Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Update!

Here's a quick update on what I've been up to:

I'm smiling because the
filming is over, lol. *shaka*
I was interviewed by my local CBS station. They came to my house and we sat down to talk about everything from writing to Remake to homeschool to Hawaii. Since the reporter and cameraman have ties to Hawaii, we had a great time talking about the islands, making me miss home. :) You can watch the interview here.

REMAKE is a Whitney award finalist in two categories: Best YA Speculative Novel and Best Novel by a New Author. I may have done a fistpump or two upon hearing the news. I'm up against some tough competition, including NYT best selling authors, so I think my chances of winning are slim, but becoming a Whitney finalist is one of my writing bucket-list items, so the fact that I can check that one off makes me absolutely giddy. You can find all the finalists here.

Me, Rachelle Christensen, Shelly Brown,
Josi Kilpack, Sarah Eden

I've updated the events tab above so you can see where I'll be this spring--mostly teaching at several local writing conferences.

My publisher hosted an author appreciation dinner, and it was so much fun enjoying a fancy date night with my husband. We got to rub shoulders with other authors, and I met a ton of people who work behind the scenes in getting my book out in the public. I also learned some incredible news from my editors about REMAKE that I hope to share soon. :)

Playboy roll (my fav) and squid
I also just finished drafting my 9th novel. Woot! I've been working on this one off and on for a long time, and I have to admit it's my favorite story I've written so far. It's another YA sci-fi with themes of virtue and self-worth featuring a mixed-race main character who I absolutely love. I can't wait to dive into revisions. The book takes place in an East-Asian inspired future, so of course we celebrated with sushi. (note: I celebrate everything with sushi, ha) Yum!

Do you like being in front of the camera? What was your favorite novel of 2014? Will I see you at any writing conferences this year? How do you celebrate reaching your writing goals?

'Cause life's for living right.

 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interview with "Silence" author Deborah Lytton

I want to wish a happy book birthday to my friend Deborah Lytton and her novel SILENCE! I loved this book and will be rereading it often. It has excellent writing, a sweet clean romance, and a heart-melting story with endearing characters I wish I could meet in real life. I highly recommend this book. Here's a little bit about it:


Isn't this cover gorgeous?
Stella was born to sing. Someday Broadway. Even though she is only a sophomore at a new high school, her voice has given her the status as a cool kid. But then a tragic accident renders her deaf. She cannot hear herself sing not to mention speak. She cannot hear anything. Silence. What happens when everything you have dreamed of and hoped for is shattered in a single moment?
Enter Hayden, the boy with blonde curls who stutters. He is treated like an outcast because he is not normal. And, yet, Stella feels an attraction to him that she cannot explain. As Hayden reaches out to help Stella discover a world without sound his own tragic past warns him to keep a distance. But their connection is undeniable. Can the boy who stutters and the girl who's deaf find a happily-ever-after?
SILENCE is a story of friendship and hope with a lesson that sometimes it takes a tragedy to help us find beauty and love in unexpected places.

I had the chance to meet Deborah last year at ALA in Las Vegas. She is the sweetest person you will ever meet and I adore her daughters. I'm thrilled she agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her writing.

I: Tell us about yourself.

D: I'm a single mother of two girls who are 10 and 13. I work as an attorney in the daytime and write at night and on weekends. We have a funny little dog with giant ears called Faith. One more super important fact about me is that I can't go a day without chocolate. SILENCE (Shadow Mountain) is my second published novel. My first published book, JANE IN BLOOM (Dutton), was released in 2009.

I: I need my daily chocolate fix too, lol. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

D: I never imagined I could become a writer. I was a child actor from the age of six to eighteen, so I thought I would always work in the entertainment industry. I had dreams of becoming a film director. In my twenties, I was a singer and songwriter. The first significant thing I ever wrote was a screenplay, but I realized fairly quickly that I had more to say than would fit in a script. So I turned to writing novels. Being an actress and singer helped me to access emotions in my writing and translate them into words.

I: I can totally see how acting would help in writing stories with emotion. What’s your favorite book?

D: That's such a hard question to answer because I have so many!  My favorite author is Jane Austen, so if I have to choose only one book, then it has to be PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

I: I love P&P! Good choice. :) How did you come up with the idea for SILENCE?

D: I wanted to tell a story about a girl who loses everything that matters to her and has to find a way to reimagine herself with the help of a boy who is the only one who can communicate with her. I wanted to share their love story with readers who might feel broken to give them hope.

I: Can you tell us a little bit about Hayden and Stella?

D: Stella is a singer who is immensely talented--she is one of those people who seems destined for stardom. Her entire identity is wrapped up in this persona. When a terrible accident happens (I don't want to give too much away), all this changes. Stella is forced to see herself differently--and this is painful and difficult for her.

Hayden is an outcast with a tragic past. He has so many gifts to share but no one to share them with until he meets Stella. In helping Stella with her journey, he is able to be the person he has always wanted to be.

I: I adore Hayden and think Stella is such a good match for him. Which character in the story do you identify with most?

D: I can identify with Stella because I too was a singer and a performer, and I also understand her loss in giving up a dream. I admire Hayden because he is a survivor and instead of being bitter and angry, he is generous and caring.

I: I really liked the way you handled Stella being deaf and Hayden's stutter. Do you have any experience with stuttering or deafness, or did you have to research it?

D: I do not have personal experience with either stuttering or deafness, and I needed to research all of it. Although SILENCE is a work of fiction, I tried to make it as realistic as possible.

I: Well, I think you did an excellent job. What’s your favorite scene or line in the book?

D: My favorite scene is Hayden and Stella's date in the plant nursery. I love the romance and the honesty from both characters in that scene because they are both in the same place at the same time with their feelings for one another.

I: I love that scene. Can you tell us about your writing process?

D: I like to daydream about my stories before I actually begin writing. I have notebooks that I use to jot down plot ideas or character sketches. When the story has come together in my imagination, I begin writing, sometimes on the computer and sometimes in my notebook. I have a general sense of where I am going, but I don't outline in specifics. Instead, I let the characters direct the flow of the story. I read sections out loud to my daughters as I write to see if the voice is working. Sometimes I act out scenes as well.

I: How fun to have your daughters involved in your writing process. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

D: Freedom. Writing is pure freedom for the imagination. I love to see where it will take me.

I: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

D: Write every single day. If a novel seems overwhelming, try short stories, poetry, blogging, songwriting. Also, save everything you write because you might want to come back to it later.  

I: Fantastic advice. Can I ask what you are working on next?

D: I am working on a story about stereotypes, bullying and true love.

I: I can't wait to read it! Thanks so much for the fabulous interview and good luck with your book launch!

D: Thank you so much, Ilima!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why I write.

Why do you write?

That's me on the far right working the panel. :)
For me, there are a lot of reasons: because it makes me happy, because I can't not do it, because if I don't get these characters out of my head my mind will explode. The list goes on, but publishing has brought another layer to that list. It's brought readers, and in the few months that my book has been out, I've learned how big a role they play in my reason WHY.

From online reviews to social media posts to encouraging emails in my inbox, it's been such a neat experience to hear how words I've written affect those who read it. Writing can be such a lonely endeavor, and making a connection with others who share a love for my story is a really neat thing.

Teen Ilima
I've been left in tears a few times reading about how my character and story has affected some readers, especially teens. I feel a strange combination of love, humility, and joy that I get to be a part of that experience.

So thank you, readers, for bringing a special WHY into the reason I write.

What books have deeply affected you?

What else I've been up to...

I wrote a Dear Teen Me letter to my fifteen-year-old self in which I share advice on the struggle ahead. There are also some great teen pictures of yours truly. :)

I was on a panel at FanX talking about diversity in the book community. It was my first Comic Con experience and the highlight had to be meeting Steven Yeun (Glen from The Walking Dead). Who's ready for the premiere this Sunday?

My husband Dan, Glen, and me. :)

I enjoyed this vlogger's review of Remake. It starts at around 2:30. I'm always relieved to hear people say Nine's naiveness is funny because I thought so too, ha.

Me and Jenn Johansson
I picked up a couple of great books last week from blogger friends: CUT ME FREE by Jenn Johansson and WOVEN by David Powers King...both of them signed! I also can't wait to buy SHUTTER by Courtney Alameda. So excited for new books!

Registration has gone live for WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers). I will be teaching an afternoon class this year. If you're serious about writing for children, this is the conference for you!

I've shared some artwork from my daughter on the blog before, but did you know she's a talented music composer? As in one of her songs will be featured on an album soon and she'll release her own album later this year. She's so talented it blows my mind. The book I'm currently drafting has a musician who writes a song for my main character and I've been working with my daughter on creating the music and lyrics. Guys, it's so amazing. I can't tell you how excited I am to have an actual song to go along with the one in my book. Hopefully I can share it here soon. :)

At DPK's and Michael's launch with Emily King, Elana Johnson,
Erin Summerill, and Caitlyn McFarland.

What have you been up to?

Floating through the slipstream...

 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Woven!

Happy release day to my good friend David's debut novel, WOVEN. I've read this one and can assure you it's wonderful. Here's my review from Goodreads:

"A refreshingly original fantasy, WOVEN was an enjoyable read full of adventure, romance, and unforgettable characters. I really liked the sewing/textile based world and metaphors...so creative. And I can honestly say this is the first time I've had a literary crush on a ghost--I LOVE Nels. :) Well done." 
Five stars!

Congrats David! Want to check it out? Here's some info about the book:



WOVEN by Michael Jensen and David Powers King, published by Scholastic

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Available now wherever books are sold

iTunes            

About the Authors:

Michael Jensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.

Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld

Links:


David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen

Links:


Praise for Woven:
"It’s not often that you read a fantasy that feels as epic and original as Woven by King and Jensen. Clever, well-paced, and full of intrigue, it’s a superb read. Highly recommended."
— James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner
"WOVEN reads like a lost classic that was somehow just rediscovered. It has the feel of a comfortable, familiar blanket that's somehow been newly-made of the brightest, most original material possible, and it is pure pleasure to read."
 James A. Owen, author & illustrator of Here, There Be Dragons
"The worldbuilding is dynamic, original and intriguing … and the characters, appealing. A sure bet for high-fantasy fans." — Kirkus Reviews
"This brisk adventure from first-time authors Jensen and King is a charming quest tale in classic fantasy tradition." — Publisher’s Weekly

Rafflecopper Giveaway Link (One of 5 copies of Woven – signed by both authors):
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 is going to rock!

I seem to be down to one post a month. Sheesh. Apologies. Life is crazy and apparently blogging has taken a back seat for now. I wanted to take a minute to catch people up with what's been happening with me, but mostly I want to know about YOU. So please let me know what you've been up to in the comments!

Da beach, PCC, Pali look-out,
and Angel's shave ice
I spent Christmas in Hawaii. I know, poor me. It was a wonderful break and it flew by, but what a blessing to spend time with my family. I already miss them (and the beach) so much!

While there, an article about me came out in the local newspaper, so I was able to get a physical copy of it. Fun! Here's a link to the article.

My friend and fellow Shadow Mountain author Deborah Lytton interviewed me and you can check that out here. Her book SILENCE is out in a couple of months and you'll hear me gush about it closer to release. So so good!

Also, remember that audiobook of REMAKE I told you about? The voice actress blew me away. Listening to her bring Nine and all my favorite characters to life was such a treat. It's available on Audible and you can listen to a sample here.

Nine made it in the paper. 
If you're in Utah, registration has gone live for Writing For Charity. This will be my first year participating on a panel and I'd love to see some familiar faces. The best part is all proceeds go toward a great cause. You can register here.

2015 is going to be a great (and busy year) with another book release, teaching at several writing conferences, book signings, a secret project I can't wait to tell you about, and most of all--more writing. I can't wait!

What are your plans/goals for 2015? And remember to tell me what you've been up to.

River, won't you take me out into the sea
So I can get a good look back at the land that grounds me

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lots of news to share!

I found my book at Costco!
(In excellent company, too)
First off I have a guest post up at Thinking Through Our Fingers today where I talk about how to pull off really big stakes in a story. I'd love for you to check it out and leave a comment.

The amazing Elana Johnson gave my book her author endorsement. She's so cool! Here's what she said:



"From thrilling action, to sweet romance, to intriguing decisions that must be made, REMAKE is a brilliant debut not to be missed." 
- Elana Johnson, author of the POSSESSION series

Getting my signing face on.
Thanks, Elana!

I've been doing several author signings lately. Check out the Events tab to see where I've been and where I'll be. I have two more signings left in Utah this year, so if you're in the area...come and see me!

Speaking of events, I am set to teach at two writing conferences next spring. In April I'll be at Teen Author Boot Camp, a writing conference for teens. I'm talking about How to Write the "Unputdownable" Story. And in May I'll be at Storymakers running a bootcamp group and teaching a class on Diversity. So excited for these!

More fun news...Remake is going to be an audiobook! Not only that, but the voice actress is Kirsten Potter, the same person who did the audiobook for IF I STAY (Gayle Forman) and I'm totally giddy about it. She's so good. I can't wait to hear the whole thing!

My husband designed the site and did a fabulous job!

And last but not least Remake has a website! I love it so much I want to hug it and and squeeze it and keep it under my pillow at night. But alas I'll have to be satisfied sharing it with you all. Please check it out and tell me what you think!


I gave it all...