Sunday, September 30, 2012

The song that inspired For Ever

There was definitely some musical inspiration behind the writing of For Ever. I listen to a lot of music while writing. Two of the most influential bands, for me, have been The Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails. However, there are a lot of bands whose entire catalog I don't own but I absolutely worship one or two of their songs.

One song in particular that inspired a great deal in For Ever -- particularly the very end -- came out while I was still in high school, 1995 to be exact. (I guess that reveals my age!) The album it's on is named after a household appliance, and it's by a band that was active nearly as long as I've been alive (1981 to 2011).

The sound of the song and its lyrics -- pretty much everything -- fit the last chapter of For Ever in so many ways.

So, can you guess the song?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tease! You're it

All right. So, I was going to do a teeny tiny one-line teaser of Never today, but I changed my mind! Plus, I'm hoping, not too far down the road, to tease Chapter 1 of Never (Emerge), but it'll have to wait. ... I hate waiting.

Without further ado ...

*** Teaser ***

Monday, September 24, 2012

For Ever's in-progress cover (re-design) reveal!!!

I am a very impatient person, so For Ever's newly redesigned cover art has been burning a hole in my brain! That said, those of you who are here because you took a chance on For Ever get to see the working cover re-design before it gets finalized and goes up on Amazon. (Take into account that this is still evolving, so some details may change. As soon as it's done-done, I'll put the real deal up.)

*** Cover reveal after the jump! ***

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random weekly teaser

I just realized that the week is half over -- and I haven't done a weekly teaser for Never, which is still with the editor. On another note, I am very happy (and thoroughly relieved given the long break I took after finishing Never's first draft) to say that I've spent the past two days -- hoping to make this three -- working on the third book. And w-o-w. This one is already surprising me. But I can't give anything away, obviously, considering Never has yet to arrive.

Next up, I'm just dying to show off the concept art behind For Ever's cover redesign. My designer took an idea that I wasn't sure would work and made it look so awesome! Beautiful, colorful, haunting, creepy -- love it! And I'm going out of my mind waiting to see what he does with Never's cover. So exciting to get two covers back-to-back!

That's all for now! Well, except for this ...

*** Never's weekly teaser ***

Monday, September 17, 2012

For Ever's cover re-design to be unveiled (soon!)

I actually have two concepts in front of me right now, and while I will always be sentimental about the original cover, the new art just shows what a great graphic designer can do. I suppose I should look into doing a "cover reveal" with bloggers, but the book is already out. As soon as I get things nailed down, For Ever's new cover will be unveiled.

So awesome!!!

Let me know what you think when I post it. I, for one, love it. And Never's cover is coming soon. So much good stuff. It's really making what started out as a less than stellar Monday turn out to be pretty fantastic.

Teasers from Never later this week (have to pace myself!) ... Stay tuned.

Stories that never leave you

One of the very first classes I took in college was an intro to creative writing workshop that was being taught by a graduate student in the English program. Each week, she would assign us different stories to read. Then we'd talk about them. One would be used to teach about point of view. Another would be used to teach about unreliable narrators. You get the point.

There was a purpose behind each one. ... And it was in college that I learned I didn't always want to read with a purpose in mind. I want to be absorbed in what I'm reading, make random discoveries, think about the characters -- but I do not want to be on a mission to identify each instance of symbolism.

I try to write my stories in the same way -- with fresh eyes, wondering where they'll go. Did I know how For Ever would end when I started it? Not a clue. When I began, I kind of figured my story would have a happy ending. I really like happy endings. Because if nothing ever ends well, where's the hope?

For Ever and its characters had their own ideas, and that's why it ended the way it did. It didn't feel comfortable, tidy, and wrapped up. But it felt right in my head. It ended where it was supposed to.

Sigh. I've gotten off topic. Back to my freshman English workshop. Rather than reading the assigned material, I happened to flip to another story in our anthology, and I started reading it mostly because of the title -- "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Written by Joyce Carol Oates and published in 1966, the story was like a black hole. It sucked me in.

And the ending was so horribly creepy and unsettling that I became somewhat obsessed with Oates's story about fifteen-year-old Connie. It was written more than forty-five years ago, and I read it during college (more than fifteen years ago). I still think about it, though.

Some stories just never leave you, which I think is pretty awesome.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How I came to write For Ever for just one person

Okay, the title of my post is tongue-in-cheek. Sort of. ... Recently I told my husband (For Ever's first supporter) that it's fitting that I wrote this book for one person to love. And for the record, I wasn't talking about him. Reading a young adult paranormal romance doesn't rank very high on his list of entertaining activities.

I have always been better at one-on-one interactions. I don't do well in large groups, because (for me) it never feels like anything truly meaningful gets said. You can barely hear the person next to you, or you're more interested in the conversation taking place two seats down, or you end up making polite, bland chit-chat with someone you barely know.

Ultimately, I would just rather have that intense conversation off in a corner that nobody else but one other person is interested in. And after I received an e-mail from someone who really enjoyed For Ever, it finally clicked: I wrote my story the same way I like my interactions. One-on-one. If I attempted to write a story with universal appeal, I would probably fail miserably. So instead, I'll keep having conversations off in a corner with people who respond in kind.

The above photo is random, taken on vacation, but it's pretty, and I think it underscores the fact that beauty (and value) is in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Outsider syndrome

I was born in Southern California and grew up there. More specifically, I spent most of my early childhood moving all over L.A. (and Orange) County. And I have to say, the reality shows that sprang up (The Hills, Laguna Beach, etc.) long after I moved away are a far cry from my life growing up. And while I've always loved warm weather -- and spent many long summers at the beach -- I've never felt "at home" where I was born.

When I was eighteen, I moved north for college and later made my way to the Bay Area, where I worked at newspapers, both as a clerk and a reporter, and then later, in public relations. (I am exceptionally grateful to my business owner/philanthropist uncle who let me live in a spare bedroom of his crazy, sprawling, funky house for the better part of a year while I made next to no money -- particularly because it was during this time that I met my husband!)

I have great memories and enduring fondness for the Bay Area, but it only took one weekend trip to Portland, Ore., to fall in love. Now, more than six years later -- even though I love it here -- I realize I may never feel completely at home, which is something I think comes out in everything I write and every character who possesses me to write his or her words.

As a result, For Ever and its characters are products of my own outsider syndrome.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For Ever’s Playlist

My playlist for The Ever Series is a constantly evolving thing. During the writing and editing For Ever (sequel is with the editor now!), I had a lot of songs on repeat and found that sometimes the lyrics fit a particular point in the story well. Other times, it was more the sound of a certain song. But overall, music is an integral part of my writing process, even though sometimes I don't even notice it's playing in the background!

I tend to gravitate toward stuff that isn’t top 40 (or at least isn’t anymore), and most of it’s a little eerie and/or sad. I always have iTunes going while I’m writing; it feels like something is missing if I don't. Then, when I’m not writing, I barely listen at all. Not sure why. I guess music equals inspiration and vice versa. I haven't listened to music much since finishing Never, but I'm planning to start up again -- soon -- for the third book.

So, if you're looking for a completely random list of songs, here it is:

Chapter 1: Smile Like I Mean It
- Smile Like You Mean It, The Killers

Chapter 2: This Is Nowhere
- Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans, Smashing Pumpkins

Chapter 3: Perfect
- Rest My Chemistry, Interpol

Chapter 4: Caring Is Creepy
- See My Friends, Gravenhurst

Chapter 5: Blank Page
- Rhinoceros, Smashing Pumpkins
- Right Where It Belongs, Nine Inch Nails

Chapter 6: Momentary Thing
- Elegia, New Order

Chapter 7: Run
- Jellybelly, Smashing Pumpkins
- Where Boys Fear to Tread, Smashing Pumpkins
- A Place to Hide, White Lies

Chapter 8: Tear Me Apart
- Death, White Lies

Chapter 9: Space Boy
- Alice, Cocteau Twins

Chapter 10: Disappear Completely
- Gasoline Rain, Moondog

Chapter 11: Love
- Minerva, Deftones
- Half of You, Cat Power

Chapter 12: Unfinished Business
- Popplagi›, Sigur Rós

Chapter 13: My Friends
- Kids, MGMT
- Young Folks, Peter Bjorn and John

Chapter 14: The Silence
- Everlong, Foo Fighters
- Intro, The XX

Chapter 15: Mirror
- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (Guess the song!)
- How to Disappear Completely, Radiohead

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Am I paranoid?

Yes, you're paranoid! Okay, unless you've listened to "Original Pirate Material" by The Streets (2002 -- that long ago?!), I guess my little inside joke makes no sense. But it gives me a laugh every time. Truth be told, most of my pop culture reference points are a little bit off the beaten path. However, I am indeed paranoid. About a great number of things, in fact. Call it my inherent neurosis.

To overcome this, when I published For Ever -- without an agent or a publisher -- I was very much like my MC Wren when she told herself that she didn't care if she sat alone at lunch for the rest of her junior year. I told myself that I didn't care if anyone read or liked For Ever. That was a big, fat lie. I care deeply, but I am not seeking universal applause. I'm hoping for about 50/50. I think eventually that's what it comes down to. Some people will love it; others not so much.

People have vastly different opinions, and the ones I'm hoping to reach are those who stay up all night reading before anxiously awaiting the next chapter in Wren and Ever's story -- you know who you are!

Never is going to be a wild ride, and I'm actually finding that I'm even more excited about this one than I was about For Ever. (I still love the first book, of course!) Ooh, and I almost forgot ... I'm going to be posting a playlist of some songs I had playing (over and over) while I wrote For Ever.

Quiet moments

When books get adapted into films, sometimes I find myself cringing. If I've never read the book in question, then fine. Whatever. I'll never know the difference. But if I've read a book and loved it, then I am usually afraid of the movie version. Part of me really wants to see it -- after all, who doesn't want to "see" what's only been imagined? But another part of me truly dreads the film version.

Because, more often than not, some of the magic (or all of it) has been wiped away. The scenes I held close to my heart aren't there. The lead actors don't seem to have the chemistry I envisioned in my head. Something extraneous gets added in to make the film more "action-packed" or more "marketable to the masses." Or everything feels rushed rather than fluid. For me, there's something special about the transitions and passage of time in certain books -- elements that tend to get chewed up and garbled in many film versions.

This is not to say that I loathe all adaptations! I love (and own) Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (whose last name my fingers very persistently keep trying to misspell!). The movie was beautifully filmed, and it felt streamlined, not chopped. It had what I like to call "quiet moments." And in my mind, films -- action, drama, romance -- always need quiet moments. Moments where they're not jumping from plot point to plot point. I do enjoy when books and films race along and make you feel breathless ... but I need my quiet moments!

UK in the lead! (And a quick bonus thank-you teaser)

Presently, those of you across the pond are buying more copies of For Ever than my fellow Americans! (LOL) Did you hear about the book from a friend -- or are you just finding it by happenstance? Have you told your friends about it? I'm curious!

Either way, you have a special place in my heart. And because I just can't help myself ...

*** Compulsive Never teaser after the jump ***

(I'll start looking for some longer passages to tease after I get the working draft back from my editor. ... Let us hope that I don't run out of teasers before the book gets released!)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crashing back to reality

I had this crush in high school who was actually (in certain ways) the basis for Ever. Not so much in looks -- said crush had brown hair and piercing blue -- not green -- eyes. LOL

He showed up in the middle of sophomore year and was a bit of an enigma. And if he even looked in my direction, it was an adrenaline rush. For two and a half years, he totally dominated my thoughts. I obsessed ... and made everyone around me nuts. Like every crush, it was epic highs and crushing lows. Publishing For Ever has actually felt very similar!

Yesterday, after a grand high, I came crashing back to reality. Why? Because I had the brilliant idea to run a very last-minute free promotion on Amazon (thinking to myself, "Fewer people have been buying For Ever since August, so maybe its run is over ... let me test that theory."). By the end of the day (or as close to midnight as I got), For Ever had reached #13 in the Children's Love and Romance category (free) and #56 in the overall Children's Fiction category (free). Now, in my short foray in self-publishing, I know this is not a great feat. It's easy to give away free stuff. People love free stuff.

In the aftermath, I'm left with two questions: First, will anyone who downloaded a copy for free actually read it? And second, are the people who downloaded it for free the intended audience or simply people who like getting free stuff, regardless of whether or not it seems like something they would enjoy?

I just don't know; therefore, my experiment with free is over until I see compelling evidence (i.e. that someone who downloaded it for free read and enjoyed For Ever) to change my mind.

That said, I'm very grateful for the support of the readers who took a risk and splashed out the $0.99 (£0.77). (For those of you who have reached out to say a kind word, I am extra grateful.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Universal Applause is at least Two Thirds of a Scandal

When I forget that not everyone likes everything, I read this passage:
Books, and Dishes have this Common Fate; there was never any One, of Either of them, that pleas'd All Palates. And, in Truth, it is a Thing as little to be Wish'd for, as Expected; For, an Universal Applause is at least Two Thirds of a Scandal. So that though I deliver up these Papers to the Press, I invite no Man to the Reading of them: And, whosoever Reads, and Repents; it is his Own Fault. To Conclude, as I made this Composition Principally for my Self, so it agrees exceedingly Well with My Constitution; and yet, if any Man has a Mind to take part with me, he has Free Leave, and Welcome. But, let him Carry this Consideration along with him, that He's a very Unmannerly Guest, that presses upon another Bodies Table, and then Quarrels with his Dinner.
-- From the preface and postscript to the anthology Seneca's Morals by Way of Abstract, Sir Roger L'Estrange, 1673

(Yes, I am being very post-y today!)

Okay, sometimes you do get something for free ...

For Ever is up for free today on Amazon:

Get it here

Never is coming. Keep an eye out for Never's weekly teasers and more news! If you've already read For Ever -- and you're looking forward to Never(!!!) -- make sure to tell your friends:

You guys are the best!

Sometimes during this little self-publishing journey, I've felt like I'm on an island. Then this week, I received a note from another fan of For Ever. You guys are the best!!! Truly. I appreciate you taking a little time out of your day to say something nice! After all, you are the ones pushing me on this uphill battle. I can shout until I'm hoarse, I can tweet all I want, but people who enjoyed For Ever and are looking forward to Never (big shockers to come!) will be the ones who make the difference in the life of this book series.

That said, every time I get a piece of positive feedback, I want to post all the teasers for Never in one shot. I'm restraining myself, mostly because I've still got a ways to go. I just finished last night cleaning up the current draft and it's now been sent off to the next pair of eyes, which is one more pair of eyes than I had reading For Ever.

I also have some other news that I should probably wait to reveal, but I have zero patience -- so here it is: I am currently (very early) in the process of getting For Ever's cover redesigned. I'll post more about that as it develops. I really wish I could share some of the beautiful images I've been looking at. I want to use all of them, so I guess this series can never (tee hee) end. Let me know what you think about a cover redesign -- in the comments or at

And lastly, I have started the third book in The Ever Series. I hope to make some major headway on that as soon as I can make sure my schedule is clear for a strict write-a-thon.

All right, I'm weak. One more itty-bitty quote from Never ... juicier ones to come!

*** Random Never quote ***

Psst ...

For Ever is free on Amazon for the next 24 hours.

Get it here.

Who's ready for Never?

Don't get hijacked by creepy Web sites

Okay, I was going to do a much more cheerful blog post, but that will have to wait, because creepiness lurks on the Internet. (Gasp!) I just found one of my recent posts linked from a creepy Web site. *Heavy sigh* Again. My advice: don't click on any links and/or suspect Web sites. A few I've had experience with since publishing For Ever include:

Mobile9 (
Phoneky (
Broken Controllers (

The site is the most recent weird site I've found claiming to have a post about For Ever.  I saw a very helpful post from a blogger in the UK who was trying to get her information taken down from the site. I only hope I have better luck than I did with some of these other sites that host pirated content, because I didn't even get a response in those cases.

If any site is promising you free stuff or more information (about pretty much anything), it's more than likely putting spyware on your computer. I've definitely been tempted: Where does that link go? Am I going to get something cool? Alas, I've never gotten anything cool from clicking on a questionable link. Nope. Usually just a headache. And if some site is claiming to be "giving something away for free," then I'm extra-special creeped out. After all, what is that site getting out of it and what do they want from me (other than to steal my account information)?

Surf safely. Avoid creepy Web sites.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A bit of randomness

I have this memory -- a fragment of a memory, really -- about a story that I read when I was probably in grade school. It was about a girl who was receiving anonymous letters from a secret admirer. Really, the only thing I remember about it, other than the premise, is the ending. I was so stunned when I found out that main character had been writing the letters to herself to enlist the sympathy/interest of the guy she was interested in!!!

I still remember reading the last page. It was the last letter written by her "secret admirer" in which the main character exposed that it was all a trick (she wrote the letter to herself). ... Clearly it's stuck with me. The only problem is that I don't remember anything else about the story/book! Not the author, title. Nothing.

Just the ending.

Does anyone else have a random memory from childhood that you just can't put a finger on? Something that continues to lurk in the back of your brain driving you crazy at the oddest moments?

Randomness over.

(Bonus points to anyone who knows what story/book I'm referring to!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Never's weekly teasers

After receiving a very kind e-mail* from a fan of For Ever, I've decided to start releasing a Never quote (or scene) until the book is released. If things moves along full-speed ahead, then maybe the book will come out before I've shared all 24 teasers. ... Hmm, now that would be awesome. We'll see.

Stay tuned. I have other big news in the works!

* A big thank-you to Gena for her praise of For Ever.

*** Bonus teaser after the jump *** 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

*** Teaser *** from Chapter 2 of Never

Here's a little taste of Never, from the second chapter. (All will be explained in the book.)

*** Spoilers ahead ***