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!