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Friday, August 27, 2010

an epic tale of how it all happened

Today I'm going to do something I've debated on doing before: I'm going to talk about what's going on with my books from a writer standpoint. I know that I talk about them a lot, but I always talk about it to inform readers.

The reason I debated is because I know people like J. A. Konrath talk about their work in a frank, transparent way, which is wonderful for other writers to read, but I think that he sometimes turns readers off with his business talk.

So I'm just going to say up front: I truly appreciate every reader who has bought me book, even the ones who hated it and gave it one star. I write because I love it, not because I see readers as dollar signs. I am very, very passionate about my work, and I take it very seriously that people are inviting me to entertain them every time they buy a book.

But two things have happened lately that makes me want to talk about the busissnes aspect of all this:

1. More people are asking me for advice and wanting to know what I did.

2. I need advice.

People ask me, "When did you start writing?" And the truth is I never didn't write. Before I could talk, I would tell stories. When I was younger, I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with the ideas I had, so I had talk and get them out. I was always writing. It never occurred to me until I was about 12 that I would do anything other than be a writer.

When I was 12, I decided that writers were boring people, and I didn't want to be boring, so I'd save writing for my "safety" career while I tried out other ones. In high school, I probably wrote about fifty short stories and started a dozen novels. I also wrote a full-length script for a movie about four teenagers who resort to murder to protect a friend. I'm sure it's poorly written, but I haven't looked at in like 8 years.

I finished my first novel when I was seventeen, right after I graduated high school. It was about a guy with amnesia. In a corrupt institution. Looking for a serial killer. I know, it's shocking that something with that many overwrought cliches never found a publisher. (BTW - my mom still says its her favorite book by me. But its still a very bad book).

I assumed that once I wrote a book, I would become rich and famous. This is apparently not how things work in the writing world. So I spent the next few years researching everything I could find about the publishing business and agents and models and plans.

I went to college, but I only went to my writing class, so I dropped out after a semester.  A few years later, I went to college again, but I only went to my English class, so I dropped out after a semester.

I've taken about three other writing seminars, I think. All my life people have told me that I have a "natural talent" for writing. I don't even know what it means, and I don't know if its true or not. But it did only bolster my belief that I'd some day be a real life author, with real live books for sale.

So I kept writing books, and I kept getting promptly rejected.  Over time, I get much better excepting criticism and better at cutting things out. (On average, I cut about 1/3 of the book out in revisions. Switched, I cut out about half). And generally just writing better books.

Cut to November 2008. I said, "This is it. I'm going to get published." I went to the stores, looked at what was selling compared to what I was writing. I'd mostly been writing about teenagers and relationships, but my stuff tended to be really, really dark. (Think a fictional version of Bully by Jim Shutze or We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver).

At Walmart, I saw 700 vampire novels. I said to my roommate, "I like vampires. I'm going to write a vampire novel, and that will be my door into publishing. From this, I will be able to launch my career." My roommate rolled his eyes, and said, "K. I think you should write a book like Carrie, but whatever you say."

So I wrote the vampire novel in 15 days. Then for good measure, I wrote another. I edited, revised, edited, revised. (I did have a teacher from a college revise it, too, which someone suggested I do, when I did.)  I queried. I got rejected.

I said to my roommate, "There are too many books about vampires out there. It's too saturated. I'm going to write about something else instead." My roommate said, "K. Why don't you write a book like Carrie? Or Scream. I like Scream."

I decided that I really enjoyed writing paranormal romance. Really.  So I knew I wanted to stay in that genre, even if it wasn't popular. I looked up different books, seeing what was popular and wasn't. I came across a few lines on Wikipedia (everything on there is true) from a bit of Scandinavian folklore. It was two sentences, but that was it. That was the idea for Switched.

I went to Star Trek in theaters, and came home and wrote Switched in a week. (During that time I wrote around 9-14 hours a day. I only ate ravioli and Red Bull and Sweet-tarts.) 


When I finished, I edited and revised, then I sent out queries. A few agents said that wanted it. They ultimately rejected it, but they gave me good advice about the story which I implemented. (The biggest one was that Wendy was too unlikeable. She needed to be tough without being rude, and I did work on softening her.)

I queried again. Nobody was interested. I worked on the sequel to Switched anyway, and another vampire book. The series wasn't done, so I had to finish it even if no one bought it. I edited, revised, and gave them out to a few more beta readers.

I started following Ginger Clark on Twitter, and I decided I liked her. She posted an article about trends in YA urban fantasy, and she said dystopian is up. I was going through a zombie phase, and I wanted to write a book where a girl kicked a lot of ass. I like damsel in distress, but after MBA I wanted the girl to take care of herself. So I wrote Hollowland in 21 days.

I edited, revised, edited, beta'd. I queried only about 5 agents with that one. I was getting burnt out on being rejected. But these five agents rejected me. Again.

So here I was. February 2010. I'd been determined to make 2009 the year I would get published. And I hadn't. I said to my roommate, "I don't think it's going to happen. I don't think I'm ever going to get published. I don't know what more I can do. I've worked like a factory putting out the best books I possibly can. I've studied trends, the industry, business models." And my roommate said, "Cheer up. You'll get published. Why don't you try the Carrie novel?"

So I did. I wrote Honalee. But then I got distracted by an article on Twitter. Somebody directed me to a link about Elisa Lorello and her novel Faking It. She made it to the top 100 in Kindle, and she didn't have a publisher. And then I heard about Karen McQuestion, and I found J. A. Konrath's blog. 

I didn't think I'd have any kind of success with ebooks, but I kept researching it. Eventually,  I decided that even if I only sold a few copies of any book, it'd be better than the pile of rejections I had building up. And the no money I had in my checking account could use a boost. 

(In case your wondering, the whole time I've been writing books, I've had a full-time job working with the people with disabilities for the past five years.)

In October, there's a Jim Henson exhibit coming to Chicago that I really, really want to go to. I'd planned on saving my income taxes to go see it, but between catching up on bills and going in on an X-box with my roommate, the taxes were gone (Side note: I literally only bought an X-box so I could play Arkham Asylum. And it was TOTALLY worth it). 

So I had no money, and I said to my roommate, "I'm going to sell books on Amazon through Kindle, and I bet I can make at least a couple hundred bucks by the end of the summer to go to Chicago." My roommate (who has heard my make lots of plans that I never follow-through with) said, "Yeah. Okay. I'll see that when it happens. Have you finished the Carrie book yet?"


In March, I made My Blood Approves available in paperback on Amazon through Lulu. In April, I published it to Kindle. About a week or so later, I published the second book in the series Fate


Here's where the story picks up. The two books combined, I sold 45 books in about 2 weeks. I thought to myself, "Not too shabby. Let's add another book to the mix."


I put out Flutter  at the end of May. I distinctly remember one day in May before it came out, I sold 38 books in one day. I took a screen shot. I emailed my mom and my roommate, and I knew there was no way I was ever gonna do that. I mean, I was just a me, publishing books on the internet. There's no way I could ever really be successful with this. 

In May, I sold 624 books and made $362.


Then in June, something truly magical happened. I discovered book bloggers. I had no idea such people existed. They just read books and write about them. And I don't mean "just." These people take times out of their busy lives to talk about books and have contests and connect with followers and writers and other readers. 


These guys are honestly my heroes. I'm a little in love with all of them. 


I asked several if they would be interested in reviewing my books, and most of them said yes, even if they didn't generally review self-published work. 


Then something surreal started happening. My books were selling. Like, really selling.



So, thanks in large part to book bloggers, June turned into a very good month. I sold 4258 copes of all three books combined, and I made a total of $3180.


In July, I turned 26, decided I wasn't a total failure, and released the first book in a new series. This is important because I consider Switched to by my 8 1/2. This book is THE BOOK. If I ever had a shot of getting published in print, I thought Switched would be the book to do it. It's better paced, more original, and just ... it's a good book. I cannot say enough good things about Switched. I know I wrote it, so I shouldn't say things like that, but it's the project I believe in most.

But I didn't see any reason to let it whither away on my computer. It's a good book. I should sell it. So I did.

Also in July, I finally found an editor and sent her my books. I contacted a cover artist about doing the covers for future books. And I put in notice at my dayjob.


For those of you reading this, you'll realize that leaving my job seems a bit premature. Probably. I am still on-call at work, but I wanted to really focus on writing. I wanted the chance to be a full-time author for awhile, even if it only ended up being a few weeks.


In July, I sold 3532 books and made $6527. 


In the beginning of August, a publishing house in Hungary approached me about foreign rights for their book. I emailed 5 agents then, telling them about my book, my sales (I'd just sold over 10,000 books at the time), and that I had people asking about foreign rights. 

Two agents asked me to email them a manuscript almost right away, and I sent it out, but I haven't heard back from them. On Monday, a third agent emailed me asking for the book, and he emailed me Thursday, asking me to call to talk about things. 


Also on Monday, I released the fourth book in my vampire series. It peaked #25 in the entire Kindle store. If you''re wondering how many sales it took the book to get that high:  150 in a two hour period.  Also on Monday - in one 24-hour period - I made $1200. Working at my day job full time, the most I'd ever made in a month is $1000. I just made more in a day than I used to make in a month. 

Things that should be noted: I just released a book people were excited for. That isn't my average sales. That fourth book is already about to slip out of the top #100 and it's only been in it for four days. So don't think that's usually how awesome my sales are. It's not. I know that. I don't expect days like that to happen very often. But it was still an awesome day.


So, here's what August looks like for me: I've sold 4873 books this month (as of 12:50 am). I'm estimating that I'll make over $9000 this month, probably around $9500-10,000. But I can't say for sure until I get the report from Amazon. 


In total, since April 15th, I've sold over 15,000 books and made over $10,000 with the expectation of making about an additional $9K+ this month. By mid-September, I'll easily have made $20,000. This does not include what I'm making through paperback or Smashwords. (I'd guess, combined, they were under $200, so it's not a lot coming from them). 

Last year, working full-time at my day job, I grossed $18,000. I'm not even joking.


I do have an editor, and I have updated edited versions of the books out. I have gotten a comment that editing still isn't great though, so I may be looking into another editor. Right now, things are so in flux, I'd rather not look for one. But I might in the future, when things are more concrete.


I have not paid for any advertisement on any site. I do give away ARCs to review blogs, but that's the only money I've spent in regards to advertising and marketing.


I do plan on hiring cover artists for future covers. I don't like doing them. It stresses me out. I like writing books and editing them. That's all. 


This is probably way more detailed than anybody needed, but a lot of people have asked, "How did this happen?" So I'm telling you everything I know. 


From what I can guess, it happened because:
-the books are in a popular genre
-the covers are enjoyable
-the price is good
-the writing isn't terrible (although, believe me, some people would argue that point)
-book bloggers recommended it
-accessibility - I'm on Twitter, facebook, goodreads, Amazon, KB. I'm anywhere I can be. I always try to respond to readers, even though most of my responses are lame. I'll spend about an hour replying to fan mail and it only amounts to about 2 sentences that pretty much say thanks. I'm sorry I'm a lame writer-backer. 


My biggest word of advice to any new/future writers thinking about diving into Kindle: Edit. I don't care what you think, you didn't edit enough. Some people won't care that there's errors, its true, but enough of them will. And they paid for it, so they have a right to. So edit more. And then again. Really. 



My problem is that I no longer know what my goals are in terms of my writing career. I've already far surpassed my expectations. I don't know what's realistic for me to want or expect. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled and soooooo grateful for everything. I just don't know what's next. 


So tonight, I was discussing all this with my roommate. I was saying how I'm not sure if a print deal would be in best interest or if I should ever sell my erights or what I even want. He said, "It'll work out. You're stressing too much. Even if you sell your books, and it sucks, you can always write more books. You should write a book like Scream . That'd be neat."



Thursday, August 26, 2010

I only wanna see you laughing in the Purple Rain

Today I'm chocked full of good news. It's currently 30 degrees cooler in my office than it was the same time last week. Thank you, Autumn! I can't work in heat. I can only sweat. Now my juices are flowing, work is getting done, life is good.

Also in good news: I wrote 10,000 words today. The most I've written in single day was 15,000. I hope to someday beat the record, but really that is a pretty good record, so if I never beat that, that's okay.

I watched Purple Rain this past weekend. I watched a lot when I was a kid, but it's been a good ten years since I've seen it. I didn't remember Prince being such a douche. He beats up his girlfriend, twice. He's mean to everybody. Sure, he looks pretty, has great clothes, and the music is phenomenal, but he's most anti-hero I've ever seen. Ever.

Anyway, if you've read My Blood Approves, and you're not from the Minnesota area, I highly recommend watching Purple Rain. The whole thing is filmed in Minneapolis and the surrounding areas (with the exception of Appolonia's hotel - that was randomly filmed in L.A.) The club that Prince plays at is a really incredible place called First Ave, and it's the place where Jack and Alice go to a concert.

Also, a lot of the action in the My Blood Approves series happens within a few blocks of First Ave and is shown in Purple Rain (admittedly, that's all 1984 Minneapolis, so it looks different now). The vampire club, Olivia's aparment, the place where Jack and Alice meet for the first time, that's all in that area.

So, if you're interested in seeing what it looked like when Jack was still human and growing up in Minneapolis, you should rent Purple Rain. Also - the music is fantastic. And the scene where Prince is randomly talking to a finger puppet is just a stunning piece of insanity.

I also updated the Switched blog because I can. You should check it out: here. I talk about Torn and the release date, and I also talk a whole lot about Michael Wincott.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

you may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one

It's the end of Day 2 and Wisdom is ranked at #52 in the whole Kindle store.


My life currently feels like a dream I'm going to wake up from.

I have this semi-reoccurring dream about this guy (who shall remain nameless). In this dream, said guy is finally into me, after all my hours of pining after him. And I'm like, "Yes! This is finally happening!"

But then something weird happens, like he suddenly grows a third eye, and I go, "Oh, shoot. This is a stupid dream." I try to make the best of it then, but I can't really get into it. Once I know it's a dream, it loses it's appeal.

But sometimes, worse times, I don't realize it's a dream. I wake up, and for a brief moment, I think that's all true. Then I realize it's not, and it's actually kinda heartbreaking.

At any rate - I'm sorta afraid that's what's happening here. Any minute I'll wake up, and go, "Oh... drat. Foiled again."

Until then, I'm going to make the best of my dream. That's the plan anyway.

So far, I've been wasting too much time instead of writing and editing. I have a list of things I need to accomplish this week, and I've done none of them.

However, my book did reach break the top 100, so I can't count this week as a total failure.

Thanks, you guys, for making this week so awesome, and I hope that you'll all let me continue to entertain you with my future endeavors.

P. S. Working on some Torn (the sequel to Switched) stuff this week - and oh my gosh. That's all I'll say about that for now.

P. P. S. I actually have a lot more stuff I wanted to say about a lot more stuff, but my brain is falling asleep. And my eye is watering.

P. P. P. S. I enjoy Stacey Wallace Benefiel. That's all. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

wowza

Wisdom came out today, and thanks to all your support, it marked the first time one of my books has made it into the top 100 best sellers on Kindle. (It's also #16 in Hot New Release and #3 in Movers and Shakers at the time of this posting.) It topped out at #25, but it's started slipping down to #27.

But that's okay. Hell, that's more than okay. That's frickin amazing. It's the kind of thing I've always hoped for, and so far, the response to Wisdom has been overwhelmingly wonderful. So, thanks guys!



Eddie Izzard went on a rant once where we use the word "awesome" too much, and he's right. It's hard to describe today except to say: it has been awesome like a hundred billion hotdogs. (Watch the video to understand.)



If you haven't had a chance to check out Wisdom, it is for sale on Kindle: here, and at Smashwords: here, and in paperback: here.

Also, I do have a contest going now (which no one has entered yet). Check out giveaways and contests for more info.

Two things that I didn't say this month:

R. I. P. John Hughes - February 18, 1950 – August 6, 2009 We'll never forget about you. Not ever.


R. I. P. Layne Staley - August 22, 1967 - April 5, 2002 


I actually picked August 22nd as the release date for Wisdom because it was Layne's birthday. Layne was the lead singer of Alice in Chains, and he died when I was a senior in high school. I listened to A LOT of Alice in Chains in high school.

When I was 11, I got MTV for the first time in my life. I grew up super Christian, and I loved the song "Heaven Beside You" by AiC. They played the video all the time on MTV, and I was always terrified I would go to hell for liking it. Ever since then, I've loved Alice in Chains.  


Anyway - in remembrance of Layne, I bring you my two favorite song by Alice in Chains: 








I also love "Rooster" and "Grind" and about a million other songs, but I thought two was enough for the blog.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wisdom is Out!!!!


This is what I look like right now:



Amazon never told me what the hold up is, but the book's out now, and that's all that matters. I sincerely apologize for the delay, and thank you guys for understanding.

I'm currently uploading Wisdom to Smashwords, and I'll let you know when it's up.

Also Alex at Teenage Book Lover did a great review of My Blood Approves. Check it out: here.

That's all for now. Wisdom is up, and I'm excited. :)

release date fail and other news

Wisdom is not out yet. A reader emailed them, and Amazon told them that there's a problem with the content, and they're doing testing to correct it. 

I don't know what that means, so I emailed Amazon, asking them what that meant and if there's anything I can do to speed up the process.

I have not heard back from them yet.

I haven't uploaded the book to Smashwords yet. I wanted to wait until after the book was up on Amazon, because I prefer when things are sold on Amazon, because I wanted to see if Wisdom could break into top 100 books on Kindle.

However, I'm not going to make people wait around forever since I said it would be out. But I am going to try to wait until Amazon emails me back before publishing at Smashwords.

With that in mind, I'll keep you apprised of the situation, but Wisdom will be made available by Tuesday at the very, very latest. It may only be available at Smashwords, but it will be for sale somewhere. I promise. (Unless Smashwords doesn't let me publish it either... then... I don't know what I'll do).

Here is the link for the Amazon page for Wisdom if you want to check out: Wisdom. I promise to let you know as soon as I know anything about it or if it goes up.

I've also decided that I'm never going to set release dates for anything. I'll set release months, and then I'll let you know when it's out, and it'll be a big fun surprise instead of frustrating waiting around.

Wisdom is out in paperback thru Lulu, and it's much more reasonably priced than the other books despite being longer because I didn't do the option to have it sold through Amazon. You can buy the paperback: here. I will let you know that in September, I'm making a switch to Createspace for my paperbacks that will make them much paper, so waiting might not be a bad idea.

Onto brighter news. Here's an interview I did with Alex from Tales of a Teenage Book Lover: here. He also hosted a twitter chat party on Sunday, and it was a lot of fun. I think we'll be doing more for future book releases.

Also, I did a guest post at Once Upon a Review about birthdays, and Khelsea is having a give away for a paperback of My Blood Approves and a t-shirt. So check that out: here.

As some of you may know, I'm working on making merchandise for the MBA series. The problem is that I don't know what to put on stuff. So I'm making a contest. Here it is: I want to know what some of your favorite quotes are from any of the My Blood Approves books.

Here are the rules:

1. The contest runs from Monday, August 23rd until Monday, August 30th at Midnight, with the winner chosen on Tuesday by random.org. 

2. To enter: Leave a comment letting me know what you're favorite quote from any of the four My Blood Approves books. Any character can say it, or it just be a line you really like. Just make sure you leave a quote and a way to contact you in the comment. (Email works.)

3.You can enter up to three times. Feel free to leave as many quotes as you'd like, but you'll only entered three times in the drawing.

The prize is an autographed paperback of My Blood Approves

Also, if you guys have any ideas of the kinds of merchandise you'd like to buy, or the stuff you'd like to win in future giveaways/contests, let me know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wisdom Watch 2010

News that's almost good: Wisdom live on Amazon! But you can't buy it yet. Why you ask? 

I don't know. 

Both Flutter and Switched went up for sale within 24 hours of posting them. They were early. But  I didn't care that much, and niether did anybody else.

But this time, I really, really wanted it to be up now. By like eight this morning, actually. So it won't be. It's not doing it because I want it.

I've learned a valuable lesson today, though. Next time when I realease a book, I'm putting up a week or two before I actually want it up. 

I have to go make supper now, so I won't be watching Amazon to find out what's happening. But I'll be back at 7 (central) for the twitter chat. Hopefully, by then, it'll be live.

Here's the link for Wisdom, if you want to check out: Wisdom on Amazon.

Also, if you want to engage in the chat, you can check that out here: http://tweetchat.com/room/MyBloodApproves 




Saturday, August 21, 2010

quick update... with an update

In exciting news: At approximately 5 p.m., I published Wisdom to Amazon. Amazon tells me it will be 24-48 hours for it to be available (it may take longer for international sites). So far, it's not up, but I'll tell you as soon as I find out.

Also the giveaway is now closed. The winner has been notified and has 72 hours to respond. Once they respond, I'll let the 3 runner-ups know that they've one PDF's. 


And double also -me and Alex (of Tales of a Teenage Book Lover fame) are having a Twitter party to celebrate the launch of Wisdom tomorrow at from 8-10 pm EST (or 7-9 pm Central - which is me time). I'm @amanda_hocking on Twitter, so be sure to check it out. It'll be a hoot and a holler!

Here's a link if you'd like check it out: http://tweetchat.com/room/MyBloodApproves



Friday, August 20, 2010

5, 4, 3, 2....

Lots of stuff I'm gonna try to say in this blog, so stick around if you like answers to questions you might have.

First: I've uploaded the first three books in the My Blood Approves series and Switched up to Smashwords. So people who have a Nook or other ereaders can read all the books in the series. I'll get Wisdom up on Sunday on Smashwords too.

If you're interested in Smashwords, check it out: here.

I've also revamped the covers, for no apparent reason, and the new covers are up on Amazon now. Well, they should be. Soon.

Also - the giveaway ends at Midnight tonight, so that's 22 hours left. If you haven't entered, it's pretty much your last chance to win all 4 books in the My Blood Approves series in paperback. It's a good deal. So enter!

Okay - now onto the important business. I've been getting lots of questions about when Wisdom will be out and why it's not available for pre-order and if it will be out in Kindle the same day as paperback. Here are the answers:

Wisdom will be out in Kindle the same day as paperback.

It's not up for pre-order because of how I publish books - meaning I do it myself and I don't have a publishing company setting the release with a timer with Amazon.

Which brings us to the final question: When will be Wisdom be released?

I've been touting August 22nd as the release date, but really, that's the latest it will be available. I don't have tons of control about when Amazon decides to put it live. I upload it, and they tell me it takes 24-48 hours.

When I released Switched in July, it took 12 hours for it to go live. Wisdom is all ready to go, uploaded and sitting on Amazon. I'll click the publish button later today, and then anytime between Friday night and Sunday morning, Wisdom  will be out.

So, if you're a really zealous reader, you can check Amazon this weekend, and it might be up sooner. If you have other things going on, I can guarantee that Wisdom will be up Sunday at the latest.

Also, if you do check and happen to notice that Wisdom is on Amazon, and I haven't said anything yet, can you please let me know? I'll be checking all weekend for its status so I can let you guys know as soon as its up, but sometimes I miss things.

And on a similar note, I'd like to say that I'd really enjoy it if you bought Wisdom this weekend. I have a feeling that I can get in the top 100 books on Kindle with it, and I'd like to be in the top 100.

But that's just a me thing, and you all feel free to buy things whenever you want. I'm grateful to everyone of you buying my books, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the series as much as you have so far.

Thanks guys, and I really can't wait to hear you all think of Wisdom. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

and now for something completely different...

Okay, I'm taking a break from plugging my book (Wisdom - out Sunday) and reminding you to enter the giveaway (it's four books - enter here) to talk about something even more important.

Mark Hoppus.

You may know him as the bass player from blink 182, but probably, you don't know him at all. At any rate - he's my all time favorite person that I've never actually met. Mark Hoppus has a show premiering on Fuse September 16.

It's absolutely vital that everyone watches it. It cannot get canceled. I still wake up pissed off that Law & Order got canceled, and I like Mark Hoppus way more than I like Law & Order. (But my god - the show was on 20 years and they couldn't even give it a proper goodbye? Oooo I hate you, NBC.)

But back on track. Here's another fun story. Last year, I got a haircut, and it looked kinda nice. But when I woke up one morning, with my hair sticking up, I realized I had the exact same haircut as Mark Hoppus.

For your viewing pleasure:


Here's a fun promo video with Mark Hoppus to compare the hair (and also for you to watch and get excited to watch A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus airing on Fuse September 16 at 7/6 C. Check your local listings.)



Also, this one:



And one more for good measure:




Theaser Thursday

On Tuesday, it was my mom's birthday, and my cat's. So happy birthday to them!

This is my cat Shinobi after I shaved his head so he head a mohawk. He's 7 now!


The countdown says that it's only three days until Wisdom comes out. The good news is: it's completely ready to go. I just finished some last minute touch ups (everything I do is always last minute), and it's all ready set.

I also played around, and I revamped the cover for My Blood Approves. It's not that different, really. But I liked it better, and that's what counts.

Old Cover


New cover


Also, for no real reason, I made a store of My Blood Approves paraphernalia. Right now, it's just a super awesome t-shirt and some magnets. And a really, really cool pair of shoes. Really. You can check out my "store": here. (At the time of this pointing, the shoes aren't showing up yet. But they're awesome.)

Which leads me to a follow-up question: What kind of stuff would you like? I like stickers. I haven't made stickers, but I like them. If you were inclined to buy/win stuff relating to the series, what would you like? Hats? Socks? Posters?

I'm not making any promises about making anything. I'm just trying to see if there's a demand for anything. Because if there is, I'll make it. I like to appease the reader whenever possible.

I did a really fun interview (well, I think it's fun) at Once Upon a Review on Monday for the birthday bash that Khelsea and a few other bloggers are having. I meant to post it then, but I've come down with the plague, and only recently began recuperating.

You can read the interview: here. While you're there, you should check out the other fun stuff Khelsea has going on for the big birthday bash.

I also meant to post a Teaser Tuesday from Wisdom, but again, the plague kept me away from the computer. So I'm doing a belated Theaser Thursday:

"Does it come with a flux capacitor?" Milo asked.

"No." Jack looked at him like he was an idiot.

"So it can't really travel time?" Milo asked.

"Well, no. Of course not," Jack said, sounding deflated. "It's a car."

"An old car." Milo crossed his arms over his chest.

Okay. That's way more than two sentences. But I don't care. I do things differently for Theaser Thursday.

And in a final note, you only have until Friday at Midnight to enter to win the giveaway!

Monday, August 16, 2010

life

I'm going through a thing... we'll call it "insanity." It takes me 7 days to adjust to any major changes in my life - good or bad. I'm on day 2, and I'm still deep in the crazies.

I'm now a full-time author. No day job. Just writing. This is awesome, terrifying, humbling, and completely surreal. It's both unexpected and expected.

This is a quote from my Myspace page (which I wouldn't recommend visiting, cause it's old and dead) from April 27, 2009:

The other day, I was in the car, and it was beautiful and I was listening to something on the radio, and I thought, “Wait. This is what life is going to be like.” And I was very excited. Because my life won’t always be winter. Someday, it will be different than this. And it will be very exciting.

You’ll see.

And today, it was gorgeous out, and I was driving home from my friend Kalli's house listening to Motion City Soundtrack, and I thought, rather startling, "This is my life. This is what it's going to be like from now on."

It was very surreal.

Anyway - I haven't answered an email all weekend, but I'll be replying to them all tomorrow. I needed a couple days off to celebrate/cope. Life is scary and strange, and I've learned that nothing is impossible.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Ode to Kieran Culkin



I just saw Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe, and it blew my mind even more than I thought it would, and I've been waiting in anticipation for this film for like 2 years. Which in my time is a very, very, very long time. It might as well be forever.

What you may not know about me is that I am a massive fan of the Culkin family. Inappropriately obsessed, perhaps. But Kieran is my favorite. Why, you ask? Because he is awesome. The most awesome. 

Exhibit A: Igby Goes Down. The best movie ever that's "not" based on Catcher in the Rye.

Exhibit B: Lymelife. Two Culkins in that one. And that movie isn't that great. But the part where Kieran fights with Alec Baldwin feels is pretty awesome, in a dysfunctional way.

Exhibit C: Scott Pilgrim. Nobody delivered as many awesome one-liners as Keiran Culkin, and the family had a lot of awesome one-liners. Not mention about ten million of my favorite actors. And also Michael Cera.

(Side note: Michael Cera is turning into a cotton swab. He's like a were-Q-tip.)



The moral of the story? I don't have one. Keiran Culkin is awesome, and I'm happy to see him being in films again, after an unfair 7 year lapse. Which, as you know, is unbelievably in long in my time.  

So: Go see Scott Pilgrim. Also recommended: Entering the giveaway to win four books. 

P.S. I'm aware this isn't really an "ode." But it sounds better labeling it has such.


Friday, August 13, 2010

I hate you, Charlotte's Web

I read that stupid book Charlotte's Web for the first time when I was eight, and I had both pigs and spiders on the farm. I always wanted to save every pigs' life, and I felt it was my duty to pay it to Charlotte for saving Wilbur.

So, thanks to Charlotte and her stupid web, I always think, "I will save you and not kill you, you hideously monstrous 8-legged freak. I especially won't destroy your disgusting alien pod of eggs, because that was all Charlotte had left to carry on her legacy."

This made the incident tonight involving a faulty cable modem very, very disturbing.

Today, my internet went out, and Charter Digital Cable's solution for fixing first involves unplugging the modem. Since the problem wasn't solved easily tonight, it involved me unplugging the modem several times, and yelling into the phone to the automated speaker who could not hear me shouting the word "Continue!" frantically.

Because this is what is sitting in front of and all around my cable modem:




That's right. My basement is like the barn in Arachanophobia, except way more dungeony. I don't know why my modem is in the basement, even the my office with the computer is in the second floor. My step-dad put it there, and that's where it's always lived.

I would take a picture of my actual basement to show you how horrific the egg sacks and spiderwebs are down there, but I'd have to go back down there. I never want to go down there again.

Anyway, on a fun positive note, this is something I discovered on the internet that I enjoyed (and is not at all about stupid creepy spiders):


http://ph.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100812114015AAwLU5R

P. S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a week and a half

Soo... Mary at Sparkling Review asked if she get an early copy of Wisdom to review for her blog. Today she posted her review, and she gave it 20/10, so I'd say she liked it.

You can check out the full review over at her site: here.

It's only a week and a half until the release, and I'm getting pretty excited myself. I'm also tremendously nervous. I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of it, while simultaneously being a little afraid of what everyone thinks of it.

Putting out a new book in a series is a bit different than putting out just a regular new book. People have enjoyed the first three books in the series, at least enough to read the fourth one, and I don't want to let them down with Wisdom.

So far, the responses have been pretty good. Here's hoping you guys dig it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday... Again...

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, but I'm doing things a little differently. Teasers are usually taken from the book you're reading, but I'm taking them from my upcoming book, Wisdom.

Here's how it works:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two or three "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page

Something in his smile looked sad. "For once, I want to love you the way you were meant to be loved. Without all the... vampire stuff."

On a related note, I created a Wordle with the most commonly used from Wisdom, and this is what it looks like:


And if you haven't entered the giveaway yet, enter: here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Casting Couch

I'm starting off with a reminder to enter the give away for all FOUR paperbacks in the My Blood Approves series. If you haven't yet, enter: here.

Now I'm moving onto important matters. Who would I cast in a movie adaptation of My Blood Approves series? Most of these people aren't the people I necessarily envisioned why writing this, but they are the actors I think embody the characters quite well.

Natalie Dreyfuss as Alice Bonham


Natalie used to be on the Lifetime series Rita Rocks, and it was still one when I started writing the first book. She was actually who I always envisioned as Alice. 

Ezra Miller as Milo Bonham
 

The eye color is wrong, but Ezra Miller works for me. Plus, I think he could handle the transformation from geek to chic pretty well. 
 

Emma Watson as Jane Kress 



I'll be honest with you and say I never would've picked Emma Watson for this. Her real life personality seems completely contrary to Jane's. But when I saw her pic the other day with her new short hair, I said "That's Jane!" That's exactly how I pictured her.

Charlie Hunnam as Ezra Townsend




If you're only familiar with Charlie from Sons of Anarchy, he seems like a weird choice. But watch Abandon or Nicholas Nickelby. That's how I picture Ezra. 

Kate Winslet as Mae Townsend



She's British and warm and pretty perfect. 

Emile Hirsch as Peter Townsend



I got the film Speed Racer for Christmas a few years ago, and I watched when I was drafting My Blood Approves. I'd already developed the character of Peter and had a vision in mind, but Emile's eyes (digitally enhanced, I'm sure) in Speed Racer, those were Peter's eyes. Totally. Plus, Emile is ridiculously foxy. Check out Into the Wild for proof. 

? as Jack Townsend

I honestly can't cast him. If you have any ideas, throw them out.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Turn on the Bright Lights

First, if you haven't entered the giveaway to win all four of the My Blood Approves. books, you should. Enter: here

Now onto everything else I've been forgetting to mention. I did an interview over at Two Ends of the Pen, which is a fantastic site with lots of cool author interviews. I talk about publishing and Switched, the first book in my new paranormal romance trilogy. You can read it: here.

Indie urban fantasy author H. P. Mallory has started this fantabulous site - http://www.indieurbanfantasy.com/ - and she's collaborating with a bunch of different authors to work on it (myself included.) It's still in its infancy stage, but the idea is to make it easier for readers to find cheap, good indie urban fantasy and paranormal romance. So, if you're into that sorta thing, you should check it out

Also - you guys, Switched needs some lovin'. I'll be straight with you here, cause I'm a pretty honest person: Switched is a better book than My Blood Approves. I mean I love them both, and I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but Switched is more original and Wendy is kinda kick ass. And Finn - he's ... well, you'll see, when you read the book.    

I changed my layout, too. I thought the old one seemed... less sleek. What do you think of the new one, folks?

I pre-ordered Interpol's self-titled release today, and I suggest you do the same. (I'm a little in love with Paul Banks.) I won't be going to see them at First Ave in Minneapolis the way I wanted to, but it's cause I'll be too busy hanging out with visiting friends. However, if you're in the area, you should def check them out on August 14th. And I was once quoted in the SPiN magazine with Interpol on the cover. 

Paul Banks (its hard to find a pic of him w/out a cigarette)


Oh, fun things that are factual: Interpol has a song called "Leif Erickson" and I know he's a real person and all that, but it's because of that song that the name "Leif" really started to grow on me. So the character Leif in the My Blood Approves is actually named after the Interpol song.

In conclusion: Enter the give away, check out the sites, read Switched, and pre-order Interpol. That sounds demanding, but I'm just trying to help. Free books, fun sites, great reads, and crazy awesome music. 

My all-time favorite Interpol song - "NYC"



The best Interpol video - "Evil"


 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Giveaway!

With the Wisdom release approaching wicked fast, I realized I've got to get my giveaway underway!

So what will you be winning? 



All four books in the My Blood Approves series. Not only are all four books newly edited, newly revised, and all around newly awesome, but Wisdom  includes an exclusive first look at Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella due out December 2010. 

How do you enter, you may ask? Well, I'm glad you did. Here are the rules:

1. The giveaway runs from Saturday, August 7th until Friday, August 2oth at Midnight, with the winner announced on Saturday, August 21st. 

2. To enter: Simply comment on this blog, saying that you want to be entered in the give away and provide a way for me to contact you. (Email usually works).

3. Only one entry per person, BUT you can earn FIVE bonus entry if you tweet or Facebook the contest (and provide proof with a link.) 

4. Winners will be chosen by random.org.  
5. The winner will be contacted on Saturday, August 21st and has 72 hours to respond. 

The contest will have one grand prize winner, who gets all four paperbacks, but I'm also going to give three runner ups the entire series as a PDF's (or word doc, if you prefer). 

I encourage you all to enter, and good luck! :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, but I'm doing things a little differently. Teasers are usually taken from the book you're reading, but I'm taking them from the book I'm working on - i. e., Wisdom

Here is how it works:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two or three “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

So with that in mind, here are two teasers from Wisdom:
"I knew that Peter and I couldn’t live together anymore, not if I wanted to make things work with Jack, but I didn’t like the feel of empty space. But it wasn’t just his absence that made the house seem empty." 

And there you have it. 
 

Monday, August 2, 2010

frequenly asked questions (kinda)

Okay, so people don't frequently ask me any questions, except for release dates about books. But I have heard some questions about Wisdom, and I'm going to answer a few of them. 

When is the book coming out?
August 22nd, so only three more weeks!

What can we expect in Wisdom?
More action, but I don't just mean fighting. Alice is on the move more. A lot of the story took place in the house the last few books, but I think hardly anything happens there this time. 

More answers. Hopefully, a lot of the questions you've had over the last few books will be explained. Stuff that's been hinted at in the earlier books comes to fruition.

More bodies. People die in this book, and some of them are characters you know. 

And of course,  more Jack and Peter. ;)

Will this be the last book in the series?
When I conceptualized the story, I imagined it as five books, and I still think there's room for a fifth book. However, I haven't written it yet, and I plan on taking a break from this series for awhile to work on some other books. But I am planning to release a novella around Christmas called Letters to Elise

Who does Alice end up with?
Well, for that one, you'll have to read the book to find out. 

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them, and I'll answer them the best I can.