Friday, December 31, 2010

Books I Read in 2010

Happy New Years, everybody!

As is my tradition, today I made a list of all the books I read in the year 2010. This year, I was surprised when I counted it up and discovered that I'd read roughly 56 books this year, most of them YA (although a few of them parenting, lol, you can tell I totally have a toddler). That's a little more than one a week.

When I told my husband this number, he said, "wow, I thought you'd read a lot more books than that." I don't know if that was a snarky comment on our Kindle bill or not, hee hee, but I felt the same way: I thought I'd read way more books than one a week. But maybe it only feels that way because this year I re-read a lot of the books I read last year, but didn't add them to the list.

I'm a fast reader. I usually devour a book in one day. Kindle is a very, very dangerous and well-beloved item in our house.

So, without further ado, the list:

1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (awesome book to start the year with, one of those books I was jealous I didn't write)

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry (a classic, which I loved, and immediately devoured the series)

3. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

4. Messenger by Lois Lowry

5. The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers : Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Childs Sleep by Elizabeth Pantley (because my son was having this thing where he wouldn't stay in bed!)

6. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

7. The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr (re-read--this is one of my fave story collections of all time, and this year I used it for my Writing for the Professional Market Class)

8. Best American Short Stories of 2009 edited by Alice Sebold (awesome collection, read for class)

9. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

10. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (sequel to one of my faves last year, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I loved that one. I really, really liked this one.)

11. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (took me back to my actor days doing Shakespeare. Nice take on fairies)

12. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (I am REALLY SUPER picky when it comes to angel books (can't imagine why :)) and for some reason I totally could not get into this one, but it might have just been the wrong book at the wrong time this go around. I will try it again this year. . .

13. Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn (refreshing to have a story about dragons)

14. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (LOVED this)

15. Beastly by Alex Flinn (also love a good retelling of an old story, of which Ms. Flinn is the queen, after Ms. McKinley, of course)

16. The Princess and the Snowbird by Mette Ivie Harrison

17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (had to see what all the fuss was about, and I read it and understood exactly what all the fuss was about. An amazing book.)

18. Spells by Aprilynne Pike (got my copy at a signing I went to in Idaho Falls. Came home that night and stayed up reading it.)

19. Mudville by Curtis Scaletta (a book recommended by Aprilynne Pike at her book talk the next day. A baseball book, which I enjoyed.)

20. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (who doesn't love a little Hunger Games?!)

21. Fire by Kristin Cashore (a companion book to Graceling, which I loved. And I loved it maybe even more.)

22. A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

23. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (awesome, edgy and powerful book, I thought)

24. Dead in the Family: Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris (meh. I usually love Sookie books, but this one. . .meh)

25. Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery (this was like .95 on Kindle, for the whole series! I read the entire series again in about a week, totally got my Anne fix!)

26. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

27. Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (best YA ghost story ever. I met Katie at the Smart Chicks tour, and she's awesome!)

28. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (ah, the end. I was a bit shocked by the violence in this one, where it didn't really stand out to me in the others. Collins is MEAN to her characters, yikes.)

29. Firelight by Sophie Jordan (It had me at that wonderful opening chapter with the flight of the dragons.)

30. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (laughed my butt off the whole way through this one. Reminded me of Buffy in a big way. Loved it.)

31. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (see again my note on angel books, but I was amazed at how accomplished this book was for having being written by a 17-year-old. Really solid angel mythology, too.)

32. Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

33. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (sequel to Shiver, which was one of my top 5 last year. Very good sequel, didn't have me on the edge of my chair the way I was through Shiver, but enjoyable through and through.)

34. I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore (Sigh. I read this and thought it was pretty good. Then I found out that it's a product of James Frey's exploiting-young-desperate-writers-because-he's-ruined-his-own-name scheme. Felt instantly a bit yucky for having paid money for this book.)

35. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Great book, with a powerful, imaginative premise.)

36. Many Waters (reread) by Madeline L’Engle (This is one of the books that inspired me to write about Nephilim in the first place. Re-read it this year when I discovered it was on Kindle)

37. Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age story by Adam Rex (funny!)

38. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (not so funny. . .but pretty good for a sequel)

39. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Oh lord, I bawled my eyes out at the end of this book. It was beautiful.)

40. Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

41. Evernight by Claudia Gray (superstar and fellow Dark Days author! It was a superstar kind of book)

42. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (lerrrrrves Melissa Marr. Got a signed copy at the Smart Chicks tour)

43. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (This book sheared off the top of my head and dumped a million thoughts into it. Amazing. I could just keep chanting amazing.)

44. Guardians of Ga’Hoole collection by Kathryn Lasky (reminded me of Redwall, and I loved. Didn't love the movie, where they condensed the first 3 books down into 90 minutes!)

45. The Unidentified by Rae Miriz

46. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (I think this is Clare's best book to date, and she's written a lot of great books)

47. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (another fellow Dark Days writer, and debut. Courtney is a joy, and this book is a wild ride and a joy to read.)

48. Nightshade by Andrea Kremer (Loved this one, so smart and with such great setting! I love books with great setting!)

49. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (Okay, so I am saying the word LOVED a lot--it's been a good year for books. But this one I LOVED in all caps, and it had me brooding about those darned wily unicorns for days afterwards.)

50. Pegasus by Robin McKinley (I loved this one, was totally engrossed, until the book came to a screeching halt in the middle of the story. I actually looked up her website to see if there was a sequel, which I knew there had to be. Turns out she had written this giant like 700 page tome and just cut it in half. I felt cheated by this, somehow. I'm sure there's a blog post of mine coming on this topic.)

51. Torment by Lauren Kate (haven't quite finished this one, but I'm liking it so far.)

52. Fun and Educational Places to Go With Kids in Southern California by Susan Peterson (for those times when I'm not writing like a madwoman)

53. Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting (Great book. Great sequel! Also fellow Dark Days author)

54. Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schrieber (and another fellow Dark Days author, who I am so excited to meet this January. A fun read!)

55. The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everydays by Meg Cox

56. Matched by Ally Condie (and I closed out with maybe my favorite book of the year. I LOVED in all caps with lots of !!!!!!)

Phew. That's a long list. And, as I mentioned, it's been a great year for books--I liked most of what I read.

My top picks, in no particular order:
Thirteen Reasons Why
If I Stay
Never Let Me Go
The Dead-Tossed Waves

Now I'm off to work on my own sequel. . .

3 DAYS, 13 hours, 12 minutes until Unearthly. Don't forget to read my last post about my bookplate giveaway!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The launch (5 days away!) and my new master plan

So, according to my fabulous new countdown widget, I can see that right at this moment I have 5 days, 13 hours, and 7 minutes until Unearthly hits the shelves. I am already starting to get that breathless feeling. This is actually going to happen. Wow.

Monday I am flying to Idaho Falls to have a launch party at my hometown Barnes and Noble, which is actually mentioned on page 218 of Unearthly. The party/signing/hugfest will be Thursday, January 6, at 7pm. I am so excited to get to see everybody, and to share in this amazing, life-changing time with them, and even more than that, I am super excited to see teens and actual readers from my community, so please, if you live nearby, drop by and see me and get a book signed!

I will be having other signings and doing other events over the next couple of months, so please see my website News page for the schedule. Yes, I have a brand spanking new website (you may have noticed I also have a brand spanking new matching blog design), and I love it!

I am also concocting a new master plan of how to connect with readers who won't be able to make it to any of my events. Here's how it goes, all through the month of January:

1) Go to your local bookstore and take 2 pictures, one of Unearthly on the shelf in all its booky glory (make sure we can see the other books around it, too, as part of the fun for me is seeing what company I'm keeping), and one of you holding the book.

2) Email me the photos, along with your name, address, and the name/location of the bookstore where you took the photos. My email address:

THEN, I will:
3) add your photos to my Unearthly on the Shelf! compilation, which I will post to my blog in stages, with a big final post sometime in early February.

4) mail you a bookplate, (I had these printed special and they are all purply beautiful) which I will sign so you can put it in your copy of Unearthly and therefore have a signed copy even if you can't make it to a formal signing!

5) choose three (3) of these entries at random and mail them a signed and doodled upon (meaning, my little comments and pics in the margins every now and then) copy of Unearthly in hard cover.

Sound good?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Unearthly on the shelf

This has to be quick, since I am still cracking, but I have to take a minute to WOOHOO about a couple of things:

First, Unearthly is on the shelves in Australia! I vaguely knew about this, but yesterday I was pleased as punch to receive these photos from a fan, showing my little book on the big bad shelf. Here they are:

Here Unearthly is featured on the YA Recommended Reading Shelf. I'm sensing an angel theme. . .

And here it is in the regular YA section. I like that the heading on the shelf is Teen Spirit.

What a rush, to see my book on the actual shelf! And only 2 weeks from today, I'll be able to see it there in person! Woohoo!!!

Ahem. So, second thing--my official HarperTeen trailer is live!

Woohoo again!

Now back to cracking. . .

Monday, December 20, 2010


I just received my first round of notes on Book 2 from my editor, which means, while it was nice seeing the light of day up here on the sunny surface for a few weeks, now I've got to dive down again. Back to the cave. And, like with my revisions of Unearthly, there are wrecking balls crashing through the carefully-constructed house that is my book, which is painful but necessary, even more necessary than last time.

Because this book has to be wonderful.

Here's why: This is a sequel. In my lovely editor's words, it has to be fabulous, in some ways even more fabulous, than Book 1.

Something that has kept me up nights is Richelle Mead saying, after she read my book and gave me that wonderful blurb, that she was laying awake at nights wondering what would happen next. As in Book 2. A few days ago, Melissa Marr tweeted that she was definitely going to read my Book 2. Melissa. Marr. These people, in my world, are rock stars. And they are waiting for my Book 2. As are the tons of readers who have read Unearthly and then promptly bombarded me with emails about how there has to be a Book 2, where's Book 2?, when's Book 2 coming out?, we can't wait for Book 2!!

No pressure or anything. :) It's a nice problem to have, my dad keeps reminding me. Yep. It's the kind of problem you dream about, as a young writer. And Unearthly leaves some definitely unresolved issues. Yes, I'm aware. Let me tell you about the first draft, which ended on the line, "Come with me." on page 427. Talk about cliffhangers.

So. Back to the writing I go. I've found that I always go through a seriously emotional process when I get notes back: first, I mourn. I wallow. I cry and feel stupendously sorry for myself. Then I rage. I contemplate killing off characters just because I can't think of how to deal with them anymore. I doubt everything. I seethe with anger, because my book, which I worked so hard on, is not perfect. Not even close to perfect.

And then I get over it. I accept that the book is flawed, that I, as a writer, even with all my fancy degrees and know-how, am deeply flawed. I tell myself what I tell my students: real, gut-wrenching, wrecking-ball revision is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. I remind myself that I trust my editor. I look back over the notes. I see the wisdom in what she's telling me. And then I get cracking.

Right now I am still cracking on Chapter 1, which is slow progress, but the book is shaping itself up in my mind and the first chapter of a sequel is a very tricky thing, dangit!

This whole revision process is complicated, this time around, by the fact that Unearthly hits bookshelves in 2 WEEKS!!! And I still have my website to finalize, swag to get organized, a gazillion interviews to do and a tour to prepare for. ( I am still stoked, so freakishly excited, about going back to my hometown of Idaho Falls for the launch! Not to mention the Dark Days tour!) Plus there's Christmas and family and finals week at Pepperdine.

This takes the word BUSY to a whole new level. There have been times over this past week where I've wanted to scream, to no one in particular: Just. Let. Me. Write!!!!!!!

Again, nice problems to have. This is also the part where my dad says something like "houses are built by putting in one nail at a time," and everybody in my life, my husband, my parents, my friends, all start chanting, "You can do it!" (Thanks, everybody in my life.), except my son.

He just wants to know why he can't have a candy cane for breakfast.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Dark Days and Tour Dates

Okay, so watch this. Go ahead, I'll wait. . .

Yep, it was awesome, wasn't it? The first time I ever watched this I sniffled a little. And every time I've watched it since then, I've got the chills. It's very, very cool--super surreal, as a matter of fact-- to be part of something like this.

28 days until Unearthly hits the shelves! 

So. The time has come to announce tour stuff. Keep checking back, as this will change, but as of today, I will be going to these places on these dates:

January 6, 2011, 7pm: Barnes and Noble, Idaho Falls, IDAHO. This is a signing (my first signing!) but really, in my mind, a launch party, my dream location to launch my book from, as Idaho Falls is my hometown and a key scene from Unearthly takes place there (in fact, there is mention of this particular Barnes and Noble, even, on page 218 of my book). So, if you're in the area, please come out and I will sign copies of my book and try to appear authorial and dignified and not jump around all crazy and squealing. I don't know if I'll succeed. Come share this day with me!

January 13, 2011, 4pm: Copperfields Bookstore, Petaluma, CALIFORNIA (near San Francisco). This is the first Dark Days of Winter event, with me and the fabulous Ellen Schreiber. I can't wait to meet her!

January 15, 2011, 2pm: Borders Bookstore, Redmond, WASHINGTON (near Seattle).
Dark Days event, with Ellen Schreiber and--squee!--Kimberly Derting. I am a huge fan of The Body Finder and can't wait to read the next book, Desires of the Dead.

Sometime at the end of January/beginning of February: I will do a reading/signing at Pepperdine University, in Malibu, CALIFORNIA. Still working out the details. Stay tuned.

February 13, 2011, 4pm: Flintridge Books, Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA. This is a Writer2Writer event with me as the guest speaker.

And that's it for now! I am so excited about it, so eager to meet my readers, meet these amazing other authors, and just stoked to be out there in the real world with my book.

See you there!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

News from Carlsbad

So, all this time that I was in my writing Carlsbad Caverns, I accumulated a bit of news. We're seven weeks out from Unearthly's release on January 4th, and it seems like every few days something amazing happens. Reviews are pouring in like crazy on Goodreads, people are pre-ordering the book on Amazon, and all kinds of fun stuff like the completion of the book trailer is happening in the meantime. So keep checking back, because these things are all going to go live very soon.

The rights to Unearthly have sold in a number of foreign countries, bringing the total list up to:
the UK
and Australia/New Zealand, which will publish in January as well, with this lovely cover:
Squee! I love my US cover oodles, but the Aussie cover really took my breath away! Just look at that smoky forest!

This past week a few of the big reviewers have run their reviews of Unearthly, and they've all been positive.

Kirkus Review said:
After receiving visions of saving a teenage boy from a forest fire, 16-year-old Clara Gardner (one-quarter angel-blood), her half-angel mother and her younger brother relocate from their suburban California home to Teton County, Wyo., so Clara can find this mysterious boy and realize her angel purpose. Despite the ever-growing surge of angel stories and its hefty length, this solid debut novel stands out with even pacing, fully developed characters, vivid descriptions of the West’s rugged beauty and Clara’s independent spirit. As she learns more about her gifts and angel lore—particularly fallen angels known as Black Wings—from her evasive mother and a fellow angel-blood classmate, Clara struggles with her mother’s expectations of her purpose (is she just a heavenly puppet?) and her desire to acknowledge her human side (does she have any control of her own life?), as well as her feelings for both Christian, the boy from her visions, and rodeo star Tucker. The cliffhanger ending, with an unexpected twist, leaves plenty to ponder until the sequel. A divine supernatural romance. (Paranormal romance. YA)

And Publisher's Weekly also gave Unearthly a STARRED review, which is beyond awesome.

To top it off, my author page on HarperTeen went live this week.

I've sent my draft for Book 2 to my editor now, which means I'm no longer caught in the tunnel vision of writing all the time--so I can actually pay more attention to all this stuff. I know I've said this before, but it's incredibly surreal. Yesterday I was chatting with fellow debut writer Courtney Allison Moulton, whose book Angelfire is coming out this spring from HarperTeen, and she said, "When are we going to wake up?" I knew exactly what she meant. This feels like the best dream ever.

Now to catch up on my emails. . .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pressing SEND

Yesterday I turned in a draft of the as-of-yet-untitled Book 2 (yes, for those of you who have just finished Unearthly and have been fretting over it, there is a sequel) to my lovely editor, F, at HarperCollins. It was quite the emotional experience when I pushed SEND. It took me back to this same week last year, when I sent F my first revised draft of Unearthly.

Here is one of the most important things I learned this past year:

I am extremely lucky/blessed to have an editor like F, who, in this crazy-busy day and age in the publishing world, still takes the editing part of her job so seriously. F has a gazillion things on her plate at any one time, (seriously, a GAZILLION) but she never loses sight of the book. She doesn't say, "okay, good enough," and move on to the next item on her to-do list. She stays with the book, with me, until the book is as finely crafted as it can possibly be.

Last year when I turned in a draft of Unearthly to Farrin, I thought it was pretty good. It was all polished up, in my mind.

I had no idea how much better it would become. It is worlds better. And that's all because of F.

I heart F.

So as I pressed SEND this time, I was so excited, because I knew that this new book was about to get the benefit of F's discerning eye and amazing brain. And I got so emotional about it, because I know that it's about to go from something "good enough" to something wonderful.

Pressing SEND also was a big relief because it means, at least for a few weeks (until I get my first round of edits back from F), that I can have my life back. You know how I talked about "the cave" before, the place where writer's mysteriously disappear to when they are working on their books? I have been in the Carlsbad Cavern of writerly caves this past couple months. As evident by my lack of blogging. Or emailing people back. Or doing dishes/laundry/pretty much anything else. All my time and energy has gone into WRITING. THIS. BOOK.

And now it's out of my hands for a little while. Le sigh. Now I can have afternoons at the park with my son. And homecooked dinners again. And time to knit, because it's getting cool out, (as cool as it gets for Southern California) and my fingers always get the urge to knit this time of year.

Take a deep, cleansing breath with me, won't you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Smart Chicks Really Do Kick It

I have been writing. Writing, writing, writing. Book 2, Book 2, Book 2. And sometimes talking about Book 2 to my husband, who patiently listens and even throws in his two cents occasionally as I try to work out my novel's issues out loud with him. And writing some more. And dreaming about Book 2. And listening to music that particularly inspires me for Book 2. And researching stuff I need to know about for Book 2, the rodeo, for instance. And talking into my voice recorder, which mostly happens while I am driving, the recorder swinging from my rearview mirror while I dictate dialogue and plot points and genius ideas, all for Book 2.

In other words, I haven't been doing much but writing these days.

But yesterday I made an exception, because the Smart Chicks were here. This is a group of YA authors who are touring all over the country this month, a fun and rowdy and talented group of women who all have amazing books. Last year, when I was writing Unearthly, I read all the YA books I could get my hands on, for research, I told everybody. But really it was because I loved reading them! And so many of those books were written by these women.

I am a total fangrrl, is what I'm saying. So I packed myself up and made the one-hour trek in LA rush hour traffic to Pasadena to see them. Geek to the core, I arrived an hour early, went straight up to the info desk to grab my signing ticket (at these things, the lines to have the authors sign their books is so long they give you a number, so they can call you inside the bookstore in groups) and spent the next 15 minutes agonizing over which books I wanted to buy to have signed. Up until this moment I had thought the Kindle was the best invention ever. Now, because I read almost everything on Kindle, I had nothing for the authors to sign. There were just so many books, and so little money!

I settled on a few books, then headed outside to this nice little area where the Smart Chicks would be presenting. I found myself a good seat. I met all the women sitting around me. Seriously, one of the girls sitting right next to me brought more than 30 books from home to be signed. 30, people. Seriously. I was worried for her back, lugging that bag around. I was worried for the authors' cramped fingers.

A couple of my Pepperdine students showed up, so we chatted about the difference between literary readings and YA signings. Here's the difference in a nutshell: screaming. Especially when the Smart Chicks started handing out ARCs of their latest books. Screaming, jumping, wild cheering. That and I've never heard fans of Ron Hansen or Annie Proulx play MarryShagCliff, where the fans name the character from the author's book whom they would like to marry, the one they'd like to um, kiss, and the one they would throw off a cliff.

(Kami Garcia tries to explain how height was not a factor in who contributed more to the novel Beautiful Creatures, written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.)

The writers seemed be having loads of fun. I've been to some literary readings where the writers looked like they'd rather be getting their teeth pulled, so I found all the fun and games refreshing. And the fans. . .wow. Did I mention the screaming? My students, of course, were far too cool and sophisticated to get so excited as the wild-eyed, book-laden YA fans, but my student Lauren proved to be pretty adept at snagging stuff out of the air when the authors started throwing book-related knick knacks and gifts out to the crowd. My other student in attendance, Zach, was simply trying to maintain his testosterone level in this large crowd of mostly women. Oh, what students will do for extra credit. . .

(Melissa Marr answers questions from the fans)

I, for one, was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the fans. Some of these people could be my fans someday soon. And that was indescribably cool to think about. And humbling, in a way.

After the authors answered questions and played and riled up the fans, they retreated inside to an upstairs section of the bookstore. I was milling around with the other folks, waiting for my number to be called, when I bumped into another fabulous YA author/ fellow fangrrl in the audience: Katie Alender. Katie's book, Bad Girls Don't Die, was the best and only ghost story I read this year--I picked it up off the shelf of a Barnes and Noble because of its perfectly beautiful and creepy cover:
(This book was awesome! See Katie's website here)

I was so excited to meet Katie that I hugged her. She was nice enough to not get too freaked out. We had some time to talk as we waited for our numbers to be called, and it was so great, just shooting the breeze about our current deadlines and our experiences in publishing and our writing lives. I would have driven the hour just to meet her. I'm sure I sounded starved for companionship, but really, that's what I am. I need the companionship of other writers, YA writers especially! That's been largely missing from my life since I moved to California, and it's something I yearn for (here's the part where my husband says, "what I am, chopped liver?" and I say "no, dear, but you're my husband, you don't count" and he looks all offended). I need me some writing peeps!

Finally my number was called and I got to go inside and up the stairs, where the Smart Chicks were sitting at long tables signing copies of their books. First I got to meet Mary Pearson, who wrote one of my favorite books this year, The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I own this book on Kindle but bought a hard copy, I liked it that much. In fact, I remember turning to my husband after I finished reading it and saying, "Well, I wish I had written that." Very cool book.

I was completely tongue-tied when I got to Melissa Marr. I managed to get out that I had bought a book for her to sign for my old friend and college roommate, Amy, who adores Melissa Marr. A-dores. And she said thank you and then said something nice that I didn't catch because I was so star struck, and I totally forgot that I had my camera. Now kicking myself that I didn't get a picture with Melissa Marr. I did get pictures with some of the other authors, but most of them didn't really turn out because, in order to get a picture, the author had to lean forward and I had to lean way back over the table, which is not the best angle for me.

Everyone was sooooo nice. Margaret Stohl even pulled off her own name card and signed it for me when I told her how much I loved Beautiful Creatures, but alas, it was on my Kindle!

(Margaret Stohl's name card, which reads "Cynthia is a beautiful creature." Aw.)

After the signings I went back downstairs and found Katie again, who was still outside waiting. It was a long line, did I mention? She mentioned a group of YA writers in the LA area called the LA YAs. Woohoo, writing peeps! Then, after a little more talk with her, I went home. Through traffic (although not so bad now, as it was close to 8pm), in the dark.

(the drive home--don't worry, traffic was fully stopped on the freeway when I took this pic; I don't click and drive)

I didn't mind at all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Just In

Wow, am I ever overdue for a post! The summer has flown by, and I am shocked that it's already time to start putting my syllabi together for the classes I'm teaching at Pepperdine this fall. Usually I get so excited at this stage, anticipating all the amazing students I'll meet this year and the great stuff I'll read from them and all the good talks and laughs we'll have, but this year I'm like, wait, WAIT, I haven't finished Book 2 yet! I thought by this point I'd have a first draft! I'm not ready!

Did I mention that the summer has flown by?

Here's the latest book news:

This week I signed my contract with RCR Pictures for the film rights to Unearthly! Woohoo! That contract was a fun read, just thinking about all the amazing possiblities, my book as a film or TV series, consultations, premieres, and my free copy of the DVD when it comes out! Now, to clarify, selling the option rights does not mean that the book will absolutely be made into a film--the producer still has to find a studio, a script, and a budget-- but it is the first step. And it is way exciting! (doing a little happy dance)

This was also a week for firsts, like my first author guest spot on a reviewer's blog. I contributed to the Angels v. Zombies week, which was such fun to be a part of. Angels kicked butt! (of course)

I got my first blurb for the book! I won't say who, since it's not officially on the jacket yet, but I am thrilled that a writer whose book I really enjoyed read my book and had such nice things to say about it. Blurbs are a hard thing, I realize now. I started out with such high hopes, asking a bunch of writers whose work I loved, and then, one by one, they all started to say, sorry, but I'm too busy, I don't have time to read your book. I tried really hard to see it from their side, and understand: they are usually working on the next book of their series, marketing the last book of their series, and have a giant pile of ARCs on their desks that publishers want them to read for blurbs. They are VERY busy. But it was hard not to become discouraged. My editor sent me a very sweet, encouraging email listing several of Harper's books that did very well without any blurbs at all, but I was still disappointed. And then this morning, lo and behold, a YES. And not only did she read the book, she loved it! It's a very good feeling.

This week Unearthly also pushed over the 1000 mark on Goodreads, of people who marked the book as "to read." It's crazy for me that more than 1000 people already want to read my book. This time last year I was just finishing my first draft of Unearthly, just thinking about sending it to me agent, and now. . . somebody pinch me.

Ow. Thanks.

Now back to writing book 2.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hot summer days with no AC, and very few ARCs

This is turning out to be such an interesting summer, one adventure after another. At the moment I am back at home trying to survive July in southern California with no AC. I have bought all kinds of exotic and wonderful fans in the last couple of weeks, but haven't yet given in and spent the bucks for a bona fide air conditioner. We've been holding out and saving our money to replace on existing 22 year old furnace and have AC installed at the same time. Which is expensive. So we're saving.

I grew up in Idaho, where my brother and I used to clap our hands with glee when it was colder than 20 below zero outside, because it meant there was no school and we could go sledding. That's cold so nippy it freezes your nose hair. Cold that crunches under your feet. Cold, I can deal with. I'm a champion with cold. (At least, that's what I say now, although when I was back in Idaho last Christmas everybody started calling me a California wuss. . . must have been all that wussy shivering I did.)

I'm a total wimp with hot. So this last week, when it got up to the high 80s (which meant it was like 85 in my house) I was like a wilted flower. I panted. I complained. I bought numerous fans and set them to blow directly on me. I went to movies just to cool off. Which was really a drag, because what I wanted to be doing was writing.

Another thing that caught me off guard this week was requests pouring in for ARCS. Right now I am getting between 2-4 requests for ARCs PER DAY. This is really great, because it means that people are interested in UNEARTHLY. I love that. But here are the amount of ARCs I currently have:
That's not very many. 9, in fact.

So, for those of you interested in getting your hands on an ARC, here's the deal:

Please email me at my gmail account, not my Goodreads account, since then I have to filter everything I do through Goodreads. In your request, please include all the relevent information about your blog or website or review AND an address to have the ARC sent to. That way I do not have to email you back asking for an address. What I will do then is forward your request to HarperTeen. They have many, many ARCs. Please be patient, since it takes me some time to sort out these emails and forward them in chunks to my people at HC, and it takes them some time to sort through them too. I would LOVE for you to read my book! If for some reason HarperTeen decides NOT to send you an ARC, and you really, really want one and have all kinds of good reasons you should get one, email me again. I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, please know that I will soon be setting up a contest or two to give away some of my ARCs. And that ARCs will also be available on various ARC tours.

Also: I love interviews, yes, I'd love to do interviews and chats and guest posts, because I LOVE the idea of having real (and virtual) contact with my readers! I love talking about Clara and her world! (I'm writing LOVE a lot this post, sheesh. . .) But again, please be patient. I am still working out my schedule for everything, so if you've emailed me about an interview, sit tight for a bit and I promise I will email you back. Also keep in mind that the book doesn't come out until January 4, so it makes more sense for me to appear more often in the month or two leading up to my release date. And, um, after January 4, when people can then rush out and buy my book. :)

Whew. And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Cover is Showing

Okay, so my cover has started to float around a little, up on Goodreads and the Harper catalog, so I think the time has come to reveal the cover myself. But here's the thing: the cover that's floating around is the cover for the ARC, not the official cover. My people at HarperTeen tell me that they're working on creating a digital copy of the REAL cover, which reflects how the image will appear when it comes out in hardback this January. The cover is being printed on silver foil with a violet overlay, which means that everything that shows up as white in the ARC image, will, in fact, be silver, and it's shiny and sparkly and when you turn the book in your hands you will be able to see much more of the background behind Clara.

So here's the unofficial cover:
Even this way, I think it's gorgeous. If you agree, please vote for it in the Goodreads Beautiful Covers of 2011 list here.

SQUEEE!!! I've been waiting for ages to share this cover! So glad I finally can! When I get the new and improved pic I will post that too!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Big Apple

Just got home from a few days in New York City. It's been such a surreal week, completed by the fact that Drew Barrymore was on the airplane on the way home! And I was reading a real copy of my book (yes folks, the ARCs have arrived!) during the flight.

I'll back up. Here's my week:

Monday: Flew non-stop to JFK. Met my agent for dinner that night at a Korean restaurant. Had roast duck in lime sauce, wow, so good. I adore Katherine, and it was beyond wonderful to finally meet her in person. I felt like we immediately fell into a natural, easy friendship. And I was so thankful that she made a point to spend a lot of time with me this trip, just so I wouldn't feel alone, country bumpkin in the Big City.

Tuesday: This was the big day for me, the whole reason I came. In the morning there was a meeting about my book at HarperCollins. I came into the conference room and there, sitting on the table with the fruit tray, were three real copies of my book! The Advanced Readers Copies (ARCs, as I said before) have been printed. Yippee! (I tried not to shout yippee at the meeting. . .) There were lots of people at the meeting, enough that I finally gave up trying to remember everybody's name--my editor and her assistant, Katherine, marketing people and sales people and people in charge. And they all seemed to have read the book and liked it. I sat at the end of the table and they talked about how much they loved Unearthly and asked me questions about how I came up with different ideas and about the characters and about my schedule for winter.

After that they hustled me over to a studio and shot the author's video. That too was crazy surreal, especially when they had me look into the camera and say, "Hi Barnes and Noble readers, I'm Cynthia Hand, author of Unearthly," and then like 6 other bookstores, one after another. I hope the video turns out okay--it's so weird being a writer at this stage, because writing is such a solitary act and then suddenly they drag you out into the spotlight and you have to perform, in a way. I should be okay at this: I minored in theatre, was in probably 25 or so plays way back when, but I still thought it was hard. A lot of pressure, like this is a huge chance to connect with my reader, this is a part where I am actively selling my own book. I really didn't want to screw it up. But then I tried to remind myself that it will only get easier with time, just like with teaching when at first I was stiff and partially terrified during every class I taught and now I'm relaxed and enjoy myself so much. So too, with this marketing stuff.

After the video I hung out in my editor's office for a while and then we headed off to lunch (me, Farrin my editor, and Catherine, her assistant). Again, the food was amazing. New York definitely has some fantastic restaurants, and the people taking me out all the time always knew the best places, so I dined like a queen on my trip. Yum. And again, it was wonderful to get to interact with these people face to face.

After lunch I wandered over to Rockefeller Center and took the Top of the Rock tour, which meant I rode the elevator to the top and looked out on the city. I noticed, not for the first time in NYC, that I am not terribly comfortable in elevators crammed with people. I got someone to take my picture at the top:
Notice that I'm clutching a book--yep, it's MY book, actually an ARC wrapped in the hardback cover sample they gave me. Notice also the lavender shirt I'm wearing--my good friend Kristin Naca (HarperCollins poet herself) Fed-Exed the shirt to me at my hotel. She knew I was having a tough time deciding on what to wear, which she fully understood because she had to do a video interview with Yusef Komunyakaa for the MTVU award. So she sent me the shirt, which turned out to be perfect. It evens looks good with my book, which has purple overtones. Don't I have awesome friends?

That afternoon I headed downtown to Curtis Brown to meet up with Katherine again, and got to meet my other fabulous agents: Holly, my film agent, and Ginger, my foreign rights agent. So fun to sit in a room with them and just get to know them a little. By this point I'd been smiling so much that day that my teeth were all dry. Afterwards Katherine and I caught a movie (Cyrus, pretty funny) and had some dinner. Again with the delicious food.

It was a day that seriously felt like I could have dreamed it up. Even now it doesn't feel totally real.

Wednesday: my birthday. I woke up early and headed over to the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art). I had intended to spend a few hours there and then walk around Central Park but I ended up spending lots of hours there, since it was so huge and it had such amazing stuff! It has a whole Picasso wing! It had multiple paintings by famous artists: Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Cassatt, Degas, the list goes on and on. It also has an amazing Egyptian exhibit. (I'll load the pics to facebook.)

Then I went to Broadway to see Wicked. I have wanted to see this show for ages, since I've been an avid fan of Oz since I was a kid and read Maguire's book when it first came out. And it was great. I had to laugh at the little boy behind me who kept complaining, "Why do they always have to sing so high?"

After that I walked back to my hotel and rested for about an hour, then headed off again to the East Village for dinner with Katherine and Farrin at a little Mexican place. Again, spectacular food and company. Riding back to my hotel in a cab, I was overtaken by a wave of sadness that it was all over. The trip I'd been wildly anticipating for months was pretty much done.

Thursday: Airport. Drew Barrymore on the plane! And then home, home, home, where my son looked so delighted to see me that it totally melted my heart. Later, as I was putting him to bed I said, "I missed you so much. Every day I woke up and thought, where's my little boy? I miss him!" and he said, "I was right here, Mommy, waiting for you to come back." Aw.

It's good to be home. And writing again, moving forward into Book 2. And yesterday I got the galleys in the mail, my last chance to comb through Unearthly and make changes. So that's what I'll be up to the next few days.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hot Topic

There's been a lot of buzz lately about angels being "the new vampire," the new wave of books that young adults are reaching for. This past April this article ("Host of books appear as angels become theme of new teenage reading cult") appeared in The Guardian, which discusses the trend and mentions a whole lot of upcoming angel titles. Then yesterday I read this article, ("Hot Wings: Notes On My New Best-Seller") in The New Yorker, which is a hilarious look at a writer attempting to cash in on the angel-market. I love her use of the word "mangel."

I thought the Guardian article was very interesting, and noticed with some relief that the angel books mentioned were very different than my own. And I had a good laugh at the New Yorker article. But to be honest, both articles left me a tad unsettled.

The reasons: First off, there's the idea that my book is part of a new craze sweeping the book world. I knew this. When my book was being considered by HarperCollins I knew that they were actively seeking an angel-related book, and I just hoped that my book fit the bill. And it did. Which rocked. It's good to have written something on a topic that people want to read about. My husband says that success in the publishing world is a lot like American Idol: most of the time it comes down to song choice. You need to choose something that's current and contemporary and showcases your talent in the best possible way. So I apparently chose a good song.

But here's the thing: in my case, it's completely accidental. I didn't write a book about angels because I thought that angels were going to be the new "it" thing. I wrote the book because Clara's story came to me so clearly and fiercely that I couldn't help myself; I had to write it. And it was a lot of fun to write!

Part of me kind of cringes every time I think about my book as part of a trend, because trends pass. Fads come and go. I want UNEARTHLY to be more than part of a trend. I don't want it to be dismissed as "just another angel book." But c'est la vie, I guess. Song choice. And I chose a song that everybody's singing.

The other thing that being part of a trend means is that there is pretty fierce competition. Or so I'm told. When I was first networking with other writers I came up with the idea of forming an angel brigade, a group for writers who wrote about angels, a kind of support system. I was informed early on (by other writers, not HC or my agent, mind you) that this wouldn't work because the other angel writers would be too competitive. Which makes sense. I think. But I myself don't really feel very competitive with my fellow angel writers. I think there's bound to be a few similarities between our books; just as vampire books usually have blood-drinking, avoidance of sunlight, fangs, superpowers, etc, so angel books will probably have wings, some element of bright light, maybe some ability with languages and a flaming sword or two--all part of the angel framework. But when I read the angel books, I usually just want a good story. Like any book. I don't feel particularly threatened by other angel novels because I feel like Clara's story is so entirely her own.

Okay, enough on the angel topic. I'm still working out how I feel about the whole thing.

Book news:
There's a lot of news, bear with me.
  •  This month I sold the audio rights to the book, which means it will become a book on tape. I got wildly excited, for some reason, about the idea of reading the book officially, of having it be my own voice on the tape, but then I was told that this probably won't happen. My own voice, that is.
  • I sold rights to Australia! Woohoo! Thanks Ginger, my agent for UK/Australia, for staying up late to make the deal.
  • I also sold rights to Germany! The book will come out in German next summer, and I am totally happy over it. I was in Jackson when I heard the news and coincidentally sat next to a German family at a restaurant, and I wanted to hug them all. I wonder how they will translate the title UNEARTHLY. . .
  • There is one other thing that is not official yet, so I shouldn't share, but there is one more big woohoo in order!
  • one of my students made an awesome book trailer. She loaded it to facebook here.  It was so exciting to see her take on the book.
  • Unearthly is available for pre-order on amazon! Still no cover image yet, but people can now order the book here.
  • I recently sent the opening chapters of Book 2 to my editor at HC. Commerce hard-core writing on Book 2.
  • Two of my fave YA writers agreed to read my book to see if they want to blurb it. Squee!
  • I booked my trip to NYC for later this month. I'm going to finally meet K in person and spend some time over at HarperCollins getting to know the team!
Other news:
  • I am home, finally. Just spent a month in Idaho/Wyoming/northern California, which was great, but I am glad to be home. And it's a new home; I moved in on a weekend and left on a Monday, leaving a lot of boxes to be unpacked. I've been totally occupied for the last few days, just finding places for things and discovering things about the new house. (I love the new house!)
  • I should wrap up this blog. More news later--and I'll tell you more about my trip to Jackson Hole. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Playing Catch-up

So I've been busy: finals at Pepperdine, moving to a new house, and before the boxes were even unpacked I headed off to Idaho for some decompression time. Right this minute I am sitting in a hotel room in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My room overlooks the Tetons and a horse corrall; I'm in bliss. But more on that later.

In my time of radio silence a lot has happened: I've sold the audio rights to the book and my agent is working on foreign and film rights, which is crazy. HarperCollins hired a model to represent Clara and shot the photos that will be on the covers for the first three books. Then they printed up a trial-run cover for UNEARTHLY and shipped it to me. I had to pretty much open the package, look at it, and then ship it back. (I wish I could show you, but I think I better wait for the big cover/launch date reveal until HarperCollins tells me. . .) Needless to say, it was a beautiful cover.

All of this is getting pretty surreal. This time last year Clara was a ghost haunting me, an image in the back of my mind. Now she's real-represented by a real, flesh-and-blood person on a real cover with real pages being printed about her. When I told my dad about Harper hiring the model (they had a casting call where over 100 girls showed up) he said: Good job! You're causing employment! I had to laugh at that. Yes, that ghost in my head is now keeping lots of people plenty busy.

So that's news. But the thing I REALLY want to write about is that I got to meet with Aprilynne Pike. In person. She came to Idaho Falls to do a reading and some school talks, and was sweet enough to meet me for dinner last week. For those of you who don't know Aprilynne (read Wings! Read Spells!), she's a HarperCollins writer whose debut novel, WINGS, spent 8? weeks on the New York Times bestseller list last year and whose sequel, SPELLS, debuted a couple weeks ago at number 4. See her awesome blog here. Not long after I got my offer from Harper I emailed Aprilynne and asked if she might mentor me a little bit, being that we're both from Idaho (Aprilynne lived in Driggs, which is very close to Jackson Hole, where my book is set) and we're both moms and writers, and all the HarperCollins people could not stop gushing at how great she is. And she and I have emailed back and forth for months, and she has given me such great advice and encouragement.

I will try not to gush at how great she is. Dinner was great; Aprilynne was friendly and fun and a font of useful information. Afterwards, I went to her reading, and I was so impressed with her easy, energetic presence in front of the crowd of adoring fans who'd gathered at the Barnes and Noble. She talked a lot about the publishing process and what it's really like (as opposed to in the movies where writers always write a novel in a montage that last a couple of weeks and then sees their book on the shelf almost immediately) and read from the book and made them laugh and signed copies and stood up to have pictures taken with them.

The whole time I was thinking: Wow. Wow. Wow. I hope I can do as well as this when my time comes. 

The next day I went to my old middle school: Rocky Mountain Middle school and watched Aprilynne do a talk. And she blew my socks right off. Middle schoolers can be (hmm, how do I phrase this?) hooligan monkey children. Do they ever have a lot of energy! But Aprilynne immediately held their attention and got them involved and answered their questions. She was, in short, amazing.

See now, I'm gushing. Sigh. The whole thing was a great big dose of reality, a "this is what's possible" moment. And it was scary and wonderful. And, oh yes, surreal. Let's not forget surreal.

Afterwards I went up to my dad's house in the mountains and spent the next few days writing, writing, writing, on book 2. And then I came back to IF for a day and then headed up to Jackson. Tetons! Horses! More on that later.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The cave, part 2

So there was a part of the cave experience I forgot to mention: copy editing.  This was a hardcore process with many, many hours involved, after which I lapsed into a mini-writerly coma that I am just now waking up from.  So now I am REALLY coming out of the cave.  That and I just turned in the grades for the semester at Pepperdine and I am ALMOST done buying a house.  So I am nearly to the light at the end of the tunnel, which, in my mind, is Book 2 and Idaho.

In May my son and I are off to Idaho for my bi-yearly visit  I am totally stoked, as usual.  Idaho's my heart's field.  This is funny since when I was a teenager, I really desperately wanted to get out of Idaho.  Now I can't wait to get home.  So every year I spend a few weeks visiting my old haunts in Idaho Falls and going to Jackson Hole and the Tetons and Yellowstone (which are all, coincidentally--right? :) settings for UNEARTHLY), a week or so at my dad's house way up in the desert mountains, fishing and riding around on ATVs and antelope-watching, and a week or so in the Boise area catching up with the oodles of friends I have there.  It's wonderfully restful time for me.  That and my mom tends to watch my son in the mornings so I can write.  Which is good, since the first few chapters of Book 2 are due very soon.

The highlights from this year's Idaho bliss will be going to a reading by Aprilynne Pike in Idaho Falls on May 11.  She's a fellow HarperCollins YA writer who has been such a fantastic mentor to me during the publishing process.  And I've never met her in person.  And now I'm going to!  Squee!  (Aprilynne's on tour for the sequel (SPELLS) to her bestselling novel (WINGS).  I'm determined to get a signed copy of both!  Squee!!!

And I am returning to Jackson Hole High School.  Last year the principal was super sweet and welcomed me to haunt the halls of his high school for a couple of days.  This was such valuable time for me--I had written about 2/3 of the book before I arrived at the school, ironically the entire school section of the book, but even so there was SOOOO much I learned by going there.  I took gads of pictures and interviewed the students and teachers on a whole range of subjects, and then I came home and rewrote a bunch of the school sections to make them more specific to JHHS, and I was amazed at how great that turned out--the school really came to life for me.

(me at the top of the tram at Jackson Hole ski area, last May)

So now I'm going back to do the same sort of thing with Book 2.  But last year I was this dreamy little writer who flattered them by wanting to write about their school.  This year I am a soon-to-be-published author with a major publishing house, and they know that people are going to read what I write, and I know that people are going to read what I write, and it feels very different.  I just hope that I can convey my admiration of the school and share part of this amazing experience with them. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The crazy days have begun

I have now officially entered production time.  So far this week I've looked over the jacket copy and the galley copy of my book, written my bio for the back of the book, and sent an entirely new author photo to HarperCollins.  It's all becoming more and more real.

Couple this with the fact that my agency is sending the book off now for certain foreign rights and film rights.  So we're back in the time when crazy news could come in any day.  And, in the meantime, more people are reading my book and every now and then I get a really wonderful call or email from someone who really loves my book.  Already.  And it won't be published until winter.

This is encouraging.  I went through a little panicky time right after the novel went into production where I seriously could not step back from my book enough to know whether or not it worked.  I completely trust my amazing and brilliant editor at HarperCollins, but I had completely lost my own sense of the book.  So now it's great that some people who are involved in this publishing/agenting/acquiring rights process are letting me know that they love the book.  It's a wonderful feeling to have even a few fans, even if they are at this point all professionals who are reading my book for professional reasons.  It gives me a sense of just how much I'm going to love having YA fans and getting to connect with them.

Very exciting time! 


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coming out of the cave

Phew!  What a couple of months it's been!  I've been in what some of my other fellow writers call "the cave," where we all disappear for a while while we revise our novels.  I am so happy to announce that UNEARTHLY went into production yesterday, which means that while there may be a few little changes here and there, I am largely finished writing this book. 

Now comes the really fun stuff, seeing the cover HarperCollins comes up with and writing the acknowledgements and marketing and the part where my little Word file becomes a real book, like Pinocchio becoming a real boy.  I am beyond excited.  It seriously feels similar to how I felt when I got engaged to my husband and knew that this wonderful wedding day was looming in the future.

Oh, and for those of you who are curious, I picked photo #4.

More soon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Author Photo

This week, in addition to completing this round of revisions with HarperCollins (almost done, crossing fingers!), I also have to fill out my author questionnaire and send in a photo that will be my official "author" photo for this book.  I am really stuck about which photo to send, so I'm asking for your vote.  I've narrowed it down to four:

Choice #1:  This one is ideal, because I am rather desperate to get a picture of the Tetons somewhere on my book (the mountains are an integral part of the setting of the novel) and this would be a sneaky way to do it.  Still, the lighting is a bit off.

Choice #2:  Here's another with the Tetons and again (argh!) the lighting is not great.  My husband pointed out that in Choice #1 and Choice #2, you can tell that I'm taking my own picture.

Choice #3:  I include this one in black and white because what's behind me is actually mud, which doesn't look great, but I like the picture well enough.  One thing that good author photos evoke, I think, is the sense that the writer could represent the main character (good luck with this for me, ha!, since my MC is a 17-year-old strawberry blonde ANGELIC being).

And Choice #4: my go-to author photo, with books in the background. I think every writer everywhere has a photo like this stashed away, standing in front of books with a contemplative expression, like you're just about to sit down and whip out the next great American novel.

So, let me hear from you! Which photo would YOU see on the back of a book and say to yourself: "Hey, this writer looks like she could really tell the kind of story that I would love to read!"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Officially Signed and Noted

Today I signed my contract and sent it to HarperCollins.  I know it might seem a bit late for all of that, but it took a long time to get the contract smoothed out.  In fairness to my agent, she had it ready for me to sign well before Christmas.  But silly me, I had some questions I wanted to ask first, so I had to wait until everybody was back from the holidays.  Yesterday I asked my questions.  K, as usual, answered beautifully.  (I seriously think I could watch K muck horse stalls and still think she was one of the most amazing people ever.)  And so today, I officially signed my life for the next few years over to HarperCollins. 

And now they can officially pay me.  Woot!

I also got some notes back from F today.

Now, I've been waiting for these notes for a while now, and I was completely out-of-my-mind excited to get them, no matter what.  I like revision--most of my published short stories are far, FAR different from their first drafts.  There are two types of revision, I tell my students.  The type where you come into the room and rearrange the furniture and dust the cobwebs and then stand back and admire the nice, tidy place you've made for yourself.  And the type where the contractor informs you that the wiring is shot, and most of the walls will have to be torn down, and before you know it a sledgehammer is swinging wildly through your work.  This is the part in all the home makeover shows where everybody has just a little too much fun destroying the old kitchen cabinets.  And after the dust settles and you've carted all the junk to the dumpster, you roll up your sleeves and start rebuilding.  When you're done, the place is at a whole new level of beauty, something you never even imagined before.  
I'm all about type 2 revising.  Really.  And I intend to have a good attitude with F, as in confident, hard-working, amiable writer.

But when I read the notes, I vaulted straight into wallowing.  Which I understand is completely irrational!  When I read the notes now, a few hours later, I see the genius in F's ideas, her expertise at work, making the story tighter and stronger and better.  She's not asking me to rewrite my book from scratch or cut something I absolutely loved or anything terribly drastic.  But for about an hour after I got the email I stumbled around our apartment with a sheen of tears in my eyes, nauseated and stunned.  I told my husband that it felt like I'd been hit in the stomach with a two by four.  He had the good sense to hide his bafflement at my odd emotional reaction and just give me a hug.

And now, I'm back.  Rational once again.  Excited once again.  Which is good, because tomorrow morning I am going to meet F in PERSON for breakfast!!!!

More tomorrow.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Books of 2009

So today I put together a comprehensive list of the books I read in 2009. This year I read more books, did more writing, and listened to more music than probably the 3 years before that, combined. My creative self was definitely awake and hungry.

So, here it goes:

Water For Elephants, Sara Gruen
The Painted Veil, M.Somerset Maughan
Our Story Begins, Tobias Wolff
City of Thieves, David Benioff
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
Unplugged Play, Bobbi Conner
Twilight, Stephanie Meyer (after seeing the movie on DVD)
New Moon, Stephanie Meyer (had to read the rest, didn't I?)
Eclipse, Stephanie Meyer,
Breaking Dawn, Stephanie Meyer
Graceling, Kristin Cashore
Eternal, Cynthia Leitrich Smith (after I started my book, I started to read the other angel-related books out there, for research)
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
Kissed by an Angel, Elizabeth Chandler
Harvesting the Heart, Jodi Picoult
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Neffeneger (reread)
The Myth of You and Me, Leah Stuart
Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults, Victoria Hanley
Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel, K.L. Going
Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
Vampire Academy Series, Richelle Mead (thank you Amyjo, for donating this collection to me)
Angel, Cliff McNish
The Fallen, Thomas Sniegovski
Negotiating a Book Contract, Mark L. Levine (read the day I got the book deal offer from HarperCollins!)
Impossible, Nancy Werlin

Books I read on Kindle: (I got this is June, as a birthday present from my dad, and instantly fell in love. It threw open the doors, WAY, WAY open, to reading. It also busted our budget on books.)

The Host, Stephanie Meyer
The Book of Enoch (all the cool people are reading it)
Marley and Me, John Grogan (reread)
On Writing, Stephen King (reread)
Emotional Life of a Toddler, Alicia Lieberman
Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris
Rebel Angels, Libba Bray
Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
Scream Free Parenting, Hal Edward Runkel (can you tell I have a toddler?)
The Shack, William P. Young
Anne Shirley Series, L.M. Montgomery (reread—all one file in Kindle! sent me back to the early days)
Grave Sight, Charlaine Harris
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (reread)
Marked (House of Night) P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Evermore, Alyson Noel
Little Women, Louisa Mae Alcott (reread)
The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
The City of Ember, Jeanne Duprau
The People of Sparks, Jeanne Duprau
The Prophet of Yonwood, Jeanne Duprau
The Diamond of Darkhold, Jeanne Duprau
Playful Parenting, Lawrence J. Cohen
The Angel Experiment, James Patterson
Cirque Du Freak #1, Darren Shan
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires), Rachel Caine
Wings, Aprilynne Pike
Bird Eating Bird, Kristin Naca
Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick
Meridian, Amber Kizer
The Savvy Author’s Guide to Book Publicity, Lissa Warren
Shiver, Maggie Steifvater
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Prom Nights from Hell, Meg Cabot and others
Wake, Lisa McMann
Bones of Faerie, Janni Lee Simner
Fallen, Lauren Kate
Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
What Happened to Cass McBride, Gail Giles
The Summoning, Kelley Armstrong
The Maze Runner, James Dashner
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
The Luxe, Anna Godbersen
Switch, Carol Snow

That's just shy of 70 books, not to mention the loads of samples I read on Kindle that I was too poor to buy! If I had the pick absolute favorites, I'd choose The Painted Veil, which was genius, The Host, which was my first Kindle purchase and I didn't put it down for 3 days, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which had me up all night chewing my nails to see how it ended, and The Hunger Games, which I thought was pulled off just beautifully. In close second: Shiver and Wings.

Phew! When I look at the list I see myself curled up for hours and hours, lost in the world of books. Which was a wonderful place to be!