Monday, September 22, 2014

Underrated Treasures

Today I'm participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Underrated Treasures Blogfest where I get to share the movie, band, TV show, and book that I love, but for one reason or another seems to stay under the radar. Here goes:

The Maze Runner (movie)

I know what you're thinking...this movie isn't exactly under the radar. In fact, it secured the number one spot this past weekend in the box office, and rightly so. But I wanted to spotlight it because it's based on the novel by fellow YA author, James Dashner--and I got to watch it with him along with my family and other writer friends (you might recognize a few pictured here)! How cool is that?

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, my teenagers next to me constantly grabbing my arm and gasping during the non-stop action and surprises. I loved it...highly recommended! The second film is already underway, and the September 18th, 2015 release was just announced. I can't wait!

Chelsea Lankes

I'm constantly on the search for new music to write to, and lately I seem to be tuning into Chelsea Lankes. All of her songs definitely fall in the pop range (which isn't my usual thing) but with enough synth influence to make me an instant fan. Her debut album releases soon, and I have a feeling she's one to look out for.

The Killing

It's a dark crime drama that lasted three seasons on AMC and was recently revived for six more episodes on Netflix. I admit the Netflix versions were too dark for me and I didn't make it past the first of those episodes. The first two seasons cover just one murder investigation, but right down to the last thirty seconds of the last episode of season two, my jaw hit the floor. I have never been so shocked to find out who the real killer was in any story ever. My husband and I still talk about it. Also, Joel Kinnaman's character Stephen Holder is my #1 favorite character of all time. I'm talking books, movies, you name it. He's the winner. I want to write an entire novel just based around a character like that. I LOVE him.


This is a fantasy duet by New Zealand author Elizabeth Knox. It takes place in an alternate universe Edwardian version of New Zealand where you can visit the Rainbow Opera and while you sleep, have your dreams guided by a professional dreamhunter. One of the most original stories I've ever read. As soon as I finished the second book I went straight to the first to read the whole thing again. It also has one of my favorite (non-human) characters of all time.

There you have underrated treasures. What movie, band, TV show, or book do you feel is underrated?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Learning To Share

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With my debut novel coming out next month (eep!) I have a lot to feel insecure about right now. A LOT. But I want to offer a little encouragement to other writers out there who are struggling, especially those who are in the process of pursuing publication.

We often talk about remembering why we write. Maybe it's because we love it, it makes us happy, it's a way to cope, it's purely a creative outlet, it connects us to our inner selves. Whatever the reason, writing is hard, and remembering why we do it when it becomes a struggle can help us get through those tough times.

I think it's just as important to remember why we publish. Because we love it? Because it makes us happy? A way to cope? Um...not quite the same, is it?

While I feel like writing is all about ME and what I want, publishing is all about US. My favorite scene may end up on the cutting room floor, or my favorite character might have to be re-imagined into someone slightly different to suit the story better. I may need to delete or add, edit and rewrite. And rewrite again.

But that's okay.

Because this publishing thing is a shared endeavor, with agents and editors and readers all having a hand in the final product. And that's really exciting when you think about it. When times get tough, that's what I need to remember...I'm publishing because I want to share my story.

I want others to read it and enjoy it, but I also want them to cry and laugh and love the same way I have--and in ways I haven't. I want them to see themselves in my characters and find a similar kind of hope and courage. To have the story touch them in a meaningful way.

Why do you publish (or hope to publish) your writing?

A few REMAKE "publishing" updates:

  • You can now preorder it for your Kindle or Nook in addition to a beautiful hardcover edition. 
  • Speaking of beautiful publisher sent me copies. Aren't they gorgeous? >>>
  • You can also read a nice chunk of the first chapter on Goodreads. Just click on the "open preview" tab beneath the book cover. 
  • REMAKE is on NetGalley.
  • I received my first official trade review from Publishers Weekly. While not terrible (phew), it is a bit spoilery. (Fair warning)
  • I was spotlighted as part of Utah Book Month.
  • Oh, and I'm having a launch party on October 17th at The King's English Bookshop. If you're in Utah, I'd LOVE to see you there! 
  • And if you're not in Utah, you can still get a personalized signed copy by ordering it at this link and letting them know.

Lay your hand in mine...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writer Regrets

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak on a panel at a writer's retreat in a gorgeous lodge in Sundance. The food (three meals) was cooked on site by a professional chef and was amazing, the lodge and surrounding views were gorgeous, and I got to hang out with fellow writers and editors for a whole was as incredible as it sounds.

That's me rocking the panel with Valynne Maetani,
Courtney Alameda, and Marion Jensen. 

Author Mette Harrison hosts these retreats about once a month. Contact her if you're interested and she'll give you more info. on pricing and schedule. You can't beat a private critique session with a visiting editor/agent in addition to a great day of writerly classes. (And the location!)

Our panel was about breaking into the publishing industry, and I think it was a success. Our scheduled one hour morphed into two-and-a-half as the questions kept coming, and I enjoyed every minute of it. One topic brought up was about what we regret in our experience so far in our publishing journey, and for the first time, I voiced something I've kept quiet about until then...

I wish I never started writing.

I know. Possibly the worst thing to say at a writer event, but on most days, it's true. I started writing in 2010 as a bucket list item to check off. But once that writing fire was lit, I couldn't keep it under control and it spread. If I had known what this writing life would be like, I don't know that I would have started. Because it's hard. So so hard. There are oh so many ups to balance those downs, but all that movement can make you kind of dizzy too.

I've been more emotionally unstable, anxious, stressed, depressed, impatient, and frustrated in the last few years than I've ever been before, and the insecurity I feel has only increased the longer I do this--it's like the more I learn what good writing is, the more I realize my writing needs A LOT of improvement. My house is a mess, I don't get enough sleep, my family eats a whole lot of cold cereal and pizza, and I don't have time to volunteer for so many worthy causes I wish I could. Life would be SO much easier if I wasn't a writer.

I've tried to quit. Really, I have. But writing is like a drug. I'm fine at first, but then I start to have withdrawal symptoms--anxiety, insomnia, restlessness. I can't concentrate on normal everyday things and feel depressed and cranky all time. And none of it goes away until I get that next fix: fingers on the keyboard, playing with the characters and stories in my head.

Do I regret becoming a writer? No. I don't regret it. I LOVE writing, now that it's a part of my life. A part of me. But if I had the chance to choose it again, I'm not sure I would. So if someone asks me if they should become a writer, I'll probably tell them yes...but only if you can't NOT write. And you love it. REALLY love it. Because it will kick your butt.

Do you love being a writer? Think you could quit? Any writer regrets?

I get to see this band live tonight along with Paramore and New Politics. I can't wait!

My songs know what you did in the dark...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Butt. In. Chair.

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I've been through those times before. You know the ones. Where you hit a wall and either have no idea where to go next in your book, don't have the motivation to finish and just want to start a new project, or need to take a break from writing all together because you just aren't feeling it.

I'm going through that now. Where all I want to do is work on the book I'm excited about, NOT the one I HAVE to write with a tight deadline and no desire to do it. But I have to, because it's my JOB. And did I mention tight deadline?

I have to constantly tell myself: Butt in chair, Ilima. Butt in chair! I've decided to take it one day at a time. I WILL do this.

How do you motivate yourself to keep going when you REALLY don't want to?

I keep feeling smaller and smaller...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

And the winner of a signed advance copy of Remake is...

Morgan Shamy!

Congrats Morgan! I'll have the book out to you soon. Thanks to everyone who entered!

These are ours...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Remake Giveaway!

Is it just me, or is this the most insane summer ever? Seriously. Between camps and tours and conferences and playing hostess to a stream of visitors staying at my house, I think I'm about to explode. Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Among the chaos, though, a lot of great things have been happening for me and REMAKE. My publisher has done some amazing things to bring my book exposure, and a lot of cool stuff is in the works that I hope to share soon. In the meantime, I'm doing my best to enjoy the journey and remain grateful that my publishing dream is coming true. Less than three months until release...eep!

This email ad was sent out last week from Publishers Weekly--
resulting in one of PW's highest click-through rates of all time. So cool!

After meeting with my publisher earlier this week in which they key phrase was "deep breaths, deep breaths," the next several months of my life have gone from crazy to CRAZY. So apologies if I can't get to everyone's posts or have to pass on critiques or helping with reveals and such. I love supporting my fellow writers, but a little break shouldn't hurt, right?

I did promise an ARC giveaway, so here's my first attempt at one of those Rafflecopter thingys. I hope it works. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What have you been up to this summer?

I'm chasing old ideas...