Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Road Ends, Another Begins

The initial stages for Walk the Red Road have come to a close, a bittersweet moment for me. I can finally take a breather and enjoy the fact that Book 2 in The Whisper Legacy is officially out of my hands and into those of my readers and fans. I'm a little sad that this road in the Whisper journey has ended, though I'm eager to see what new paths the third book in the series takes me.

You Can Buy Walk the Red Road Here:
My E-Store
Barnes & Noble

Now, I have to focus on what I consider to be the harder part of the job. Writing is hard enough (and oddly, many seem to think it's a rather simple process for some strange reason. It's more than just sitting in front of the computer putting words to screen; it takes time and energy, constant focus, daily challenges and frustrations and stress in trying to put all the pieces together), but even more difficult is marketing.

I am a terrible bragger and self-promoter. I'm uncomfortable with compliments and don't like putting myself the spotlight. Unfortunately, I have to be and do just that to sell books. Over the years, I've become a pro at faking confidence, allowing me to give talks in front of students, speak in front of literally thousands of people about writing, be on live TV for interviews, and even crack a joke to best-selling author Carl Hiaasen that one day, I'll be taking his place at the podium of my school's presidential lecture. On the outside, I attempt to appear calm and cool and collected. On the inside, my heart's beating like a rabbit on acid and my mind is attempting to confuse me by spouting off random quotes and character ideas and distractions that make it a thousand times harder to concentrate on the topic at hand. Hopefully one day I'll  be better at all this.

There's no real point to me saying all this other than to talk myself into doing what I already know I have to do. Reach out to my promo contacts, tell everyone how awesome my new book is, figure out how to make Facebook, Twitter, this blog, and other marketing materials work for me. It's a long and frustrating process, filled with rejection, or being flat-out ignored altogether, while searching for the one person to say "yes, I'll give you a shot."

On that note, I'm also going to be sending a couple books to Ellen to kick-start Operation: Ellen. I'm determined to be on her show in 2012. In fact, I've just decided that this will be my New Year's resolution. I've also been convinced to send a book to Plan B Entertainment, which is none other than Brad Pitt's production company. Total long shot, but hell, it can't hurt, right?

While doing all this marketing, I also have a full-time job, am teaching my very first college course starting in three days, am starting Book 3 in The Whisper Legacy, and am putting the finishing touches on The Sour Orange Derby (a novel I plan to release in a few months - details to follow soon). Hopefully my mind can keep up with everything, without driving me crazier than I already am.

The Red road is truly a busy and exciting adventure!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Suspicions confirmed. We have a ghost.

So, we all remember the story about the alien shadow that scared the bejeezus out of me a week or two ago. I was perfectly willing to accept that a serial killer was creeping through our front yard. About a week after that event, S woke in the middle of the night to the sound of a light knocking on the front door, but when he looked out the window, no one was there. Again, willing to accept the serial killer possibility.

The events of last night and earlier today, however, have convinced me otherwise.  Allow me to take you back.

It was a mere 3am, all was dark and quiet. S and I were cuddled under the heater blanket with Sir Whisky passed out between us. Suddenly, I awoke to a flashing blue light coming from the foyer. In my groggy, way-too-early-morning state of mind, all I could do was lift myself to my elbows and stare through the doorway at the blurry spectacle (note that I wasn't even awake enough to think of putting on my glasses). After a few seconds of staring, I heard the music. It was coming from this guy:

Yes, that's right. Frosty the Snowman.

Now, here's the weird part (yes, it gets weirder). First of all, you can't activate Frosty unless you push that circle on his foot. Second, Frosty hasn't worked in 2 years because I never changed the batteries from the ones that he came with. So. How the hell did he get activated, and how did the batteries suddenly get charged? I got up after the song stopped and did a thorough house check. Not a peep to be heard or a soul to be seen (or a dead soul to be detected...).

The other weird part. Frosty works now (kind of). I'll mention that last year and the year before, I must have pressed his foot a hundred times seeing if he would play, and due to my own laziness chose to simply keep pressing the button rather than find new batteries and swap them out. When I pulled him out of the box this year, I pressed the button a dozen times and still, nothing.

Today, I tried again after his early-morning performance. It took 27 presses of the button, but I finally got this:

Now imagine seeing just that flashing light and tell me you wouldn't immediately think, "Holyshitanalienisattackingmyhouse!!!!"

S and I have two theories.

1) We have a ghost. This would explain the shadow in the woods, the light knocking at the door, and Frosty's sudden return to life. Plus these all happened in the early morning hours, and clearly that's when all the weird shit happens. It would also explain why Sir Whisky feels the need to sit in the middle of the floor and howl like he's being tortured for no good reason at all. For example (this was today, and he did this for a good 10 seconds before I grabbed the camera):

Sorry it's sideways, I didn't have time to adjust. But you get the picture. Oh, and by the way, he's looking in the direction of the foyer and Frosty. If it is a ghost, I can only hope it's an adult with a sense of humor. A friend suggested it was a child ghost, and if that's the case, then holy Hera I have to move. Little kid ghosts scare the crap out of me. The girl from The Ring traumatized me for weeks.

2) The government is doing experiments, and Frosty got caught in the cross-fire. We live somewhat near a government facility, that I will not name or show pictures of should they find out and launch a stealth attack District 12 style. This was S's theory (mine was #1, clearly). He stated that perhaps they were doing something weird with electricity or electromagnetic waves and other stuff with big words, and those waves somehow got zapped straight to Frosty. Normally I'd debunk this crazy science theory, but I can't help but remember back to when our house was struck by lightning, and all the battery-operated games in my brother's closet suddenly came to life. So, this is perhaps plausible, and I like it better than little kid ghosts.

In short, I live in either a haunted house or one that will soon be radioactive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So, I Saw a Ghost. Or a Burglar. Or an Alien.

Remember how I said I have an overactive imagination? Well, let me tell you how my morning experience went from this:

(google images)

to this:

(google images)

Allow me to share the story. The morning started off normally enough, alarm buzzing at 5 a.m. and me blissfully ignoring it until 5:30. I finally drag myself out of bed, go through the morning routine - brush teeth, put in contacts, find clothes from the massive pile of freshly washed laundry, chase Sir Whisky to give him his meds, etc - then tell S good-bye before heading out the door.

I step outside and head down the walk. I look up to see lights on near the woods. A bit strange, but I thought maybe the landlords had turned on the heat lamps in the grove, although it wasn't quite cold enough. But still, not something to worry my sleepy little head about. So I go on my merry way, about to step off the sidewalk in front of the garage when what do I see in the clearing where S keeps his garden?


Me being the calm, cool, collected person that I am, proceeded to throw my lunchbox to the ground, drop my keys in an attempt to spin around while tripping over my own feet, struggle to retrieve them with trembling fingers, and pound my way back inside. I rush back into the bedroom and ask S to walk me to my truck since, you know, I just saw a serial killer in the woods.

It takes about 30 seconds from the time I rush back inside, recruit S, S puts on some clothes, and we walk back outside. The light is gone. All is dark in the woods, all is silent in the early morning. So I tell him what happened, then leave for work, all the while wondering WTF just happened. When I get home, S tries to use logic on me, suggesting maybe it was a flashlight (light was way too big for that) or that it was a shadow of a raccoon elongated in the light (uh, since when are raccoons long and skinny and walking on two legs), or that I was seeing my own shadow (dude, I was standing perfectly still). But ultimately, he agreed that this horrific and fear-inspiring event needs to be handled, and handled now.

Where does creepy alien picture come in? Well, I can't be left alone with these kinds of experiences or images in my head. Nothing good comes of it. The shadow that vaguely resembles a person suddenly morphs into a gangly creature with claws and an alien-esque saunter (think "Signs" but in shadow). And the lights? WTF else can just mysteriously light up the land and then disappear without so much as a sound save for a spaceship - especially when the alien shadow was running away from the light? Damnit. I was almost abducted by an alien shadow, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a nice one. For those of you who don't know, I'm kind of terrified of evil ghosts and aliens (especially little kid ghosts, they are effing scary). So naturally, what could have very well been a huge bird (like the barred owls here) has become an alien shadow. There really is no other explanation.

The good news? No serial killer was waiting for me when I got home and all our stuff is still here. The bad news? While I don't know what I saw, the fact remains that I saw something. Something was running for the fence, something was in the woods, something caused a light way too big for a flashlight and just the right size for headlights to turn off within a 30-second timespan, and since those lights were the opposite direction of the running shadow, something may have had a partner.

So what does this mean? It means security just got a whole lot tighter at the K & S household. Granted, we're already door-locking, alarm-setting, shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of folk, but the alien shadow best keep its distance. Taking out a bad guy at 5 am isn't an adventure I look forward to, but I ain't going down without a fight.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What's to Come

People have told me before that I always look like something major is on my mind, like I'm working through a big problem or situation. Usually, my "thinking face" looks like my "I'm pissed off and gonna kick you in the shins" face, but they are right in that I am unable to turn my mind off.

As a result, I have about 50+ books either started, have notes jotted down, or are swarming about in my head still in the early development stages. It's frustrating because I can't possibly write them all at once so these ideas and characters and stories have nowhere to go. Sometimes I feel like I have a hundred different lives all co-existing inside one imagination and I start to fudge reality with fantasy. Or I just start talking to myself even more so than I already do, and believe me, it's rather embarrassing when S walks in on me having a 4-way conversation with imaginary friends. I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe me when I say I was just singing to myself.

So in an effort to get some of this out, I want to share what's coming soon in new books by yours truly.

Book Three in The Whisper Legacy
I still don't have a title for this one and it's driving me insane. I can't start a book without a title; I just can't. And yet, it's already started. Anyway, I can't say too much about this without giving away what happens in the soon-to-be-released sequel, but suffice it to say, it will be awesome.

Certain characters travel to the land of the second deaths to battle a rising evil spirit while searching for another lost soul killed in Walk the Red Road. Along the way, events from the past come back to haunt the characters and they must battle their biggest enemies in order to preserve the spirit realms. I have visions of characters standing on clifftops, rumbling skies with flashing red lightning, storm clouds hanging low over unsuspecting villagers. It will be a dark book, eerie, and yet, a tale of destiny and loyalty and love.

Book Four in The Whisper Legacy
The title for this one is what the third was originally going to be, but it's not copyrighted yet so I can't share (can't risk any of y'all stealing my title or else I'll have to hunt you down). But, I can tell you what it's about. Book Four will take readers back in time, before Whisper, before Ian, before the events of the second and third book altogether. This one will focus on how the Raven-Eater came to be, how he took over the Land of the Dead, and how Smoke Speaker infiltrated the Fire Tower to save his granddaughter.

The Helping Hands Series
At some point, I promise to get back to this series. I've waited so long because the Helping Hands series is like my baby, and I want to do it justice. After finally being free of the publishing company I have control again, so once The Whisper Legacy is complete I hope to re-release the first two in the series (I'm going to go back and make some updates to the text since I wrote them when I was younger). The third book is written and the fourth is started, so stay tuned! There will be 6 books total, the first 5 chronicalling the lives of Melanie O'Conner and all subsequent Helping Hands over 30-40 years or so, while the last book will tell of how the Hell Hounds came to be in the first place.

The Sour Orange Derby (copyright 2009)
This book will likely be released sometime during The Whisper Legacy's run. It is already written and copyrighted, just needs some fine tuning. It's a relatively quick read for YA and up, and focuses on young Cole Standridge and his family. This is a kind of re-telling of my family, centering on stories my grandfather told us and the joys of childhood magic. Of course, I took some major liberties with the fiction version and will likely have to add in a disclaimer should anyone be worried about fact versus fantasy (hint: my little brother refuses to read it because, well, I kill him off). If you're on my Facebook business/book page, check it soon for a full synopsis.

Random Stories
I have, quite literally, about 5 pages of book titles--just titles--and about 3 pages of notes for other stories. I've also started about 15 stories that  are anywhere from 2 to 50 pages complete. I plan to combine some of these stories into a few ideas I have brewing around in my head:

Dancer story - I don't have much to go on for this story, but I have this image of a dancer stretching her arm out, fingers playing in the light. That's about it. I have a friend with a beautiful picture of her dancing that inspired the vision, and it's been growing from there. The hand thing comes from my own obsession, as I love seeing people's hands. They fascinate me. My top three celebs I can give as an example are Angelina Jolie, Connie Britton from American Horror Story, and the blonde chick from The Walking Dead (I hate her character and hope she is zombie bait in the next episode, but I still love her hands).

Ghost story - Inspired by a friend's story, this one will focus on an old, deceased man who comes back to collect a spirit as it passes. Originally I was thinking he would come back to comfort the one who is passing, but the more the idea simmers in my head the more it takes on a different aproach. So, we shall see what happens.

Peter Pan - Those of you who know me, know of my Peter Pan obsession. I've always wanted to write a story about him but for years just let the fantasy play out in my head. The obsession only grew when I read The Child Thief by Brom, which was recommended to me by a friend, "Pirate" Mary (you know who you are). The darker side of Peter in that book only further inspired my own vision, which is Peter a bit older in more of a dark fantasy role. And if I should imagine myself as the female lead, well, what of it?

Most of these stories are years in the making, with more years required for release. But they are all slowly coming together and I can't wait to share them all with you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Bittersweet Moment

The time has come for Walk the Red Road to come to a close. My final editing is complete-a bittersweet moment for me. Why? Because while I am extremely excited to have my manuscript finally off to the publishers for its final formatting, I will never again read my story. I think I sat staring at the computer screen for a good 10 minutes before finally clicking "submit files for formatting."

But, I can still look at my super awesome book cover:

I think I've said before that I can't read my manuscripts once in book form. It makes me anxious, like heart-racing, second-guessing, did-I-make-a huge-mistake kind of anxious. So, I just don't do it. I occasionally go back to check something for reference, but I do a word search so I can scan the text as quickly as possible so as to not catch a potential mistake or a "damn, I wish I'd done that differently" section. This means that after publishing, I can only enjoy my story in my head.

Walk the Red Road has now set off on its path to publication, so I'm going to focus on that. It takes about 7 to 10 business days to complete the formatting, so with Thanksgiving this week it will probably be a couple weeks for that to be complete. I will then be sent a proof copy, and if I approve, it will be available immediately for purchase.

So, stay tuned for more release date information! It's time for Ellen to start calling me about being on her show, too. I need to sell me some books! I'm not entirely sure what to do with myself now that I don't have a book to work on, which means I can either start the third Whisper Legacy book (who am I kidding, it's already started), finish a different book that I want to publish, or focus purely on marketing. I think marketing will win out for now, though the third book is already brewing in my head and dreams.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Final Cover

I just realized that I never updated with the finished cover. Many of you have already seen it, but for those who haven't, enjoy!

This is much better from the last version, which was almost entirely pink. Remember?

The difference just in changing the color is pretty amazing. I am very pleased with it and even more excited for the release of Walk the Red Road. I'll be sending the manuscript off tomorrow, so we're getting closer!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Operation: Ellen

With Walk the Red Road coming to a close (FINALLY), it's time again to focus on marketing. I have my usual contacts-radio shows, newspapers, local magazines, friends and family, etc.-but getting the word out these days is all about social media. My friend Samantha convinced me to finally get on Twitter, @KCircelli, and I have a whole 11 tweets! I'm really bad at this.

But, I'm trying to get better. My problem is that I am the worst self-promoter ever. And I've been told that, many times. I don't like to brag and I get uncomfortable when people praise me or my novels. This presents a problem when I have to actually market and sell them. Over the years I've managed to strengthen my speaking skills and even fake confidence during events, but "selling myself," so to speak, is still the one thing I'm really just no good at.

So, thus begins Operation: Ellen.

(I didn't take this pic. Google did.)
Keep reading, because this is a call to you as well!

In an effort to get my name out there, it's time to use social media to my advantage. I've got the website, I've got the Facebook page, and I've got the Twitter. So let's make Twitter work for me. And it's going to work by getting me on the Ellen Degeneres Show to promote my books. I didn't choose Ellen randomly, in case you're wondering. I've been emailing her for years (so has my mom, I think, too) but so far I have been 100% ignored :(. But hey, let's see if Tweets are ignored too! Ellen was always one of the few people able to put a smile on my face when watching comedies, and I admired her strength growing up when facing my own battles. I wish I had her energy and outlook on life, and confidence to just get up and dance (I don't think anyone has ever seen me dance outside of S and I's first dance at the wedding, and that was it).

I think Ellen and I would get along. In fact, I can guarantee it. We'll put on one hell of a show and she will love me as her guest. She just doesn't know it yet, and that's where Operation: Ellen comes in. I am going to Tweet to her until I get a response, even if it's "Dude, stop trying to get on my show! Ain't gonna happen!"

And now I put the call out to my fans and friends. If you're on Twitter, let Ellen know how awesome it would be to have me as a guest! Just Tweet @TheEllenShow and see what happens. This is my attempt at shameless self-promotion to finally make something happen for myself. I feel completely stupid for even thinking I have a chance, but you know what, sometimes you have to make that blind leap of faith. It's not called an awfully big adventure for nothing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Cover Art Process

Walk the Red Road is getting closer and closer to completion. By this time next week I expect to be completely done with the manuscript, and I'm hoping to have the cover finished by then as well. I'm kind of in transition at the moment and have to wait on my editors to finish reading before I can complete the final revision, so I'm in a weird stage where I have nothing to do yet a long way to go. I'm kind of anxious because I don't like not having a book to work on. They say idle hands are the devil's playthings or some such crap, and that's the case with me. I even made a huge bowl of mixed cut veggies I don't even eat the other day for S because my hands needed something to do.

I could start the third book, but I'm trying to wait a bit so I don't get ahead of myself. I want to focus on Walk the Red Road until it's published so that has all of my attention. Also, I went through a mini-crisis earlier in the week when I realized that the book title I've had planned for the third for like 2 years now, is actually perfectly suited for the fourth book. So now I have no title for the third and I can't work on a titleless book. It's just a weird thing I have. I need a title.

Anyway, since I can't work on the text, I'll talk about the cover! As I mentioned before, my friend Red designed the art based on my crappy sketch and man, did she do an awesome job. She recently sent me her sketches (there were more variations than what are below, but these are the basic images and the others are the same images with lighting and color changes).

I thought it would be cool to show y'all how much work went into the process, how awesome Red is, and how these concepts turned into the final cover. Now, I don't actually have the final cover since it's still being worked on, but I do have the essential final form. So, enjoy!

Paintings all lined up. You can see the many changes Whisper went through.

The second and third are on canvas board. The rest are watercolor paper (I think).

This was initially my first choice. I love the look of the ink sketching.

As you already know, this is the one I ended up going with.

After finishing the painting, Red scanned it to the computer and did some alterations. Once I got it, I did some of my own changes, namely some color changes and I removed a tattoo that I decided I didn't like (well, I removed part of the tattoo in the center of her back). A designer that I know added the text.

So, after I sent my final image in, the publishing company sent me two cover concepts. They are below. The left side is the back cover, middle is the spine, and right is the front cover.

Initially, this was my first choice. I love the contrast between the white and reds, and the way the trees wrap around the entire text. I also like the text on the spine and the title text. The more I looked at it though (and hearing feedback from friends), I decided that I don't like that the eye is immediately drawn to the title, rather than the image (which I wanted to be bigger). I also don't like the back cover layout, but it can't be changed due to the trees. Speaking of the trees, while I love the wrapping, I think the fadeout into the white could be cleaner.

This is the second cover concept, and the one I am going with. I love the back cover layout and the fact that the image is so prominent on the front. Some feedback responses stated that the title isn't prominent enough, but I'm okay with that. For me, the title isn't what draws me to a book; it's the image. I'm pretty confident that people will see the awesome image of Whisper and be drawn to that. And besides, it's not like the title is hidden, right? Ultimately though, this cover was the one that S, my mom, my dad, and Red chose. Their opinions mean a lot to me, and since Red is the artist I like knowing that the cover reflects her vision as well.

The changes I requested are relatively minor. I asked that the text on the spine from cover 1 be used instead. I don't like the stylish text for my name on this second one. I also asked that the back cover, spine, and fade around the front border be darker, more like the darker red color in the trees. The pink is okay, but I think people will be more likely be drawn to a darker red.

And, just for fun, Sir Whisky enjoyed playing in the box Red sent the art in. I'm not sure, but I think he may be drunk.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Red Road Belongs to Me!

It's official, Walk the Red Road is all mine. Technically it's been mine since August, but it does give me a bit of a boost to have the actual paperwork in hand. It came in pretty fast, compared to the 9 long months it took to get in the paperwork for Beyond the Western Sun. Seriously, I could have had a baby in that time. For Walk the Red Road, maybe a litter of kittens. (I should note, NO BABIES for me. I will gladly accept kittens though, so long as, you know, they don't come from me and all)

Ok, that got weird. I give you, my official copyright!

So, that's all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Editing Process

So, a little while ago I showed you my nice, shiny new manuscript all pretty and printed out. Remember? It looked a little something like this (oh and no straining to read the text, cheaters):

The paper editing process (and my final edit) is now complete (just waiting for one last edit from my mom). It took a little while for S and me to both finish, but finally we are done. Now, I can be a bit big-headed at times, but not so much that I can't admit to writing awful first drafts. Seriously, they are terrible. Words spelled wrong, sentences half-finished, scenes that don't make any sense. I even had two Chapter 46s and had to go back and fix everything. That was really annoying.

So for the purpose of being totally honest and showing just how many revisions I have to make, here are a few sample pages:

This one's not so bad. I make dashes off to the side whenever I make an edit to ensure I don't miss it when comaring the paper copy to the computer document. Dashes mean an edit, a ">" means to add or expand upon something.

A little worse. Adding in chapter breaks, some random notes to myself.

Gah. So many issues.

WHAT HAPPENED HERE? Also, you'll see S's note that I use the word "mate" a lot. There were a few words or phrases that were overused that he pointed out, so I had to go back and do a search to find all instances of those specific words since I don't notice them when writing. I need a reader to point them out for me.

See the circles off to the side? That's what happens when I get bored editing my story for the 27th time.

Oh, and just for fun, a super adorable picture of Sir Whisky, who slept next to me today while I finished the edit:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What’s Keeping Me Sane

Terra Nova

I’m a big fan of dinosaurs, even though the thought of coming across a velociraptor scares the crap out of me. So I was very excited to come across this show. Some of it is a little lame (Slashers? Really? That’s the best name you could come up with?) and the CGI is questionable (I’ll never understand how Jurassic Park could have such awesome animation and yet, some 18 years later it seems we’ve reverted back to cartoonish dinos), but overall I’m loving the show. By the way, has it really been that long since Jurassic Park came out? Holy crap, I’m old. I still remember my mom and stepdad coming home from the theater and her telling us all about how horribly scary the movie was and that she spent the entire film hiding her eyes in my stepdad’s now stretched out shirtsleeve. I’m pretty sure this happened. I may have dreamed it, or it may have been a different movie. I’ll have to verify it later.

American Horror Story

Those of you who know me, know that I’m a little deranged. I think of weird stuff and I have a warped sense of humor. So, AHS is pretty much perfect for me. However, little kid ghosts and the thought of being possessed scare the hell out of me, so I pretty much torture myself every Wednesday night at watching this show. I will say though that I’m glad the burned dude (AKA Russell from True Blood) killed who he did this past episode because I was not going to sit through an entire season of that drama.

Transformers 3

Say what you want about Michael Bay, but the man knows how to put together an awesome movie. The chick in this one wasn’t as annoying as Megan Fox, but she came close at times (I mean, really. Getting pissy because your boyfriend is bailing on a stupid work dinner so he can, oh I don’t know, go SAVE THE WORLD? Lame, Carly. Very lame.). Luckily, my man Shia, who I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve been watching since his Even Stevens days, saved the day by acting his usual crazy self. The third installment was probably my favorite, and I totally want Carly’s car. So what if it’s a decepticon? As Tyrese said, decepticons get the good shit.

Pirates 4

Oh, how I love my pirates. I just got this movie and have watched it like 5 times already. I’ve always wanted to be an old-school pirate or a mermaid (or live in Neverland where there are BOTH), so this movie pretty much fulfills most of my fantasies. And, it’s got Johnny Depp. ‘Nuff said.

The Son of Neptune

I haven’t had time to do much pleasure reading lately, so I was very excited to find the next book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. I didn’t even know it was out when I want to Barnes & Noble for something else (a boring web writing book. Blah). I’m a big Greek mythology fan (minored in Classic Civilizations) and I love YA, so I can’t get enough of these books. I won’t even go into how much the movie massacred the first book. Let’s just say I force myself to view them as two completely separate entities otherwise I’m just irrationally mad. Hollywood, bring me in. I’ll give you some good shit to work with.

The A-Team

I’ve seen this movie probably 37 times now since HBO is playing it nonstop. I can’t help myself. Liam Neeson is sexy and the movie is just awesome. And, the beginning is one of my absolute all-time favorites. Alpha. Mega. Foxtrot. In other words…well, you get the picture. It reminds me of The Losers with the rocket launcher. Apparently I like it when stuff gets blown up.


So it’s not a movie or book or whatever, but it pretty much tops everything. I’m always thinking about it but lately I’ve been shopping. I pride myself on getting people awesome gifts. And now I just signed up for Secret Santa with my equally awesome group of friends so I can’t wait for the day after Thanksgiving so I can put up my tree. S won’t let me put it up sooner than that.

*All pics from Google Images

8 Weeks to Go…Maybe?

Walk the Red Road is finally in the works, out of my hands (almost entirely) and with the publishers. FINALLY. I’m still finishing up my last edit and waiting on S to finish his (oh, and my mom’s. Come on, people, time’s a tickin’.). I’m relieved, almost too exhausted at this point to be excited. OK, I’m a little excited, but mostly just waiting for the next stage since it’s not over yet and I still have a long way to go. People don’t realize how much work all this is, except maybe S since he has the fun job of dealing with me all the time.

Whisper has been running around in my head for months now. Years, really, but she’s only been walking the Red Road since last April or so. She demands my attention almost 24/7, invading my dreams and requiring at least three to 4 hours of additional work after I get home from my “real” job. Hopefully she takes a couple months’ break after this before heading off to her next adventure. And oh, what a grand one it will be.

I think I could go on with this story for books and books and books, but I’ll probably try to keep it to just four. Maybe five. I love series books, but only so long as they stay true to their characters and don’t cause the story to go stale. Some authors can pull it off—Anne Bishop and her 473 (this might be an exaggeration) Black Jewel books (which are AWESOME), Rick Riordan and Percy Jackson, the Gears with their mile-long series about Native Americans (different characters, same concept). Others fall short and end up destroying their characters. The first that comes to mind is the book-that-shall-not-be-named (aka The Land of Painted Caves), which felt like the author punched me in the gut, stabbed me in the heart with a fire poker and spit on my brand new shoes in the end after the character I admired so much and made me believe that some men were decent after all was completely and utterly unforgivably destroyed and OH MY GOD I can’t even talk about it anymore without being depressed.

So, yeah. I don’t want to punch people in the gut with my sequel. Or any following books. That’s been my biggest fear when writing Walk the Red Road and I’m seriously agonizing over this with each page I edit. The book-that-shall-not-be-named has ruined me in this regard. Either I worry too much, care too much, or I’m just weirdly insane. S says I’m just crazy. Wait, no. Actually he says “You are the weirdest girl I’ve ever met.” This was after a debate over why the North Pole should be part of a continent that went a little something like this:

Me: “But why isn’t it part of a continent?”
S: “Because it’s just ice and stuff. There’s no landmass. Nothing lives there.”
Me: “Yeah-huh. Stuff lives there.”
S: “What?”
Me: “Santa.”
S: “Santa doesn’t count.”
Me: “…We are no longer friends.”
S: “…..”
Me: “…..”
S: “You are the weirdest girl I’ve ever met.”

(Google pic)

See? I'm right.

Anyway, I forgot my point. I’m not sure I ever had one. OH! Yeah, I was going to say that since I’m bored, I’m going to make a whole new blog post about what’s been keeping me sane (hah) these past few weeks as I prepare to release Walk the Red Road. So, enjoy.

Also, here is my updated To-Do List – See, I am getting things done!
Revising manuscript according to editors--ALMOST DONE
*Finding a way to print out manuscript without spending a fortune--DONE
*Give book to S to read and revise—IN PROGRESS
*Insert chapter breaks and edit again (last time)--IN PROGRESS
*Purchase barcode--DONE
*Assign ISBN to barcode-- DONE
*Purchase self-publishing package--DONE
*Write book synopsis--DONE
*Write interior text--DONE
*Complete book cover once art is received--DONE

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Feelings of Fantasy

So I was watching Avatar again the other day (hear that, James Cameron? I’m supporting your royalties. Still waiting on that phone call) and it re-inspired me to get my butt in gear. Aside from preparing for and working the Family Days event, I’ve been working really hard on my story. Tomorrow I'll even be on a conference call with the publishers to finalize plans for Walk the Red Road. I admit I was getting bored with it (you can only read/carefully scrutinize/analyse something so many times in a short period of time before you’d rather rub sandpaper in your eyes than read another word), but alas, Avatar has restored my love.

While watching the movie, I started thinking about how much I love fantasy. I guess it makes sense, since I make my living telling made-up stories, but it’s interesting (to me, anyway) because I used to hate reading fantasy. Fantasy movies, totally love. Books, well they bored me. Then I wrote BTWS, and I suppose its elements of the supernatural gave me a new appreciation for the genre.

This year all I’ve read are fantasy books. Pretty much everything by Ann Bishop, The Mortal Instruments series (for like the sixth time), The Hunger Games series (kind-of fantasy, but I say it counts), Brom’s The Child Thief, the Percy Jackson series (hey, this one counts too), to name a few. I’ve absolutely loved them all.

The only problem? Now my imagination is in constant fantasy mode and I can’t turn it off. I’m constantly picturing new worlds and imaging myself in other-realm places, especially Narnia. Oh, how I love Narnia. It’s my favorite fantasy. When I’m falling asleep I imagine myself being transported to that world, sailing the Dawn Treader with Caspian (played by Ben Barnes, of course), battling the White Witch, searching for the lost Prince Rilian.

For your viewing pleasure (all Google pics):

That’s the existence meant for me, and sometimes I forget that I can never have it, and that such magic doesn’t really exist.

Or does it? I’m convinced my bank might be magic, or at the very least, that tiny people live inside the ATM. They started this new thing where you make deposits without needing an envelope and I can’t figure out how the damn thing works. You can put in up to 50 bills and 30 checks at a time and it counts them all, and accurately. How? How does it know what’s written on a check? How does it read the bills? It’s magic, or money elves. There’s really no other solution.

But anyway, I think I had a point to this long, drawn-out chronicle of hearing myself talk, if I can remember it. Ah, yes. Fantasy. It’s more than just a genre to me; it’s a way of life. Or at least, it’s become one in the way that I view writing.

Do I truly believe that I’ll one day be the best-selling success that is Nora Roberts or Carl Hiaasen (I use them as examples since they are the only ones I’ve ever met)? Do I think that booksellers will be lining up to schedule nationwide book tours? Honestly, no. I’m not so na├»ve to believe that such things are possible for all people who wish it.

However, I cannot give up hope that someday, perhaps some modicum of success will be mine. Perhaps this depends on how you define success, as I don’t define it by how much money one makes, but rather how well you get your story across, and make people want to read more and more of your work. I think I have this in me, and a part of me even thinks that one day James Cameron really will call to discuss movie rights, or that a major bookseller would eagerly stock my novels and set up a nationwide tour.

Or maybe, as Wendy would say, “It is your biggest pretend.”

Hey, if this is my fantasy, my dream, then I’d say it could be worse. Let’s just hope I never wake up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Family Days Was a Success!

It was a lot of work and took a lot of talking, but Port Orange Family Days was definitely a hit. I want to give a major thanks to my awesome helpers, including my mom, Kenz, my aunt, and my dad. I couldn't have done it without any of you! I sold a crapton of books and did a lot of networking. Now, I'm exhausted and tired of talking about my books. So instead, I'll write about them!

I generated a lot of interest for Beyond the Western Sun, so I'm hoping to get even more fans for Walk the Red Road (which, by the way, is getting closer and closer to publication!). This weekend I met a lot of my younger, middle school-aged fans and even saw my kindergarten teacher, who actually remembered me some 20 years later. The mayor bought a book, a woman who runs a local book club wants me to come in and speak, and I got some great tips on places that hold book signings. So, all the hard work was worth the effort. I'm sure the free candy helped too (Family Days is like pre-Halloween for everyone--free candy at booths for the kids, free keychains and pads of paper and coozies and whatnot for the adults.).

Obviously, talking about Family Days isn't all that entertaining for you, so enjoy my weekend in pictures:

Getting the tent set up.

More setup.

Prepping the sign. This was my first time working a booth at Family Days, so I learned a lot about what to do for next time. What kind of weights to bring (these were provided for us), bring zip-ties for signs, cut holes in the board beforehand, better tablecloth, etc.

Finally figured it out.

Yay, sign!

All ready to sell.

Selling and signing.

Remember how I was complaining about my hands/wrists/fingers? Well, it has resulted in this. Medicated arthritis pads on my wrist and the top of my hand, all secured with a brace. I hope you're happy, computer and keyboard.

All in all, I'm a happy camper right about now.