Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - Yep, Another Signing!

I totally lucked out living in a city that gets SO MANY AMAZING AUTHOR EVENTS! I feel like I'm going to one every week!

This past Friday I got to meet the authors of the Castor Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness) for the release of the third, but not final, installment, Beautiful Chaos. As always, it's fascinating how different each author's publishing story is from the next, and these ladies... let's just say they don't call themselves accidental authors for nothing.

In bulleted note fashion, here's a very paraphrased version of how Beautiful Creatures came to be:

  • Kami Garcia was an English teacher, and she led a book club for her students (Margaret's daughter was one of them).
  • At one of their meetings (in 2007), the kids were griping about too many werewolves, vampires, wimpy and whiny female main characters, and generic story locations. 
  • Kami and Margaret had lunch and discussed what the kids pointed out, and they started to dream up a world that broke the mold, and soon had a rough outline of BC on a napkin. 
  • Their story idea was from a male POV with the female as the parnormal, with a setting in South Carolina.
  • Margaret went home and told her daughter that she was writing a book with Ms. Garcia, to which her daughter replied, "Yeah, right, Mom. And in three days you'll be onto something else."
  • Kami and Margaret took it as a challenge and wrote about 30 pages very quickly, then gave it to M's daughter who said, "It's okay... what happens next?" 
  • Soon, all seven teens in the book club were chomping at the bit for more, desperate to know what happened next. The ladies kept writing, just for these kids, no expectations other than wanting them to enjoy it. 
  • When they finished the story (Then called Sixteen Moons), they talked about creating a web page where they could post the story for all to read. When Kami told a friend--who was an author--about it, he said, "YOU ARE IDIOTS! DON'T DO THAT!"
  • Said friend sent their story to his agent without telling them, after which Margaret got a phone call from her gushing about how much she loved their story. M had no clue who she was exactly, why she had their story, or if they had an agent now... she never sent them anything to sign... they were afraid to come right out and ask--they knew NOTHING about the publishing industry. Bloggers know more than they did! 
  • That agent got their story sold to a publishing house, and the book went to auction (which they thought was a bad thing, because the runt pigs no one wants are auctioned off). 
  • The book went on to be on Amazon's list before it was even officially released, it was nominated for awards, it just went CRAZY with popularity, completely blowing the ladies away. 
  • ON WRITING: Margaret writes a chapter, Kami takes it and deletes what she doesn't like (a lot of commas), and they pass it back and forth about ten times, changing words here and there until eventually every sentence is a mix of both of them. Then Kami writes a chapter and they do the whole thing over again. 
  • Kami types with only THREE FINGERS on her right hand. Three hovering fingers. 
  • MOVIE NEWS: The final script has been accepted by the studio (the people that made The Blind Side), so they're one step closer! 
Pretty amazing story for two ladies writing a story written for seven teens. Have you read this series? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Melissa De La Cruz - Her Story

Friday I drove into Houston for the Melissa De La Cruz signing event at Blue Willow. Before hearing her speak, I knew nothing about her except that she wrote the Blue Bloods series. What an interesting publishing story she has! Here's her journey, extremely paraphrased in bulleted points for easy follow-along-ing.

  • Knew she wanted to write from age 11
  • Took writing seriously in her early twenties, wrote a novel.
  • Had zero connections in the publishing industry. She bought a book outlining agents and what they're looking for, then queried. 
  • Landed an agent, but was unable to sell that novel to a publishing house. 
  • Wrote a novel every year, and every year got rejected by publishers. 
  • Sold her first book at age 27. They gave her a year to work on it and the editor told her it had no plot. 
  • They gave her six months to fix it, helping her outline and work on character development.
  • She studied plots and learned to take them very very seriously. Years later, someone said, "Oh you're Melissa De La Cruz! I hear you're awesome at plots!"
  • Her editor wanted her to write a young adult, dark fantasy, and the idea for Blue Bloods was born--at the time, no one was writing about vampires. 
  • As soon as she submitted her manuscript for Blue Bloods, she saw Twilight was released already. At first she was nervous about it, but the Twilight mania helped her success with Blue Bloods. 
  • At a TLA event, she sat on a panel with Stephenie Meyer and they exchanged books (she is giddy about having signed copies!), agreeing that they would read them when finished with their own vampire series. When the Twilight movie came out, Melissa went to see it and was relieved at how different her story was from Stephenie's. She then read the books, and joined Team Edward. ;)
  • Melissa outlined her latest book five years ago, and warns writers to write EVERYTHING down. If you're writing a series, keep notes even about the little things, because you never know what you're going to forget, such as the little things she hinted at in the first books that need to play out later. She doesn't retain information as well as she used to. 
  • Television: For six months, she worked with producers at CW to develop Blue Bloods into a television show, and she had no reason to believe it wasn't going to happen. Everyone told her it was on. (Her husband later said she was unbearable during this time--really big head!)
  • A week after the big meeting/presentation with executives at CW, the network passed on Blue Bloods. Two weeks later, it was announced that the CW bought The Vampire Diaries. Melissa joked that show is "dead to her" and she still hasn't seen one episode.  
  • Since then, she's had several movie offers and turned them all down. 

  • Cover story: Melissa actually has cover approval. For Blue Bloods, they showed her a rough idea pieced together with stock photos. She liked the idea but thought it was cheesy and asked for a photo shoot. They said, "Oh sure sure!" then went around their offices saying, "Who has a pretty neck?!" The girl that landed on the cover is actually Melissa's editor who was a ballerina. Her mom still calls her and says, "Hey, I just saw your neck in Target!" Book two is also someone from the publishing office. After book three they started having real photo shoots.       

Melissa was fun and entertaining, and it was great to meet her and get my copies signed. I look forward to starting this series when I get back in the vampire mood. :)

As usual, I'm inspired to write. If only I could find where I hid all my spare time....

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kickin' 2011 Debut Author Spotlight

Big thanks to Christina Lee for organizing this 2011 Debut Author Spotlight! Visit her blog for links to everyone else participating!

I scored an ARC to the fantastic 2011 debut CLARITY earlier this year, by author Kim Harrington.

When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth? This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats. Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

My thoughts: I'm a cover lover, and this one definitely caught my eye on the blogs as well as when I scrolled through the Goodreads giveaways. I added my name to the list of the 2000+ hopefuls for the ARC and Kim Harrington herself picked me!  

Clare, her mother, and brother are pretty much the town freak show, but a useful freak show! Especially when there is a murder case to solve. The first chapter was a bit slow for me, mostly because I'm never sure what to expect with first chapters and it takes a while to learn the rules of a different paranormal world from the last book I read. I wasn't fully engaged until several chapters in, and things started really swinging.

Hot ex boyfriend with dramatic history? Check. Witchy girl that likes to ruin your life? Check. Hot and mysterious newcomer? Check. A murder case with tons of suspects and all of them plausible? Check. Like Clare, I had no idea who to focus on as a suspect, and her inner concerns about certain people in particular were realistic and heartbreaking. Go ahead and try to guess "who-done-it". You're probably going to be wrong. I sure was.  

Harrington's writing is straightforward and enjoyable. The characters each stood out on their own, and they all served a purpose. I could picture them perfectly. I won't complain about how short it was (it was a little short!) because I enjoy these kinds of books that you get pulled into and you don't really need to put it down to go to sleep--you probably have time to finish! 

Book two, Perception, comes out in March of 2012!

Kim Harrington:
Buy the Books

What other 2011 releases did I love, you ask??

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Liesl & Po and Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Solstice by P.J. Hoover
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
And let's not forget Lola and the Boy Next Door by the fabulous Stephanie Perkins! Favorite contemporary YA read of the year (after Anna and the French Kiss, of course). Obsessed much? Why yes, yes I am. ;)

Have YOU read Clarity yet? Planning on it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Five


2. So, today while I was trying to decompress, enjoying an episode of Castle while eating lunch, my carbon monoxide detector goes off. I change the batteries. Same thing. Open the windows. Call the gas company. Wait for gas man for about 45 minutes outside. I thought it had "cooled off" outside. No, it has not. Gas man comes and waves this little thing around everywhere. Nope. No CO anywhere to be found. No leaks. All's well. Guess I need a new detector. And a nap I don't have time for. AFTER I get the new detector because I'm nervous like that.

3. Allergies have set in. Huzzah.

4. Do self-imposed deadlines actually work? I'm thinking no, because if they did, I would have finished my first draft in July. Then August. Nope, maybe by October 1st. No? October 15th then! Um... not gonna happen.

5. Vampire Diaries fans... isn't the whole fun of tension between characters that "unspoken" element? You just pick up on the subtleties, the looks, the longing. You DON'T talk about it. "Why don't you take a beat from Elena?" Excuse me? No. "You have feelings for Damon!" "OMG what if I do?" PAH-LEASE. Don't tell us there's an issue. SHOW US. That's writing 101, TVD.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fitness Check-In (Week 8)

I missed last week's check-in because I was out of town, but skipping a week makes for a more dramatic weigh-in the next! Still the slowest progress known to woman-kind, but I guess it counts as progress nonetheless.

So the first deadline I had for myself in all of this is October 22, my 10 year HS reunion. It's SOON, and I'm nowhere near the 10 pounds I wanted to lose, but I'm also not stressing about it as much. The reunion is turning into more of a super casual backyard BBQ with pretty much just the people I see considerably often anyway. Now, I'm not slowing down, I'm working at not getting upset with myself for the slow progress.

Total weight lost: 3.2lbs
Total inches lost: 4.75"

How are your goals coming?

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Love Author Events!

I'm going to skip all the negative bits about the Austin Teen Book Festival because I'm moving past the disappointing moments of bummer and suck and you can't make me talk about it any more! ALL I'm going to say is don't follow the logic that saving the best for last is a good thing. It will bite you in your REAR. Eat your dessert first, my friends.

The theme was steampunk thanks to the keynote speaker's latest series. Quite a few people were decked out in the full garb, but I just constructed a few pieces of steampunk inspired jewelry: A ring that I kept getting caught on EVERYTHING and eventually took off, and a necklace.

Here's a fellow I never dreamed I'd meet, but I did! And I cut myself out of the picture because, well, with this face you wouldn't be looking at me anyway.

The Keynote Speaker, SCOTT WESTERFELD! 

He totally made that face on purpose. Did you take a picture with him too? Let's compare.

Also met the hilarious Maureen Johnson.

Met some other authors too, but wasn't able to do pictures with them. I'll just say that Jackson Pearce is PRECIOUS! Mary E. Pearson is SUPER nice, and I also got my copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson signed by David Levithan though I didn't actually get to meet him... but I'm not talking about that, remember?! STOP!

And let's not forget, my favorite author, STEPHANIE PERKINS!! 

After I read Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year, I pretty much forced my mom (and all my friends) to read it, and she inhaled it. It was fun having another fangirl along with me this weekend!
And... Stephanie remembered me. So I don't have to tell you other fangirls how freaking cool that is. ;)

Had so much fun meeting bloggers I haven't met before, making new friends, and seeing old ones!

As always, the writing inspiration is in FULL SWING. I've kicked out around 3,500 words this weekend. Anyone else feeling it?!