Friday, December 23, 2011

Looking for a cheap and awesome holiday gift?

Not to plug my own goods,
but allow me to plug my own goods!


THE IVY GATE is getting rave reviews from fans, and is still being offered for free at Smashwords, using coupon code AA33R.  But hurry, the offer ends on Dec 30th!

Also available at


Friday, December 16, 2011

The Ivy Gate : Available now!

Good morning everyone!

It's just past 7AM and I awoke to some great news...The Ivy Gate finished its conversion and is now available for sale!

Just click the picture below to be taken to the Smashwords site.  (It will soon be available on Amazon, B&N, etc)




And, a holiday treat to my loyal internet fans friends, if you use coupon code AA33R before Dec 30th (I see this as a chance to test out that new EReader you're gonna get) you get the whole book for free!

And if that wasn't enough the book ALSO includes a bonus: the first chapter of Martyr, so you can have everything in one place.



Please make sure to read, share, and enjoy.  If you feel moved to leave some feedback on any of the book reviewing sites, including Goodreads, well, that'd make my holiday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cover Reveal! And more!

Today's been a busy day.  My first full day at home and I have:

  • Chatted with my amazing agent, Laurie, and devised a plan of attack.
  • Received an Xmas present from Laurie.  (I haven't opened it but there are chocolates on the outside. WIN)
  • Purchased a new domain.  (www.arkahler.com)
  • Spent a few hours modifying the first novel I wrote for E-Pub.
  • Made a book cover for said novel.  Deleted it.
  • Plotted out a graphic novel that Bea and I are making.  (Oh, I never mentioned the amazing graphic novel we're doing, the one that follows the twins before they meet Tenn?  Surprise!)
  • Plotted out a short story (for those wanting more romance, it's how Tenn and Jarrett meet.  I am excited to write this!)
  • Received a cover from Beatrice.  I was blown away.
I still have to:
  • Wait for the book to be formatted through Smashwords.  (It should be done tomorrow.  As soon as it is available, you will know.)
  • Shoot my YARebels Vlog.
  • Do something that doesn't involve staring at my computer.
But before I do all that, well
I think you should see the amazing cover Beatrice designed.




dear world.  in 2012, I am taking you by storm.
I hope you are prepared.

Keep an eye on the Goodreads site here!  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New England

I don't want to go on about being back in a place that was, once, home.  It would sound too nostalgic when in fact, I'm really feeling quite centered, quite content.  I'm happy with the choices I've made, even though they've brought me away from this place and the handful of people that made it home.

I've had coffee and talked Books with Holly B, watched crap movies with my friend, I've had tea and sandwiches at a tea shop in Greenfield and wandered the snow-covered maple woods of Bart's home.  We've visited bookstores, made soup, and even found a seed for a new book I hope to work on.  I've been fighting off a headcold.  Today, I think I'm winning.

I don't know what changed in the last few weeks, but I've found that there's always something to be grateful for, something to make me feel thoroughly blessed.  Even if it's just the color of the lights in a passing building, or a cup of really nice Chai, or finally, finally riding once more in a pickup truck, navigating the back roads of Massachusetts.  I'm thankful for this place, and for Glasgow, and for every step in between.

As we reach the darkest day of the year, what are the things that bring you light?  What are you truly grateful for, both large and small?  It's amazing how enjoying the little things makes tackling the big difficulties so much easier.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Birthday Reveal: Fear The Hunted

Friends!

For the past few weeks I've been dedicating every moment of internet time I've had into building something new and exciting for you all.  (This is saying something, since I haven't had net in the flat and walk SO FAR to attain it.)  I've been scheming with artists, plotting out worlds.  I've been building you a playground.  And today, on my 25th birthday, I reveal the project that encompasses everything I've been working on for the past few years.





Best of all, my dear ones, you are the beta testers.  You get the sneak-peek.  You get to decide how this entire thing plays out--comments are enabled for every single page.  Tell me what you like and dislike.  Tell me what you want to see.  How can this site interact with you?  What would make you check back every week?  Every day?

This beta phase will ONLY be open through December.  Once the New Year hits, the site will be honed to YOUR desires.


Let's make this so big, every publisher/producer/designer sits up and takes notice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday!

So guys, I gotta keep this short, but the secret project is coming along nicely, and there should be a reveal by the end of the month.  If you aren't as excited as I am for this, well, maybe this teaser will help....


'Surrender to Water' - Char sketch of Tenn by Bea Schares
Oh yeah.

And guys, two minutes after posting this, Bea sent me another image.  Of the twins.  And it is so beautiful I may have teared up a bit.  You have no idea.
Well, you will.  But not today. :D

Friday, November 18, 2011

On Being the Assistant to Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

So, I mentioned in my YARebels video this week that I'd do a small write-up to chat about the things I just didn't have time to talk about in 4 minutes.  I'm going to try to answer a few questions before they come up, but you're welcome to ask more.

Q: How did you get such an amazing job?
A:  By complete chance.  Seriously.  I had recently moved to Massachusetts to open an art studio, and had juuuust gotten a job waiting tables--which meant I was done with the jobsearch.  But my housemate was still looking, and she found an add on Craigslist (yes, it is for more than creepy stalkers) that just read '2 YA Fantasy Authors Seeking an Assistant.'  No names.  I thought, heck, why not?  They're probably just locals with a book or two out, could be fun.  THEN I GOT THE EMAIL BACK, and realized NOT ONLY who the add was for, but that they had a studio/office right next to mine.  I have always believed in strange acts of Fate.  Life consistantly reminds me of this.  I had the interview (I was freaking out) and yeah.  The rest is history.

Q: What is your favorite moment from working with them?
A: The booksigning.  In my first month of work for them, I was invited along to a local booksigning.  I got to the shop after they did and the clerk saw me over the sea of heads (being tall with white hair is a serious perk in crowds, let me tell you.) and ushered me over.  I got to stand behind-the-scenes with their friends (Elka Cloke, who did the poems in a few of CC's books) a rep from Simon and Schuster.  I handed out Magnus+Alec postcards while they were signing.  After, we all went to dinner.  That's when I realized that that was the life I wanted.  Saying that, the small moments--going out for lunch/coffee/whatever--and getting to chat were just as important.

Q: But what exactly did you do?
A: Ummm...  Think of what a secretary does.  That's what I did.  I helped manage their calendars, organized the office, sorted mail, took things to the post office.  When Holly was around, I made coffee.  I also helped paint a blackboard and make Seeing Stones.  :)

Q: CLEARLY YOU MUST KNOW ALL THE SECRETZ.
A: Actually.... Holly and Cassie are busy.  Verybusy.  That's why they had me.  I wasn't there to help generate ideas, I was there to keep the non-creative side of their lives running smoothly.  So, although I was around them a lot, I'm not lying when I say the people who run their fansites know more about their lives than I do.  About the only thing I had insight on was their tour schedule, and you can find that on their websites. ;)

Q: So, obviously they helped you get a book deal.
A: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  If the publishing world worked that way, trust me, there'd be a lot more book deals floating around.  If you think about the amount of say authors get in their book covers (...none...), you can imagine how much clout they'd have recommending their bffs to a publishing house.

Q: Why did you leave such an amazing job?
A: I ask myself that a lot, actually.  No, in seriousness, I wouldn't have left the job if external situations (IE that restaurant I mentioned closed down, and nowhere within 30mins was hiring.  So I decided grad school was the next best thing to having an income) hadn't made it a necessity.  I also wasn't so happy in that area.  I missed Scotland too much.  Trust me, if I could be in both places at once, I would.

Q: Would you recommend being an author's assistant for those interested in publishing/getting published?
A: No.  As I said, I was basically a secretary with some unique duties.  If you're interested in getting into publishing, work for a publishing house.  If you're interested in getting published, do the leg work of writing, researching, networking, etc.  Don't take on a job because you think it will get you somewhere--that's bound to lead to you not caring about what you're actually paid to do, which will only ruin the chance of moving ahead.  An author's assistant is precisely what the title entails: you are there to help the author succeed.  Everything else is just candy.  Magical, magical candy....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday!

Guyzzzz I am SO EXCITED I CANNOT EVEN-!!!!!!!

There are amazing, stupendous things coming your way, oh-so-soon.  They're already appearing in my inbox and let me tell you, we all have a lot to be excited for.

Here's a sneak-peek.



Helloooo Tomas! by B. Schares

 

Fear The Hunted...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday!

Okay, I have to make this snappy as I'm about to run to trapeze class
BUT

My wonderful agent Laurie and I are brainstorming a new project.  It involves pretty much every important web platform I can think of.  It's interactive.  It's gorgeous.  And very, very soon, I'm going to need your help.  Think of yourselves as my test pilots.

You should Fear the Hunted....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Media Week!

Already this week is starting off amazingly well, and to spread that joy I've decided to be vain and start posting all those pics I've been promising you.

Today's is the amazing facepainting job a friend of mine did for Halloween.  I didn't have a costume until she came along, and I now think it was probably the best thing I've been so far.




In other news, I've been diligently working away at Academy and hope to have a draft finished within the month.  Which means more teasers for you!  Everyone wins!!

What were you for Halloween?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How I spend my time with friends.

So the other night, a few friends and I--after a nice dinner and a bottle of wine (shared, not one each)--were inspired to take photographs of each other, and then photoshop them.  We did a few different series, one was a sort of hipster-Hallmark card with true-to-life class quotes.  The other was just us being nerdy writers.

Since I don't know if they want to be shared with teh interwebz, I'll just post the nerdy writer one of me.
For now.




Once I have internet at the flat I plan on putting up some chain pics and shots from Halloween.  Multimedia/internet-appreciation week, here we come!

Friday, November 4, 2011

There's a drumming noise inside my head/ that starts when you're around

Wow, guys, I've been horrible at keeping this updated.  Because of that, this is going to be longer than normal.

The past month has been insane in so many ways.  On the one hand, I'm always busy.  On the other, I feel like I'm constantly waiting for 'something' to happen.

I moved into my new flat on Monday.  It's lovely and cozy and all mine.  I've spent the last few days filling the kitchen and making it feel a little closer to home.  Currently trying to get internet sorted, which means I'm now in the uni library, staring off at the lights of Glasgow (not even 7pm and it's pitch black here), watching the occasional fireworks because remember remember the fifth of November.  Apparently some people can't wait til Bonfire Night.


The real reason I haven't written, though, is because I've been trying to avoid writing this line: being here has been difficult.
I don't want to admit it, because it sounds like I'm devaluing the amazing experiences I have had.  I have a fantastic social life and every day I wake up excited for what's in store.  But there's been a switch in my perception that changes everything.

When I first came here, I truly thought I was going to have the chance to make it home.
I haven't lived in the same place for more than 6 months in nine years (switching schools, dorm rooms, apartments, states, countries, etc) and I yearn for a place I can sink my roots into.  I figured I had a year after graduating to settle in and find a way to make it permanent.  But visa regulations changed, and my time here expires Sept 1st, 2012.

So now I'm trying to switch my thinking around.  I'm trying to view this as an adventure or vacation, but any way I look at it, there's a gut-deep dread that I'm just waiting again: waiting to get back to a place where things like really falling in love (with a person, a place, a job, etc) isn't an extreme act of masochism.  Trying to just enjoy the moment and not wonder what the next few months will bring.  So many things can change.  The trouble is, the situation tints the year before coming here in rose: the year after graduation, the year of building a future.  I feel like I abandoned that in coming here, and now that 'staying' is less and less of an option, I'm struggling to figure out how to rationalize, y'know, getting a degree in a foreign country that I don't exactly need.



Thing is, I know where I am.  I've been in this place before--that inner nagging, the knot that won't unbind.  The slight suffocation underneath the smiles.
And that's a good thing, because I know that although the night is getting darker, there's a breakthrough nearby.  Past experience has shown that whenever life starts feeling like I've hit a brick wall, or every single thing I've done was a horrible mistake, something steps in and changes every negative into a positive, lifts my perception to something greater.  Change is coming.
Rather than try to close this, I'll leave you with a link to Rumi, because he said it better than I ever could.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Song of the Day : Video Games

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring this to your attention.

Seriously, this song just.  Just.
Yeah.

Lana Del Rey - Video Games

More soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wicked Wednesday : The Biggest Reveal on Earth

So friends,

The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy.  Ups and downs and all arounds.  Plans have disintegrated, appeared from nowhere; hopes have been lifted and dashed and lifted again.  There's been a lot of waiting.  And there's probably going to be a lot of waiting.  And if you hadn't noticed, it was driving me insane.  Until recently.

For the past few days, Devyn and I have been planning something.  Something big.  Something that makes me so stupidly excited I have to keep myself from grinning in public.  But that might be because Britney Spears makes me think of it.

Are you ready?
I don't think you are.
How could you be?

Because ladies and gentleman, a new circus is coming to town...



I'd tell you what it's about, but, well, that would make this more than a teaser.

Follow us on Twitter @Mabs_Henchmen   [EDIT: Don't follow this yet. The account has been mysterious suspended]
and Formspring: http://www.formspring.me/MabsHenchmen

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What it means to be a circus artist

A) Bruises and burns are merit badges; the more you have, the better you are at your job.  Admitting pain is a luxury outside of your pay bracket.

B) You travel.  A lot.  But you usually only see your hotel room, the venue, and the ride in between.  (Tomorrow I'm traveling to teach up in St. Andrews)

C) You don't get to have preconceptions of who you are.  One minute you're a performer under the lights, the next you're helping lug 50lb bags of sound equipment to an overstuffed Camry or selling merch at a popup table. In costume.

D) You learn to work on your toes.  This Friday I'm doing an act with a live band I've never met, to a song I've never heard, on a piece of equipment I have trained on four times in my life.  My next practice opportunity is 3 hours before the show opens.  I'm hoping to have a 4 minute routine.  And a costume.

E) You understand that nothing in life is inherently glamorous.  Everything is what you make of it and how you choose to present it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Travelogue Three : Sharmanka

Shar-Whatta?

Well, my friends, it is perhaps the coolest thing you will ever see.  Nestled in the Tron--an amazing art space in Glasgow's Merchant City--this installation (half show, half museum) features colossal sculptures made of old sewing machines, animal bones, and everything in-between.  Check out the website above for their full history--it's quite incredible.

I took some pictures of the sculptures/self-contained-shows (aka 'kinemats').  And by some, I mean a lot.  And they were impossible to capture in stills because they were moving! And the lights changed and there was music and every second something different was happening!  So I can't choose which photos to upload.

So you get all of them.
If they capture one-tenth of the craziness and emotion of each piece, my work is done.


if you double click, you can go to the site to see them full size.  Well worth it for the detail.

If you ever get to Glasgow, spend some time in the Merchant City, especially Trongate and Castleriggs.  I know that's where I'll be haunting a lot more.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Travelogue Two, Teaser Tuesday (on a Wednesday) and other updates

Hello lovelies,
As we learned from last week's Rebel video, I procrastinate.  A lot.  Or rather, I use work to procrastinate the other work I should be doing.  Which means all the photos I've been taking have piled up, along with all the things I want to share, and I think that's prologue enough.

So, I've been busy.  Like, procrastinating-work-by-working-on-side-projects busy.  Which is great, seeing as I've been relatively unemployed and bored the last few months of my life.  BUT! It's a switch, and in the slow times I feel nostalgic for New England and slow mornings of homemade lattes and breakfast with a good friend.  I've been meeting new people and being social and working and reading great new books and looking at writing from all new angles.  (The switch from reading as a reader to reading as an editor is TERRIFYINGLY INSIGHTFUL.)  Life is AMAZING!  But I still miss people, and I think that's okay.

Let's begin with this week's Teaser, which, due to my new schedule, might need to be moved to Wednesday from now on.  Help me think of a good title? Wicked Wednesdays?
This is coming from Academy, one of Claire's entries.  She's out at training when one of her "day terrors" takes over.

------

 We had a water break and while I was coming back to the grounds it hit, another fucking day terror. At first I didn't even notice it: I felt the tingle, the small ache in my head. But nothing changed. I thought it had passed. I kept walking and then realized that the place was empty. I couldn't hear anyone, and there was no one near the Fire grounds. I started freaking out, thought maybe I'd missed where we were supposed to go next. I walked up to the Fire building and was about to look inside when I heard something crunching up the gravel behind me. I turned, and there was a...thing on the path. It looked like a human, but it was covered in blood and the air around it was black, like was sucking in all life. Purple eyes. His head was cocked to one side like a puppet.
He raised an arm toward me and opened his mouth, but the sound that came out was like breaking glass and crashing waves and blood spilling down cement: all these horrible images going through my head. I screamed, I know I did. Because the next thing I know Professor Dmitri is holding my arms and asking me what's wrong.
Vision over.
Fuck.


------

So yeah, there's that.

And now, I think it's time for more pictures, don't you?






Until next time!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Flathunting, or Why, Sometimes, Giving Up is a Good Thing

Dear Lovelies,

For those of you who've been following me from the beginning (aka three months and a continent ago), you've probably learned that if nothing else, I am persistent.  I work my ass off to achieve my goals and don't stop even after they've come to fruition.  Class A Workaholic.

In theory, I should be the type of person that requires meticulous control of everything.  I should suffer meltdowns when things don't go the way I want.

The reality is the opposite.
Today's Teaser comes after a series of seeming failures: flathunting.

I tried, I really did.  I was viewing flats online months before I got here.  Hell, even before I was accepted into the program.  But every time I tried to take the next step and have a viewing, something would come up.  Every time, the flat had just been taken--maybe even minutes before I'd shown up.  I figured, okay, clearly something better is coming along.  I just have to wait to find it.
And then, a wonderful thing happened: a flat found me.


Through a string of writerly connections, I was offered an amazing, homey 2 level, 2 bed flat for cheaper than most studios.  In the perfect location, for the perfect amount of time.  It even has a front and back garden.  And anyone living in a city knows, that combination is rare.

The point I'm trying to make is this: I'm a firm believer in working hard.  In fact, I don't think there's any other way forward.  But I also believe that working hard must go hand in hand with having a little bit of faith.
Sometimes, there's really nothing you can do to get what you think you want.
Sometimes, you need to try every possible angle only to give up and have something better offered.

This lesson is one I've experienced many times.  The moment life seems to be failing is the moment before life steps in and hands you a reward for all your hard work.  Sometimes we really don't know what we want, and it's almost like life has to sort it out for us.

Although relevant in all areas, I feel it's especially true in the writing world.  The entire pitching/querying process seems to embody the idea of working really, really hard to perfect something, only to throw it to the wind and let the right person find it.  It might have to bounce around a bit, but eventually--if you toe the line between letting go and working hard--it (or you) will find the right home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Write what you know...

...or, Why I'm growing more and more hesitant about this whole 'Academy' project.



As you may or may not know, I've begun working on an interactive, multi-media standalone project for the Hunter Series.  Basic premise: a collection of diary entries and articles from a girl who attended the Academy right before the world ends.  Exciting, yeh?  I get to make stationery and interactive quizzes and such.
But then it gets dangerous.

Because the project is hitting really close to home.  Rather than avoiding this, I'm steering it right into the heart of the beast.  I went to boarding school in the middle of the woods the last two years of high school.  It was for art, not magic, but it's providing the framework for this entire project: the loneliness and isolation, the loss or seeming betrayal of close friends.  The thrill of being someplace new and terrifying, standing on the verge of graduation and life.  At boarding school, when the rest of the world is locked away, everything is much more intense than normal life.  For a teenager, that's like a pressure-cooker of hormones and emotion.  SCARY.  And then we add in magic, and the apocalypse, and vampyres?  I can't even imagine.  Well, I can...

The frightening part is how easy it is to get into the head of my MC, how simple to sink back into over-flowery prose of too much, too soon, and no way to avoid it.

It will get even weirder when I start trying to incorporate visual elements, like photographs (think I can use my own photos, or should I make them up?) and hand-written love notes.

Weirder still will be the eventual devolution of the MC and the story, when entries become clipped or scribbled over or torn out.  Because yesterday, I realized something terrifying:
I'm basically writing House of Leaves for a YA audience.

This doesn't bode well for my sanity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Mender

Hello loves,

As I've another jam-packed day today, I'm doing the Teaser earrrrrrrly.  For you, at least.  It's noon my time. ><

It's been a crazy few days here.  Lots of reading and class and circus teaching, a bit of homesickness, but all is well.  I head to my first workshop today to learn what my uni peeps think about my experimental fantasy novella... thing.  Then another class, then trapeze, then drinks and chats with new friends.  Tomorrow I'm debating a trip to the countryside.  We'll see.

BUT NOW!
I present you the first draft of the first(ish) page of Book Two in the Hunter series, Mender.  New characters to fall in love with, and a whole new country to explore.  Enjoy.
Maybe I should mention there's potentially offensive language.  
Nah....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Update. Sort of.

I realize that it's been a while since I updated, or maybe it just feels like that.  Somehow a weekend has come and gone and now it's technically Monday.

It's been a nice, slow few days here in Glasgow.  Nothing new on the publishing front which bodes neither good nor bad, but I will admit, I check my email every ten minutes just in case.  The one perk of this is that my firing rate for email responses is quite high.

The list of things I should be doing grows a bit higher by the day and I'm regaining that feeling I always had in college and boarding school--too much work and no time to do it in.  Though really, the pile is quite small and it's all things I love doing.  (I have to read this awesome fiction?  I have to go teach circus so I can get paid?)  I just set my personal expectations a few notches higher.  Have you noticed that I overwork?

All that said, I'm convincing myself that this is the week where everything good happens and I'll get a brief respite:
I'll find a flat and start feeling settled.
I'll get an offer from a really amazing publishing house.  Or multiple houses.  Because I AM GREEDY.
I will go out dancing.  Or on a date.  Or something.

If nothing else, I'll read and write and pick a day to wander into the hills.

If one really awesome thing could happen to you this week, what would it be?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Take a Test

Hello lovelies,

I truly wish I could tell you all the amazing things happenings behind the curtain on this side of the pond, but Alas!  I am bound to secrecy.  Needless to say it may involve the number thirteen and my agent being Wonder Woman in disguise.  And a lot of work between now and, er, tomorrow afternoon.
BUT I CAN'T TELL YOU NOW SORRY!


Needless to say, I've been busy and bouncy, what with a weekend of circus and tons of wind and rain and a potential Halloween/Cabaret circus act involving This Song and chains hanging from the ceiling.  YES!

Not to mention the fact that my first workshop assignment for grad school is DUE TOMORROW.

So tonight's teaser is truly that--a snippet of what's to come.  Now, I just need to find a good website/software to make this a proper, interactive test.  Thoughts?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Straightwashing? Is that like when you wash your colors with your whites?

So we're all abuzz about this article, and it's pretty damn upsetting.  In fact, I'm fuming.


Okay, sorry, no I'm not.

Why?  Because I have an amazing agent who is so pro-gay-characters, she's the one telling me to keep my characters snogging the same sex.  And so far, every editor we've contacted (and every editor that, out of the blue, contacted us) has shared the sentiment.  Including the Big 6.

Yes, there are agents and editors and readers out there who are against gay characters.  Period.  It happens.  I'll probably encounter them soon.  There are also agents and editors and readers who don't really want to see people of color or feminists or Muslims or whatever makes them uncomfy in their books.  That's just the way the world is right now.  Yes, it sucks, but it's always been like that and it will be for quite some time.  Some people just suck. But changes are happening and we're on the crest of the wave.  Hell, we're surfing the change as you read this.  Because there are agents and editors and readers who want--nay, love--gay characters.

What makes me laugh about the agents/editors mentioned in that article is this: they are missing an amazing opportunity.
Seriously!

I hate to make it about money, but gay YA is going to be a HUGE cashmarket soon.  Think about the "It gets better" movement, the overwhelming publicity that going AGAINST homosexuality has.  If there's no such thing as bad publicity, then the homosexual world is getting a lot of great press.  As gay characters grow more pronounced as sidekicks in YA lit and their fandom grows (Magnus/Alec, anyone??), imagine just how big the boom will be when there are more books centering around gay chars!

(I could write about social justice and all that, but many have already done it.  I didn't write gay characters because I saw a trend, I did it because I felt it needed to be done.  'Nuff said.)

I look at it just like I look at the agents/editors that passed over Harry Potter.
A few years from now and they'll be kicking themselves while the ones who saw potential are living in a castle off the coast of Norway.***


***This may not be where J.K. Rowling is, but it sounds good to me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Project!

All right guys, I just can't wait until Teaser Tuesday.  My mind has been racing the past few days, putting together alternative ways to tell a story.  And so, I present you my latest project: Academy.

For those of you keeping tabs on the Hunter series, this project takes part outside of the main timeline, but within the world.  And because I'm a masochist always pushing myself as a writer, well, the format's a bit different.  You'll see.

I may also be posting a few bits here and there for input, because, er, I'm presenting this at our first postgrad workshop.  (I cannot wait for the reactions... generally speaking, I'm the only YA writer in the bunch)




Welcome to the Academy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Song of the Day!

Please replace "girls" with "Brits" and honestly, let me know, because this side of the pond feels isolated in cyberspace.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Travelogue One : Catching up

Today I had a bit of revelation.
I've been bouncing around for some time now, trying to figure out what this blog should be.  Because if you haven't noticed, I've been all over the place, figuratively and literally.

I've now decided to host an as-often-as-possible feature: The Travelogue.

I love traveling.  I love getting lost.  And I love taking photos of all the places I've been.  And so, to bring you up to speed with my time in Scotland, below is the first entry in what will hopefully be many travel-related topics.  I'll still blog about writing and circus and everything else, but I like to think that showcasing these little sidetrips will help set this blog apart from the thousands of other blogs that do a much better job at being literary than I ever will.  Full photos are at the end of the post.


First trip: Horse Show and Largs

My first full day in Scotland, my friend Adam invited me down to the countryside to watch his sister take part in the horse show.  I quickly went from spectator to helper, whether it was trying to get the horse-truck unstuck from the mud to fastening shin-guards to the horses' calves.  (I don't know horse-speak, so forgive me as I butcher the terminology)  The afternoon was cool and cloudy, the grass irresistibly green and the landscape so perfectly Scottish that I grinned like an idiot the entire time.  And for the record, Adam's sister won the cross-country portion.

We then proceeded down to Largs, his hometown.  We met with some of his friends, grabbed chippy food, and walked the neon-lit promenade.  The Viking Festival was celebrating its final night.  We paused along the pebbly beach to eat our food and stack rocks on one another, because we are, if nothing else, mature.  Then we trekked to see the fireworks which were, quite unexpectedly, good.  The night ended with a quick train ride back to Glasgow, surrounded by drunken football fans, and a long bus to the city centre--traffic was at a standstill.  Actually, that's a lie.  The night truly ended with tea and video games, but that's another story.

Today's Trip: The West Highland Way

People often ask me why I chose Glasgow.  It's dodgy, dirty, and a bit dangerous if you don't know where to avoid.  But I love the place for all its hidden gems.  For every rough area there's a parallel street of gorgeous tenement flats.  For every crowded store-front street there's a garden and hidden walkways.  And best of all, everything is at your fingertips: for less than 5pounds you can take a train for half an hour and be surrounded by nature; if the deal is right, you can spend the same amount for an afternoon plane ride to Paris; and let's not forget, the city is home to the richest collection of art, nightlife, and culture in all of Scotland.  There's a reason it's called the fashion capitol.  Think London High Street, on a slightly smaller scale.

So today, after the flat I was meant to view was suddenly taken off the market, I decided to jump on a train and begin the West Highland Way, a ~96 mile hike up Scotland's west coast, all the way up to the highlands. Obviously, it takes about a week to complete, but I figured a small hike would be fantastic.  So, 3pounds for a ticket and 2 for a latte later, I found myself in the nearby town Milngavie (pronounced Mull-guy), the start of the Walk.

Freshly caffeinated and eager for fresh air, I trekked what I assume is about 6 miles out, through winding forest paths, over moorland, by lochs, and even through a ~1300 era castle.  Every step made me feel even more alive, more excited to just... exist.  When I finally turned around and hiked back, all the fears of being here were gone.  Not because anything big happened, but because I took the time to breathe and settle.  Then I returned to the flat I'm graciously being allowed to stay at, and made dinner.  And cookies.  And watched Doctor Who and Torchwood whilst drinking tea.  I said before that the truly important things in life aren't the great changes, but the space in between.  I fully stand by it.

There are wonders waiting right outside our doorsteps, magic in places just within our reach.  The world is a beautiful place should you choose to explore it. 

I truly hope you do.






Friday, September 2, 2011

Glasgowwww

So today was my first full day in Glasgow, which feels very strange.  Until I have a place of my own it feels like being a tourist at home--living from a suitcase, wafting around with other people's schedules.  The accent's sinking back in which is quite exciting.  Sadly, I filmed my YARebels vlog before I got here.  (If you haven't watched it, you should.  Actually, I'm not certain as I edited the night before leaving and haven't had the nerve to watch it all the way through since.)  Oh, and I'm currently trying to convince my Scottish friend to let me borrow his kilt.  I'm sure if you all voiced your support, he'd cave.

Went for a walk through my old areas last night, which was incredible.  They say that scent carries more emotional impact than any other sense, and I'd believe it.  Even just sitting in the terminal in London, the different colognes that scream "UK" made my head swim.

The switch hasn't been seamless--a lot of little setbacks.  But let's just not get into that.
Tonight, we're watching "Easy A" and drinking these. 

dirty Hendricks martinis, anyone?

Yes, those are bendy straws.
WE KEEP IT CLASSY.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Airport Updates

Soo lovely people
I bring this to you in Moline Airport, one of the few airports I know of with FREE WIFI.
Now that all the difficult things (packing, saying goodbye) are done it's 16 hours of sitting around, carrying a bunch of heavy bags and one katana-shaped umbrella that was too big to fit in my checked bags.  So far security hasn't cared, but I doubt Heathrow will have a sense of humor.

Next stop, Chicago.  Then London.  Then Glasgow!  I have a stack of books to get me through the journey (thanks Laurie and Bart!) and the promise of delicious vegetarian airline food for dinner.

My whole "Wicked Wednesday" teaser didn't work out either, and it may be a few more days before I'm able to get it sorted.  Hopefully next week.

Wish me luck on all this flight nonsense.  I'll see y'all on the other side of the pond.
(Yes, I promise pictures)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : New Chapters!

All right guys, I'm not going to lie.  This is NOT the teaser I was going for but it's still a teaser.  (Smashwords decided to stop loading this afternoon, so that's a hint)

This is my last full night in the States for a time, which is a bit crazy and I'm trying not to think about it.  The night before leaving is always the worst, but once I pass through security I'm all excitement and travel-savvy.  There are also some SECRET BIG THINGS that might amount to nothing but could also be REALLY AWESOME.  But that's all I can say on that.

ANYWHO.

I've uploaded the first two chapters of the revised manuscript for Martyr.  They are HERE.  Wattpad kind of screwed up by automatically tweeting this without my permission but hey, that's technology--it gets the word out no matter what.

Tomorrow I hope to have the real Teaser going, so I suppose we'll have to opt for "Wicked Wednesdays" or "How Alex avoids the reality of leaving."

Something like that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Song of the Day : Freelance Whales

I'm taking a brief moment from reading old love notes packing my room into boxes for garbage and Goodwill to share a bit of musical goodness.  This entire album is strong, strong, strong, and reminds me New England in the winter.  I couldn't pick between either of these songs, so you get both.  The first (Generator ^ First Floor) just makes me want to get in a pickup and find a shack somewhere for the winter.  The second (Broken Horse) contains the only lyrics I've ever seriously considered getting tattooed on my body.
You get to guess what they are. :)




What songs, no matter what, make you feel a little bit more like yourself?
Moreover, what songs make you happy to exist?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Song of the Day : Hooverphonic, "Circles"

Sometimes songs just kind of hit you where you need it, and this is one of them.  Hooverphonic is pretty amazing anyway, but this one has definitely gone on repeat a few times.



(Also, I think this "Song of the Day" thing might happen more often.  Thoughts?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Taking Stock

I've been debating how to spin this Teaser for a few days now.  It's so simple to say "well, nothing's happened."  In the light of last Tuesday, what with the agent and the move and all this 'stuff' moving forward, everything else seems to pale in comparison.

But today reminded me once more that that simply isn't true.

My mom and I had one of our rare-yet-eagerly-anticipated days out today.  Went to an artsy town an hour away and wandered Main Street, window-shopping and tasting preserves.  Came back, popped popcorn, and watched a movie.

It's easy to say, "not much."

But that's a lie.  It was everything.

If there's anything I've learned in being on the move and saying goodbye too many times, it's this, and it's universal:

Life isn't made up of grand gestures and overwhelming transitions.  Life is everything that happens in between.

When you're caught up in achieving (or not achieving) or struggling or just 'getting through the day,' it's very easy to forget that.

So, take stock of where you are.  Embrace it.  And if you want, comment with some of those quiet moments that are easy to underplay, but mean the world.
Because life is happening right now, and it's all the most important thing you'll ever experience.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The calm between storms

This is just a note to mention that I am still here.

I am on a bit of a creative hiatus.  Rather than write or be productive I've taken a much-needed mental break.  I'm watching movies.  I'm trying to catch up on sleep.  (failing)  I'm doing yoga and trying to undo all those hours in front of a computer.

I'm trying not to remember that my ms in the hands of two editors.

But mainly, I'm just existing and trying to take stock before I head out to Glasgow in ten days.
Ten.
Days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : THE BIG REVEAL(S)

Let's just forego the intro, shall we?  Cuz this post is a doozy.

Today, I can officially announce that I am represented by Laurie McLean at Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents.
So let's talk about that for a moment.

They say that the relationship between an author and an agent is an important one.  It's special, because in addition to being business partners, you're in it for the long haul.
As a writer, your agent can be the one you turn to for advice, fires-under-your-ass, and a shoulder on which you bemoan your failings as a human being.  You should have an agent who is an ally, a friend.
Of course, you don't have to have that relationship; it can be strictly business.  There are many amazing agents who have one thought on their mind: selling your book for as much profit as possible.  It's just business.  But I wanted more than that.

When I first found Laurie's profile, I felt that little click.  I knew as I wrote my query letter that she was the one.  No joke.  I just hoped she saw that as well.

A few days later she wrote me back.  Said she loved the manuscript, but wasn't ready to offer representation.  Yet.  She offered to do something no agent does: she called me and talked over these revisions.  For an hour.  And with a 2 week deadline, I immediately got to work.  When I sent her the revision (which was basically a rewrite) I hoped for the best and expected the worst.  I had over a week to wait, a life to pack into my car, and a lot of loose ends to tie up.  So when she emailed me two days later, I thought, oh, shit, well, she didn't even get the chance to read the whole thing before realizing it sucked.


I'll admit, it wasn't how I thought I'd get an offer of representation.  I've been trying for years, and I always expected some champagne and a lot of tears.  Instead, it was 8 at night and I was repainting my room so I could leave the next morning.  Email title: "Wow."  The text: "Just finished the rewrite. I am in awe of your talent. You have created brilliance. And I would be honored to offer you representation. If you want a literary agent, I’m yours."  I read that email five times before I sent back a confirmation, saying she could call that night, because I needed something to get me through the next 24 hours of packing and goodbyes and driving.

I won't go into that phone call.  It's too much self-gratification for right now, but let's just say that in all my years of writing, in all the classes I've taken and crit groups I've been through, I've never, once, had someone speak so highly of my work.  Not only of the words on the page, but my progress through the revision/rewrite and my dedication to the craft.  I was stunned.

Not to mention her plan of attack.  I don't think I said this, but, she's already beginning to pitch this to editors. Apparently the revision was that good.



When I first moved to Massachusetts last November, my goal was to take big strides in my writing career.  I moved there a nobody.  I walked away as the once-assistant to two of the biggest names in my field, a new YA Rebel, and under the wing of an agent I respect and admire more than I could possibly say.  Finally, all that hard work is paying off.


Wait, YA Rebel?  SPEAKING OF!
There's the not-so-little matter of THIS.
So yeah, every Friday you get to watch me talk.  And clearly, that's something I lurve to do.
This is an AMAZING group of people that I'm already completely in love with.  Being a part of them is an honor.



As a recap: I HAVE AN AGENT.  I AM A YAREBEL.  I MADE IT SAFELY BACK TO IOWA.
Now, two weeks to sunbathe and relax before moving 'home' to Scotland.


Did I mention I have an agent?
!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays : YARebels Audition



So, remember how you always joke about me not showing my face?
Well, here's my Vlog audition for YARebels.  If I'm 'elected,' you get a weekly dose of ME.

So come on and vote already!


Also, my revisions are due tomorrow morning.  EEEP

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays : Memento



Welcome once again to Teaser Tuesdays!

So, friends, let's keep this short and sweet.  Today, I learned a few things:

1) When it comes to painting rooms, I have seriously warped perceptions of time.  The project that I predicted would take until noon took me til 5pm, seriously eating into my editing time and making me relatively bitter.  Because, well, I painted that room two months ago and spent a lot of money on supplies, only to repaint it back to white (HOW BORING) so the next person can move in.

2) I really don't like it when people mess with my coffee beans.  DO NOT FREEZE COFFEE BEANS.  EVER.  Okay, I'm better now.

Today's Teaser hits close to home, because that's what I've been thinking about a lot today.  A few years back I did a project with a long process I'll probably explain someday.  The gist is, I took digital photos from my time in Scotland and re-shot them through a tank of water.  No photoshop manipulation, no tricks.

This is a Teaser because I'm not telling you what it means to me, not just yet.  I want your interpretation first. :)


I feel compelled to note that the quality is off, but you get the idea.  Imagine this 17x11.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The AGENT Post

Yes, friends, the weekend is over, which means I've heard back from AgentLady.

And it wasn't a No.

It wasn't exactly a yes, either.  Rather, it was a "I think you're really talented and want to work with you on this, but I need to see these revisions first."  We even had a lovely hour-long phone conversation going over a complete line of edits, many of which were already on my list of things to touch up, which is exciting.  Because as we all know, agents don't do that for people they don't want to represent.

My fingers aren't crossed anymore.  Her enthusiasm for this entire series (and my writing in general) is all I need to pull a killer revision out of my hat.  The goal is to have an agent before I begin my grad program, and she's all for that.

I kind of feel like I'm going on a quest to prove myself, which is really exciting.

If you hadn't noticed yet, I really, really like goals.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Interlude

Wouldn't it be great if this was the last post I did?




Oh, I meant, "...last post I did before getting an offer of representation from an awesome agent."

I've been told I'll hear back by the end of the weekend from an agent who has, so far, been very enthusiastic about the novel.  So I've spent all week with my fingers crossed, hoping against hope I didn't drop the ball halfway through the manuscript.  We find out in 48 hours.


So, tonight, to distract myself, I'm going to watch some awesome kids do circus tricks and hope I come back to some literary magic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays : On Circus, Writing, and Wraiths

Okay guys, I have to come clean.  I hate Tuesdays.  I always have, always will.  There's something astrologically off about it, being the day of Mars or something like that, but long story short: everything bad happens on a Tuesday.  Which means, I need to find a way to look forward to these treacherous days.  And I have.  Presenting:






That's right!
Every Tuesday (or as often as I can remember) I'll be posting a small teaser on here.  It will be a veritable grab bag of goodies: writing previews, photographs/design, anecdotes, etc.  Whatever it takes to make me get out of bed with a smile.

In this, er, issue, I think it's time to play catch-up.


Circus


This past week I helped coach 50 kids in Ocala, Florida.
The goal?  Put on three shows with only three days to train and choreograph.
The process?  A week of crazy highs and physical exhaustion and complete sleep deprivation, a lot of pizza/Steak-n-shake/take-out, a club that was half rodeo bar, half rap club (no joke), and more fun than I've had in a long, long time.
The result?  Three incredible shows, acts that made me proud and brought me close to tears (I will never listen to "Fireflies" by Owl City the same way again), and a lot of smiling, amazing performers.
Overall? I remembered why I love teaching circus, and why I got involved with this crazy lifestyle in the first place: the people you meet are amazing and talented and generous with their skills and friendship, and the impact you have on those you meet extends far beyond putting on a good show.

Writing


On the technical side, I've hammered out the first 60+ pages of Martyr's re-write, which includes some serious plot and character changes I'm quite excited for.  I've also uploaded the third chapter to Wattpad, here : http://www.wattpad.com/1761175-chapter-three
Please read and comment!
On the "trying to get an agent" front, well... I don't want to jinx it, but if you've been following me on Twitter you've probably seen me freaking out from events that started this weekend.  All my fingers and toes are crossed.  By the end of the week, I'll either be crying because I'm really, really happy, or crying because I was too close for comfort.


Wraiths


So, you know I've been working on this "Hunter" series for a while, right?  Well, did you know I've been plotting this world for about 6 years now?  I not only have a book filled with factoids and potential plots, but I have a few college projects centered around it.  I live this world to such a frightening degree, I dream of it.

One of said projects was a series of photoshoots for my digital photo class (I majored in photo, dunno if that shows...) centered around the vampyres in the book.

The first I worked on, and also the one I'm happiest with, is a Wraith: a vampyre that feeds on magic.  And this is the real teaser, because this vamp isn't even mentioned in the first book, it's so badass.




I'd share more, but hey, I wouldn't have any more to post then.  You'll have to keep waiting. :)

This has been the first (!!) Teaser Tuesday.  I hope you enjoyed, and look forward to more next week!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day.  Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel.  None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch.  And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones.  And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
-Elizabeth Bishop



If there's one thing I know how to do, it's leave.
I'm not saying I do it well; there are always strings left untied and stories left untold.  Someone is always missed in the goodbyes, because no matter what, there's never enough time.  It's not gotten easier, even though I've had practice.  My childhood was a process of moving between parents, leading up to my eventual self-dismissal to (artsy) boarding school eight hours away.  I left there, too, when I graduated and moved to college.  Not once, but four times (yes, four colleges in five years).  I haven't spent more than a single year in one place since sophomore year of high school, eight years ago.  Two continents, multiple sets of friends, and multiple people I thought I couldn't live without.  Two months from now, I do it again.

So tonight, briefly, I want to talk about change.  We've all gone through it.  We've all lost friends or continents, have all practiced the "One Art," as Elizabeth Bishop so wisely states.  But like all arts, it's one that requires practice, dedication.  We must be willing to lose the parts of our self that don't work.  We must strive to find "beauty in the breakdown" (thank you Imogen Heap).  Because it seems, to me, that things are their most vibrant when we're about to lose them.  The sun sets, and moments before it fades, everything is blazing with life and glory.  We are illuminated by the beauty of something's passing.  Change let's us embrace the beauty for what it is; otherwise, we just get bored.

That's not say changing or losing or leaving is fun.  It's not easy.  Hell, it's terrifying.
So what do we do about it?

We can, of course, hold on to everything.  We can grip the grass beneath our feet and swear we'll never move.  And we won't.  We'll stay where we are.  We won't change even as the seasons pull and the world spins and the stars scream promises above our heads.  We'll be the same person we were when we first opened our eyes.
We'll have learned nothing.

Or, we can embrace the descent, become the artists of our own loss.  We can jump into the void, willingly, arms spread wide.  Who knows? we might fall flat on our face.
Or--even more terrifying--we might just find the wings we forgot we had all along.  Letting go could be taking hold of everything.

So, my questions:
What are the things in your life you want to change?  What are the changes you'll make?
What do you fear will never change?
What will you do when it does?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Teaser : Martyr, opening pages

I know, I know, this is horribly out of character.
But for the past 24 hours, I've taken a break.

I mean, I've still gone to work and answered phones and helped paint a wall.  But I took a break from literary work.  No writing!  No thinking about agents!  I watched a movie with Ryan Reynolds ('nuff said)!
Because of that, I feel like a mild failure.  (the not-writing, not Ryan)  SO!  My answer to the dilemma is simple: post something I've done and see if you guys think I'm going in the right direction.  Cuz I redid the first few pages and need input.  In fact, I need input on the whole damn thing.

No joke, I'm thinking of giving out a few copies for critiques.  If you're interested...

Anyway, I'm going to go write a few snippets of book two.  And watch Black Butler.
Yes, this is how I spend my Friday nights.
Don't judge.

Teaser after the break:


And with our greed, a great sin was born unto this world
and like Eve to the apple
that sin shall consume us.”
    - Caius 8:22
    2 P.R. (Post Resurrection)

One



Humans are losing.
Those aren't exactly the words anyone wants to hear, and thinking them doesn't feel any better. In some ways, saying we're on the brink of destruction is a good thing; it means we aren't gone yet, we're still fighting back. The demons we created seven years ago haven't swallowed us whole. But they're trying. And they're winning. And we Hunters the only ones holding them back. Days like this, and it's hard to understand why we're even trying.
The lakeside town swept out below my dangling feet, a twisted mass of empty streets and shadowed buildings. Everything was grey, from the roiling sky above to the rain-slicked sidewalks; even the wind was tinted with the metallic mist curling off the lake. It was stupid, sitting on the edge of the high-rise apartment, but the risk felt nice. At some point in the next twenty-four hours, my chances of dying were going to skyrocket. This, at least, was a risk I could control.
I leaned over, felt my heart leap into my chest as vertigo snaked its way up my throat. I could jump. The words drifted through my thoughts like fog, obscuring everything just for a second. I could imagine it, could almost feel it: the momentary weightlessness at the height of my leap, the sudden connection with gravity. I could see the beauty of my blood diffusing into the puddles, slowly seeping out into the surf...
I shook my head and leaned back. My pulse calmed down just a little bit. I was supposed to be on the lookout. Suicide wasn't an option right now, even if it was much less messy than the other ways I'd most likely die. Guys like me didn't really have a life-expectancy.
Closing my eyes, I visualized the Spheres just like I'd been taught ages ago. They pulsed along my spine, five points of whirling energy we used to call Chakras, before we learned how to tap them. My first instinct was to reach for Water—the first Sphere I'd been Attuned to—but that was dangerous. Water was the Sphere of healing, but also of emotions, of regret. And that's a loaded gun when you're sitting on the edge in more ways than one.
I reached deeper, past Water to the Sphere of Earth. It curled in the pit of my pelvis, green and brown and growing. The moment I reached for it, it reached back, twining and blossoming through my body. It pulled me down, down through the steel girders and concrete and asbestos of this twelve-story complex, down into the feral soil far below, grounding me like a root. In that instant, I could feel everything within a mile of the building, was connected to the dust on the decaying sofas below and the rust on the cars piled up just off the interstate. I could feel it all, was a part of it all. My skin hummed with the melody of Earth. It felt like peace.
But there was another, more pressing reason to be open to Earth. Like I said, I was on the lookout. Earth would let me feel the footsteps of the vampyre army lurking somewhere out there. In theory, at least. Nothing was moving. Nothing save the rest of my troop a few blocks away.
If I wanted to, I could do more than just sense things. I could push through Earth, use it to manipulate the very fabric of the world. Years ago, about a year before the vamps were created, we learned how to Attune ourselves to the Spheres. In doing so, we learned how to wield magic. In doing so, we damned ourselves to this: a near-empty world ravaged by vampyres and human stupidity.
Vampyres were magic's bastard offspring. The Spheres were like batteries in the body, fueling our basic needs, giving us life. When you used them to manipulate the outside world—to do magic—it used up the Sphere. And when it drained completely, it imploded. Then it would stop being a battery and would become more like a leech, sucking the body dry of that Sphere's element and leaving an insatiable hunger in its place. It wasn't like death. With the other Spheres working overtime, your body adapted, grew strong in new ways. A half-life of hunger and pain, each Sphere creating a completely unique type of vamp. Each had its own strengths, its own cravings. Each was mad with torment. No one would willingly do that to themselves, save for the cult that rose up the same time as the vamps: Necromancers. They were magic-users, the masterminds. They herded vamps around like private armies. But even the Necromancers were nothing compared to the Ancients...
“Lost in thought, Tenn?”
I yelped and jerked around. The movement was too fast. I slipped off the oily ledge, felt that piercing shock of adrenaline as my connection to Earth shattered and gravity kicked in. The streets below opened like a maw.
I barely had a moment to re-imagine falling to my death before Jarrett's hand latched onto my arm, pulling me off the ledge and onto the concrete roof in one swift motion. Pain shot through me. Welcome pain: the scrape of bared skin on concrete. Much better than the potential crash of a hundred-foot drop.
“Careful,” he said.
He hovered above me, the Sphere of Air glowing blue in his throat. It wasn't the first time he'd snuck up on me like that. Fuck Air mages and their ability to fly.
“It would have been your fault,” I said. I looked down at my forearms, to where my black coat had pulled back to expose now-bloodied skin. “You know I don't like it when you do that.”
I opened to Earth and forced my skin to stitch itself back together, ignoring the pain of a thousand burning needles that accompanied the act. Healing hurt, no matter what anyone said to the contrary. That done, I pushed down my sleeves, hiding the black sun tattoo twining around my right forearm.
He just chuckled. He wore the same clothes as all of us, the black jeans and overcoat of a Hunter. The hilt of his sword peeked up over his left shoulder, and another dagger was belted at his waist. His blond hair was matted down from the rain, barely hiding the scars that crossed his face like pale lines on a vellum map. He was grinning, and that made his blue eyes shine. He really was proud of himself for nearly killing me. No, he's just happy cuz it means he won this round. Small gusts of wind whipped around him, making his coat flutter out like wings. Then the Sphere in his throat winked out and he landed lightly on the roof.
“Sorry if I scared you,” he said. He took a few steps forward and helped me to my feet. “But you have to be ready at all times.”
I sighed and looked off to the right, staring blankly at the rooftops.
“Don't do that,” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“Make that face. That I'm pissed at you face. You know I didn't mean it.”
Then, before I could say anything, he took a half-step closer and wrapped his arms around me. I tensed, wanted to push him away. But habit got the better of me; I squeezed him tight and buried my face in his neck, breathing his scent like cologne.
“Whatever,” I mumbled.
He kissed my neck. “Don't be mad at me.”
“I'm not,” I replied. I couldn't be if I tried.
“Good,” he said. He leaned back slightly, forcing me to look into his eyes—just for a moment—before he leaned in and kissed my lips.
I chuckled. Not exactly romantic.
“I'm on the lookout,” I said against his lips.
“And I'm your commander,” he mumbled. “Obey.”

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Silver Linings

Friday, I received a rejection letter from one of the agents reading my full.  It highlighted everything that was wrong in the manuscript and thanked me for sending it along.
In the same email-checking-session, I received an offer of placement for the MLitt in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.  (IE Scotland)

I was, admittedly, not prepared for the rush of emotions.  What to feel first?  Scotland is a place near and dear to my heart.  I think everyone has that idealized image of home.  Scotland is mine.  And after spending nine assorted months there studying and working in the past, the notice that I could, finally, return home was perhaps more than my system could handle.  Because it also means leaving again.  This time, for a hell of a lot longer than before.
And the rejection letter?  Well, it was an agent I had high hopes for, and I definitely fell a few rungs in confidence.

Enter my two personalities.

Part of me wanted to break down.  It wants to say, "see--you'll never be an author.  Agents don't want you. You need to just stay in school and keep busying yourself with other projects so you'll stop trying to publish." That part is quiet, disgustingly friendly and deceiving.  It sounds so rational.  After all, I keep getting rejections.  It's time to give up, right?  How does one deal with thinking, "I'm good at this, but I'm not succeeding, and yet there's a bunch of people who write crap and make it to the top" ?

Thankfully, there's always another part.
This part adheres to the belief that when you're walking the road you need to walk, life doesn't get easier.  Life gets really hard.  Life throws curveballs and makes you run twenty laps on your hands.  Life tests you, because you're getting close, and Life wants to make sure you're worth getting what you asked for.

The part of me that believes that--believes it because the alternative is so, well, depressing--has taken over.  It's the part of me that takes the rejections and extracts what various agents felt was wrong with the manuscript, prints the whole damn thing out and stands there with a few purple pens (red is so angry.  PURPLE SOOTHES) waiting to tear through it.  That part already kept me up with ideas of how to change the plot in big ways and up the ante and prove he's a genius.
It also says that Glasgow is precisely what I need, precisely what I asked for.  And that's the scary part--because I worked hard enough to get this.
What will happen when I've worked hard enough to get published?

Which leads me to my question:
How do you deal with disappointment?  How do you deal with joy?
What are you working toward, and what will you do once you get it?
Because, let's face it, you're going to get it.  Someday.




And, because I promised a long time ago, this is one of the bajillion things I've done


and this is me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Joys of Waiting

or, What I've Been Doing Lately.

With Cassandra away on tour, Holly and I have been manning the office.  We've painted a quasi-magnetic chalkboard, rearranged the furniture, and plowed through stacks of fanmail in the constant battle to "get ahead."   Of course, this involved many discussions about the business and the mess I'm getting myself into life I want to live.

Because, no matter what I've done this past week, the majority of my time has been spent waiting.
Oh, that's not to say I haven't been busy.  I've been away to visit friends' graduations, have spent hours designing a logo for my circus company, and somehow managed to get booked for a weekend photoshoot in Detroit.  I've also sent out nearly two-dozen queries, received five manuscript requests, started the next book in my series, and decided to apply to grad school.  I like keeping my plate full.  My acupuncturist likes it as well.

Even with a life that doesn't seem to stop running on all cylinders (no joke, my favorite quote is from a boss: "Vacation is like work, but boring"), I still feel like I'm standing still.  And this, apparently, is the joy of being a writer.

Writers wait.

We wait to hear back from our critique group or friends brave enough to read our manuscripts.
We wait for responses to queries.  And, if we hear back positively, we double or triple our waiting time to hear back on the manuscript.  (Let's not forget: the literary world doesn't keep business hours.  Responses can--and have--come in at 4am on Tuesday or 8pm Sunday night)

And during this, we try not to second-guess ourselves.  It's perfectly fine that the agent who requested your book ASAP hasn't responded in three weeks.  In fact, it can actually be a good thing, because there's a chance it means they're taking their time to read it all the way through.  We don't need to gut the entire manuscript and apologize to every agent we spoke to because we suddenly realized we should just stop pretending and find another career.  Our writing isn't crap, even though waiting it out feels like it's spelling the opposite.

According to Holly, the waiting is the only constant in a writer's--even a successful, published author's--life.

That said, you can bet I'll overjoyed when this particular wait is over.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First post and summary of "Martyr"

I promised a Monday surprise.
Here it is!

More things for you to follow and the opportunity for me to post:
- teasers from my new series
- book reviews
- photographs
- and--what you're all here for--bits and pieces from my time working with Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.


So keep an eye here or follow me on Twitter. @Alex_Incognito


To start this right, here's the summary of my story.  And by summary, I mean part of the pitch I've been sending to agents.


"The discovery of magic was meant to further the age of man.  It should have ended disease and healed world hunger.  It was never meant to kill.  But when magic was used to convert humans into vampyres, our "global remedy" marked the beginning of the end.


Martyr, the first book in the Hunter series, focuses on Tenn, an eighteen-year-old Hunter sworn to save humanity from the demons it created.  Like all orphans of the apocalypse, he has nothing to lose and no family to live for.  When his boyfriend is captured by an elder vampyre, Tenn finds a secret ally in the vampyre Tomas.  But can Tomas be trusted, or are Tenn and his companions just being used to further Tomas' dark desires?"