Friday, June 19, 2015

Eureka!

I have been in a major writing slump lately.

I think some of it was that querying is hard and occasionally discouraging. I expected a barrage of rejections and then--if I persevered long enough--a victory. I'm sure if it was like that, I still would have been surprised at the sting of rejection...but overall for me querying has been a lot of waiting. A couple of rejections, a couple of requests, and a lot of checking my sent mail to make sure I got the agents' email addresses correct.

I think because of that I have been afraid to take on a new story. Because what if this means no one will want the one I'm currently querying? What if the idea I have right now isn't good for querying in the future and I end up empty handed in a few months? WHAT IF I ACTUALLY SUCK AT WRITING AND SHOULD JUST GET GOOD AT MATH AND BE AN ENGINEER OR SOMETHING?

Ha. Let's be real here: job stability is overrated. Right? Riiiight.

But the slump is over! Hallelujah! I talked a little bit about the character who inspired me to keep moving forward in my WordNerds video this week, and how difficult she was being. But I've embraced her villainy and it is SO FUN to write someone unapologetically evil. And then to have a second POV from her foil... I can't get enough of it. It's hard to tell which character I hate more!

Actually I do know...the bad guy is my favorite. Are you surprised? ;)



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

STORY TIME (on sacrifices)

I don't talk about this too often because it's not glamorous, and doesn't seem to be directly related to books...but MAN have I had a time dealing with people lately, and so please excuse me for the word vomit.

I am moving soon. 2500 miles away. I will be taking a moving truck piled high with all of my belongings, my husband, and my dog. To make it even more adventurous, we will be doing all of that driving over three days.

So here I am about a week ago, living it up at this fancy party full of people much, much more financially stable than me, and I mention to one of my husband's colleagues that we will be making this trip in that amount of time. He laughs politely, and tells me that there is no way we are going to do it that fast. That the fastest he's ever been able to make a cross country trip was five days.

Now if you know me at all, you know that I don't like when people tell me what I can't do. So I make a joke about how we were going to beat his record, and hope he'll drop it there.

Long story short: he doesn't drop it. He tells us that we are missing out on an opportunity. That we should really see the United States as we are driving through it--stop at some landmarks, go camping in the national parks, take our tiiiime and have a fulfilling expeeeerience. I point out that we are very poor and that doing those things might not be practical (because I am oh so adult and will not put on my sassy pants at this fancy party). He says, "Well, it might cost a few hundred extra dollars, but it would be so worth it for the experience. You have to do it."

Cue the mental sassy pants. Because oh, did I want to tell him off. But I didn't. BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT.

Fast forward a couple of hours. Someone else at that same party finds out that we don't have a car, and have never had a car throughout any part of our relationship because we can't afford one. This guy tells a story about how he lived in Australia once for a month or two and it was so freeing to not have a car. He loved walking places and not having to worry about "the old ball and chain." I resisted the urge to tell him exactly how free I felt while I was carrying fifty pounds of groceries on my back to my home two miles away. Again, BECAUSE I AM VERY MATURE AND THE MOST ADULTY ADULT WHO HAS EVER ADULTED.

If you have ever told someone that their life is probably easier because they are too poor for something, or if you've ever pushed someone to do something after they've told you they can't afford it, APOLOGIZE RIGHT NOW. Because if you don't, when I am a ghost I will find out and I will haunt you.

My husband and I have made a lot of sacrifices right now so that we can have the careers that we want in the future. I work part time, so that I can write and hone my craft for the rest of the time. My husband went to a Master's program that didn't give us much financial help so that he could get into a PhD program that would pay for him and help him get the job he's passionate about. I wouldn't take it back for anything, because my writing has gotten so much better during this time, and struggling through all of these things has helped us grow much closer as a couple.

I love the sacrifices I am making because I have faith that they will help me with my writing career. But don't let all of the books in the background of my vlogs fool you.

I am poor right now.

Even so, I am privileged because my parents are well off enough that I know they can help out if I ever really need it. They are the ones who buy books for me because they know I love books and can't buy them often. They are the ones who stepped in and helped when my computer broke and I was sobbing because how was I going to do my from-home animation job without a computer?

I'm privileged because we live in a state that provides great health insurance even when you can't afford it. I'm privileged because I know people who would come to my house in the middle of the night and take me to the hospital if I needed it. I'm privileged because I am educated, and because though I'm poorer than anyone else I know, I can still afford to only work a paying job part time. I'm privileged because I was born into a stable, loving family that taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it.

No, it's not fun being this poor, and I'm very much looking forward to a couple of months from now when my husband will start getting a living stipend for working in a PhD program. But I love writing, and I am glad that I am privileged enough to have been able to make these sacrifices.

But SERIOUSLY. Tell me how easy my life is because I can't afford something, and I will open up a can of whoop-sass on you. (ha ha...see what I did there? BECAUSE I AM SASSY. And so punny. ha. ha. ha.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

DELICATE MONSTERS Review

I was CRAZY excited to receive a NetGalley ARC of DELICATE MONSTERS by Stephanie Kuehn. I adored CHARM & STRANGE, and she has such a great and personable online presence. She also did an interview on First Draft Podcast with Sarah Enni that I adored. Here's the Goodreads synopsis:

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

When I read that for the first time I was all *GRABBY HANDS* and then the cover was released and OMG. SO PRETTY.

It's hard to explain my feelings about this book, because you can't really say you enjoyed it. It went places. Places that most books don't go. 

I love dark stories, with questionable characters. I love reading from the perspective of people who are just antagonists, who know what they are doing is wrong and yet can't stop themselves. Kuehn understands the human mind so well, and because of how twisty/twisted CHARM & STRANGE was, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

I didn't.

This book is easily one of the darkest I have ever read, and I found it so fascinating. I was engrossed. Like with CHARM AND STRANGE, I didn't put the book down until it was finished--and afterward I had to sit there and think about what the eff I just read.

This may not be a good fit for some people. I loved it in an I-see-what-you-did-there-and-it-makes-me-uncomfortable-but-I'm-in-awe-of-your-skill kind of way. It portrays mental illness, sex, and abuse in very graphic terms that are hands-down, undeniably hard to read.

I found it so compelling.

Kuehn has a writing style that I can't get enough of. She can portray dark characters in a way that makes me desperate to see how their stories end. In the case of DELICATE MONSTERS, I never saw that ending coming, but I adored it. It is pretty open-ended, so if that's not your thing, you have been warned. But I love a good open-ended conclusion, so...

READ THIS BOOK. LOVE THIS BOOK. I know I did.

Monday, June 1, 2015

POLARIS AWAKENING Feels

So I didn't get the chance to do a post on the actual release date, because last week was also my birthday and thus a week of craziness...but YOU GUYS. The actual best birthday present ever was getting to see this anthology released into the world.

I woke up on Tuesday and almost forgot what day it was, but once I realized that it was RELEASE DAY, I was a bundle of nerves and What if?'s. But after I told myself, "It doesn't matter what people think of it. You did your best and love the story," about a hundred times, there was just excitement.

But yes! POLARIS AWAKENING is out! And the paperback should be available sometime tonight or tomorrow!

In case you missed it, we announced over on the WordNerds POLARIS AWAKENING party/chat last night that there is a book two, coming out sometime during the late summer or fall of this year. It is called POLARIS RISING, and if you loved book 1, just wait. When asked about what people could look forward to in book two, the only thing us WordNerds could come up with was DESTRUCTION. These characters are going to be put through the ringer, and I think you'll love it.

I feel so privileged to have been able to work with such talented women on such a complex project. I loved every minute of meeting and planning and crafting this into a cohesive world and story, and I hope everyone else will love it too. I can't wait to hear what you think of Fay and Kane and all of their station-mates! I'm especially grateful that I was able to work a little more closely with the Scorpio story by Hannah Davies. Her writing is beautiful and her characters are fascinating and I learned so much from her and them.

So be sure to get your copy of POLARIS AWAKENING today! It is available in ebook format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo--and I'll be sure to update my links as soon as the paperback is available.

The WordNerds are also doing a giveaway for a paperback copy of the book! You can enter that here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you want to watch the WordNerds talk all about the anthology and what we loved about the writing and the process (and if you want to see things get really weird...though you should expect that from our live chats by now, right?), then you can check it out here:


And if you do read it, pretty please leave a review on its Goodreads page! I will love you forever and maybe photoshop a picture of us together being besties.