Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cover Reveal: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare





Cover Reveal Celebration + Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by MG Buehrlen


It’s time to PAR-TAY!

Today we’re celebrating the cover reveal for THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE by MG Buehrlen with a giveaway! I've been bffs with MG for years, and I read this book before it was finished and LOVED it with a passion that even eclipses my love of Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch. I'm so proud of MG and of this book, and I love the cover! It perfectly captures the dark, twisty plot. Ready to see what this book is all about? Let's do this!


BONUS POINTS: Mention you saw the cover on my blog (when you fill out the giveaway form below) and you can earn extra entries!


Ready to see the cover? Here it is!

b2ap3_thumbnail_The57LivesOfAlexWayfare.jpg  

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare
by MG Buehrlen

US Release Date: March 4, 2014
UK Release Date: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry / Distributed by Random House
ISBN: 9781908844934


About the Book
One girl. Fifty-seven lives. Endless ways to die.
For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.
But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.
It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.
Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.
And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.

Pre-order The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare now!
Barnes & Noble|Books-a-Million|Amazon|Indiebound|The Book Depository


About the Author
mgbuehrlen
When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director. She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website YABooksCentral.com, a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers.

These are the places you’ll find M.G. hiding: in her creaky old house nestled in Michigan pines, sipping coffee on her porch, cooking over campfires, and dipping her toes in creeks. Say hello to M.G. on TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.



Giveaway Details

One winner from each participating blog (10 total) will receive signed bookmarks and stickers.

One grand prize winner will receive a copy of the book (once available) as well as the Mega 57 LIVES Character Prize Pack (each item pertaining to a significant character in the book):

- A pair of black Wayfarer glasses, like Alex wears
- A pack of chocolate pudding cups, courtesy of Jensen
- Vintage piano sheet music for the song Star Dust, the song Nick plays for Alex
- An orange Baltimore Orioles cap, like Porter wears
- A pair of engraved Polygon game piece stones (You’ll have to read the book to find out how these come into play!)
- A YABooksCentral.com tote bag
- Signed bookmarks and stickers

This giveaway is open internationally. Winners will be chosen and notified by email within 30 days of the giveaway end date.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Extra entries can be earned by following the bloggers involved in the Cover Reveal Celebration.



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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Exciting DEFIANCE News!

I'm super excited to announce that Harper Impulse will be publishing an e-novella in the DEFIANCE world in Spring/Summer 2014! I've been hoping I could tell this story since I sold the trilogy, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity. And I think those of you who have read DECEPTION are going to be really excited for this story, too. ;D Quinn has earned a special place in my readers' hearts! Ready for a story from Quinn's point of view?

Here you go!


A thrilling, dangerous adventure, this prequel novella to C.J. Redwine’s Defiance and Deception features Quinn, a popular character from the series.

Quinn Runningbrook knows a hundred ways to kill a man and make it hurt. He can track, ambush, and torture his prey with terrifying skill—just like his father taught him. But every kill consumes another piece of him, and Quinn longs to stop, to save himself and his sister Willow from becoming like his father—a man who kills for entertainment.

But when Quinn refuses to torture a group of trespassers caught too close to the Tree Village where his family lives, and instead kills them quickly, he disobeys a direct order from his father . . . and Willow is forced to do it instead. Suddenly, Quinn isn’t the favored apprentice to the family business of “protecting” the Tree Village anymore. Willow is.

When Jared Adams—a courier from the nearby city-state of Baalboden—is caught traveling too close to their borders, Willow is ordered to torture him for information. But Quinn knows that Jared doesn’t deserve torture or death. And he realizes he has to take action…or the fate chosen for Willow and himself by their father will remain carved in stone.


Of course, an announcement like this wouldn't be complete without a fun giveaway, right? So, I'm offering a free e-copy of OUTCAST to one of my readers as soon as the novella becomes available. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Bad Culinary Decision

A few days ago, on a whim, I bought a bag of Lay's Potato Chips in their new Chicken and Waffles flavor. I figured my kids (who love both chicken and waffles) would enjoy it, and I was curious to see how Lay's managed to deliver this flavor via a potato chip.

Worst.

Decision.

Ever.

The taste can't decide if its chicken, waffles, or some terrible hybrid of the two that ends up just tasting like syrup-drenched roadkill. And the aftertaste? Holy Noxious Swill, Batman! Soooo bad. And it just does NOT fade.

Even my boys, who will eat anything and who regularly come up with concoctions no sane person would eat (Chocolate sauce and gummy bears in a rootbeer float, for example. Or pouring the ramen seasoning packet over the UNCOOKED noodles and munching on it for hours.) wouldn't eat more than one chip.


Basically, eating a single Lay's Chicken and Waffles potato chip looks like this:




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DEFIANCE just $1.99!



Yay! DEFIANCE is just $1.99 in e-book form until August 12th! Visit my book page to find links to your fave online book retailer to grab your copy just in time to read before DECEPTION hits the shelves. :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Workshops for Writers

My fall online workshop schedule is posted, and registration is now open!  I'm excited to offer the following workshops:

QUERY 101: Learn how to write the kind of query letter (or jacket copy for indie authors) that will make agents, editors, and readers sit up and take notice. Includes an in-depth critique of your query. *Registration is limited.

HOW TO WRITE A KILLER SYNOPSIS:  Learn a simple method for turning your 80k novel into an interesting, two page synopsis without losing your mind.

PROMOTING A NEW RELEASE: Learn the ins and outs of promoting a new release, including a detailed six month plan, tools, and resources useful for debut authors, indie authors, or those who already have books on the shelves.

WRITER'S BOOT CAMP: An intensive two week course on the basics of plot, structure, pacing, and how to write a 70k draft in 7 weeks.

For more information on the courses, the dates, and the cost, head to my workshop site. I look forward to working with you!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

UNFETTERED ... for a great cause!

When some of the biggest names in the fantasy genre all come together on one project, readers sit up and pay attention. Especially when that project is for such a great cause.

You can read the full story here, but I'll give you a short recap: Shawn Speakman, Terry Brooks' webmaster, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2011 and doesn't have health insurance. He has accrued a massive medical debt while receiving treatment for his cancer. Terry and a huge list of other fantasy authors (Patrick Rothfuss, Lev Grossman, Robert Jordan, Carrie Vaughn and much, much more!) all decided to write an original short story for an anthology whose sales would all go toward paying off Shawn's medical bills.

There are a limited number of first editions! This anthology makes a fabulous addition to any fantasy library, and also makes a unique gift for the fantasy reader in your life. Plus, you get to help punch cancer in the face. It's a win-win!

Head to this site for more information, but take a look at that gorgeous cover. You know you want this.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The EPIC JOURNEYS Tour!

I am SO excited to announce the upcoming EPIC JOURNEYS tour featuring the incredibly talented Rae Carson (GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS trilogy) and myself.  Rae's books are lush, action-packed, emotionally-satisfying epic fantasies, and I can't wait to talk them up in person at each of these stops! (For more on Rae's books plus an amazing giveaway, visit her site!)


EPIC JOURNEYS tour dates:

8/27  NASHVILLE: Launch Day Party @ Parnassus Books, Time TBA

8/29 COLUMBUS: Cover to Cover 6:30 p.m.

8/30 INDIANAPOLIS: Barnes & Noble 6 p.m.

8/31 NAPERVILLE: Anderson's 2 p.m.


I hope to see you at one of these events! If you haven't yet read any of Rae's books, you're in for a treat! (Also, we might have treats from other authors to give away as well ...)


RAE'S LATEST BOOK, RELEASING 8/27:

Click here to read the synopsis


C.J.'S LATEST BOOK RELEASING 8/27:

Click here to read the synopsis



Monday, July 8, 2013

Mega DECEPTION ARC Giveaway!!

Hello, my fabulous readers!

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since DEFIANCE hit the shelves. So much has happened in that year, but the one thing that never fails to amaze me about it all is YOU.

You, who read my book and loved it. You, who told others to read it, too. Who bought it for friends or libraries. Who wrote reviews. Who eagerly talked to me about it and tried to get me to tell you spoilers for DECEPTION. ;D

I'm a big believer that having a diverse offering of books on the shelves is the best possible thing. Not every book is perfect for every reader. As an author, I'm not hoping that every reader will enjoy my books. I'm just looking for my tribe. The people who love my genre, like my writing, and want to live inside more of my stories.

This past year, many of you joined my tribe, and I thank you. I wish I had a super cool secret handshake to teach you, but that would probably just be awkward. So instead, I'm celebrating my awesome tribe of readers with a Mega DECEPTION ARC Giveaway!




You get an entry just for being the awesome reader that you are. All you have to do is leave a blog comment & take credit for it in the Rafflecopter widget! You get more entries for helping me spread the word about DEFIANCE and DECEPTION.

Please note (this is SUPER important to me) that the "post a review" entries are a) totally optional and b) require an honest review of DEFIANCE. If you loved it, great! Tell other readers why. If it was okay for you, tell them that. If you hated it, I'm not sure why you'd want an early copy of DECEPTION, but your opinion matters, and I only ask that you post honest reviews. :)

Let's get to the prizes, shall we? I am giving away three signed ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) of DECEPTION to three separate winners. I am also sending five personalized DECEPTION post cards out to five runner-up winners.

International entries are welcome.

The contest runs from today until July 22nd, 2013. Best of luck to all of you, and thank you so much for being one of my readers. You deserve magical unicorns and ninja kittens.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Authors are ROCKSTARS!: April Podcast

I was interviewed, and I share a deeply personal connection I have with my character Rachel (plus other goodies!).

Authors are ROCKSTARS!: CJ Redwine: April Podcast: All right, fantasy fans, get excited! We have an interview with Defiance author, CJ Redwine, for you. We had so much fun talking to CJ a...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Defiance goes to Brazil!

I'm excited to announce that my fabulous agent has sold the publishing rights for the Defiance trilogy to Novo Conceito in Brazil. Expect the first book to hit the shelves within the next two years. Yay!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Win an Annotated DECEPTION ARC!



I love many different types of art--music, poetry, photography, writing, movies--the list goes on and on. So many of Defiance's fans are incredibly creative in a variety of ways, and I want to celebrate that. So ... I'm giving away a very special ARC of DECEPTION!

What makes this ARC special? I've gone through it and written behind the scenes information, personal reactions, and little extra details all throughout the book. This is the only annotated copy in existence at the moment. :)

How do you win one? You get creative! To enter, you need to use your creativity to make a Defiance-related ... something. A poem from one of the character's perspectives. An illustration of a scene. A knitted Cursed One. Jewelry. Photos. Short stories. A video re-enacting a scene. A cake featuring a character.

It doesn't matter what you enter as long as it represents your creative take on Defiance. I'll use Rafflecopter to choose one winner of the annotated ARC and two runner-up winners who will each get a Deception postcard from me. Here's how to enter:

1. Make your entry.

2. Post your entry online. (Blog, Tumblr, Youtube etc)

3. Give me the link to your entry in the Rafflecopter entry form below.

4. Publicize your entry for extra points! (And feel free to send me the links on FB or Twitter so I can share them too!)

The contest is open from April 29 - May 15, 2013. The contest will close at midnight, May 15th EST. International entries are welcome.


**If the thought of entering a giveaway by creating something gives you hives, I will be hosting a giveaway of a regular ARC in a few weeks. :)



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Creation of an Effective Villain

One of the things I often hear from readers is that the Commander truly scares them. He's been called one of the worst villains in literature by several who've written to me, and this pleases me. Naturally, I live to scare my readers. *cue maniacal laughter*

Actually, I live to write effective stories, and that requires pushing my characters to their limits. If the villain isn't worthy of my heroes, then the story no longer matters. Readers don't sign on to read a story about characters who are kind of facing a few irksome problems that are easily dispatched if only they would simply communicate with each other and decide to do the right thing. Readers want stories that sink into their minds and whisper their secret fears. They want stories where the heroes have a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding. Stories where the victory costs nearly as much as it would cost to fail.

To deliver that, the villain must be effective. Being evil for the sake of being evil is boring. Every effective villain has a defined agenda. A cause that he is fully committed to, no matter how much collateral damage he might cause himself and others on the way to achieving his goal. Conflict happens when the hero's agenda runs perpendicular to the villain's.

But having a defined agenda and a fanatical devotion to his cause (even if his cause is himself) isn't enough. For a villain to be truly effective, readers must BELIEVE that he will follow through on his threats.

That was the secret to creating the Commander. I knew he was a brutal man who didn't truly see people as anything other than pawns in the chessboard of life. And I knew the secret fears that drove him to covet absolute power (and to be so afraid of having his word challenged). But all of that was useless if he was the kind of villain who stopped to have long threatening soliloquies, making grandiose promises of violent consequences if my characters didn't bend to his wishes. The secret of the Commander's reign of terror (both over my characters and over my readers) is that he always keeps his promises. And I had to write the scenes that proved it.

That was the hardest thing. To bring to life on the page the absolute disregard he has for human life, and the lengths to which he'll go to force people to bend to his will. His very first threat toward Rachel and Logan is instantly accompanied by a brutal murder right in front of them to drive home how easily he will keep his promises to destroy them if they try to double cross him.

I had to escalate it from there, though, because the other ingredient to a truly effective villain is to make the consequences of his actions PERSONAL to the hero, and therefore to the reader. The Commander had to hurt my characters where it really mattered, and he did it in the cold, efficient style that is his hallmark. No emotion. Just brutality so that he would get his way.

For those who've read the book, I'm talking about the wagon scene. It was a horrible scene to write. I cried all the way through it, and then I couldn't write another word again for three days. But I knew that with that one scene, I'd solidified the Commander as an effective villain because now the heroes and the reader knew without a shred of doubt that the Commander would keep his word. Instantly, the stakes in the novel rose. Failure now carried an impossibly tragic consequence, and everyone believed it.

In Deception, a new villain is added to the mix (though the Commander is still very present). This villain has a very different agenda, very different motives, and very different demons driving the actions the villain takes. But one thing remained consistent: this villain keeps his/her word. The methods are different, but the outcome is the same: the reader believes that the villain is fanatically devoted to his/her cause and will do what it takes to reach his/her goal. I had to prove it all over again. And yes, I had to make it personal because if it isn't personal, then it isn't really frightening and it doesn't truly matter. So yes, there's a scene that broke me. I still can't read it without sobbing. I guess I should apologize ahead of time to my readers, but I'm not truly sorry because for the story's outcome to matter, the villain had to be effective.

And besides, if you've read Defiance and decided to come back for more, you know what you're getting into. ;D

So, that's my recipe for an effective villain:

*A defined agenda
*Total devotion to his/her cause
*Makes the consequences for disobedience/failure personal
*Demonstrates that he/she keeps his/her promises

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Selling Out?

The topic of being a "sell-out" came up the other day while I was talking with one of my kids. For context, he was shocked to learn that I loved the new Fallout Boy single. Mostly because he couldn't believe his mom knew who Fallout Boy was. But also because he and his friends considered the single a "sell-out."

When I asked him why that song qualified as a sell-out, he shrugged and said that all the fans were saying it. He didn't really know why, except that the song was different from earlier artistic offerings from the band.

That's a strange label in this situation. Usually, when a band gets labeled a "sell-out," fans mean that a band who produced alternative/niche music changed their style a bit and found commercial success. In Fallout Boy's case, they've already found commercial success. Their 2005 album went double platinum, and their 2007 album debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top 200. So, if the outcry isn't based on the band suddenly finding commercial success, then the problem must be the experimentation with a new sound. Fallout Boy earned their spot on the charts as a pop punk band, and their new single sounds more pop than punk.

Accusing musical artists of selling out isn't a new thing. Last year, the hip hop community was enraged when Nicki Minaj's album STARSHIPS hit the airwaves. She'd gone the pop/hip hop route and disappointed fans who felt that she had a chance to be a legit female hip hop star and instead had softened her approach in favor of radio play and a fat paycheck.

Green Day. Metallica. Liz Phair. Weezer. Taylor Swift. The list of those accused of selling out by changing their artistic approach and finding more commercial success is lengthy. The list of authors who've been accused of selling out is shorter, but it exists. Mostly the accusations raise their ugly heads when readers discover a little known author of some brilliance and feel a sense of ownership, only to then feel betrayed when the author writes books that hold more commercial appeal and thus find a larger audience.

In that sense, the criteria for selling out, both as an author and as a musician, seems to be this: you gained your place in your chosen field through the devotion of a niche group of fans who feel betrayed when you experiment with your artistic approach and then find commercial success with something other than the niche product that gained you those fans in the first place.

Even authors who've already achieved incredible commercial success can't escape the label. When J.K. Rowling published THE VACANCY, the outcry from many fans was intense. How dare she write a book aimed at adults? How could she write a little murder mystery instead of something that upheld the legacy of Harry Potter? The reviews left on THE VACANCY's Amazon page during its debut week bore testament to this. There were just as many 1 stars as 5, and most of those 1 stars centered around fans' disappointment that the book wasn't another Harry Potter.

On a deeper level, slapping the label of "sell-out" on an author or artist says "you've lost your integrity." I take exception to that for several reasons.

One, there's nothing inherently wrong with finding commercial success. We don't all have to be starving artists for our work to have merit. To equate lack of income with artistic brilliance is short-sighted and frankly stupid. I don't know many authors who go into their publishing career hoping to just be heard, no matter how little money they make. Yes, we love writing and we desperately want to keep writing books and putting them in the hands of readers. That won't ever change. But we also want to eat and pay our bills. Most of us approach our publishing career with a plan to find some level of commercial success so that we can eat and pay our bills and maybe, if we're really fortunate, send one of our kids to college. To accuse someone of "selling out" because a book hits the list is to assume that the author never intentionally sought to earn a paycheck.

Two, creativity isn't something that thrives well inside a box. It needs the freedom to stretch its boundaries and experiment. Sometimes those experiments flop. Sometimes they send your single straight up the Billboard charts or land your book on the NYT's list. Often, those experiments will stray from your original book/song/album/whatever. My writing voice has stretched and grown over the years. It grew leaps and bounds from Defiance to Deception, and I expect it to continue to grow because I plan to continue to experiment. Some of those experiments, some of the projects that are steadily gaining shape inside my head, bear no resemblance to Defiance. Readers who fall in love with this series might love my next books. They might not. I can't stop and look over my shoulder and second guess my creativity because someone might think I've left my roots. Why shouldn't all artists have that freedom?

Three, labeling someone as a sell out indicates that YOU understand their inner drive, their passion, and their vision for their life better than they do. Nicki Minaj wasn't supposed to step away from hip hop. Green Day wasn't supposed to stretch beyond punk. Metallica wasn't supposed to care about album sales. J.K. Rowling wasn't supposed to write anything but children's fantasy. Grisham wasn't supposed to write anything but legal thrillers.

But they did. And I don't think that makes them a sell-out. I think that makes them human. Artists. Creative. Passionate. I think it means they wanted to try new things. Or maybe they had a different career trajectory in mind than their fans thought they would. Or maybe they sat down one day and the voice of their next project was just different from the voice of their last.

We can't be afraid of that as artists. We can't stay shackled to our roots, huddled against the ground producing the same thing over and over again because if we stretch too far in any direction we might fail. We might turn our fans against us. We might sell too many copies or too few.

For me, it comes down to the same philosophy that keeps me happily ignoring my reviews and filtering out any voices but the few I've intentionally chosen to allow into my creative process: If I wouldn't cry for you at your funeral, I don't have to care what you think of me now.

I'd love to see the accusation of "selling out" dropped. I know that's a pipe dream because there will always be niche fans (I'm often one of them!) who feel a kinship with an author or artist and then feel slapped in the face when that author/artist moves in a different direction. But I'd like to offer the idea that healthy people grow emotionally. They don't stay in the same cycles. Who we are and what we have to say about life when we're twenty-three is different from what we have to say when we're thirty-five. Sometimes our voice doesn't change all that much, though our words do. But sometimes, the voice, the words, and the entire approach undergo a metamorphosis along with us.  And sometimes, it has nothing to do with growth and everything to do with being business savvy along with being creative.

I don't consider either to be selling out. Selling out is when you KNOW your voice is gritty and dark, but you pull back from that ledge because you aren't sure you have what it takes to go there. Selling out is when truth is burning inside of you and you cover it up because you're afraid of what others will think when they see you without any walls to hide behind. Selling out is desperately wanting to experiment with a new style, a new genre, a new hook, and saying no to it because it might fail. You might fail.

If we sell out, we do it to ourselves by short-changing our creativity and chopping our vision off at the knees out of fear. I say write what you want to write. If it's commercial, fabulous. If it isn't, and you wish it was, then find a way to say what you need to say in a way that will still entice people to buy your book or your album. I say experiment and push your own creative boundaries and see where it takes you. If you land on the list and there are those who decry you for moving too far from your original works, then ask yourself what you're doing listening to them in the first place. Really. Who are you listening to and why?

I hope you're listening to your own creativity. To your own vision for what you want to say and how you want to say it. And I hope you're allowing other artists to step outside of the box you might have built around them. Even if it looks like the only reason they stepped out of it was to pay the bills.

Please share your thoughts about selling out in the comments below. I look forward to hearing your opinions!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Workshops & Signings & ARCS, Oh My!

Some fun things are going on this week & next, so I thought I'd give you a quick update.

1. Today is the last day to register for my online How to Write a Killer Synopsis workshop. (You can still register for the Query Writing 101 workshop which starts next week and includes 3 critiques of your query.) You don't need a finished manuscript for the synopsis workshop, and it's helpful for writers at any stage in the publishing journey. Go here for details.

2. This Saturday I'll be doing a group panel/signing with Katie McGarry (whose book Pushing The Limits I recommended to EVERYONE last summer after I read it. Have you read it? No? GO FORTH AND READ.) and Kristin Tubb (whose amazing Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different changed my approach to how I include sensory detail in my manuscripts and who has a super fun new book out!).

We'll be at Parnassus Books in Nashville (Green Hills) at 3 p.m. Bring your questions! Get some signed books for yourself or as a gift! Say hello so we know we aren't talking to ourselves! (Although we're perfectly capable of that!)

3. Are you a reviewer who'd love to get your hands on an ARC of Deception? Harper Collins has asked me to post a form for all ARC requests. Check the tabs along the top of the blog for the ARC REQUEST tab. As always, Harper makes all final decisions on where to send the ARCs and has to date been amazingly impervious to bribes of chocolate and Jeremy Renner.

I know. I'm as shocked as you are.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Online Workshops!

It's been two years since I offered an online workshop. I've been teaching at conferences and writing retreats instead, but this month I decided to offer my popular How to Write a Killer Synopsis and my Query Writing 101 workshops. Space is limited, and I've kept the workshops very affordable.

For in-depth information on both workshops (including how to get a discount by registering for both!) go here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Really Should Start Paying More Attention ...

1. I had a busy week last week, mostly because I was trying to fit seven days worth of stuff into five days because I attended a writing retreat over the weekend.

2. We all know I can't leave my house without doing something absent-minded or ridiculous.

3. Usually because I'm almost always somewhere else inside my head while I try to live real life, and that often blows up in my face.

4. My week was fine until I left the house to drive to the retreat. I had to stop by Target for my contribution to the weekend's menu and then by Dress Barn to find a pair of non-denim, non-yoga pants to wear at my daughter's dedication on Sunday and to an upcoming reception for the Nashville literary community. (Although, let's be honest ... any reception for a literary community will probably include at least ONE pair of yoga pants in attendance ...)

5. I think my mistake was in stopping at Target first. Why?

6. Because the automatic doors ruined me for all other doors.

7. Ruined me.

8. Need proof?

9. I walked into Dress Barn, grabbed the first pair of nice black pants I saw, purchased them, and then headed for the door. I had a two hour drive ahead of me, and I was already running a little behind. I had no time to waste with browsing or dressing rooms.

10. I was focused on leaving.

11. Sadly, I should've been focused on HOW to leave.

12. I walked toward the front doors like a Boss. I had it timed just right. Slow enough to give the sensor for the automatic door time to realize I was coming, but fast enough to hit the doorway right after the glass obligingly got out of my way.

13. The problem?

14. Dress Barn doesn't have automatic doors.

15. You'd think since I had to manually open the door to enter the store that I would've realized this, but alas. My mind had left Dress Barn the second I'd finished purchasing the pants. My body was simply trying to catch up.

16. I closed in on the door, and some small presence still lingering in my head (instead of thinking through my route and running over the workshops I was scheduled to present) said quietly, "The door isn't opening."

17. I didn't slow down.

18. The voice spoke louder. "The door isn't opening. It ISN'T opening."

19. The rest of my brain, yanked rudely from its contemplations, said "Huh?"

20. At this point, I was maybe twelve inches from the door.

21. My brain blinked, looked around, realized the danger, and screamed, "ABORT! ABORT!"

22. But as is usually the case with me, physics, my old scientific nemesis, got the best of me.

23. I was already in motion, and the only thing that could stop me was an immovable object.

24. The door decided to volunteer for that task.

25. I slammed into the glass door like I'd robbed a bank and was trying to make a getaway. Like I meant business.

26. Like a BOSS.

27. Because when I do something? I never do it halfway.

28. It looked a lot like this:



Followed by this:



29. The poor saleslady next to the door made a dreadful snort-cackle sound before she swallowed her laughter and asked if I was ok.

30. I told her to just go ahead and laugh. I know if I saw me? I'd be laughing for the next hour.

31. I gathered the shreds of my dignity around me and left the building like THIS:



32. And then I got into the car and called Myra McEntire, MG Buehrlen, and Jodi Meadows to tell them what I'd done. They weren't surprised in the least. I think the only thing that would surprise them at this point is if I leave the house and DON'T do something stupid.

33. Aaaaaand, speaking of doing something stupid ...

34. I wear contacts, which means that when I travel, I need travel-size contact solution. Thanks to my eye doctor (whose somewhat combative relationship with me is documented here), I have TWO travel sized bottles. He gave me samples the last time I was in. One is a regular saline solution. One is a hydrogen peroxide solution that must be neutralized by putting my contacts in a special container that has a metal disk and then leaving them there for a full six hours.

35. Guess where my brain was while I was packing?

36. Not in my bathroom reading the labels on my contact solution bottles, I can tell you that much.

37. Know when I figured out I'd taken the hydrogen peroxide mixture by mistake?

38. WHEN I TOOK MY CONTACT OUT OF THE SOLUTION SATURDAY MORNING AND PLACED IT ON MY EYE.








39. My eye was red for an hour afterward. It. Was. Awesome.

40. And guess what? I'm traveling again this weekend!

41. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Ending Begins

I'm sitting down to write the final book in the Defiance trilogy now, and I have mixed emotions. Part of me is eager to finish this journey with my characters. To see scenes I've had in my head for the past two years finally come to life on the page. To do my best to give Rachel and Logan a happily ever after. But part of me feels like hanging on to them, to their story, a little bit longer. It seems like just yesterday that I sat down and let the image of a fortress, the idea of an underground dragon, and a mouthy redhead take over my brain. I'm also wondering why in the world I left myself such a tangle of plot lines and nearly impossible things to accomplish in this book. I look at the end of DECEPTION, which seemed like such a good idea at the time (and really was the only logical course of action) and kind of wish I'd just burned everything down again. Because the beginning of Book 3? Is a tricksy, tricksy hobbitses. Logan has to accomplish three mostly impossible things in the first few scenes. Rachel ... I can't even say a word about that without giving away the end of Deception. And do I have a plan? Oh yes, I have a plan. It looks a lot like this:

Brain Food:

:
Back-up plans if my current villains refuse to cooperate:





Ready response to those foolish enough to interrupt my office hours:



How others will know I'm working:



How I'll look when I leave my office but the plot won't leave my head:



What I feel when I read the end of DECEPTION & realize I have to FIX THAT:


What happens when I can't fix it on the first twelve tries:




What happens when I finally DO fix it:



And once I hit my stride, it pretty much looks like this:



So, there you have it. Book 3, with all its complicated plot twists that must be untangled and then resolved, is a blank page open on my computer. The playlist is open. The "Things That Must Be Figured Out Within Five Scenes" are listed on a notepad to my left. My peach tea is to my right.

Time to begin the end.

I leave you with the first song on Book 3's playlist:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Deception Cover Reveal!!

Want to see the gorgeous cover for DECEPTION?? It just went live for an exclusive cover reveal on yabookscentral. Take a look at the cover and then enter to win a signed ARC! The giveaway is international!


**Edited to add:

DECEPTION will be released 8/27/13

DEFIANCE paperback will be released 8/27/13

Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking Back

I was going to put a ridiculously entertaining gif at the start of this post, but alas ... blogger has decided not to cooperate. And we all know that technology and I rarely get along, so when I tried to fix it ... CHAOS. ANARCHY. THE NEAR DESTRUCTION OF THE ENTIRE INTERNET.

So.

Imagine an entertaining gif HERE.

Thank you.

Moving on.

This actually might be a long-ish post. I'm not exactly sure how much of last year I want to share, so then again ... it might not. :) Truthfully, I wasn't even going to do a 2012 Recap post, but I figured my blog followers and new readers deserve to know a little bit about why I basically disappeared off the face of the internet, and maybe a little bit about what to expect in 2013.

Here's the thing. 2012 was one of the hardest years I've been through in a very long time. It was one of the best. And one of the most heartbreaking. It was one of the most incredible. And one of the most stressful. And all of that combined to slap this introvert straight in the face with a big, fat "I can't deal with human interaction at ALL because I can't afford to give away one more piece of me, or I'll have nothing left."

I hope when I say that, when I tell you that I pulled back from blogging and Facebook and Twitter, you don't think I mean I felt like people had their hands out trying to take a piece of me. That's not accurate at all. What I mean is this: being an introvert doesn't mean you don't like people or that you aren't outgoing. It means that every interaction you have takes emotional energy from you. For extroverts, interacting with other people gives emotional energy. When you take an introvert with a ton of stress in her personal life and add in the fact that her job requires her to find large chunks of quiet time in which to be creative, you have a recipe for abandoning the internet.

My emotional energy in 2012 started out pretty strong. I'd sold a trilogy in 2011, and my first book was coming out in August of 2012! I was excited about that, focused on writing the sequel, and trying to figure out how to do effective online promotion without becoming annoying.

In February, we did the cover reveal for Defiance. I expected a bunch of people to be interested. And by "bunch," I mean ... maybe 200. A little piece of my followers from Twitter, my blog, and Facebook. And also my mother and my best friends. I had no idea how many people would respond to Harper's amazing cover, and I was totally unprepared for the sudden focus of people's attention.

I've been told this is the kind of stuff writers just shouldn't blog about because we'll sound ungrateful for our dreams coming true. Or we'll sound stuck up because we felt the effects of the publicity our publishing houses generated for our books. I understand that fear, but I'm hoping my readers know me well enough by now to know that this isn't pride talking. I'm not the one who created my amazing cover--all of the credit goes to Harper's incredible art department. And if writers suddenly shut up about the publishing process once we've crossed the threshold to "sold," we do a huge disservice to up and coming writers. Because let me tell you, crossing that threshold is amazing and lovely. It is also scary. And with it comes a whole new level of pressure.

I thought I was ready for that. I was ready to slowly grow a readership. Build it book by book. And I'm still committed to that. I wasn't ready for the kind of response Defiance's cover generated. On my blog. On Twitter. In my inbox. That day, I received an average of 200 emails an hour. Comments on the cover. On my FB page. Emails to me personally because I had my personal email still up on my blog. It was an incredible, wonderful surprise.

It was also overwhelming.

I'm not complaining! I love my covers (yes, the next one is just as incredible) like WHOA. I wouldn't change a thing. I just didn't know people would be as excited as I am. That they would want to talk to me about it. And again, that is a lovely and wonderful thing. But after a little while, the introvert in me begged me to step back before I let that overwhelming feeling become something I could no longer deal with.

I have no idea how many of you are like me, so I may be trying to explain something that just won't make sense. But for an introvert who needs space to be creative and who has spent the past two decades walking a fine line between being slightly nuts and clinically depressed, what was lovely and overwhelming soon grew into the kind of pressure that made me want to crawl into a hole.

I know that won't make sense to people who haven't battled depression. How can something wonderful make you want to hide in a cave? I don't know. I really don't. But it does. However, I'm a lot wiser now than I was the first time I went on anti-depression medication. I've learned how to identify triggers and how to set up boundaries for myself so that I can cope without falling into that long, dark hole.  I stepped back. I gave myself permission not to have to respond to every kind, amazing comment the very day it was made. And in a few weeks, the attention subsided because other equally amazing covers were revealed.

I walked into March feeling relieved. People loved the cover as much as I did. And while I hadn't been prepared for interacting with so many people in such a short space of time, I'd figured out how to manage it in a way that let me still be accessible to my followers like I want to be without feeling like I was giving all of my energy there and leaving nothing for my family and my writing.

ARCs went out at the end of March, and reviews started rolling in. I'd heard sage advice from published authors to ignore reviews. I gave myself two weeks to read the first reviews because curiosity was killing me. Turns out, the published authors were right. The lovely, warm, gushing reviews made me smile, but also made me look at my draft of Deception with doubt and fear. What if the things they loved in Defiance were missing in Deception? What if I totally screwed up my plot arcs? What if there wasn't enough action? Enough romance? What if, what if, what if .... The negative reviews did the exact same thing, so ... there was no winning, lol.

This didn't send me toward depression, mind you. I honestly believe that it's healthy for our culture to have many different types of books available, and there's no way one book will ever be perfect for every reader. But respecting all kinds of reviews didn't mean I had to read them if it was going torpedo my ability to write the sequel. I function best when I have a high rate of oblivion. I need a cushion around me keeping me from things that can distract me from listening to the characters and walking through the world inside my head. So, I stopped reading reviews. Never went back to Goodreads. Didn't even click links that fans sent to me with their gushing reviews.

I want to be perfectly clear here. I am GRATEFUL. I can't tell you how grateful. For every person who took the time to read my book and share their thoughts. With me or with others. Every email or blog comment I've received from someone who read and loved my book has encouraged me. Just because I don't click the link to read the review doesn't mean I don't treasure your personal message to me, or the fact that you cared enough to reach out. You and your thoughts are precious to me, and I'm grateful.

But this was one of the boundaries I had to build in order to protect myself from the dark places in my own mind. It's too easy for me to listen to doubt and fear and let it overwhelm me. If I don't have to welcome it in, I can't. It's that simple. As part of my search for a solution to help me build that high rate of oblivion around my creative process, I took on the amazing Julie as my intern/assistant. She became the point of contact for me. She organized all my online promo and many of my appearances. She kept her eye on reviews and morons who offered pirated copies of my book and all kinds of other little details that honestly sent me into a bit of a panic when I thought about trying to figure them out. I would've been more than a little lost in 2012 without her.

April and May were good months. I was looking forward to my August release, Julie had things well in hand, and I turned in the first draft of Deception. June was when my year started to really come off the rails. I can't go into a lot of details here because I won't violate my kids' privacy, but in the space of two weeks, two of my kids were hospitalized for very serious conditions. One of them was in an accident that left him with a smashed face and a Traumatic Brain Injury. I went instantly from a working mom to a mom trying to help her son when he couldn't hold a conversation, couldn't keep his balance, and couldn't manage the incredible pain he was in. I was also trying to get an accurate diagnosis and medication for my other son, and both of those situations required constant vigilance, multiple trips up to a children's hospital every week, and many hours of praying that my kids would be okay.

The revisions I was supposed to be doing for Deception flew right out of my head. The characters went silent. And I couldn't care about that. But of course, I couldn't put that off indefinitely because the book was due. Other people's jobs depended on me doing mine. I had to go to my agent and editor, explain the situation, and ask for an extension. And then I had to sit down at the end of July and focus on revising (which is a pleasant sounding word but which actually meant rip the entire thing to shreds and start over) while trying to get ready for my upcoming launch and appearances, and while working with my son's high school to figure out how to accommodate his TBI and all of his medical difficulties without him losing his honors classes or his future.

I turned the next draft of Deception in the week Defiance launched. My launch party was amazing. So many people showed up, and it really touched my heart to see friends, old and new, along with blog readers and book fans there to enjoy the evening with me. I also held an online launch party, and then spent the weekend doing panels at both Dragon*Con and the Decatur Book Festival. Those appearances launched me into the fall where I traveled a few places in September, and then had a running streak of six weeks of travel from Oct to Nov. All while trying to still manage my son's physical and cognitive therapy, my other son's health needs, and oh, yeah ... while rewriting Deception again.

It took me 5 1/2 drafts to get Deception done. It took six months to get the right treatment for one son. It took seven months for my other son to start to feel mostly normal after his accident. All of that happened simultaneously. And I will be honest with you. There was a moment in September when a friend asked me when I was going to have a breakdown, and I told her I couldn't afford to break down because my kids needed me and my book was due, but that the second all of that was off of my plate, she'd hear screaming from my house and she'd know to come lock me away for a few days.

And that is why I basically quit blogging. Why I'd disappear off Twitter for weeks at a time. I just couldn't manage one more thing. Every time I thought about sitting down and writing a blog post, it made me want to cry because I barely had the words for the book I've been paid to write.

I'm very proud of Deception, now. It may have taken me 5 1/2 drafts (and maybe my spleen and half of my brain) to get it done, but it's the right story. It's what I wanted to do when I first sat down to write the book. I'm very grateful that both of my boys are still alive. I'm grateful that they are improving. I'm tremendously honored that readers reach out to me and want to talk about Defiance. I love having those conversations because I'm the kind of reader who identifies strongly with characters in books, and I like to talk about that with others. This post isn't a "please don't talk to me again" post! It's an explanation for where I went last year.

I hope next year is easier, but we're never guaranteed that, are we? That's why we have to be thankful for the blessings we have on any given day. I've decided not to place the stress of a blog schedule on myself this year. I'm finishing up co-writing a secret project this month, I'll be drafting Book 3 the three months after that, writing synopses for two more secret projects, and editing Book 1 in my adult series. I can't expect myself to blog three times a week on top of that.

However! I'll still blog. It will just be sporadic. And I will consistently reply to comments on this blog and on FB or Twitter. I might not be able to reply the day you send it, but I will reply. And if you have a longer note to send to me, you can reach me through the Amazing Julie at julie@cjredwine.com. I read all of the emails my readers send to me, and again, I reply as soon as I'm able.

Thank you for sticking with me to the end of this incredibly long post! Thank you for being willing to read about the struggles as well as the happy "dream come true" moments. I appreciate you, and I wish us all a wonderful 2013.

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