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Friday, December 16, 2011

Full Altered Playlist

Two weeks ago I wrote about some of my favorite songs from the ALTERED playlist over on the BNW blog and thought I'd expand here to include the playlist in its entirety.

I always listen to music while writing. It's hard to function without it. Just like music helps you find your momentum when working out, I feel like it does the same for me when writing. I find a sort of rhythm, if you will!

As you can see, there are A LOT of songs on this list, but I would say I listen to the first twenty probably the most. And if I had to pick just one song that defined ALTERED, well, I would tell you I'd have to pick two and I'd say "Drumming Song" and "The Outsider".


ALTERED PLAYLIST
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Horizons Puscifer
Tumbleweed Puscifer
Better Hurt
Treading Paper Thrice
Black Dog Kelli Schaefer
Danse Russe Hurt
What the Water Gave Me Florence + the Machine
Tyrant One Republic
Passive  A Perfect Circle
The Outsider A Perfect Circle
Running Up that Hill Placebo
Fade Into You Mazzy Star
The Humbling River Puscifer
The Change Evanescence
Tyrant  OneRepublic
Lights Ellie Goulding
Into Dust Mazzy Star
E.T.  Katy Perry
Rapture Hurt
Drumming Song Florence + the Machine
Sally's Song Amy Lee
Hurricane 30 Seconds To Mars
Flower Moby
Show Me Dizzy X
All I Need Within Temptation
Something for the Pain Redlight King
Before the Worst The Script
Bloodstream Stateless
Done All Wrong Black Rebel Motorcycle
Slow Life Grizzly Bear
Painted On My Heart The Cult
Secret Things  Ken Andrews

So what about you guys? Do you listen to any of these? What song from your own list could you not survive without?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sensory Triggers Part 2


Before you read this post, listen to this song (or at least the first minute or so):



Whenever I hear this song, I get this vivid feeling that it belongs to a story I’ve yet to write. That feeling comes through unsure, like a voice crackling through an old radio. I see a girl. She’s blonde, slight, and she’s sad. She’s looking out a window as sunlight pours through the lace of dirt and grime. I know she’s waiting for someone, or missing someone, but I’m not sure who.

I know there’s more, I can sense it in that split-second image, like there are conflicts and emotions on the outer edge that I can’t yet see. And I want to see. I want to see so badly.

I’ve talked about sensory triggers before, from a character’s perspective, but those were tied to memories. This girl is completely made up. So why do I feel so strongly about her?

Sometimes I wonder if writers experience the world differently than others. I’m not trying to sound better than non-writers (oh no, we writers are crazy, we are not better in any way!). It’s simply introspection on what it means to be a writer. 

Whenever I’m on the beach, and it’s windy, and the waves are crashing against the shore, I’m reminded of this reoccurring dream of mine that goes like this:

I’m running down the street. It’s pouring. I catch flashes of the ocean to my right in the alleys between houses. I know where I’m going. I need to hurry. Hurry. Hurry before he leaves.

I reach my destination---a house on the ocean with cornflower blue siding and crisp white trim---and push through the front door. I see him in the living room in full military uniform, a beret in his hands. He looks at me. Regret and sadness pinch at the corners of his eyes and I want to yell, Why didn’t you tell me you were being deployed? But I’m just glad I caught him before he left.

His name is Jordan. And still to this day I miss him, this boy I’ve never met, who deployed for some nameless war and never came back to dream-me.

There is a story there. My emotions are so strongly tied to that dream that just being near a stormy beach makes me sad. Do non-writers ever feel this way? And if they do, do they ignore it? Discard the feelings as insignificant because they were dream emotions?

I have no thoughtful or provoking conclusion to this post. I wish I did. I merely wanted to examine this sort of thing, whatever it is, and see if there were other writers out there with similar experiences.

Do any of you have fictional characters/emotions/scenes that are triggered by something specific? The smell of something sweet? The weather? The sound of rain?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Marriage Lessons

My husband was going through old emails this morning and found one I sent back in 2008. Well, no that's not entirely true. It was actually sent to him by his future self.

Here is what it said:

From: Joseph
Subject: CONFIDENTIAL
To: Joseph
Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dearest Joseph,

Please do not be wary of this email. Indeed, it is from the future, from your future self, but I feel it necessary to give you insight into a few things.

1) Don't open the cuckoo clock.

2) Don't buy the blue flame seat covers...I am three days late, aren't I? Then you have learned the lesson of patience.

3) Give Jennifer a backrub every time she says, "Can I have a backrub, please?"

Sincerely,

Your Future Self

---

So, the lesson to be learned here is, sign out of your account unless you want ridiculous emails from your future self.

Or, maybe the REAL lesson is always seize an opportunity, like when one has left an email account unattended. Always include #3 tho. That one's important.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I Heart Bad Boys


If you know me, then you’re well aware of the fact that I love the bad boys. Like a damn elephant to a watering hole. I’m there. I’ll even fall for the clich├ęd bad boy. Leather jacket. Moody. Broody. Badass. Shows no emotion. YES. But let’s get something straight, I do not, AT ALL, love a bad boy because I want to fix him. Because if I fixed him, he would no longer be bad. Why not throw a sweater vest on him while we're at it.

So why exactly do I love a bad boy? Or why does any girl for that matter? 

I decided to dig into the why a little more. And to do that, I had to go back to the very first bad boy I fell for. Let’s call him Wes.

Wes and I were friends all through school, but (and I’m sure you could see this one coming) he dropped out somewhere around the tenth grade. We didn’t reconnect until after I’d graduated when he started hanging around another couple I was friends with.

Wes was 5' 9", compact, wiry, with enough energy to outdo all of us. He had a reputation for fighting, but he didn't drink, he didn't use. And he always, always took care of his friends and family first, before anything else. He had these rules, rules he stuck by and I loved that about him. The day my cousin died, Wes was there without my even asking.  

But when we were in a big group of people, he turned on the arrogance, the immodesty. When it was just him and me…it’s hard to put into words how different he was. He was quiet, gentle, but still intense in this genuine, heartfelt kind of way.

So why do I think girls love bad boys? Eric Northman? Damon Salvatore? Dean Winchester? Initially, it's probably the danger or the excitement. But there's more than that, right? There has to be. 

I think it all comes down to this: we want to be the person who gets to see who the boy is when no one else is looking.

And I think in some ways, that's what we all want. We want to be special. We want to hold the keys to the great, impenetrable castle. We want to connect with someone on a level no one else can. That's why I love a bad boy, anyway.

Also, the leather jacket doesn't hurt. 


Thursday, November 3, 2011

ALTERED Character Interview

Hey YA'LLS! This week over on the BNW Blog we're doing character interviews. This is by far one of my favorite writing exercises, so I was stoked to take part. And since I couldn't pick just one character, I decided to pick two and have Nick interview Cas.

They are two of the four boys from ALTERED. They're very much a family, albeit a dysfunctional one.

Here's an excerpt:

Nick: (peruses list of questions, eyes moderator) This seems like a massive waste of time.

Cas: (smirks, turns to moderator) He has trouble reading. Just give him a minute.

Nick: (scowls at Cas, clears throat) What do you like to do with your time? Besides annoy the hell out of me.


You can check out the whole interview HERE. And there's plenty of other cool stuff going on over there, so take a look at previous posts.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Abundance of Katherines Cover Contest

Penguin is putting on a cover contest for John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. You can read more about it here.

I entered Hannah Moskowitz's cover contest for Invincible Summer and came in second place (if I remember correctly)! And while this is on a whole different scale, the fact is, I love designing shit. So why not enter? I lose nothing by doing it.

I find when I start a new project, there's a warm-up period where I design a few things that are *almost* there but not quite. So today, I started playing around with ideas and thought I'd share them here.

It's important to note I have not read the book, so these are only based on the book's summary and previous covers. I do plan to read it before officially submitting.

Cover #1


Cover #2



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zombie Flash! The Last Bit

A long time ago, before Lestat and Edward and Eric Northman, vampires were ugly, creepy monsters. But somewhere along the way we fell in love with the danger, and the mystery, and they changed into sexy supernatural creatures.

So that got me thinking, what other "monster" could morph into something more alluring?

Ahh yes, ZOMBIES.

Now, zombies as we know them are not, in any shape or form, sexy. But the cool thing about the mythology is the zombie virus itself. Viruses evolve. So what if, over time, it became harder and harder to tell the living from the cannibalistic undead?


****

The Last Bit 


I could smell her blood, a ghost of a scent teased through a razor slice on the underside of her wrist. A cutter. That’s what she was. And it was the reason I was there with her. Monsters like me couldn’t resist the smell of fresh blood.

She tilted her head, the sun catching the highlights in her hair. My stomach growled.

“It’s nice out tonight,” she said and I nodded, resisting the urge to take a nip.

Anyone with the virus would have found her not just pretty, but appetizing. I was no exception, even if us walkers had been banned from the real shit a long time ago.

It was only the synthetic stuff now.

No meat.

No bone.

No gristal.

Some days it was enough to drive me mad.

“What did you say your name was?” she cooed, the reedy tone of her voice plucking at my hunger. 

I wanted to bite into her more than I’d ever wanted anything. At least it seemed that way, in the moment. “It’s Ethan.”

“I like that name.” She leaned forward. The hair at the nape of my neck saluted and I crushed my eyes shut.

“What’s wrong?” she said.

Get your act together, dude. I pasted a grin where it was supposed to go. Looked down at her. “You’re so hot.”

She giggled. My insides clenched. “What, are you nervous?”

My tongue found the dry crevices of my lips. She pressed closer, her hand running up and over my buzzed hair, sending shock waves down my spine.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I couldn’t fucking take it.

I opened wide, felt the stretch of muscle and tendon in all the right places. I bit into her. She screeched. Bucked. But I had the virus, and she didn’t. I was stronger.

My arms contracted. The blades of my shoulders jutted out as the sheep flailed.

She tasted like I thought she would, tangy in the back of my throat. My kind might have stopped eating the real shit three years ago, but I was too damn weak to fight the cravings.

When the girl slipped from my arms in a tangle of limbs and hair and gore, I ran a tongue around my teeth, getting the last bit before the regret settled in.

The sky darkened. The air smelled like pine trees and fresh rain. The first drop hit my forearm and left a clean trail in the smear of blood.

I hoisted the girl onto my shoulder and started for the shovel hidden in my truck.

**

Three days later, she Returned. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Writing Space


When we sold ALTERED, I knew that as soon as I received my advance, I would put some of it back into my writing space. It had to be comfortable and clean and pretty to look at. After all, I'd spend a good portion of my day in the space. I didn't want to like it, I had to LOVE it.

Here's my writing corner tucked into the room that's supposed to be the dining room but isn't. 


We eat in the kitchen, so what's the point of having a second table? I am not the kind of person to host dinner parties. It's not quite the same as having your own room. I would much prefer that. I find it hard to write during the day because there's constant chaos going on behind me. Someday I plan to have my own room, or even my own writing cottage like this one:

Google tells me this is Roald Dahl's writing cottage. I want it.

A close up of my desk:


Lookit all those pens and highlighters! I think I buy new pens like once a week. It's ridiculous. And I love having candles around. Lots of candles. 

But my favorite part?


My plant and my ceramic bird. They are my little writing friends, there to keep me company in the early hours of the morning. That probably sounds crazy. Actually, it is crazy, but when you spend a lot of time in one spot, working alone, it's nice having a little bit of life (the plant) and a mascot (the bird) to make you feel less like a hermit and more like an independent creative person.

What are your desk must-haves?

[Side note---The art I have above my desk I bought from Sherri Conley's Etsy shop. She's an amazing photographer and I highly recommend her if you're looking for art for your home.] 



Friday, September 16, 2011

How BOT WARS sold


I announced Wednesday night on Twitter that my awesome ninja agent, Joanna, sold my middle grade novel, BOT WARS. So I thought I’d share a little more about how it came to be.




After ALTERED sold and before the editorial letter arrived, I wanted to work on something new. I wrote some pages of a YA fantasy. Then I wrote thirty pages that were loosely based on the life of one of the ALTERED villains.

But then, one night, in the mood for something totally different, I dug up an old Word document named Robot Wars.

I had written a paragraph of this story over a year ago. Long before ALTERED was ever an idea. But that’s as far as I got. One paragraph was all I had. I didn’t even know what was supposed to happen in the story, or who the characters really were, or what caused the Robot Wars in the first place.

I had always loved the voice of the main character, Trout, and I knew someday I wanted to tell his story. So I started playing around with it, and before I knew it, I had close to 40 pages.

I sent an email to one of my good writer friends, Deena, saying, “Can you read some of this MG I’m working on and tell me whether or not it sucks?” Thankfully, Deena not only read the pages, she was also extremely encouraging and kind with her words. So I emailed Joanna and asked if she’d take a look. I think I might have said something like, “I have this MG I’m working on and I don’t know if it’s any good or not, so would you be willing to read to tell me if I’m crazy?”

We already had a scheduled phone call the next night for something ALTERED related, and during that phone call, Jo told me she wanted to shop BOT WARS. I worked on the submission package and we officially went out with it in June. Eight days later, I had a phone chat with Kate Harrison at Dial where I rambled about my ideas for Book #2.

That Friday, we had an offer. In that same phone conversation, I also found out about the German offer for ALTERED. It was a crazy amazing day. I will never, ever forget it. My boss told me to go home early, and while her reason was simply that she was happy for me, I think she worried I could not be trusted to accurately count money.

Jo and I talked deal points that night and we agreed that Dial was a fantastic place to be and that Kate was an amazing editor to work with. So I think I squeeed and said, “YAAAYYYY! I accept! I accept!”

The following Tuesday, it was official. BOT WARS was going to be a Dial/Penguin book!

And just a few weeks later, I put in my notice at the day job. My last day at the bank was July 18th.

If you had told me a year ago that I’d be writing full-time, that I’d have five books under contract, I would have laughed and said, “That’s crazy. You’re crazy. Those are pipe dreams, my friend.”

But I am here and I am doing those things. So if you’re still writing, if you’re unagented, unpublished, whatever stage you’re at, remember so much can change in such a short amount of time. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have, consider what may come in the next week, the next month, the next year. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating---If you quit today, you’ll never find out if tomorrow is the day everything will change.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do you know what today is?


For those who don't know (and if not, WHY NOT?!) The Vampire Diaries premieres tonight for it's third season. I am beyond excited. Lots of crazy shit happened in the finale and I'm curious to see where it all goes. 

There is so much to love about this show. Plotting. Characterization. Phenomenal acting. Good characters do bad things. And bad characters do good things. 

And one good character in particular is about to do bad things this season. I CAN'T WAIT.

The TVD premiere should be a national holiday. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Magic 8 Ball

Remember the Magic 8 Ball from when you were a kid? You asked it all kinds of important questions like, Does Luke like me? Will Ashley invite me over this weekend? Will I go to prom?

I treated the Magic 8 Ball like it was sacred. It's answers WERE TRUE. If Magic 8 Ball said so, then it would happen!

And I imagine if I had a Magic 8 Ball once I started querying, I probably would have asked it a few publishing related questions just for the hell of it. (And I would have even hoped in my heart-of-hearts that what it said was true.)

Here is the writer's version of a Magic 8 Ball.













Thank God there isn't REALLY a writer's Magic 8 Ball. That thing would drive me crazy. And I couldn't refrain from asking it my important publishing questions. I have no self-control. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cover Trends: Girls on Covers

Let’s talk covers, specifically girls on covers. It’s a trend you can’t miss. Look at the shelves at any bookstore and you’ll see row after row of girls on covers staring at you from their pretty book homes. And while trends inherently make it hard to stand out, there are a few covers I’ve seen lately that I’m a huge fan of.





A fellow Apocalypsie! I love the cover for EVERNEATH. Black, gray and red is a great color combination. The red stands out against the black/gray of the smoke. I love how the dress is dissipating into said smoke. The curls are artful and give the cover a moody, mysterious tone.

I would pick up Brodi Ashton’s book without knowing a single thing about it. 







When I came across the cover for Kimberly Derting's THE PLEDGE I didn’t know anything about the premise. But that didn’t matter. I was intrigued. The black of the cover works perfectly with the girl’s almost metallic skin tone. And I love that she’s in profile, hidden beneath the hood. She isn’t pouting at the reader, she’s looking somewhere off into the distance. What is she looking at? Why is she hiding in that hood? Why is she so beautiful? Okay, maybe that last one isn’t as important.  The mood, the colors, the mystery, everything comes together perfectly in this cover.







I heard a lot of talk about Michelle Hodkin's THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER before I saw the cover. And the cover only added to the whoa-I-want-to-readitis. The green overcast works well with the lighter color of the girl’s dress. I love that there’s a guy behind her, totally wrapped around her. What does that mean? I wondered. Is he trying to drown her? Save her? Does he love her?

I’m also a huge fan of the title font. It’s kinda sweet, in a way, and vintage at the same time, like the dress, which is a great contrast to the darker, maybe-he’s-drowning-her-maybe-he-isn’t element of the cover.







And lastly, but certainly not least, another fellow Apocalypsie Jessica Spotswood’s BORN WICKED. Let’s start with the title. LOVE IT. And what that title makes you feel alone could pique a reader’s interest. Juxtapose that with the feminine, earthly feel to the cover, and you’ve got a WIN.

I like that the girl is positioned differently than on most other covers. She’s laying down, looking up at the reader. Is she saying, Save me? Is she saying, Don’t mess with me, I’m a badass even when I’m down? Everything comes together beautifully in this cover, and even if Jess wasn’t a fellow ’12 release, and even if I didn’t count her as a friend, I would still want to read this book ASAP. And I think others will agree.

Any other cover trends you’ve noticed?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nearing Deadline

I only have about two weeks left on the first round of ALTERED revisions, so my posting has been rather on the light side over here. But soon, my friends, I will be posting again!

I'm feeling pretty good on this revision. And by 'good' I mean, I don't feel like I want to jump off a cliff. So, ya know, that's a plus.

A lot of things have changed, and changed for the better. I just hope I pulled it off all right!

Anyway, because I've been kinda quiet on the blogging front, and because writing a post takes a lot brain power, I made a pretty picture for the blog instead. I'll leave you with this---





And sometime later this week, I might do a post (or a series of posts) on a few of my favorite book covers. Fun times, I tell you. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Some ALTERED News

Since the official announcements are up in PM, I can finally share the news. 

ALTERED sold in Germany, at auction, in a three-book deal!! 

AND...

French rights sold last week. WOOT!

When I got the news that ALTERED was going to auction in Germany, I couldn't believe it. I really didn't put much thought into subrights. I didn't want to be disappointed if it didn't sell. The very idea that people in foreign countries were looking at my book was amazing enough. 

But now it will be translated in at least two other languages! To say that I'm shocked would be an understatement. I'm just thankful it's being published in the US, let along anywhere else. So much has changed this year. It's hard to wrap my head around everything that has happened. If you're still querying agents, hoping for a book deal, trying to get a contract with Special Treats bakery for your Pink Sprinkle Cupcakes, KEEP PUSHING. A year ago, I hadn't even written ALTERED yet (or at least hadn't come close to finishing it), and now...

All I can say is, it will happen if you keep trying. 

And, random side note--- If you have the opportunity to watch Lifetime's docudrama based on JK Rowling's life, watch it. It will inspire you. And possibly make you cry.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Splurge

The question I often thought about when I fantasized about selling my book was: What will I buy with my advance?

The responsible side of me said, "Pay off some bills, get new tires for the car."

But responsible me is a small me, and besides, you're supposed to treat yourself to something totally ridiculous, right? It takes a LONG TIME to break into the publishing industry. It takes even longer to sell your book, for the contracts to come in, for the advance to finally reach your doorstep. So why not splurge? Why not buy something totally impractical?

So I did. You see, I have a thing for sunglasses. I currently own twelve pair. And I really like aviators. I owned a pair of $5 aviators long before aviators were cool. I still have them, as a matter of fact. They're missing both nose pads, are scratched to hell, and sit crooked on my face. 

And you know what a sunglasses enthusiast wants more than anything? A pair of Ray-Bans. 

Yes, peoples, I bought a pair. And I LOVE THEM. They are so comfortable, and solid. And they fit perfectly. And they came with a hard carrying case!

This is the pair I picked out---



I've already decided to make this a tradition. Whenever I hit a writing milestone---sell another book, meet a deadline (and therefore receive next payment)---I'm going to buy a pair of Ray-Bans. And I won't even feel guilty. Maybe ten years from now, I'll pull out this pair and I'll remember that I bought them when I sold ALTERED. And they will remind me of this year, how awesome it was.

So what did you buy or plan to buy with your advance? Make it totally ridiculous! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beach Storm

One of my favorite things to do around here is to watch a storm come in across Lake Michigan. With a whiny two-year-old and a bored twelve-year-old and a storm on its way, we decided to head out to the lake tonight. It was gorgeous! Here's a few of the pics we snapped:








Unfortunately, it hit north of us pretty hard and only rained for about ten minutes here. I think rain is my favorite part of any storm. We still had fun. Despite the whiny two-year-old on the way home and the twelve-year-old begging for French fries. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Post Book Deal & The Fog

I never gave much thought to what my life would be like after a book deal. There's still a lot of angst and worry and doubt. After reading posts by writers in similar situations, I was kind of prepared for it.

What I wasn't prepared for was what it would feel like to work on a totally new project.

Pre Book Deal, if I started something I loved, there was all this excitement and hope, because it could be The One that the world got to read.

But now, with three books under contract, I feel myself stalling every now and then on this new project because I'm not really sure what will happen with it. I love it. All sorts of love it. But will it ever be published? Should I write it just for the fun of it? There is this loud nagging voice in my head that says I WANT THE WORLD TO READ THIS! I know that feeling won't last. As soon as I hit the middle, I'll probably hate the project. But right this very second I'm sad because I don't know what to do with it.

In some respects, I think you could consider it a dystopian, and we all know what the industry is saying about that trend. I didn't set out to write a dystopian. As a matter of fact, I've done everything I can NOT to write a dystopian.

Though, there are a lot of elements that could be considered fantasy too. I'm trying to focus on that aspect as I write it. Because I'm the type of person who hates writing to trends, despite the fact that I gobble up trend articles as fast as the industry puts them out.

So what is this new project anyway? I'm calling it The Fog. Go ahead and tell me how clever and witty that title is! If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me mention it. I just can't stop myself from talking about it! It's only at 8000 words, but I like the direction it's going. And despite the fact that I'm not sure what'll happen to it, I'm going to keep writing it for as long as I stay interested.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I am Official

Look what arrived on my doorstep today:

 It's a Little, Brown contract and it is MINE!

So I guess now I'm really, really official?

Zombie Quarterly --- Fall 2010

How about another MEAT magazine? I made this one for my agent. I mean, it's the perfect gift, right?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Being You

I am the Jekyll and Hyde of confidence. Some days I am so confident in who I am and what I’m doing, I want to shout it from every available rooftop. But other days (and they happen more often than I’d like), I avoid the Internet and computer at all costs. I’d much rather lie on the couch in a puddle of ugh and watch movies all day long.

And why is that? Is it normal? Or is this a characteristic of writers only?

I think it's hard being an artist of any form. You have this need to create. You can’t ignore it. You can’t avoid it. It is a part of who you are. And with that need comes the need to share it. And sharing it means sharing you. Everything an artist puts out there reveals a piece of who that person is.

Inevitably, you worry about how people will view you. Will they like me? Am I annoying? Do I seem unoriginal?

I want people to like me, obviously. But at what cost? Should I not say A, B and C because Group D might think I’m lame? And should I care if Group D thinks I’m lame?

It’s all very high school, isn’t it?

When these thoughts creep in, I try to tap into that part of me That Does Not Care. It’s a small part. It has a tiny corner in the Library of Jenn. But it’s there. And when I tell myself, Self, you can only be you and if someone doesn’t like you, you don’t need them anyway, I feel a million times better.

In the grand scheme of things, I must live my life the way I want to live my life. Because if I try to please everyone, and be what everyone else wants me to be, then who am I? I wouldn’t be Jenn anymore. I’d be Them.







Thursday, April 28, 2011

Other Art Forms

Those magazine covers I sometimes post? I LOVE making those things. But they take forever. I don't know if it's my incessant need to find The Perfect Font for one tiny little heading, or my obsession with coordinating colors. One cover usually takes two-three hours and that's a lot of writing time. I always end up feeling guilty after so many hours on Photoshop. But I kinda think it keeps me sane. It's a type of art I love doing just for me. I really have no desire to become a graphic artist (mostly because the inner critic tells me I can't). I'm not trying to please clients. Or editors. Or anything like that. I'm just doing. And that feels awesome.

So should I feel guilty? I have to wonder if a second form of art---or hobby for that matter---is necessary for a writer. Writers are inherently creative, but writing can be taxing and sometimes you avoid it because of that. But you can't neglect the creative muscle for too long, or it loses it's awesomeness.

So no, I'm not going to feel guilty. Or at least I'm going to try not to feel guilty. I just wish I had more hours in the day!

And speaking of graphics and Photoshop---

I have another MEAT magazine cover that I made for my agent and which I reallllllly love. It's pink and girly! I'm considering posting it, but maybe you guys are sick of seeing the magazines? :P

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Evolution of a Writer


I was thinking the other day how I can come up with the craziest to-do lists in order to avoid writing. And then I wondered what it must have been like for a writer/artist/scribe years, decades, centuries ago, long before Twitter, and TV, and Internet. And that's how this post came to be. 







Saturday, April 23, 2011

Favorite Movie Character



There are so many reasons to love Jack. The ones I listed above are only a sample of what and who he truly is. I love how he stands back and analyzes and calculates and then twists people to do exactly what he wants without working too hard.

I love that he surprises people ALL THE TIME. Like getting off that island? The rumored escape on the backs of turtles, only to find out it was something far, far simpler? Brilliant. People underestimate Jack, and he lets them. And that's what I love about him.

Who is your favorite character?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Twelfth Night

Last night, The Hubs and I went to a theater performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night out at the community college. At risk of revealing my lameness, I must admit I've never been to a theater performance. And I wasn't sure what to expect of this tiny production set at a college surrounded by Michigan backwoods. Oh, and did I mention it was done in the style of Japanese anime?

We took our seats at 7:30 and before I knew it, it was near 10:30. Somehow, the night escaped me as I escaped into the performance.

The show was so well done, the costumes spot-on and brilliant, the small set well-used. I can't believe how much I laughed. My favorite characters were Sir Toby Belch, a drunken uncle to one of the other characters, and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek.


Toby (left) and Andrew (right)

Andrew was this tall, chicken-legged man who seemed easily swayed by Toby's antics. The man who played Toby played a hilarious drunk.

Seeing this play made me want to write the book. I suppose in my writerly heart, that's the highest form of compliment I can give. It inspired me so much, it made me want to relive the story again. I don't know if I ever will, but the thing I take away from this performance is how important characters are. The big, bright, bold characters lit the stage and I looked forward to their scenes. That's just as important in writing. Your characters have to be loud (metaphorically), and they have to be vivid, and they have to have presence. Everything they do should be so engaging that readers can't look away.

So my advice? Watch a theater performance. Doesn't matter if you're in NY or in the middle of the Michigan woods. Buy your ticket and study the characters. I promise you, you'll be inspired.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday TRACI!

Today is my BFF/co-worker's birthday. And being the awesome friend that I am, and knowing how much she loooooooves Channing Tatum, I made her a birthday present. To preface, her name is *Traci Waye.




*not her actual name --- I wasn't sure if she'd be comfortable with me using her real name

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Books I ♥

I think, like a lot of people, I've been impatiently awaiting the release of Ryan's last book in the Forest trilogy. And she didn't disappoint. Her writing is so fluid and moody. It's like the most gorgeous thunderstorm you've ever seen. And you can't help but feel the writing reverberate through you, right down to your toes.

So, Carrie, what comes next? Because I am desperate for more.



I enjoy reading historical fiction, but never have I read a book that felt as authentic as this one did. Every tiny little detail, from the setting, to the dialogue, to the main character's internal dialogue. I loved every part of this book. 


Monday, April 11, 2011

From an old LiveJournal post --- Sensory Triggers

About four years ago, my husband switched shifts at work and had to be there at Back then, we only had one car and I needed it to take Son to school. So every morning, the three of us got up, took Joe to work, then Son and I would go to the gas station. It was mid-January. Snowy. Cold. Son and I would get hot chocolates, maybe a donut.

Back at home, we'd hang out in my bedroom. I'd turn on VH1. Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around Comes Around" played non-stop. Now, whenever I hear that song, I'm instantly taken back to those few months in the dead of winter. Hot chocolate in hand, music playing in the background, Son sleeping next to me because he always crashed out. I might have hated getting up so early, and I might have hated driving in the snow, but somehow those months stand out in memory, those dark, cozy mornings meaning more to me than the summer months that came after.

In Altered, Anna's life drastically changes around page 30. While on the run, certain things remind her of home, and those sensory triggers are important, for her and me. Brittle field grass shifting in the wind always reminds her of the field behind her house.

I realized Anna had several triggers, but it made me wonder, what about the other characters? This is something I think I need to do for every character. I don't think it matters what type of person they are---sensitive, stubborn, evil, plain---everyone can experience a sensory trigger. Even an evil wizard might be reminded of his childhood when smelling burning lizard tails. Right?


When I'm working on a project, I spend a lot of time on this site a free stock photography site where I gather photos that remind me of the book or the characters or the setting. Sometimes I make backgrounds for my computer with the photo and a line from the book so every time I open the computer, I'm greeted with the image. It always gets me in the mood. Here's one I made for Anna---

It doesn't just tell me something about the character or the setting, it makes me feel, because I'm so close to it. It helps put me in Anna's head, puts me in that enviroment. I find it helps a lot with writing. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Romantic at Heart

Remember when I said I pulled out some old words and gave them a shake? And then proceeded to make something new with them? Well, I made a comic. A girly comic. A romance comic?

At any rate, regardless of what you call it, it sucked. But *some* of it was salvageable.

And since I am a romantic at heart, you are all about to be treated with the first 'block' of my romance comic. Probably the sappiest block out of all of them. But I love it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

U of U

Zombies need schools, too, right?

1000 Words or Less

As any writer knows, many, many stories start and end in under a 1000 words. A character speaks to you. Or a setting comes to mind. And you start writing. But for some reason, the character only has that one thing to say. You don't know what comes next and maybe you have no desire to know.

I have hundreds of files on my computer and flash drive that are less than a 1000 words. And I love many of them. I just have no desire to write the rest of the story. That one scene was enough. I use to think it was such a waste of time and words, but now I look at those files as precious exercise---like a quick five-minute jog in the park. You get your heart racing, you stretch your muscles, and then you're done and you feel good and you go about your day. Not at all like the 28-mile marathon of a novel.

That quick jog is just as important as the marathon. Without it, your body wouldn't remember the way to move, to work the lungs, to keep the muscles limber.

So I made something with those words. Took them out, gave them a shake. And I love them all over again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

From Sub to Pub 3


That first week on submission was easy. Because I wasn’t really expecting to hear much. Editors have to read the book, and from my understanding, they almost always send it off to a second reader if they liked it. And that takes time.

The second week, however, I started haunting the Internet and Verla Kay’s message board looking for inspirational and encouraging posts. Hearing what other writers went through during submissions helped a lot. Some waited just a few days for the first offer. Others waited months. Some didn’t even get offers. And I had to remind myself that what happened was totally out of my control. It would either sell, or it wouldn't, and I would deal.

Some part of me believed wholeheartedly that Altered would sell. But the larger part of me just couldn’t accept the fact that any of this was really happening. As any writer knows, rejections are expected. You play this game long enough and you almost brainwash yourself into thinking that it’ll never happen. You work so hard---you ignore your family, you pay your water bill late because you can‘t concentrate on anything other than plot twists, you gain five pounds and drink far too many bottles of wine---only to be told no.

So when it finally does happen, for lack of a better phrase, you freak the hell out.



We got our first offer February 11th. And I was the sickest I’ve been in a long time. I knew Altered was going to acquisitions that day. But I couldn’t seem to stay awake long enough to marry my cell phone or burn a hole through my browser refresh button.

Jo called sometime after four to tell me the good news. I’m not entirely sure what I said in that conversation. I know I didn’t scream because I couldn’t get my voice that high. I know there was mention of abs and hot guys and then Jo told me to get some rest and we hung up. And then I passed out for another four hours.


It took me almost six days to get better. Of all the times to catch the flu! It should have been the best time of my life! Instead, I alternated between ecstatic and comatose.

But, thankfully, by the following Friday, when we got our second offer, I was well enough to squee. And squee I did.

Altered went to auction the following Wednesday. When all was said and done, I felt like Little, Brown was the right publisher for me. And when I talked to Julie on the phone the following day, it only solidified my decision. I never gave much thought to how passionate my future editor would be (would have to be) in order to take my book on, and Julie had passion in spades. I walked away from that phone call glowing.

Altered was going to be published. It was going to be released in the wild. It really was happening.


So for anyone out there still writing, querying, or on submission, even if it feels like you'll never hop the fence to the other side --- the side we've convinced ourselves is far greener --- know that it can, and it will happen. :)

And that concludes my Sub to Pub posts. J
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