Friday, December 16, 2011

The Battle Scene: The Hazards of Listening to Your Source

My main character and I have just conquered our first battle scene.

This challenge made me nervous. While I am a fan of epic battles in fantasy—especially the one in King’s Shield by Sherwood Smith (If you have not read that book, you are missing out on one of the most amazing battle scenes in fantasy literature), I am not a great fan of wartime nonfiction.

My "Source," however, whom I introduced to you in a previous blog, has probably read ninety percent of the non-fiction Civil War and World War II books currently published.

Naturally, I called my Source. “Hello,” I said, “So I’m writing a battle scene and this is what I think should happen. Yada yada—”

The Source interrupted. “I don’t they would really do that—”

“Oh,” I said.

“This is what they would do,” said the Source.

“Oh,” I said again. “I suppose that would be the clever way to do it. But what about . . .”

“No,” said the Source. “They wouldn’t want to do that.”

“Oh,” I said again. “But I can have this, right? And this? And this?”

“I suppose,” said the Source.

“But I have to change this?”

“I’m not telling you that you have to change anything. I’m just telling you how someone in that situation would have fought the battle.”

“Oh, but—”

And at this point my Source had had enough and hung up the phone.

Drat. You see, I always draft a scene first before consulting my source. (There’s no point in pestering someone about a scene until you actually know you want to keep it). And I was feeling pretty good about the chapter. Before that phone call.

This was going to be a major revision. Which one never wants to do, but one feels like one should. Otherwise why consult the expert?

So . . . I rewrote the scene.

It didn’t work. You see the problem was that the general within my book is not an expert. In fact he isn’t a general at all, but someone given the title of “captain.” And he wouldn’t fight this battle like an expert. If he did, he might have a chance to win. And I don’t want him to.

He is going to die.

Which is exactly how my chapter felt after I rewrote it.


Nine days on the same twelve-page chapter, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was frustrated. My source wouldn’t talk about it anymore. And my main character was furious.

Finally I consulted my other main character. You see this hadn’t occurred to me because this character isn’t in the scene. He is off suffering emotional damage and other tragic events during this battle. He doesn’t show up until after it’s over.

“At which point,” he told me, “I am appalled by how stupidly this battle was fought.”

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Oh! I realized. I don’t have to fight the battle the way the experts would have fought it. I just have to let this character explain afterwards how they should have fought it.

I scrapped the whole revision, and wrapped up the chapter in twenty-four hours.

Always consult your other main character.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Clearly, I have been kidnapped.

"By what?” you might ask, as you have undoubtedly noticed my pathetic failure to blog over the past month.

I could lie. I could accuse sixth graders, the flu, or fall report cards.

I could even be more creative by accusing Title I meetings, state testing trainings, make-up conferences, collecting special materials for students’ Egypt projects, pre-observation forms, fighting with the copy machine, post-observation meetings, SIOP inservices, cutting squares for Roman mosaics, IEPs, baking chocolate chip cookies for family meetings, or ordering flashcards.

“You could not,” Aurelia says, “I would never allow you to neglect our blog on account of these trifling excuses. Tell them what you have been kidnapped by.”


This year I am both a freelance writer and a freelance teacher (a profession often maligned & more often described as “substitute teaching”). Ultimately, this frees me to do a lot more writing-related teaching, writing events, and venturing into the great unknown.

AKA earning more writing-related income.

Sadly, blogging does not fall under this category and has, therefore, been woefully neglected as I work my way up the steep learning curve of applying for writing events, following-up on e-mails, signing contracts, and even braving the world of subbing in kindergarten—yikes!

However, fear not! My characters have been collecting plenty of ideas for us to blog about in the future.

See you again soon!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Sending you all over to Readinista for my recent interview! Meant to post this link last week, but . . . well . . . there were three days of substitute teaching, followed by a trip to the vet, an author presentation for the Patrons of the Gilliam County Library Night, a journey to the coast for my grandmother's ninetieth birthday, and Wordstock--the largest literary festival in the Pacific Northwest.

Readinista interview

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Folding Paper—It’s All About Character

Twain needed to fold a piece of paper this week and put it in his pocket.

You haven’t heard from Twain before. (I have a feeling you might hear a lot. He’s in one of my book proposals, and he has a reputation for yakking).

Anyway, he had to fold this piece of paper. And it had to be folded into fourths so that it would stay flat. This is not because he is anal—he was very definite about this—but because he had to show it to someone else. Who might flip out if the paper was a mess.

Which made me think about Beth. Who is a mess. And would probably lose the form before it ever made it into her pocket.

And Dane. Who would probably crumple it up and shove it in his pocket. In order to make someone else flip out.

And Salva, who would no doubt put it in his folder so there would be no creases.

And Robert, who would fold the paper carefully.

And Aurelia who would argue about having to show it to anyone at all.

Because every character is different. And that dictates action.

As an author, I really believe you don’t have to know everything. You could spend years doing research. And research is helpful, but it won’t tell you how Twain folds his paper. Or crashes his bike. Or pops it over a mud puddle.

For that you have to know

It’s all about character.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I have another new kitty! His named Simba. He is a small orange kitten with long fur. Here is what I have learned about him so far.

1. He is very smart. He mastered the use of the litter box, drinking milk from a bowl, drinking water, and eating dry food all in his first week of living in a house. (Prior to this he had been quartered in the rafters of a shop and the inner hidey holes within a combine).
2. He has sharp teeth. He gnawed off three rubber bottle nipples in three minutes prior to mastering the skills above.
3. He is a fantastic climber, believes in heading for high ground, and likes to scale the back of the couch.
4. He loves to play.
5. And play.
6. And play.
7. He snuggles!
8. He hates being locked in the cat carrier.
9. When hiding, he heads directly for the deepest darkest corner of the room. Which in a kitchen, means the back of an open cupboard.
10. He is totally unafraid of my other cat, Charlotte, which FYI is more than I can say for my parents’ kitty, Billy, or the one-eyed tomcat she pestered—i.e. yowled at—for two hours the other day in the jungle next door.

Hope your kitties are all doing well!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Paranormal Romance with HUMOR

Me: It is time to introduce you to the Blossom Culp books.

Aurelia: The what?

Me: Four novels by Richard Peck starring the main characters, Blossom Culp and Alexander Armsworth. Four books which, BTW, are A. Fabulously entertaining reading for anyone between the ages of 9 and 99. B. The best teacher read-a-louds I have ever come across. And C. Technically examples of paranormal romance published way ahead of their time. With superior humor.

Book 1: The Ghost Belonged to Me—in which seventh grader, Alexander Armsworth, has the unfortunate experience of . . .

-Becoming trapped in a fire escape with his classmate, the spidery-legged girl from across the tracks—aka Blossom Culp.
-Finding a small wet dog in his family’s barn, and . . .
-Discovering that the dog belongs to a ghost.

Book 2: Ghosts I Have Been—in which the narrative is now taken over by the vibrant voice of eighth grader, Blossom Culp. Who has the remarkable experience of . . .

-Scaring the pants off her neighbor, Alexander Armsworth, and the “low-lifes” he has regrettably teamed up with for the night of Halloween.
-Been invited—against ALL likelihood—to attend one (and only one) exclusive meeting of the Sunny Thoughts and Busy Fingers Sisterhood, and . . .
-Begun seeing a small ghost boy who appears to be on the recently sunk Titanic.

Book 3: The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp—in which our heroine . . .

-Moves on to the frightening, and entirely unspiritual, hazards of high school.
-Rescues the entire freshman class from embarrassing themselves during the Freshman Haunted House, and . . .
-Fast forwards one hundred years into the modern day.

Book 4: Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death—in which Blossom . . .

-Attempts to rescue Alexander Armsworth . . . from himself. And the clutches of the popular Letty Shambaugh.
-Spies upon Alexander, who appears to be scrubbing the library floor with a toothbrush.
-And, along with Alexander, is in serious peril of being cursed by the ghost of an Ancient Egyptian princess.

All in the average lives of two teens from the opposite side of the tracks in 1800’s Bluff City. Two teens with NOTHING in common. Except the ability to run into each other. And see ghosts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Post-its, Paperclips, and Miniature Skateboards

Me: Ah! The beauty of the contemporary novel.

Aurelia: What?! I thought we were in firm agreement that fantasy and historical fiction are your favorite genres.

Me: They are, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious advantages to writing modern realistic fiction.

She growls behind her teeth.

Aurelia: Like what?

Me: Like description.

Aurelia: Hold on! That is not fair. Just the other day you were saying what a struggle it was to decide how to describe a realistic riverbank for a modern novel without actually choosing a real riverbank.

Me: That’s true. But generally the description in a modern novel is so much easier because you don’t need nearly as much. And when you do, you can usually just look in your own desk.

She rolls her eyes and sits down on a footstool.

Aurelia: Explain.

Me: Well if my character is a fifth grade boy and I have him sit down at his desk, the average reader already has an image. He or she doesn’t need me to go into vivid detail about the type of screws in the desk.

Aurelia: And you feel like describing screws when you put a desk in a historical novel?

Me: Maybe not. But I’d better research the type of desks that were around then, just in case I slip up. And how am I supposed to figure out what might be inside the desk? Quill pens, ink; those seem likely, but that’s nothing compared to the wealth of possibilities my student might have in a contemporary novel: glue sticks, number 2 pencils, sharpeners with annoying motors, miniature plastic skateboards with wheels, radically altered paper clips—

Aurelia: I’m sure students a hundred years ago had plenty of ways of distracting their teachers too!

Me: I’m sure they did. But I have to research them. And if I’m writing fantasy, I have to invent them. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love to do. Just not necessarily for every little thing or at 4:30 p.m. when I reach that scene or on a day when I’m in a bad mood. And this is when it comes in really handy to be writing a contemporary novel. Because you can just open your own mental desk, pull out all those random details from personal experience, and toss them into your scene.

Aurelia: Only if you’re trying to make a mess.

Me: Which is perfect for the average desk of a fifth grader. All hail the contemporary novel!

She opens my desk and flings about a hundred post-its at me.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Throwing Up and Climbing Down the Fire Escape

Writing is 1/10th first draft and 9/10ths revision. Or 19/20ths revision. Or 39/40ths revision.

You spend hours and hours and hours perfecting your story. You agonize over it. You mull over it. You dream about it.

But sooner or later you have to share it. This is the hard part. Because you have to take this story that you’ve agonized and dreamt and mulled over for what seems like forever. And give it to someone else. Who inevitably is going to suggest something

This isn’t your peer editor’s fault. It’s just that he or she doesn’t know how the story’s supposed to go.

As a writer, when you hear one of those wrong suggestions, you’re gut reaction is to say, “No. That’s not going to work because . . .”

And that’s the important word: Because.

Because obviously that because isn’t obvious to the reader yet. So your job is to make sure it’s clear. And that’s the beauty of an editor. They can point out to you where the becauses aren’t clear.

For example. Character A throws up in church.

This happens in Chapter 3. Character A (aka the hero) throws up in church. He or she leaves the building early to lie down in the car. While Character A is outside the building, Character B (the villain) pulls the fire alarm. Character A then watches in shock from the car as the entire church congregation climbs down the fire escape.

Your peer editor is concerned that Character A is missing out on all the action in Chapter 3. So he or she suggests you have character C (aka the sidekick) throw up instead. Because that will free up Character A to climb down the fire escape along with everyone else.

But obviously this isn’t going to work because Character A is afraid of heights and, therefore, would never climb down the fire escape, which is why you had character A removed from the scene early by having him or her throw up.

And of course, it’s very important that Character A is afraid of heights because the same character has to overcome that fear later on in Chapter 22 during the climax of your whole book.

Ha! Take that, peer editor!

But here’s the thing. Your editor didn’t know that. Why didn’t your editor know that? Because you didn’t make it clear enough that Character A is afraid of heights.

Maybe you mentioned it during the climax. But obviously that didn’t make a large enough impression on your editor. Or he or she would have known that Character A couldn’t climb down the fire escape.

Now . . . how can you make it more clear that Character A can’t climb down the fire escape?

You can have Character A try to climb down the fire escape and fail. Now you’ve accomplished the following:
1. Meeting your editor’s concern about Character A getting in on the action.
2. Making it very clear that your character is afraid of heights. And . . .
3. Strengthening your entire story by clarifying the challenge and conflict within Character A during the real climax of the book.

This is what having a peer editor is all about.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Interview with Candace

Candace: Can you describe Aurelia in 10 words or less?


She also happens to be the crown princess of Tyralt. At least she was when I first met her. Though she’s never been very fond of the title. Her—and Robert’s—series is a young adult fantasy about a princess who should not be a princess. Her first book, Aurelia, is kind of Cinderella inside out, with an assassination plot. The summary for the brand new sequel, Exile, is below.

Candace: Now can you tell us about yourself in 10 words or less?

No. I require eleven.

“Voyeur of the magical realm of the written word.”

And . . .

“Cat person.”

Check out the rest of the interview at Candace's Book Blog:

Thanks, Candace!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ode to Summer

Yours truly is spinning and spinning and spinning around.

Aurelia looks at me with suspicion. “Are you OK?” she asks.

“It’s summer!” I sing.

“And the term summer leads you to appear as blissfully happy as when Exile came out?” she asks.

“Of course,” I reply.

Her jaw drops. Why? she is clearly thinking.

Let me enlighten her.

The top ten reasons summer is my favorite time of year:

10. No school! The children are all off swimming, camping, traveling, and running around—doing exactly what they (and their teachers) have been dreaming the children were doing since mid-May.

9. Fresh fruit: watermelon, strawberries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, raspberries—many of which are extremely good with whipped cream on angel food cake.

8. Trips! To the Willamette Writers Conference, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Pacific Coast, and of course . . . bookstores!

7. Time to walk and/or hike every day.

6. Sunshine! Enough daylight so that it is light when I wake up, light while I work, light when I travel, and light when I come home:)

5. Sleep. The complete and utter disappearance of my alarm clock deep in the recesses of my nightstand drawer.

4. Spending all day with my new kitty, Charlotte, and giving her multiple opportunities to fulfill her true destiny as an Adventuress of the Great Outdoors.

3. Time. For family, learning, friends, and of course . . .

2. Writing! All day, every day as long as the characters insist I keep telling their story!

1. Said characters (yes, Aurelia, I’m talking about you) all cease to pester me about how I should be writing more!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Author Spotlight: Ann Rinaldi

In the seventh or eighth grade, I stumbled across The Last Silk Dress at the Oregon State University bookstore. It was clearly my kind of book. A little long, actually, compared to what I was reading then, but the cover was gorgeous. The heroine was a southern belle during the Civil War. Besides, there were only about two rows of young adult books in the whole store.

Little did I know I had just discovered one of my favorite books.

And more importantly, one of my favorite authors. To date, Ann Rinaldi has written about fifty novels. I’ve read at least forty. She specializes in historical fiction with strong female voices. Many of her newer novels are mid-grade—and I enjoy them—but I especially love her YA.

Before I plunge into Ever-After Bird, my newest Rinaldi read, it’s high time I paid homage to the author. And directed you to some of my favorites. The following summaries are either from the book jackets or from Goodreads, with a few of my personal notes in the parenthesis below.

Role Call:

1. The Last Silk Dress

High-spirited, beautiful Susan Chilmark, fourteen, vows to do something meaningful to support the Confederacy during the Civil War. Despite the wishes of her mother, Susan and her best friend, Connie, collect silk dresses from all the ladies of Richmond to make a balloon that will be used to spy on the Yankees.

But the issues behind the war aren’t as obvious as Susan thinks. When she meets her dashing, scandalous older brother and discovers why he was banished from the family, Susan unlocks a Pandora’s box of secrets that forces her to rethink and challenge the very system she was born into. Does she have the courage to do what is right even though it may hurt the ones she loves?

(Susan isn’t your typical Southern belle. Her father is dead. Her mother is abusive. And when Susan believes in something, she doesn’t hold back).

2. Time Enough for Drums
Fifteen-year-old Jemima Emerson can’t believe her Rebel father is allowing John Reid to tutor her! Not only is John a noted Tory, he’s a bully as well. And he rules her studies with a strict hand, then steps in and rules her life the same way.

Jem rebels until she discovers a shocking and dangerous secret about John that drastically changes her feelings for him.

(A traditional revolutionary war romance, and a pure pleasure to read).

3. Wolf By the Ears

Harriet Hemings has always been happy in the comfortable, protected world that is Monticello. She's been well treated there; no one has ever called her a slave. But that is what she is, a slave of a man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. And there are rumors that she might be more than Thomas Jefferson's slave - she might be his daughter.

Now Harriet has to make a choice - to run to freedom or to stay. If she stays, she'll remain a slave. But how can she choose freedom, if it means leaving behind her family, her race, and the only home she's ever known?

(Probably Rinaldi’s most famous book—or at least most professionally honored. The awards are well-deserved. The main character is a wonderful heroine, and Rinaldi doesn’t stint on the real dangers and dilemmas Harriet must face.)

4. Term Paper

One of Ann Rinaldi’s four early contemporary novels (all of which are terrific). I can’t find a great summary online, and it’s been a long time since I read this, but it’s definitely worth the read—the story of Nikki, a traumatized teenager whose older brother happens to be her English teacher, and who forces her to write out events she would rather forget.

5.The Color of Fire

Someone is setting fires in New York City. It is 1741 and, as a colony of Britain, America is at war with Spain. The people in New York City are on a heightened state of alert. Phoebe, an enslaved girl, watches as the town erupts into mass hysteria when the whites in the city convince themselves that the black slaves are planning an uprising. Her best friend, Cuffee, is implicated in the plot, and the king's men promise to let him go if he names names.

(This one is dark and violent and an amazing read).

6. Or Give Me Death

What do you do when your father is Patrick Henry, hero of the American Revolution, and your mother going insane?

(Need I say more?)

7. Taking Liberty

"When I was four and my daddy left, I cried, but I understood. He had become part of the Gone."

Oney Judge is a slave. But on the plantation of Mount Vernon, the beautiful home of George and Martha Washington, she is not called a slave. She is referred to as a servant, and a house servant at that — a position of influence and respect. When she rises to the position of personal servant to Martha Washington, her status among the household staff — black or white — is second to none. She is Lady Washington's closest confidante and for all intents and purposes, a member of the family — or so she thinks.

(Like many of Rinaldi’s heroines, I loved Oney. Her voice carried this story far beyond what I originally expected).

In Summary:

Ann Rinaldi’s books are always about the character. She may specialize in historical fiction, especially set in the south, but her stories are never just about historical events. She has a real gift for crossing barriers: time, cultures, and social status. Her heroines have family. And family issues. And the great historical dramas that play out around them are always secondary to the characters’ own personal dramas.

On that note—I intend to go plunge into one.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Got Books?

Aurelia, who is looking a bit tattered after her journey in her new book, Exile, arches her eyebrow at me. “Look who’s here.”

I ignore the raised eyebrow. I led sixty sixth graders to the top of Multnomah Falls this week. I refuse to feel guilty about my failure to blog last weekend. Instead, I barrel into the conversation. “You’d better find a new outfit, Aurelia. Next Saturday we are going to Klindt’s!”

She fiddles with a rip in her blouse. “What is Klindt’s?”

I clasp my hands together and spin around. “One of the most miraculous places in the realm of stories!”

That captures her attention. “Why?”


She stops fiddling with the blouse, snags my laptop, and runs a search. “It’s a bookstore,” she announces.

“True. But this one is especially important because . . .”

“It’s the oldest bookstore in Oregon,” she proclaims.

“Also true, but . . .”

“That’s not why it’s especially important,” Aurelia gathers, then starts scanning the Klindt’s website.

“Found it!” she proclaims, very excited.

“Found what?” I ask.

She flips around the laptop and shows me the Got Books announcement. “It’s holding a huge young adult book event!” she announces.

I smile. “You’re getting warmer.”

Her mouth falls open. But her curiosity holds sway over her temper, and she elaborates. “A book event with Sara L. Ryan, Jesse Freels, Stephanie Bodeen, Kenny Knight, Rosanne Parry, Dave Anderson, R.A. McDonald, Inara Scott, Conrad Wesselhoeft, Sherrida Woodley and Neil Wolfson, representing his late wife L.K. Madigan.”

I smile some more.

“And with us!” Aurelia declares, jumping up and down, using the couch as a trampoline.

“Yes. But do you know why Klindt’s is really amazing?”

She collapses on the cushions. “No. But I would know if you would stop being cryptic and just tell me!”

“Because Klindt’s has Carol and Angela and all kinds of amazing people who work there. And because it’s the place where I used to order books when I was little. Klindt’s is the place that sent me the Satin Slippers series. And the Mandie books. And the Black Stallion series. And Alanna, the First Adventure!”

“Oh!” Aurelia sinks into the cushions. Then Klindt’s is a magical place.”

“Of course.” I smile.

“And now it sells my books?” she whispers nervously.


She hops up and spins around. “I can’t wait ’til Saturday!”

The official press release for Got Books is pasted below:

Saturday June 4th 11am-3pm
Klindt’s YA event.
twelve authors, one day.
books. food. free stuff.

On Saturday June 4th 2011 the oldest bookstore in the Pacific Northwest will host 12 Young Adult genre authors to encourage and excite the next generation of readers. From 11am until 3 pm at Klindt's Booksellers, authors Sara L. Ryan, Jesse Freels, Stephanie Bodeen, Kenny Knight, Rosanne Parry, Dave Anderson, R.A. McDonald, Inara Scott, Conrad Wesselhoeft, Anne Osterlund, Sherrida Woodley and Neil Wolfson, representing his late wife L.K. Madigan, will spend the afternoon talking with local YA lovers about their works. Two of these writers, Anne Osterlund and L.K. Madigan, are both up for the Oregon Book Award this year and you may recognize Roseanne Parry from last year’s Oregon Battle of the Books list. Parry’s newest title, Second Fiddle, has also been selected as an Indie Next Pick. While several of our guests write teen fantasy/paranormal fiction, we have also included other genre writers who may interest YA readers. These genres include mystery, autobiography, science fiction, historical fiction, and teen romance.

In addition to these 12 wonderful authors, Klindt’s will provide a free BBQ and soda as well as book give-aways and other fun gifts and prizes. Author Rosanne Parry will collaborate with budding local fiddlers to play a few songs in the back parking lot and we heard a rumor that the famous TDMS group D.A.C will also make an appearance!

Klindt's is working closely with local schools and libraries to encourage summer reading. The Dalles-Wasco County Library runs a summer reading program and hopes that this event can help expand their program. The Library will host an ice cream social and scavenger hunt immediately following the author event at Klindt's. We are also providing a program for teachers to offer extra credit for student participation.

Klindt’s Booksellers has been bringing literature to our community for over 140 years. We hope you will be just as excited as we are about this event and that you will support us in encouraging YA readers to join us for a creative afternoon! At Klindt’s, we strive to continue a long tradition of community stewardship. We often have customers in their 70’s and 80’s come in and tell us that they used to purchase their school texts at our bookstore as children. It is our joy to help bring the love of books to yet another generation.

We are glad to provide advance reader copies of books to media outlets interested in reviewing them. We would also love to put you in contact with our twelve authors and their publicists. If you would like more information on this event, or would like to schedule an interview, please contact our event coordinator, Angela, at 541-296-3355 or Thank you for your continued support of the oldest bookstore in Oregon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Whole "No-Magic" Thing

First, More Exile Reviews:

-The Story Siren:

-The Merry Genre Go Round Reviews:

-And check out Karen's (one of my favorites) & Courtney's on Amazon:

Now Moving On . . . At last

I promised in an earlier blog post, to tackle the topic of why there is no magic in Aurelia. Or her entire series, for that matter.

You see, it isn’t that I don’t love magic.

We are talking a huge Neverland-Fantasia-Tortall-Oz fan here.

It’s just that, in this case, magic would be cheating.

It is very important that Aurelia deals with her problems herself. (OK, I’m leaving out someone pretty important here, but ultimately you see what I mean, right?)

And that the danger she deals with is real.

She can’t just . . . use a sword.

Which, again, is not to say that I don’t love female warriors.

To me, Aurelia is totally a warrior.

But not in a masculine or magical sense.

She was raised as a young woman. And she has to deal with all the implications that come with that. And all the limits.

Her gifts are the kinds of gifts anyone could have. Intelligence. Passion. An open mind.

And stubbornness.

Which isn’t just a weakness. It’s something she needs.

Aurelia isn’t “superior” just because she was born a princess. The danger she faces is real. And no matter how “good” she is, she can’t defeat overwhelming odds just because I would like her to. She has to face that danger head-on. And she has to grow and learn and fight.

And sometimes lose.

Because that’s why there’s a story.

And it's not the kind of story that changes with pixie dust.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Release Day!

Exile Countdown--Today is the day!

In honor of Exile's release, a few thoughts about Aurelia and Robert's sequel . . .

Exile began with Aurelia, of course.

She has always insisted on a sequel to her first book—at least as far back as I can recall.

Though, technically, I started typing the initial draft of Exile the weekend after my first submission deadline for Academy 7.

Vroom! We were off—Robert, Aurelia, and I, thundering through their expedition.

Of course, there were certain things Aurelia didn’t inform me of in that first draft.

The forest, for example. Silly me, I thought the Asyan Forest was the setting for a single chapter. Little did I know it was going to snatch us up and refuse to let us leave. I spent an entire Christmas in the forest. The beginning of the following summer, we were still there.

And then I had take a detour into the draft for a different book.

Ooh! Aurelia was mad! “You’ve leaving us stuck here!” she yelled at me. “How can you leave us here?!”

I used logic.

Penguin used logic.

My brand new agent, Kelly Sonnack from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, used logic.

Guess who won?

Not anyone using logic.

By the end of the summer, Aurelia, Robert, and I were out of the forest and onto the frontier (definitely worth the struggle) with the scariest deadline I’ve ever had in my life.

Aurelia, on the other hand, was happy.

Exile Sample Chapters:

Scenes from Chapter 1 & 2 are posted on the book excerpts page of my website: Come read!

Exile Reviews:

Fiction Folio:

Exile Blogposts:

Today's Adventure: (The author/character relationship aka "The Discovery")

The Book Butterfly (Aurelia & I felt like discussing the term "bossy" in this one).

Exile Interviews:

One Writer's Journey:

Book Nut:

Adventures in Children's Publishing: