Friday, June 29, 2012

Second Book News!

Most of you know that I sold two books to HarperTeen last year, but the second was an option book instead of a sequel. Well, I'll get to the point and say that HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW has officially been chosen for the option! Woohoo!

I really love this book, and I haven't talked too much about it online since finishing the first draft last year. It was a book I actually put away for a long time while editing TRANSPARENT. I couldn't get back to until a few month ago, but I love it and I really hope you guys will love it, too.

I've never written a query for it, but here is the small summary I wrote when attempting to pitch it to Editor Erica:

Josephine Hemlock lives with the mythic town witch, who just happens to be her grandmother. But when a mysterious man shows up at her gate, best friends, a new relationship, and her own budding magical powers will be thrown in the path of the evil blackness that murdered her mother. If she doesn't uncover her mother's killer soon, it'll be the end for the Hemlock witches and their magical house of ivy.

That's the bare bones summary, which I don't think captures how...magical HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW is. That might sound a little cheesy—of course a book with witches would be magical—but the novel itself was that way for me. It reignited my love of paranormal/fantasy writing. It helped me regain confidence in myself as a writer. It made writing itself magical again for me. And considering the deep depression I was crawling out of at the time, that was a miracle.

So yay! HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW! Coming Winter 2014 (as far as I know)!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Entertainments

I'm always surprised that people want to know what I'm watching, reading, etc. Then I had a baby, and I've been watching TV/Movies or reading like crazy while nursing all hours of the day. I realized that people weren't so much snooping when asking what I do to entertain myself, but that they might need recommendations as much as I do with my increased need for Interesting Stuff To Fill The Time When I Used To Write.

So, quick window into my entertainment habits:

Current Anime: Soul Eater

Just Finished Anime: Heroic Age

Current K-drama: Spring Waltz

Just Finished K-drama: Scent Of A Woman

Current Show I'm Sad Is Over: Legend of Korra

Movie I'm So Happy I Actually Got To See In Theater: Brave

Movie I Wish I Could See In Theater: The Avengers (Yes, I have yet to see it. Arg.)

TV Show I Would Almost Buy Cable For: So You Think You Can Dance (WHY the forever delay on Hulu, Fox? WHY???)

What I'm Reading: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

What I've Recently Read: Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard, The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

What I Plan To Read Next: Cinder by Marissa Meyer, or Partials by Dan Wells

What Album I'm Listening To Most: The Sun And The Moon by The Bravery

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Facebook Plunge

I left Facebook about two years ago, when I was in the depths of submissions and I just couldn't handle any more social media reminding me how much my life sucked.

Dramatic, I know.

And yet I knew Facebook was kind of a Big Place that I needed to be at least in some form, so I promised myself that I would rejoin the ranks a year out from my book debut. Well, I still don't have an official release date, but it IS Summer 2012, and Summer 2013 is next year. So here I am making good on my word.

I've made A Page for myself, which feels like the lamest thing possible, and yet the most simple for keeping my personal and professional lives separate. Please feel free to join. Or not. I'm just telling you it's there, and for book-related stuff that's where I'll be updating on Facebook.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

You Don't Have To Be An Outliner

I've been meaning to follow up on my last post for a whole week, and somehow haven't gotten around to it. It's like I have a newborn in the house or something.

Anyway, I found the comments to my post very interesting because it seemed like some people thought I was saying you MUST plot out your book to be a "real writer."Which, so not what I was saying. While I do believe that taking a close look at plot and being willing to drastically change your plot is vital to creating a good story, that doesn't mean you have to do that up front.

I don't. While I am much more aware of plot as I draft, I would still consider myself very much a "free drafter." I don't plan or outline. I might make very vague notes as I go along, but it's never more than a few chapters ahead and it constantly changes. This works for me. You have to do what works for you.

What I meant wasn't to promote outlining, but to say to that no matter how you get the words out, you have to be willing to change them all if necessary. You could plot out everything "perfectly" before you write and still have to rewrite whole passages, you know? Or you could wing it and have to rewrite the whole thing. Or maybe it comes out fairly in tact the first go around, so the changes are smaller. Every book is different, and you have to do what is best for that book.

Regardless of how you work, part of becoming a better writer is attitude. It's about willing to go the extra mile—or twenty. Okay, one hundred. It's about pushing yourself for the sake of getting the story right. Not just "good enough," but amazing and airtight. It's about doing what's best for the book even if it's hard and will take more time than you want it to. It's about putting the craft first and publishing second.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Allow Yourself To Think Of Alternatives

When I was a newer writer, I often believed that my initial ideas for plot and character and setting were all the right ones. What flowed organically from my brain must be the purest, most correct form of the story. I really, honestly believed this. And because I believed this I thought that any big changes would mess with the "natural flow" of the story.

Well, now I think that's a bunch of crap.

I think it was my way of trying to avoid the true work that comes in creating a novel: Revision. And I'm not talking tweaks, but the big changes that are a part of every novel's journey, whether they come in drafting or edits.

The truth is, your first ideas are probably not your best ones. I believe Laini Taylor talked about this on her blog once, that what your brain first decides is usually the easiest way out, the most contrived, cliche, trope, whatever. It likely contains the least action and the most telling. It often features a boring or repetitive setting.

Looking at the novels I used to write with my whole hippie "just follow your instincts and stay true to the organic story" philosophy and the novels I write now? I can tell you 100% that what Laini said was true.

I don't let stories just "do their thing" anymore, and you know what? I'm pretty sure that's why I finally sold a book. Because I took the reigns—I thought of better plot lines; I changed characters; I rewrote chapters; I moved things around and cut things and added things. I put away impatience and fear and let my mind wander to other, better possibilities. I listened to people who knew better than me. I took my raw ideas and molded them into something bigger.

I didn't just tell a story. I became an author.

And it's really hard for me to even refer to myself as an author, but as I've been writing this new novel I see how differently I approach the task. I'm not just shooting out into the dark hoping things will stick. I know what makes a good story, and I work with my idea until I find that sweet spot. I am in control, and I suppose that's what I always imagined an author to be.