December 15, 2013

5 Things YA Parents Say (But My Parents Never Did)

You've probably noticed an on-going trend in Young Adult fiction. YA (especially anything that's paranormal/scifi/fantasy, etc) has an odd tendency to have absent or complacent parents. (And, kinda like Disney movies, you frequently see single parents in YA.) As I writer, I get it. You need the parents to not get in the way of the story. (We can't be bothered by petty things like good parenting!)

So here are 5 Things YA Parents Say (But MY Parents Never Did)

1) "I'm okay with anything, sweetheart. Be back home by... oh, whenever you feel like it."

  Um. Yeah. My parents set a curfew. And sometimes they forgot how late that curfew was (because I was a good girl and came home early) and so my parents made my curfew even earlier than it was before! And breaking curfew meant not leaving the house again for a very long time.

2) "You've been acting out. I'm going to punish you by leaving you home by yourself (like I always do) and you'd BETTER NOT leave."

Seeing as my parents were pretty protective, I was rarely left at home without one of them there, even when I was a teenager. But you'd better believe that if I was being punished, my parents were right there, making sure I was wallowing in my misery.

3) "You mean you're dating that perfectly-chiseled heartthrob? Are you being safe?"

First of all, ew. No, mom. You can't date my boyfriend.

I kept my parents out of my dating life as much as possible, but when that couldn't be avoided, they NEVER commented on how hot the guy was. (Thankfully.)

Also, my parents never assumed I was having sex (especially not RIGHT after finding out that I was dating someone). So I got to avoid that lovely little question.

4) "I'm going to be at work for a few (hours, days, months). You can take care of yourself, right?"

No. More like: "I have to go to the post office. If you're hungry, there's leftover chicken, sandwich meat, granola bars, and cereal. Please don't use the stove; I don't want the house to burn down. But hang in there and I'll come home and make dinner. I have my cell phone. Call me if you have any problems. The number for the doctor is on the fridge. Do you know what to do if there's an earthquake?" and on and on.

5) "Your grades are slipping. You're grounded!" (see #2)
Yes. Well done, parents. Your daughter is going through some major life events (possibly with an immortal or alien or something) and, of all things, you notice her grades. And instead of finding out WHY, you just ground her. *applause*

Of course, my grades NEVER slipped, so I have no idea what my parents would have said. But I did hear, "We don't care if you make an "A" or a "D", just as long as you're doing the best you can."

I had awesome parents.

It's just a shame they'd make boring fiction.

November 19, 2013

The Woman Who Must Be Everything

I'm a mother. I'm a writer, a homemaker, a Christian, and a homeschooler. I'm expected to keep the house clean and the kids alive. (And I need to look gorgeous while doing it. This includes all the hygiene and grooming and exercising.) I cook meals, change diapers, write novels, teach Sunday school, take my kids on field trips...but not all at once.
I WANTED to plant a garden this Fall.
There are a lot of expectations for me, not just as a mother, but also because I've taken on a number of other roles. I put most of these expectations on myself. I choose to be a mother and a Christian. These things are important to me and I would never give these roles up for anything. The writing and homemaking: also important. I feel homeschool is good for my family right now. All of this is time-consuming, but I CHOSE this. And I can DO this.

But not all at once.

It seems like there's always someone with a cleaner house. There's always someone who teaches these awesome lessons with visuals and related activities and crafts. And then I look at the woman who can cook healthy, delicious meals on a budget.

I can do those things. Honest. Just not at the same time.

See, I've realized that I work in phases. I'll be a good homemaker for a few months days, and then the house falls to pot while I focus on my writing. When I run 5 days a week, my writing stalls out. When I'm focused on buying lots of fruits & veggies and working them into meals (that my kids will actually eat), the running takes a back seat. I see where I'm lacking and jump in, head-first, to fix it.

the "Homemade Gifts" Christmas project
Huge time suck, but a creative outlet
And this is SO frustrating.

Seriously. It'll be late at night and the kids are in bed. There's too much on my to-do list and I'm exhausted. And I find myself asking why I can't have a clean home and cook healthy meals and homeschool my kindergartner, take care of my other two kids and serve in church, be a good mom, exercise every day and write novels.

And then I laugh at myself. Because that's not realistic. AT ALL. I mean, just reading over that list, it's crazy, right?

Homeschool schedule
 (that was tweaked a few times after this was taken)
Why would anyone expect one person to do all that? (And I'm the only person who puts this pressure on me. It's not coming from anyone else.) What kind of world do we live in where a person feels guilty about not being superhuman?

Oh, yeah. I have books.
So I've decided to do the best I can. I mean, that's what I've BEEN doing, technically. But now it'll be okay to not be great at everything. There needs to be a balance. There needs to be moderation in all these things. (What a concept!)

My potty training techniques
are highly sophisticated.
So, whatever you're struggling with, you should know that you're not alone. (Because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who feels like this.) There has to be a better way. And I'm going to find it.

  Here's to moderation.

August 11, 2013

The Fairy Tale Twist (The Ivy Thorn Series #2)

Progress: Now Available

Ivy has figured out how to keep the pixies away. She's safe! But now there are other things to worry about.

In an effort to protect her unborn brother, Ivy strikes a deal with the creepy little pixie who trapped her before. But when she finds herself in a family of disappearing princesses, Ivy throws the fairy tale on its ear to save the kingdom from a destructive love spell.

August 1, 2013

You can hold it in your hands now!

Guess what came in the mail?

Yeah, it's a little early, but I can't wait any more. The Fairy Tale Trap (Ivy Thorn book 1) is now available in paperback! And just before The Fairy Tale Twist comes out, too. :)

I've been completely immersed in Ivy's fairy tale world as I get The Fairy Tale Twist done. Book 2 will be out in less that 2 weeks and there's other fun stuff that I'm excited about.

By beta readers mentioned a story line or two that were left unresolved at the end of The Fairy Tale Twist. They got me thinking, because 1) they were right, but 2) that's not part of Ivy's story. It doesn't make sense to include it in The Fairy Tale Twist because Ivy isn't all that involved.

But the story needs to be told. And it should be a good one. (I don't know for sure, since I haven't written it yet. Funny how that works.) 

I'd like for Ivy to make an appearance in this companion story, but that depends on how she handles herself in the third book of the series: The Fairy Tale Duel. Cause, you know, she might die or get stuck forever in that new fairy tale or something else really horrible. You never know. ;)

So, yeah. Fairy Tale Trap is out in paperback.
Fairy Tale Twist (ebook) out in a couple weeks.
Fairy Tale Duel will come next year.
Companion book, with characters from book 2, is also in the works.

I've also been asked if the whole series will be out in paperback. I'd love that. It takes a lot of time and banging my head on the desk to get a novel formatted for paperback and get a cover ready and all that. I don't mind doing it (there is some fun involved) but I don't want to give up that much of my writing time if people aren't actually going to read it. So, the answer is: Yes. I'll release the whole series in paperback, as long as the first book sells. I hope you understand it's just a matter of priorities and how I spend my time. There's only so much of it. :)

July 30, 2013

Writing a Story is Like Learning to Cook

You know that moment, when you taste something amazing? Maybe you're at a restaurant, or it's one of your grandmother's famous recipes. When you finish eating, you look down at your empty plate and you think, "I have to eat this again."

There are ways to make this happen. You can keep coming to the restaurant, you can beg your grandma to make more, or maybe... just maybe... you can make it at home. 

When that thought enters your mind, you have to assess your time, your talent in the kitchen, and how difficult the recipe will be. Do you have the patience? Can you figure out the ingredients? Will you ever be able to make something that tastes this great?

When you have complete control over what goes into the dish, maybe your creative side goes a little crazy. "You know, it could be really good with fresh mint... Ooh! Or basil!"

But you need to be careful. Too much creativity can get in the way of what you're really trying to achieve: yummy culinary goodness.

Weaving a good story is like nailing the recipe that has haunted you ever since you tasted it.

Like cooking, writing a story can be dangerous if you don't balance knowledge and creativity. You don't want to wind up with cheesy-banana trout. You want your readers to get joy from your book. You want make a book that's magical, the way other authors have done for you.

But if it's not fun, you're probably doing it wrong. When I stress out about a book, or do so much research my brain hurts, it comes out in my story. The characters get boring. The tension falls flat like an under-cooked souffle.

I'm still fairly new at this writing thing. Cognitive psychologists tell us it takes ten years before a writer reaches excellence. I've been going strong for about 6 now. And like my cooking skills, my writing is inconsistent. Sometimes I write something that would make my readers turn green. So I go back, I chop out the rough parts of the story, rearrange some key elements, and beef-up the personality of my characters. I find the weak spots and figure out what I can add to balance the story or make it richer.

The beauty of writing is: the reader doesn't see every draft.

My early draft work is a pile of failed attempts. Eventually, I get something I think is publishable, but there's always work involved that isn't seen by the rest of the world.

No matter what you want to get good at, there's work that goes on behind the curtain.

But if it's something you really want, and if you put in enough effort (and patience and sacrifice), you can make something worthwhile.

July 23, 2013

Chasing The Dream: Being a Write-at-home Mom

Some people fantasize about living in a mansion, owning several cars, and having a hired waitstaff to do all those menial household tasks for them. Clothes, restaurants, vacations...

Yeah. All those would be nice, but my professional goals are a little different.

I'm currently a stay-at-home mom. That's what I do all day. Also, sometimes, I write books.
(Recently, I became comfortable with telling people I "work from home" or even that I'm a writer. I think my last post helped me overcome that fear. A bit.)

But, you know what I really want?

A babysitter.

Not a full-time nanny or a daycare, because I love my job. I love being with my kids and watching them play, learn, sleep, even point out trucks on our way to the store--things only a mother could love, probably. I don't want to give up my stay-at-home status.

But it would be pretty sweet if I could hire someone to watch the kids for two hours a day, five days a week. So I could be guaranteed the time to write and focus on something else. Just a couple hours.


Maybe someday...

If you're a writer, what's your dream? What is success?

If you're not a writer, what's your idea of success? Also, how do you picture a "successful author" living their life?

May 20, 2013

Young Adult Fantasy is NOT What It Sounds Like

Years ago, back before publishing was even on my mind, I decided to take a risk. I was going to tell people about the book I was working on in my spare time. (This was an early version of The Fairy Tale Trap. The working title was Roses and Mirrors.)

I had told another writer in my town about my book. She was so excited for me, she said she would introduce me to her group of friends and then I could tell them about it. They were a slightly older demographic, but I was determined to connect with them and be brave and talk about my book, darn it!

So I sit down with this group and I'm nervous as anything. They welcome me and those polite, awkward phrases are exchanged. My friend brings up the fact that I'm a writer. I take a deep breath. Okay, so here it goes.

This lady to my left smiles like the polite southern woman she is. "Oh, what do you write, Emily?"

I know this! I can answer this question. "Young adult fantasy."

Silence falls.

This woman looks at me with both eyebrows raised. Her mouth is open slightly, like she's about to say something, but she can't quite put the words together. I wait.

"You mean, like... pornography?"

Um. No.

My friend and I try to explain (quickly) that it's more like The Chronicles of Narmia or The Hobbit or any other safe, wholesome literature.

After the woman was put at ease, I made my getaway as quickly as possible. Never again, I said.

Obviously, I gathered the courage to do it again, but guys? It's hard to talk about my books to other people. It's so much easier for me to rave about some other book I picked up at the bookstore or the library. Mine? Well, I can tell you it's not porn. You may like it. But, you know, it's not for everyone...

Sometimes I'm forced to talk about my books. I do the best I can in those situations, but after those conversations are over, I look back and cringe. Why did I talk about my own work like that? She said she actually liked it, so why would I put it down? What does she think now?

Because when it comes to my books, I'm a bumbling, socially awkward mess.

That's why I rely on you. Seriously, folks. When word gets back to me that someone liked my book and told a friend, sometimes I get teary-eyed. Every time a new review goes up on Amazon or Goodreads, there's this wave of gratitude. Even if the review isn't five stars, someone not only took the time to read my book, but they liked it enough to tell someone else about it. Because telling someone about a book the best compliment an author could hope for.

And trust me, you'll do a lot better job than I ever could.

March 31, 2013

Snow White and Zombies is out!


It's available at Smashwords now! And you can talk about it on Goodreads.

I know some people like to buy directly from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or iTunes, etc... If Snow White and Zombies isn't already available at your preferred site, rest assured it will be there soon. Smashwords says it usually takes a week to show up. With The Fairy Tale Trap it took a couple of days. With Cinderella and Zombies, it took two weeks. I know--I'm frustrated, too.

March 30, 2013

Hint, hint

Snow White and Zombies comes out tomorrow! Please make sure you're signed up for the Insiders mailing list (hint, hint) so you can have access to, oh I don't know, discounts on future books...stuff like that...

March 5, 2013

Are you an Insider?

I'm nothing without my readers.

If I don't have an audience, then I'm just typing words on a screen that no one else will ever see. So when I write a book, I have you, gentle reader, in mind.

My job is to make you happy.

Well, I was sitting there, thinking about the most awesome way to release Snow White and Zombies on the 31st. Then I thought: why not ask you?

So, naturally, I turn to my Insiders.

This is a group of readers that want to be a part of the next book, the next promotion, or the next contest. These are my go-to people when I need input. In return, I try to give them first dibs on coupons. Also, I actually use their ideas in books.

Lately, my Insiders have been on facebook. They helped me design the cover for Snow White and Zombies and they came up with one of my main characters' names. (I was stuck, and they really pulled through.) I also have great readers here, on the blog.
Awesome facebook followers make
awesome book covers.

But what happens if my blog crashes? Or, heaven forbid, what if something happens to facebook? Facebook can take my author page down any time they want, without notice, and without a good reason. That's crazy!

So I want to make sure all my best supporters, those readers that want to know everything, are all in one place.

That's why I have an Insiders email list.

This is where I send discount coupons FIRST. It's also where I'd like to go for advice and input on my books as I write them. I have amazing readers and it would be pretty cool to get a little community of fairy tale-lovin' enthusiasts in one place.

At the moment, we're trying to figure out something special to do for the release of Snow White and Zombies. Come join the discussion!

February 20, 2013

Cinderella and Zombies : Book Cover Makeover!

Cinders is looking a little tired, I think. So to celebrate the upcoming release of Snow White and Zombies, we have a brand new cover for both books!

Snow White and Zombies should be coming out March 31st. I can't wait!

January 22, 2013

The Next Big Thing Meme

Oh, dear. I've been tagged for a meme. This has been a long time coming, seeing as I've been tagged for it twice by Thea van Diepen and Kat Gerlach. There's no avoiding it any longer, so here we go. :) (Thanks, ladies!)

The Next Big Thing

This meme lets me talk about books, which is always fun. (Remind me to thank Kat and Thea...)

What is the title of your next book?
I suppose it's time for me to commit to one book now, huh?

I did some math and planned out my schedule and it looks like Snow White and Zombies should be available March 31. A little later than I'd planned, but these things do take time.
(To be honest, I'm scared out of my wits that I'm going to publish a sub-par book. I want to make sure this story doesn't disappoint those who liked Cinderella and Zombies.)

Where did the idea for your book come from?
It seemed like a sensible thing to do, after wonderful, amazing readers told me they liked Cinderella and Zombies.

What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy, with some horror thrown in for good measure. This one is less thriller-ish than Cinders, but has some unexpected emotion tied into it. (And by unexpected, I mean that I wasn't expecting it. Sometimes the book goes where it wants to go.)

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Felicia Day is quirky and pretty and I think she'd be perfect for Snow White's character.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a failed suicide attempt leads to the zombie apocalypse, an ugly queen struggles to put things right in her kingdom.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 2 weeks. I did it during Nanowrimo, since my planned book fell short (WAY short) of the 30 days. 

What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?
Er.... Cinderella and Zombies? Sorry, that's a tough one. When I describe it to people, I give them the title--Snow White and Zombies--and I tell them it's exactly what it sounds like.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Readers who liked Cinderella and Zombies. Cinders was an experiment. It was something that I wrote because I thought it would be fun. (It was!) But I wasn't expecting people to write me and tell me that they liked it so much. (You guys are the greatest!)

What else about your book might pique the reader's attention?

There's something in the works right now. Nothing official. But I'm working with other authors on making zombie fairy tales a thing.

Also, I'm still undecided about the cover for Snow White and Zombies. If you follow me on facebook, you've probably seen several of my drafts. I'm seriously considering releasing the same book twice, with different covers. (sigh)

Tag! You're it!*

*And my you, I mean you. Yes, you. If you're reading this, if you write, and if you haven't done the Next Big Thing yet, then consider yourself tagged. Sorry, that's how I roll.

January 8, 2013

Things You Don't Know About Me (Unless I told you and forgot)

  • You may know that my dad was in the military (Navy), so we moved around a lot. We lived in North Carolina, different parts of Florida and Virginia, Washington DC and Iceland. I learned a lot about the Icelandic culture during our stay there. (Yes, it's green, but only during part of the year. It snows a LOT and the grass is frequently soggy and brown.)
  • I've eaten frog legs, squid, dolphin (one that had been caught in a tuna net), alligator, snail, fish sauce, water buffalo (yuk!), halo halo (an ice cream sundae with chick peas and weird purple ice cream, coconut, and other odds and ends) and something my husband showed me: an avocado filled with sweetened condensed milk. (Mmm!)
  • One time I ate so many mangos, I almost developed an allergy to them. I was in the Philippines (where I ate the halo halo) where the mangos are INCREDIBLE. I ate a few every day until my lips started tingling. I decided to back off at that point. Still, even if I had become allergic, it would have been worth it. They were SO good!
  • I've been to several foreign countries including Philippines, Mexico, Belize, Iceland, France, and England, but I've never been to the western United States.
  • I'm the oldest of four girls. My dad is the oldest of 6 boys (plus one sister).
  • My birthday is November 29th, the same as Louisa May Alcott, Madeleine L'Engle, and C.S. Lewis (unless someone lied to me)
  • I married my husband here because we're Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I'm always open to discussing my faith with others because it reminds me why I live this way. Besides, if  I have something that makes my life better, it shouldn't be a secret. It should be shared.

  • I didn't always want to be a writer. It never really occurred to me. Growing up, I considered being "an artist" (when I was ages 5-7), a nurse, a lawyer, a psychologist, and a veterinarian, but I always knew I wanted to be a mom. The writing came later, and was inspired mostly by reading Harry Potter and some Gail Carson Levine in 2007.
  • I don't want stardom. I like having readers that love my work. It's more important to me to keep those readers happy than it is to write the next best-seller. 
  • I'm 6'1''. It wasn't easy growing up taller than all the boys, but I know that short people have their own problems. And at least I can reach the top shelf. :P
  • One of my favorite things to cook is banana bread. Chocolate chips are a must.
  • My big, scary German Shepherd is a softy. He was named after a character in a computer game.

Guybrush the German Shepherd
I have a sister who writes, though she hasn't published anything yet. She likes to use the pseudonym Emma Rosewood. I designed this book cover for her time travel romance. (I'll let you know when it comes out.)

I can't think of anything else, but you can ask questions in the comments. I'll answer as soon as the baby goes down for a nap. No really.

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