Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
When I was younger, I was obsessed with Colonial America. OBSESSED. Like fall-into-a-deep-10-yr-old-depression-because-I-never-
got-the-chance-to-live-in-Colonial-Williamsburg obsessed. Every single story I wrote during this period of my life was set in Colonial America, and I devoured books on the subject. Even more extreme, I had a garbage bag full of random odds and ends that I used as Colonial garb -- bonnets my grandmother made for me, aprons, blankets that I tied around my waist for skirts. I would dive into this bag after particularly inspiring stories and clothe myself in what I saw as the most regal of all wardrobes, and march proudly around in my blanket-skirts and cockeyed bonnets and long for the ability to dress like this IN PUBLIC.
And then Halloween would come. Oh, Halloween. The one time a year where I could proudly adorn myself with puffy floral shirts and old aprons and stained headpieces and waltz around in the illusion that, for that day, I was some adventurous little girl living in a simpler time that I saw as a far more romantic existence. I could skip around with my friends and not be eyed strangely for wearing a bonnet. I could curtsy and polish my black buckle shoes and then keep right on going with my family as we made our way around the neighborhood, in full view of Batmans and Princesses.
Eventually, I grew up. My garbage bag of odds and ends now sits in a closet, and my excitement about Halloween dimmed. A lot. Whether because of the convenient season change that just so happens to be smack on top of Halloween (DAMN YOU, SEASONAL ALLERGIES) or the hecticness of college/post-college life, I have taken a involuntary hiatus from Halloween. And when this year came around, and I was confronted with both 1) health and 2) the ability to dress up not once, but TWICE, for two different Halloween events, I pondered what I could be, and I remembered my original reason for loving to play "dress-up" -- my stories.
So this Halloween, I made a bold decision. This year has been -- rough. Book-speaking. It has seen the rise and fall of two books that I love, as well as a huge shift in my representation. It has seen the reincarnation of a book that is every ounce of who I am, and now waits in trepidation for its turn in the horrifying world of submissions. And so, as one can only do when faced with a hell of a book year, I decided to regress to my roots.
This Halloween, I will be dressing as a character from my fantasy book, SNOW LIKE ASHES. A costume that means absolutely nothing to anyone who isn't me. A chance to parade around in a frilly black dress and ridiculous make-up and a feathery mask, and clothe myself in what I see as the most regal of all wardrobes: something I created. Because no matter what this year has done or what 2013 might do too, I will still find joy in my obsessions.
What are you going to be for Halloween?
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Honestly though, I probably would have let my blogging absence continue, if not for this woman. This woman RIGHT HERE.
See, this is Renee Collins. Renee is one of the first Utah Writer Friends I made, and she is everything you could possibly want in a writer-friend -- spunky and snarky and truthful and supportive and able to say the hard things without crushing your soul. Plus, she writes the most fantastically creative books -- about magic mythological bones and Western worlds and wonderfully sassy girls.
And now, because the world finally realized that Renee Collins is synonymous with AMAZING, this happened:
*muppet flail so hard my arms fall off*
YOU ALL GET TO READ RELIC SOON, GUYS. And I cannot even BEGIN to describe how unbelievably breathtaking this book is. I mean, it's a MAGICAL WESTERN. Let that sink in. MAGICAL. WESTERN.
Renee, thank you for being one of those rare, wonderful people who lights up a room just by giggling. I am so, so thrilled that Maggie gets to tell her story to the world, and I cannot WAIT to publicize this so hard the world shakes. This book is beautiful, and so are you!
Saturday, August 11, 2012
I sprang into action.
Normally, I am not the arts-and-crafts type. I am currently attempting a Paint by Numbers scene which is turning into some kind of multi-colored glob of cheap paint, and once upon a time I crocheted tiny creatures that now bravely guard Day Job desk from evil passersby. But trust me when I say both of those undertakings have been undertaken simply because I needed some other outlet. So I was a little hesitant at first to enter this contest, but I think I did rather decently.
I chose to make a flag for Marissa's American Republic and stuck true to the red, white, and blue colors that adorn many of the current North/South American countries. Without further ado, here is my entry:
The eight red stripes represent the eight territories formerly owned by other countries (such as all those wee islands France owns). The twenty-seven stars represent the twenty-seven countries that make up Marissa's American Republic. (If I miscounted countries, please turn a blind eye. It's been a long, long while since I had geography.)
Monday, August 6, 2012
2) Immerse yourself in the written word as a form of cathartic distraction. Written words can take many forms, whether they be in books, magazines, news articles, or even the occasional chuckle-inducing description on a bottle of Vitamin Water. It is perfectly acceptable to take a grocery store trip with the sole intention of building a Vitamin Water tower and spending a few hours in verbiage bliss as you frolic among the passages of wisdom bestowed on us by the gods of Vitamin Water.
3) Hurl yourself willy-nilly into a Day Job. If willy-nilly hurling is frowned upon at your Day Job, opt for a more subtle thrusting, a gentle tiptoeing, or even a quiet, unassuming spewing-forth.
4) Indulge your social senses by broadening your friend database. The definition of friend is, of course, all up to you -- friends are as pliable as written words and can take just as many forms. A person, a dog, a cat, a duck and even the occasional muddy puppy can serve as a solid foundation for a lasting friendship. Bottles of Vitamin Water, while useful for many things, are unfortunately not the best choice for a friend foundation due to their lack of muddy puppy droopy eyes.
5) In relation to #4 -- explore the ever-unexplored terrain of deep rooted mental philosophies. Your broadened friend database should serve as an excellent sounding board for any revolutionary ideas you unearth as you babble through such intense topics as why the Paint By Numbers industry bases its revenue on confining people to such tiny number spaces. Your new-found duck and muddy puppy friends are sure to offer their own valuable insight. Ironically enough, bottles of Vitamin Water offer a plethora of answers to deep rooted mental philosophies, yet are banned from the friend category due to their inability to look at you with big droopy muddy puppy eyes. A conundrum of life, and one you may feel free to discuss with your muddy puppy friend.
6) If after all these attempts at distracting yourself from waiting you still want to scratch that unavoidable impatient itch, and the itch becomes so mightily unbearable that not even your muddy puppy friend or a particularly well-placed bottle of Vitamin Water can soothe you, you may play the Get Out Of Jail Free card. This card played in this situation equates to the action of checking one's email without any snide looks from passersby. Know, however, that you only get ONE such card each go around, and once you play said card you are opening yourself up to snide looks and derisive head-shakes from your muddy puppy friend. He judges you, you know. Each time you check your email after you play the Get Out Of Jail Free card, your muddy puppy friend knows. And he watches. And he stares. Keep the muddy puppy in mind before you play said card. You only get one chance.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
No, Sara. No it doesn't.
*hangs head in shame*
My excuse for not reading prior to about three weeks ago was that I was either A) busy working on Ghost Book edits or B) busy writing my YA fantasy WIP. And I could get away with being all "I can't be distracted from my awesomeness by other people's awesomeness or their awesomeness will override my awesomeness and I'll cry." But as of about three weeks ago, I have both finished edits on Ghost Book and finished the first draft of YA fantasy WIP. Which means I have NO EXCUSES now, so I am going to read REAL LIVE BOOK THINGS.
Thanks to JR Johansson and her willingness to be my own personal library, I scored the quite the hefty stack of YA awesomeness this weekend. Observe:
STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth
CLARITY by Kim Harrington
SHIFTING by Bethany Wiggins
EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton
CINDER by Marissa Meyer (this one comes to me courtesy of Amazon)
Thus I am embarking on Summer Reading Madness. Never mind that we're on that downswing of summer now.
What books are you going to/have you read this summer? Anything that should be added to my list?
Thursday, July 26, 2012
What's that, you say? You aren't sure if you have enough acts of kindness to make it on the Nice List this year? Well, even though I'm sure that's PREPOSTEROUS (*bats eyelashes* *clucks chin*), I happen to know of one really big, really amazing, really incredible act of kindness that could land you at the tippy top of the Nice List.
Some of you may remember me mentioning my cousin, Nikki. Once upon a time, she wrote a YA book and I went all "Um, I write YA books too!" and so we started dreaming about how we would be bestsellers together and buy matching castles in New Zealand, as bestselling authors do. But then she went and did something that puts her on the Brave List for Life -- she moved to South Korea to teach kindergarten. Fast forward a few years to now, when she is back in the states but still doing Crazy Brave Things.
Nikki is, as of this August, beginning a teaching job at a middle school in San Francisco. This school is excellent for a number of reasons, but one area that is not so fantastic is Nikki must furnish her classroom's library on her own. When she told me this and expressed concern on how she would make sure her kids had access to enough amazing books to quench their reading needs, I went all "Um, but I have friends who have fantastic books!"
Hence the Really Big Really Amazing Really Incredible Act of Kindness: filling Nikki's classroom with books. As part of such a ridiculously supportive and all-around breathtaking community of writing professionals, I know we won't stand for Nikki's classroom being empty of books come time for school to start. So this is what I am asking:
Steps for The Nice List Book Donation:
2) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the address to which you can send your books.
3) Send said books to said address before school starts, ie by August 31.
Three simple steps separate you from a 100% guaranteed spot on the Nice List before Christmas. If it seems too good to be true -- well, it's about to get better.
Because everyone who donates books to sad, empty classrooms is deserving of fantastic things themselves, there are, of course, more tangible rewards for participating in The Nice List Book Donation (though I'm sure I won most of you over with my 100% guaranteed spot on the Nice List before Christmas).
If you donate two books to Nikki's classroom, you get your choice of a query critique and a synopsis critique from Yours Truly OR a special amazing early Christmas present.
If you donate three+ books to Nikki's classroom, you get your choice of a query critique, a synopsis critique, and a first-fifty-pages-of-your-
The donation starts -- NOW! *fires race gun*
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Now the peasants can rejoice still further because as of next year, the sequel to SLIDE will be sliding into shelves (see what I did there? SLIDE. Sliding. You get me). IMPOSTOR is due to release March 26, 2013, and because she knows what we want, Jill is holding a massive giveaway for ARCs on her blog!
There's a crazy amount of different ways to win that don't involve anything quite as terrifying as having a killer take over your body. So slide (see? I did it again!) on over there for a chance to be among the first readers of IMPOSTOR. You know you want to.
What if a killer took control of you?
Vee Bell’s gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes—has been somewhat under control since she unwillingly witnessed the horrific deaths of her classmates six months ago.
But just as things are getting back to normal, Vee has a very bizarre experience: she loses consciousness and finds herself in a deserted area, at the edge of a cliff, with the broken body of the boy who took advantage of her on the rocks below.
As Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone she knows has the ability to slide—and that this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge on his or her enemies.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
(Have to mention that the first draft of this post said "YA Fantasty," not "YA Fantasy," in true ironic typo fashion. Why yes, YA Fantasy CAN be quite Fantasty, Subconscious Me. I will explain why below.)
If you haven't heard of SHADOW AND BONE, um, do some serious googling. Like now. I'll wait.
*glares through computer screen*
Did you google? I trust you.
Now aside from Leigh making me feel severely inadequate (did you read her bio? CLEARLY YOU DID NOT GOOGLE. *glares harder*), SHADOW AND BONE is in and of itself quite a revelation for YA Fantasy/Fantasty books. I mean, a Russian-based fantasy world? Name one other YA Fantasy/Fantasty Russian-based world. YOU CAN'T, CAN YOU?
And if you've been chilling out on my blog for awhile, you might remember that a few years ago I worked for a brilliant little Russian travel agency, which re-awoke within me the bright-eyed twelve-year-old who watched the movie Anastasia and vowed to someday dance through Peterhof Palace. Russia is every bit as magical and glittering as Anastasia depicted it, and SHADOW AND BONE is every bit as magical and glittering as Russia itself is.
Which brings me to a few things.
One: seriously, go read Leigh's bio so I'm not the only one who feels like I need more hobbies.
Two: Good YA Fantasy/Fantasty stories have certain elements. Certain elements that SHADOW AND BONE very passionately incorporates, and certain elements I am beating my laptop bloody to incorporate into WINTER.
True to the OCD Writer within me, I shall outline these elements for you.
1) A glittery world. Yes, glittery. (Is this just me? Maybe?) A world so enriched in magic all its own that you enter this world feeling like you both have known it your whole life and have never seen it before.
2) Fighting. Bloody, gruesome, edge-of-your-seat fighting. My constant struggle with WINTER is feeling like a scene is boring if no one is getting attacked. Luckily, in SHADOW AND BONE, LOTS OF PEOPLE GET ATTACKED. Which is a really weird thing to like in books. Don't judge me.
3) Hello, YA Fantasty. The highly appropriate typo should speak for itself -- there should be tasty things. People, more specifically. People like Mal in SHADOW AND BONE. Mmm, Mal. And the Darkling. Mmm Darkling. Mmm. What? Oh, right.
4) Finally, the most important element (I feel) of a good YA Fantasy/Fantasty book -- culture. A culture so rich and unique and beautiful, so deep and thought-out and original, that you when you leave the book your world feels a little less complete for not having the same kind of traditions/methods/rhythm. No surprise at all, basing your fantasy world on such an already rich, magical culture as Russia is a sure-fire way to bring about a beautiful word.
So, yes, this post was more of a rave about SHADOW AND BONE than a post strictly about YA Fantasy/Fantasty elements (I think I might just start calling it YA Fantasty). But Leigh's book is one of the most original worlds to come along in quite awhile, and it feels like a door of sorts has opened in the YA Fantasty world. Could it be that Fantasty books will be the Next Big Thing? As someone with a huge bias toward the future of YA Fantasty should I commit to finishing WINTER (and it's looking good, folks), I certainly hope so. If SHADOW AND BONE is any taste of things to come, we're in for some killer worlds.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Because I'm all book-high and kind of incapable of writing coherent, helpful blog posts, I pose a question instead: what plot aspects have you found make you all giggly whilst writing? Court intrigue, steamy romance scenes, heart-pounding fight scenes, etc? Though, let's face it, we all get giggly with steamy romance scenes.
Back to the drafting trenches! *aways*
Saturday, June 2, 2012
...is what I feel like writing when I get to the Editing Point where I just. can't. read. my book. anymore.
Which, in all fairness, has never really been used to end a book. NO ONE WOULD SEE IT COMING. Unless your book is about meteors crashing to earth.
But, yes, I finished another round of edits on Ghost Book. I am finally to the point where (as mentioned above) I am so tired of reading my book that blasting the crap out of my writing world sounds more fun than reading it anymore. This is, weirdly enough, how I know I am close to being done, edit-wise.
And because I'm fried from another Editing Sprint (this time a three-day editing sprint), I ask you: how do YOU know when you are done/close to being done with editing?
Monday, May 21, 2012
But it kind of sucked. The story itself was pretty good, the characters alive enough for something written by a twelve-to-eighteen-year-old, but in the end it WAS my very first novel. And first novels are rarely good, no matter how much I desperately wanted/needed/KNEW it to be good. So after a few years of slowly coming to this conclusion, I put it aside in favor of newer, shinier projects.
The story, though, has never left me. I still have all of my illegible notes, my story maps, my (very, very bad) sketches depicting various characters. I pull it all out every once in awhile to reminisce about Little Author Me, and where I started, and to chuckle at how CERTAIN I was that this book would be IT. A few months ago I even started rewriting it in the offhanded hope that I could make it not suck. Got about two pages in before Ghost Book distracted me. (In Ghost Book's defense, it is pretty awesome.)
But I finished Ghost Book (or, you know, "finished long enough that I can start getting distracted by other things") and wanted something new to start on. Something epic and beautiful, something I could totally lose myself in. It's been awhile (since STREAM PIRATE, really) since I've had a book like that -- Ghost Book, while freakin' wonderful, isn't a lose-yourself-in-a-completely-different-world kind of book. And I desperately missed getting so wrapped up in my own head that I stay up into the wee hours of the night writing at ferocious speeds and get so lost in Laptop that I completely miss conversations going on around me.
So I pulled out all my old Giving Light goodies and shuffled through them in the hope that I had some random, forgotten note for a story idea I could expand. Some blip of a thought that sets off like wildfire. And while I was perusing my many, many, MANY notebooks, I remembered how lost I got in Giving Light, how beautifully, hopelessly in love I was with all my characters. And I decided -- it's time.
It's time to resurrect it. At the time, it served its purpose -- to propel me along on my writing journey and help me hone my craft. But now, I have a lot more experience with the whole writing-a-book-that-isn't-quite-horrible thing, and I think Giving Light (or Snow Like Ashes as I'm calling it now) deserves it's best chance.
So be prepared, Bloggerites. It's been a few years since you got Lost In A Novel Sara and with any luck, that's exactly what's about to happen. Coming back to this story is like returning home after a long, long absence. Everything's just how I left it yet gloriously filled with potential.
Monday, May 14, 2012
As of last Friday, I am currently working on edits for SHUTTER, SHUDDER (Ghost Book). Nothing super massive (as in, I am not yet ready to pull all my hair out and run around my apartment screaming "YOU WIN. YOU WIN. DON'T EAT ME PLEASE."), but one of the things I am adding is the one thing that I always, always, ALWAYS suck at. Always. I am now so aware of my suckiness at this that I expect it with every book, and wait with growing dread for someone to say this simple sentence:
"*insert MC's name here* needs more development in his/her personal character arc."
Character arcs. Oh, character arcs. I did a post awhile back about my struggle with character arcs. In it I tried to dissect the parts of character arcs in order to make it simpler in my head. It didn't help.
BUT, this time around, Sophie (Ghost Book MC) has an emotional struggle that I at least could put a name to: grief. And we all know those famous steps that (supposedly) everyone goes through whilst in the throws of grief. So I decided to apply them to character arcs too and found --
It kind of worked.
I'm trying not to get too excited with this discovery (we'll see if I can apply the same principles to my next book), but guys -- I HAVE MAPPED OUT SOPHIE'S CHARACTER ARC. I have never, in the history of writing, been able to sit down and map out a character's emotional journey before. It was always a barrage of "She did this -- and then -- oh wait, that happened too, so that first -- but with this other guy -- on a hilltop -- and then over there -- "
Until neither I nor anyone I tried to talk it through to could figure out what was wrong with this character. But now, I have a MAP. I have something to FOLLOW. And, dare I say, it might even be GOOD.
So if you're struggling with character arcs, give the Five Stages of Grief a whirl. Or, in more applicable terms, the Five Stages of MC Emotional Roller Coastering.
1) Depression. A common lead-in, I think. A lot of MC's start the books off a little rundown by whatever emotional problem they have. It's usually something they've been dealing with for awhile/their whole life, and when we meet up with them, they're cresting the point of Don't Know How To Fix It.
2) Denial. Usually the next step, when the MC is forced to confront whatever problem he/she has and they are so fed up with having said problem that they deny it, fight it, struggle with accepting it.
3) Anger. Towards the middle of the book -- the MC's problem is definitely surfaced by now, and they are forced to face it. Forced to in such a way that they're still wanting to deny it, unable to, and thereby pissed that they have to actually deal with it.
4) Bargaining. The MC realizes how dire their situation is. They also know what they need to do fix said emotional problem, but as a last resort, they throw caution to the wind and have a mini-breakdown of "I'll do ANYTHING else BUT that."
5) Acceptance. The climax -- the point where the MC realizes what he/she really has to do and does it. Emotional baggage is unloaded, hearts are mended, confetti is thrown.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Yes, this is metaphorical. You know me so well.
A few weeks ago, I made a decision. A decision I had been rolling through my head for a long, long while. A decision that was in no way, shape, or form easy, and was so preposterous that it took me a few months to even realize it was something I could do. Much like my poor wee veggies, now shivering in the bright Outdoor Garden light, I was terrified of what the repercussions would be and that I wouldn't survive the transition and that I wasn't cut out for the results of my decision.
I left my agent.
Now, I could go into the how's and why's and WHAT WAS I #@%$ THINKING's, but that's not what this post is about. This post is about new things.
When I left my agent, I did so with the full knowledge that STREAM PIRATE would probably never again see the light of day. At least not for a long while. And what I had instead was my Ghost Book, which made me giggle and shudder and hope people still believed in ghosts. I took Ghost Book and I walked back into a world I hadn't seen in more than two and a half years -- the world of Querying.
Querying is -- still pretty horrible. In case anyone was wondering.
BUT. But. Oh, the But. Querying can also be thrilling and energetic and ignite in you a kind of hope that you hadn't felt in years. It can make you bounce in your cubicle at work and WISH SO HARD that at least ONE of your coworkers could understand the GRAVITY of a FULL REQUEST.
And it can especially make you wish that at least one of your coworkers could understand the gravity of a full request becoming an offer.
After a whirlwind of a query session, a number of jaw-dropping requests, and so much interest my head spun for my snarky, quirky, delightfully creepy Ghost Book, I officially accepted an offer of representation on May 1st from Charlotte Sheedy of Charlotte Sheedy Literary.
Charlotte and Mackenzie are, in a word, FANTASTIC. They are enthused and bubbly and so freakin' passionate about Ghost Book that my head rings a little. I could not dream up more perfect representation for SHUTTER, SHUDDER (seriously -- there are so many similarities between Charlotte, Mackenzie, and Ghost Book that I giggle helplessly every time I think about them).
Though the decision I made a few weeks back was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, I know, like my wee veggies, that it is ultimately the best decision for me.
And the logo on sheedylit.com looks like a mustache, which is just so MADE OF WIN, it'd make them fantastic anyway.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
Maybe. A little. BUT I HAVE IT UNDER CONTROL, GUYS. I can totally stop WHENEVER I WANT TO.
Anyway. I thought about writing something inspirational about finishing outlines today (I finished the outline for Ghost Book 2. Did I mention that? I did? On Twitter? Oh, well. I FINISHED THE OUTLINE. *dances*), but then I decided, no, I don't want to do that. I'd rather blog about cooking.
This is due in no small part to the watching of Julie and Julia that the Boyfriend and I undertook this past week. And now an even smaller part of me hopes that in blogging about cooking, I too will come home from work one day to 65 voice mails from various editors/agents going I MUST HAVE YOU. Hey, dream big, yo.
So thus begins my first attempt at posting a recipe for one of my Famous Homemade Dishes. I concocted this recipe this past weekend when I got the desperate urge to bake something fluffy and we had a few containers of frozen plums in the freezer. Thus, Meringue Plum Pie was born, a tarty-yet-mellowed hybrid child of Lemon Meringue Pie and Plum Pudding.
Firstly, a photo, because recipes without photos are SNEAKY SNEAKY recipes.
Now, the recipe.
3 cups plums (or whatever tarty fruit your heart desires)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
Cinnamon and Cloves to taste (I know some people don't like these flavors, so add them or don't -- your choice)
3 tablespoons ice water
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
I used a pre-made crust (I know, CHEATER), but you can of course make your own.
Combine ingredients for plum filling -- let stand in fridge overnight (I did this for gelatinous/flavor purposes, but it is not necessary).
Bake crust according to instructions on box. Let cool. Add plum filling.
To make meringue: mix egg whites and cold water until frothy. Slowly add sugar and baking soda and continue beating with an electric mixer (trust me, you do NOT want to do this by hand) until glossy and stiff. You can tell it is stiff when you stop mixing, hold the mixer up, and the peak stays up instead of falling over.
Spread meringue over plum mixture on crust, being sure to get meringue to touch all crust sides (this keeps it from shrinking).
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes (or until golden brown).
The plum filling is also REALLY good as an ice cream syrup.