Friday, January 28, 2011

I Am Number Four (aka: I'm desperately trying to keep my lunch down)

I’m struggling a little bit with this I Am Number Four thing. There’s been a ton of hype, obviously, and Alex Pettyfer taking off his shirt on Ellen today has helped generate even more buzz for the movie. I actually bought the book in August, before I knew about the Full Fathom Five controversy or James Frey’s involvement in the series. I thought about returning it, but, before I could, my 13 year-old daugher picked it up.

To describe my daughter as a reluctant reader would be an understatement. A year ago September, when I signed with my agent and finally fessed up to my family that I was writing, I asked my daughter: “If I write a book, will you read it?”

Her answer: *eyeroll* “Maybe…”

She started Harry Potter and lost interest after about 20 pages. I think she only got 10 pages into Twilight before I found it wallowing under her bed. She still hasn't read Personal Demons. So…when I realized she was three chapters into I Am Number Four, I really had no choice but to let her read it.

She loved it.

Now, I feel compelled to take her to the movie, because this is the very first time she’s read a book that was made into a movie before the movie came out.

But it makes me feel like a total traitor.

Personally, I haven’t read the book because I’m having such trouble stomaching the whole thing. But, I want to give Jobie Hughes a HUGE shout out for writing a story that finally captured my 13 year-old’s attention. It breaks my heart that someone whose moral standards are as questionable as James Frey was able to use his ill gotten gains to lure someone a talented as Jobie into his money making scheme.

But that’s the way of the world, unfortunately. Paraphrasing a Wall Street Journal article, James Frey hatched up his Full Fathom Five idea after he finished reading the last Harry Potter novel in 2007. This, quoted from that article: "Someone is going to replace Harry Potter," he [Frey] recalls thinking. "Maybe it'll be me." He obviously knew he wasn’t nearly talented enough to do it on his own, so he took advantage of other far more talented writers who were just desperate enough to go along.

I get that publishing is a business. We all hope to make money, and we’d all kill to be the next J.K. Rowling (who, you’ll notice, Frey didn’t give credit to either—a pattern with the man, apparently) but not by taking advantage of others.

So, I’m going to the movie. I won’t be buying popcorn, because I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to keep it down.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion and a cool contest!

Adventures in Children’s Publishing is hosting a series of guest posts and a really cool experiment/contest. The posts are geared toward authors, but the contest is for everyone, reader or writer, so check it out.

The topic of the posts is book promotion, and the series started Tuesday with Shannon Delany (13 to Life, St. Martin’s Griffin) talking about using technology. She’s got some totally cool stuff in her post that is soooo far over my low-tech head that that I can barely see it with binoculars. You definitely want to check it out.

Today is my turn, and my post is on The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion. I talk about giveaways, because you all know I’m the queen of giving stuff away, and book events. Check it out, then click on the contest link on the top of the post for your chance to win copies of Personal Demons, 13 to Life or a pre-order of Hourglass (Edgemont) by Myra McEntire, who will be posting Saturday on pre-publication promotion.

Basically, the contest is to see how far viral promotion will spread. There are codes for each prize that you can post as many places as you can think of to post them, and you get points for each post. This is science in action, so please participate! Martina at Adventures in Children’s Publishing will compile the numbers, and unless they suck, she’ll post them on her blog at the conclusion of the experiment.

Science is FUN!! And so are contests! Go! Help my code (PersonalDemons-secret) thrive and multiply in the wild—and maybe even win a signed book! Thanks!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Original Sin teaser and giveaway!

For those of you who have been soooo kind and emailed, Tweeted and Facebooked that you loved Personal Demons and can’t wait for book two, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. And…I have good news. Today, posted an exclusive excerpt. You can read chapter one of Original Sin here.

The very first line of Original Sin is MAJOR SPOILERY for Personal Demons. If you’ve not yet read Personal Demon, and you want to be surprised, then take your finger off the mouse and back slowly away from the computer.

If you do read, please stop back and tell me what you thought!

Even if you don't want to read just yet, you can enter the Facebook giveaway to win one of three Original Sin galleys here. AND/ can enter the @tordotUF Twitter contest for one of three galleys. For details, check out my Twitter feed (@LisaDez) or follow this hashtag:  #TorUFgiveaway 

Good luck! Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The art of critiquing

The Novel Formerly Known as Hellbent has been passed off to my wonderful critique partner, Andrea Cremer, and my truly fabulous agent. I’m bracing myself for whatever they have to say. But, whatever it is, I know it will be right on the money. I can always count on that. Andrea is amazing at seeing possibilities that I never would have thought of, and Suzie has an incredible editorial eye. I’m blessed to have found such wonderful support in my writing.

Whenever I’m asked for advice for aspiring writers, I say something along the lines of: Trust your gut and your voice, and find someone you really trust to critique your work.

The thing is, when you’re writing, all these wonderful ideas explode in your head. If you’re like me, sometimes it’s a little bit of a struggle to put them into actual words and get them on paper. I know what I think I wrote, but that’s not always how it translates onto the page, so I need someone who can read what I wrote objectively and tell me if it says what I think it does.

Okay, that’s a perfect example. I totally confused you all with my words, but my point was very clear in my head.

When I’m critiquing Andrea’s work, what I’m looking for is any area:
  1. I skimmed/realized I was hungry
  2. I had to read twice (or more)
  3. I was pulled out of the story
  4. I thought didn’t ring true or was inconsistent
  5. that didn’t feel cohesive

Point 1
If I catch myself thinking about food, or my shopping list, or anything else for that matter, then the manuscript isn’t holding my interest. That’s a problem. In On Writing, Stephen King says, when his wife is alpha reading he watches, and anytime she puts the mss down—to go to the bathroom, or run an errand—he picks it up and reads where she is. You want readers riveted to your book. The biggest complement I can get from a reader is that they flunked a chemistry test because they couldn’t put my book down long enough to study. (Don’t really do this, please. Just an example. ;p)

Point 2
As an author, I want the reading experience to be seamless. We don’t go back and relive a moment in our lives because something confused us. In a book, we shouldn’t ever have to reread a passage. Realistically, I’m fairly certain I’ve never gotten through an entire book where I didn’t have to reread something. Maybe a few sentences or a paragraph, but you want to keep your readers flipping pages forward, not backward. If I have to turn back too often, I’m going to get frustrated and stop turning forward.

Point 3
Again, I want a seamless read. Turns of phrase, metaphors or anything else that pulls me out of the story, need to go. In my humble opinion, the writer should be invisible in any novel. When he/she starts to intrude on the story with flower prose, or poorly chosen words/similes/metaphors, I notice him/her. And when I start noticing the writer, I’m no longer in the story. They’ve lost me.

Point 4
This is pretty self-explanatory.

Point 5
My lovely critique partner and I both use the same writing method. I believe I’ve heard Andrea describe it as jigsaw puzzle writing. We don’t write chronologically. It’s not unusual for me to write the end first—or sometimes the middle. I write when my characters have something to say, and I’m not in charge of what that is. The thing about that is, when you get it all put together into a single story, just like the jigsaw puzzle, you want to be able to see all the detail in the story and it should be cohesive—seamless. (I know I keep using that word, but it’s really important.) I’ve read books (some of which have sat on the NYT list, so what do I know) that just felt like a bunch of scenes strung together. Each scene was separate and had a specific function—to introduce a character or plot twist, or to move the plot along—but there was no sense of cohesiveness to the story. I find that a frustrating read. Any of us can write a fabulous scene. Most of us can write several fabulous scenes. But, if you were to take those and just slap them together, it wouldn’t necessarily make a great book. There’s an art to writing a seamless story that holds together and flows effortlessly for the reader.

So, that’s my two cents on the matter. For those of you who write, what do you look for when critiquing?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Most EPIC fan gift!

This is a late post today, but one of my readers just gave me the most EPIC gift and I wanted to share the love. Katie at Call Me Crazy YA Book Reviews (@CallMeCrazy on Twitter) is part of the Personal Demons Twitter Mafia (along with Momo at @BooksOverBoys). She just posted this on her blog:

I love music, and I love Frannie, Gabe and Luc, so this is perfect. It's especially fitting because a few of these songs are on the Original Sin and The Novel Formerly Known as Hellbent playlists. Check it out. :p

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The deal with foreign rights (reprise)

The really great news is that I am so close to being ready to send the novel formerly known as Hellbent off to my amazing critique partner. The bad news is that I'm obsessing and don't have time to come up with anything fresh for the blog. So...last week I took you through all the machinations that a manuscript goes through between the book deal and the shelves. In honor of Personal Demons sale this week in Turkey, I'm recycling my post on foreign translation rights sales. I was totally clueless about foreign rights until I went through the process. So, for those of you who want to know, here's my 3/25/10 post on the topic:

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is this week in, you guessed it, Bologna. My stomach is there, even though my body isn’t. There’s no better food to be had anywhere on the planet, and the Bolognaise are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

This week, publishers and agents descend on the lovely Bologna to hawk their wares—or, in other words, to sell foreign rights to their children’s books. We’ll be hearing about a lot of foreign rights deals on children’s, MG and YA books in the days/weeks following Bologna.

When my agency went on foreign rights submission with my book a few weeks back, the whole foreign rights thing had me completely baffled. I had no clue how that process worked. But since then, I’ve gained some insight, and, for those of you as clueless as me, I’d like to pass it along.

So, in honor of the Bologna Book Fair, and my growling stomach, here is the little bit of knowledge that I can impart to others in my position. Keep in mind that this is all wrapped up in a fairly simplistic nutshell.

First, who sells foreign rights to your book depends wholly on who owns them, and that’s determined at the time of your initial book deal with your US publisher.

World rights:
If your contract is for world rights, then your publisher owns ALL the rights to your book, including translation, so it’s up to them to submit to ALL foreign publishers. The portion of whatever advance on royalties they are able to negotiate that goes to you is dictated by your contract with them (usually on a percentage basis). If your US publisher has paid you an advance, your percentage of your foreign advances will be applied to earning out your advance with them. Any additional royalties will be paid to you at the negotiated percentage and disclosed in your normal royalty statement from your US publisher. In other words, the foreign publisher pays your US publisher and they pass along your percentage.

World English:
If your contract is for world English rights, then YOU own all translation rights, so it’s up to your agent to submit to foreign publishers for translation. Your publisher owns rights to English editions, which would include the UK and Australia, so they will submit to publishers there and the same terms apply to those sales as described above. Any translation sales your agent is able to make are totally separate from your US publisher, and any advance and royalties will come directly from the foreign publisher.

North American:
If your contract is for North American rights, then you own ALL foreign rights to your book and your agent will submit to ALL foreign publishers. In this instance, all advances and royalties will come directly from the foreign publishers and your US publisher is in no way involved.

Michael Stearns, from Upstart Crow, recently posted on the benefits of holding on to subsidiary rights. There are benefits to either scenario, really. It is often easier to negotiate a better deal with your US publisher if you concede to world rights, especially for a debut author, so you and your agent need to decide what’s in the best interest of your book.

Hope this helps some of you lost in the foreign rights jungle to see the light.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's in a name?

A rose by any other name...
Dovetailing off my Friday post about titles, I thought I’d take it a step further and look at character names. Personal Demons all started with a name: Lucifer Cain. Luc’s name popped into my head one day not quite two years ago, and I thought, What a fun name for a demon. I mean, honestly, can you think of a more cliché name for a demon? I can’t. So it just flowed from there that my angel should be Gabriel. No last name. Just Gabriel. Because, after all, what could be more cliché. (Are you seeing a pattern?) Frannie’s name, on the other hand, is anything but typical for a current day 17 year old. Her name also popped into my head and stuck there. Frannie certainly isn’t my favorite name. It’s nothing I’d ever name a daughter. She even tells Luc at one point in Personal Demons that she hates her name. When I wrote that line it struck me that my main character may be trying to tell me that wasn’t really her name. I toyed with changing it at that point and tried a few other names out, but none of them felt right. In the end, Frannie is Frannie and there’s nothing either she or I could do about it.

It started me thinking about some of my favorite fictional names. I tend to like literary names that are different and interesting, but roll off the tongue. Some of my favorites are Henry DeTamble from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Wesley Rush from Kody Keplenger’s The Duff, Renier Laroche from Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, and Camden Saybrook from Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. (I know those are only guy's names, but I honestly couldn’t think of any girl’s names I really love off the top of my head.) Some of my least favorite fictional names (although I totally love the series) are Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne from The Hunger Games. I think it boils down to a lack of rhythm to the name.

So, how about you? What are some of your favorites or least favorites? If you write, how do you choose your fictional names?

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's in a title? (reprise)

Many of you have heard me lament on Twitter about the novel formerly known as Hellbent, and many of you have asked about the new title. Though Hellbent was a very fitting title for the third book in the Personal Demons trilogy, I came up with it before I knew for sure where the book was going, so changing it is not the end of the world. Now that I have a working draft, and know the end, I’ve come up with some others I like. They all have their issues, though, so I’m going to wait till I know what sticks to announce it. In the meantime, keep the suggestions coming. Some suggestions I’ve gotten, though not perfect for the title, are being used for chapter headings. If you’ve read Personal Demons, you know I title every chapter, and it’s always something Heaven/Hell/angel/demon related. Every chapter heading is fresh (never reused) so, for the three books, I need at least 70 unique chapter titles. I’m always happy for the suggestions.

So, as I’m still madly revising the novel formerly known as Hellbent, for my post today, I’m rerunning a post from last January about titles and coming up with the perfect one. Here goes:

Titles can be really easy or insanely hard, I’ve discovered. Sometimes there’s a word or phrase that perfectly captures the essence of your literary masterpiece. And, if you’re really lucky, it just pops into your head one day. That was the case for me with Personal Demons (which, at the moment, looks like it's going to stick) and book 2 in the series, Original Sin. (I think they came from Orlando--my Muse.) I had to work a little harder for book 3, which at the moment carries a working title of Hell-bent. (still not sure about that one)

But what do you do when the perfect title doesn’t come? What if your perfect title is already taken? And, does it even matter?

My personal take, having been through the whole agent/editor thing, it that a catchy title can go a long way to capturing the “right” peoples’ attention. You want something intriguing and in tune with the spirit of your book. If you’ve written a cute and innocent coming of age story, you don’t want some racy title. If your book is humorous, try to reflect that. For darker works of fantasy, find a darkish title.

I find phrases and concepts in music and on street signs…sometimes where I least expect them. If you’re really struggling, listen to your favorite songs, paying attention to the lyrics, or go on B& and browse titles that are already out there. You may find a keyword or idea that sparks your perfect title.

And along those lines, if your perfect title has already been used, I say use it anyway. (Unless it’s already been OVER used, or is Twilight) If the other book is older, or in a completely different genre, you can sometimes get away with duplicate titles. That’s really up to your publisher to decide. So don’t shortchange your book in the query and submission process by settling for a less than perfect title just because someone beat you to it.

That said, don’t get too attached to your title, because it frequently changes once you have an editor and is on its way to publication.

Some titles I think do a great job of catching interest and conveying the flavor of the book:
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

What titles are you thinking about for your WIP? What are some of your favorites?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How you find out all the ways you screwed your book up (reprise)

I’m back! Thanks to Frannie, Luc and Gabe for the guest posts over the last three days. I’ve got lots going on. My crit partner and agent are waiting on the novel formerly known as Hellbent, which I was hard at work revising.
Yes, that’s Gabe’s first POV =)

My agent is also waiting for wrinkly contracts:

And my editor is waiting on first pass pages for Original Sin, which I am busy marking up.
That’s why they make red pens, yes?

And, a whole bunch of you are waiting on signed galleys and books I was supposed to send weeks ago:
Sorry! They’re coming! I promise.

So, since I’m out of characters for guest posts, I’m going to rerun a post that’s pertinent to my current situation. I first ran it in July and many of you said it was helpful. For those of you who have always wondered about the revising and editing process a book goes through before it hits the shelves, here it is. Without further ado, here's my July post on all the ways you find out you screwed up your book:

I've been neck deep in Original Sin revisions for the past few weeks. And being neck deep in...well, you know, got me thinking about how much I've learned about the publishing process in the last seven months since my book deal. I belong to a really cool group of debut authors, The Elevensies, and we ask each other all kinds of stuff, because, for most of us, it's all a big mystery until it falls in our lap. And by it, I mean whatever the next step in the process is.
So, here's my rundown from book deal to shelves in a nutshell. Understand that there are variations between publishers and differences in nomenclature, but these are the basic steps in getting the actual manuscript ready to put out into the world.

Step one: Write a Book
You've gotta write something that someone wants to publish. Without that...well...

Step two: Revisions
Your editor reads your manuscript (usually more than once) and provides you with an editorial letter. I've heard other authors say they were shocked when they got their letter. One of the funniest stories I've heard is Margie Stohl's. She likes to tell the story of when they got their editorial letter for Beautiful Creatures and Kami was sure it was a mistake because their editor had told them how much she loved it. No matter how much your editor loves your manuscript, they WILL ask for some changes. Sometimes the changes are big and relate to pacing or plot. You may need to pull your manuscript apart and put it back together (aka: revising with a chainsaw). Other times it's smaller points such as character development or consistency. DO NOT BE SHOCKED when you get your letter. Average editorial letters, from what I've been able to glean, are usually between 5 and 10 pages, single-spaced. (My OS letter is 6) And that's when your editor LOVES your manuscript.

Step three: Line edits
Once you've turned your revised manuscript in to your editor, she/he will go through a line edit. Here, they'll ask you to clean up any lingering issues, fix smaller things like grammar and punctuation, and, if you're me, make you take out all your em dashes. Hi Melissa. =) *waves* Some editors do this hardcopy, others, electonically in Word using track changes. That all depends on their preference.

Step four: Copy edits
Once that's done, your manuscript "goes to production." That means it goes out to a copyeditor, who does a...well...copyedit. Copyedit is basically a more thorough line edit. This is when your manuscript becomes a study in red. Red ink EVERYWHERE. The copyeditor will pick out all the typos, make you fix your grammar, and also look for consistency throughout the manuscript. So if you spelled Marc Marc in chapter 1 and Mark in chapter 3, they're supposed to catch that, as well as any dangling subplots that need cleaning up after revisions. They will also mark spacing and punctuation for the typesetter. This is generally the last chance to make any major changes to the manuscript.

Step five: First pass pages
This is totally fun, but a little scary. It's when you get to see the typeset pages just as they will appear in your published book. It is also pretty final. You can fix typos or the occasional grammatical issue, but you can't add or cut a scene, or change the text significantly. So hopefully, between you, your editor and your copyeditor, you didn't drop the ball and majorly screw something up.

Step six: ARCs
You usually get these six-ish months pre-publication (for YA). This is basically your book. It usually has your cover art and everything. Usually there is still time to fix typos before the print run for your finished copies.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gabe's Guest Post

Lisa has me batting cleanup this week while she edits Hellbent. Took me a while to air the brimstone out of here after Luc’s post yesterday, but I think we’re good to go now. If any of you wanted to ask anything about…well…anything, I’m happy to answer. Just post your questions below and I’ll add the answers to this post.

For my guest blog, I was going to post the long list of reasons Frannie should choose Heaven over Hell, but then I realized she’d probably flip me over her head or something. Instead, I’m going to post this interview Luc and I recently did with the incredibly talented Andrea Cremer. Take it away, Andrea...

In case you didn't already know it, I have a fabulous critique partner, Lisa Desrochers. Lisa and I met at the San Francisco Writers' Conference in February 2009, decided to start swapping our drafts and within the year we both had book deals!! I'm still reeling at our good fortune and am always grateful that I have such a wonderful writer and friend in Lisa.

Lisa's debut, Personal Demons, is smokin. I'm thrilled to have two of the book's stars - Luc (a demon) and Gabe (an angel) - stopping by for an interview today.

Me (looks at Luc and Gabe, fans self): Ummmm, is it getting hot in here?

Gabe (jerks thumb at Luc): You’ll have to take that up with him.

Me (coughs, hurrying to change the subject): So, guys, the holidays are coming up – what’s on your wish list this year?

Luc (smirks): Frannie, over easy.

Gabe (rolls eyes): There’s the Christmas spirit. (smiles at Andrea) It’d be horribly cliché to say peace on Earth and goodwill toward man, wouldn’t it? So, I’ll just settle for Frannie’s soul.

Luc (glares at Gabe): Shouldn’t you be impaled on the top of someone’s Christmas tree?

Me (beaming at Gabe, too nervous to sneak a glance at Luc): Time to be nice - Luc, I know you’re going to hate this – what’s one trait you admire in each other?

Luc (raises eyebrow at Andrea): Seriously?

Gabe: You’re complaining?

Luc: I am.

Gabe: I’ll start. Luc is…creative.

Luc (barks out a laugh): That’s the best you could do?

Gabe: It’s better than “seriously?

Luc (looks back at Andrea): See what I have to put up with? Okay. Give me a second… Gabe is…bright.

Gabe (throws up hands): You admire my brightness?

Luc (shoots a glare at Gabe): What do you want from me?

Gabe: I guess a reasonable answer is too much to hope for?

Luc (slumps in chair): Fine. He’s loyal, I suppose.

Gabe (nods): And Luc is courageous…when he wants to be.

Me: Okay...I guess we’ll give naughty a spin too. What have you done lately that might make Santa skip your house?

Gabe: Can I plead the fifth?

Luc (smiles at Andrea): I’ll give you his list. He’s been up to all kinds of very questionable angelic conquests, such as trying to get into Frannie’s—

Gabe (holds up hand): Whoa, there, brimstone-breath. I have done absolutely nothing outside my scope as a Dominion.

Luc: Except kissing Frannie.

Gabe: How do you know about that?

Luc: She told me.

Gabe (shifts in seat) (looks at Andrea): He, on the other hand, would have a much easier time answering the question: Have you done anything in all your pathetic existence to redeem your sorry demonic butt?

Luc (crosses arms): I have.

Gabe: Such as?

Luc: I can’t see how that’s any of your business, and this isn’t your interview. (Turns to Andrea) Santa has plenty of reasons to skip my house and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Me (tries not to blush while Luc keeps looking my way): Uh...moving along...since I love philosophy, let’s wax thoughtful for a moment. We’ll be seeing you again soon in a book titled, Original Sin. What’s your take on that concept?

Luc: Depending on which belief system you buy into, original sin can be interpreted in any number of different ways, all of which work for me. Whether you look at it as the specific sin of Adam and Eve that lead to the fall of man, or the more Catholic doctrine that it’s the general state of sin that all men are born into, it means that man will always sin and I will always benefit.

Gabe: No. It means that sometimes man sins—

Luc (smirking): And so do angels.

Gabe (shaking head): The concept of original sin is founded in Christian doctrine. In reality, it’s not nearly as cut and dry as organized religion would like to make it seem. Man has free will. What that means is they are free to make their own choices. There are temptations—

Luc (grinning): Tell me about it…

Gabe (glaring at Luc): and sometimes man falls prey to them. In the end, a man’s conscience is going to dictate how he deals with those temptations, but I don’t buy that man, in his true essence, is born to sin.

Luc (leans forward and smiles wickedly): How about you, Andrea? Up for a little original sin?

Me (holds Luc's gaze for a moment, stands up, bolts because I'd prefer to hang on to my soul) (calls over shoulder): Thanks for stopping by you guys! Merry Christmas!!! Say hi to Lisa for me!

Wow - that was...intense...ummm.....remind me to bring a chaperone next time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Luc's guest post

Lisa bribed me with her soul to do a guest post today because she’s still editing Hellbent. Frannie pointed out that it was really unfair of me to make that deal since Lisa's soul was already headed our direction, but I’m really not all that concerned with being fair. It just made sense to cement it.

Anyway, I’m not much for guest posts, but I got a chance to make Lisa squirm interview Lisa a few months back when she was doing a guest post. Although I’m not a Creature of Sloth, I do believe in efficiency, so, for my post, I’m re-running that interview here. If you have questions for me, post them in comments and I’ll post answers when I get around to it.

Addendum: One brave soul has asked a question.
Sunlight Shadows wants to know: "Out of all the Creatures of Sin, which are your least favorite to deal with, and why?"
Creatures of Pride are superior to all others. Creatures of Wrath can’t chill long enough to get anything done, the Greedy sit around and pine for what they don’t have, and the Envious pine for what others have, the Gluttonous are too busy gorging themselves, and don’t even get me started on the Lazy. Sloth is the worst. They’re totally useless. Each of them is repulsive in their own way.

Here is Lisa's guest post from Paranormal Point of View. Arrivederci.

When Paranormal Point of View asked me to put together a guest post for the blog, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was thinking maybe something about the writing process and how Personal Demons came to be.
But then Luc, my demon and one of my narrators from Personal Demons, told me that idea was boring. What he actually said is that I’m boring. He insisted on conducting an interview to liven up the post. I’ve agreed to do it, but I’m wondering if I’ve made a mistake, because, as I sit here staring at him across the table, it feels like he has an agenda.
Luc: Everyone is writing angel books these days. *stares hard at me*
Me: Um…yeah…?
Luc: So?
Me: *beginning to sweat* So…?
Luc: So why did you write a demon book.
Me: Um… *clears throat* Well…Personal Demons is sort of an angel book—in a way…
Luc: *leans forward as eye narrow* It’s called Personal DEMONS, not Personal Angels. It’s a demon book.
Me: *drops gaze* I suppose it is.
Luc: In the other books, it seems that the *air quotes* demons are often fallen angels. Why didn’t you make me a fallen angel?
Me: Because you aren’t. *glances up to gage reaction*
Luc: *smiles smugly* No. I’m most definitely not. *pushes foot against table and tips chair back* Why did you decide to make me different?
Me: *starting to relax a little* Well, actually you decided that. You’re the one telling the story—well, you and Frannie.
Luc: *smiles*
Me: I’m just the poorly paid help with the laptop. And, while we’re on the subject, could you two talk a little slower. I can’t keep up with your conversations.
Luc: *lowers chair legs to the ground* You should be happy we let you listen in at all. Don’t push your luck.
Me: *drops gaze again* You’re right. Sorry.
Luc: *slouches back in chair* So, my origin is actually pretty interesting. How did you come up with the concept of demons being borne of sin?
Me: Well…your name, Lucifer Cain, popped into my head one day and I went on-line to research the story of Cain and Abel. I found an article that talked about the origin of sin. The phrase “creatures of sin” kept coming up and, as I flipped that over in my mind it occurred to me that, in my fictional Hell, there could be actual creatures of sin. In your case, you were borne of Pride.
Luc: *glares at me*
Me: *sinks deeper into chair*
Luc: Why did you make me a Creature of Pride?
Me: *snorts* You’re joking, right?
Luc: *glares harder at me*
Me: *thinking this interview was a really bad idea* *nearly slides off the chair under the table*
Luc: Where did you get the idea for me to work in Acquisitions?
Me: *takes a deep breath* I knew you were coming after Frannie’s soul, so where else would you work?
Luc: *drums fingers on tabletop* I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense.
Me: *nods and blows out a relieved breath*
Luc: Did you know I’d fall for Frannie? *scrutinizes me with narrow eyes*
Me: *straightening in my chair and trying not to let him see me shake* I had a pretty good idea…
Luc: *leans forward, eyes flashing red* You knew that the cherub would too.
Me: *squirming in chair* I knew there was a chance that Gabe would be drawn to her.
Luc: *through gritted teeth* And I suppose your going to tell me there was nothing you could do about that.
Me: *shrugging without looking at him* Poorly paid help. Laptop. Remember…?
Luc: *blows out tense sigh* Then you also know it’s only a matter of time before I take him out.
Me: *shrugging again* That’s between you and him.
Luc: *nods, satisfied* So you won’t get in the way?
Me: *wiggling fingers in the air* Help… Laptop…
Luc: Good. *leans back again* So, there’s nothing you can to about Frannie?
Me: Um…how so?
Luc: *fixes me in a hard gaze*
Me: *shaking head* You know she doesn’t listen to me either.
Luc: She’s going to get herself killed. *eyes darken*
Me: Then it probably wouldn’t be in her best interest for you to take Gabe out…
Luc: *pushes glowing fist across table* Are you saying he can keep her safer than I can?
Me: *sweating again* I’m saying it may take both of you.
Luc: *sighs deeply* *tucks hand into pocket* I know you’re right, but Gabriel? *grimaces* Of all the slimy celestials they could have sent…
Me: *shrugs* So, any chance there might be a truce?
Luc: *glowing eyes snap to mine* This is my interview. I ask the questions.
Me: *holding up hands* Sorry. So what else do you want to know?
Luc: *eyes lock on mine* What’s going to happen in Original Sin?
Me: Lots of stuff.
Luc: *smirks* Could you be a little more specific?
Me: Well, there are more angels…
Luc: *rolls eyes*
Me: And demons!
Luc: Great. And I suppose they come for Frannie?
Me: King Lucifer still wants her, so…yeah.
Luc: *blows out a sigh* You’re not going to make this easy on me, are you?
Me: *lifts hands and wiggle fingers again* Laptop…
Luc: Yeah, right. *stands abruptly* If you’re not going to be any more helpful than that, I’m gone.
Me: *relieved* Okay, so, we’re done?
Luc: *smiles, amused* I’ve got history homework.
Me: *cracks up despite myself* Yeah, right.
Luc: *turns for the door* See ya, Laptop.
Me: *wondering if I’ll ever live that down*

Monday, January 10, 2011

Frannie's guest post

Hi everyone! Frannie here. Lisa is editing the novel formerly known as Hellbent this week, so she’s asked Luc, Gabe and I to fill in with guest posts so she can work. Today is my day, so if any of you have questions for me, post them in comments and I’ll add them to this post with answers. In the meantime, I thought I’d post an interview I did with Luc and Gabe for Mr. Snyder’s English class. And, can I point out that getting these guys to behave themselves was apparently too much to hope for. Anyway, here it is. Make of it what you will. (From Fallen Archangel)

My name is Frannie Cavanaugh and I’m a senior at Hades—I mean Haden High. Mr. Snyder assigned an interview for English class. He said we could interview anyone, real or fictional. I’m interviewing Luc and Gabe and I’ll leave it up to him decide which they are, real or not.

Me: First off, how did you both know the deal with me. I didn’t even know the deal with me…
Gabe: *raises an eyebrow and quirks half a smile* Either did Mr. Arrogant. *tips his head at Luc*

Luc: *glares at Gabe* What featherface means to say is that we have our ways.

Gabe: *leans back in chair* And my ways are far superior to his ways. *smirks*

Luc: *red lightning crackles over knuckles*

Me: Okay. *panicking a little* Play nice. I was just asking. So…tell me about how you guys met.

Luc: *barks out a laugh* Go ahead, Gabriel. Fill her in.

Gabe: *shifts in chair as eyes narrow* He *juts his chin toward Luc* shows up in Pompeii after Vesuvius, thinking he’s all that. Going to collect all these souls—

Luc: *laughs again* No, idiot. The first time. *leans in and winks* You’ll have to excuse him. Brain damage from breathing all that ozone. What he meant to say was that I kicked his ass in the Colosseum.

Gabe: Stop telling her what I mean. *shakes head*

Me: Hold up! Did you say Colosseum? As in Rome?

Luc: I did. *eyes flash* *slow grin* And I also said I kicked his ass.

Gabe: *rolls eyes* In your dreams.

Luc: If memory serves me, I left the Colosseum under my own power.

Gabe: You don’t think Caesar would have thought it a bit strange that I should get up and walk out—

Luc: *grinning*—after I kicked your ass? Yeah, that might have raised suspicion.

Gabe: *glares again*

Me: Okay! Okay…I got it. So…changing the subject…what are your respective jobs in Heaven and Hell.

Luc: I work in—

Gabe: I believe she said Heaven first, dude. But I’m sure with your limited intellectual capacity, that flew right over your head.

Luc: *leans back and laces fingers behind head* I assumed it was an oversight.

Gabe: *turns his back to Luc* I’m a Protector of the Second Sphere. It’s my job to protect innocent people…*leans forward and covers my hand with his* special people…from him *jerks head toward Luc* and his kind.

Luc: …and, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I work in Acquisitions—mostly in high school. I get them going on the little ones. Starter sins, if you will. Not enough to tag their souls for Hell, but enough to send them in our direction eventually.

Me: Sounds…interesting…

Luc: *smiles wickedly* It has it’s perks.

Gabe: *rolls eyes*

Me: So, I’m still not really sure what the big deal is and why you both want to tag my soul, but what will happen if you fail?

Luc: *shifts uncomfortably in his chair* *eyes flash* I never fail.

Me: Okay, but hypothetically, if you did…

Luc: *shifts again and won’t look at me* I’d spend eternity burning in the Fiery Pit.

Me: That sounds…not good.

Gabe: *scowls at Luc* You’re a demon. How bad can it be?

Me: What about you? *turns toward Gabe* What would happen if Luc wins?

Gabe: *staring hard into my eyes* The end of the world as you know it.

Me: *clears throat and squirms a little* Oh… Is that all… *clears throat again* Okay, so…last question. Can you guys, like, read minds, and transport and stuff like that?

Gabe: One of us can read minds, *smiles smugly* and it’s not brimstone breath.

Luc: *glares at Gabe* But we both can transport. *eyes shift to me* And one of us can possess people, *grins* which, really, is much more fun than reading minds.

Me: *trying hard not to think of anything totally embarrassing* Oh…okay…well, that’s all I had, so—

Luc: *pushed back from table* *holds hand out to me* Let’s go.

Gabe: *stands* *glares at Luc* Not going to happen.

Me: *splits a glare between them* I’m not going anywhere. Gotta write this interview up.

Luc: *grabs my wrist* *glares at Gabe* She’s coming with me.

Gabe: *grabs my other arm* Not even in your dreams.

Luc: Back off. *shoves glowing red fist in Gabe’s face*

Me: *shakes off Gabe’s hand* *grabs Luc’s arm* *throws Luc over my shoulder onto the floor* *glares down at him* Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Luc: *stands* *glares at Gabe* *storms out*

Gabe: Later. *follows Luc out*

Me: *rolls eyes* Well, that was fun.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Revelations

First, because I just remembered it, if you're in the Santa Cruz, CA area, come out to a panel/signing I'm doing at the Capitola Book Cafe tomorrow at 6:30! I'll have swag and maybe even a Original Sin galley to give away. =)

So, New Year’s Resolutions. I don't do them. It just gives me one more way I can disappoint myself when I don't keep them. Because, invariably, I don't. I'm not much for rules or discipline. I pretty much do what I want. So it seems a little silly to set some arbitrary rule for myself in the form of a resolution. Instead, I have occasional New Year's Revelations.

Two years ago, I'd just started writing. I'd spent all of November writing and made the rookie mistake of querying a novel that wasn't polished before Christmas. I fell over when I got what I asked for: two manuscript requests. Of course, the instant the requests came in, I knew my mss was nowhere near ready and revised like a crazy person all through Christmas. The thing is, when I'm writing, the characters sort of possess me (literally, when it comes to Luc) so, sadly, I tend to neglect everything else, including my family. Consequently, this was my 2009 New Years Revelation:

Writing is like heroin. When you’re doing it you’re flying and when you’re not it’s all you can think about, but no good can ever come of it and in the end it will ruin your life.
Then, my awesome crit partner, Andrea Cremer, proved my revelation wrong by getting an agent in the spring and selling Nightshade to Penguin in August. On top of that smack in the face to my revelation, in July I queried Personal Demons, which I wrote in Feb and March, and a whole bunch of agents wanted it. It was like lightning striking a winning 50 million dollar lottery ticket--twice. Then, lightning struck again when PD sold at auction just before Christmas last year. That shot my New Year’s Revelation all to hell. So, last year, my new New Year’s Revelation was more along the lines of:

Sometimes crazy sh*t happens.

This has been a wild year. Personal Demons was published, and someone other than my mother actually bought it. A lot of you have told me through email or reviews how much you liked it. Original Sin is written and ready to go. I’ve made a ton of new friends in readers, bloggers and other authors. And my family is happy and healthy. In other words, I’ve been blessed, and it’s in a large part because of all of you. Something else I’ve discovered this year is that, it might take a little longer, but I can write a book (Hellbent) without neglecting my friends (you) and my family. Yesterday was my birthday, and I’ve realized each one comes faster than the last. So this year, my New Year’s Revelation is:

At the end of the day, if I can’t remember the beginning of the day, I forgot to live that day.

No resolution, but more of an insight.

How about you? What did 2010 teach you?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Frannie, Luc and Gabe will be answering questions

Hi everyone! I'm stopping in today to answer all the fabulous questions you asked in comments on my December Debut Contest post. Since I'm in my writing cocoon these days and I don't have any burning material to post, I thought I'd put Frannie, Luc and Gabe up to the task of keeping my blog up to date. If you have any questions for any of them, post them in comments. Frannie will answer spoiler-free questions Monday, Luc on Tuesday and Gabe on Wednesday.

Here are your answers from boring ole me:

Lynsey: How come Gabe is in the foreground whereas Luc is in the background? It smacks of drama and tension. Has Luc fallen out of grace with Frannie?
You’ll have to read to find out…

Vicki: So I was wondering, did you do much research into angels/demons for the books? Or did you just have the characters take you along for the ride?
Both. I read a ton of angel and demon lore with emphasis on hierarchies as I was building Luc and Gabe’s histories and worlds, but from there, the characters were in charge.

Vivien: Who do you love more Gabe or Luc?
You’re joking, right?

Momo: I was wondering if OS is in Frannie and Gabe's pov?
There are three POVs in Original Sin. That’s all I’ll say…

Grace: How did you come up with the idea for Personal Demons?
I was listening to one of my favorite bands, Saving Abel, and reading their bio where they say they got there name from a biblical quote from the story of Cain and Abel “There was no saving Abel.” The name Lucifer Cain popped into my head and I thought that sounded like a fun name for a demon. Then he started telling me his story and I started writing it down.

germaine.dulac: Did you do any research before writing the books? And if so, was there anything you learned that surprised you?
There were some things I learned that surprised me, but I can’t tell you what those were because I turned them into my biggest plot twists. ;p

Celeste: What is writing for you? What does writing feel like to you? I've heard some authors say is a high, others describe it as some kind of feeling of peace.
For me, most of the time, it’s pretty frantic, because my characters talk too fast and I can’t type fast enough to get it all down. ;p It really is sort of a crazy process for me, because I’m serious. I’m at my laptop every free second when I’m in the midst of a novel, and it’s not peaceful, or a high. It’s…well…obsessive.

Michelle: Was it hard to write from the perspectives of the 2 different characters, or did you find that it just came to you naturally?
That’s how they told me the story. I write what they say—just the poorly paid help with the laptop.

Alyssa: How was writing Original Sin different from Personal Demons?
It wasn’t really. Those two books flowed from the characters. I wrote each of them in about two months, and I wrote them both before PD sold, so the process and my mind set were the same. Hellbent is another story. (Literally ;p) It has taken me much longer. Wrapping up a trilogy when you don’t write with an outline is a trick.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Awesome books for 2011

I already told you about the five 2011 books I'd pimp myself to get, but there are so many more than five books my mouth is watering for. So, here's a little feast for the eyes. This is the new Elevensies trailer featuring some of those YA and MG 2011 debuts that are on the horizon. Enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

December Debut and SECOND EVER Original Sin ARC winner!

Happy 2011 everyone! Hope your New Year has gotten off to a bang!

Mine started with this: 

That’s an envelope that was delivered by UPS onto my front steps while I was away. Had they left it on the actual front porch, which has an overhang, it would have stayed dry, but I guess that was too much to hope for. So it was very, very wet. And so was everything inside, which turned out to be my Polish contracts. O_O

They are now very wrinkly—and that’s after I dried and ironed them. I hope my lovely Polish publisher won’t hold it against me.

What was not on my porch was my box of Original Sin ARCs =( I was expecting it to be there when I got home on Thursday, and now I’m a little worried they’re off in post-holiday UPS limbo-land somewhere. Fingers crossed that they get here sometime today.

So much for all my UPS related lamenting. Now for the reason you’re all here: BOOKS! One of those lost-in-transition ARCs was up for grabs along with a copy of Personal Demons, in my December Debut Contest. Thanks for all your enthusiasm! There were so many entries I broke the randomizer! (Kidding—but there were a lot!) This is a little bit sad for me, because it’s no longer my debut year, so December’s contest is my very last Debut Contest. I’ve had fun running my monthly contests, and will have plenty this year too, but the Debut Contest are special to me, and I’ll miss sponsoring them.

So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The winner of the December Debut and Second Ever Original Sin ARC Contest is:

Tawni Ann!!!