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Spirit and Dust Contest

Next week (May 13th!) I’ll be celebrating the paperback release of Spirit and Dust!  It seems like the perfect time for an awesome, amazing, artistic contest!

That’s right. An artistic contest. This one is going to require some creativity.

What’s the mission, should I choose to accept it?

Create any type of Spirit and Dust inspired art or fiction and submit it by May 31st. It will be judged by a panel of a graphic artist, a young adult librarian, a reader/fan of the books (who won’t be able to enter, obviously), and of course, me. The winners will be announced by June 15th. The prizes are, as the MasterCard commercial says, priceless. Continue reading

News bulletin from the writing cave

Yes, I’m still flying the flag, but here’s a few cool things going on:

Spirit and Dust as been chosen as an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.  Yay!!!!

I am totally jazzed to be included in this list, because a lot of bookish people love my books (and I’m so grateful!) but it’s cool that someone (enough someone’s to make a panel) thinks that people who don’t already love books will enjoy my writing.

FYI, I’m not sure I posted that Spirit and Dust was also chosen by the Texas Library Association for the TAYSHAS list.  That is also a huge honor and I didn’t want to not point that out. Because, ego, whatever.

Finally,  I have something new coming out, but it’s not a novel. Do you like Veronica Roth’s Divergent series?  Have you not read it, but you want to know something about it before the movie comes out?  Do you just want to find out what the buzz is about?

DivergentThinking_FrontCoverFrom Smart Pop Books: Divergent Thinking. Your favorite authors (like me!) writing about your favorite books. My essay is called “From Fire Signs to Factions” and it sets the Factions of Divergent’s world in context of ancient and modern astrology, current psychological typing, and also, superheroes.  Because how many times do you get to read an essay that talks about Ptolomy, Neville Chamberlain, Carl Jung, Meyers-Briggs, 70′s singles bar pick up lines, Shakespeare, Disney movies, DC and Marvel comics all in the same essay!*

There’s also articles from other smart people who are smart about other things: Blythe Woolston, Debra Driza, Maria V. Snyder, Jenna Snyder, Elizabeth Norris, Dan Krokos, Jenn Lynn Barnes, Julia Karr, Janine K. Spendlove, Elizabeth Wein, Mary Borsellino.  But it’s my blog so whatever.

Anyway. I know a lot of librarians and teachers read this blog, and this might be something you want for your kids to read so they can be all like, Hey, so THAT’S how this books series about jumping off trains relates to actual real world history and psychology and stuff. 

You can find out more and read samples at the Divergent Thinking page on Smart Pop Books.**  There’s links from there to online retailers. The book comes out March 4th, but you can preorder it to be ready for the movie. Whoot.

Okay. Back to writing before Mom comes downstairs and finds out I’m on the Internet. Because that’s my life. Whoot. :)

* This is why my English teachers either loved me or hated me.

** I have also contributed to their books on the Twilight series (A New Dawn), the Uglies/Pretties series ( Mind Rain), and the Percy Jackson series (Demigods and Monsters).

 

surrender_ms

The Epic Update (is epic)

Here’s what’s been going on in RCM land since my last post:

School Library Journal gave Spirit and Dust a starred review and said this:

Daisy is an endearing, strong heroine. Her magical interactions with the spirit world are made utterly believable by finely drawn, evocative details of how she achieves them and the side effects she suffers each time she does. This is one of the best YA novels of the year.

Wait, what was that????

This is one of the best YA novels of the year.

So I did this:

 photo NeilPatrickHarrisOnSesameStreetDance.gif

And for those of you across the pond, the Spirit and Dust UK edition is out now. Yay!

The other big thing is, I’m continuing to deal with losing my brother. In a weird way, it’s been worse than losing my dad, because Dad was ill for a long time, and also… well, you expect your parents to go first. Pete was so sudden (and so young!) that I keep forgetting, so the grief stays sharp and new. I’m shopping for beer and I think “Oh, if I don’t like this, I can give the other five bottles to Pete,” because that’s what he and I do when we try new beers, and then I remember that I can’t anymore and I end up sniveling in the beer aisle with everyone at Kroger looking at me like maybe I’ve had a few too many already.

So, I’m not going to lie, some days I just do this:

sad dog photo: Sad Dog tumblr_lye95pUHWf1qao6gx.gif

I’ve had a lot of life changes in twelve months. That can be hard, but it can also be a kick in the pants. The flip side of curling up under my blankie is the urge to streamline my life and get rid of All the Extra Stuff. I have boxes in this house that I haven’t unpacked since I moved in. I’m getting rid of CDs that I’ve replaced in digital form and paperbacks that I swore I would reread but admitted I probably won’t and I can get them on ebook if I do.

So there’s been some of this:

And I’ve been reminding myself that I have a job I love, wonderful friends, an exciting book to work on. I get to work in yoga pants, I don’t have to leave the house in the heat of the day.

Oh yeah, and that exciting book is due at the end of the summer. So until my next update, I’ll be doing nothing but this:

typing gif photo: Kitty 1665818vx5pzzmepe.gif

Onward and upward!

The law breaking continues in Spirit and Dust:

I was really not dressed for breaking into a graveyard.

I shivered in my borrowed coat and gazed up at the fence that Carson expected me to climb–brick and iron and about nine feet tall. The moon was still bright enough to see the points on top of the bars. Were people in Minnesota that desperate to call on their dearly departed outside of visiting hours?

Remember–four more days to find Spirit and Dust in the wild (in your house, in a bookstore, on a plane, train or automobile) and TWEET it for a chance to win a signed copy of TEXAS GOTHIC, the first Goodnight book. Remember to use #spiritanddust in your tweets!

In which we meet Mr. Carson (Spirit and Dust excerpt)

I’m in England until Tuesday!  Tomorrow… Today? … FRIDAY I will be the BONUS ACT at Rachel Caine’s booksigning at Waterstones bookstore in Nottingham. That’s Nottingham, ENGLAND.  (Follow on Tumblr and Twitter for updates on the trip, which has no hashtag yet. I’m calling it the castle and pub tour.

TODAY’S S&D excerpt!

I turned to Mr. Carson… but paused when I got my first good look at him.

My first impression didn’t lie. Young. Twenty-one-ish. Younger than Agent Taylor, and almost as tasty. And tall. I’m five foot ten, and I had to tilt my head to look at him. HIs hair was brown, still wet, and standing up all over. His eyes were a dusky green–no, hazel–and I’d last seen them in the Minnesota cold, just before everything went dark.

“You!” I exclaimed, with all the melodrama his offenses deserved. “You’re the one who whammied me behind the police station.”

 

Spirit and Dust week continues

Today’s excerpt:

I woke face down in a drool soaked pillow.

There were worse puddles to wake up in, I suppose, but I didn’t want to think about that. I just wanted to lie there, absolutely still, until I was certain that nothing was going to kill me. Not my migraine, not Agent Gerard, not whoever had snatched me off the curb.

When I cracked an eyelid to take a peek, I glimpsed a nicely decorated room, with a reassuring absence of white slavers and crack whores. A quick inventory under the covers revealed no amateur sutures, so I didn’t seem to be missing a kidney. Just my clothes.

Don’t forget!  You have until next Wednesday to Tweet your picture of Spirit and Dust in the wild to be entered to win a signed copy of Texas Gothic!  Remember to use the hashtag #spiritanddust so I’ll see the post.

SPIRIT AND DUST DAY

Spirit and Dust has been released from captivity in the US. Already there have been sightings.Spirit and Dust

For the next week (until May 23) if you TWEET a picture of Spirit and Dust in the wild (in a store, in your house, in your shopping bag, on a bus/train/plane) then you will go into a drawing to win a signed copy of the first Goodnight adventure, Texas Gothic.  Here’s the deal, though. You MUST used the hashtag #SpiritandDust to be entered. (Because otherwise I won’t see your post.)

Not on Twitter? There will be other chances to win stuff coming soon.

Spirit and Dust Countdown

The local cops kept staring at me. I couldn’t decide if it was the plaid miniskirt in subarctic temperatures, or the fact that they’d never seen anyone talk to the dead before.

Here’s something weird about me. I almost always start writing with the first line of the book. Image

I know, I know. It doesn’t sound that weird. Where else would you start other than the beginning?

Only it’s not that simple. You have to know where the story ACTUALLY starts. Backstory and characterization are good things for the author to know, but we don’t need to put it in up front. We want to start as close to The Thing That Sets Stuff In Motion as possible.  (Imagine if you had to sit through ten minutes of Luke Skywalker fixing moisture vaporators and whining to his aunt and uncle before the droids showed up. No. Just, no. Instead we start his part of the story with the droids arriving, shorthand in a few lines of characterization, and then, boom, we’ve got a Princess in Peril and off we go.)

I’m not talking about that part. I’m saying that I LITERALLY write the first line of my book first. In my head. Sometimes before I even know what the plot of the book is going to be. Prom Dates From Hell was like that.  And so was Spirit and Dust.  I knew from the moment I finished writing Texas Gothic (where Daisy is a minor character) what would be the opening line of her book. I didn’t know if or when I would get to write it, but I knew how it would start.

(By the way, you do NOT have to read Texas Gothic or Spirit and Dust in any order. The only thing that connects them is the characters come from the same family. Their stories are independent and don’t have spoilers for each other.)

Anyway. That’s the first line of Spirit and Dust. More teasers to come.

 

Things that make me happy

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at Casa Del Clement-Moore.  So to remind myself that Life is Good, today I am posting about Things That Make Me Happy.

1) My family and friends. I know this is cliche, but it’s true. Read the dedication of Spirit and Dust (you HAVE pre-ordered your copy, right?) and you’ll know how I feel. Family is a thread that runs through my books for a reason. I have a good one, and that includes the family I’ve chosen for myself in my friends.

2) Young readers.  Okay, yeah, I wouldn’t have a job without them. But the enthusiasm of young readers is unrivaled. Look at this bunch from TLA last week:

Brimstone has these readers absolutely captivated!

Brimstone has these readers absolutely captivated!

3) Knitting.  I got bit by the knitting bug big time. How lucky am I that it’s trendy right now?  I’m going to do this Spring Knit-Along if anyone wants to join me. On top of all the other projects I’ve got going. (And, you know, writing and stuff.)

4) Travel. I’m going to England in three weeks. I haven’t been talking about it, because it’s like I’ve won the  lottery. (I’ve definitely won the friend lottery.) More on that to come. First…

5) I get to do what I love, and what I’m best at, and I get to do it as my job.  Talk about winning the lottery!

I just got a big box of Spirit and Dust! Tell me in the comments what makes YOU happy, and on Friday I will draw one commenter to win a copy! 

Better Than Chocolate and Hot FBI Agents

This morning I retweeted something from one of my favorite paranormal romance authors* (and awesome person) Alyssa Day:

RT @Alyssa_DayDear Readers: You know that part where you tell us you like our books? We love that part like chocolate.

First off, I would amend that to say we love that part better than the chocolate-covered marshmallow Easter eggs that I have stashed in a secret place in my office where my mother can’t find them.**

The thing is, it’s not just that we (as authors) are looking for the ego stroke. At least, I’m not.  Or mostly not.  But hearing from readers who have enjoyed my books is honestly my favorite part about being a published writer, and here’s why:

A book is a collaborative process in more than just the writer/editor/cover-designer/publisher/marketer way.  It’s a collaboration between the author and the reader. See, when I write a scene, or I describe a character or setting, I have a picture in my mind. Literally, for me, because I tend to see my scenes as multi-sensory movies in my head.  That picture is drawn based on my own experiences: places I’ve been, people I’ve met, plus a whole lot of my own dreams, emotions and neurosis.

When you read a book—MY book, for the sake of this blog post, though it’s possible you’ve wandered to this site by accident, or because you Googled Alyssa Day or chocolate-covered marshmallow Easter eggs—then my words, if I’ve done my job right, make a picture in your mind, and that picture is drawn by YOUR experiences.

So if I write this***:

“Hey, Agent Tasty,” I’d said, when I saw Agent Taylor waiting beside the car. I liked Taylor, and not just because he was young and really hot for a buttoned-up guy with a G-man haircut and a newly minted FBI badge. I sort of like liked him, but we worked together and I was still three months shy of legal age, so it stayed with they boundaries of “sort of.” None of which kept me from noticing that he did not skimp on the FBI physical training program.

I might be picturing this (I’m not, btw):

FBI Dean

You could be picturing this:

FBI Sam

Someone else might be picturing this:

Booth-seeley-booth-5095680-1024-768

Or going old school: 
agent_mulder

Or REALLY old school:

FBI2

None of these, by the way, are models for Agent Taylor, who is fresh out of the academy as well as my imagination.

I do draw on real people and places for inspiration sometimes, but rarely just one. It’s this model’s hair, but this dancer’s height, and this actress’s cheeky grin, etc.  I rarely, if ever, tell anyone what/who I have in mind because I want you to form your own picture.

Even my editor and I have different ideas. She said, “I picture Daisy looking sort of like a red-haired Taylor Swift, only with a lot more eyeliner and black nail polish.”  (Which got me thinking, would Taylor Swift even BE Taylor Swift with red hair and a lot more eyeliner and black nail polish?)  However, Swift is quite tall (or she looks that way) with really long legs, and so body-type-wise, that’s exactly what I’d described in both Texas Gothic and the new book, so I considered this a success.****

ANYWAY. This brings me to reader tweets/comments/email.  The fun thing for me is to find out what stuck with you from the story. I have my favorite parts, so I love hearing yours. I know what *I* think Ben McCullough looks like, but I love to hear what reader’s imagine. I think that the shared universe of a book is something kind of magical. When I see fans of a wildly popular book/series sharing ideas, fan art, world-building theories, character analysis, that book becomes almost like a virtual reality.

That’s why I love reading, and that’s why I love writing. PLUS, I got to spend my morning looking up pictures of hot FBI agents. It really is better than chocolate.

FBI Castiel



* No, really. Day really gets it RIGHT. You can tell that she loves the Fantasy part as much as the Romance part, and it’s not just an excuse to have the couple to have Magical Soulmate Sex. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I suspect Alyssa might be a bit of a SFF fangirl at heart.

** This is not an exaggeration. I bought a ridiculous number of packages when they went on sale, and if I don’t want Mom to eat them ALL AT ONCE, I have to hide them. When did I become my parent’s parent?

*** Why, yes, that IS pulled from SPIRIT AND DUST! So glad you asked.

**** Dear Ms. Swift. If you’re looking for a starring vehicle, the option on Spirit and Dust is available. Ha ha.*****

**** No, really. Call me. We’ll do lunch.