Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Having spent so much of 2013 working on Kissing Midnight, I feel like I've lived New Year's Eve a thousand times over. And yet, tonight is still special. I hope your 2013 ends on a high note (with someone special to kiss at midnight!) and I hope 2014 brings you all the joy you so richly deserve. And remember my advice for 2014: BE BOLD!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Kissing Midnight is Now in Paperback!

Well, that was quick! Because my partner Marcy is so awesome and worked on it like crazy, we were able to get Kissing Midnight out in paperback in record time and I can't wait to have a physical copy in my hot little hands! I have a feeling Damon Za's cover design will be even prettier in person, and he added a striking version of the nightmare castle's door to the back cover for extra spookiness. If you order it right this second, you could still get it in time for Christmas - and you'd certainly have it by New Year's Eve. How appropriate would that be?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kissing Midnight is LIVE!

The day is finally here and I am freaking out excited: Kissing Midnight is live! After a year's worth of work, I can finally share this unique story that's so close to my heart. If you believe in true love, or if you believe in ghosts - or even if you just believe there should be more supernatural lesbians in books - I hope you'll give Kissing Midnight a try. (And for an added bit of fun, if you read it now, you'll be able to read it "in real time" because he book begins on Dec. 20th and ends on the 31st. Cool huh?) And when you do, let me know what you think of Dev and Jesse and Saintly. I'd love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for all your enthusiastic support. You guys really do rock and I couldn't do it without you!

You can find Kissing Midnight on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Paperback copies will be available sometime in the next few weeks and I'll be sure to let you know. Happy reading!
































































Monday, December 2, 2013

Kissing Midnight Update

I've been working hard on Kissing Midnight and the finish line is in sight! My excellent editor Craig Lancaster has given me his edits and I'm working through them now, putting us on schedule to release Christmas week, if not sooner. I can't tell you how excited I am! I am so curious to hear your reaction to this very unusual story, and so eager to introduce you to Saintly and Jesse and Dev. I'll try to post some teasers in the next few days, but in the meantime, check out the character photos on the Kissing Midnight page on Pinterest, and make sure to like my author page on facebook, where I'll be posting updates. As always, thank you for all the support. Your excitement inspires me!




            Deveraux Renard is the perfect boyfriend: perfectly handsome, perfectly charming… perfectly deadly. He has to be. Dev is immortal, but with a catch: Every year he has to make a new girl fall in love with him and kiss her at midnight on New Year’s Eve. That kiss renews his life for another year – and ends hers forever.
            This year, Mariana “Saintly” Santos is the lucky girl. Of course she doesn’t know it. Saintly thinks New Year’s Eve is a chance to move beyond the tragedy of her brother’s death and focus on her first year of college. She doesn’t suspect her boyfriend’s secret–and he doesn’t suspect hers: Ever since her brother died, Saintly can see ghosts.
            And one ghost in particular is dying to be seen. Twenty years ago, Jesse Hayden jumped off the campus clock tower because she was convinced that she’d never find true love. Now that she has met Saintly, she’s sure that she was wrong.  She’s determined to save the only girl in the world who can see her, but can she get Saintly to trust her in time?
            Trust the ghost girl and live.
            Trust the immortal boy and die.
            Saintly has until midnight to make her choice, and the clock is ticking.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Darlings of Sci-Fi is FREE on Amazon!

The anthology Darlings of Sci-fi, which includes my short story Smacking Back, is FREE on Amazon now and in the top ten for YA Dystopian. Snap up a copy for your kindle here!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kissing Midnight COVER and BLURB REVEAL!

Yay! I can finally share the cover for my upcoming New Adult paranormal romance, Kissing Midnight! This cover was designed by Damon at damonza.com, and I love it deeply. I really feel like he captured the feel of the book, which is a dark modern fairy tale full of ghosts and curses and deception and true love. Tell me, what do you think?




Want to know more about Kissing Midnight? Here's the blurb:

            Deveraux Renard is the perfect boyfriend: perfectly handsome, perfectly charming… perfectly deadly. He has to be. Dev is immortal, but with a catch: Every year he has to make a new girl fall in love with him and kiss her at midnight on New Year’s Eve. That kiss renews his life for another year – and ends hers forever.
            This year, Mariana “Saintly” Santos is the lucky girl. Of course she doesn’t know it. Saintly thinks New Year’s Eve is a chance to move beyond the tragedy of her brother’s death and focus on her first year of college. She doesn’t suspect her boyfriend’s secret – and he doesn’t suspect hers: Ever since her brother died, Saintly can see ghosts.
            And one ghost in particular is dying to be seen. Twenty years ago, Jesse Hayden jumped off the campus clock tower because she was convinced that she’d never find true love. Now that she has met Saintly, she’s sure that she was wrong.  She’s determined to save the only girl in the world who can see her, but can she get Saintly to trust her in time?
            Trust the ghost girl and live.
            Trust the immortal boy and die.
            Saintly has until midnight to make her choice, and the clock is ticking.


Many thanks to Jaidis Shaw at Juniper Grove Book Solutions for organizing the cover reveal, and to all the bloggers who participated! To enter her GIVEAWAY to win signed paperbacks or ebook copies of Darkride, hop over here!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Two cool things!

First cool thing! The cover and blurb reveal for Kissing Midnight is scheduled for Oct 23rd! I am extremely excited about this one because I love the cover so much. It was designed by Damon at damonza.com, who did the covers for Darkride and Crossfire. He also designed for a ton of other books I love, including Elizabeth Hunter's The Scribe, Jamie McGuire's Walking Disaster and the UK edition of Jessica Park's Left Drowning. (You can check out some of his other designs here.) Book Bloggers, I would love to have you be part of the reveal. Just sign up with the organizers at Juniper Grove. Thank you!

I'm hard at work on Kissing Midnight, by the way. I'm about half-way through third draft revisions and still aiming for a winter release. I'll be sure to keep you posted as we get closer!

Second cool thing! My YA sci-fi short story Smacking Back was included in the Darlings of Sci-Fi anthology! I am excited to share a book with seven other wonderful women writing YA science fiction. Right now the book is FREE on Smashwords, so grab your copy and sample the work of a bunch of new writers. I hope it will go free on Amazon soon, too, so I'll keep you posted!

That's all the good things for today. Thanks, as always, for all your sweet support!

P.S. Check out the cover for the Darlings of Sci-Fi anthology! Out of this world, right? ;)



Friday, July 12, 2013

NEW COVERS! And a Giveaway!

Today is the day! I finally get to share the new covers Damon at damonza.com designed for Darkride and Crossfire! Many thanks to  him for his hard work on these (and I can't wait to show you the work he has done on the Kissing Midnight cover when it comes out this fall!)  And thanks to Jaidis Shaw at Juniper Grove Book Solutions for organizing the reveal! Check these out, then hop over to Juniper Grove to enter the giveaway!

I love the way Damon kept the feel of the original cover  while making it a little more sophisticated. (And Luke loves the fact that he finally made  it on the cover!)

Cicely say the Crossfire cover is her glamour shot. I love the blue hair as much as she does!


Thanks, as always, for all your support! New covers should be up on the ebook versions within a day or two, and on the paperback in the next week or two. Let me know what you think!
 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cover Reveal Countdown!

Next Friday, July 12th, both Darkride and Crossfire will be getting new covers designed by the very gifted Damon at damonza.com. I couldn't be more excited! I've wanted to work with Damon ever since I first saw the cover he designed for my friend Jessica Park's awesome book, Flat Out Love. Since then, I've fallen in love with the work he has done for Jamie McGuire, Nicole Williams, Angie Stanton and a bunch of other writers I love. I'm so happy with what he has done for the Darkride Chronicles covers, keeping the feel of the originals but taking them a step further. The big double cover reveal is being organized by Juniper Grove Book Solutions and I'm thrilled to say that we have over twenty blogs on board, and we'll be doing a giveaway, too! I'm counting the days until I can share! In the mean time, check out some of the other stunning covers Damon has designed and I know you'll understand why I'm so psyched!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New FREE short story!

Hello, awesome people! I just wanted to make sure you know that I have a new FREE short story out now! Smacking Back is a YA sci-fi about what bullying might look like a few decades from now, and about one girl who tries to fight back. The story originally appeared in a special YA issue of Coyote Wild magazine a few years ago, but this is its first time as a stand-alone ebook. I've included discussion questions and links to bullying-prevention resources at the end of the story, for anyone who wants to use it as a conversation starter in their classroom or book club, and I hope to have a print-on-demand edition available by the fall for any teachers who want multiple copies for their classrooms. This story might be for you if you like YA dystopian novels, or sci-fi along the lines of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies or M.T. Anderson's Feed. I hope you'll check it out! Download it for any ereader here!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Floating Stones: Are You Ready To Self Publish?


When people hear that my YA paranormal series The Darkride Chronicles is self published, they often ask if I think they should go indie, too. I answer with all the wisdom of Yoda, “Have you ever skipped a stone?”

 See, when you skip a stone, you try to make it bounce on the surface of the water as many times as possible without sinking. How successfully you do this depends on two things: choosing the right stone, and being able to twist your wrist just so. Indie publishing is just like that: The internet is a deep ocean that could easily swallow your book up, but if you choose the right book and are willing to learn a little technique to make it hit just right, you can keep it on the surface and in front of readers’ eyes. Here are a few signs that you’re up to the challenge:

 1)      Your book is the best it can be.  Some people have the false impression that indie books don’t need to be as polished as traditional (trad) published books. Nothing could be further from the truth. Without a trad publisher to “vouch for” your work, it becomes even more important that your book stand on its own merits, with a strong story line and clean copy edits. Join a critique group, solicit the opinions of beta readers (who aren’t your family and close friends) and workshop your manuscript in writing classes. Then revise it until you can honestly say it is the best you can make it at this point. If you have been querying trad publishers or agents and getting rejections, take a look at why. If the writing isn’t up to snuff yet, work on it, but if agents request the manuscript on the strength of the writing but aren’t sure how to market it or where it will fit in to their line, you may have a good candidate for self publishing. (Bonus points if you have more than one book you are ready to publish, especially if the books are related. Being able to release a second book close on the heels of the first can help hold readers’ attention and Amazon algorithms favor authors with multiple titles. That’s good news if you have a backlist or several “trunk novels” that are truly publication-worthy, but don’t skimp on quality for quantity!)

 
2)      Your book is well suited to the indie market. Most self published books do best in ebook form and some types of books sell better as ebooks than others. In my experience, romance does well right now (romance and erotica readers were some of the first to embrace the ebook format). YA and paranormal have the advantage of a strong infrastructure of blogs to promote them. Look at what self-published books are selling well and think about how your book fits in. Your book doesn’t have to be just like everyone else’s – it should be unique – but it helps to know if it fits into an existing ebook trend or if you will have to trail blaze new terrain – and to ask yourself if you are ready for the work that entails. 

 
3)      Your motivations are in the right place. If you are thinking of self publishing to get rich, think again. While some self publishing success stories have gotten a lot of well-deserved media attention lately, most indie books never make bank. You should also rethink your motives if you want to “stick it to the publishers” who rejected your manuscript, or any other negative motivations. If, however, you’re burning to share a story you believe in, or you want to build your readership, or you are excited to be part of an indie community of writers and readers revolutionizing the way books do business, your heart is in the right place.

 
4)      Your attitude towards indie is good. Ask yourself how you truly feel about self-publishing. If you see it as a “plan B” you are pursuing reluctantly, you may be better off continuing to pursue trad publishing. If you feel embarrassed to say that you are self publishing or see it as a failure, you may have an outdated view of self publishing as “vanity press” and need to get in touch with the dynamic phenomenon it has become. If you feel like self publishing is a lark and you’re just going to “throw your book out there and see what happens,” you probably won’t be willing to put in the work it takes to keep your book afloat. Likewise if you see self publishing simply as a means to getting the attention of a trad publisher: Yes, indie books are sometimes picked up by trad publishers, but they must be successful on their own first and the most successful indie authors are those who see self publishing as an end in itself and are proud to be in on the ground floor of the new publishing model.

 
5)      You’ve “friended” social media. Social media is the least expensive way to promote your book, but it won’t work to just hop on there and spam people with self promotion. You don’t have to do everything, but choose a few forms of social media you like best and start interacting with an eye to building relationships with other writers, bloggers, and readers. Provide useful, positive content. Reciprocate kindness. Play by the rules. Be genuine and professional. Create a web presence with a blog or website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be clean and clear and accessible. Successful indie authors see themselves as contributing members of a social media community.

 
6)      You’ve done your research. Learn all you can about self-publishing. Read blogs and articles, join groups of indie writers and readers. Knowledge is definitely power and it’s your responsibility to educate yourself. Although I have found other indie authors to be more than helpful, they are also busy writing books and can’t be expected to do any of the legwork for you. Google is your friend, so look it up! Indie helps those who help themselves.

 
7)      You’ve assembled your team. “Self” publishing is a misnomer; It takes a village to publish a book. Be realistic about what you can honestly do yourself, and be willing to hire professionals to do the rest. Hire a professional editor and proof reader. Hire a cover designer with experience. Hire someone to format your book for you, if you don’t have that skill yourself.  Consider these expenses an investment in your career and tell your team to hero up. (Check out my self publishing resources board on Pinterest to get a few starting places. Another great source of resources is the self-pubbing FAQ page on Tracey Garvis-Graves' site. Likewise the publising FAQ page on Jamie McGuire's site. Both are highly successful hybrid authors who started off indie and have since done trad publishing as well, so they truly know what they are talking about. )

 
If you’ve done all of the above, you may be ready to perform the ultimate trick and make your stone “float.” I wish you the very best with your book!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little Bit of KISSING MIDNIGHT.

Here's a little excerpt from Kissing Midnight, my new paranormal romance, due out Fall of 2013. This is a phone conversation between our heroine, Saintly, and Dev, the guy she's agreed to go out with for the first time.


           “Hey,” I say, “I was just wondering where we’re going tonight. You know, so I know what to wear.”
           “Well…” Dev draws the word out playfully, “I thought it would be a surprise.”
             I frown into the phone. “I’m actually not big on surprises. No offense.” Honestly, I’ve never been the most spontaneous person, but the last couple of years have made me cautious to the extreme, and after last night’s experience at the warehouse, I feel like I’ve had all the surprises I can handle.
            “Oh,” he says, “I think you’ll like this one.
            “Oh,” I say, “I’m sure I will, but, you know, I’m sort of more into schedules. Plans. Things that can be written on calendars.”
             He laughs. “Okay, fine. On your calendar, please write…” He thinks a moment. “Write the sky’s the limit.”
           “The sky’s the limit?”
           “That’s what I said. Now see you at eight.”
             Before I can stop him, he hangs up
             Super. Now what am I supposed to wear? Does “the sky’s the limit” mean something fancy? I seriously hope not, but, judging by Dev’s clothes and his car, he doesn’t lack for cash. I take my favorite dress out of the closet. It’s a standard-issue LBD, the one I bought to wear under my robes at high school graduation. It’s nice, but not exciting. And what if it isn’t stylish enough? I Google “Sky’s the Limit” to make sure it’s not the name of a nightclub where my little black dress might look hopelessly old school – or hopelessly high school – but no names of clubs come up. Ditto for band names and movie titles, and I can’t say I’m surprised: Bands and movies seem a little obvious for Deveraux Renard. A little… tame.
            A terrible thought comes to mind.
            I call Dev.
           “Hello, Saintly.” There’s a smile in his voice and a guitar solo wailing in the background. “I had a feeling you might call back. What’s up?”
           “We aren’t going sky diving, are we?"
             He bursts out laughing. “We aren’t what?”
           “Sky diving! You know, leaping out of planes? Or hang gliding? Or… kite sailing?”
           “What the hell is kite sailing?”
           “I don’t actually know. But we’re not doing it, are we?”
            He sighs dramatically. “If you don’t like flying, I’ll have to cancel the private jet.”
            I roll my eyes at the phone. “I’m not kidding. And it isn’t flying I dislike, it’s falling.”
          “Hmmm…” He lowers his voice. “But what if I told you, if you want to go out with me, you have to be willing to fall?”
           My heart does something syncopated. Does he mean fall in love? A little nervous thrill trips down my spine.
          But Dev is a player, I remind myself, and I’m not in a position to be played. Not with all I’ve been through.
           I take a deep breath. “I guess I would say that I prefer to keep both feet on the ground. I would say I want to go out with you, but not enough to risk life and limb.” Not enough to risk my heart.
          Dev’s voice is low and smooth, “What if I promise to make it worth the risk?”
          I lower mine to match. “Tell me what we’re doing tonight.”
         “It’s a secret.”
         “I told you, I hate secrets.”
          He chuckles darkly. “Then we’re not going to get along at all.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

FREE short story for Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! In honor of the occasion I released a FREE short story on Smashwords this morning. The Strongest Ring is a YA paranormal romance, and I'm hoping it will be the best vampire environmental activist story you'll read all day. (Okay, so it's the only vampire environmental activist story you'll read all day. But still!) This one doesn't take place in the Darkride world, but it does involve a cute vampire, and it's safe to recommend to younger YA readers, too. Here's the blurb:

"Seventeen year old Beck doesn’t consider herself a tree-hugger. With her multi-colored dreadlocks and her combat boots, she’s more at home working at Criminal Records Music than taking a stroll in the woods. Then she falls for Jordan, a handsome vampire activist who remembers Earth’s past and wants to save its future. But will Jordan’s friends accept Beck’s help? Or will they decide that humans are the problem – and the solution is wiping them out? A hopeful environmental message shines at the heart of this YA short story by Writers of the Future award winner Laura Bradley Rede,author of the YA paranormal series The Darkride Chronicles."

Interested? Pop on over to Smashwords and download your copy! Have a fantastic Earth Day, today and every day!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

On writing the first draft

I'm currently about two-thirds of the way through  writing the first (very rough) draft of my New Adult paranormal romance, Kissing Midnight, and I've done a bunch of thinking lately about what exactly a first draft is for. Once upon a time, when I had just started writing, I used to expect the first draft to do everything. I was a perfectionist about it and easily discouraged. Now a days, however, I'm starting to understand that draft one only has to do its own job and all the other stuff can come in later drafts. So what exactly is that job? I think it's easier to talk about what writing draft one feels like:

In the beginning, writing a first draft feels like hacking your way through dense undergrowth with a machete, following the sporadic tracks of some animal called "story" - an animal that most people don't even believe exists, which sometimes only leaves you snapped twigs and day old scat to follow.

In the middle, writing the first draft feels like hand-weaving a loose and holey net and knowing that it will someday be the only safety net that lets you perform the death-defying trapeze act that will be the second draft.

In the end, writing the first draft feels like learning a dance routine that you only know well enough to "mark" it, rather than dance it full out, while your body is aching to stop conserving your energy and start doing the leaps and lifts and reaching all the way through your finger tips, and injuries be damned.

I still have a third of a book left to write, but I have it all mapped out and the end is in sight. I'm excited to get to draft two and start truly digging in and pushing this book to the places I know it can go.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Boston Here We Come!

Today is all about getting ready for the Boston Author Event! I leave bright and early tomorrow morning for New Hampshire, where I'll be staying with author Jessica Park and her family, and then Saturday morning we're off to the Omni Parker House hotel in Boston where we'll be signing books alongside amazing authors like Colleen Hoover, Tina Reeber, Liz Reinhardt, and Steph Campbell. I am extremely excited to meet in person some of the writers who have become my long-distance friends and family via the magic of the internet, and to finally lay eyes on some of the readers who have been so supportive and sweet. If you're coming to Boston, please stop by my table and say hi (and eat a few of the chocolate kisses so I don't have to lug them home!) I would love to meet you! I'll be off line most of the weekend, but I'll try to post pics from the event here and on the Darkride fan page when I get back on Monday. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you in Beantown!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thoughts for my fellow authors on swimming naked


I read this thing in Nylon magazine (March 2013) about an eccentric Scottish baron named Lord Glenconner. He’s this guy who started an elite resort community on the Caribbean island of Mustique back in the 1950’s. If you can get past the imperialist stuff – he actually forced the folks indigenous to the island to move their whole village to make way for a hotel – it’s a fascinating story, because he took this remote land that most people had never heard of and convinced everyone that it was a highly desirable place to be. And how did he do this, you ask? Well, it wasn’t by conventional advertising and salesmanship as we usually know it. For one thing, he gave a prime tract of land away for free to royal Princess Margaret. But when asked how he convinced the likes of Mick Jagger and Robert Mapplethorpe to invest, he said, “We’d drink chilled white wine and maybe I’d sing songs. Then I would undress and plunge into the sea. They’d be swept up in the whole idea of living on Mustique, and that was when I’d sell them land.”

Which got me thinking. Not about moving to the Caribbean (although that would be nice). About selling books.

See, I know from experience that convincing readers to take a chance on an indie book is a lot like trying to talk them into moving to an uncharted island. It’s hard. Like most authors, I spend a crapload of my time on social media with other authors, and I can tell you that it is a Tower of Babel out there. People are constantly trying to sell their books, posting sale prices and giveaways and whatnot, and for the most part it feels to  me like we’re all just shouting into the void, talking to ourselves and each other and somehow missing a chance to really connect with readers.

To remedy this, I think we could all learn something from the crazy Scottish guy’s sales technique. Not the drinking wine part, because I think we’ve got that down. Not even the “giving away a prime tract of land to someone important” part, because I think most of us understand the importance of giving ARC copies to taste-making bloggers and free sample chapters to readers. I think the part we’re missing is the “plunging naked into the sea”. See, Glenconner knew that, if you want to convince someone to join you somewhere, you have to share the complete and utter joy you feel being there yourself. Not just tell them about it, either – you have to live it.  

Too often, we authors finish writing a book and we forget whatever it was that made us obsessed enough to write the book in the first place. We forget to let the reader in on the very real passion that sucked us into these characters, this setting.  We get focused on selling readers a product when what they are craving is the experience of being part of the process – being swept away by the story, yes, but also being swept away by our joy in creating it, the daring skinny dip that is writing a book. The reason readers follow authors on social media – and particularly the reason they follow indie authors, who are generally more accessible than trad published authors – is to catch a glimpse behind the scenes of the story, at the real human who wrote it. They want to see you cry when a character dies, read snippets of that first kiss in progress, listen to the pounding punk music you’re listening to as you write the breakup scene. Most of all, they want to feel the excitement, the pure joy, you feel in this story, the love that lead you to write it in the first place. Sure, it can feel exposed and vulnerable to share process with strangers – what if you share and they don’t like it? What if they walk away? But the fact is, if you don’t share, they may never know how much it matters to you. Find ways to be more open, more honest and exposed, and you may find that readers are willing to leap into the sea along with you, and maybe even build their heart’s new home in your book.   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You Get To: Having Some Gratitude in Your Attitude


My eight year old son Harrison is has been studying Suzuki piano since he was four. In the Suzuki method, you practice every day and, although Harrison is very good at piano, most days he hates to practice. Sometimes it is a little easier to get him to play if he has an audience to perform for, so, when our friend Kirsten stopped by the other day, we asked Harry if he would play for her. He looked at me and whined, “Do I have to?”

Kirsten’s response was immediate. “You don’t have to. You get to.”

That one word change made me think about my own attitude towards "practice."

Most days I am eager to write, but there are days when I’m a lot like Harry. Getting myself to sit down at the keyboard is a lot like getting myself to jump into a cold pool: once I’m in, I get used to it, but I always have to force myself to take that first step. Prying myself away from social media, putting down my magazine, even setting aside the housework feels like stepping off a diving board.   Often I look at a page of edits or a guest blog post that needs writing or a tough section of a chapter and ask myself, “Do I have to?”

 That’s when my friend’s words come in handy. They represent a fundamental shift in our way of looking at the work. Because the truth is, you don’t have to. No one is forcing you to write. No one is holding a knife to your back and telling you to pursue your dream. You could walk away from it right now and go back to some other job. You could watch Firefly reruns all night and go to Target all day and never write another word. You actually don’t have to.

But you get to. You have the privilege of having characters who have chosen you to tell their story as best you are able. You have the fun of having readers who are asking for more. In my case, I even have the privilege of writing for a stretch of time every day while my kids are at school – not because we are rich, but because our family has decided that me pursuing my writing is just as important to our family’s quality of life as the money from a day job could ever be. Now, maybe none of those things are perfect: The story isn’t flowing through you the way you wish it would. There aren’t enough readers, or there are too many to handle, or they don’t love your stuff the way you wish they would. You don’t write as much or as well or as often as you wish. But even in its imperfection, the writing life you are living right now is something that some other writer might kill for. Even you yourself, at some earlier point in your writing journey, wished and hoped and prayed for these circumstances that you are living now. And now you get to live them. You get to.

 It’s a perspective check I’m trying to apply to a lot of things in my life. Why do I have to get older? I don’t have to, I get to – many people don’t get that chance. Why do I have to get out of bed in the morning? I’m lucky to get the opportunity.

 When I was getting Crossfire ready for publication, I noticed something important: The acknowledgements were even longer than they were for Darkride. Although I felt like I had a lot of support writing my first book, by the time my second book came out my “village” had grown exponentially with the addition of enthusiastic book bloggers and readers and author friends I met online and in “real life.” And I decided that that should be my main goal with each new book: not to sell more or to collect more “likes” or even to write better, although all those things are important and good. But even more important is growing that supportive community and keeping that attitude of gratitude by keeping that one thing at the forefront of my mind:
 
Today I get to write.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentines Day Character Interview

(I decided to interview Cicely, Emmie, Naomi, Ander and Luke to get their thoughts on Valentines Day. Here's what they had to say.)

Me: Hi, guys!

(mumbles from everyone)

Me: Let's try that again. Hi, guys!

All: (staggered) Hi, Laura.

Me: Better. We'll work on that. Well, as you know, Valentines Day is right around the corner, so I thought I'd take a minute to ask you guys what your ideal Valentines Day would look like. Okay? Cicely, let's start with you.

Cicely: Me? I have to go first? Um, okay... Well, I'll be honest, I'm not a huge V-day fan.

Emmie: You did not just say you don't like Valentines Day! Hush your mouth!

Cicely: Well, it's not like I'm a hater or anything, it's just that it seems sort of designed to make people feel left out – like, worried that they didn't get a Valentine or that they won't be asked to the dance or whatever. Like at school, the drama club always had this fundraiser where they sold carnations and you could order red for someone if you were going out, or pink if you were crushing on them or whatever, or white for friends, and you sent them with a note…

Luke: Ah! The Victorian language of flowers!

Emmie: I loved those little carnations! It was hard to carry them all home, though.

Cicely: Yeah, for you! You and Lyla Jansen and your crowd always had these huge bouquets of carnations, and there's Zoe and me with the little white ones we sent each other...

Ander: I would totally have sent you a carnation, by the way. Except I was -

Cicely: Absent. I remember.

Ander: And also I forgot.

Cicely: It's okay. I don't want to be down on V-day, it's just wasn't it sort of invented by popular people? And, you know, Hallmark?

Luke: On the contrary, Valentines Day has been celebrated for centuries.

Me: Cicely, there must be something you like about it, right?

Cicely: Well, my mom always had plenty of work around Valentines because there were always parties that needed pink cupcakes or heart-shaped cakes or whatever, and there was usually at least one Valentines Day wedding to bake for...

Emmie: Oh my gosh, that would be so romantic.

Cicely: So that meant I spent a lot of time helping her, but it also meant that we ate a lot of cupcakes.

Ander: Best. Cupcakes. Ever.

Cicely: And my mom really loves Valentines Day, so she was really into it, and we'd usually have a treat when it was over, like a we-survived-the-valentines-rush out to dinner or something, which was great. But generally I think, if you love someone, you should show them every day. You shouldn't need some big commercial holiday as an excuse. Am I being a downer?

Me: No, I can understand that. But if you were to do something special for Valentines, what would you do?

Cicely: (thinks, biting lip) Well... I guess I would want to do something very normal. Or, you know, as normal as we get. Go to a movie, go out to dinner, that sort of thing. I've never been on a really normal date, so I guess that would be sort of... refreshing, I guess, after all the weird. And I would definitely wear red.

Ander: You pretty much always wear your red hoodie.

Cicely: See? I am totally in the spirit.

Me: Okay, thanks, Cicely. Now how about -

Emmie: (waving hand wildly) Oh! Me! I'll go next!

Me: Okay, Emmie, since you’re so enthusiastic, what would your ideal Valentines Day look like?

Emmie: I love Valentines Day! It’s my second favorite V word!

Me: What’s your –

Emmie:  “Vampire”! And here I thought you knew me! (laughs) But I love "valentines," too. I love all the chocolate and the flowers and those little hearts with the text messages on ‘em.  I think a guy should make a real romantic gesture, like he should buy his girl two dozen red roses, or write her name in rose petals or – no! even better! He should write “I love you” in lighter fluid on the snow and then set it on fire and then when the neighbors call the cops and she hears the sirens and looks out her window, she’ll know that he truly burns for her, you know?

Naomi: Isn’t that a little…dangerous?

Emmie:  But so sweet! Or – oh! Oh! He could plan a flash mob!

Luke: Does that involve lighter fluid?

Emmie: No, silly, you know, a flash mob? Like (starts dancing and sings) “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger –”

Me: Okay, so a big romantic gesture. Anything else?

Emmie: Well, I think a guy should give a girl presents – somethin’ shiny, or maybe chocolate covered strawberries, or chocolate covered cherries – pretty much any kind of chocolate fruit. Except mangos. Because that could be disgusting…

Me: Emmie, focus.

Emmie: Right. And he should take her out someplace nice. He should pick her up in a nice car, like a limousine or a Mustang or a really clean truck, and he should bring her to a restaurant, his treat – like, a real restaurant, with waiters and everything.

Luke: There are restaurants without waiters?

Emmie: And then he should take her out dancing some place fun and get the band to play her favorite song and just dance until dawn, and then she should let him bite her goodnight.

Ander: You mean kiss her goodnight.

Emmie: To each their own.

Me: Sounds like you’ve got it all planned out, Emmie. Have you been on this dream date yet?

Emmie: No. I’ve always had to work Valentines Day, which is okay I guess because the bar is pretty fun on a holiday, and we always do two shows, one with the newer songs for the younger set, and one that’s all standards for the vamps who like to kick it old school. Everyone else always wants to do the new stuff, but I love the classics, so I get my pick of the old stuff and I get to do two, three songs a show, like (sings)

"My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable,


Yet you’re my favorite work of art…”

Luke: That was lovely.

Emmie: Why, thank you!

Me: Yes, very nice, Emmie. Now, Ander, how about you? How would you celebrate Valentines Day?

Ander: Well, it wouldn’t be at the Nightlife, that’s for sure.

Me: Where would it be?

Ander: I’m gonna agree with Cicely that I’d want to do something normal, because we haven’t had a lot of normal, so I’d just like to go out to the Heyday CafĂ© – Zoe’s dad’s place – and get a burger and talk and hang out, maybe go to the school dance if it wasn’t going to be lame, maybe go to a movie, something good that ends in a shoot out.

(Cicely smacks him)

Ander: I mean that ends in a kiss. Because, you know, it’s Valentines Day.

Me: What about flowers? Candy? Presents?

Ander: I don’t do the flower thing. I think it’s kind of depressing to watch them just sit in a vase and wilt, you know? What’s the point? And I’m not the best with words, as far as writing a card goes. But food is always good, like Cicely’s mom’s cupcakes or chocolates or whatever. Danny used to always bring Michael dinner in bed on Valentines.

Me: You mean breakfast in bed.

Ander: Nope, dinner. Nocturnal, remember?

Me: Oh, right.

Ander: Well, I always thought that was nice. Or, actually, I always thought it was sort of embarrassing, but now I think it was kind of nice.

Me: Anything else?

Ander: I don’t know. (pauses to think) I guess when you have spent enough time with your life in danger like we have, and you’ve seen people make real sacrifices for love, the gestures start to sort of pale in comparison, you know? I’m cool with cards and all, but it’s what a person does when it comes right down to it that shows how they really feel about you.

Me: I can respect that. Thanks, Ander.  Naomi, you’ve been very quiet. What would your ideal Valentine’s Day look like?

Naomi: Well, I guess I identify with what Cicely and Emmie were saying about Valentines being a working holiday. It’s a prime time for spells to call love into your life and for contacting loved ones who have passed on, so I’ve usually spent Valentines helping my grandmother do ritual. But I guess if I were to celebrate, I’d maybe want to walk in the woods or go riding on the beach if it was warm enough. Maybe have an evening at home with a fire going in the fireplace. I love flowers, but I’m not one for expensive presents. I like home-made things best. Although… this is going to sound silly…

Me: What?

Naomi: I wouldn’t mind if someone rescued a little kitten from a shelter for me, or a puppy.

Ander: Like you don’t have enough pets!

Naomi: I know, dumb, right? But there are so many that need homes! And you could name it Valentine or Sweetheart or something like that…

Me: I think that would be adorable. Anything else?

Naomi: I love poetry. If someone wrote a poem or a song for me, I think I would be speechless, I’d be so happy. I have a book of poems that I bought for someone special, but I never got the chance to give them to him. If I were to be with him on Valentines Day, there’s one in particular I would want him to read. 

Me: That’s extremely romantic, Naomi. Thank you. Luke? What do you have to say for yourself on the subject of Valentines Day?

Luke: I am in favor of it.

Me: And how would you celebrate?

Luke: Well, traditionally on Valentines it is the acceptable for a man to court a woman more openly, yes? A romantic get away, perhaps, to some place warm where the couple can be alone? And yes, flowers are in order. Roses, or whatever the lady prefers. And couples traditionally exchange tokens of affection. A locket or a ring, a lock of hair…

Cicely: A lock of hair?

Luke: Do they not do that any more? It was quite popular at the end of the 1800’s.

Cicely: Now, not so much.

Luke: Bien. Perhaps not hair. But at the very least a kiss. Every girl deserves to be kissed passionately on Valentines Day, to be kissed in a way she can feel hasta lo mas profundo de su alma. To the depths of her soul.

Emmie: Now that’s an answer.

Ander: I thought that, you know, kissing the soul thing went without saying.

Cicely: Yeah, no.

Ander: Show off.

Me: Well, I think that about sums it up. Thanks, you guys, for chatting with me. I hope you all get the Valentines Day of your dreams. Now let’s say Happy Valentines Day and try to say it in unison this time, okay? One, two, three…

All: Happy Valentines Day!

Luke: Feliz Dia de San Valentin!

Me: Much better.



Friday, February 8, 2013

And Now For My Next Trick...


So many sweet people have been asking lately if there will be a third Darkride Chronicles book – and let me say, it feels so good to hear that you want to read more! The short answer is yes, I plan to write a third Darkride book that would take place a year after Crossfire ends. It would take us back to Monument, MN and give us a chance to learn more about characters like Zoe, Naomi, Jonah, and the vampires of the Remnant. Even though some of the main characters’ plotlines are wrapped up at the end of Crossfire, there are still a ton of stories to tell in the Darkride world and, frankly, I’m starting to miss my characters already!

 
But the third Darkride book won’t be the next book I write. I feel like it will be a better book if I get a little perspective before I start it, and there are other characters who have been clamoring for my attention. The project I’m excited to be working on now is Kissing Midnight, a stand-alone New Adult paranormal romance. It doesn’t take place in the Darkride world, but it does have some of the same “dark, modern fairy tale” feel. It’s crazy romantic and spooky, too (I freaked myself out writing a creepy scene yesterday!) and I’m having fun writing characters who are in college rather than high school – I feel like I graduated!  I’ll share an excerpt as soon as I can, but in the meantime you can get a sense of the story by checking out my KissingMidnight inspiration board on Pinterest. Let me know what you think!

 
And I’m working on other projects, too. I have ideas for short stories or novellas set in the Darkride world.  I’m also in the planning stages of an unrelated stand-alone YA paranormal that would give me the opportunity to write my first lesbian protagonist, something I’ve been dying to do! That book has me researching everything from the lingo of pickpockets, to living in an artist’s squat, to what it’s like to visit someone in prison. I’m totally digging the challenge!

 
Well, that about covers what I’m working on now. How are things with you? Let me know if you have questions and I’ll be happy to answer. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop here and on facebook and Twitter, too. Thanks again for all your sweet support. I can’t wait to share more stories with you!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

PLAYLIST for Crossfire

Playlist! Yay! Finally getting around to posting the songs that inspired me while I was writing Crossfire, so I hope you enjoy them! (Just be mindful that there are some *SPOILERS* in my descriptions, so you may want to read the book first!) Some of these songs correspond with specific scenes, but most are just songs I associate with characters and themes, so the order is general. I included the videos because some of them are cool. I'd love to hear what you think of my choices. Are there other songs you think belongs on this playlist? Let me know!

1) Shattered by Trading Yesterday - Picture Cicely at the beginning of the book, looking out the window of the van as the dark highway flashes past. The lyrics of this song are so perfect, it's like they were written for Cicely.



2) Werewolf by Fiona Apple- This is Cicely feeling at odds with Ander when they first arrive at Naomi's.



3) Rusty Cage by Soundgarden - This is a song I associate with Ander fighting the werewolf inside him. I can picture him blasting this on his iPod as he runs on the beach, trying to get out his aggression so the wolf won't take him.



More Than A Memory by Carly Rae Jepsen - Now, for a total change of pace, lol...I'm on a Carly Rae Jepsen kick lately, and this is another song I associate with Cicely's frustration with Ander at the beginning of the book, and especially with their fight about the cross necklace. "Are you gonna just stand in front of me, pretending I'm not your destiny?" Can this love be saved?


4) More Than This by One Direction- Continuing with the pop music... I put this on for Luke, watching Cicely with Ander and wishing she was with him instead. (And you've got to love the Carpe Noctem, "seize the night," sign in the background. What's more Luke than that?)



5) Watching You Watch Him by Eric Hutchinson - A cool reader sent me this video because it reminded her of Luke, watching Cicely through the crack in the kitchen door and hoping that Ander and Cicely will break up. I had never heard this song before,
and now I love it.



6) Love Interruption by Jack White - In Darkride, Emmie quotes Bob Marley, saying "Everyone's going to hurt you, you've just got to find the ones worth suffering for." This song made me think of that, so this is one for Luke and Emmie's first bite. "I want love to walk right up and bite me, grab ahold of me and fight me..."



7) A Little Taste by Skyler Stonestreet - Emmie insisted this make the playlist because it's the ultimate blood bar song. Also good for Luke and Emmie's first bite.



8) Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson. "Can you love me, even with my dark side?" What vampire hasn't wondered this? Especially if she suspects she might be doing terrible things...


9) Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra - Emmie sings this with the radio on the way to the Red Tide, and in many ways it's the theme song of this book.



10) Carry You Home by James Blunt -  This song came on the radio while I was writing Ander carrying Cicely across the field after they escape the fire, and it made me cry, right in the middle of the coffee shop. The video makes me cry all over again. Brilliant.


11) Home by Phillip Phillips - To me, this is Ander's goodbye to Naomi and his final scene with Cicely. "Hold on to me as you go," Naomi. And I love the idea that Ander and Cicely will make a home for themselves and for the rescued thralls the way Danny once made a home for Ander and Michael.



12) Chasing The Sun by The Wanted - If Crossfire were a movie, this would be the upbeat ending music that plays over the final party scene and the ending credits. The fact that there are vampires in the video just makes it that much better!



13)Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson - How could I not include this song? You know what Five says: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but what does makes you invincible!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

99 Cent Sale on Darkride!

So much to be thakful for lately! For one thing, some incredible reviewers have given Crossfire good reviews. I particularly loved this one from Sharon at My Super Book Blog and this gem from Karese at Kindred Souls Book Blog. There is seriously nothing more satisfying than reading a review written by someone who really gets the book and understands what you were trying to say. Both these blogs hit the nail on the head, and for that I am extremely grateful!

For another thing, we are this close to having the paperback of Crossfire available on Amazon. Today we will finish going over the proof, and I'll let you know the minute it launches!

So, to celebrate all that, we decided to mark Darkride down to .99 on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords, and you know what? Darkride made it into the top 500 on Amazon for the first time! I was thrilled! So we're keeping it at .99 for a few more days. Snap up your copy, or gift it to a friend!

Or, if you prefer to try to win a copy, go "like" Kindred Souls Book Blog on facebook. When she hits 150 likes, she'll give away an ebook copy of both Darkride and Crossfire!

Okay, that's all the news for now! As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blog Love!

I am feeling so thankful lately for the awesome book bloggers who have reviewed Darkride and Crossfire, and particularly for Kristi at Reading is My Time Out, who read both Darkride and Crossfire in a matter of days and posted such thoughtful reviews. Here is her review of Crossfire, which completely made my day! And I'm also feeling some mad love for Karese at Kindred Souls Book Blog for this five star review of Darkride. Not only is this a beautifully done review, I also loved the quotes she chose to highlight. Read them and see if they're the ones you would have chosen - and while you're at it, follow both these great blogs and check out their other reviews!

In other news, my partner Marcy has been working like crazy to get the paperback of Crossfire ready, and today we were able to send for a proof! Stephanie Nelson at Once Upon A Time Covers, who designed the ebook covers for both Darkride and Crossfire, designed the paperback cover and I think it looks great. I will try to post it here tomorrow, although Blogger has been acting up lately and not allowing us to post pictures (which makes me a very sad panda).  At the very least, I will post the paperback version of the cover on the facebook fan page and on the Darkride Chronicles pinterest board tomorrow. We hope to receive the proof by next week and, with any luck, be able  to approve it and have paperbacks available on Amazon soon! I'll keep you posted here and on facebook when the paperbacks are ready!

I've been so thrilled with the warm reception Crossfire has received. Thanks for all your help and enthusiasm!

Friday, January 18, 2013

This Review Made Me Smile :)

I just had to post the link to this Darkride review, written by Kristi Fortenberry of the blog Reading Is My Time Out, because it really made my day, especially when she said "Cicely is an endearing character that readers can relate to no matter their age. The heroes, Ander and Luke, make it extremely difficult to just pick one to win Cicely's love." Kristi, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and I'm excited to hear what you think of Crossfire! Thank you for reviewing!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CROSSFIRE IS OUT NOW!

It's official: Crossfire, the second book of the Darkride Chronicles, is now available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords! (Paperbacks should be available in the next couple of weeks.) I am so excited I may scream! I have been working on Crossfire ever since I published Darkride last December and the whole time I've been just dying to tell you what happens to Cicely, Luke, Ander and Emmie after they leave Monument, MN and strike out for Maine. It's like trying to keep a present a secret - for a whole year! I'm on pins and needles to know what you think of the book (and particularly of the ending) and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.  Thanks again for all your enthusiasm and support!

Monday, January 14, 2013

CROSSFIRE coming soon!

Crossfire, the second book of The Darkride Chronicles, will be here in no time! Last week I received my edits from my excellent editor, Jennifer Meegan. Today (Monday Jan 14th) Crossfire went to the formatter. If all goes according to plan, we hope to have Crossfire out as an ebook by the end of the week, and as a paperback soon after! Thank you for all your enthusiasm! I can hardly wait to tell you what happens to Luke, Ander, Cicely and Emmie!