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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Interview with Lauren Kate

Hey guys! I'm here to share an interview with Lauren Kate. This is kind of a weird interview though. When I emailed her, she said she didn't have time to do a personal interview, but she sent along answers to questions that people had been asking her that very week. Enjoy!

Q: Who is Luce based on? Which character are you most like?

A: Luce’s physical traits are based on my oldest, closest friend—the dark wavy hair, hazel eyes, tiny teeth, etc. When I first started writing her, I pulled some personality traits from this friend, but as I continued with her story, Luce veered away from my friend into an identity of her own. I share some traits with her—like her stubbornness and tendency to get swept away by romance. But if I had to which one I’m most like (though this is hard to imagine), I might be a crazy combination of Arriane and Penn.

Q: Did you struggle in coming up with any of the characters?

A: Daniel was the most challenging, mainly because the full truth of his character has to come to light very slowly over the course of the entire series in order for the books to work. The reveal at the end of the first book was probably one that most readers saw coming...it is book about fallen angels after all! But there's a much bigger, game-changing reveal about Daniel to come later in the series. It's challenging for me to know what's coming and only be able to show the reader so much at this point. Daniel's character is difficult enough as it is! But I like to think of him as a work in progress, a developing story, and someone who, above all, knows Luce better than anyone else (including herself), and has her best interest at heart.

Q: How did you come up with Cam?

A: Believe it or not, Cam is inspired (but of course not entirely based) on my husband. When I first met Jason, he was this intriguing combination of very intimidating and very approachable. The perfect model for Fallen’s bad boy.

Q: Can you give us a hint about what will happen in Torment?

A: I’m having so much fun writing Torment right now. I think I’m more proud of it than any book I’ve written so far. Really, it’s going to be GOOD. It’s hard for me not to spill everything right now so I can say, “Aren’t you excited? Won’t this be great?” But my publisher would probably have my head. So in lieu of that, I’ll reveal just three things:

1. As Luce learns more about her past, she comes into a host of powers she never knew she had—and they might involve the shadows.

2. After the second book comes out, a prequel (which will span thousands of years!) will follow before the final book in the series.

3. Even though, of course, Daniel is Luce’s one-and-only, a new character is introduced in Torment that offers him some stiff competition.

Q: What's the publishing plan for the series? When is the next book coming out?

A: Fallen is the first book in the series—though I will be writing a prequel to explain some of the things that have happened before the narrative of Fallen began. Torment picks up right where Fallen left off and will be published in September 2010 (I don’t know the exact date yet). Sounds far away, doesn't it? But it'll be here before any of us can believe it. There will be two more books after that, one in the summer of 2011(this will be the prequel), and a final book in December 2011.

Q: What countries will publish Fallen?

A: So far, Fallen has sold in these countries:
• US: RH/Delacorte
• UK: RHUK (Doubleday)
• Germany: Bertelsmann
• Spain: RH/Mondadori
• Portugal: Planeta Portugal
• Catalan language: Grup Editorial 62
• Brazil: Editora Record
• Italy: Rizzoli
• Taiwan (Chinese Complex Character): Sun Color Culture
• Russia: Eksmo
• Korea: Random House Korea
• Greece: Psichogios Publications
• Netherlands/Dutch language: Uitgeverij Van Goor
• Indonesia: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
• Bulgaria: Intense/Locus Books
• France: Bayard
• Turkey: Epsilon
• Estonia: Pegasus
• Serbia: Evro-Giunti
• Hungary: K√∂nyvmoly
• Poland: MAG Publishers

Q: What can you tell us about the cover art?

A: Many people have asked about my involvement in the cover art. I actually had nothing to do with it (which is a lucky thing for all of us)—and no, I am not the girl on the cover! She’s a model from Brazil, the artist’s name is Fernanda Brusi Goncalves, and the cover was designed by a very talented team of designers at Random House. I did a little grateful grovel when I finally got to meet them a few months ago. I’m sorry I don’t know who designed the dress, though I’ve been told Morgan LaFaye makes a very similar one.

When my editor first emailed me a jpeg of this art, it took me about thirty seconds to wrap my mind around someone else’s image of the world and Luce’s character, but quickly after that, I fell in love with it. I think it’s perfect for the book. I don’t know what the cover for TORMENT will look like yet, but I know they are working on it at Random House!


Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: I've been writing stories since I was in middle school, so I love talking to people who are interesting in writing. One question this week was about how to write description, and the clearest advice I can give about that would be to take your time. Say I'm trying to describe a sunset and can't figure out how to make it interesting or fresh. Sometimes, when it takes me a while to get warmed up, I'll imagine how someone else--my husband, my best friend, someone I recently argued with--might see the same sunset. What would they notice about it that I wouldn't, or vice versa? Write a whole paragraph about the sunset instead of just a sentence. Then go back and look at what is strongest image you came up with. Which image reflects something new about your characters? Save that image, cut the rest. Eventually, those strong images will pop out first in your mind.

To those of you who are sending out your work (or plan to in the future), stick with it! I couldn’t even begin to count how many rejection letters I’ve received over the years from agents, publishers, editors, and contest judges. What kept me writing was the support of other friends who are writers—and a dogged determination to someday get my writing published. There were times when I never thought it would happen, but now I’m so glad I kept writing. Find a writing-buddy, share your work, revise it over and over again, read it aloud, stay true to yourself and your voice, and don’t give up. An English or a Writing program are great ways to read widely and meet other writers. If you’re looking for an agent, Writers Marketplace (the book) is a great place to start. There are also tons of publishing blogs out there with suggestions for agents. It’s mostly about finding someone whose tastes and sensibilities match yours.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: Best Covers

This is my first Road Trip Wednesday-- woot! So I'm here to share some of my favorite book covers.

(in no particular order)



1.) Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
















2.) Fallen by Lauren Kate
















3.) If I Stay by Gayle Forman
















4.) Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
















5.) Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen
















6.) Fire by Kristin Cashore

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Blue Abyss

Thanks for reading and commenting! Hope everyone has a great week ;)

**snip**

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Interview with Lisa McMann


Yes, it is Sunday, but I couldn't wait. I am thrilled to post my interview with Lisa McMann, bestselling author of Wake, Fade, and the upcoming Gone. Gone will be released February 9th. (Check Horserider's sig on AW for the exact count down ;)

Q: What inspired you to write Wake, Fade, and Gone?

A: The trilogy’s plot was inspired by a dream I had, that I was in my husband’s dream, watching what he was dreaming about. The characters were inspired by the characters that I loved as a child/teen.

Q: What was your querying process like?

A: Well, WAKE was the third manuscript I wrote. I received 69 rejections on my query for my first manuscript, and I never queried the second manuscript because it really wasn’t good. Then I queried WAKE to twelve agents, and within 48 hours I had seven requests for fulls. By the end of a week, I had an offer from the agent who was #1 on my list, Michael Bourret. I was overjoyed. I’m glad I didn’t give up after manuscript #1, but I’m very glad I gave up *on* manuscript #1 and moved on. It’s definitely important to keep writing while submitting.

*bclement's note: You can check out her query for Wake here*

Q: What authors have influenced you as a writer?

A: Roald Dahl, Louisa May Alcott, Madeleine L’Engle, Chris Crutcher, E.B. White, Barbara Kingsolver.

Q: Have any of your own dreams/nightmares contributed to Wake, Fade, and Gone?

A: Yes! Carrie’s dream in WAKE was a recurring nightmare I had when I was a kid. Always woke up crying with that one. And there are other dreams in FADE and GONE too – the second dream in GONE was from a recent nightmare I had about my daughter. Horrible!

Q: Both books deal with very edgy topics. How did you prepare yourself to write something like that? Lots of research? Personal experience?

A: Lots of research. It was especially creepy researching date rape drugs. I felt very dirty trying to find that stuff out. Not really personal experience, though the relationships people have in my books are sometimes based on personal experiences.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: All kinds of stuff! I just turned my next manuscript to my editor for next year’s paranormal, Cryer’s Cross. It’s a stand-alone, quite different from Janie & Cabe but there’s definitely a creep factor as well as a romance. I have a middle grade dystopian fantasy novel coming next fall – my first foray into that market. I’ll keep writing YA, putting those books out in the spring of each year, and the middle grade stuff will be in the fall.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best part about writing young adult fiction?

A: Young adults are the most exciting age group, hands down. So much happens during that time – emotionally, physically, intellectually – it is the opposite of boring. That’s what makes YA so fascinating. There are so many things, so many issues to explore. And it’s a challenge, because teens are critical and they can be a tough sell. They’re not afraid to tell you that you suck. But be authentic and not preachy and you have a fan for life. I like that challenge.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stay Tuned...

Hi guys, I just wanted to give you a heads up on what's going to be happening the next week(s).




Monday I will post an interview I had from Lisa McMann, bestselling author of Wake, Fade, and the upcoming Gone.
















And later next week, if not the following week, I will have interviews with:






Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine















Gayle Forman, New York Times Bestselling author of If I Stay
















and Lee Goldberg, author of the Monk books and a writer for the Monk television series, which stars Tony Shalhoub.








It will definitely be exciting!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Teaser Thursday: Blue Abyss

Ack I'm two days late, but I had to swap spots with the Interview. Some of you guys who hang out at FNW might recognize this...

***snip

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interview with Maggie Stiefvater


The fabulous Maggie Stiefvater, author of Shiver and the upcoming Linger has allowed me to share a bit about herself and her writing experiences!

Q: What inspired you to write Shiver?

A: I would like to say that I was inspired to write Shiver by some overwhelming belief in true love, but here’s my true confession. I wrote Shiver because I like to make people cry. I had just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger for the second time, and I cried for the second time. I should tell everyone now that I am not a big crier at books. I am kind of a serial career non-crier actually. If you look up shadenfreude on Wikipedia, you’ll see a picture of me with a snide smile on my face. And so the fact that this book had made me cry not once but twice, and not just cry but storm around the house doing the seven stages of grief, it really kind of inspired in me this desire to do the same thing to other people. And so with Shiver, I wanted to write a book that would make someone sneak a peek of it in their cubicle, and then mascara would run down their face, and they could shake their fist at the sky and curse me to the heavens.

Q: Have you always had a fascination with wolves?

A: I haven’t always had a fascination with wolves, but I’ve always been kind of animal crazy. When I was a child, I spent hours and hours watching those animal programs on National Geographic. And if my parents ever wanted to get me out of the house, they just sent me outside and told me that there were animals walking around in the woods for me to look at. So it was nice to write a book that had so much of a connection with nature.

Q: You are the mother of two young children. Has being a mom changed you as an artist?

A: Being a mom really hasn’t changed me as an artist. It doesn’t change my subject matter, but I will say it has definitely added to the time crunch. I used to just doodle and do art all the time, and now it’s very much squeezing it in between. But one of the most rewarding things about being a mom is that I’ve been able to teach my kids from the ground up art and music and writing. My daughter’s already starting to read, which is very fun, and she’s already incredible with a pencil, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing the way she turns out.

Q: What writers have inspired you?

A: I have been inspired by so many writers over the years. I always had my nose stuck in a book as a kid and even now I always have a book in my hand. But I have to say, if I was going to pick a few out of a hat, I would go with Diana Wynne Jones because I love that she writes fantasy that is funny. It’s serious, the plot is serious, but her characters realize how ludicrous the situations are that they’re in, and they comment on it. I love Susan Cooper because she’s great at setting mood. I love M.T. Anderson’s use of voice, he’s just fantastic and humbling. And then Jane Yolen is like a classic for all fantasy writers, she does a great job of putting folk tales into her stories. I do have a bunch of adult books that I enjoy as well. I obviously love The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I recently read Crow Lake, Year of Wonders, and The Secret Life of Bees and I’ve enjoyed them all immensely.

Q: You are an artist, a musician, and an author. Which came first—writing, music, or art?

A: I first started working as an artist about two years after I got out of college. When I graduated from college, I went straight to work for a federal contractor, a desk job, and they were great to me, they loved me, I was like their mascot, but I just couldn’t stand working in an office. I just hated it. And so one day I went in and said, “I’m sorry, this is my two-weeks notice, I’m quitting to become an artist.” And of course, I hadn’t been an artist before then and I don’t think I was very good then either, but I just decided that was the way to go. And so my boss looked at me and he said, “Well, Maggie, when you want your job back, when you can’t make a living, it’s always here for you.” And you know what, I made my living in that first year and never looked back, and I will never ever have a job with a cubicle.

Q: Does your work in one affect the others?

A: When I was a teen, I thought I would have to choose between my writing or my music or my art, but it turns out it’s a difficult juggling game but I can do all of them. Like right now, when I wrote Shiver, I got to do some fan art as well of my own, I sketch wolves a lot and I got to write a piece of music for it as well. So I like to think that it’s like “The Blind Men and the Elephant”. Does anyone know that poem anymore? The one where it’s the bunch of blind men who all have a different part of an elephant that they’re feeling and they’re guessing what the animal is. And eventually they come to the conclusion that it is actually an elephant. I feel like my writing and my music and my art are the same way, where they’re all describing different sides of the same animal.

Q: Since art is so important to you, what are the sights and sounds that surround you while you write? Do you listen to music?
What did you listen to while writing Shiver?


A: While I’m writing, I absolutely have to have music playing in the background. I just cannot focus without music to keep me grounded. Otherwise all I think about while I’m sitting there at the computer is how I need to do my laundry or walk the dogs or I really need to eat some of that cookie dough I just made. So, to keep my butt in the chair, I play music. And it can’t be just any music, it has to be a soundtrack that I’ve picked out beforehand during the plotting process that kind of underlines the mood that I’m trying to make with the book. And so with Shiver, when I was plotting, the song that first really inspired me with the mood was The Bravery’s “The Ocean.” It’s this incredibly, incredibly sad song that has bittersweet lyrics about losing your lover. I also listened to mix tapes that had Snow Patrol and Joshua Radin and a bunch of other acoustic singer-songwriters on them.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Shiver, Linger, and I can’t tell you anything about it because anything I say would give away the ending of Shiver. And then I’m also working on a little side project, which is kind of like Shiver, it’s a love story with touches of the paranormal and I think that people who like Shiver will like it as well.

Q: What do you like best about writing young adult fiction?

A: One of the things that I really like about young adult fiction is that you can explore the relationships between teens and their parents. I definitely think that teens are a product of their parents. You either end up just like them or you consciously make the decision to be unlike them. And so with Sam, I wanted to show how it was that he turned out to be so sensitive and creative. So I showed Sam’s adoptive parents, Beck and the Pack, and they’re all very creative and supportive, so he grows up in that loving relationship which turns him into who he is. Grace, on the other hand, is very independent, and it’s not enough to just say that she’s independent, you have to show why she is and so when you look at her parents, they’re very absent, so basically Grace has been raising herself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Music Monday

Okay, I kinda stole this idea from some other people, but every Monday I'll press shuffle on my Blue Abyss playlist and post whatever song comes up first.


And today's song is.........

"The Frog Prince" by Keane!

Thanks for listening :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Blue Abyss

Hope everyone is having a nice week! This snippet is earlier in Blue Abyss, before Holly has ever met Brady. She knows his name and the color of his eyes though.
“Cassandra, you can start your break. I’m all done with mine.”

“It’s about time,” muttered Cassandra.

“I was only in there ten minutes.”

“Still,” she rasped, “it’s ten minutes too long.” Whatever that meant.

“Hey, do you smell something burning?” I asked before she vanished into the lounge.

“Only Satan’s hands uniting with the grilled cheese over there.”

I looked to the grill where a charred sandwich was beginning to crumble and removed it before it collapsed into an ashy mass. I still smelled the burning odor, but assumed that it was just the lingering remains of sandwich. I was proven wrong when Cassandra ran out of the lounge crying, “Fire! Fire!”

After a brief pause to consider if she was lying or not, the customers jumped up, screaming and pushing one another to try to get out the door first. My reaction time was a little slower, but after seeing the flames licking out of the employee lounge, I bolted.

Or attempted to, at least.

My apron had snagged on one of the cabinets, causing the neck strap to act like a noose and cut off my air supply. My throat constricted as I desperately tried to inhale any amount of oxygen. But I was like a fish out of water, lips gulping in air that they could not consume. Water squeezed out of my eyes, the smoke reaching an intolerable level. I had a few more moments before I passed out, which would only lead to death. So I summoned my last amount of energy and leaned my body forward to put pressure on the strap. It snapped the same moment a fireman entered the building. He scooped me up, slung me over a shoulder, and was shuttling me out the building when I saw a small figure huddled under a table.

Dewey.

“Stop!” I screamed, though it was more of wheeze. “Stop! Please, stop, there’s a boy still in there!” I pounded the fireman’s back and kicked at his chest, but he didn’t seem to care. “Please! Leave me and get the boy! Get the boy!” But we were already out of the building, and I was being rushed over to a medic. The moment I was put down, I bolted towards the building.

I didn’t make it far. Another fireman grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “Stay where you are.”

“No! There’s a boy in there still!”

“I’m sorry. There’s nothing you or I can do now. The building will collapse at any moment.”

“No! No, it’s your job to save lives! Please, save this boy’s life! Please!” I screamed so loud I doubt my words were even heard by the sissy. If the fire department wasn’t going to do their job, I was the only chance Dewey had at survival. So I thrust a knee upwards and kicked the fireman in the balls. I ran before I could see his reaction. I was about to enter the burning building, which was most likely committing suicide, when a man with eyes squinted to the point of slits intercepted me, blocking my path to the restaurant. I tried to shove him away, but he grabbed my wrists.

“No!” I wailed. “There’s a boy in there! Let me go!”

The man dodged into the building without a second thought. The foundation of the Sandwich Chef was beginning to crumble, and it had a few seconds before it collapsed. I paced outside, biting my fingernails, trying to decide whether I should go in after the man.

Don’t be a coward. Be a hero. Make your parents proud. Don’t sacrifice another’s life for your own well-being.

I made a run for it, crashing through the doorway and over to the man, who was huddled next to Dewey.

“Why aren’t you doing anything? Get him!” I started to reach for Dewey when I noticed his leg. A beam from the ceiling had sliced into it, nailing Dewey to the floor. I gulped and looked at the man. Or was he a teen? “What do we do?” I needed him for guidance. My head was dizzy and my eyes burned, but I refused to give up. All I needed was a little support to keep me going.

“Keep him calm while I try to remove this,” he shouted through the chaos.

I nodded and crawled closer to Dewey. I coughed into the crook of my elbow before running my hand along his forehead to push his hair back. “Dewey? It’s Holly. Can you hear me? Tap my hand once if you can.” His middle finger tapped mine ever so softly. “I need you to be strong. This man here is going to help you. Can you squeeze my hand?” He gripped it and the teen started to heave the beam up. “Okay, you’re doing good, buddy, really good. I’m so proud-” I was cut off by an explosion as the roof on the other end of the restaurant caved in. “Sir, please hurry,” I said, trying to stay as calm as possible. I couldn’t freak out. If Dewey saw that I was scared, he would panic. “Hurry…” I continued to stroke Dewey’s forehead. At least I thought it was his forehead. My vision was doubling, the world spinning around me. All I could see was fire. All I could feel was heat. I was consumed by the element, but I had to stay focused. For Dewey.

Another beam crashed to the floor, sending burning embers flying. I involuntarily moaned.

“Almost there, almost there,” the guy said. Dewey squirmed as the beam ripped out of his leg, and the man swept him up the moment he was free. They ran out of the building, me coughing and wheezing behind them. I had almost made it to the exit when another ceiling beam crashed down, nipping my ankle. I sprawled on the floor, feeling as if a million searing hot needles stabbed my body.

I was a goner. The firemen weren’t coming; they probably had been ordered not to enter. The person who helped Dewey had most likely forgotten about me. I screamed at the top of my lungs, hoping to be heard over the collapsing building and wailing sirens. I waited for someone, anyone to hear me, and exhausted my hope in the process. But then through the cloudy smoke and my watery eyes I saw a face leaning over mine. I felt myself beginning to slip, my eyelids closing, my stamina emptying, my life draining. I was dying. And there was nothing this man or woman could do to save me. Until I saw the eyes. An icy blue penetrated through the smoke, and the eyes seemed to somewhat sooth my hysteria. They were so familiar that they comforted me in what seemed like a doomed atmosphere.

“Run,” I said, so calm, so serene. “Run. Save yourself while you still can.”

The person shook their head. “I’m not leaving you, Holls. I never have, never will.” They swung me up before I had time to wonder how they knew my name. Instead, I wrapped my arms around their neck for better balance. I wasn’t letting go.

Once we burst outside and were swamped with fresh air, I was ripped apart from the person who had saved me. “No!” I screamed. “Take me back to that person! Please!” Right now, that person was the only one I trusted. They had sacrificed themselves when the wimpy fireman hadn’t had the guts to. I thought back to the blue eyes, how soothing they were. But had I really seen them? The smoke had been messing with my head to begin with, so I could have been hallucinating. Some part of me believed that I had been imagining things, while the other truly thought that it had been Brady who saved me, and maybe even saved Dewey. But there was one thought that outweighed the others, even the thought of the Brady and his blue eyes.

The thought was of Bonnie Thorne.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SNI

I just had a SNI, or in other words, a Shiny New Idea. Usually that's not so big of a deal except that I never get one. EVER. Blue Abyss was the only real story idea I've ever had, and so far it seems to be working. But how can I live up to Blue Abyss standards? I think that's a problem even published authors have: their debut novel could be an award winning, New York Times bestseller, but their second novel flops. So. I think this fear I have of failure is a common problem that authors face, and that somewhat soothes my nerves, but this SNI is something that I don't have the time to work on. With Blue Abyss, I had all day to work on it because of my concussion, so I might have to save my SNI until the summer, when the time is endless. Hopefully more ideas about the plot will surface by then. Plus, I refuse to start my SNI until I finish Blue Abyss edits :) .

*Hint: My SNI is YA contemporary.

*This is tentative and can be changed at any time

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Real Teaser

This time it's a real teaser, not just my query letter :) Happy Wednesday!


“Sorry. What I was trying to say is, can I ask you some questions? About yourself?”

I paused to consider it. “Maybe. But only if I get to ask some too.”

And then something weird happened. His eyes flipped to a scarlet red, but the color returned to blue almost as fast as they had changed. I was second-guessing myself if I really saw it or not.

“Fine. But only the ones I want to,” he said.

“What just happened?”

“What do you mean?”

“With your eyes, Brady. They turned red for a moment.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” His eyes told me something different.

“Why are you lying to me?”

“Holly, I really don’t know what you are talking about. Can I start the questions?”

I wasn’t sure what had just happened with the red eyes, but I did know that Brady had lied to my face. I doubt it was the first time. For once, I wanted to be in the loop, to have inside information that no one else did. But I couldn’t find an excuse for my peculiar compulsion to solve this mystery, so a frustration grew inside of me.

“Fine,” I snapped, sounding colder than I intended to.

I thought I had scared him off when he fled the room, but returned with sheets of paper and a pack of crayons and sat beside me on the couch.

“I thought you were going to ask me questions?”

He grinned in a shy, boyish manner. “I will. Based on what you draw. You can do the same for me.”

“You’re going to analyze my drawing?” I clarified.

“And you’re going to analyze mine.”

I bit my lip, weighing the pros and cons. The only con I had was the fear of Brady discovering my innermost secrets, secrets that I didn’t even know I had. When I looked into Brady’s glacial eyes, I saw a curiosity so intense that I had no doubt he would stop at nothing to obtain answers for his questions. And that scared me. Someone who had the ability to see through me and reveal things that I didn’t even know about myself posed a huge threat to my mental stability. But would I pass up an opportunity to dig deep into Brady? To claw through his good looks and see what made him tick? I didn’t think I could. Even with the risk Brady presented, it could be worth it.

“Pass me the paper. Anything specific you’d like me to draw?” I asked.

Brady cracked a perfect smile with perfect dimples and only said, “Just something that defines you,” before grabbing a black crayon and starting off on his masterpiece.

I hesitated before plucking a navy crayon from the box. I had known immediately that I was going to draw the ocean in Miami. My strokes were gentle, caressing the crayon point along the paper. Color spiraled off the waxy tip, beginning what I intended to be a near perfect depiction of an obsession that meant so much to me. I wasn’t sure why I put so much effort into something that Brady could easily use against me. Trying to capture such a powerful and beautiful thing on a piece of paper seemed cruel, but I had to illustrate the ocean in such a way that it would never leave Brady’s mind, like it would never leave mine.

It’s kind of like parents with their children. All parents want others to see their children the way they see them: smart, funny, victorious. I needed Brady’s stamp of approval, I guess, but was simultaneously afraid that my actions would downplay the ocean’s grandeur. I didn’t want to disappoint it.

Fifteen minutes later, I was done, and although I had not surpassed my expectations, my drawing wasn’t too shabby. I looked over at Brady’s image for the first time only to see a small campfire surrounded by a black backdrop. I didn’t know what to make of it.

“Done?” he asked. I nodded and handed him my picture. He narrowed his eyes and gave it a close inspection. He nodded his head and muttered, “Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm.”

“So?”

“First off I’d like to say that this is a very good drawing. You’re talented, you know.” My cheeks warmed and I picked a spot on the ground to stare at. “Well, obviously this is of an ocean. Ocean equals water, and water can equal either life or death. But an ocean is salt water, which you cannot survive on, so this picture could represent death.”

“I am not emo,” I stated in my defense.

“If you were emo, you would have drawn a skull or a broken heart or… well, I honestly have no idea, but it would not be an ocean.”

“So what can you tell from what I’ve drawn?” My heart was clawing at its cage, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear his answer.

“That your favorite color is navy blue.” My jaw dropped open. Sure, I used that color crayon, but not because it was my favorite.

“How did you-”

“Oceans aren’t exactly navy. I would say teal, cerulean, aqua, or maybe even sapphire, but not navy. So either it was your favorite color or you’re color blind.” How could he have known this? Had he analyzed my every move all these years? I shivered at the thought.

“What else?” I said, trying to keep my face stripped of emotion.

“You obviously care a lot for the ocean, but oceans are dangerous. Do you like a bit of danger in your life?” His uncertainty on this claim allowed me to breathe a little easier.

“I…” I didn’t know how to respond. I liked a bit of danger to keep things exciting, but too much, like my parent’s car crash and Bonnie’s blackmail, unsettled me, as it would with anyone. “A little danger is okay,” I said in a small voice.

“You’re uncomfortable,” he observed.

“Why wouldn’t I be? You’re like a mad scientist analyzing me under a microscope.”

“I’m not a mad scientist. I’m just a curious human being.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that I’m uneasy about this.”

“Would you like to take a stab at my drawing, before we get to the normal questions?”

Did I? Did I really want to try to understand what was going on inside his blue eyes? Did I want to know what lurked behind his handsome exterior? I thought I had answered those questions before, but uncertainty threaded my mind. I had come this far. It wasn’t very far in the long run, but in the short run I was practically finishing a marathon. I couldn’t stop just before the finish line.

I held out my hand as he passed me his picture. I observed it closely, but there was only a dark backdrop and a small fire, and I couldn’t extract anything from either.

“Um, I don’t know how.”

“Sure you do. Try a little harder.” Did he think I wasn’t giving it my all? An inexplicable anger surged through me, but I kept it inside. I had to stay calm, cool, collected. I had to think like Brady.

Unfortunately, I had no idea how Brady thought. He had been a mystery to me since I moved to Brass, and he might forever remain that way.

“Brady, I really don’t know.”

“Okay. Let me help.”

“Can you do that? Help evaluate your own picture?” I was afraid that he would plant a seed in my brain as a diversion from unleashing the truth in the drawing.

“I don’t see why not.”

I did, but I didn’t say anything.

“How should I begin?” I asked, submitting a bit of myself as I trusted him to lead the way.

“When you first look at this drawing, what do you see?”

“Black. A lot of black.”

“And when you think of black what do you think of?”

“I don’t-”

“Here, place your hand on it.” He held my fingers as he guided them along the smudges of black crayon. Mine tingled and sparked with confusion. “Close your eyes and imagine it. Imagine being absorbed by it.”

I did as he said, and regretted it. The first image that came to mind was that of my parent’s funeral. Black clothes. Mourning faces. Hopeless atmosphere. I might have whimpered because Brady said, “What is it? What do you see?”

“Death. Sadness. Empty.”

“And?”

“Absence of hope.” I kept my eyes closed, fearful that if I opened them, my emotions would leak out.

“Open your eyes,” Brady commanded, voice soft, as if he knew that this was hard for me. “What else do you see in the picture?”

“Fire.”

“What does fire symbolize?”

“Warmth. Comfort. Safety.”

“Now put those two images together.” I glanced at him, and he nodded me on. That simple gesture told me that he was not judging me.

“Um, a light in the darkness… hope when you feel all else is lost.”

“Good,” he said, voice soothing. “That’s good for now.” Somehow I felt powerful. I felt that I had mastered something inside of me, bludgeoned a portion of a weak part of me and emerged with a new Holly. A somewhat stronger Holly.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blue Abyss Query Letter

Thought I'd share my query letter for Teaser Tuesday :) Enjoy!

Blue Abyss is a completed 62,000-word young adult novel spun with mystery, romantic suspense, and self-discovery. Explored in this modern-day paranormal twist on Beauty and the Beast is the depth of teenage confusion, passion, and the hurdles of an ordinary adolescent with an extraordinary love story.

Holly Crosby is an emotionally fragmented teen with her fair share of life’s obstacles. At age seven her parents were killed in a car crash in Florida and she was forced to live with an unfamiliar aunt in Vermont. On her first day of school in her new town, she noticed a pair of shockingly blue eyes staring out of the infamous Thorne house. Seconds later, a body is smashed against the very same window. Holly had not only witnessed a murder, but was unknowingly about to embark on a life changing adventure.

Ten years have gone by and not a single day without being scrutinized by the looming eyes. Several more unsolved murders have occurred, each victim being a Thorne. Holly isn’t sure why the eyes have such a daunting interest in her until the Thornes blackmail her and she is forced to work for the family. Once she begins employment, Holly begins to bud feelings for Brady Thorne, the gorgeous bearer of the blue eyes, but refuses to accept them out of fear. But Brady isn’t shy about making his affections known: he constantly insists to Holly that they are eternal soul mates, but she knows that he, along with the rest of his eccentric family, are still withholding dangerous information. As Holly begins to unravel the mystery of the link between the murders and the eyes, she also uncovers an avalanche of emotions along with alarming secrets and betrayal from those closest to her.


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