Book Nook: HEX HALL

March 11, 2010

 Someday soon, probably when we meet up again at Miss Rosemarie’s Tea Room for The Scones of Seduction (what does that mean? I don’t know. It’s late and I have post braces bleach trays in that are so potent, they are also frying my brains), I will interview Rachel Hawkins because she is a very, very funny lady who also is so smart and well-read that I often have to google half our conversation. Sometime this month or the next, we’re having a Joint Launch of Awesome in the AL involving massive amounts of pink (princesses) and black (witches)
Her delightful book, HEX HALL, came out last week. Instead of writing a whole new review, here are my thoughts when I read the ARC last year.
Can’t wait until The Book Crazy subsides and I can delve into it again. Go TEAM HEX!

Summary:
When Sophie Mercer turned thirteen, she discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-Gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary.  But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hecate Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward prodigium, a.k.a. witches, fae, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard. Three powerful enemies who look like supermodels; a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock; a creepy, tag-along ghost; and a new roommate, who happens to be the most-hated person and only vampire on campus. Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her friend Jenna is the number one suspect.  Meanwhile, Sophie has a more personal shock to grapple with. Not only is her father the head of the prodigium council, he’s the most powerful warlock in the world, and Sophie is his heir. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all prodigium, especially her.

Grateful, even for the angst

March 2, 2010

 When I was in high school and college, I religiously kept a Grateful Journal. Everyday, I would jot down five things that I was grateful for. It’s an awesome way to promote positive self-reflection and is fun to look back on later–just seeing the date and item brings back memories of a thing or person or feeling that  made me so happy. Like..
12/9 Toothpicks. 
One word. But man, now I remember how much I used to love toothpicks. What a great way to tell the world that you are too cool for proper manners, but you DO care about oral hygeine. Oh, and mint toothpinks! I LOVE MINT TOOTHPICKS.
I stopped doing this sometime after I got married and had kids and was lucky if I even remembered to brush my teeth, let alone write about the joy that is brushing ones teeth.
Joy. Huh. I’m two weeks away from debut and I have to tell you, I’m a huge ball of angst. I even took one of those yahoo quizzes that asked something like, Are You Anxious? or maybe it was Are You In The Fetal Position AGAIN? Suffice it to say, the little quizzy recommended I go take a nap and eat some chocolate. Wait, that was my self-subscribed remedy. 
And although I’m stressed about putting our house on the market next week and this job hubby might get and these revisions that I am busting my butt to nail and all the pre-book stuff (contests! Must post contests), I think most of it is idea that The Moment is almost here. My book will be out very very soon, and for some reason, that makes me more nervous than joyous. I don’t think I can fully articulate why. Years ago, I had a friend on the eve of her release write me this angsty email and I didn’t understand. BUT YOU ARE GOING TO BE PUBLISHED, I thought. I didn’t get what came with that. Now, more and more, I do.
But I want you to know, despite the gang of butterflies that have taken permanent residence in my stomach, I’m grateful. So so grateful. There are so many writers who are far more talented than I who have yet to get their break. I know how frustrating that is, that waiting, because I was there and I’m very glad I don’t have to go back to the Land of Will It Ever Happen. It is happening. Right. Now.
So here are five words today that remind me of some happy happy things that have come with selling this book. They might not mean much to you, but I can look back years from now and remember exactly what these mean to me.
1. Dedication page
2. The tenners
3. Mutant Insects
4. The word AUTHOR
5. Doing it. Really doing it.

P4H out in the UK

February 1, 2010

Today was cool. Today, across an ocean, the UK edition of PRINCESS FOR HIRE debuted (published with Egmont UK. Buy it on Amazon UK) I woke up this morning (oddly enough, craving fish and chips) and thought, I wish there was something I could do today that marks me being published. And wouldn’t you know it, my doorbell rang and there was the DHL guy with a box!! Of books! My books! I didn’t check the return address until after I signed and then I made this odd yipping sound.
"It’s my book!"
"Oh, you ordered books."
"No, it’s MY Book! I’m an.. an…" pause to reflect on my five year journey while DHL guy checks his watch. "an author."
My girls were super excited and insisted we have a photo shoot.
Okay. Since they INSISTED.


The box was very well packaged, which is reassuring considering it had to cross the ocean

Can it be? Is it? Is it….

 


Behold, the wonder of pink!

I rejoice.


As is the way of motherhood, the photo shoot shifted attention to the real stars, who first had to find their handbags and don pink dresses.

We worked up quite the appetite, so we hit up Panera (calories magically deteriorate on release days. True Fact. Already plotting menu for US launch). Lo and behold, next door was a shining majestic Barnes and Noble. Of course, I couldn’t buy my own book. That would require a passport and plane tickets. Luckily, my crazy fan girl sister and sister-in-law had a picture of them being, you guessed it, CRAZY FAN GIRLS in ESPN magazine.

ESPN has a distrubution in, like, the bazillions. Once again, little sis has one-upped me! *shaking fist*

To celebrate UK launch, I did an interview with my old critique buddy and author of SWAPPED BY A KISS, Luisa Plaja, at CHICKLISH. I also did a guestpost about pink covers at Once Upon a Bookcase and there’s a good discussion going on you can jump in on.
AND…
I’m giving away a signed copy of the UK edition of PRINCESS FOR HIRE!!!! To enter, just comment below. Open to INTERNATIONAL readers. Link if you like. I’ll pick a name at the end of the week. 
Cheerio!

My house and heart are bursting with JUBILATION. Jubilation and the Post-Christmas Toy Apocalypse

December 29, 2009

Alternative Title: Some Wonderful Gifts I Acquired This Holiday Season.

1. Tea cup from Irene Latham (author of LEAVING GEE'S BEND, out next week!) and Rachel Hawkins (HEX HALL)
Rachel, Irene and I had a little pre-baby tea party at our local literary watering hole, Miss Rosemarie's Tea Room. Now, I'm not a tea drinker (much to the disappointment of Miss Rosemarie, who gives me this look every time I say "Just water"), but I am a lover of scones, and Miss Rosemarie ROCKS the scones. I actually take a picture of them every time we go there.

But even better than the scones (OK, maybe tied. We're talking some major scone-age, people) was the lovely tea cup Irene and Rachel got for me! I can't wait to have an office so I can put it on display next to all my yet-to-be-acquired awards. At least I know between the two of them I can brag that THE Irene Latham and THE Rachel Hawkins gifted me something fancy.

2.  A Clean Home
My Christmas gift from my mom was possibly one of the best presents ever–sanity by way of a clean house. Between revisions and pregnancy and holiday madness, my house was looking like The Funk. These women came in and FIXED that. They vaccummed the stairs! I will not embarrass myself and tell you how long it's been since I've done that. Even better, I still get two more monthly visits from the blessed cleaning angels. After that, I might be treating myself to a Valentines present. Then Saint Patty's Day. Then…
2. Author copy of Princess for Hire (Egmont UK edition)
I came home from the hospital with my baby to find a book baby in the mailbox! I had no idea it was coming, which made it even more exciting. And I didn't know the gold lettering would be so shiny. Soooooo shiny.

Sorry about the blurry pic, but do you see the glow? For a better shot, go to Amazon UK and since you're there, feel free to buy it.
UK version will be out Feb 1, which is only like… whoa, a month away or something. Wait, what is the date today? It's still December, right?

4. Books for girls from publisher
AND another package… loads and loads of books for my girls from my wonderful publicist! The beauty of Hyperion is that they have all these great picture books/easy readers from the likes of Mo Williams, but since they're Disney-owned, we have the princess hook-up. I'll admit, I usually only buy picture books that mommy wants, so TV/movie characters are a no. This made my daughters even more excited, that mommy was "letting" them have Disney princess books.

5 And, of course, the arrival of my beautiful baby girl… Princess Logan
(Yep. I said PRINCESS. Just an FYI to that stupid hospital nurse who informed me Logan is supposed to be a boy name. Well, Chiquita is supposed to be a banana name, so let's let bygones just… yeah).

Yo're probably at work right now and just let out an audible "Aw" and everyone is looking at you, huh? That's OK. Show them the picture. You're not human if you don't awww at a baby like that.
Not that I'm biased.
Here's a confesssion: this pregnancy was different than the others because I had so much going on that I didn't spend as much time really mentally preparing for the event. Even after I delivered Logan (which, hate me if you must, was an easy and quick experience), I kept looking at her like, Wait, where did you come from? How am I going to do this? How exactly do you change a diaper without getting peed on again?
But now that she is here, in my arms, she is mine. And I'm so grateful to have a baby at this time–this time of year, this time in my career, this time in my life. It's been wonderful to give myself so completely to this little angel. I've had some great Squee! moments this past year–selling another book, seeing my words in print, building wonderful writerly friendships–but it's still different than that ache in my arm from holding my baby too long, or that moment when her eyes flutter open after a succesful feeding and my heart just bursts with absolute joy. More joy in the daytime, not so much during her Hey Mom, Let's Kick it/CRY night-time hours.
But still, loads of joy.
Hope your holidays were likewise magical. I can't believe 2010–also known as The Year I Try Not To Go Nuts–is upon us soon.
(It hasn't happened yet, has it? It is still December, right? Wait, what day is it?)

Grandpa

November 10, 2009

In my swollen, cranky, creaky state, my daily complaint is that I feel like I’m ninety years old. Now, my grandpa? He actually is ninety one. Ninety one with a plethora of health issues I would list, but I leave the 100 page medical papers to my husband. Also, his memory isn’t the best. Understandable, considering that is a lot of living to keep track of. Hey, I’m lucky if I can keep my children apart and I’m twenty… something (this is how 29 year-old women in denial describe their age) The thing about my grandpa, however, is he’s not an epic Crank. There are bad days. He’s also fortunate to have the company of my grandma as well as some wonderful caregivers and my saintly (er… mostly) uncle to assist him in his final years. But though he may not remember all his grandkids, even though he take more meds than an entire psych ward, every time I’ve visited him since college, the man has made me laugh.

For example, when we discussed him turning ninety, I asked if he wanted me to have a girl jump out of a cake.
"I don’t like cake. I like pie."
"OK," I conceeded. "We won’t do it then."
His eyes widened. "Wait. A girl and a pie. That would be worth the mess."

My uncle just sent me this Halloween pic of my grandpa and his caretaker. It made my day and made me think.

My writing style is something I’ve obviously struggled with because I’ve mentioned it before on my blog. Sometimes, I do this stupid thing where I apologize or downplay my book because of the humor. It’s not full of dark themes or epic truths. There is no Newbery in PRINCESS FOR HIRE’S future.  It’s light and fast and fun. And you know what? There’s value in funny.  It can cure many things other more acclaimed literature may not. Grandpa’s feigned shock expression reminded me of that. Laugh at life and all that.
Man, I hope the expression is feigned. Otherwise, this whole blog post is kind of a dud, huh? 🙂