I decided to start the year with a january Blog Hop giveaway. So read to the bottom if you want to participate.
I love the poem by Tennyson: Ring Out Wild Bells. Love it. It’s been put to music in the LDS hymn book, and it’s haunting and beautiful and feels full of promise all at the same time. The song gives me chills. I was disappointed we didn’t sing it on new Year’s Day in Sacrament meeting, but maybe next year.
With two books coming out within the next three months, I have been insanely busy. This means I haven’t blogged very much, which is probably a relief to everyone because then they don’t have to hear me whining over edits, over the fact that every time I think I’ve uncovered the secrets of the comma I realize I haven’t uncovered anything at all, over the fact that my kitchen counters are never clear, over the fact that Mother Nature is a real slacker with the whole winter thing.
I’m really glad I spared you all of that whining. Lucky you guys!
But since it is tradition that I start the year by looking back at the previous year, I’d decided I’d better write *something*. I had things I wanted to do last year, and things that actually were achieved.
Writing. I had tons of writing goals. Long term . . . short term. I wanted to write three books. I wrote two and three quarters. I would have made this goal except the year ended with all kinds of stuff getting piled on me at once and honestly . . . I have three kids who need to know they’re loved. I had to put something aside, and the work in progress was that something. It’s mostly done . . . which feels quite the same as mostly dead. I will pick that up again in another week or two. The two books that did find their way to completion are also the two coming out in the next few months. Olivia (which is part of the series written with Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, and Annette Lyon) is coming out in February. And Hazzardous Universe: The Magician’s Last Words (Loving that title!) is coming out in March. The book that is mostly done is called Capes and Curls. It’s a fairytale retelling featuring Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks. It’s been a fun write, and I cannot wait to go back to it.
I wanted to read 70 books and I read 78. One of these days maybe I will be as well read as Jessica Day George. But probably not. That girl is a machine! I fell in love with Jim Butcher’s writing over the year and ended the year with James Dashner’s Death Cure. It was an epic ending to the series. It was fitting and believably human. I genuinely loved it. if you haven’t read it–then a pox upon your head. Dashner did a great job and Death Cure was a great book to end my reading year. Thanks James.
I wanted to get into shape. But one ACL snap and torn meniscus later, I am just grateful to be walking. I’ve come to the point that I can walk without a limp most of the time. I still struggle on stairs. I can do them, but sometimes if my knee is really hurting, it’s slow going. A rather severe depression overcame me at the time I injured my knee. It’s strange how a physical ailment can have such an emotional impact. I’m clawing my way out of it. Some days are great and there’s no pain at all. Others are less than great. It is the way of things.
I wanted my kids to be safe and happy. They are that for certain. I’m so grateful for the joy those three kids give me. I love listening to them laugh and hearing their ideas. I love the way they see the world and the fact that they aren’t afraid to share their thoughts with Mr. Wright and me. I love their jokes and hard work, and the way they care about others. Families are important things. And not every day is perfect in any family, but every day is worth experiencing because they are there: parents, siblings, in laws, nieces, nephews, children, spouses. I’m glad for the people in my life.
It was a good year. I was able to do some cool things and spend time with cool people. I’m glad to have another year at my disposal. Maybe I’ll get three books written this year . . .
I wish all of you a great New Year. May you accomplish your goals and be happy. As a way to kick off the year, I’m joining
Today I found out my book Hazzardous Universe is being featured on the Seagull Book and Tape home page of their website near the bottom. I don’t think that’s ever happened with one of my books before. How cool is that???? The book is being featured alongside the video my publisher did of Kevin Wasden and me. The sound is really low so turn your speakers up. The background music is fun.
Go have a look: http://www.seagullbook.com/
I am lame in the video a little, but I am lame all the time so it won’t be a surprise to anyone.
Book two to the Hazzardous Universe is done and into the publisher, and I’m a little antsy to start working on book three. So much fun stuff ahead!
Something I discovered while working on my newest book today was that sometimes accidentally adding a letter to a word can really really change the meaning to a sentence. My main character went from being busy to being busty. No surgery involved Glad to have caught that one.
I’m almost finished with my latest Work in Progress and am beyond thrilled about it. It’s one book that will be part of a four book series. The other three books are being written by Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, and Annette Lyon. I am so excited for all the coolness of this series! It’s women’s fiction that deals with relationships and the importance of friendship. It is such an honor to work and write alongside the three women who have changed and altered my writing path for the better. They are all such incredible writers as well as incredible friends that it humbles me and fills me with gratitude to be associated with them.
We’ve had a few writing get-togethers, which includes food, laughing, talking, more laughing, and actual writing. So cool to work and collaborate with great minds.
I’ve been thinking a lot about collaboration lately and found that my experience has been really positive with working with others. Kevin was and is an absolute joy. He’s been really wonderful to let me have creative freedom in writing the story of Hap Hazzard and Tara Jordan. And now, working with Josi, Annette, and Heather, I’ve found even more joy. Working with creative people who all respect each other really is key. That’s how collaboration can work. If everyone is there for the sake of the project and can put their own egos aside–the project suddenly becomes a life unto itself and creativity flows.
I always warn people when they mention they’re planning on collaborating on a project. There are so many things that can go wrong. I’ve seen friendships die on the vine due to projects that went awry. But my own personal experiences have been so phenomenal. I’d love to take the credit and say it’s because I’m just so darn easy to work with, but really . . . the opposite is true. I am sometimes beyond lame. I think my collaborations have worked because I’ve surrounded myself with good people. They make up the differences where I fall short.
I guess that’s the secret to successful collaboration–work hard, be willing to make concessions, and surround yourself with good people. Today is just a good day and writing rocks.
Because it’s pie and it’s a book, and Josi Kilpack is awesome.
Now that I’m done writing a book (and putting off editing that book) I am in read-and-review other books mode. It won’t be long before I have to get back to the grind, so go ahead and be shocked that I’m posting more than once a month and know that the once a month schedule could pop up again at any moment.
The only thing more awesome than me loving a book, is one of my kids loving a book. I’ve read Key Lime Pie twice now (once before and once after publication) My daughter decided she liked mystery books about a year and a half ago. She finished Key Lime Pie about a week ago. Now I want it stated for the record that it totally ticks me off that my daughter reads and loves the books my friends write, but would rather drink anti-freeze than read one of my books. Kids . . . pssshhhh!
Because my daughter is going to school in a different city, we spend a LOT of time on the phone (because even if she won’t read my books, she still likes to chat with me on the phone). Some of our conversations went like this:
Rae: I am so dang mad at Josi. She’s making everything go wrong in this book! Why didn’t you stop her before it got published?
Me: Just keep reading, honey. You’ll like the ending.
Rae: No, I won’t! Everyone I like is either a bad guy or written off at this point.
Me (smiling): I promise. Just keep reading.
Rae: Well of course I’m going to keep reading. I have to know what happens.
The conversation after she finished the book went like this:
Rae: Well I’m done! (you can hear in her voice, she is grinning)
Rae: It was awesome! Tell Josi I forgive her for driving me crazy. It ended exactly like it should have.
And so it did. Josi has done it once again, and it makes me happy to see my daughter get so emotionally invested in the story. Sadie Hoffmiller and her insatiable curiosity lands her in the middle of another mystery, one that means life or death, and hunger or starvation. Sadie finds herself in Florida–trying to help a friend, but also trying to discover what really happened to his daughter. What she finds is a web of lies, cover-ups, and of course–food.
The plot is great, the setting delicious, and the characters are as fun as ever as Josi ramps up the series with a romantic twist I never saw coming.
I loved it!
Conference was twenty shades of awesome! There is nothing finer than hanging out with 450 writers for a weekend.
Bootcamp was awesome. Registration for bootcamp started at 6:30, but like Sarah Eden, I think 6:30 am is a thing better left not acknowledged. I got to play bootcamp instructor for five writers who were delightful to associate with and who had good work to share. One of them was a sixteen year old kid who is definitely on the up and coming list of new authors. I envy the opportunities that simply didn’t exist when I was his age. Think of how much better I could have been . . . seriously bootcamp rocked. Sarah Eden and the critique group that kicked it off was fun and definitely beneficial for the attendees.
I got to do a pitch for one of my novels to Krista Marino who is delightful in every way. She likes thrift stores. How could I not love someone who likes thrift stores? This is one of the things that will forever bond Josi Kilpack and me together. We have had some good times in thrift stores. But I digress. Krista rocked. And now I am pleading with the gods of ink and paper to make her my editor so that I can shop with her and eat with her (she has great taste in food as well) And she obviously has great taste in writing, because she asked for the full manuscript. Yay! I feel a little dumb because my pitch was pretty pathetic, and I’m grateful my writing can stand on its own or she might have thrown me from the room.
After I’d finished the pitch, I felt like I could relax, so I went back to the bookstore to help Mr Wright, who deserves accolades and awards for putting up with all the stuff I make him do. I helped for about an hour when he said, “Your presentation isn’t tomorrow. You know that right?” Thinking he was messing with me, I argued that causing me stress on one of my busiest weekends was way uncool. So we had a bicker moment until he finally had to prove himself right by actually opening the syllabus and showing me that the class I was supposed to teach was indeed in 28 minutes. Nice.
My powerpoint wasn’t done and although I had 18 pages of notes, they weren’t totally organized into something that would flow smoothly. So in 28 minutes, I wrapped up the powerpoint, glanced through the notes, and rushed off to teach my class (halfway hoping that everyone had gone to the editor’s class being held that same hour). No such luck. The room was full. I think it went well in spite of me. I am so glad I had good notes! The class was on emotion in writing. So at least it was something I’m good at. Mr Wright saved me, even if he had to argue with me and twist my arm to do it. I so owe that man.
Since my presentation AND my pitch was over, my friday night was totally open. I almost talked Josi into shoe shopping with me after dinner, but our keen sense of moral obligation took over and alas–no shoes. Instead I went back to the bookstore area to hang out and chit chat–as is proper and fun at a conference. This is where I found that the dress Janette planned on wearing to the Whitney banquet wasn’t going to work because she’s already worn it the day before and didn’t want a repeat. Because I am overprepared on everything except on the classes I’m supposed to teach, I had several dresses that were award banquet worthy, so Janette Rallison, Annette Lyon, Jessica Day George, and I went up to my hotel room and played dress up. So. Much. Fun. Janette is beautiful. We stayed there until nearly midnight when Mr. Wright showed up and mostly broke up the party. And I just now remembered I promised Annette a head massage. I owe you big time Annette!
I sat next to Michael Flynn for lunch on Saturday, and so enjoyed meeting him. He is the producer of The Best Two Years. He is awesome and I might have fun stuff to share later on about that.
I got the chance to chit chat with Kirk Shaw, my editor at Covenant and I just think the world of him. Not only is he a discerning reader (since he chose to publish my books) but he is truly awesome. He’s just sweet and good to everyone and it’s fun to work with someone I respect so much.
The whitney banquet was lovely, as usual. Dan Wells did an amazing tribute to Dave Wolverton that made me get weepy in every way. It was a beautiful night and even though I didn’t win the Whitney Award, I loved being there and honoring those who did.I have to be honest, I’d held out hope that if I was going to lose my category, I wanted to lose to Riley Noehren. Gravity Vs. the Girl was so much fun and it would have been an honor in every way to lose to her. She did win the best novel by a new author alongside Dan Wells for I Am Not a Serial Killer. So deserved–both of them.
The highlight of my evening came after. Hanging out with Jessica and Janette is just so much fun! We had some pictures with our loser cake to assuage the pain of not taking home any awards (all said tongue in cheek, please know we were all okay and happy for those who did win). Another girl party in my hotel room (poor Mr. Wright). Later Howard Tayler helped us clean the bookstore up and load our car which was sweet beyond words and Mr. Wright and I talked until 2 am about all we’d seen and done. Some of my best moments in life are lying in the dark, holding his hand, and talking about our lives, our children, our dreams.
Another awesome aspect was Kim Vanderhorst brough me chocolate from Canada, and Don Carey brought me Dr Pepper in real glass bottles from Texas. I love these people! You guys spoil me.
And now I am off to prepare one manuscript for a film producer, another for my current publisher, and yet another for a national publisher. I plan on being busy. Wish me luck!