Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why I Collaborate

I'm an independent person. I need to spend time alone every day. I like to do things my own way, and when it comes to my writing, my first drafts are stories I tell for me. Writing is an incredibly personal thing.

And yet, my favorite writing project to date, is this one of which I'm collaborating.

It's a hard project sometimes, especially when we're stressed, or when we're passionate about an idea that doesn't work for the other two, or when I'm passionate about an idea that doesn't work and then get frustrated because it doesn't work. Darn ideas. Or worse, when I change my mind about something that has major ripples across the course of several books, and Melanie and Sabrina had to adjust their plans, and then I switch my opinion again. It's the kind of thing in my own writing would be just a regular Thursday, but when you collaborate, it's a major catastrophe. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for Melanie and Sabrina to work with me. 

I'm so grateful that they do though. I've learned so much from the way they work, and from having an audience as I do something as private as writing. And above the work, they have both been amazing friends to me. They've been there when my life went crazy. They've been there to talk with on days I can't get out of bed. They've been there to cheer with me on days I have something to celebrate. And together, we've created something that makes me want to yell from rooftops.

I guess the easiest way to explain why I collaborate is, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." It's not a fast way to write, and it's not a slim book producing way to write. But I hope when you read it, (and I hope you do read it) that you see the love and the growth that we've had while working on these books. I hope the story breaks your heart, as it has broken mine. I hope that it makes you smile and laugh, and then close the book while wondering what happens next. That these characters of ours will keep living on in your imagination. I hope it haunts you, the way it has haunted us.

I do have more books on their way that I've written on my own. And I'm really thrilled to work on them again, to create worlds and stories completely of my own making, and share them with you.

But until then, I'm just grateful for the kismet that happened when we started this project. I'm grateful for my friend's patience and brilliance. I'm grateful for the nos. 

I hope it makes you fist bump the stars and say, "Yes!"

Friday, November 21, 2014

Work In Progress - Melanie

My friend Irene is doing Nanowrimo this year.

I've got lots of friends doing Nanowrimo actually , but unlike the rest of them, I know Irene in real life. We stood in the corridor of the church after an activity on Wednesday, and she told me about the book she's been writing. I hope she doesn't mind if I tell you that it's got a raccoon in it. A cute raccoon who pops out and chitters whenever she's at a loss to know what to have happen next.

We smiled nostalgically as I regaled her with stories about all the times I've used a shovel to kill someone, and how fun it is to try to make the murder so natural that no one says "Ah! The Travelling Shovel of Death." Talk about pulling people out of the story, right?

As we spoke, people regarded us with wide, wide eyes, and stayed as far away as possible. Good times.

But I know you're dying to know the status of my work in progress. I can hardly blame you. Today is our deadline to finish Editing. From here on out, we're calling it Copy Editing.

Sheena, Sabrina and I have got a new title. We've got a gorgeous cover, which we will showcase in early December--I think December 8th. We've got a release date: January 6.  It's all exciting and stressful and not nearly as shiny as writing about chittering raccoons.

Here is an excerpt of one of my favorite scenes from the beginning of the book. It's a little hard to find scenes that don't contain major spoilers, but I did my best. In our book, Juliette, Sam, Ana and Company have been sent from Maine clear across the country to military school in California. In this scene, Ana is making some new friends, and getting a new nickname:

"You've got to use your imagination," Chad said, and I nodded. Two other guys had joined our group, and we were standing on the beach, looking out at the ocean. The sun had burned off the fog, and the day was sunny and bright. Chad gestured to include the whole ocean.
"The first time Suzi brought me here, there was a huge flock of pelicans. How many do you think, Suz?" he called out to her, and she answered his question as though she'd heard every word he'd said.
"Thirty, maybe?"
"No way," Chad said. "At least 50. And some other kind of little bird, hundreds of those. Right, babe?"
"Definitely hundreds," she said, and continued her conversation with the other guys as though she hadn't been interrupted.
"Now close your eyes and imagine those pelicans flapping their wings up, up, up." Chad flapped his arms in demonstration. "And then, when they get to a certain height, they hover for a minute, and then..." He grabbed my arm and pointed out to the sky above the ocean. "They dive. They tuck their wings right in and freefall. Boom." He slapped his hands together and looked at me with wide, impressed eyes. "Over and over again. Like the coolest party ever."
I made the appropriate "Woah" expression, and he continued. "Then they come up out of the water and the little birds attack them."
"Oh. Poor pelicans," I said, and Chad nodded solemnly.
"But then they do it all over again. Dozens of pelicans divebombing the water. Lucky pelicans," he said. "And that's when Suzi had her genius idea. Suzi!" he called, and Suzi jogged up to us, wiping her hands on her legs.
"Are you ready?" she asked me. I stared at her, confused.
"For what?"
"To be a pelican," Chad said, grinning maniacally.

I can't even express how amazing it is to stand on the beach and have a Pusher lift me into the air and out over the ocean. Terrifying? Yes. But it's a great way to take my mind off my problems. And then they let go. I tried to freefall without screaming, but it was physically impossible to contain that much joy and anticipation. Because right before I hit the water, Suzi grabbed me in a cloud of air again, and lifted me back up, squealing with delight and terror. Eventually it was their turn to Push each other into the air, and I lay on my back and listened to the waves and their loud laughter. It was nearly a perfect moment.
I felt a twinge of guilt when I lied to my new friends about my primary power being Prophecy. Suzi smiled and shook her head thoughtfully. "It's always the one you'd never suspect," she said, and Chad laughed and agreed.
"I dare you to land in the water, Daredevil," he said.
"I don't even know how deep it is," I said. "And it's cold."
"But you're the Daredevil," he said. "And we won't let you crash into the bottom. Scouts honor."
I was already striding toward my launching spot. "Divebomb!" Chad shouted as Suzi lifted me into the air. I shivered with anticipation. As I began my freefall, I twisted into a dive. The water wasn't as cold as I'd expected, but that was probably the shock. Suzi slowed my impact at the last moment, which was a good thing, because I think I brushed the ocean floor as I turned and pushed for the surface. At the very least, I hoped I'd just cemented my new nickname. And that maybe they'd let me do it one more time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

America through the eyes of a stranger

Starting from November 30th my partner and I spent two weeks in the states. First a week in New York City and then another in Washington during I basically saw the hotel World Fantasy Convention was held at and Union Station. It was the first time for both of us unless you count the three seconds The Maid of the Mists (the Canadian boat that takes tourists to see Niagara Falls from the bottom) spends going slightly over the US-Canada border. And for some reason most people don't seem to feel it counts. So here are a few things that I noticed on my travels.

The TV is trying to scare you

One day when my feet were killing me especially badly, we went to watch the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Nightcrawler. It gave an eerily accurate view of what the TV business looks like from the point of view of someone who has never before experienced the 24-hour news cycle. The first night we were in New York there was a home invasion somewhere in the area, and by area, I mean inside the states of New York and New Jersey, which is kind of a large area, I'll admit. There was nobody home at the time but there was some property damage. While that kind of thing is certainly scary and serious I don't entirely see that it warranted live coverage from the scene hours and hours and hours even the cops left the scene. They kept playing the tape of those poor people coming home to see the damage over and again, using the scariest available language to explain what was happening, even if it was just to say that nothing but press camping out on the lawn of crime victims had happened there for hours. Now granted, I haven't exactly understood everything on the TV's of the various countries I've travelled - Korean was particularly hard - but so far I haven't seen anything like it anywhere else.

Abandoned buildings

In the Helsinki area, where I live, real-estate isn't cheap. Even when you get out of the bigger cities, abandoned buildings are fairly rare to see, partly because most developed land either is lived in or gets plowed into fields. More because paper has been one of our biggest exports for so long, thus making woodland very expensive to just leave a house on. We took the train from New York to Washington and I was amazed to see the number of abandoned houses, buildings and power lines just lying there, decaying into disrepair. I understand and maintenance costs and even tearing things down when they're no longer used is not free. I'm just not used to seeing as many abandoned buildings in places that aren't "third world" (I really hate that term, by the way) countries. It seems very much in the vein of disposable planet thinking that seems to be common among US politicians and talking heads.

People of color

Finland is pretty freaking white. We're mostly known for blonde hair and blue eyes. Until we got to the airport to go back home I could generally pick out my husband out of a crowd by looking for the blonde hair. The thing that struck me though was just how non-white the service industry in the states is. We saw white people all through the city but more or less every time we were served or sold something it was by a person of color. And to tell you the truth, that really weirded me out. I had never understood just how systemic racism in the US is because a lot of time in the movies we see even the service industry is white and the few people of color we see are basically only there to be either thug #3 or Denzel Washington. And that was the entirety of my experience on the matter before this trip. I know, on an intellectual level, that thug #3 and Denzel Washington aren't the entirety of POC existence, I simply had no touchstone into just how... silenced POC are from the general discussion.

People are people everywhere

The biggest thing I notice whenever I travel is that people really are just people everywhere. They tend to be concerned for the same things, trying to find and make other things happen, mostly just trying to get through every day with a little bit of grace and charm. Although I have to admit, there's a lot less worry about leaving appropriate tips going on in Finland. I'm fairly certain I still don't know all the places I was supposed to tip and didn't for which I will eternally be apologizing to everyone I know who has ever worked in the service industry.


I LOVE Halloween! I fully think it should be a month-long celebration of all things scary and terrible. I love costumes and scary stories and partying to the sweet sounds of The Thriller. In Finland, Halloween is starting to become a thing but there are still many who oppose it as a purely American, corporate holiday. It was frankly joyous to see Halloween celebrated so universally. I loved the sense of community it created. Halloween, at least in New York, is a massively social event, bringing together all kinds of people. We went to tour American Museum of Natural History and the Rose Center for Air and Space on Halloween and even there everyone was dressed up. It was so cool to see everyone enjoying such an excellent holiday.

On the whole our trip was amazing and fun and a hugely positive experience but at the end of the day I am very happy I live in Finland. But isn't that always the way with traveling?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Work in Progress - Karen

Oy, have you missed me? I've missed me, have you seen my October and first half of November? Shoot. Me neither. Nor has my nanowrimo project seen me…I'm a few…thousand words behind, alas.

But have no fear, I'm here now, and I have WORDS to SHARE!

And what a week in which to share them! This week, humans have landed a SPACE SHIP on a COMET! Are we awesome or what? I love it when I'm writing science fiction and the scientists go off and make science fact. Best part of this job. The Philae is now sleeping, as it unfortunately bounce-landed into a spot that makes it difficult to charge its batteries, but I predict this isn't the last we'll hear of the little lander, nor its orbiter, Rosetta. Cool stuff.

I'm working on a sequel to my 2009 Nanowrimo project ('09 project is called A Star to Lead Me.) This year's project is called Guide Me Through the Deepspace Night. (Ridiculous side note: This is a trilogy, the three titles make a haiku. I'm a word nerd. I changed the title of this project this month and had to keep it 7 syllables. You'd be surprised at how many 6 and 8 syllable book titles you can come up with when trying to find a 7 syllable one.)

I'm slow this November because I've been overtaken by events (World Fantasy 14 in D.C. last weekend, the kids' school's book fair all last week. Lots of books to sell! Always interesting to be a bookseller for a week and see what people are interested in, what they buy.)

And now I'm trying to get back into the habit. Funny how difficult it can be to get into a writing habit when you're not in a daily routine. I have talked before about how I'm a burst writer versus a daily writer, something that's a little different than what you'll hear many writers spout as the One True Thing About Being A Writer (the whole "write every day" business) -- but yet there is some wisdom to that thing!

I'm really quite certain most of Guide Me is pretty terrible at the moment, but here's a bit from the story as-is. Quick plot recap/summary: Brynne is on a colony spaceship headed for the Gliese 876 system with 6000 of her close personal friends (not.) When her ship enters the solar system orbiting the Gliese star, all the adults and anyone thirteen and over on the spaceship falls into a mysterious sleep. Brynne and the other kids have to figure out how to operate the ship and keep chaos from descending, oh and while they're at it they should probably figure out what that unknown energy signature making a beeline for them is. Aliens? Brynne's going to have to figure it out and soon - her thirteenth birthday is in a couple of days!

In this scene, Brynne has been talking to Hunter and Sampriti, two friends who are spearheading the work on the ship's navigation systems:

“And a pilot?” Brynne asked. 
“Yeah, we’ve got … where is she?” Sampriti said, looking around the room, her eyes finally resting on the girl laying on her back on the table. “Oh, there she is. Halley. Named after a comet and now she’s going to have a chance to pilot us out of this mess. She’ll work the engine burn. We’ve run,” she sent a wry look in Hunter’s direction, “dozens of scenarios and her reflexes are fastest and she’s got most of the equations in her head already.”
Brynne looked back at the girl, still gazing at the ceiling. Upon reflection, Brynne realized that perhaps rather than staring at the shadows of her fingers, perhaps the girl was drawing ship trajectories in the air. But she looked so young. Before she could vocalize the thought, though, Brynne squashed it. The girl doubtless was young, as were all of them. Age ceased to matter when the stakes were life or death. Either burn the ship’s engines in the right manner and sequence to change the Selenium’s trajectory, or meet certain doom in the debris field or planet atmo of the gas giant they were current pointed at. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Work in progress - copyediting!

This isn't going to be a long post tonight, because I am far too busy trying to get the copyediting done for book 2 in the Prophecy Breakers series (it has a title now! And the world's most gorgeous cover!).

Copyediting is a ridiculously painful process. Do you know how many rules for comma use there are? Too many. Then there's the whole deal with formal grammar and vocabulary usage versus commonly accepted usage. Plus the debate over the serial comma (it's a conspiracy!)

It's all very insanity inducing. But here's thing: I actually really like copyediting. I'm not sure I can really explain why; I suppose it appeals to my manic sense of organization. The Finnish have a very inappropriate term for people like me that I laughed really loud at when I first noticed it today. (It implies that I love commas more than any normal human should).

In any case, I should really get back to it. But here is a peek at my copyediting setup:

Pictured are my gigantic thesaurus, Strunk and White, The Chicago Manual of Style, a mug for tea or hot chocolate, a neglected cat, a spray bottle for keeping neglected cats off the keyboard, various birdwatching paraphernalia that is always on the table, and a bunch of my roommate's stuff (including her juicer).

And no, those aren't pills for copyediting-induced anxiety. Those are antibiotics for my roommate's dog. Copyediting hasn't made me that crazy yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Work in Progress- Sheena


 Melanie, Sabrina, and I are in major crunch mode for erm... the second book of the Prophecy Breakers Series.

We have to get the finalized version to our copy editor as soon as possible, and we have our final Beta reading our ending, and we decided to add a major explosion type event to the middle of the story and need to now somehow get everything back on track plotwise, while showing the effect of said event, and then our cover designer had to go and design a gorgeous cover that made us realize the title we had didn't work, so now we are scrambling for a title, and on top of all of that, it's November 10, and I'm all out of Halloween Candy, so that means, NaNoWriMo has happened.

So this is my current work in progress.

That .gif is going to give me a seizure. Thanks, Bri!





So, an update... The Novel Formally Known as Pyromancy will be published on a specific day that we know, but I've currently forgotten if its the 8th or the 9th,  of a very fast approaching month.  It's awesome, and it's on it's way to actually awesome and in your hands and I'm excited, and also nervous, because my heart is literally on the pages of this book, and there's a lot of kissing, and I'm afraid people in my church might read it.


Also, a thing. I've written a lot, but not enough, of a really bad first draft to Funny Tragic Shadowed Magic. I thought it'd be fun and awesome if I could get a semi finished first draft out of November, but I'm seriously doubting my brain can take much more of this.

I have no reason for this .gif, but I'm out of Halloween candy.


In conclusion, to sum up, if you have title ideas, or Halloween candy, please leave them in the comments.

Fight on, warriors!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Melanie’s Winter Reading List

I've been going through a reading slump. For months now, every book I've picked up has lacked that certain something. The best I can say is that I was interested enough to skim to the end, but most often I just forgot about it until I got a notice from the library saying it was due. But, at Sheena’s encouragement, I picked up The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I finished it! No skimming involved. It was a lovely, lovely book that reminded me that books don’t always need explosions to be wonderful. (They do, however, need to be in the past tense, but that’s a pet peeve for another blog post.) I hurried to my library’s web site and reserved The Geography of You and Me, which is another book by Jennifer E. Smith.

And that was when I remembered that sometimes authors I like write new books. And that those books might help break me free of my reading slump. A smidgen of research later, and I had a brand new TBR pile. I hope you like it.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

Mortal Heart came out 3 DAYS AGO! I spent my whole fall not eagerly anticipating this book. What a waste. If you haven’t read His Fair Assassins Trilogy, you should. This is the final book in the series.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

A brand new series by Marie Lu.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Yay! Auri is one of my favorites. I’m so glad he wrote a “short” story about her. (At 176 pages, it’s hardly a novelette, but it is short by Patrick Rothfuss’s standards.)

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.
Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows....
In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card

This is the third book in the First Formic War series, the prequel to Ender’s Game. It is the story of Mazer Rakham and the rest of Earth as they meet the Buggers for the first time. If you are an Ender's Game fan, you've got to read these. If not, you can probably skip them.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I’m late on this one! Book 3 is already out, and I’ve never read book 2. Ana and the French Kiss is book 1, and Isla and the Happily Ever After is the last book in the series.

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

The Whispering Skull by Jonathon Stroud

This is the sequel to the Screaming Staircase

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. 

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found. 

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

    Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?
    But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results.
    The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid to the back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Catalyst by SJ Kincaid

This is the third book in the Insignia series, a series I found completely by happenstance. But I love it.
S. J. Kincaid has created a fascinating dystopian world for Insignia, her futuristic science-fiction adventure series perfect for fans of Ender's Game. Earth is in the middle of WWIII, battling to determine which governments and corporations will control the resources of the solar system.
Teen Tom Raines grew up with nothing, some days without even a roof over his head. Then his exceptional gaming skills earned him a spot in the Intrasolar Forces, the country's elite military training program, and his life completely changed. Now, in Catalyst, the explosive series conclusion, dangerous changes have come to the Pentagonal Spire, where Tom and his friends train. When a mysterious figure starts fighting against the evil corporations' horrifying plans, but with methods Tom finds shocking, he must decide which side he's on.
With slim odds of success, is it even worth the fight?

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

I’ve never read anything by Mary Elizabeth Summer, but goodreads said that if I liked the Heist Society series, I might like this one. So I’m excited, because I LOVED the Heist Society series.

What books are you looking forward to reading?

Monday, November 3, 2014

WIP blogging: The Avatar Legacy

It's NaNoWriMo time again! And since I'm traveling the other lovely Prosers agreed to do this month's theme post about our collective works in progress.

My NaNoWriMo story is about two sisters who are, essentially, space pirates. Miki and Lara Kim are just trying to get out of the solar system but Lara's obsessive ex-boyfriend has other ideas. It is my first attempt at a thriller type plot in which they somewhat accidentally steal the thing that is sure to derail their lives as well as the lives of everyone else, not just around them but around the human inhabited Universe.

The skeleton of the story was the first story that I started writing when I started writing again. It started out as one of them killing her boyfriend then calling the other to save her. Then it turned to him haunting her and into a whole other thing.

When I started, I was writing it in Finnish but it soon became clear to me that that was not going to happen with all the time I was spending reading in English. It also started out as a contemporary drama but quickly morphed into a supernatural horror story. It was at that point that I realized that I was so not going to be a mainstream author. Then the final transformation happened when I decided that adding "in space" to anything automatically makes it more awesome at any time. This is the version that I'm writing now. And it's also the first version of this story I'm planning to finish.

Here's the beginning:

The shuttle came out of the sky like a screaming hunk of space junk. Certainly the passengers inside were screaming despite having known what to expect. Miki Kim silently revelled in the fact that she could still make even the roughest, toughest pirate pee his pants. It was one thing to like something and quite another to be seen liking it. She suppressed the smirk creeping onto her lips just in case.
“All I’m saying is,” she continued her earlier argument as if nothing happened. “You can’t just walk in like that.”
The man in the rabbit mask balked, as expected.

“And why not? This is an awesome costume,” Cliff said.