Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shannon-Events UPDATE!

Sorry it's been another quiet blogging week for me. I'm on another TIGHT deadline for LTSF #2--but I will hopefully be done with that next week or so and then MAYBE things really will get back to normal around here.

In the meantime I have some super-important Shannon Event Updates (well... I guess they're only Super-Important to those of you brave enough to attend a Shannon-Event. But I'm going to pretend you're ALL on the edge of your seats right now)

First--AND MOST IMPORTANTLY--the time and location of the LET THE SKY FALL launch party has CHANGED!!!! (this is why I should always have my publicist arrange things for me, she does such a better job!)

It's now going to be at one of my favorite independent book stores (I'm kind of geeking out about it because I've been to so many awesome events there): Mysterious Galaxy Books!!!

Here's the official deets--FOR REAL THIS TIME, I PROMISE!

 LET THE SKY FALL Launch Party
Tuesday, March 5, 7:00 pm
Mysterious Galaxy Books
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302 
San Diego, CA 92111

I really hope some of you will be able to come. I promise rambling and embarrassing Shannon gestures (which will look super dorky in all of your pictures.) Plus prizes. AND YUMMY THINGS.  So you live in SoCal, please come. And bring your friends. GRAB STRANGERS. ;)

And don't forget, I have some awesome events this weekend--it's not too late to decide to come. Here's the event info:

Young Adult Writing Conference: 
When: Saturday, January 26th, 8:30am - 3:00pm
Where: Dobson High School
1501 W. Guadalupe Rd, Mesa 85202
For prices and registration info (plus a list of the full faculty) go HERE.

When: Saturday, January 26th, 4:00pm
Where: Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr. Tempe,  Arizona 85283
Attending authors: Tom Leveen, Cecil Castelluci, Amy Fellner Dominy, Shannon Messenger, Suzanne Lazear, Janni Lee Simner, Kevin Emerson, Erin Jade Lange, Lisa McMann, Suzanne Young, James A. Owen, C.J. Hill (aka Janette Rallison), Laura Ellen, and Lisa Schroeder
For more info, go HERE.

 Mother-Daughter Book Party
When: Sunday, January 27th, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Where: Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse
1010 Foothill Boulevard ~ La Canada, CA
Cost: $5 for a ticket that covers both mother & daughter 
(and gets you $2 off your first book purchase)
Attending authors: Joan Bransfield Graham, Leslie Margolis, Robin Mellom, Shannon Messenger, Lin Oliver, Jenn Reese, and Joyce Lee Wong
For more info, email Catherine Linka at: catherinel (at) flintridgebooks (dot) com

And one LAST thing to mark your calendars for (yes, I have a LOT of events coming up) is a signing/author panel I'm doing with my awesome agent-brother Chris Howard (ROOTLESS) and the lovely and hilarious Debra Driza (MILA 2.0) at the end of March. Here's the deets:

Wednesday, March 27th, 7:00 pm
Mysterious Galaxy Books
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302 
San Diego, CA 92111

Come hang out with us, I predict epicness. I mean, Chris has a British accent and Debra has pink in her hair--need I say more???

Okay, that's it for now--though I have some other events in the works and will update as soon as they're confirmed. Hope to see some of you guys there!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Awesome Upcoming Events!

Hey guys!

Sorry for the lack of blogging this week. I'm still struggling to catch up on ALL THE THINGS after the deadline of doom. Plus I had some AMAZING school visits yesterday, and those always take a big chunk of time to prepare for.

ANYWAY, enough making excuses. I just wanted to give a quick update on some seriously awesome events I have coming up in the next couple of weeks, in case you missed them on my Appearances page. If you are in SoCal or Arizona, PLEASE COME!!!

First up: the amazingly epic YAllapalooza, hosted by the ever-awesome Changing Hands. It's one of the coolest events I've ever been to--part writers conference (in the morning) part super-cool author panel/signing (in the evening) and people can pick and choose if they want to do one or both. Here's the deets:

Young Adult Writing Conference: 
When: Saturday, January 26th, 8:30am - 3:00pm
Where: Dobson High School
1501 W. Guadalupe Rd, Mesa 85202
For prices and registration info (plus a list of the full faculty) go HERE.

When: Saturday, January 26th, 4:00pm
Where: Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr. Tempe,  Arizona 85283
Attending authors: Tom Leveen, Cecil Castelluci, Amy Fellner Dominy, Shannon Messenger, Suzanne Lazear, Janni Lee Simner, Kevin Emerson, Erin Jade Lange, Lisa McMann, Suzanne Young, James A. Owen, C.J. Hill (aka Janette Rallison), Laura Ellen, and Lisa Schroeder
For more info, go HERE.

The next day I am doing a SUPER-FUN event back in Los Angeles, so SOCAL PEOPLE MARK THOSE CALENDARS. It's called the Mother-Daughter book party, and it's a special afternoon event for mothers and daughters (grades 3-6) with 7 amazing authors (well... 6, plus a shenanigan causing Shannon Messenger). Here's the details:

When: Sunday, January 27th, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Where: Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse
1010 Foothill Boulevard ~ La Canada, CA
Cost: $5 for a ticket that covers both mother & daughter 
(and gets you $2 off your first book purchase)
Attending authors: Joan Bransfield Graham, Leslie Margolis, Robin Mellom, Shannon Messenger, Lin Oliver, Jenn Reese, and Joyce Lee Wong
For more info, email Catherine Linka at: catherinel (at) flintridgebooks (dot) com

And last but not least, I have finally booked the launch party for LET THE SKY FALL!!!!! It's going to be at the same place where I did the launch for KEEPER, and once again there will be prizes and cupcakes and lots of awkward Shannon-rambling. And you all know how much I worry about nobody showing up to these things so please, I am not above begging. MARK THOSE CALENDARS!!!! Here's the details:

When: Tuesday, March 5th, 6:30 pm
Where: Barnes & Noble Oceanside
2615 Vista Way Oceanside, CA 92054
Who can come: EVERYONE!!!! 
Seriously, I know some launch parties are more like private events, but this one isn't. It's open to ANYONE. Bring a friend. Drag a total stranger. Doesn't matter to me!

That's all for now. Hope to see some of you guys there!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

KEEPER 2 Title and Cover REVEALED!!!!!

I am SO EXCITED that I can finally share this with you guys--the wait has been TORTURE. 

I'm not going to bother saying anything else, because I know you're all just going to scroll right down to look at THE PRETTY--and I don't blame you!!! Go. Bask in the AWESOMENESS!



Ta Da!

ISN'T IT GORGEOUS??????????????????


*stares more*

And obviously you can also see the title for book two:


dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnn.

I have a feeling I will never be able to stop myself from calling it KEEPER 2 (habits are hard to break). But EXILE is a perfect title.

And in case you can't already tell, that is NOT the same boy that's on the cover of book 1. 

That, my friends, is KEEFE!


(Which does NOT mean that I am Team Keefe. I am Team Sophie. BUT KEEFE ON MY COVER IS STILL INSANELY AWESOME)

For those of you trying to guess what's going on in the scene--or what that BEAUTIFUL creature is--you can find a few clues in the blurb for the back of the book (warning: there are some *slight* book 1 spoilers in this--though nothing you don't learn in the very first 2 pages of the book):

Sophie Foster thought she was safe. Settled into her home at Havenfield, surrounded by friends, and using her unique telepathic abilities to train Silveny--the first female alicorn ever seen in the Lost Cities--her life finally seems to be coming together. 

But Sophie's kidnappers are still out there. And when Sophie discovers new messages and clues from the mysterious Black Swan group, she’s forced to take a terrifying risk—one that puts everyone in incredible danger. 

As long buried secrets rise to the surface, it’s once again up to Sophie to uncover hidden memories—before someone close to her is lost forever.

In this second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must journey to the darkest corners of her luminous world in a sequel that will leave you breathless for more.

If you think that sounds as awesome as I *hope* you do--or just want to make me happy--you can add KEEPER 2: EXILE to your goodreads shelves HERE. You can also like the facebook page for the entire KEEPER series HERE.

And ... that's all for now. Ff you need me, I will be here. STARING AT THE SHINY.


*still staring*


Friday, January 4, 2013

Shannon's Back (and other--more exciting--things!)

I've promised myself I'm going to TRY and be better about blogging--especially when it comes to keeping you guys updated about things. I know I won't be able to blog every day, but I'm planning to have a few MMGMs again (in fact, I have an awesome one planned for this coming Monday!) and I'll have the links again no matter what. And then I'm going to TRY and post at least once more each week--though we'll see how it goes. My Jan is intense. But I miss you guys!!!

Today my brain is too fried for an actual intelligent post (I did that yesterday). So I thought I'd update you on a few things.

First and foremost, TODAY I WILL BE TURNING IN LET THE SKY FALL #2!!!! In fact, I may have already done it by the time you're reading this.  I AM OUT OF THE DEADLINE CAVE!!!! For... about a week. Then I'm back with a vengeance. But still--milestone = CROSSED!!!

Second, I am SO super excited to share this AMAZING review from the School Library Journal for KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES!!!!

This debut novel is a powerful and appealing package of skillful world-building, fantasy, suspense, mystery, and middle-school relationships. Sophie Foster, a friendless 12-year-old high school senior with a photographic memory, is plagued by the hubbub of other people’s thoughts in her brain. She has always known that she is different, but her life changes profoundly when she learns that she is an elf with telepathic and other magical abilities. She is transported away from her human family forever to the elvin world, where the Lost Cities (Atlantis, Shangri-la, etc.) exist and extinct animals are thriving. As Sophie starts at her new school, her concerns about friendships, midterms, crushes, and grades in subjects such as “the Universe,” “elementalism,” and “alchemy” will hook readers. While navigating her new life, Sophie must solve two mysteries: First, who is setting all those magical-seeming fires in the human world? And second, who could be leaving items in her locker that repeatedly put her in serious danger? The more she learns, the more her memories return, uncovering secrets about her past. The suspenseful climax leads to a satisfying resolution, although Messenger leaves just enough threads hanging for a possible sequel. A slew of interesting and well-drawn characters, careful plotting, and just plain good storytelling will have readers racing through the pages.–Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
*sniffles* I'm telling you, it's taking everything in me not to fly to NY and hug her!!!  

I've also updated my Appearances page with a few of the awesome things I have coming up--and check back often because I have a bunch more things I'm still in the process of finalizing!


And the title.

And the back blurb so you'll actually get a few clues about the plot. 

ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS I AM???? Cause seriously, I can't WAIT. I have it all scheduled up for Tuesday so make sure you stop by. I hate to say this, because I love my cover for KEEPER so very much. But honestly? I think KEEPER 2 is even better. For realz. Can't wait to share.

And... that's it for now. I need to get back to my final read-through on LTSF #2 so I can turn it in. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Year in Writing 2012

Every year I like to put together a month by month look at writing journey over the past twelve months. But thanks to the draft of doom (WHICH I FINALLY TYPED THE END ON LAST NIGHT!!!) I'm a couple of days late with this. OOPS. But hey, if anything sums up the craziness of my 2012 writing year, it's that!

(and btw, you can find 2011's post HERE 2010's post HERE and 2009's post HERE)

It's hard to believe there was a time period where you guys didn't know about LET THE SKY FALL--but there was. I sold that series in early July 2011 and sat on the secret for SEVEN MONTHS while we figured out contracts, and--most importantly--the title. My agent didn't want to announce until we'd landed on the book's final title and, well, let's just say getting there was a PROCESS. Apparently I write hard to title books. But it was worth the effort because I LOVE that title. And I finally got to share the news with you and let everyone know why I'd been whining so very much about deadlines. I had a LOT of them. But I was sure I would have NO PROBLEM hitting them. Oh naive Shannon, you were so cute!!!

Sequels are... fun?
I'd already started the sequel to KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, but... it was going slow. REALLY slow. So slow, in fact, that I only had about half of the book written, and I'd roughly mapped out my year to have the first draft done and turned into my editor by March 1. CUE PANIC. The worst part was, I didn't know why it was taking me so long. I wasn't procrastinating (well, more than I ever do). I had it all plotted out in my head. But every time I opened the draft, I froze.  I was also starting to discover how very much more work there is to this publishing thing besides just drafting. There's copyedits. And first pass pages. And marketing. And I had it all happening x 2 and it was seriously starting to pile up and freak me out. My editor and I talked and she assured me that it wouldn't mess things up if it pushed into April, and I tried to tell myself it would all be okay. I just needed to relax and remember that I loved my job and was super lucky to get to share both of my series with people. And there were plenty of things to remind me how awesome publishing is, a major one being: I got my first ARCs of KEEPER!!! Holding a real version of my book for the first time was pretty much the most exciting thing ever. 

Okay, sequels SUCK!
If you can't tell by that subtitle, the whole writing KEEPER 2 thing wasn't going any better. I felt like the ending was running away from me, and no matter how many chapters I added I wasn't getting any closer. And I was seriously getting scared. Writer friends assured me that Book 2 Woes were normal. But I felt like I was drowning. Which made for a very bipolar experience because there were also EXCITING THINGS happeneing. KEEPER got blurbs from two of my absolute favorite authors (yes, I totally cried) and foreign rights on both of my books were selling and all kinds of crazy internal marketing things were happening and it was feeling very much like, Wow, THIS IS SO AMAZING AND SO TERRIFYING AND HOW DID MY LIFE GET SO CRAZY??? Debuting is a wonderful, confusing, stressful, impossible-to-wrap-your-head around thing. 

So, it was April. And I still didn't have a draft. My wonderful, long suffering editor had told me it would still be okay pushing into May, but I knew that I absolutely COULD NOT go any longer than that. I still had another book to write that year. And I knew the delay had to mean something was WRONG. I just couldn't figure out what it was until one day when I was driving (I do my best plotting behind the wheel) and a song came up on my iPod that gave me an EPIPHANY. The good news was: I FINALLY KNEW HOW TO WRITE KEEPER 2. The bad news was: Without realizing it, I'd been writing KEEPER 3, and the story was running away from me because it wasn't ready to be told. I had other stories I had to tell first. So I... had to throw away at least half of what I had and start all over. The only thing that calmed the panic was that I FINALLY had a plan. I FINALLY knew what I was doing. I just had to do it in a very tight space of time. So I basically didn't sleep or leave the house for 2 weeks while I wrote about 2/3 of a very very very long book. Yes, it was as tiring as it sounds.

She didn't hate it!!!
Turning in your first book 2 is a SCARY thing. It's the first time you give your editor something they bought without ever seeing, and yeah, there are all kinds of voices in your head wondering what will happen if she hates it??? In my case those were multiplied by like, 50, partially because, well... I'm me and I'm paranoid. But mostly because I'd written a completely different book than what I'd told her I was going to write, and I had no idea what she would think. Luckily, she LOVED it. I actually do too. After all the grief that book gave me, I'm pretty darn proud of it. Though it still needed work. A LOT of work. Like, 8 page revision letter work. So back to the writing cave I went. I also had the reality of 2 series at once start to sink in as covers and blurbs and all kinds of other madness started happening for LET THE SKY FALL. It was seriously awesome, but also made me realize how many different ways I had to use my brain when it came to writing/promo, and well... I'm not sure I have enough brain to spare! :)

It gets REAL
June began the two month period that looking back I call the, "I should be writing" months. I had my revision letter. I had my plan for how I was going to solve the issues. But... there were so many other CRAZY EXCITING THINGS that I let distract me from working as hard as I should have been. Like going to NY for the first time for my first ever BEA. Or a couple of weeks later when I was at ALA in Anaheim. There really are no words for those experiences. They're just so humbling and amazing and yeah, a little scary. Huge towers of KEEPER ARCs went out into the world, and even though I love my book--and I knew many others would too. I also knew that no book ever has EVERYONE love it. So the whole concept of reviews and criticism became a very big reality, and I found myself a bit scared to go online (I still am, honestly) because I didn't want to let any of that negativity creep into my writing process. 

The thing about releasing a book is, it builds. The closer you get to release, the more THINGS are happening to try and get the buzz going and get people excited. And when you're doing it for the first time it's all very thrilling and confusing and exhausting and terrifying (especially when it's happening for 2 series in 2 age categories coming 5 months apart). Ads were popping up places, as were reviews--even though I was trying to avoid them. Contests had to be run. I had Comic Con to attend and launch parties to plan and my first early fan emails were coming in and it was all so very distracting, that once again I was not focusing as much on the most important part of an authors job: writing books. Which brought me to the end of July with a draft only about a 1/3 of the way revised and an August deadline. Reaping what you sow--not fun.

Long Books FTW!
The first half of the month was basically: reviserevisereviserevise. I had a LONG, messy book to clean and not a lot of time. So I worked on it every second I had. Brought my edits with me everywhere. And FINALLY got it done. Only problem was, somehow in all that revising I'd made the book longer--and it was already pretty darn long. I turned it in, telling my editor tell me where to cut and I will. But the funny thing about wordcount is, there are no real rules. The book turned out to be exactly as long as it needed to be. Even better? It was DONE. I couldn't believe it. I thought for sure I had another revision to power through (in fact, I'm sure that will never happen again). But miraculously, other than a couple tiny tweaks, the book was done. MY FIRST SEQUEL WAS DONE!!!

Changing gears
I'd love to say that I got to celebrate finishing KEEPER 2 with some much needed time off. But alas, thanks to the months I'd wasted, I had to jump right in to the other sequel I owed my editor, which we'd agreed I'd have to her by November 30. That... wasn't a lot of time. But I was sure it would be easier this time. After all, I'd written a sequel now. I knew what to expect. I was pro at this. Once again, Naive Shannon was so very adorable!!! Especially since I was also thinking it would be easy to get in the habit of working while traveling. I had all kinds of events on my calendar between the end of September and the end of October--but surely it would be easy to write on the plane and go back to my hotel room and get work done right? RIGHT??? Spoiler alert: not so much.

Honestly, October is kind of a blur. 2 days into the month my dream officially came true and shiny copies of KEEPER were placed on shelves for all the world to buy (well, if they wanted to. Here's hoping they want to). There really is no way to describe the feeling. I still don't think I've processed it. But that's probably also because I had so many launches and signings and events and school visits. I think I was only home about 12 days all month. It was AWESOME. Getting to meet with actual kid readers is hands down the BEST part of this job. But... it's also a bit tiring. And horrible for my writing schedule. It takes a LOT of discipline to stumble back to your hotel room after traveling all day and get to work--and apparently I was not very disciplined. I did finally get a bit better about it toward the end of the month. But... it was a little too late.

Sequels Suck--THE SEQUEL
Once again, I was way behind. Part of it was everything else I had going on. But I knew it was more than that. The story just didn't want to be told. (Have I mentioned sequels are hard? THEY ARE!!!)  I was less than a month away from my deadline and I had barely a quarter of the book written. And I hated pretty much every word. I'd love to say I had another epiphany that made it all come together, but LTSF 2 wasn't that cooperative. It DID tell me I needed to delete about half of what I had--which was so much fun!!! (not). But after that, it still fought me every step of the way. It would give me tiny glimmers of guidance, and then get all stubborn and murky again. I tried to fight through. But no matter what I did, I couldn't catch up. So once again I had to go to my ever-patient editor and beg for more time (have I mentioned she's AMAZING???) Luckily she gave it to me. Though I still knew it was going to be tight.

VICTORY (a day late--but still!!)
December was pretty much a repeat of November, with the added desperation of I CANNOT MISS THIS DEADLINE. I went dark on the blog. Started staying up late and then getting up early. Email had to be ignored. Housework too. I pretty much lived in my sweatpants and batman shirt with my hands chained to my laptop. I'm grateful you guys were willing to put up with me (and dude, my poor husband). It took every single minute I had--plus one extra day (SIGH). But I made it. A little after 11pm on 1/1,  after the three longest drafting days of my life, I FINALLY typed "the end" on LTSF 2. It still needs a LOT of work. But it's done. I did it! I wrote 2 books in one year (well, one year + one day--but work with me people that is pretty darn close)!!!!



Now I know why I'm so tired--it's crazy seeing it all spelled out that way. The good thing is, I can see my mistakes and hopefully plan a bit better for this year because wow was some of that stressful. AWESOME too. But wowza. I would like to sleep at least a *little* more in 2013. I guess we'll see how it goes. Either way it'll be an adventure. Especially since I have TWO books releasing this year. MEEP!!!!