Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Things to Come

Guys, I'm really looking forward to 2013. I just have this feeling. It's going to be an epic year. Maybe not in the way I'm hoping, but epic nonetheless. 

Speaking of epic years, 2012 wasn't so bad, either. A lot of firsts and big events for me. Maybe these won't seem so big to the rest of you, but for me, they were huge. And I think things will only get better from here. 

So here are the highlights of my 2012 and, at the end, I'll let you know what I'm most looking forward to in the coming year.


~I almost died in a skiing accident. (Actually, I was more or less unharmed, but I tried my first black diamond, and it didn't go very well. Seriously. The people on the lift going over that slope were pulling out their cell phones to call 911 because they actually thought I was dead (or at least very unconscious). Extra fun since this was on my birthday.) I realize this has very little to do with anything, but for me, it was pretty notable.  :P


~I finished writing/editing Diamond Tears after 1 year, 3 months, and 9 days (my fastest novel-writing time ever at that point). 

~I started querying Diamond Tears! I only sent 17 queries for my previous book (Hidden Stars), and I was determined to put more effort in this time. The first few months of querying were the most fun I'd had in a long time. Also, I didn't really sleep the whole time. 

~I started this blog! Fun!

~I came up with the idea for Luminary. It took months before I had a firm enough grasp of what I wanted to do that I could actually start writing it, but the very beginnings of the idea started here.  


~I GOT MY FIRST AGENT REQUEST! Not just for Diamond Tears. I'm talking ever. I think other writers would agree that while all requests are heart stopping and amazing, there's nothing quite like your first.  ;)

~I decided that I had to get over my prejudices toward (i.e. hatred of) Twitter. This is one of the better decisions I made this year. 


~I sent queries and entered contests. Honestly, I'm not sure there's much more I did this month (other than go to work). 


~I got my first CP! This was terribly exciting for me. Especially after she sent back a crit of some of my stuff, and I realized that she's amazing. 

~I took a shot at writing a YA Contemporary, Dr. Pepper Kisses and Vodka Smiles. I got frustrated with this project almost immediately. 

~Then I got my second CP! We'd been talking to each other on Twitter for months and I thought she was awesome, so when she posted a Help Wanted ad on her blog, I very quickly replied.


~I tried to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. I epically failed. Around the time I gave up, I also gave up on Dr. Pepper Kisses altogether. Turns out I'm not meant to write contemporary stuff, whether the people who I let read my first couple of chapters agree or not. Writing for me is supposed to be an amazingly fun and exciting and fulfilling thing. Not an overwhelmingly frustrating thing. Also, I like magic. 

~I discovered Doctor Who! I realize this is probably about as notable to you as the skiing incident, but for me, this was huge. Such greatness this was. I will love the Tenth Doctor forever. And ever. And ever. *contented sigh*


~I finally sorted out enough of the details about Luminary, and got a good enough handle on the voice, that I could start writing. Sort of. I wrote about a page and a half (much of which I later deleted), and didn't touch it again for weeks and weeks.


~I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary!

~As for writing? Er...




~I got over my summer funk and stopped wasting away.

~Luminary finally got going for real. I couldn't seem to stop writing. 

~On Halloween, some Twitter friends and my husband railroaded me into signing up for NaNoWriMo. I ended this month with great feelings of trepidation considering how poorly Camp NaNo went in June.


~NaNo! It was a whirlwind month of awesome, guys. 50,000 words in 25 days. Hells to the yes. 

~I started my new work schedule of only 4 days a week, making Fridays my dedicated writing (editing/plotting/etc.) day each week. Fridays are pretty much my favorite day now.


~I finished Luminary. Not counting that page and a half in July, I wrote the whole thing in 2 months and 26 days. I felt amazing. I felt like a real writer. I haven't gotten over that initial high yet. 

~I wore my NaNoWriMo Winner t-shirt to my family's big Christmas get-together in Maryland. Because I'm proud. And a couple of them actually noticed and asked what it meant. And when I told them, they were proud of me. That's better than any present.

~I got some amazing early critiques of Luminary and did my first two rounds of edits. Excited, I sent the whole book off to my CPs. 

So that's my year in a nutshell. I found the writer community on Twitter (including my CPs!), started my blog, finished one book and wrote another, and got my first round of agent requests. Not too shabby, huh? So how about next year? I've listed my goals below. Will I meet them? I have absolutely no clue. But I know I'm sure as hell going to try.    


~Use CP critiques to edit Luminary until it shines. 

~Query the living hell out of Luminary (and enter contests as appropriate). 

~Find the very most perfect agent ever, who is as in love with Luminary as I am.

~Get a book deal. (Bonus: have it be a three book deal with enough of an advance that I can become a full time writer. Wouldn't that be nice? But I'd be happy with any book deal and any size advance. The end game for me is getting my book out there. Anything else is icing on the cake.)  

~In the middle of all that, write another book. (Or two? Who knows.)  

How about you? How was your 2012? Did you meet any big goals or pass any personal milestones? What are you most looking forward to in 2013? What are your big plans?

Did you actually make it through this whole, incredibly long post and read all the way to this part?    

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Next Big Thing

You guys, this is huge. Someone actually tagged me in one of those fancy pants blog hop, Q&A things. And not just any someone. It was my totally fantabulous CP Delia Moran (check out her blog or follow her on Twitter (if Twitter is your thing), because she rocks). It's like I've made it at last! Or, you know, something like that. Either way, yay! I just finished the first draft of Luminary last night (insert insane amount of screaming and my happy dance here), so let's get started. 

What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for your book?

Back in the spring, I was lamenting to my husband that I had no idea what to write about. So he took me to Barnes & Noble and told me to walk around, to see if anything gave my imagination a jump start. At the time, I remember thinking this was a very dumb idea and a complete waste of my time. But I went, because either way I got to hang out in Barnes & Noble. And you know what? It actually worked. There was a big Hunger Games display, and I started flipping through some sort of companion book to the movie. When I got to a picture of the people in the Capitol, all with their crazy clothes/hair/makeup, I decided I wanted to do something with color. And, since I write fantasy, something with magic. Next logical step was to combine the two.   

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have absolutely no idea. I only pictured someone else as I was writing one character in this book. And it wasn't even a real person. It was Darien/Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon. So this is what I picture when I think of Remi (except, you know, real), who is one of two potential love interests:

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Knowing the king executes anyone who can see the colors of magic, seventeen-year-old Caya Filar is content with a life lived in grayscale. If only the stone in her engagement ring had stayed gray. 

Okay, I cheated. That's two sentences. But you've seen the lengths of my blog posts. And if you had any idea how often I started them with something like, "This will just be a short post," and then had to go delete that when I was finished, you'd be proud of me for putting it so succinctly. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I've done an awful lot of research into the whole self-published vs. agency thing, and I've decided that self-pubbing is not for me. I have a great deal of respect for the people who are able to take that path and achieve success, because I don't think I have what it takes to market myself in that way. I've also read a number of self-published books that I quite enjoyed, so I'm glad those people decided to do that. But I have my heart set on getting an agent/following a more traditional publishing path. I hope to start querying Luminary at some point early next year (maybe February?).

How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Well, I wrote the first page and a half in about 20 minutes back in mid-July, and then didn't look at this project again for a couple of months. So excluding those 20 minutes, it took me 2 months and 26 days from the time I started seriously drafting to the time I finished the draft (last night). To put that in perspective, the fastest I'd ever written a book before was 1 year, 3 months, and 9 days. I shaved over a year off my personal best, guys. And I couldn't be happier with the result. 

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

I need to put some more thought into comp titles before I can answer this question. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Isn't this kind of the same question as the second one (Where did the idea come from for your book?)? Because that was the inspiration.

What else about your book might pique a reader's interest?  

The thing I really think is going to interest people is the magic system I've created. Just to reiterate, color is magic, and anyone who can't use magic sees in grayscale. Since we talked about actors for a movie version, just imagine how visually cool that would be as a movie. Starting out in black and white, all Wizard of Oz, and then colors slowly start appearing. Until everything is color. And then when my characters use magic, they essentially pull the color away from the object in which it's gathered (magical energy likes to gather/pool). And if you use up all the magic in an object, it goes back to gray. It has to build up its magical stores again. I hope it's not narcissistic of me to say I think that's really freaking cool. 

Other than that? I write character-driven books. I always have. To me, caring about the characters is by far the most important part. (I went on about that at length here.) I absolutely love my main character, Caya. I think she's fabulous and smart, and I hope others will agree. Also, I'm in love with both Remi (think Tuxedo Mask) and Brye. I won't tell you which one, but I will tell you that falling for one of them was a mistake. He was just kind of supposed to be there. But I accidentally made him wonderful. I believe I've created several other characters (ranging from utterly lovable to the "I really want to punch that guy in the face" types) that will jump off the page. Above all else, I hope that my book will make people feel. What they feel is up to them. As long as they're feeling it.  

Okay, so now I'm supposed to tag someone else to do this. I would like to tag Veronica Bartles, who wrote a YA contemporary that I absolutely couldn't put down, and is hard at work on another one I absolutely can't wait to read. Veronica, I'm pretty sure you haven't done this already, but let me know if you have and I'll rescind the tag.  ;)

Thursday, December 6, 2012


So have you guys noticed that little #SipSwap button on the left? For those of you who have no idea what that means, let me explain. The very awesome Jessica Love and Kelsey Macke decided that writers survive on caffeine. And what do you need to drink your coffee or tea? Mugs. Lots of cute mugs. So when I signed up for SipSwap, I was randomly assigned to someone (another writer), who would choose a mug for me based off what she knew about me (from Twitter, my blog, etc.). Likewise, someone else would be assigned to me and I would do the same. Sounds fun, right?

Now, I don't actually drink caffeine. I used to. Excessively, in fact. And it's been a long, hard road getting to this point, I can tell you. But caffeine gives me terrible headaches. So I can either a) be in pain all the time, b) take way more Advil than is strictly healthy, or c) just learn to wake up/stay up without it. After years of various combinations of a) and b), I finally transitioned firmly into c). And somehow turned from a night owl to one of those annoying morning people who smiles all the time. Who knew that was possible?

Okay, I've gotten distracted. Whether or not I'll use my new mug to caffeinate myself is not the point. The point is that I LOVE mugs. If you look in the cabinet in my kitchen where glasses/cups/mugs are stored, you will see a small collection of real glasses for my husband and guests, and a shelf and a half of my mugs. I drink everything out of them. So the idea of getting a new one in the mail, perhaps making a new friend in the process? AWESOME. Just as much fun was choosing the mug for the person I was assigned. I actually got one of the organizers, Jessica Love, and she had lots of adorable pictures of her dog on her blog. So I pulled the ones I thought were the cutest and put them on a mug for her (you can read her post about it

The person who drew me was Keri Gilles, and the mug she sent me was PERFECT. Like, seriously guys. I love every single thing about it. So without further ado, here it is!

I have absolutely no idea why the picture is sideways. It's not sideways on my phone (where I took it), or on my computer. But oh well. You can still see how wonderful it is. I immediately sent her a tweet when I got it, telling her how much I loved it and asking how she knew? Well, back when I first got my business cards, I posted a picture of them on Twitter. If you take a gander, you will see that they have adorable pictures of owls on them. From this, she guessed (correctly!) that owls are my favorite animal. So now I have the most adorable owl mug imaginable, in bright, happy colors (my favorite!) and covered in flowers! I LOVE IT!!!

I really hope SipSwap becomes an annual thing, because I will definitely participate again if it does.