Friday, May 27, 2011

GCC Presents: Elizabeth Scott!

So guys, I finished my revisions. Woo Hoo! I will tell you about them.... after I take a long weekend and recover from a week of sleep deprivation. In the meantime one of my girlfriends from the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit has a new book out, so I bring you Elizabeth Scott to entertain and enlighten you. She's totally one of my favorite authors so I am really excited about her new book BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER.

Let's hear about it, shall we!

Q: Please tell us what your new book is about and what inspired you to write it.

Elizabeth: The very start of the idea actually happened back in 2007, when I was writing discussion questions for my first novel, Bloom--I was writing a question about what readers felt the future held for all the characters--and accidentally paired up two characters who weren't supposed to be! At the time, I laughed and changed it, glad I'd caught my mistake--but for some reason the idea of those two characters stayed in my mind and I actually wrote the first scene where they meet and connect on an entirely new level. But at the time, I had a bunch of other stuff going on, and I wasn't sure if anyone would even want to read a sequel to Bloom that wasn't about Lauren and Evan. So, I kept the idea of those two characters together, floating around, and when I got the idea for Abby and her story--well, let's just say
those two characters from Bloom were perfect for an important role in the book. I was thrilled to be able to revisit them as I dove into Abby's world, and everything combined together to create a story that I'm truly proud of.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

Elizabeth: I don't have five songs, but there is one that makes me think of Between Here and Forever when I hear it: The Only Exception by Paramore

Q: Who were some of your inspirations to become a writer or the inspirations that keep you writing?

Elizabeth: I started writing fiction by accident and what keeps me going is that I love it--and I love hearing from readers!

Q: Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Elizabeth: I could listen to music when I write, but I don't. I did, when I first started, but I soon realized I would sink so deeply into what I was working on that I didn't notice anything, and after one Saturday where the same song accidentally played about a billion times in a row, my husband came over to me, waved his hand in front of my face until I noticed him, and then asked if we had to listen to the song again.

I said, "What song?" and since then, haven't listened to music while I write :-)

Q: What is next for you? What are you working on now?

Elizabeth: My next book, As I Wake, will be out on September 15th and it's about Ava, who is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There's only one problem: Ava can't remember any of them--and can't shake the eerie feeling that she's not who they say she is. Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn't know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In which Stephanie has an amusing mental breakdown... Err... Attempts to give updates on Revisions, Events & Such

So I'm falling down on this whole blogging thing again. Sorry! As it turns out I'm not as good at multi-tasking as I want to be. The good thing is this means I'm in the writing zone and ignoring everything (including email, twitter and facebook responses a lot of the time, so I'm sorry if you haven't heard back from me. I'm not trying to be rude!). The bad thing is that revisions are going a lot more slowly than I thought they would. I had a three stage plan:

1. Revise on paper, printing out four pages to a page so I can really see things.

2. Get notes from critique partners and my notes together and type them in, possibly making more changes as I go.

3. Do a final read aloud of the manuscript and send to agent.

I planned to be at Stage 3 by now. In fact, I really wanted to be at Stage 3 on Friday because I have a whole lucky Friday the 13th thing. (I discussed that, other things I consider lucky and trying to make my own luck over at YA Outside The Lines in case you missed it.) But guess what, I'm still not finished with Stage 1, which I absolutely felt I had to be today because now I have a Stage 1.5 where I have to go back and look at several scenes where I know I need to heighten a certain characters emotional response and I need to fix Chapter 1. Again. Stage 1.5 needs it's own full day, which was supposed to be today, but instead I'm still rushing to finish Stage 1 and maybe start Stage 1.5 because I don't have a full day tomorrow (which I'll get to in a minute.) Then on to Stage 2. I really only intend to do the type up the notes part of Stage 2 and not make further changes. At least I hope not. I'd like to think that Stage 1 has taking so long because I have been thorough. Stage 1 went from "revise" to "stare at every word on the page, ponder it and tear every phrase a part until it is perfect meaning you may spend hours on one paragraph." I think (HOPE!) this will basically render Stage 2 pointless except for the typing part which is very necessary as I do not think my agent would appreciate reading a bunch of crossed out purple scrawls on miniaturized pages.

Holy crap, Stage 1 has gone on for so long that I officially ran out of ink in my purple editing pen. I freaked. I found another purple pen but it's not quite the same. Also this must mean the original manuscript that I sent to my agent and CPs really sucked. Okay not *really,* the story and the characters are there (mostly besides my emotional difficult character. Why do I always have an emotionally difficult character. Emily, Kara and now Zoe. Maybe it's because I am emotionally difficult) but there was a lot of overwriting and awkward phrasing. Like to the point where I wonder why I or anyone else ever thought I was any good at this whole writing thing. I mean seriously look at that sentence. I or anyone else? That reads so terribly. Is it even grammatically correct? Did I ever understand grammar? And seriously how many times can my characters squeeze each other's hands and blush or flush or have their cheeks/faces pinken/redden. That makes the book sound a lot dirtier than it is. There is a shit-ton of crying and tearing up as well.

Yes, so that is my progress report. I'm still stuck in Stage 1. It may be a permanent state but I hope not because at a certain point Stage 1 drives you insane and makes you feel that you have lost all grasp on language. I will be pointing and grunting soon. And possibly doing that tearing up, pinkening, jaw clenching (let's not forget that either!) shit my characters do so much until someone comes by and squeezes or pats my hand.


*whispers* But I still love the fuck out of this characters and their story. I fall asleep thinking about them. I want to make them so good that my agent will send them directly to editors who will fight over them and get this book out to you as fast as humanly possible.

*self doubt enters the room* I mean, mostly I love them, except when I think I'll never be able to correctly convey their emotions or effortlessly weave their back story or describe their facial tics and social awkwardness in a unique fashion. *sobs* I am not good enough for them!

*headdesk again*

*lifts head off desk and searches for purple pen*

That, my friends, is the revisions process in the land of Stephanie.


Yes, thank you, do you think I'm insane yet? Don't worry too much, I wrote this blog post on Sunday night after only 3 hours of sleep and a lot of time with the purple pen.

My point, because I did have one at some point (OMG two uses of the word "point" in the same sentence. WHERE IS THE PURPLE PEN????)... My point, because I did have one.... when I set out to write this (ooh, good change!) is that until I finish these revisions, I am giving up on blogging (err except for my Thursday post that I am scheduled to do on Teen Fiction Cafe), reading other blogs, reading/replying to non-urgent email and doing anything other than tweeting about my goals, random shit my cats do to distract me from my goals, the return of Roger Howarth to One Life To Live (can I get a fuck yeah?), and bartending (because bartending and One Life To Live actually have to do with my book). So I apologize for that. Hopefully I will be out of the cave on the 23rd (because that's a good number, my husband was born on a 23rd day, and also he is going to get tattooed on the 24th and I want to go watch) or the 27th at the latest (also a good number and goddammit, I will not let this madness go on beyond that).

But I will be coming out of the cave tomorrow night (remember how I said I didn't have a full writing day tomorrow. Now I explain that) to teach a class at Story Studio about character. (I'm good at that. Revising not so much). I think there are still spaces if you are tempted. Info here.

And speaking of future emergings from the cave. There will be events in two different states that start with W coming up! One is rather soon, June 17th, I will be in Waukesha, Wisconsin on a panel with a signing to follow. Deets are here. Then, I don't have full details yet and this one is a long way off, but I'm going to be doing an event with some of my favorite people in the world in my favorite city in the world. That would be Seattle, Washington! I really need to stop visiting there so I can afford to move there, but this event was "put it on the credit card and hope you get a book deal soon" worthy. October 2. That's all I can say right now. October 2, I will see you, Seattle, in a professional capacity. I will see you in a personal capacity sooner than that. (Ohhhh vacation, you cannot come fast enough.)

Okay so that is almost everything, except DUDES, this contest doesn't have entries!!!! WTF! It was a really fun interview. Daniel Kraus and his books are awesome and you can win ROTTERS for free. It's not hard to enter, just go there and comment. If you are ambitious, tweet about it. I do not understand why this contest has no entries and I am trying not to take it personally. I'm guessing I lost a lot of blog readers in my absence and am going to have to rebuild. Is that it? Do you not like contest anymore? Do you not like interviews? Am I not allowed to interview guys who rock, only women? (Cause that is not gonna fly. I will always feature women, but guys rock too.) I'm trying to get a handle on what people want from me for when I start up blogging again because I've got a super secret exciting project coming up soon as well as needing to start a new book (*if* my agent likes the revisions on the bartender book enough to send it out, otherwise, I will be back to the drawing board with it again), so I want to spend my blogging time wisely or else I'm going to stop doing it.... Okay, so I probably won't stop doing it because I blog for me just as much as I blog for you. I mean, right now I so wish I had the time to tell you about the AWESOME new teen room at my public library (but I wrote a newspaper article about it, which I will tweet later this week) and I wish I had time to vent about this bullshit going down at the high school I went to (AKA the high school from BALLADS). Seriously there is a rant in me about that (including the lovely, typical Oak Park OMG he doesn't go to our high school anymore response), but it will have to wait.

But tell me, what kind of blogs do you like? Me ranting about that kind of stuff? Me writing about memories and personal experiences that no doubt a rant about my high school and hometown would turn into? Me writing about my often crazy writing process? Me writing about bands and books I like? Me writing about weird quirky shit I like/do ie. my bartending experiences and soap opera obsessions? Sharing photos? Interviews and contests?

Because I like doing all of this stuff and will probably continue doing all of it, but if a lot of people have a certain preference I will do more of whatever that is. So please, give me input, people!

And now into the writing cave because as usual that blog turned out a lot longer than I meant. Ooops, sorry, that will definitely a goal, shorter blog posts. But now I have a book to shorten. See you in a week or two (hopefully a week and a half!)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guys Rock Too Thursday!: Daniel Kraus

So I started doing a feature on my blog called Women Who Rock Wednesday back in August of 2008. I've been slacking on it for the past several months because I've been too focused on writing my book (that's a good thing, though, right?) but I promise it will be coming back soon with a really awesome guest, Karen Mahoney author of The Iron Witch!

I started Women Who Rock Wednesday because I wrote a book about a girl who rocks and since I was a teenager, I've been all about female empowerment and help my fellow girls spread the word about their amazing projects. But the thing is, I know some pretty rockin' guys too who also do amazing work and I want to spread the word about them, too.

Much like Venus Zine eventually decided that Jack White was so awesome it was time to put a guy on their cover, I've decided that Daniel Kraus is so awesome that it's time for a new blog feature where I spotlight the guys like him that I admire. It'll probably be sporadic like WWRW has become because that is just the state of my life right now, but I'll do my best.

Now without further adieu let's met my blog's version of Jack White... Daniel Kraus, author of THE MONSTER VARIATIONS and most recently, ROTTERS!

I met Daniel at a local event with a bunch of Chicago area authors. We shared a signing table because Kraus and Kuehnert are pretty close alphabetically. Because of this I got my hands on an ARC of THE MONSTER VARIATIONS, which sucked me in and kept me up late in much the same way Stephen King novels did when I was in high school. I've been eagerly awaiting ROTTERS, especially because of its unique subject matter and it is at the top of my TBR pile for when I finish my revisions. This interview will tell you why....

Q: Tell us what ROTTERS is about and how you got the idea for it?

DANIEL: Roughly 10 years ago I worked for NBC in North Carolina, and I was driving a news van away from a hurricane when I passed a flooded cemetery. I had this sudden vision of two people battling through the muck to obtain something of value. It took me a decade to figure out who they were and what they were after. What solved the puzzle was the idea of a kid becoming an apprentice to one of these grave robbers. That kid became Joey Crouch, and the master grave robber became Ken Harnett (aka The Resurrectionist), and their epic adventure became ROTTERS.

Q: If you had a soundtrack for ROTTERS what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate to the story or characters?

DANIEL: Before I wrote a word, I decided I was going to write the entire book while listening to black metal -- a subgenre I knew almost nothing about. Eventually black metal became part of the plot, and a fictional band in the book became a real-life musical project. You can read all about it, and hear my playlist, over at Largehearted Boy.

Q: How did you get into writing? What/who were some of your early influences?

DANIEL: I grew up on Stephen King. By the time I was out of middle school I'd read his entire collection and, maybe just as important, had this special bookshelf on my wall where I kept all of his books. I strayed from King as I got older, but never in my life have I loved a writer as much as I loved Stephen King in middle school. He got me through those years. So although our styles are different, I think some of his plotting instincts are worked into my DNA.

I started writing stories in first or second grade and by the time I hit my King streak, I was writing notebook-length manuscripts, and then novel-length in high school. Despite all of this, I took a detour into filmmaking that lasted throughout my 20s.

(Note from Stephanie: And I found Daniel's books as impossible to put down as King's when I was reading them in middle school! Crazy!)

Q: You're a filmmaker, too, which is awesome. Can you tell us a bit about that side of your career and maybe how it links to or feeds your writing? You did some horror shorts, didn't you? Did those influence ROTTERS at all?

DANIEL: The horror shorts you refer to are the spectacularly terrible movies I made as a teen living in Iowa. Most of them were remakes of movies like Night of the Living Dead and The Blob. I can only hope that they had no influence whatsoever on ROTTERS. In truth, though, I don't think my real films feed much into the novels, either. They exercise entirely different parts of the brain. In fact, I've edited the past two films between novel drafts. It clears the head.

Q: What's next up for you?

DANIEL: I can't talk about specifics. But more books. More deeply unsettling books.

Q: I have two standard questions that I ask my women who rock and I think it is only fair to ask my very first dude who rocks interviewee as well. The first is a two-parter: what was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

DANIEL: I'm not really sure which album was my first purchase. If I had to guess, I'd say Dokken's "Tooth and Nail," because it was something I wouldn't have wanted my parents to buy for me. I do recall getting my grandma to buy me the Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill," which I was pretty proud of.

We didn't have live shows anywhere near where I grew up, so my first concert -- although the word "concert" seems a little grand -- was in Iowa City right before I started college. It was for a local jam band called Dagobah. You're going to have to trust me when I say that this is an embarrassing admission.

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

DANIEL: Great question. Getting the email from Guillermo del Toro that he was blurbing my book was pretty cool. Also, Random House hosted a big fancy dinner for ROTTERS a few weeks ago. I never thought my disgusting book about grave robbing would ever be celebrated with hot smoked grain mustard seed glazed king salmon and rich chocolate bombe. It boggles the mind.

Thanks, Daniel!

Yes, now you can see why I think Daniel Kraus is made of awesome and ROTTERS sounds crazy good! So crazy good that I bet you want a copy, don't you? Well, guess what.....

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a contest!

Daniel Kraus is kindly putting a signed copy of ROTTERS up for grabs to one lucky winner. (US Addresses only please due to postage costs.) We're going to do this the same way we do WWRW contests, soooooo

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview (it's the first Guys Rock, Too Interview, so c'mon, spread the word/links!)
+1 for tweeting or posting about ROTTERS.
+5 for blogging about ROTTERS.

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.

I plan to draw the winner on May 18, which if all works out with her schedule and mine is when I hope to have Karen Mahoney for Women Who Rock Wednesday.

Enter away and good luck!