Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Best job in the world

I know I've seemed a tad stressed in my posts lately (and my emails and tweets and phone calls and IMs and half loopy mumblings in the middle of the night...). And I AM stressed. I definitely have a lot on my plate at the moment, and a big part of me is afraid I'm not going to have time to get everything done.

But I was talking to another author over the weekend--one with an even crazier schedule than me--and she reminded me that yes, it's stressful, and it's hard, and sometimes you have to force your butt into that chair and make yourself get things done, even when you're tired and overwhelmed and desperate for a break. BUT, it's also truly amazing that we get to have this job. 

And she's absolutely right. 

I hadn't forgotten that, but I also don't know that I really think about it enough, either. 

Yes, it's stressful. Yes, it's intense. But it's also the dream. A dream I spent YEARS working toward. 

And the funny thing is, the more I remind myself of how grateful I am to be where I'm at, the more I feel like this:

I'm still tired. I'm still buried. I'm still not going to be able to be online as much as I'd like. But I'm hanging in.

In fact, I've crossed one thing of my endless To Do List. Copyedits for LET THE SKY FALL are officially done and shipped off to S&S!

One deadline down--two more to go! 


Friday, February 24, 2012

This is my life right now...

I could write a post trying to explain the insanity of what I'm currently juggling--but I think this picture pretty much sums it up. This is my desk at the moment ...

And yes--the cat is typically there. It's why I'm not often able to WORK at my desk, and instead use it simply as The Place To Keep All The Important Things!

So basically, what you're seeing (in addition to my P&P desktop--hee) is three things with three very tight deadlines.

That pile on the left? Yeah, that's KEEPER 1st pass, which is due VERY soon.

That pile in the middle? Copyedits for LET THE SKY FALL. Due EVEN SOONER.

Oh, and that chaos to the right? That's all my brainstorming notes for KEEPER book 2, which is ALSO due very SCARILY SOON.

(There's also some other *fun* stuff on there you might be noticing...)

So... yeah. That is my life right now. Deadline upon deadline upon deadline. Now I know why my agent had a very serious conversation with me about "can I really handle this?" when we sold the second series. It is INTENSE.

But I am not complaining--AT ALL. I could not be happier or prouder to get to work on my books every day. It is truly an honor and I would not change it for a second. BUT, if I'm not blogging or tweeting or commenting on FB or replying to your emails (FYI guys, I'm about 2 months behind on email. My inbox has 464 unread messages. So if you are waiting to hear from me--that is why, and it's probably gonna be a while. SORRY!)

One of these days I WILL catch up. One stack of papers at a time. One day at a time. Until it's all finally done. In the meantime--you know where to find me!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I... will be working. (Well, mostly. I have an AWESOME author event on Sat night I will try to post pics from. But yeah... my deadlines demand the rest of my time)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Drafting

For those of you who haven't had the privilege of getting one of my MANY book 2 related emails and/or IMs, I thought I'd put together this visual representation--via lolcat (yes, really!)--of some of the roller coaster highs and lows I've been riding as I battle through this bad boy. 

Most days start out like this:

I love my job--and I'm VERY lucky to have it. But yeah... it's also WORK. And no matter how much I may wish I could leave cupcakes out and the magic writing elves would finish the book for me:

So I grab some caffeine....

(and for the record, no, I am NOT taking caffeine pills. Those would make me bounce off the walls)

And then I get to work. 

(Um... I couldn't find a work related lolcat, so...BATMAN!)

And I work. And work some more. Until the plot takes yet another unexpected turn and I realize:

So I track down one of my CPs:

And say:

Or sometimes...

and they SOMEHOW talk me through
(and then probably email each other making fun of me)

And then...all of a sudden the pieces come together (usually right before bed and/or in the shower) and...

All of which leads to those moments where even though...

Threads and plotlines and ideas come together and I reread my words at the end of the day and it's just...

So I'm powering through. It's hard and I can't WAIT to be done. But bring it on Book 2!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Eeeek--where has most of the day gone???????

Sorry, I've been so busy with drafting I *almost* forgot to post the winner from Monday's contest. (oops). But hey, better late than never, right?

So without further ado, the winner of a paperback of BEYONDERS: A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES and an ARC of BEYONDERS: SEEDS OF REBELLION is...

*drumroll please*


*tosses confetti*

If that's you, please email me at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address so I can get you your prize. 

And for everyone else, I HIGHLY recommend you pick yourself up a copy of these books (or check them out from your library). A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES is now out in paperback, and SEEDS OF REBELLION will be available 3/13/12. Such great reads!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

So...THIS happened!


ITS A REAL BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Nope--that's still not enough exclamation marks:



And of course I HAD to take a bunch of dorky pictures of myself, celebrating:

(oh, you'd do the same thing--you know it!)

(I have QUITE a lot more of these--but I think you guys get the idea)

(and yes--yes I AM wearing my: I am a SERIOUS ARTIST black turtleneck sweater, but... that's mainly because it was FREEZING yesterday)

(FREEZING to a Native SoCalian = anything overcast and below 65 degrees F--just FYI)

I honestly can't even begin to describe what it feels like to hold my book--MY BOOK--for the first time, and flip through the pages and see my words in print and my name on every page and the font they chose and the chapter headings and... *sniffles*

Just trust me when I say it's AMAZING. 

And it makes me even more grateful and excited that someday I get to share it with all of you. I PROMISE I will have an ARC contest and give one of the Preciousssssssssss away--but not quite yet (SORRY!). The thing is, I realized something else when I saw my baby in print.

It's ... thick.

Which I LOVE. 

I love nothing more than a book that lets you sink into it for more than a few quick hours. But it's also a very good visual representation for the gauntlet I'm currently running trying to get through Book 2. 

Thick books = A WHOLE LOTTA WORK

That's not to say that thin books AREN'T a lot of work. But trust me--thick books are beasts. And I'm currently at a point in the draft for Book 2 where sadly, if I wrote shorter books, I'd be done by now. But I'm not. I have a LOT of work ahead of me. And... not a lot of time to do it in, thanks to needing to get started very very soon on LET THE SKY FALL BOOK 2. 

So I don't have time at the moment to organize an epic ARC giveaway--and my blogging may be a bit sporadic for a bit (in fact, I'm taking the rest of the week off). I'll do the best I can to be as regular as possible--so PLEASE don't stop coming by--but I can't promise I'll be posting every day. At least not until I get to "The end."

*rolls up sleeves and dives back in*

(Well... after a little more time doing THIS:)

*is--arguably--THE BIGGEST NERD EVER*

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How I became the most accidental YA writer ever

I know I promised to tell you how I ended up with a YA book deal to announce, and I'm going to TRY to explain today. But I'll be honest: it *kinda* happened by accident.

Not sure if you remember, but a couple of months ago I posted a very honest account of the incredibly long, incredibly stressful process I went through when I was revising KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. I couldn't seem to get that book right, and with each new revision I piled more pressure on myself, to the point that I actually felt nauseous every time I opened the draft.

I also had insomnia pretty bad back then and I found myself spending the many sleepless nights thinking about a crazy idea. Two teenage characters with a very YA story to tell--not something the middle grade writer in me ever thought I'd attempt. But one night at 4am one of them said something so funny I crawled out of bed, grabbed my laptop, and typed those words because I wanted to see them in print.

And I just kept going.

I poured out six pages in a massive brain dump and then tumbled back to bed and FINALLY fell asleep.

I reread them the next morning expecting them to be laughably horrible. But I was surprised to discover that they were actually the best six pages I'd written in a LONG time. Not because they were perfect--far from it, actually. But because they were MINE.

I'd spent so many months revising KEEPER, trying to figure out how to make OTHER PEOPLE happy with it, and all that stress and pressure had stolen the joy from writing. I needed to make it FUN again, and to do that I needed to write just for ME. And so, my secret project was born.

I worked on it in my free time, or when I needed a break from a hard scene in KEEPER. I didn't take the draft seriously. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing. I just wanted to let the characters tell their story the way they wanted to, without thinking about market trends or rules of craft, because no one besides me was EVER going to see it. It was just my pet. My baby. My sanity keeper.

But somewhere along the way I started to find my YA voice and the story started to feel like it was working and I caught myself thinking, I might be onto something here

I tried to talk myself out of it, but the feeling wouldn't go away and eventually I sent some chapters to my trusted readers in an email titled: am I losing my mind?????? And was stunned when they all came back at me with: I LOVE THIS!!! (plus a lot of, wow--you're writing YA???--to which I was like, I know, WHAT AM I DOING????)

Which meant it was decision time. If I was really going to do this then... I needed to maybe start taking it more seriously. Like, actually revise it a bit. But I made myself a deal: I was not going to put any pressure on it. I was just going to do the best I could and see what happened.

About halfway into the draft I decided I should probably clue Laura into what I was doing, make sure she didn't think I'd completely gone off the deep end. So I sent her the first nine chapters and went more than a little stir crazy waiting to hear back. And when I finally did, she said:
I love these pages and wished I had more! This is a wonderful beginning. I'm so excited to see where this goes.
Fueled by the rush of OMG SHE LIKES IT--SHE REALLY LIKES IT I cranked through the rest of the draft faster than I ever thought possible. I revised it and sent it to readers--and they loved it. I revised based on their feedback and brought it to a conference, where I got some intense but awesome feedback and went back and revised again. After that I sent it to Laura--who loved it and gave me some notes so we could get it cleaned up for submission. A big part of me couldn't believe we were getting ready to shop a YA project. But I was actually getting excited about it too, so I dove into the revision. And somewhere in the middle of it my phone rang.

It was Laura calling to tell me we had a pre-empt offer on KEEPER.

I'll admit--while most of me was thinking AHHHHHHHHHH--AN AMAZING EDITOR WANTS TO BUY MY BOOK,YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, a *tiny* part of me was thinking... what does that mean for my YA? We couldn't sell both, could we?

Even though that had never been my plan for the project, I'd become very attached to it--and pretty darn proud of it--and it made me sad to think it might have to be shelved for a few years. So I emailed Laura, asking if it was possible to shop a YA on the heels of a middle grade deal and was relieved when she said her plan was for me to have a middle grade debut and a YA debut. And much to my surprise, that's exactly what ended up happening.

Once I recovered from the crazy whirlwind ride of selling five books in two months I sat back and realized: Holy crap--I'm going to be a middle grade AND a YA author!!!!!!!  And trust me, I am well aware of how amazing that is. To get to share both of my series--and to get to work with the same fabulous editor on all of them--is the most incredible gift.

It's also a crazy, crazy amount of work--but it's worth every bit of it. (though, can one of you please remind me I said that when the deadlines really get painful?) I NEVER expected to be here--and it was a bit of a fluke that I made it. But I'm beyond grateful that I did.

And  THAT'S how I accidentally became a YA author. :)