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:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

And the Winners Are . . .

Countdown to Exile--1 day!

First, for more Exile reviews, check out the following:

My Love Affair With Books

YA bibliophile


And for another Exile guest post (Aurelia & I are rather fond of this one):

The Neverending Bookshelf

The winners for the advanced reading copies of Exile are ...

For Option 2 (Name your cat. And tell me his or her special talent): Michelle!

Michelle's answer:

My cat, Belle (who I’m totally just realizing has a namesake who also shares her interest…Hint: Disney princess), has a knack for reading…or maybe just nudging books with her little pink nose until she can get them to pop open. Then she sits on them. I’m thinking she might be lucky enough to have the ability to absorb knowledge through osmosis. Wouldn’t surprise me. (She’s staring at me looking very smug right now). Lucky cat.

For Option 1 (If a very strong female character started talking to you, what would her particular strength be?): Lacey!

Lacey's answer:

I walk into the coffee shop, the scent of coffee beans lingers in the air. I survey the room before taking a seat by the window where I look out at the soft rain hitting against the window. I sigh before pulling out My laptop and turning it on. As I was waiting for my old machine to boot up, I heard footsteps walk up to me and ask if she could sit down. I nod my head, briefly lifting my eyes before concentrating on my computer once more.

"School work?" She asks.

I sigh once more and look up and my eyes nearly pop because sitting across from me is Grace, THE GRACE. She looks exactly as the Grace in my story, she even sounds like how I would imagine her to sound like. I stare at her in wonder, it takes all my willpower to stay rooted in my seat.

"Are you alright?" She asks, her eyebrows lift in concern.

I nod my head, "Your Grace, " I mutter out.

She smiles. "Yes, your Grace, my creator."

I take in a deep breath, I must be losing it, I HAVE to be losing it.....

"Can you tell me what my greatest strength is?" She asks challenging me.

I nod my head in excitement, "Of course....your greatest strength is the ability to comfort your family and friends by putting up a false shield and convincing everyone else that they're okay and you're okay... You create an appearance of togetherness. You're the leader,their guardian angel that leads them out of the darkness....but deep down, you're suffering. You're eyes show it, but you're intelligent enough to avoid any long periods of contact.... But I think your greatest strength can be your own downfall, but isn't that like that with every strength? Doesn't every strength end in turmoil eventually?" I ask, my mind rambling on and twisting down rocky and cloudy paths....

Grace just sits there and shrugs, "I suppose so..."

I stare at my computer that is now booted up, the screen glowing back at me, demanding me to put in a password before it'll proceed forward.With frustration I slam the screen back down and stare over at Grace. She is growing uneasy. I have unrattled something inside her; I have started her downfall and I can do nothing but watch her shatter as she tries to put everything back together, but I smile. I know her; I know she will fix this because, unlike her, I know her ending.

I pack my laptop back in my bag and get up from the table, I can see that Grace has finally shattered all she is going to. She gives me a brief smile before poofing into golden dust and floating out the opened door to the coffee shop as a customer came in. I wasn't sad to see her go; I'll be seeing her soon in my story. I'll fix everything because her strength will manifest into something greater. I leave the shop and see the rain finally stop and the sun try to break through the clouds. I push back my bangs and walk down the sidewalk, thinking of only Grace.

Congratulations Michelle & Lacey! Wonderful answers!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Aurelia's Song

Countdown to Exile--6 days!

“Hi, Aurelia,” I say, piling my current edited draft of my upcoming fourth book, Salvation, on top of last weekend’s edited draft.

“My book is coming out. My book is coming out. My book is coming out,” she sings, dancing around the room to The Music Box Dancer.

“Yes,” I sigh.

“Something wrong?” she pauses, her skirt swishing around her, an expression on her face which says that clearly nothing is allowed to go wrong when her book is coming out.

“Just thinking about final rehearsals all week for The Taming of the Shrew,” I say. Final rehearsals are always my most stressful week of the year.

“They’ll go fine,” she says.

As I said, nothing can go wrong in her opinion right now.

“The Oregon Book Awards are next Monday night!” she adds. And starts spinning again. “Aerin and Dane are all excited about going.”

“Yes.” I manage a weak smile, thinking about the eight hours I’m going to spend in the car between school on Monday and school on Tuesday in order to attend the Monday night awards ceremony.

“And the Portland Writing Festival is coming up in early May!” She spins faster.

I need to prepare a forty minute speech for the festival and find a way to feed thirteen children at least three meals for two days. “Yes.” My voice gets weaker.

“And you’re presenting at Highland Hills Elementary in between!”

“I believe so.”

“And then there’s--”

“OK!” I shout.

She stops and stares at me.

But I keep going. “And I have a newsletter to type and interviews to complete and Goodreads messages to answer and bills to pay and a car headlight to fix and event updates to send to my editor and web designer. And followers to track down—since the pictures of all 117 of them have apparently disappeared from my blog. And--”

“Is Salva giving you a hard time?” She eyes the manuscript I’ve just set down.

He doesn’t want to go on a date, but I’m hopeful that he, Beth, and I can work our way around this before June.

“I’m just . . . a little overwhelmed,” I admit.

She shakes her head, then smiles and I know exactly what words are going to come out of her mouth. “My book is coming out,” she whispers.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Dizzying Conversation

Exile Countdown--12 days!

For details on my Exile Giveaway, see my March 26th blog post.

“It’s almost here!” Aurelia bounds into the room spinning.

I pause, my spoon midway to its bowl of Cocoa Puffs. “What is?”

This is just me, pushing her buttons because I know perfectly well what she’s excited about.

She stops spinning, looking appalled. “The release date for Exile.”

“Is it?” I laugh.

And she returns to her spinning. Apparently this is one of those things that cannot be spoiled by an obtuse author. “I’ve been waiting forever!” she declares.

“I know,” I say, setting aside the bowl of Cocoa Puffs. “I’ve been waiting just as long.”

“Yes, but you didn’t have to trek through a forest or climb the Gate, or cross a desert.”

Her spins become a little less steady, and I hope she doesn’t crash into a potted plant.

“I certainly did,” I argue. “How do you think we made it to the far reaches of your kingdom?”

She stops spinning and shrugs. “Robert.” Which I suppose is fair. He was the expedition guide, and I did make him do most of the planning.

“Really,” I say, “I think we’ve all earned a reading vacation.”

She collapses onto a purple bean bag. “Where?” Her eyebrows rise in a challenge.

Read the rest of "A Dizzying Conversation" and a new Exile review on Melina's blog, A Reading Vacation!

And another Exile review at
Yearning to Read!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Exile--Cool Stuff!

Exile Countdown: 24 Days!

Check out Yearning to Read's and Melina’s new Exile reviews from Yearning to Read and Reading Vacation!

And see my March 26th blogpost to participate in the giveaway!

Aurelia: Three exclamation marks in a row?

Me: Too much?

Aurelia: A bit.

Aurelia: Why are we updating your review list here instead of on the Mar. 26th blogpost?

Me: Because of the scary “html error” message that won’t let us edit that page.

Aurelia: Oh yes.

Exile Reviews: Check out the following sites for reviews of Robert & Aurelia’s second story. (To be updated repeatedly)

A Reading Vacation:

Yearning to Read:

The Book Nut:

The Authoress:

YA Book Nerd

Exile Guest Posts & Interviews:
Check out the following sites for witty guest blogs & interviews by yours truly—and sometimes Aurelia. (To be updated repeatedly)

A Reading Vacation:

YA Book Nerd