (They sound AMAZING!), then visit The Official SCBWI Blog!!!

Other random updates:

I'm a little over 26K on my Star Wars mash-up WiP!  I might be a little too in love with this story, and I also might be a little okay with this.  Hopefully I'll be able to reveal more details about it soon, but for now just know that outer space is involved, and I. Can't. Stop. Writing. It.  The last time I wrote something this quickly, I ended up with ASTRAL and I thiiiiiiiiiiiiink that turned out well :P  And Jeannette, my stellar CP, has challenged me to an epic word war.  We're now officially racing to 70K, and I hate losing, so it's totally on!

I'm going through my friend Elodie's AMAZING revisions for her novel!  She's on a team for Pitch Wars, and I'm very honored that she's been sending me chapters to read and even more excited that some of my feedback has helped her with her revisions :)  Everyone should root for her and her brilliant YA Contemp, ONE TWO THREE.  Also, she's sending me German Chocolates this week.  Once I receive said chocolates, a blog post will be dedicated to how delicious they are.  I know you're excited to read that :)

Last random update: My hotel and flight are booked for SCBWI New York!!!  I AM SO EXCITED AND FREAKED OUT THAT THERE STILL ARENT ENOUGH WORDS TO DESCRIBE ALL THE FEELS.  Next week I think I'll start the official countdown, and I've got something very entertaining planned for the two weeks leading up to my NYC adventures, so stay tuned...

I've gotta get back to my WiP and Elodie's story, so until next time...

That's all, folks!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!!! Time to Vlog!

So. It's 2013.

SCBWI is in less than a month.

I'm freaking out and awkwardly vlogging.

Thanks for partaking in all of awkward!  Legit blog post happening soon :)