Teaser Tuesday

It’s time to welcome back Teaser Tuesday!!! The official release day for my upcoming novel, The Girl In Between, is September 30th! So that means I have 30 days…well 28 to convince you all to download a copy once it’s live. Follow me here every Tuesday for snippets from the novel and information on the upcoming blog tour.

The tide surged, carving a crescent in the sand. Water collapsed against my knees, tearing the beach out from under my legs. But when the wave receded the foam clung to something dark. Something long and still.

I saw his face, lashes tangled over blue lids, his lips parted against the sand. The breeze rippled off his clothes, ocean peeling from his face and dripping onto my hands. I was steeled there, not sure if he was real, until I saw his eyes, a flash of his dark pupils.

My hands trembled, afraid to move him, to wake him. Afraid he wouldn’t. Another wave spilled over him, the sand giving way, rocking him. I reached for his shoulder, pushing until he was on his back. He was the color of a hydrangea before it blooms, wilting like one too, every inch of him sunken and bruised.

I bent down, listening for a heartbeat. Nothing. My fingers trembled against his face and then I took a deep breath. His lips were cold and I pressed down hard, burying his mouth with my own. The water trickled down his jaw, foam sticking to his skin. I drew in another breath and then I forced it down to his lungs.

He was still and I sunk against his chest, pushing, pushing. Breathe. Please. The tide curled underneath him and then his muscles tensed. His back arched, air driving down to his lungs.

And then he opened his eyes and so did I.

TGIB-WP

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Blurb & Cover Reveal For The Girl In Between

It’s been almost a year since I published my last novel and the time has FINALLY come to share the blurb and cover for my next novel, the first in an upcoming series! I started this novel in April of 2013 and the journey to its completion as been full of so many twists and turns. Originally it was meant to be a standalone with hints of magical realism and today it’s the first of a four book paranormal series. I’m in the midst of editing the third draft of the third book in the series and if this experience has taught me anything it’s to go with the flow. Not only did this story evolve into something I totally didn’t expect but this being my foray into series writing, I never could have anticipated how difficult it would be. It’s been a long time since I shared something new with my readers and it’s definitely terrifying but I can honestly say that I am really excited about this new project and can’t wait for people to read it!

TGIB-WPBryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.

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WIP Wednesday

It’s August, which means that I am teetering on the edge of panic mode, which means that I will be traveling at lightning speed for the next…sixteen weeks. In two months I will be publishing my first novel in exactly one year and even though I’ve already accomplished so much in the past twelve months, suddenly it feels like there is still so much left to do.

Book 1 is OFFICIALLY DONE! YES! FINALLY! It has been copy edited and now all that’s left to do is format this baby, approve the final covert art, and hit publish! EEK! EEK again! That’s actually feigned excitement because the truth is, at this point I am completely numb. I’ve already written almost 400,000 words in this series and even though I know I’ll be nervous once I actually send the first book to reviewers, I also have this euphoric defiance about the whole thing and am too exhausted to care whether people hate it or not. But I’m sure this feeling is only temporary and as soon as the first reviews roll in I’ll either be crying with joy and relief or crying in absolute horror.

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The final read-through for book 2 feels like it has literally taken MONTHS and…I’m still not quite done. In fact, I’m only about half way, which is a sure sign that this past month I accidentally fell into some kind of wormhole where time works in reverse. But since August is all about reaching maximum speed and defying the laws of physics I will, I REPEAT, I WILL get this read-through finished by the end of next week and then it will be off for it’s final copy edit.

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I’ve had to push back edits for book 3 several times over the past two months but hopefully I’ll get notes back from my beta reader soon and I can get to work on the next draft. If all goes well I should have the fourth draft done by September and the fifth draft done by October, which means a late fall release date is still possible!

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As for the last book in the series, I’ve finally broken the 50K mark. Progress is still moving slow but the entire month of August will be devoted to getting this first (practically second) draft in good shape. I know what I want the finale to look and feel like but translating that is harder than I anticipated. But I can’t slack off on this one because I know once the first book is out in the world it will be way too easy to get distracted by sales (or lack-there-of) and reviews and book tours and everything else that goes along with publishing a novel. So this is it. I have to figure out a way to make it happen and I have to do it now before anyone else’s opinions can get in the way.

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Speaking of other people’s opinions, writing isn’t the only thing on my agenda this month. Now that I’m steadily approaching the publication date of my next novel there is so much to do! First things first, I’ve got to finalize the blurbs for the first two books, then I have to finalize the cover art, then I have to format the first two books for all the major online retailers, then I have to send out hundreds and hundreds of emails to bloggers begging them to read my book, followed by hours and days and, possibly, weeks of agonizing over their responses, and then I have to get promo and prizes ready for giveaways and interviews and teasers. And oh my gosh I totally forgot about teasers! This will mean one more quick skim of my favorite chapters before plucking out a few gems that have to be powerful enough to make people want to keep reading. And on top of all of that I have to stay focused on finishing the third book in the series as well as getting the fourth to a semi-okay place. And I have to do all of it blindfolded while juggling chainsaws!!!! Just kidding, but you get the idea. Basically what I’m trying to say is that August is make or break for me and I hope, with everything in me, that it’s the former.

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What To Do When You Realize Your Idea Isn’t Original

I’ve kept the details of my upcoming release locked up tight, not out of fear that someone would steal my idea but out of fear that some blog reader might point out that it’s already been done. It’s an irrational fear because, let’s face it, there is no such thing as a truly original story. We are constantly recycling ideas from the smallest details concerning character and setting, to bigger ideas like central conflicts and plot points. It’s the unique combination of those familiar elements that creates a new story but even with this knowledge, I’m still terrified that I’ve spent the past year writing a series that someone else has already done better.

Confession: my upcoming series is all about dreams. And what new trend is popping up in this fall’s YA releases? You guessed it. I’ve discovered several upcoming novels that revolve around dreams or navigating dreams or dream boys or dream girls or falling in love in dreams. Each time I stumble upon another book that’s even vaguely similar to my own concept I feel like someone has just punched me in the stomach. I curse like someone has too. Because this is 400 days, thousands of hours, and countless sleepless nights we’re talking about here. I’ve devoted the last year of my life to this project and the thought that  upon publication, it might just disappear, buried beneath the other novels like it, is devastating to me.

Eventually, in the midst of my panic, I started to remember this age old rule of storytelling–that nothing is new, not completely–and this thought spurred me to think about my own reading habits. After all, readers are precisely who I was most concerned about in all of this. I was afraid that after reading three other novels about dreams this winter that people would pass over mine either because they didn’t like those other novels or because they liked them too much and didn’t think anything could top them. Again, another irrational fear. But when I stopped to think about how and why I read books, I realized that when I love a certain genre or a certain archetype or a certain setting, I tend to seek out books that share those qualities. And if the publishing trends of the last decade have taught us anything, it’s that other people, if not most people, tend to do the same thing.

The most famous example of this? Twilight. When I was sixteen they released the first movie in theaters and I remember that whole semester, every girl in my high school was lugging around those giant black books along with their textbooks. Around that time True Blood aired its first season and soon after The Vampire Diaries was turned into a television series as well. Vampire books had always been a popular literary vice among readers but they’d never exploded quite like this. During the height of Twilight’s popularity, not only were people devouring everything they could related to the books, but they were branching out and devouring anything and everything vampire-related as well.

Why? Because when we find something we like we can’t get enough of it. When Kettle Korn releases their holiday drizzle corn every fall I clean out the shelves at Walgreens pretty much once a week and when my birthday comes around and my boyfriend buys me a cake from marble slab I usually eat half of it in one sitting. It’s ridiculous and irrational but we are consumers. We consume things. And when we like something we consume it as much as possible. So maybe the fact that these other novels about dreams are being released around the same time that mine are, is actually a blessing in disguise. I’m indie, which means that I’m invisible. I can’t afford, nor do I have the clout to send out hundreds of ARCs or to put out press releases or organize a street team to share my book cover and host really snazzy giveaways. But traditional publishers do. And if they want to expose and promote this new trend for the sake of their authors, who’s to say that my work won’t be made more visible as well? Who’s to say that someone won’t read one of those other books, fall in love with the concept, and seek out more? Who’s to say that being a part of the emergence of this new trend won’t actually work in my favor?

The key to all of this is perspective. I can either live in fear and believe that everything happening to or around me is part of some cosmic plan to ruin my life. Or I can live in the hope that everything happening to or around me is actually working in my favor to make my dreams come true. I choose to believe in the latter. Why? Because optimism just feels better. So if you find yourself in a similar situation and you’re creating something that other people may have also created or doing something that other people might also be doing, don’t panic.

I repeat, DO NOT PANIC. Instead, breathe, relax. Realize that books are about the journey, both for the reader and the writer, and that whether or not someone has a read a book like yours before, whether or not they hated it, the experience they have with your story will be totally unique. Because you’re unique. And even if the plot may be similar to something that’s already been done, or the characters are slightly familiar, or the setting is just being revisited, your words can never be replicated. Your point of view and your vision are something that no one else on earth has the capacity to create or translate. It’s you. Your book is you and you are one of a kind.

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Pursuing The Reader’s Standard

Earlier this month I completed the final line edit for my fourth novel and this week I’m working my way through the final line edit for my fifth. It’s slow-going and I find myself mulling over the same paragraph for almost an hour or tweaking sentences until they don’t even read like English anymore. The fact is, my brain is exhausted but I still have two hundred pages left to go before it will truly, finally, once and for all be finished. Editing and revisions are always difficult but there is something about that FINAL line edit that is so painstakingly sluggish, I practically feel like I’m moving backwards. Probably, because in many ways, I am.

The library I work at hosted an author event this past Saturday and I got the chance to catch part of the Q&A session. Someone in the audience asked the author when she knows a book is truly finished and after responding the way that most authors do and admitting that she could work on a WIP until the end of time, she said something else that surprised me. This particular author did not have a degree in Creative Writing, nor did she study it in school, but by being a voracious reader first she came to realize something about writing and the way books are consumed by the general public.

When it comes to good writing, she spoke of it as if it were a wide canal and as if the outer banks represented the threshold or standard by which readers judge that writing. The more narrow the canal, the more limited the audience, and the wider the canal, the more versatile the book’s appeal. The author explained that readers will always have a personal standard when it comes to books but that pursuing that reader standard is not the same as pursuing perfection. In fact, the author might still be tweaking her upcoming release if she hadn’t abandoned the pursuit of perfection and instead simply focused on doing her best. That’s all readers really want. At one point she even told the audience point-blank that if she had spent a hundred more hours perfecting her latest novel, the reader wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference. Why? Because readers aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for a good story. They’re looking for a strong voice. A unique and authentic voice. And all of those things can be accomplished simply by doing our best.

I needed to hear those words now more than ever. I have a lot of anxiety built up over the potential success or failure of my next release and its a ball and chain so literal that I can barely make any progress on this manuscript. My production has slowed down on every WIP in my queue and even as I’m nearing the end of certain projects I’m still second guessing every single decision.

Even though it’s pointless.

I know that I’ve done my best. In fact, it’s the only thing I do know for sure, and maybe it’s the only thing I need to know in order to declare that I’m finished. Truly finished. I’ve done my best and that’s all I can do. That’s all any of us can ever do. But the good news, or more accurately, the GREAT news is that our best is good enough. We are good enough. For the people who matter most, readers, our best is good enough.

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