Teaser Tuesday at the New Website

 You guys! I shared the first chapter of the zombie book I mentioned the other day. But you can only read it at my new website, where I'll be posting from now on! So add me to your google reader or enter your email address into the subscribe box so you can get notifications when I post.

Because I have some really cool stuff coming up and I don't want you to miss it!

Read the zombie book chapter here!


New Website! (Move Your Subscriptions Over!)

Hey guys,

I've re-launched my author site and have even commissioned a brilliant graphic artist to make me a custom header! I'm going to do all my posting over there from now on. I was even able to import all my posts and your comments from this livejournal, so none of our conversations have been lost :-)

You can subscribe to my posts by entering your email in the widget on the right-hand side of the screen. If you can't see the widget, try viewing in a different browser; I found that Firefox didn't let it show up for me.

In case you're groaning at the prospect of having to sign up for yet another subscription, consider this:

I have some awesome things planned for the future, along with some potentially super exciting news coming up, and you're not going to want to miss it!

Talk to you guys soon!


The 'And Vampires' Game, Conspiracy Theories, and Zombies

I invented a game. It's called the And Vampires game. What you do is take a famous book title and then add 'And Vampires' to the end of it, like so:
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Vampires
  • A Brief History of Time and Vampires
  • Lord of the Rings and Vampires
  • A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Vampires
  • Roses of Ash and Vampires
  • Are you there Vodka? It's me, Chelsea And Vampires
XD. Oh Lord I amuse myself sometimes... what hilarious titles can you come up with?


Sometimes my ceaseless talking about book ideas and plots rubs off on Chris. He's a computer programmer, but exceptionally creative, and sometimes he comes up with book ideas that blow my mind.

The problem is that they're all government-conspiracy-based epics a la Clive Cussler. And after he comes up with these incredibly complicated platforms and histories, he wants me to write them.

Multi-POV, third person narration is not my specialty, at all. But I made him a deal: If he can generate enough back history and write a detailed enough plot, I might be able to make a readable book out of it. Even if it's never in good enough shape to get an agent, we could always self-publish. The nerd community would eat this stuff up: Every conspiracy theory is true, and someone behind the scenes contacts an investigative journalist to blow the cover off everything, mixed in with a centuries-old struggle for power brought to a breaking point by scientific advances that spread something like the Rage virus to unwitting test subjects in South Africa via mosquito bites. Badass, right?

The best part is that he's writing about conspiracy theories, and naming his characters after factoids present in the lives of famous conspiracy theorists. This gives me unchartable glee.

We'll see how it goes.


Speaking of the Rage virus... I mentioned in my last post that I'm potentially working on a zombie book. And while I still haven't gotten an official okay from my agent to work on the story, I have 3k written and am rapidly figuring out the as-yet-unclear parts of the plot. I think I've decided to share an excerpt from the first chapter for Teaser Tuesday, so stay tuned!

Also I had notice from a friend that a friend of hers had just signed with an agent based on a book that sounded eerily similar to the one-line summary I posted on Twitter. I sent her the pitch I have so far and she determined the books are sufficiently different, but whew, those were a tense few minutes.

It happens all the time that books with similar-sounding plots sell, but even a few sentences of summary that sounds exactly like your book will be wildly different in execution.

I'll leave you with this beautiful and awesome song by The Cranberries called Zombie. Please find time to listen to it; you won't regret it. <3


Life and Novel Update!

Today I sent the finished version of Roses of Ash to my agent! Hooray! It feels so good to finally get it off my chest. ROA went through four CPs and underwent some small character modification and word choice issues. Definitely the easiest draft of something I've ever had to edit.

Thank you Rose, for being the easiest character to work with :-)

With it went a few ideas for new stories, including the Steampunk Cinderella, but also one I haven't told you guys about yet. So I'm going to do so now :-)

Chris and I have been playing Left 4 Dead, and one night when I had what I think is my first case of insomnia, the plot for a book just jumped into my head: It's a YA about a girl struggling to escape from her high school after it is locked down during the Zombie Apocalypse. Sort of like The Breakfast Club with zombies :D

After ROA and Nameless, I think this might be the one I work on next, postponing Steampunk Cinderella (provided Teh Agent gives her approval, of course). The reason being that Cinderella still needs a lot of world-building I don't have quite yet, and the plot is still a little fuzzy, whereas the Zombie novel has a complete plot and will be of a genre and POV I'm more comfortable with. Plus I've wanted to do a contemporary for a while, mostly because I feel disinterested in contemporary as a whole and want to test myself by seeing how well I do writing in the 'real world'.

Side note: Here lies the reason why lots of writers don't talk about what they're working on until it's finished... projects get reshuffled and cancelled all the time.

Plus, did I mention I'm MIND-BOGGLINGLY EXCITED about working on a zombie book?! I've had a fascination with zombies for years (you can read about my zombie issues in this article here). What I love about zombie pieces is the tension that flows through them... you never know what's going to be around the next corner. World War Z by Max Brooks is one of my absolutely favorite books of all time... I have zombie anthologies, zombie movies... I even watch zombie short films on youtube. I'll post a longer book summary later on this week so you guys can have knowledge of the awesomeness of this plot :-)

In other news... I'm going on a writer retreat! With the other girls from Let The Words Flow! Next week!

I'm meeting up with Kat Zhang, Susan Dennard, Sarah Maas, and Biljana Likic in Jacksonville, Florida. We're staying in a beach house on the coast and going to Harry Potter world!

I've been looking forward to this for seven months. I lost 15 pounds for the summer and have collected fabulous sangria and cooking recipes to make for the girls. Can't even contain my excitement! While I've never been to Jacksonville, I imagine it looks something like this:

I will definitely take tons of pictures of HP World and share them with you :-)

The Dogma of Hair

I'm not 'into' hair, and can barely manage to straighten my own (when it's not in default ponytail setting). Curling irons are beyond me. Heck, I don't even blow dry my hair - it makes me sweaty and my hand gets all vibratey and I don't like it. Plus I'm terrible at wielding the round brush.

But I do think about hair a lot, not from a style perspective, but from a social perspective. Hair symbolizes a lot of things. Here are my thoughts on the matter, and why, for such a non-styled person, hair is very important to me personally.

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I guess I'm thinking about hair because I'm going to get mine done tomorrow. And while I don't want to be one of those people who blogs/tweets about their hair, maybe from this post you can understand why I find it so interesting and personal.

Do you have any dogmatic ideas about hair and its symbolism?

Camp NaNoWriMo and Renovation Projects

Camp NaNoWriMo started on Friday! I'm there under my typical username, planning to work on the Steampunk Cinderella story. Or I was planning. Because I kind of spent the first few days of Camp NaNoWriMo doing something else instead. Namely tearing apart my kitchen again.

Honestly this kind of works out. I'm thinking of postponing this writing until August when all the bells and whistles will be added to Camp NaNoWriMo, plus it gives me this month to finish out edits on Roses of Ash and maybe confront Nameless again. But feel free to write me a letter at camp if you're participating, and I'll check out your novel summary and excerpts :-)

Meanwhile, here's the fruits of my labor over this holiday weekend:

Original pine-knot wood paneling. Gross.

Last summer; tore down paneling, put up sheetrock, installed new floor.

This last weekend. Installed wainscotting, trim, new closet door (hooray!) and painted everything blue :-)

So that's what I'm up to and why I didn't get anything written this weekend. Hope you all had a good and safe 4th of July!

Discovering Middle Grade Fiction and Fun Steampunk Pictures!

The Golden Compass, Ella Enchanted, Catherine Called Birdy, Dealing with Dragons, Wringer, and the Giver. These were some of my favorite books as I was growing up. And they're all Middle Grade.

Until about a month ago, whenever I thought 'Middle Grade Fiction', I thought of dumbed-down, overly-simplistic YA. Boy was I wrong. Strange how growing up makes you forget some stuff about being a kid. Those stories I list above are the same stories that made me think, 'I want to make stuff like this!'

In the past couple weeks I've read a lot of modern MG, and have become completely enamored. I'm not saying it's my niche as a writer, but looking back now I think that writing MG is what I intended to do all along, I just wasn't aware enough to realize it.


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So, that's more insight into what I'm thinking about and working on. I'm still working on getting together a full-story summary for Steampunk Cinderella, and will share details as soon as I'm comfortable that it's going to stick.



A Theme of Dreams

I've been thinking a lot about themes, and their existence in novels, particularly the novels I'm trying to write. I read recently that themes cannot be planned, they must emerge. That you can only establish your theme after you finish the first draft.

As I talked about in Roses of Ash Deconstructed, the theme that emerged from ROA was resistance against secrecy for the intent to protect. I can't stand it when someone keeps something from me because they think they're protecting me. But I didn't know I'd incorporated that into my novel until it was finished and editing it.

Now that I'm working on another project (which I briefly mention here), I've been thinking a lot about theme and what it might be for this book. I've also been reading a lot of MG in preparation of working on my own, and have been startled because it's really just like YA, except pursuit of romance is replaced by pursuit of friendship and family. It's taken me back to a more innocent time, where I was far more occupied with what I was doing and finding my place in the world than worrying about others and how they would influence me.

And now that the steampunk cinderella story is slowly coming together, I think the theme for it has already presented itself: the pursuit of your dreams even when everyone tells you that you can't.

That you're not allowed. That you're the wrong age, or gender. That you come from the wrong family.

When I was growing up, there were things I was 'supposed' to do. Get a basketball scholarship. Get a 4.0. Go to college. Certain religious/social expectations. Get a career and make money. Have children.

Well, I don't like sports. I did college for a while but having a typical experience wasn't something that either worked out for me or was what I really wanted to do. I love kids, but they're not for me at this point, perhaps ever. But worst of all, I didn't want to get a 'career'. I wanted to be a writer.

I was lucky. My family was supportive, but realistic. But I've had so many friends whose parents not only could not understand their dreams, but expressly forbade it. Wouldn't let their children have friends. Wouldn't let them have access to the internet. Wouldn't let them go anywhere. Wouldn't let them join extracurricular activities. It used to make me so mad and sad at the same time.

When you rip up your child's sketchbooks, when you break their CDs, when you delete their accounts, when you make them transfer schools, and throw away things they've purchased, you kill your child's spirit. You kill their dreams.

The main character of my steampunk retelling is a girl from a wealthy family who wants to be a Tinkerer. Her gender, age, and status make this nearly unthinkable. But she works in secret, sometimes taking on disguises and secret identities, just to be able to pursue her dream, despite her family trying to stop her at every turn. The secondary character is a boy from a high-status family who wants nothing more than to be a magician. He sneaks out and learns magic despite other Magicians pushing him away because of his age and the tattered Magician's cloak he wears.

Internalizing the theme and remembering those feelings I had when I was a kid listening to my friends face the panic and depression of a life without the dreams they craved most, I feel compelled to write this story for future MG readers out there. Maybe for girls who want to grow up and enter 'boy' fields like science and math. Maybe for boys who want to abandon family tradition and pursue something silly, like magic, that makes them happy.

Mostly for anybody who ever had to hide their passion for fear of having it torn out of their hands.

After Roses, with a Birthday Vlog!

 Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented with love and support on the posts about finishing ROSES OF ASH. You have no idea what kind of confidence that gives me to keep moving forward. <3
Savannah and Heart
This is me trying to make a hand heart. But I'm bad at it because my thumb skin is naturally really curved...

Since it's been a couple days I thought I'd update and let you know what's been happening since the official finish:

I sent ROA to my first CP, and finished her edits last night. Thankfully the book seems to be in pretty good shape, and her comments had more to do with specific scene modifications than huge plot errors. Among her comments: "I love the fairytale tone of this. It really reminds me of the legends of old." That sentence has pretty much carried me through the last week.

After a brief mishap where I lost a night's work (thanks Open Office), ROA is now in the hands of my second CP. After her notes (and potential revisions), I will send it to my agent.

Now that ROA is off my plate (again), it's time to return to NAMELESS revisions. I'm a little more than halfway through the book, and frankly feeling a little burnt out. Have you ever worked on a project so long you just get sick of it? The analogy I've been using is that NAMELESS is like a new adult who won't move out of the house. I'm so ready for it to be out on the world and living on its own, but it still needs just a little more time and attention.

When I'm not working on NAMELESS (or ROA), I'm plotting and sketching out a brand new story, the pitch of with I'm excited to share with you today!

Here's the one line pitch: It's a Middle Grade magical steampunk Cinderella retelling, where instead of a slipper there's an invention everyone is desperate to find the creator of, and instead of a Prince the goal is a scholarship to a Tinkering school.

I'll share the full pitch soon (SOON!) in a later post once I hash out some of the later plot details. I already have the first chapter written and it's adorable. But, I've never written a Middle Grade before, and this requires some research. If you guys could let me know your favorite MG books, particularly if they have magic in them, I would super appreciate it. I have some gift cards to B&N from my birthday I'm planning on using for research. I've already purchased a book called Creating Characters Kids Will Love.

Oh, did I not mention I had a birthday? Yeah, that happened on May 25th. Totally forgot to tell you guys. It was pretty neat. I even made you a vlog I planned to share, but then I forgot, and then it was out of date (it talked about me finishing up ROA and the plans for that, which you already know). However, I will share with you the intro I made for the vlog, where I sing and dance. Eep!

<3, Savannah