So I have this way-cooler-than-me friend who I fangirl on a regular basis because her book is just THAT GOOD. Really. And her book, ILLUSIVE, which I got to read the ARC of, is out in the world as of TODAY so I’m deliriously excited to take part in the official launch by telling all you lovelies about the super secret superpower I wish I had.

But first! You all must know about this amazing book. Here are the deets:

illusive-coverWhen the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist… She’s also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere teams up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

And here’s Emily:

EmilyLloydJonesEmily Lloyd-Jones grew up on a vineyard in rural Oregon, where she played in evergreen forests and learned to fear sheep. After graduating from Western Oregon University with an English degree, she enrolled in the publishing program at Rosemont College just outside of Philadelphia. She currently resides in Northern California, working in a bookstore by day and writing by night. Illusive is her debut novel.

 

 

 

And now to reveal the super secret superpower I wish I had…

hiro-nakamura-o

Time warping!!! It’s actually not a surprise to anyone who knows me. I complain constantly about not having enough time. As a mother of a 4-year-old with a full-time day job and a book coming out myself in October, I am completely swamped. (Hence the reason I hardly ever post on my blog. Sorry about that. ) BUT had I this superpower, I could stop time to catch up on All The Things while everyone else is frozen.

Hiro

Or I could turn back time to get something done I forgot to do.

Time-Manipulation

Or I could go forward into the future to buy my next book so I can just type it into ms instead of having to actually come up with it.

hiro-heroes-sad

Okay, maybe not that last one. It hurts my brain. But still. I could be mega amounts more productive if I could just freeze the world while I finish up just one or two more projects. And my house would be a whole lot cleaner.

messyhouse

Well, maybe not.

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*rolls out of writing cave*  *shakes off dust*  *blinks into the overly bright sun*

SleepyYes, it’s true. I’m alive. All reports to the contrary have been grossly exaggerated. I’ve just been laboring for the last six months or so to complete from scratch both a novella and a full-length novel. Mission accomplished! Both are in my editor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi hands, and I am officially writing my first blog post since I turned them in. Woo!

HighFive_TinaFeyThis post is actually part of a larger blog-hop project, which explores various writers’ writing processes. I was tagged in the blog hop by the marvelous Maria Andreu, author of the brilliant book THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY. Her post on her process is here: http://mariaeandreu.com/2014/03/30/my-writing-process-blog-tour/

Without further ado, here are my answers to the four official blog-hop questions:

1. What am I working on?

Right now I’m in between projects. I just finished the sequel to my debut novel TRUST ME, I’M LYING and have been taking a much needed break. I’ve been writing full-court press since September, and I need to absorb life for a few weeks to refill my imagination coffers before diving into the next thing. That being said, I have three-quarters of a novel waiting to be finished and revised about an evil reform school for kids with various pathologies—Disturbing Behavior meets Toy Soldiers sort of thing (gotta love those nineties references). I also have another novel idea that’s so new I’m keeping it under wraps for now. But it will be blisteringly fast-paced. (<– Psst: this is a clue.)

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to write about bad guys being heroes. My main characters often have unsavory pasts (or presents), with plenty of mistakes they need redemption from. They’re not always easy to sympathize with, but when push comes to shove, they reveal their compassionate marshmallow underbellies.

When I was working with a web designer to redo my author site, I wrote up a description of how I see my “author brand.” It went something like this: I write about teenage delinquents saving the day, because I really dig the idea that sometimes it takes a bad guy to bring down an even badder guy. My (then current) website has a bunch of pictures I took of graffiti coloring a beautiful, burned-down building, because urban-decay-turned-street-art represents to me the attempt by the disenfranchised (which teenagers often are) to reclaim the ruins of their own lives. It’s subversive but poignant and ultimately an expression of what it means to be human, to want to leave our mark on something, even if that something is damaged and forgotten. In short, my creative focus is the plight of disaffected youth—the kids with the snarky, chip-on-the-shoulder veneer that thinly veils the pain and bravery and strength underneath.

HeartPile3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes, digging around in my subconscious trying to ferret out my underlying motives. I was a good girl growing up. The only tagging I ever did involved chasing other kids and tapping them on the shoulder; the only hacking I ever did was when I had a really bad case of whooping cough; the only lying I ever did was on my bed with my nose stuck in a book; the only arson I ever did was…well, you get the idea.

I guess when it comes down to it, I always felt like an outsider. I was too nerdy, too gullible, too clueless, too withdrawn, too unnoticeable, too timid, too uninterested in all the things that seemed so important to my peers. So writing about petty criminals being heroes is perhaps a claiming of my less desirable parts, a rebellion against my own self-repression, as well as a wish-fulfilling historical revisionism where I take a stand for something important and prevail.

And at the end of the day, I’d hope that some kid out there feeling lonely, sin-riddled, weak, and worthless would read my stories and feel like self-acceptance is as close as simply deciding to take positive action. IDK, this is far too much deep thought for 6:30 in the morning. *drinks moar coffee*

4. How does your writing process work?

This is how my writing process works: I do whatever it takes to finish. Whatever. It. Takes. I think that’s most people’s process, to be honest, whether they break it down for you into steps or not. Process is adaptable, unique to each book, hard to pin down, and ultimately not as relevant as commitment. Commitment is everything.

But in the spirit of actually answering the question, my writing approach is less a linear process and more a grab bag of tools. My grab bag includes: brainstorming sessions with my critique partners, mind-mapping, storyboarding, Save the Cat methodology, timeline spreadsheets, Google/Wikipedia, character spreadsheets, wordcount goals, word sprints with online writer friends, playlists for plot/characterization inspiration, online thesaurus, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

When I’m stuck, I pull out a different tool and tackle the problem from a new angle. But by far the most effective tool in my arsenal is persistence. Even when I’m mired in so much self-doubt that I’m convinced all my work is complete crap, I keep working. So, yeah. That’s my process.

For those who are all “tl;dr,” here is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS POST:

Next on the list revealing the inner workings of their writing process are…

Clara Kensie, author of the Run To You serials, and
Liz Czukas, author of Ask Again Later.

Both are my literary-agent sisters, and I love their books dearly. <333

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Woo hoo! We’re finally in 2014! The year my debut novel hits shelves! *happy dance*

The book itself won’t be out until October, but in the months leading up to release day, we’ll have a few fun events to warm us up for the big day.

Today’s big event is… *drumroll* … the COVER REVEAL!!!

It’s such a big deal, in fact, that I asked another website to host it–the online hub of all things YA: yabookscentral.com!

Click the link below to be taken directly to the cover reveal for Trust Me, I’m Lying. Then leave a comment to enter the giveaway for one of three signed (or even annotated!) advanced copies of the book! You can earn more entries by posting about the reveal/giveaway in your other social media networks (details should be listed on the giveaway page).

Here’s the link! www.yabookscentral.com/

Trust me, it’s worth it.

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I was tagged in the Next Big Thing Tour by Emily Lloyd-Jones, author of ILLUSIVE, which is about a kick-ass group of high-class thieves with super powers embroiled in a deadly race against the government for the vaccine that gave them their powers. How cool is that??

Thumb Is Up

The Next Big Thing Tour is for readers to discover new and upcoming authors. So hold onto your hats!

  1. What is the working title of your next book?
    The title is Trust Me, I’m Lying. My mom thought of it, which makes it special to me. But TMIL is actually its second official title. The first, Catch My Grift, my partner thought up. Moral of the story: don’t ask me to name your book, but do ask my family. They’re the creative ones.
  2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
    At the time I was casting about for a new story idea, I happened to be watching a lot of con artist shows on TV—Leverage, White Collar, etc. Con artists seemed to be everywhere in adult entertainment, but I hadn’t seen it at all in YA. (I then found some later, but at the time, I was blissfully unaware.) So that thought was congealing in the back of my brain one night when I went to sleep, and when I woke up the next morning, Julep (the protagonist for TMIL) sprung fully formed into my head. I could literally hear her voice. So I had to write her.
  3. What is the genre of your book?
    YA mystery/suspense. To be more specific, it’s a caper novel with lots of heists and swindles, action and sleight-of-hand. And there’s a bit of romance, too, because romance. Amirite?
  4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in the movie rendition?
    I’m terrible with actors/actresses. Especially ones that would look right in a teen role. BUT I do have a Pinterest page for TMIL that has pics of the major players, and may give you some hints about the story as well. Feel free to check it out!
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    When Julep Dupree, con artist and sophomore at St. Agatha High, comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and a missing father, she must call in all her favors and use every grift in the book to find him before his mark finds her.
  6. Who is publishing your book?
    The amazingly fantabulous folks at Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House). My wise and steadfast and brilliant editor is Wendy Loggia, who also worked on (among a great many other awesome books) A Great and Terrible Beauty and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
    I had a few false starts, but once I started really going, it took about nine months to write and revise.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    Probably the closest is Ally Carter’s Heist Society, though TMIL is more about abandoned warehouses and grimy alleys than art museums.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    For a while now I’ve wanted to write a book wherein a bad guy somehow finds herself in a position to do a good thing, and then muddles through the identity crisis that inevitably ensues. I’d seen the trope in sci-fi with shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, but I hadn’t really seen it yet told from a protagonist’s point of view in YA. (Again, I was woefully undereducated at the time.) In any case, what my imagination really glommed onto was the question: what if a bad guy had to become good?
  10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
    There are mobsters in it. And tips on how to be a con artist. And cars, several cool-ass cars. And somebody gets arrested (several somebodies, in fact).

Now it’s my turn to tag two intriguing authors whose books I know readers will be drooling over!

Marie LangagerMarie Langager, author of HAVEN (Bloomsbury) is out in Winter 2014. FYI, I’ve read this book and it totally rocks. Think ENDER’S GAME meets THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Marie Langager’s HAVEN is about a 17yo girl whose dying ship lands on an unexpectedly inhabited planet where she is marked by the Locals as a specimen for their grueling and dangerous tests and is the only one who can determine whether they are out to understand or destroy their uninvited guests.

 

Caroline T. RichmondCaroline T. Richmond, author of ANOMALY (Scholastic) is out Fall 2014. Seventy years after Hitler won WWII and colonized the United States, Zara St. James must use her superpowers to raise a revolution and push the Nazis to back where they belong.

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Dandelion

The hiatus is over, ladies and gents. I am officially back on the blogging bandwagon. I’ve been around here and there, starting a new Tumblr account, lurking on Twitter, and drafting REFORMED like a crazy person. I’m nearly done with the first pass at REFORMED (yay!), and I just got my first revision from my editor (major yay!), and for the most part, this post is going to contain a miscellaneous assortment of news.

My first big announcement is that CATCH MY GRIFT’s title has changed to TRUST ME, I’M LYING. I was bummed to have to change it, since CMG is so darned clever, and everyone I’ve ever explained it to has loved it. But therein lies the rub. Nearly every time I’ve told someone the title, I’ve then immediately had to explain it. So my editor very kindly and accurately pointed out that perhaps it isn’t the best idea for a book from a debut author to a YA audience. I saw the sense in it at once, even though I was a bit daunted at the idea of having to come up with a new title that I liked as much. But with help, I came up with the new title, and I’m satisfied that it keeps with the overall snark of the novel, so…ta da!

Also, TRUST ME, I’M LYING is now up on Goodreads! The cover isn’t up yet, but you can now add it to your to-read list! It has an ISBN and everything.

To give you an update on where TMIL is in development, I’m working on my big, overall content edit (which is the first round of edits from my editor) and the cover designer is starting to work on the cover (OMG!). I really cannot wait to see it.

I’ve also joined a 2014-debut author’s group called OneFour KidLit. You should all go immediately and check out the blog, the Tumblr account, the Facebook page, the YouTube channel, and the Twitter account. Seriously. I’ve been reading the ARCs, people. These books are going to Blow. Your. Mind.

I think that’s all my news for now. I promise I’ll post something a little less me-centric, and a little more interesting in the very near future. Happy Mother’s Day!

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pothole

I just wanted to give my loyal followers a quick heads-up that I’ll be moving a lot of stuff around on my site, switching to a new URL (mesummer.com), and generally just prettifying the joint. I am definitely not what you’d call a web-developer pro, so I apologize in advance if I screw the whole thing up. There will be lots of wonkiness in the next few days, so watch for the potholes!

I’ll post when I’m done and everything’s back online. I’m hoping all the email subscription and RSS feeds will get transported over without incident, but if for some reason you don’t hear from me by next week, type mesummer.com into your browser address bar and sign up again! Thanks for your patience!

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Trumpets

Sound the trumpets! Ring the bells! Shout hallelujahs from the hilltops! I have a book deal. You read that right! Delacorte (an imprint of Random House) has offered me a contract on my first two YA novels: CATCH MY GRIFT, and the aptly (though only temporarily) named CATCH MY GRIFT 2.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunity. For one thing, I’ll get to work with Wendy Loggia, who has edited several of my favorite YA authors, including Libba Bray. For another, my book is getting published! This is my face right now–> :-OOO

I still can’t believe I am typing this. As the dramatic events of the last week and a half unfolded, I would update my partner on each development and think, “how is this coming out of my mouth???” Craziness! I told an agent friend that it feels like waking up one day and having someone tell you that unicorns are real.

I owe so much to my incomparable agent Laura Bradford, who knew which editors would be most interested in my manuscript, and who educated me, reassured me, and coached me through the whole process. I would be exactly nowhere without her.

So onto the forecasted release dates! Here is what we’re looking at:

CATCH MY GRIFT, to be released Fall 2014
AS YET UNTITLED SEQUEL, to be released Fall 2015

I’m also still working on that other project I started in June. And there might be a few new things coming down the pike. But CMG is back to the top of my priority list. Woo hoo!

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And now for something completely different! (Variety is good, I’m told.) My baby brother, of whom I’m ridiculously proud, and his brilliant girlfriend, who is truly amazing for reals, are in the process of polishing a documentary they filmed about their experience building and living in a tiny house. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the “tiny-house movement” is basically the implementation of a set of ideals in which a person tries to live on as small a footprint as possible, using as little resources as possible, to make the world a better place for its burgeoning population.

Back a few years ago, my brother was inspired by this movement to build his own tiny house and, since he’s a filmmaker, document the whole experience, exploring as he built the house the idea of what makes a home. A few months ago, he and his girlfriend finished the house and the filming and sent me a rough cut to get my opinion. Well, let me just say that I was Blown. Away. The quality of the project, the power of the interviews, the heart of the film…words just cannot describe it. You’d have to see it yourself.

So then a week or two ago, they submitted the film to the Sundance Film Festival, and while we anxiously await news on whether or not the submission will be accepted from among the 12,000 other films submitted, I thought I’d write up a quick blog post about four tenets I believe writing has in common with the tiny-house movement. Continue reading

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This is the third and final installment in our apostrophe series. For the first installment on possessives, go here. If you’re more interested in how apostrophes affect plurals, go here. And now for the big announcement, if you make it all the way to the end of this post, you’ll get a PDF with a step-by-step walkthrough of how and when to use an apostrophe made by your very own grammar guru, ME! Be gentle, it’s my first. And it’s kinda blurry. But it’s all yours if you want a handy-dandy, printable reference guide on avoiding apostro-tastrophe.

Now on to the meat of the matter… Continue reading

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HaloContinuing with our apostrophic discussion from the last grammar blip post, now it’s time to talk about how apostrophes and nonpossessive plurals don’t mix…

Let it be known henceforth and forevermore that if thou art attempting to create the plural form of a singular noun—that is, in indication that more than one of the item be present—thou shalt NOT use an apostrophe. Continue reading

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