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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Currently: On Fear

It’s official: I am addicted to sheet masks. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that wearing one makes my husband scream like a girl, douse me in holy water, and chant, “The power of Christ compels you!”

I mean, it mostly has nothing to do with that.

They make my skin all soft and glowy, like the “after” shots of an acne ad. I bought Tony Moly’s masks at Katy Upperman’s recommendation and was pretty sure she was having an exaggerating day, but it really did make me feel 76 percent prettier.

And then Alice sent me the loveliest birthday present, including my favorite lip balm and a gorgeous necklace that I can’t photograph right now because it’s last night and super dark in my house. It also included a couple sheet masks, one of which made me look like I’d just worked out—but in a good way. Like the way celebrities look after the gym.

I’m on a hot streak—back to back books I absolutely loved. Considering The Raven King and The Rose & the Dagger come out today, I’m 150 percent sure this will continue. Go me.

So I finally set aside time for Jessica Love’s In Real Life, which I read in one sitting and then immediately wished I’d gone slower to make it last longer. This book is all sorts of adorable. I’m a sucker for pen pals meeting in public, and on top of that In Real Life offers up some really great characters and a fun twist I’m not going to reveal. And the romance? Oh man. It’s Stephanie Perkins cute.

Next up for me was Elizabeth Briggs’ Future Shock, a YA sci-fi thriller with a group of (mostly) delinquents, a mysterious mission, and nonstop action. The goal: travel to the future and collect data on new tech—though things don’t go quite as planned. My favorite part of time travel novels is the moment everything clicks together and you can see how the past and future are entwined. Future Shock didn’t disappoint. I also loved the characters, especially Elena, who was supremely badass, and Adam. Nerdy, awkward, sweet-as-sugar Adam. If you liked Karen Akins’ Loop, you’ll like this.

Three cheers for the new season of Game of Thrones! I loved the first episode, but I want to go on record right now and say that if they kill off Tyrion I might send a herd of White Walkers to HBO studios.

This is the perfect song for my male POV in my current WIP. And not just because it’s called “Thief” and he’s a thief.


Am I ever not thinking about fear? I mean, I guess so. Like when I’m thinking about pizza. Or when I’m thinking about Matthew Daddario’s perfectly appropriate eye rolls as Alec Lightwood in Shadowhunters.

But aside from that, fear.

So naturally I’ve been all fearful while trying to write my current WIP. What if it’s not good enough? What if I don’t love it as much as Gray Wolf Island? How is it possible to write so slow?

Then the lovely Liz Parker (aka the personification of my sanity) reminded me that I wrote Gray Wolf Island super slow and whined about it the whole time. Okay, she’s to nice to say whined, but let’s get real: I whined.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because I was able to reread my blog posts from my Gray Wolf Island–drafting days and remember that, yes, I wrote that slowly. Also, I was all angsty about it. Basically everything I’m feeling right now, I was feeling back then.

It appears my writing process goes something like this:
  1. Think I’m going to write perfect words super fast.
  2. Realize the words don’t pour our perfect.
  3. Realize getting the prose right slows me down.
  4. Worry I write too slow.
  5. Believe I am a hack.
  6. Angst.
  7. More angst.
So, yeah, it’s my thing and I think I need to work through it so I don’t let fear mess with my head. And so I can actually write. I might do a post about this in the future if I can get it under control. In the meantime, send hard alcohol.

I have never anticipated anything as hard as I am anticipating The Raven King. But I bought mine autographed, and the last time I did that, my copy took a while to get to me.

In the meantime, I will not be thinking about Gansey or the thing Maggie Stiefvater promised to do to him.

Also, should any of you spoil the ending, I will be forced to send you links to the most disgusting health-related Google image searches I can find.

This is not a test. I have an actual book. ON ACTUAL GOODREADS.

I am not freaking out, per say. Just enjoying how immensely cool this is. Like the professional I am.


So, yeah, Gray Wolf Island is on Goodreads. You can add it to your to-read shelf if you’d like. Or you can add it to your authors-who-overuse-gifs list. It’s really up to you.

What’s new with you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Big News (Yes, That Big News)

So there I was, fumbling my phone. My hands were shaking—my whole body was shaking—and my fingers couldn’t find the right button or my brain couldn’t compute. There was something about an offer. And then I hung up.

I should back up. Give you the whole “once upon a time” story.

Once upon a time there was the girl on fire. When my phone rang that Thursday, I’d been burning for 24 hours straight, and I was in the sort of pain that settles into your mind. I was also on the furious side of angry that my EM wouldn’t leave me alone.

It was a bad day.

And then the phone rang. My agent, Sarah, said something about an editor and my mind exploded. My cheek bumped the FaceTime button and I was too out of my mind on excitement to know how to get back to the regular call.

And so, the hang-up.

I was shaking. Even when Sarah called back and kindly laughed at my half-crazed mumblings, I shook and shook and tried to take notes because it seemed like the smart thing to do.

They read like the ravings of a mad women, which I guess isn’t too far off the mark. Because, guys: Karen Greenberg, and editor with Knopf Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Random House)(!!!) loves my book.*

I’m just going to sit here and let that sink in some more. Because at this point, it’s still not real.

We’d gone on submission for my YA magical realism novel, Gray Wolf Island, in January. A little under two months doesn’t seem long, but what you may not realize is that submission time is like dog years. You have to multiply it by seven then add 1,000 and that’s how long it feels when you’re waiting to hear from editors.

Incidentally, that math holds true when considering the wait between selling a book and being able to tell the world about it. Oh how I wanted to tell you all.

I wanted to tell you that all of the insane time we put into our writing pays off.

I wanted to tell you that writing the next book is always a good idea.

I wanted to tell you that your friendship over the years has kept me going, even when it felt like I’d never, ever get here.

But I am here, still not sure how it’s possible that an editor loves my book as much as I do. I’m a weepy mess of excitement and gratitude.

I suppose that some time before fall 2017—when my book (!) is set to release (!)—I’ll be a fully functioning human again.

* But WHAT IS IT ABOUT!?! I’m just going to go ahead and steal the Publisher’s Weekly blurb for this. Gray Wolf Island is a magical realism story of “five teens looking for a legendary treasure on a mysterious island, only discover they must reveal their darkest secrets in order to succeed.” Goonies never say die.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Currently: Trusting My Gut

My head is not misshapen. I mean, it could be misshapen—I’ve never shaved my hair to find out—but I’m pretty sure it’s just round. Which is why I’m severely annoyed each time I put on a headband only to have it slip off a few minutes later. But I have finally discovered one that stays put all day. With glasses. And without inducing a migraine. So, yeah, I’m loving Athelta’s Thin Sparkly Headband.

I’ve been trying this thing where I wait for an entire series to be published before beginning book one. This has to do with my love for binge reading, my inability to remember the details of a book a year later, and my extreme impatience during the wait between books.

So anyway, I never read Becky Wallace’s The Storyspinner when it came out. But The Skylighter, the second book in the duology, released on March 22, so I began the series. It has so many elements I love: hidden identities, hate-to-love romance, a world that comes to life, and great character arcs. Both books are told from multiple POVs, and I have a hard time picking a favorite. This is a fast-paced fantasy with characters who feel real and romances that are compelling and (for my two favorites) incredibly sweet.


Eleven-year-old Tracey is rolling her eyes right about now. It’s just that, well, I tried to do the Fuller House thing. I really, really did. But not even nostalgia could get me through that cringe-fest.

(I know, I know … how rude!)

So my WIP has absolutely nothing in common with Cinderella, but the song itself is inspiring some later scenes in the novel.

Nova Ren Suma’s blog post about getting unstuck. She talks about her struggle while drafting The Walls Around Us (am I the only one who loves hearing successful writers talk about the struggle they had writing their books?)—specifically the struggle to just get words on the page. She says she started thinking about all of the things the book should be, all of the books it should be like, instead of trusting her gut.

It’s a great read, and one that spoke to me as I was struggling with my novel’s opening. When I stopped thinking about what the beginning of my book should do and trusted what I wanted it to do, I finally found the words again.

I can’t wait until Friday, when Elizabeth Brigg’s YA sci-fi novel, Future Shock, hits shelves. Two words: time travel.

I used to think I was a fast drafter, but that was back when I spent millions of years revising my quick drafts. It was … not ideal. With my last book, I wrote so slow I was basically inactive.

I hated my book, then I realized it wasn’t my book’s fault, so I hated myself. I still do sometimes, especially now that I’m drafting again. I’m constantly wishing I was a fast drafter. But I try to remind myself: What works for one writer, doesn’t have to work for me.

More than that, I tell myself this: Writing Gray Wolf Island may have been excruciatingly slow, but revising was so very fast. It’s what’s saving me from crazy as I write Carnival Novel.

I mean, Pinterest is always making me happy because it’s basically procrastination in picture form, but I’m loving the board for my current WIP. I’ve been finding so much inspiration in images. Here’s the board if you want to check it out.


What’s new with you?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Currently: In and Out of WIP Love

I’m just going to be honest with you: The fancy gold-leaf type here is about as exciting as this blog is going to get today. I can’t compete with gold lettering. I just can’t. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s catch up: 

You might remember my brief yet impassioned treatise on opening chapters, those works of the devil meant to whittle away the confidence of even the most self-assured writer. At the time, I was trying to write the first chapter of a new story.

(Trying really is an overly kind word for the thrashing about I was doing.)

So there I was, nearly dead from all the blood I lost while poking my brain out with my pen. And I realized I was missing key research that wouldn’t make writing the first chapter easier (because nothing can help that except maybe a tranquilizer dart) but would make all the chapters after that easier.

I paused that WIP to gather research-y books. While I was waiting, I jumped to another WIP. I quickly finished outlining it. And then one day I wrote the first line. This is strange for me. I never write a first line in a day. And don’t you start in about how a line shouldn’t take an entire day, never mind and entire week. I get enough of that from my brain.

But this one is just flowing. It’s like falling in love the day after a terrible breakup. I plan to keep going with it until it until it realizes it’s still in love with its ex.

I have been dying to read Jessica Love’s In Real Life since I first heard the words pen pals. See, my just-for-fun project is a pen pal story. I was craving a book like this, couldn’t find one, and decided to write it myself.

I don’t work on it often, so it’s barely written. Which is okay, because In Real Life will fill my craving for a good pen pal story. After years of seeing Jessica talk about it on her blog and of hearing about its path to publication, it’s finally in my grasp. I almost cracked it the other day, but I want to wait until I have a big chunk of time free so I can read it all at once.

My sister and I belly-laughed our way through the second season of Galavant this weekend. We would have watched the first season, too, but Hulu didn’t have it. Guys, this show is unexpectedly hilarious. Or maybe you do expect it because you’ve heard how it’s the Broadway version of Monty Python and The Princess Bride. It’s ridiculous and silly in a self-aware way. But it’s not guaranteed another season, which is the opposite of funny.

One of my main characters is mostly evil, so I’ve been listening to this song nonstop. To be honest, it felt much more vicious before I watched the video. So, you know, shut your eyes.

My grandmother, who passed away a little over a week ago. She’d been suffering from dementia, and I’m glad she’s not struggling anymore, but I still miss her.

We got a glimpse of spring last week, when the temperature finally rose above obscenely cold. I’m ready for spring’s mild temperatures. Actually, it’d be great if nature could just stick with spring and fall forever.

Celebratory macaroons go to Elodie Nowodazkij, whose Love in B Minor comes out today. I love this series, so I’m excited for more dancing and more swooning.

See also: hints of spring.

What’s new with you?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Currently: Read This Book Now

A little late to the game today, but here nonetheless! Let’s do this:

This new journal my aunt got me for Christmas—and, yes, I am that behind on sharing my favorite gifts on Instagram, which is where all good gifts go for validation. The question, of course, is whether I can bring myself to mess it all up by writing on its pages.

I devoured These Vicious Masks, a YA historical that’s pitched as Jane Austen meets X-Men, which is appropriate but not nearly the best part. That would be Evelyn, who is full of wit and sarcasm and whose quips had me laughing throughout the whole thing. Bonus: While there are two men interested in Evelyn, her major focus is on finding her missing sister, so while I was swooning, she was not. Somehow, this made the romance even more fun. (I plan to review this in more detail one of these days.) Next up: The Love That Split the World, which sounds just as amazing as it looks.

I’m super exciting to start Hulu’s 11.22.63, a time travel drama starring James Franco that’s based off the Stephen King novel. But what really sold me was J.J. Abram’s involvement because I’m a sucker for anything he creates.

I stumbled upon Daughter’s “Youth” in my endless Spotify list, something I’d added before I wrote Gray Wolf Island, and realized it was perfect for the story. I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since.

Beginnings. And how much I hate them. This is about writing, but it might as well be a metaphor for my life. I’m always a nervous wreck when starting something new.

Multiply that by a thousand when it comes to writing a book. There’s something about that first chapter that makes my insides seize and my brain go mushy. So there you have it: Beginnings hit me like food poisoning.

Is Tuesday too soon to look toward the weekend? No, I really don’t think it is. And I’m antsy to spend long stretches of Saturday and Sunday working on my new story. You have permission to clobber me over the head if I’m still struggling with Chapter 1 by then.

I had married a massage therapist, or at least a guy who could feel the difference between tight muscles and shoulder blades. (The Man has other fine qualities, I assure you.) Anyone else feel like they’ve gone 12 rounds with a ninja after writing for long stretches of time?


Rebecca and Rebekah. How’s this for happy-making:

Rebekah Faubion sold her YA fantasy, Of Blood and Promises, which will release in Fall 2016. I was so very lucky to get a chance to read this story, and trust me when I tell you to add it to your TBR list right now. But be warned: Rebekah really knows how to punch you in the feels.

Rebecca Barrow sold her YA contemporary, You Don’t Know Me, But I Know You, releasing in 2017 release. I haven’t read this one, but it sounds ah-mazing. Read the blurb on Goodreads.

Congrats, ladies!

What’s new with you?