2018888888!!!!!

It's been a busy few months winding down 2017! Where do I start...OK, how about with some pretty awesome news? The Elements series is getting a whole new look since I've just recently signed on with a new publishing company! 

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I'm very excited to announce that in 2018, I'll be joining the awesome indie house, Snowy Wings Publishing! Starting this month, the first three books in The Elements series will feature updated covers, a brand new prologue in AQUA, and an exclusive sneak peek at IGNIS, Book Four, at the end of AER.

If you'd like to be one of our insider crew to reveal the new cover (on 1/17 for the release date 1/23!), please sign up here! 

Looking forward to new adventures with a great new team of middle grade and YA authors! Happy New Year!

Getting Organized

All right. I've been meaning to get back here more often, and with NaNoWriMo giving me a healthy "get your crap together" kick in the pants, I've managed to get back on the path of schedule righteousness. In my defense, we got two new puppies. Yes, two, I know....well, now I know. My rationale at the time was "the first one needs a buddy to play with!" It didn't dawn on me that they would effectively be two BABIES and would need individual everything in order not to grow up as co-dependent basketcases (littermate syndrome--it's a thing!). So, separate walks, separate play time, separate *insert all dog related stuff here.* I'm happy to report that after six months of vigilant insistence at the universe that chaos and I do not play nice, they're happy, independent pups on a perfectly manageable schedule. I will be the last one standing, damn it. So, without further ado, I present Atlas, the Bloodhound / Doberman mix, and Apple (short for Appolonia), the Boxer / Shepherd mix. Both are from shelters in Indiana, and yes, I will happily pause this blogpost while you reconfigure your cuteness-melted insides...

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I know. Welcome to my world. This is how writing became the middle child for a little while...imposing order with sheer will takes its toll, and something had to give. I put off outlining IGNIS whilst in the throes of puppy-momming, and wound up having to shelve the first 7,000 words I wrote a few months ago since they just weren't working. I've replaced them (*bows before the NaNoWriMo accountability throne*) and am happy with the new direction--you guys, Arco and Jazz are narrating! We're looking at 50K words or bust by the end of the month, and I'm on a mission now that the outline is done too. My formal goal is to have the first draft finished by January, which would be a record. I've always felt that Stephen King's do-the-work-day-by-day process is the best one, at least for me. If I only wrote when I felt like it, I'd never get anything finished. So, bring on the coffee and epic movie soundtracks--we have a war to write!

 

AER IS HERE!

Well, tomorrow it will be here...UNLESS you're in the Indianapolis area and stop into the Carmel Barnes & Noble, where we will have a special sneak peek event tonight from 6-8pm! Can't make it? Our official release party is at the Mishawaka Barnes & Noble from 2-4pm on Saturday, 9/16...and then, AER will be everywhere! 

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE WHEN REALITY IS THE BIGGEST LIE OF ALL? 

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Parallel Roads to Finishing Books

Whew. It's been a very strange year. Sometimes you have those I suppose, and sometimes, I suppose you need them. 

AER is done, you guys. 96K words and change, off to edits for a release of September 16th. 

On this, I just have to say OMG... around January, I was actually afraid I wasn't going to be able to deliver. I just couldn't find my rhythm with this one. I thought this was because of the story itself...the characters, the plot arc, all the obvious probable causes, but I came to realize that I was actually just having a hard time finding my rhythm in general.

In hindsight, the past year has definitely been a time of transition, and while going through such things is an absolute ass-pain, I must say that I'm pretty happy here on the other side. Here's what I've learned:

* Some things--people, positions, practices--you think you really want, you don't really need; in fact, they're detrimental for one reason or another...maybe they're parasitic, or maybe you've just outgrown them, and you're actually better off without them.

* Some things--people, positions, practices--you think you don't really want, you actually need; in fact, they challenge you to be your best "you," the truest version of you, even if they don't obviously seem like it at first, and once you get out of your own way, you come to appreciate these things that much more. 

All that to say, I'm a big believer in parallel roads, that is, when you don't know what to do to fix a situation, so you just try to travel in a parallel direction until you figure it out. I learned this lesson as an archaeology major in Southwestern Oklahoma back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

To make a long story short, I was carpooling home with a fellow student, a new army sergeant friend I'd made in class, and we were just leaving the dig site of our final expedition. This was before the days of smartphones and British accent Siri GPS dude, keep in mind, and I made a wrong turn somewhere. Well, we found ourselves on this rural dirt road in the middle of nowhere, so of course, my super organized-always-has-a-plan self started freaking out. Fortunately, though, my new army sergeant friend told me, "Hey, relax. Just keep following a parallel road in the general direction of where we need to go," (in this case, it was West), and we'd eventually reconnect with the highway. Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.

SO, fast forward to January with that in mind...since I knew I needed to do some metaphorical housekeeping but didn't even remotely know where to start, I did some literal housekeeping: we rented a dumpster and tossed out every bit of excess in the house. We pulled up the old carpet, threw out anything broken or worn out, and you know what, by the time we were done with all that, I knew exactly what I needed to do personally too. What's more, I knew how to let go of things-people-positions-practices I thought I wanted but were no longer good for me.

I cut ties with a few toxic people, I started seriously running and hiking again, I started journaling more often, and about three months later, I'd written around 60K additional words, finishing AER. 

I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes when you're not sure where to go next, it's not the characters or the plot arc needing direction after all because, well...they're not the ones driving, you know? ;) 

Indiana Comic Con 2017 Is on the Books!

Hehe, see what I did there? On the books? Get it? 

OK, never mind. Comic Con was A TON of fun! 

I got to hang out in Artist's Alley this year alongside the ever-charming Charles Thurston, who cracked me up every single day, as well as my friend, STEM comic creator, Jim McClain, whom I'll be seeing again at the ALA conference in Chicago this June! 

It wasn't as busy as last year's Indy Comic Con, likely because it was over Easter weekend this time, but that didn't stop old and new friends from coming to see my panels on character authenticity in YA Lit! I was genuinely humbled to see so many people show up, especially at 10:00 a.m. on Easter Sunday! We had an awesome time, and honestly, getting to meet people who share the same passion I do for creating worlds is one of the best things about this event. 

The other best thing? The super cool cosplayers! Have a look at some of the new friends I made, as well as a few old ones from years past, whom I was happy to see again. See you next year, Indiana Comic Con!

ALL the Fun

YOUGUYS! I had ALL the fun at Westfield Middle School and Barnes & Noble Carmel! So many thanks, but especially to media center specialist extraordinaire, Angela Hoffman, for these beautiful Westfield Shamrocks (they go to sleep at night!) and to Ella and Sarah (and their super cool mom!) who brought me my very own "Elements" fairy garden starter set when it came up that I ❤ tiny stuff! How did I not know fairy gardens were a thing!? Oh, the world best prepare ✨

We also had a drawing for an Elements Series prize package, which came with a Cosplay photo op in the actual gear the characters wore on the trailer and studio sets for TERRA. The winner was this lovely lady, Jillian! 

Suffice it to say the day was a total blast. Awesome kids, awesome staff...I can't wait to head back to Indy next month! Here are a few more pics from the day:

Is It Spring Already!?

I haven't been hibernating, I promise! This winter I've been working on learning coding language to develop a virtual reality app to go with AER, book three, plus I've been working on a new book that will come after The Elements series! My goal is to have the first draft finished by December 1st this year for release in the spring of 2018, but we need to get AER out first! That's almost done, by the way, so get ready, beta readers ;) 

In other news, I'm excited to be coming back to Indianapolis next week for the Carmel HS Creative Writers' Con and book signing at Barnes & Noble! If you're in the area, be sure to stop by the Greyhound Plaza Barnes & Noble starting at 7PM for discussions, free swag, and the chance to hang out with a bunch of awesome YA authors! This is one of my favorite events of the year, so I hope to see you there.

If you can't make it next week, I'll be back on March 24 and again on April 14-16 for Comic Con (details to come; please check the "Appearances" tab above for updates). I'll have TWO panels at the latter, and I'm super excited! 

If you haven't signed up for the VIP Newsletter yet, please check it out here (just saying, I told those guys what the new book is about!!!).

Hope to see you soon! If you can't make it out to a signing, though, the awesomeness that is Barnes & Noble is running a sale through March 19th for 15% off AQUA or TERRA (online only); just use the code below! :)

THE TERRA RELEASE PARTY!

IT'S HERE! IT'S HERE! IT'S HERE! 
Join us at the University Park Barnes & Noble for the official TERRA: The Elements Series Book Two release party! Meet the author and even some of the characters, pick up free goodies, and help the Elkhart Central Blazer Brigade kick off their season with a portion of all proceeds throughout the store going to support the band!

TERRA TRAILER IS DONE!!!

Super excited about the trailer for TERRA: Book Two! 

Under pressure, under fire…some will rise, and some will fall.

Getting out of Gaia Sur was almost as hard as getting in, but there’s no going back now. Jazwyn Ripley and her friends have no choice but to venture into the caves and tunnels underneath the ocean floor as the messages they’ve been receiving get stronger. Tensions rise and loyalties are tested when another of their crew is captured along the way, and one critical choice means following unlikely allies down a path most would never dare—across the seven biomes of “The Rush”—which, if they survive, will either lead to freedom or imprison them forever.

In the center, the only way out is through. 

Hardcovers!

So cool! Hardback editions of AQUA and TERRA will be available in both Case Laminate (library) and Trade Cloth (dust jacket) editions by the end of the month for AQUA, and upon the August 27th release date for TERRA! I can't wait to see them!