Thursday, January 24, 2013

More on Inspiration...and Pinterest!

In THE ESSENCE, I really wanted Charlie to grow as a character, which, for me, was more about her growth in relationships, than it was about her role as queen. I love the big story—the changes in her country and what it means for her to take her place on the throne. But more than that, I love the small stories—her ties with her family and her friends, and the way those bonds evolve and are tested. 

But one of the biggest challenges in writing a series is keeping the story fresh without completely abandoning the format that your readers have already fallen in love with. I don’t want my books to be “formulaic” and boring, but at the same time, I want readers to feel like they’re hanging out with an old friend when they crack open the next book in the series.  It’s like walking a tightrope, trying to find that balance that will keep readers coming back for more.

And because I’m a very visual person, all of my books first come to me as images, like scenes from a movie. With THE PLEDGE, one of these images was the scene in which Charlie is running through the streets with her little sister, Angelina, after the sirens go off in the night.

With THE ESSENCE, I had images of a giant castle made of ice on an island, and a dazzling ball with women wearing brightly colored gowns, and a journey on enormous war-horses through inhospitable terrain with these immense jagged, black mountains. It was just a matter of weaving these large-scale scenes into Charlie’s story.

One of the ways I keep track of these images is my latest obsession, Pinterest. In fact, I created an entire board just for THE ESSENCE. For someone who’s visual, like me, pin boards are a great way to fuel that creative spark, and a great way to share the way I view the world I’m working on!

And get ready, you guys, because February is kissing month Valentine's Day, which means I'm going to be talking about one of my favorite topics: Romance. I'll also be giving away some stuff.  Really cool stuff. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

THE PLEDGE Series: From Inspiration to Page

I recently did a guest post for Obsession with Books about where I got my inspiration for THE PLEDGE novels, and because you can't be everywhere on the Interwebz, I thought I'd repost it here in case you hadn't seen it. And, you know, in case you cared ;)

A lot of the world-building for THE PLEDGE was actually sparked by a German-American woman I met several years ago who’d grown up in WWII Germany.  She’d only been a little girl then, but her memories of her childhood were terrifying.  She told me about being awakened in the middle of the night to air raid sirens, and having her older sisters throw her over fences as they ran through the night to escape the bombings and hide in the mine shafts outside town.  She explained how Hitler’s reign over her country tightened in increments, as everyone was forced to at least pretend they were loyal to him.  If they didn’t, they were sent away on the trains.  And even though, as a little girl, she didn’t know where the trains went, she knew it wasn’t good.

As I was working on the idea for THE PLEDGE, and developed the idea of a girl who lived in this society divided by language—and the one girl who could understand them all—I kept thinking about Marie, the German woman I once knew.  I started incorporating her stories into the book, until she sort of became one of the characters: Charlie’s little sister, Angelina.

Charlie’s world is dark and violent, ruled by an old and bitter queen.  Technology is minimal, and people are afforded opportunities based solely on the class they’ve been born into.  As the people grow dissatisfied, Charlie is thrust into the middle of a brutal revolution, and she soon discovers that her unusual talent for language may be the key to saving her country.

Okay, and there’s kissing too…because that’s the way I roll.

[Warning: There are spoilers for THE PLEDGE in this next part, so avert your eyes if you haven't read it yet!]

In THE ESSENCE, the second book in the trilogy, Charlie has taken the throne of her country, Ludania, and is now in charge of trying to set things right. Unfortunately, the old queen is still around—her Essence is fused inside of Charlie. And as Charlie secretly struggles to keep the voice of the evil queen at bay, she is also being challenged by those who would like to see her dead.

This book is based on the idea that change—even change for the better—isn’t always met with open arms. There will always be those who oppose change of any kind. I borrowed a page from the civil rights movement, when integration was being challenged, and even included a scene where the children from different classes are being allowed to attend the same schools for the first time to show the way Charlie’s people are divided on the issue of assimilation

But ultimately the books are about relationships. I love the bonds between Charlie and her family, and the friendships and blossoming love stories. These smaller, more intimate details are what mean the most to me.

And did I mention kissing???

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Signing this Friday!!

In just two days from now (this Friday, January 11th!), I'll be hanging with authors Megan Bostic, Jennifer Shaw Wolf, and Helen Landalf at the Timberland Library in Olympia. We'll be chatting, answering questions, and being our generally charming selves ;)  Books will be for sale at the event and there will be time for signing as well!

Also, there have been some great blog tours, reviews, and giveaways going on this past week for the release of THE ESSENCE. Here are just a few of the links you should check out!

Review and Giveaway

Full blog tour schedule with giveaway!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

THE ESSENCE Is Available TODAY!!!!

Well, Happy New Year...or as I like to call it Happy The Essence Release Day!!!

In case you haven't ordered your copy yet, here are some handy-dandy links for you: 

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

And in case you wanted a signed copy, it's still not too late (but it will be soon!). Copies need to be ordered from Kepler's Books before this Friday, January 4th...or before they run out. Whichever comes first.

Or, if you're IN the Bay Area, just pop on in and pick it up. That way you can see my smiling face! (Note: I promise to smile.)

Here are all the details:  

Friday, January 4th, 2013, 7:30PM 
Kepler's Books 
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Signing with authors Lauren Bjorkman and Stacey Jay
(Signed copies can be ordered online!)

But in case you can't make it to Kepler's, here are some of the other places I'll be in the next few weeks. You know, for that whole smiling thing ;)

Friday, January 11th, 2013, 6:30 - 8:00PM
Timberland Regional Library - Olympia Branch
313 8th Avenue SE
Olympia, WA  98501
Signing with authors Megan Bostic, Helen Landalf, and Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Monday, February 4th, 7:00PM
Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR  97005
Signing with author Lisa Schroeder 

Hope your 2013 is off to a great start!!!