May 26, 2012

Books for Art's Sake

Easy has been officially launched, but I'm not on vaycay just yet. We're formatting the book for paperback (the full cover is done; interior almost done). The BTL series has been formatted and new covers done for it as well. I intend to offer signed paperbacks, possibly here on the blog - but I have to make sure of a few things like Blogger requirements, paypal accounts, safe mail containers... these things are all new to me, so stay tuned if you're interested in owning a copy of Easy you can hold.


I look forward to the publishing world offering a free digital version of any book purchased in hardback or paperback form. As a reader, I will be all over that. I pre-ordered three books earlier this year that all came out on May 1st.* I didn't agonize much over which versions to purchase, because all three were already-begun series for me. This resulted in one Kindle pre-buy (Shine - Smith-Ready) and two hardbacks (Insurgent - Roth, and Bitterblue - Cashore). But I began reading Shine first, partly because it was the last in a trilogy... but mostly because it was on my Kindle. Apparently, reading on my Kindle has become my preferred way to read - even sitting around at home.

Honestly, I never thought that would happen. Not long ago, I was all old-school I like the look of books stacked on my nightstand, and I love the feel of a book in my hands, etc. Don't get me wrong - I still love those things... just... not while I'm reading. I do love the look of many of my books - their spines lined up on the shelves in an array of colors. I like to pull them out and stare at the covers - especially the ones that combine appearance and texture (ex: my hardback of Shine - Lauren Myracle).

Books I put on my shelves and hold in my hands have become art. Never saw that coming, either.

(Hey publishers - wanna keep those paper-based book sales alive? Keep those covers gorgeous and figure out how to give away a digital copy with each sale! Music and film have figured out how to do this, even with the multiple platforms available and the fact that this differs from customer-to-customer.)

*When I realized I would be entering the last 3-4 weeks of my own book launch when I received those books, I wanted to bang my head on my desk. Holy internal reader-author tug-of-war! I'm into Insurgent now and LOVING it, though there just aren't enough hours in the day to work and read...

May 22, 2012

Expectations (and Teaser #9)

When I published Between the Lines, I didn't worry about reader expectations, beyond whether or not the cover and description adequately described the book. No one knew who I was, so no one had any writerly assumptions about me. Over time, though, readers develop expectations of authors, based on what they've read before.

I'm not sure what's expected of Easy. The cover is dark and sensual, tender, but with an edge. That's no mistake. What I've given you so far shows interaction between the MCs, some of it a little... steamy. I think I've handed out enough of that. Time for something else, I think, to knock your expectations around a bit. That's what teasers are for, no?

Tuesday Teaser #9:

“Hey, baby!” Chaz’s voice pulled both of us from our thoughts. He snatched Erin out of the flow of people and I followed, laughing at her delighted squeal until I noticed the guy standing next to him.

My face went hot, blood pounding in my ears. As our friends kissed hello and began talking about what time they each got off work tonight, Buck stared down at me, his mouth turning up on one side. My breath came in pants and I fought to keep the rising panic and nausea under control. I wanted to turn and run, but I was immobilized.

He couldn’t touch me here. He couldn’t hurt me here.

“Hey, Jackie.” His piercing gaze roamed over me and my skin crawled. “Lookin’ good, as always.” His words gushed flirtation, but all I felt was the threat underneath, intended or not.

The bruises had faded from his face, but weren’t entirely gone. One yellowish streak ringed his left eye, and another brushed along the right side of his nose like a pale smear. Lucas had given him those, and only the three of us knew it. I stared back, mute, the coffee clutched in my hand. I’d once thought this boy handsome and charming—the all-American veneer he wore fooling me as thoroughly as it fooled everyone else.

I raised my chin, ignoring my physical reaction to him, and the fear causing it. “It’s Jacqueline.”

He cocked one eyebrow, confused. “Huh?”

Erin grabbed my elbow. “Come on, hot stuff. Don’t you have art history in like five minutes?”

I stumbled slightly as I turned and followed her, and he issued a soft, taunting laugh as I passed him. “See you around, Jacqueline,” he teased.

My name in his mouth sent a tremor through me, and I trailed behind Erin into the sea of students. Once I could move, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough.

May 15, 2012

Countdown Started (and Teaser #8)

It's Official Countdown Time for me - ten days until I plan to upload Easy. I'll be taking a short break between this and the next project, because I've not been taking the best care of myself, and that's just irrational. My plans are (1) sleep, (2) read, (3) shop for a gym, and (4) get caught up with everyone in my life that I've been ignoring.

When I'm writing, I tend to immerse myself in that project most of my waking hours (and some of the sleeping ones - evidenced by how often I wake up with dialogue in my head or a plot point that's come into focus overnight). I eat meals in a rush or in front of the computer. I ignore any social obligations or invitations that aren't forced on me. I'm loathe to leave the house for almost any reason. (I only put 200 miles on my car in the last two months. No kidding! 200!) I don't get enough sleep.

I doubt I can change how current WIPs seem to take over and auto-pilot my life. Honestly, though, the process is working, even if it beats me up a little on the way through. (Under threat of multiple ass-kickings from critique partners and members of my family, however, I will be giving a very vague release date for the next project until I get much closer to completing it.)

Tuesday Teaser #8:

“Lie down on your stomach and rest your head on your arms, facing me.”

I did as he told me. “Like this?”

He nodded, eyeing me as if absorbing details or searching for flaws. Coming onto his knees, he moved close enough to fan his fingers through my hair and let it fall over my shoulder. “Perfect,” he murmured, scooting back to his position against the wall, a few feet away.

I stared at him as he sketched, his eyes moving back and forth from my face to the pad. At some point, his gaze began to move over the rest of me. As if his fingertips skimmed over my shoulders and down my back, my breath caught in my throat and I shut my eyes.

“Falling asleep?” his voice was soft. Near.

I opened my eyes to find him on his knees next to me, sitting back on his heels. My heart picked up the pace again at his nearness. “No.” He’d left the pad and pencil on the floor behind him. “Are you… done?”

He shook his head slightly. “No. I’d like to do another, if you don’t mind.” At my nod, he said, “Turn onto your back.”

May 8, 2012

Easy was a Misnomer (and Teaser #7)

Wow, this one is fighting me all the way down.

Hemingway was quoted to have said: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." I don't care what you're writing - a literary masterpiece or a board book for three-year-olds - as an author, if you're going to connect emotionally with your reader, you have to be willing to offer up sacrificial slivers of yourself to your work. Some manuscripts aren't content to take those donated pieces, however - they want appendages. Easy is one of these.

Apologies to my neglected friends and family, and any unanswered emails, messages or tweets from anyone sending them. (So help me God - seriously, people - I am just not good at twitter - it's like being one clucking chicken in a henhouse of clucking chickens all trying to get the attention of the other chickens...)

Tuesday Teaser #7:

I couldn’t take any more of this night. A sob came from my throat as I tried to remain composed. “May I have my keys, please?” I held my hand out, willing the tremors to subside.

He swallowed, looking at me, and I stared back into his clear eyes. I couldn’t tell their color in the diffuse lighting, but they contrasted compellingly with his dark hair. His voice was softer, less hostile. “Do you live on campus? Let me drive you. I can walk back over here and get my ride after.”

May 1, 2012

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME! (and Teaser #6)

Today is my first anniversary as an author. We uploaded Between the Lines to Amazon on April 30, 2011, and it went live on May 1, 2011 - for 99 cents. I think I sold one book that day... to my husband, who bought it so we could make sure it didn't look like ass before anyone else bought it.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect of the coming year, as is evidenced by posts from a year ago, and memories like this one:

Me, arriving at work:  "OHMYGOD guesswhat guesswhat guesswhat???"
Coworker, eyes wide:  "What?"
Me, utterly flabbergasted:  "I sold TWELVE COPIES of my book in the last 24 hours!"
Coworker, impressed:  "Really?? TWELVE? To people you don't know?"
Me, nodding:   "I have no idea! But I think they are probably total strangers!"
Coworker, still impressed:  "Wow!"

I wish I remembered what day this conversation occurred, but alas, I don't. I know that at the two week mark, I'd sold 34 copies total, which was pretty much what I expected to sell altogether, ever. The fact that people would keep buying it, that many of them would request/demand/buy a second and a third (and request/demand a fourth - we'll see, people) would have made my one-year-ago self pass out.

Easy is the book I've wanted to write for the past several years. But agents have always stated outright that publishers won't buy novels set in college. Since I'm not a crazy person, I would have probably found something else to do with my time if I'd not had the support of the readers of my first three books. Your emotional support let me know that I was doing something worthwhile, and that I was connecting with readers through these stories. Your financial support made it possible for me to quit my part-time job three months ago so I could write full-time. Giving up a steady paycheck was a leap of faith, but I still think it was the right decision.

So thank you to every one of you who've given me that enthusiastic support. I appreciate it greatly. You have no idea how much.

Tuesday Teaser #6:

“Next.”

I shook off my reverie and looked across the counter, prepared to give my usual order, and there stood the guy from Saturday night. The guy I’d avoided sitting next to this morning in economics. My mouth hung open but nothing came out. And just like this morning, Saturday night came flooding back. My face heated, remembering the position I’d been in, what he must have witnessed before he’d intervened, how foolish he must consider me.

But then, he’d said it wasn’t my fault. And he’d called me by my name. The name I no longer used, as of sixteen days ago.

My split-second wish that he wouldn’t recall who I was went ungranted. I returned his penetrating gaze and could see he remembered all of it, clearly. Every mortifying bit. My face burned.

“Are you ready to order?” His question pulled me from my disorientation. His voice was calm, but I felt the exasperation of the restless customers behind me.

“Grande caffĂ© Americano. Please.” My words were so mumbled that I half expected him to ask me to repeat myself.

But he marked the cup, which was when I noted the two or three layers of thin white gauze wrapped around his knuckles. He passed the cup to the barista and rung up the drink as I handed over my card. “Doing okay today?” he asked, his words so seemingly casual, yet so full of meaning between us. He swiped my card and handed it back with the receipt.

“I’m fine.” The knuckles of his left hand were scuffed but not severely abraded. I took the card and receipt, his fingers grazing over mine. I snatched my hand away. “Thanks.”