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If Walls Could Talk

Saturday, December 15, 2012
I wrote a thing. I wrote part of this thing a long time ago. I wrote another part this week. It's not long. I don't even know why I'm sharing this here on the blog except that I have no idea where this story would go from here, so likely this would be wasted otherwise. And I like it. So why not share it?


This is a story of life and death. But mostly just death. A story that starts on a Thursday. On a hill. On the outside of a town named River’s Edge.
As with all stories, this one finds its roots with a character.
His name was Dawson Cromwell.


The hill was perfect. Dawson took a deep breath, let it settle in his lungs. The air out here was much cleaner than the air in San Francisco. Here it was untouched. Here it was crisp enough to drink.
He turned to his property purveyor, Trevor, and said, “I would like to purchase the full one hundred acres.”
Trevor nodded and ground out his cigarette, mashing and killing the grass beneath until it was nothing but pulp. “I’ll start the paperwork as soon as we’re back in town. What is your offering price?”
“Offer what he is asking.”
“Even with the stories? We could use the curse as leverage, go in at a lower price—”
“I don’t believe in curses,” Dawson said. “The occult is for the na├»ve.” He clasped his hands behind his back, his jacket tightening across his middle. As he surveyed the land, he mentally cut the trees he’d need to clear in order to accommodate the grand estate he envisioned. He wanted red brick. He wanted three stories. He wanted a tower and a dozen fireplaces and a den with coffered ceilings and bookcases to hold his leather-bound collections.
Yes, this was the place. And his soon-to-be bride would love it just as much as he did.
He couldn’t wait to show her.


And this here is where my story starts. The story of a house. Of Cromwell Mansion.
Likely you’ve heard the phrase, “If walls could talk.”
Listen then. My walls are made of breath and bone.
And I have many secrets to tell.


Mrs. Margaret Cromwell.
Maggie wasn’t quite used to it yet. She much preferred her maiden name, van der Prame. It said so many things in so few syllables. Sophisticated, wealthy, cultured, that’s what the van der Prames were known for and Maggie wasn’t sure she wanted to start over with Cromwell.
She wasn’t sure she wanted to start over in any sense. Her name. Her life. Her home.
She made a turn in the Cromwell Mansion’s foyer, the house built from her dowry, no doubt. It was grand in a garish way, with too many curves and flourishes. It was as if Dawson saw the Kensington Palace and thought, It is beautiful. But I can do better.
But more was not always better.
“What do you think, love?” Dawson came up alongside her and took her elbow in his hand. He smelled of tobacco and gasoline and when he smiled, his thick moustache rose an inch upwards, like it was attached to puppet strings.
It made Maggie’s stomach waltz. And Maggie hated the waltz.
“It’s lovely, Dawson,” she said, stitching a smile on her face. Her mother taught her that. Just another lesson passed through the generations. When marriages were made based on wealth and prestige and business, such lessons were important. And Mother knew a lot on that particular subject.
The only reason the van der Prame name was still as respected as it once was a hundred years ago was because Maggie’s mother, the eldest Torion daughter of five married the eldest van der Prame. It was her money that propped up the van der Prame estate.
“Let me give you the tour,” Dawson said. “There is much to see.”
Maggie feigned a yawn. “I’m so tired after the long drive here. Would you mind if I rested first?”
Dawson blinked back a sliver of disappointment. Clearly he’d been looking forward to this moment after months and months of construction, but Maggie enjoyed crushing his heart on a regular basis and he made this instance far too easy.
“Of course. I’ll show you to your room.”
Her room. She’d made it a requirement when he’d decided to move them clear across the country. “If you are to uproot me from the only place I’ve ever known,” she’d said, “to a state such as Michigan—” she’d said Michigan like it was synonymous with tuberculosis because she just couldn’t help herself “—then I want my own quarters.”
He’d nodded. “That’s perfectly reasonable. I’ll make sure it’s the nicest room in the house.”
Dawson led her to the grand staircase directly across from the foyer. It rose to a landing where the stairs branched off to the left and right. Dawson went right. Maggie trailed her gloved hand along the banister, the cherry wood gleaming in the sunlight. While the house itself was not her style, she suddenly, and quite thrillingly, felt a connection to it.
It had good energy, this house and she wondered if perhaps they had a mutual agreement that there were too many frills and crystals and filigrees on its surface. That beneath all that was it’s true character, its strength.
Perhaps she would like living here after all.


Here is my first secret: I killed Maggie one hundred forty-seven days later.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A Finished Copy of ALTERED!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Something very special arrived today.

A finished hardcover copy of ALTERED.

I cannot adequately describe the feeling of opening the package and seeing my book in its final, printed version. All those months working on it. Revising. Revising. Copyedits. First pass pages. ARCs! And now, finally, it's done. I want to compare it to baby making, but truthfully, being pregnant was far easier than revising Altered. Being pregnant is actually a pretty charmed life if you have people who care about you. And thankfully I did. When I was pregnant with my daughter I napped a lot. Husband cooked me dinner almost every night. I napped some more. My shoulders were rubbed regularly and so were my feet. I watched a lot of TV. Read a lot of books. Napped. Napped. More napping.

I would compare revising a book to walking across a bed of hot coals, then jogging through a mountain valley with only peanut butter M&Ms and tequila to get you through the night. And then you emerge, only to realize the valley goes on and on for another ten miles and you're running out of tequila, and you have one M&M left but it's frozen solid, just like your feet, and you can't quite remember what real life felt like, you've been jogging for so long, and...don't you have a husband and kids? What do they look like? You've been buried so deep in edits mountain jogging that you can't remember.

Okay, okay, so perhaps I'm exaggerating a wee bit.

But when experienced writers warned me about the revision process, I never quite believed them. It's one of those things you don't understand until you've gone through it. And even then, it's different for every writer, and every book. For instance, Bot Wars was a lot easier to revise than Altered was, but that's perhaps a different post for a different time. This was supposed to be about celebrating!!

I opened the package that arrived on my doorstep early this AM and this is what came out ---

This is the moment where I felt like weeping. Holding the book! Seeing the little gift box and the card from my editor. I hugged the book to my chest and jumped up and down and hollered a lot. It was entertaining. 

This is what my editor sent along as a congratulatory gift ---

A tree necklace! It's absolutely perfect. Not only does it match the cover, but the tree symbolizes the tattoo on Sam's back. It's an incredibly touching/thoughtful gift, and it just served as a reminder of how lucky I am to have such an AMAZING editor. 

And then, after reading the card (and getting misty-eyed), I examined the book for what felt like forever. The dust jacket itself has a matte finish, and the branches, title and author name have a glossy, raised finish. I absolutely love that detail. You can see it better here ----

And then the spine and the back cover with all of those amazing blurbs from such amazing writers! 

Basically I was feeling the major love today. This package served as a reminder of how lucky I am, how grateful I am, to be here. I know there are unpubbed writers out there still trying to snag an agent. Or maybe you are represented, but you can't seem to sell anything yet. HANG IN THERE. It may not happen next week. Or next month. Or maybe not even next year. BUT IT WILL HAPPEN if you keep trying. 

And now, I am off to clutch the book to my chest again and pet its pretty spine work.

ALTERED Blurbs and Buzz

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
With Altered less than two months out, feedback and reviews are starting to trickle in. I am still beyond thrilled to hear that people are reading my book and even more that they seem to dig it. I continue to feel blessed to be in this position at all. And sometimes shocked that I'm a soon-to-be published author. 

I thought I'd celebrate a little, and post some of the blurbs you'll find on the final jacket, and some of the reviews I've received so far. I am particularly smitten with the review from Romantic Times. 

But first, the blurbs! This is a sneak peek of the Altered back cover. I want to throw all those wonderful writers a thank you party. I know how hard it is to read once you're a contracted writer. I've read a paltry 17 books this year, and each of those books were dragged out over several weeks, sometimes even months. So to know that all of those amazing writers took time out of their already busy schedules to read Altered pretty much makes me want to shout my thanks from the roof tops. And also fist bump them. 

The Kirkus review in its entirety isn't live yet, but here's what you'll find as an excerpt listed on "Within minutes, this medical-engineering thriller will have readers glued to their seats....Riveting."

And, Publisher's Weekly:
In Rush’s action-packed debut, first in a planned series, homeschooled 18-year-old Anna Mason has a life ruled by secrecy. Her widower father works for a clandestine organization called the Branch, and four gorgeous genetically altered teenage boys live in the basement laboratory of their New York State farmhouse. Anna feels especially connected to one of the boys, Sam, even though he, like the others, has no memories of life outside his basement cell. When the Branch tries to collect “the units,” chaos erupts, and Sam, Anna, and the others take off on the run. Together, they drive across several states, decoding a trail of clues and bringing Anna and Sam closer than ever. Anna is refreshingly and realistically uncomfortable with the ongoing violence surrounding their escape. Her interactions with the boys (whose somewhat one-note personas—the leader, the smart one, the hothead, and the goofball—can’t help recalling another product of genetic manipulation, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) keep the story moving quickly, along with a steady unfolding of revelations and events.

And lastly, Romantic Times! 
"Rush keeps it fresh with this fast-paced novel, full of last-minute surprises and unexpected twists. Anna is complex, and the whole cast is well rounded. The mysteries laced throughout the action add suspense, making the moments of romance even hotter."

Making the moments of romance even hotter. I LOVE THAT LINE. Get it girl. Sam + Anna FOREVER

I hope when Altered is released, and the public gets to read it, that they have a similar reaction. After all, I would hardly write at all if it wasn't for the make out scenes. :D

Next week, I want to give a special shout-out to the bloggers and Goodreads readers who've also reviewed Altered. So many wonderful people to thank! 

#AlterMe Giveaway

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thank you to everyone who helped create the ALTERED phonetic alphabet! Now we get to put it to use.

I posted about the giveaway (and the prize) on Monday, but here’s a reminder, just in case you forgot.




So, to win, here’s what you have to do ---

The military phonetic alphabet is used to spell out words over radio transmissions, so there’s no screwing shit up. So that’s exactly what you have to do.

Spell out your name. Or your crush’s name. Or your nickname. Or your mom’s name. Or your dog’s name. Whatever. But you have to use the Altered phonetic alphabet and you have to tweet it.

Here’s an example:

JENN = Juggle Ewok Nugget Nugget


Your tweet will look like this:

Juggle Ewok Nugget Nugget #AlterMe

The hashtag is important, people! That’s how I’ll pick a random winner. So make sure you use it. And yes you can enter more than once, but it has to be something different every time! Because it’s more fun that way.

Also, if you want to, it would be cool of you to include a link back to this post so everyone else can play along as well.

The contest begins today (now, or noon, or whenever you read this post, I suppose) and ends Friday 6:00 PM (I decided to extend the hours just to give people extra time to play). I’ll announce the winner Friday night!

ETA: The contest IS open internationally! 

Ready? Set. GOOO.

A... Aeroflork
B... Boondoggle
C... Caviler
D... Douchecanoe
E... Ewok
F... Foible
G... Glitter
H... Hippie
I... Icky
J... Juggle
K... Kickass
L... Lickable
M... Major
N... Nugget
O... Oodles
P... Pantaloons
Q... Queen
R... Rixatrix
S... Shirtless
T... Tango
U... Unicorn
V... Vera
W... Weevil
X... Xena
Y... Yum
Z... Zany

The ALTERED phonetic alphabet

Monday, November 12, 2012
I mentioned on Twitter last week that I thought I might do a giveaway this week of an ALTERED ARC and one of these:

That, my friends, is an ALTERED poster and I only have two left. Which means this giveaway is a big deal. For me. For you! It is incredibly hard for me to part with these things, since I want to hang one in every room. And would also like to plaster them all over the town. And possibly hang a few in my car windows. 

But, maybe that's overkill? And maybe it's only fair if I share the shirtless boys fun?

So, let's get on with the giveaway. I need help creating it. I'm sure (or at least hope) you've all heard of the military phonetic alphabet? Alpha. Bravo. Charlie. Delta. Echo. Yes?

Okay, we'll, we're creating our own phonetic alphabet and I need help filling in the letters. It can be anything, from something simple like apple for A, to something totally made up, like anafontana. And for whatever letters aren't filled in, I'll ask my son/daughter/husband/mom/dad/uncle/mailman for help. 

I'll update the alphabet here until the contest starts. And when DOES it start? Wednesday. Wednesday at noon and it'll run till Friday at noon. Winner will be announced Friday afternoon/evening! And there will be more details as to what, exactly, you have to do to win on Wednesday when the contest goes live. 

All you have to worry about for now is the alphabet. Because without the alphabet, there is no contest. Just for fun, I've filled in B to get you started. 

Ready? Go. 

A... Aeroflork
B... Boondoggle
C... Caviler 
D... Douchecanoe
E... Ewok
F... Foible
G... Glitter
H... Hippie
I... Icky
J... Juggle
K... Kickass
L... Lickable
M... Major
N... Nugget
O... Oodles
P... Pantaloons
Q... Queen
R... Rixatrix
S... Shirtless
T... Tango
U... Unicorn
V... Vera
W... Weevil
X... Xena
Y... Yum
Z... Zany

(side note: I totally forgot the W the first time around...apparently I don't know my ABCs anymore.)

ETA: If you'd like to tweet a letter, use the hashtag #alteredletter

I feel like I should apologize...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
...for my long absence. But you all know what it's like to get so swept up in writing and deadlines and life that you forget about everything else, including blog posts. So perhaps an excuse/apology isn't needed?

With ALTERED less than two months away from release, I definitely want to update the blog more! There will be so many fun things to share --- like swag and upcoming events and giveaways! --- so stay tuned.

I'm also having the blog updated by the lovely Savannah at Oh So Pretty Designs so I can't wait to share that! I've already seen the design, and I love it.

And since I am sooo behind on Picture Posts, I thought I'd include a few recent pictures. Fall is a gorgeous time of the year for photography and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Picture Post No. 13

Friday, August 24, 2012

Final ALTERED Cover!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I won't even bother saying much, since no words can compete with a cover reveal. Especially a cover featuring a shirtless guy.

So, here it is! I love it. LOVE IT. I hope you do too. :D

Picture Post No. 12

Friday, July 20, 2012
I feel like it's been forever since I've sat down to write a good blog post. I just feel like I have nothing important to say lately! Perhaps I should do something about the writing process, or writing two series at once, as that's been on my mind a lot lately.

Anyway, enough with the carrying on.

Picture Post No. 11

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bot Wars Cover Reveal!

Friday, June 22, 2012
I am sooooo excited to finally reveal the BOT WARS cover to the world. I've had it for a while now, and occasionally open the file just to stare at it.

It matches the tone and excitement of the book so well. And the colors! They are gorgeous and perfect. And Trout (the main character) looks so much like my vision of Trout.

I should probably stop talking now, huh? Seeing as how (if you're at all like me) you haven't even read this part anyway. You scrolled right past the text to see the cover. So I could say something like, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt adopted me! And changed my name, so I will from now on be known as Zolt Jolie-Pitt, and you wouldn't even notice.

So, what do you think?

Picture Post No. 10

Friday, June 8, 2012

Author Photos

Thursday, June 7, 2012
Both my pubs (and my t-rex-alicious foreign agent) asked for author photos within the last few weeks. And I was all, I have nothing. And they were all, Get something. And I was all, UGGGH I HATE GETTING MY PICTURE TAKEN. 

So I wrangled my husband into being my assistant and we took some author photos today.

I truly really so much hate getting my picture taken. And I have an even harder time picking which one looks better. You all should totally help me. These three are the best out of the bunch (and I took 80 gabillion).

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

I think #3 is my favorite, but that's only because you can't see my face. Which obviously I much prefer. I suppose being that it's an author photo, you should be able to actually, ya know, see the author. 

Doing it Full-Time

Friday, June 1, 2012
When I worked at a laundromat at seventeen-years-old, I dreamed of being a full-time writer some day. When I worked at an apartment complex as an office assistant, I dreamed of being a full-time writer. When I was a bank teller, I dreamed of being a full-time writer.

But dreaming about it never quite prepared me for what being a full time writer actually meant. These days most conversations are had with my husband and three-year-old and Twitter. It's not unusual to find oyster crack crumbs in my bra (and if you wear tank tops a lot, or V-necks, you know what I'm talking about ladies, admit it). And when they say working from home is hard, it really is hard. Not like, stand-on-my-feet-for-nine-hours-and-listen-to-people-bitch hard. More like, I-want-to-watch-TV-and-not-work-and-there's-no-one-here-to-stop-me hard.

And since I know many of you either a) want to be a full-time writer, or b) are about to become a full-time writer, I thought I'd pull together a list for you. A (Soon-To-Be) Full-Time Writer's Preparedness List.

Invest in some good dry shampoo, because nothing says "I've spent the last twenty-four hours in someone else's head, in a room by myself," like greasy hair.

Somedays, you don't want to talk to real people. Especially when you're on deadline. You run out of milk. Or toilet paper. Or maybe you just want to get out of the house. A good disguise is key!

MacFreedom. It works. And you'll need it.

Comfy yoga pants. Or any comfy pants will do. But don't expect to look like her after spending four of five days sitting in a chair. Which brings me to number 5.

Get yourself a gym membership. Not only will it help get you out of the house, and keep you in shape, it'll help wear off some of the crazy.

Number 5 and 6 work against each other, I know. But whatever. You'll need it.

Ahh yes, Mr. Right. Or Mrs. Right. Or whoever is significant in your life. They'll have to be extremely understanding, because sometimes you won't see each other at all, even though you've spent an entire day only ten feet apart. When you're writing, you're writing, and nothing else exists. They'll also have to put up with your incessant whining, and your serious talent for believing you suck 84% of the time. I don't know how my husband does it. I would have divorced myself a long time ago.

If you have children, you will most definitely, without a doubt, need some form of childcare. Whether it's daycare. Or school. Or inlaws. You'll need it. And you should exploit it until they avoid your phone calls. Or tell you to come pick your kid up. But pray for the kid who has to spend a day with that old lady. Hopefully your inlaws have a more cheerful disposition.


And last, and most importantly, you'll need writer friends. Your people. They will understand the crazy unlike anyone else in your life. They will talk you off the ledge. They will make you happy when you are not happy. They will send you pictures of hot guys when you just want to give up. Use them wisely, and treat them well.

So, that concludes The (Soon-To-Be) Full Time Writer's Preparedness List. I hope it helps!