Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A few words about Alvor

I know there are millions of people out there who have never read Alvor. So, for those of you who may have questions, here is an introduction without spoilers....

Alvor hit the shelves of Barnes & Noble in the Young Reader (age 7 and up) category

Why? Although the main characters are fifteen, the story is pure fun and requires no parental supervision to enjoy. This is a book that can be read aloud to children as young as four.

And yet, teens love it. Adults love it. It turns out there isn't an age limit to a fun clean story.

So while it's listed as a YA book on Amazon, it's rated as a young reader book for content. There's not a gory, gross, graphic or dirty scene in the whole novel. Really. I promise.

Alvor is a three-book series. The first book finishes with satisfaction, but leaves the door wide open for questions. The second book addresses the most obvious questions and the third book will end the series.

The second book has a working title of WINGS OF LIGHT. It will go to press February 11 and be released sometime in April. This book falls in step with the first book in that it could be categorized as Middle Grade due to the clean content. All three books in the series will follow this pattern.

I do school presentations for elementary, middle/Jr. high schools and high schools. As a former secondary education teacher, I am well versed in teaching kids. In other words, I know how to have a blast talking about reading and writing.

And, I am versatile in giving specific direction on writing and editing should a class want that kind of opportunity.

This year I am giving free school visits. You can have me for free as long as you're nice and schedule the visit in advance.

For schools who want a fund-raiser, I have books orders available where schools can earn $1 for each book ordered. I always sell books at a discount to schools. That includes teachers and librarians.

How do you get a visit or order books at a discount? Go to my website

That's Alvor in a nutshell. If you have anything to add, or a question at all, feel free to ask.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your Words

A day in the life of all of you... I couldn't resist! These are all your words.

Nothing interesting happened today.

We had to read a LOT of Puritan poetry, Dante, my husband is reading Maze Runner, the Maze Runner was incredible, finally started reading the first 13th Reality book to my son and just got a dopy of Joy Feilding’s Charley’s Web in the mail today. I love the smell of a new book!! Even if I don’t win, I’m getting it the day of!

I have my final Japanese test, a chemistry quiz, a PreCalc test yesterday and totally blanked on some formulas, but I got an 82! I got 100 on my math test.

Today my youngest had his first homework for kindergarten and is going to his first piano lesson. I took a flower arranging class. I’m not very creative but I love flowers. My students would FREAK if I brought in an ARC of Scorch Trials. I play volleyball for my high school team. I love sports and reading. Hour long violin lessons and piano lessons. My softball team had to move up to the harder division. Very exciting!

I just cleaned out a bag of rotting potatoes. I packed 2 boxes today. I packed the pictures on the walls and boy, does it look bare. I picked about 240 dozen ears of corn. I’m expecting around 1,400 4th graders to come through my corn maze. I’m almost done painting my office and can finally move the furniture back in. Yay!

Tomorrow is my fiancee’s birthday, and I’m very excited to go out to eat. I am going to be a mother-in-law for the first time. I have 6 children and still find time to read. I was feeling tired and stretched in many different directions and all the suddenly elastigirl popped into my brain from the Incredibles and I thought, I am like a superhero! Aren’t all moms? My baby brother just fell on his butt while trying to walk… when I’m in college he won’t even be in kindergarten. My two year old is FINALLY potty trained!! My brother is getting married on Saturday. I have a nephew now! Today my mum just came back from a conference in Klang, Selangor. I’m so excited she’s back! I just came from lunch with my sister-in-law.

My china cabinet fell over today and broke all my Country Roses china. I only have 1 tea cup left….sniff.

We waited last night to see if we had to evacuate because of the Machine Gun Fire in Herriman.

I’m actually scared right now. I am having surgery to remove the cancer next to my right eye. But I know that I am going to make it, and that the sun will keep coming up each morning.

I tried picking out a picture, for what road I’m on, but I couldn’t decide! I think it’s probably sort of like Lombard’s St. in San Francisco.

A squirrel peed on my head today and I wish I was kidding. But I’m not.

I’m so excited- I’m getting a service dog next week. My cousin left me with his dog while he is gone and Mondo is a sweet dog. I wish I HAD a dog.

I got more than 1 hr. of sleep last night! I couldn’t sleep and have been up from 2:30 a.m. and now wondering how I am going to work this morning!

I am a bored banker who writes on the side. I was mentioned on a HUGE online interview with Selena Gomez. I’m a medical transcriptionist and the A/C is always out. I just got my first rejection from an editor this week, but it’s okay because it was very nice.

I just ate a Bagel, egg, sausage & cheese sandwich from McDonald’s. It was delicious. I made Spaghetti for dinner tonight and if I may say so myself, it was DELICIOUS! Today I ate out of a chocolate fountain at a dinner for my college’s honors program. I am being lazy today and got a rotisserie chicken for dinner.

I threw my pillow at my tv after watching the season finale of True Blood.

I live in the Philippine Islands in Asia and we scarcely get the good books in the bookstore. Any bookworm would die out here.

I saved a baby from choking.

I heard from a friend today that I hadn’t heard from for a very long time.

My favorite color is mauve, I like rabbits (to pet, not to eat) and if I don’t leave right now, I’ll be late.

Hope you have a nice day! :D

Monday, September 27, 2010


It's here. The day you've all been waiting for!

Congratulations Tere Kirkland!

So, I'm out of new books. I just finished Mockingjay, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, The Scorch Trials and the latest 13th Reality book. And I'm fresh out of new material.

Any suggestions for another read?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Scorch Trials Giveaway!

So, I got an unexpected package in the mail today- another Advanced Reader Copy of THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner.

How cool is that? So, since I have two copies, I can't NOT give you a chance to win.

Do you want it? How could you not????

Here's the rules....

* be a Very Cool Person (i.e. follower on this blog)
* leave your e-mail address in your comment
* and Say something!!! Like that your dog finally learned how to roll over or that you bought a new package of pencils today. I don't know. Just something. I love reading about you people.

I'll use to choose a winner September 27. Good luck!

Which Road are You On?

Life is a highway. Or a street somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Or something else altogether.

The question is, which road are you on? Is your life barely hanging on to the cliff or is it going around in one continuous never-ending cycle?
Or does it feel like you are headed straight into the unknown with no way of being sure that the end will be what you hoped?
Or are you in middle of the constant stream of ups and downs?

Maybe the point really is that you're still on the road. That you haven't turned into a rest stop and refuse to leave.

Here's my little motivational thought for the day. Keep driving. The road's gonna change. It never stays the same forever and it's worth the ride. One of these days you're going to look out your window and realize how beautiful everything really is.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Winner and a Snickers Bar

I don't buy candy bars unless it's Halloween.

Notice the period?

Last night my husband brought my 13 yr. old son to the store with him after picking him up from football practice. (yes, you heard right. He wants to play football now. )

Anyway, Snickers bars were buy one get one free. And being the soft daddy that he is, my husband bought my son a candy bar. And then thoughtfully put the other one in the freezer to eat later crushed up over ice cream, which to my utter astonishment is very awesome.

Remember the part about me not buying candy bars? I'm probably the only one that's never tried that with a Snickers bar before.

So I see the candy bar, get the short version of how it came to be at our house, and then ask what the heck nougatocity is. I can barely pronounce it.

Then left the room. You know, to catch two minutes of reading time because the kids are all in bed and the house is finally silent.

Then I hear my husband reading from the wrapper...
Nougatocity- a heightened yet fleeting state of accomplishment that makes you realize how unbelievably unmotivated you normally are.

What? Seriously? You buy a candy bar and it insults you? I'm unbelievably unmotivated normally? Ouch.

Whatever happened to FORTUNE cookies? Tell me something happy. You know, Dove Promises? I like happy.

I muttered "unbelievably unmotivated you normally are" for the rest of the evening.

And now on to less profound thoughts not found in the wrapper of a candy bar....

The winner of the $50 CSN gift card goes to throuthehaze

Thanks to all you Very Cool People who signed up and shared your warm thoughts. I loved hearing from you. Now I'm totally in the mood for applesauce. And pie. And hot chocolate. And cozy time reading on the couch not eating insulting Snickers bars.

Next time I'm buying Dark Chocolate Reeces.... and it better not call me names.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Scorch Trials Review

I know most of you haven't read THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner because, well, it's not out yet. It will be October 12 and you're not gonna want to miss this one.

THE MAZE RUNNER was released last year on my birthday, October 6. I decided that for my birthday I would go to every book carrying store and see who had The Maze Runner. If I didn't see it on the shelf, I asked someone when it was coming in or if they could order it for me.

And, for the record, I honestly think that the last book my husband read was The Maze Runner. Seriously.

So when The Scorch Trials ARC was circulating through the literary community, I wanted one. So bad. And for some reason I was lucky enough to have Random House generously send me a free copy to review. So cool. I did a little dance in the middle of a store when my husband called to tell me that it arrived at our house. I was that excited.

Without further ado, I give you my thoughts on The Scorch Trials....

Holy Flipping Action, Batman. There is no dead time in this story (no pun intended). James has no fear when it comes to his imagination. There is no action too tense or gut tightening. If you enjoyed "The Dark Knight", there are parts of this book that will resonate with you.

If you're a little wimpy, like me, and like a smart book with witty twists, this book delivers. It has more than the fast-paced action, it has a plot with some thought.

So, whatever turns you on to a book, an unexpected kiss, a gun in the hands of a maniac, or a smart twisting plot, this is the story you're looking for.

Lastly.... and I've been really struggling with the last part of this post. Really. See, I've been thinking long and hard about giving up the ARC to some well intentioned blog reader, aka- you, since I was planning on buying THE SCORCH TRIALS anyway. But my husband still wants to read it.

So here's the deal. If you convince me that you want it badly enough, the guilty conscience side of me might listen. But you've really gotta want it. Otherwise, my husband is thinking two copies of The Scorch Trials at our home might just be a really good thing. Hmmm, we'll see who wins.

Plan on making this series a part of your personal library. You won't be sorry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oooh... Time for another giveaway!

Are you breaking out the hot chocolate, warm soup and dutch ovens yet?

Doesn't peach cobbler sound amazing?

Fall hasn't officially started according to the calendar, but we can't wait until September 23 to turn on the heater. One great thing about cooler weather is the excuse to make warm food. All summer I avoid the kitchen as much as I can. We live on pasta salad for dinner.

But now? Oh yeah. We're breaking out the good warm foods.

And, to help you make some of your own, CSN is offering a $50 gift card. Keep reading and I'll tell you how to sign up.

But first, SCBWI is having a conference here in Boise September 11. Tomorrow! I'm so excited. I get to present and hang out with some amazing people.

And tonight, I'll be signing books with some other awesome authors at the Rediscovered Bookshop from 6-8 PM, 180 N. 8th Street, between Main and Idaho.

If you live around here, I'd love to see you.

More items on the list... I'll find out on Tuesday what month the next book of the Alvor series will be released. So far, it's been narrowed down to somewhere between April and August 2011.

Okay, now for that $50 gift card.

Here's the deal. I need more people on my list of "Very Cool People" (aka ... followers). So, sign up as a follower if you haven't already. Leave your e-mail address in your comment. The gift card is a code that will be e-mailed to you.

And, shoot me something interesting.. you know, tell me your favorite fall food, or why you love this time of year, or why you're super excited for Book 2 to come out, or that you promise to come to my book signing tonight.... or whatever.

But if you just leave your e-mail address and don't say anything at all... dude... you're not gonna win.

I'll give you all until September 17 to sign up.

Until then, enjoy the fresh fall weather-wherever you live. And eat something yummy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How To....

Life is full of all kinds of lessons. I spend time trying to learn them only to realize that there is too many for me to wrap my head around.

And, of course, the answers in life are not always the same for everyone. Darn it.

If I could tell you how fit and trim...(eat right and exercise) people would flock to find out...even though they already know. It's not that we don't know. It's that we're looking for a new angle. Something we haven't tried before that might make it more doable for us.

Don't have time to exercise during the day? Take a walk after you've put the kids to bed.

Eat right? If you don't have it around, you won't eat it.

Now, if I could tell you how to become rich and famous. Or just rich. Now there would be something not to be missed.

What if I changed it to "how to accomplish your dreams"? Sounds easier. Kind of.

And just like being fit and trim, the answer is simple. Work hard and never give up. But what about all your failings? What about all those times when you've worked hard and it hasn't panned out? Oh, yeah. That's the never give up part.

Or change your dream.

But if you can't let go of your dream, I've got a new angle to consider.

No one will remember your failings. In the end, it's the one success that outweighs failure to the point of amnesia. Not only will people not remember how many times you fell on your face before getting to the finish line, but if reminded, it will only make you more relate-able.

How many people want "how to lose weight" advise from someone who has never been overweight? Or is it the ones who have dropped a magnitude of inches and pounds that we all are in awe of. They are the ones who inspire.

So is it with our attempts to succeed. As people realize how many times you were told no, how many rejections you received, how many people gave you no hope that you should go on, they will not only come to respect your success, but you will inspire them to keep pursuing their dreams.

Failures in trying is simply proof that you are still working towards your goals. Give up after that first face-plant and no one will even remember that you tried.

Get up and keep running and they'll never forget you.

I realized that I could spend nearly a year if I posted one rejection a day that I have received since I started writing. Nearly a YEAR!!! And that doesn't count all the ones I threw away- every single one that was mailed to me.

I have literally hundreds of reasons to give up.

But here's one more reason not to. These are the ones I want to read over and over.
This one is from a student in Utah whom I've never met....

p.s i absolutely love your book!!

So how do you get there? It's really hard. Simple in strategy, but incredibly difficult in execution. Work hard and never give up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Following Dreams

Jackie Evancho

I just watched another u-tube video of Jackie Evancho. Such an amazing gift. And at the end, she was asked if she ever gets nervous.

She said "...I do get nervous. I don't want to mess up and this is a big shot and it helps me follow my dreams and I really just hope that it happens."

For her, the world is sure that it will happen. There's no question. My thirteen year old son feels sorry for the other talent contestants because "What chance do they have over a ten year old opera singer?"

But this post isn't just about a little girl with a bright future. It's about all of us. The ones who haven't blown the minds of the entire world with our talent.

I was really struck by her comment. "...this is a big shot and it helps me follow my dreams and I really just hope that it happens."

Is there anyone out there on the planet who is seriously pursuing their dreams who hasn't felt that way? I feel it everyday. With the book my agent is submitting and the one I'm writing right now.

Because it's a big shot and it helps me follow my dreams and I just really hope that it happens.

I will succeed because I absolutely refuse to give up. That's it.

Thanks Jackie, for being such an inspiration to the world. You make it a beautiful place.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flow chart

So, like all good researchers, I've finally found the key to answering the question I'm supposed to field at the SCBWI conference Sept. 11.

My topic assignment... and I quote...

Laura- talk about what you have learned about working with a small publisher, scheduling book signings, were they worth it, etc.

The question...

Was it worth it?

I have to admit. When I got this question, I couldn't help but feel like it was a leading question into the answer "NO!!!".

But that wasn't the answer I would give. And I've been racking my brain to say everything in a way that would come off helpful, understandable and fair.

And then, unknowingly, a friend put a post on his blog that was the key. Thanks Jeff Savage. I say friend because he has taken the time to answer some of my questions, even though he may have been on the other side of the continent at the time. I love e-mails.

I'm not usually into flow charts, but this is one of those times when I think it will visually illustrate more than I could get across verbally. The concept is simple, but for me- everything I've been thinking since assigned this topic.

And now I have to decide whether to give everyone a preview of my presentation. Hmmm....

How 'bout I give you the basic idea in a nutshell....

Road to Big House publication (if everything magically goes completely perfectly without a single hitch)

Write Brilliant Story- 1st draft= 3 months
Revise Story = 3 months

Now you need an agent...
Query and get request for partial = 8 weeks
Agent requests full = 8-12 weeks
Agent offers representation = 3 months

(I used his numbers. I assure you, your time line will vary greatly)

And, then...
Agent offers editing advise= 2 months
Agent submits to publishing houses = 3 months

You get a book deal...
You're book is available online and in stores = 1.5-2 years

Total time from start to finish... 3.5-4 years

(again, this time line can vary greatly)

My point is, for 3.5-4 years you have no audience. No one has read any of your work. No one is looking forward to reading your big house book. You have no fan base. (Unless you've created it some other way besides producing books.)

It's still going to be years before I have a book with a big house, even if I were lucky enough to land a contract this week. In the meantime, here are the pros and cons of going with a small house...

Small press means small money
Small money means small marketing
Small marketing means small audience base
Small audience base means small sales
Small sales means small paycheck

My book sees shelves in every state of the US, at least for a while
It's available online
I get to meet people through book signings
I get to share what I've learned with schools and other organizations
I learn a lot about writing because I'm writing all the time
I get to write more than one genre because I'm not locked into a deadline
I get to present at conferences - I love doing this
I get into conferences for FREE- also love this
I have a fan base- people find my book and are looking for my next one
I learn a lot about marketing because I'm doing it
I have lots of opportunities to meet other authors
Using a small press does not prevent me from getting an agent and moving into a big house

And I bet I could keep going for a long long time. My point is, there are lots of benefits of going small press.

At the end of the day, or years as the case may be, I will still get to my goal of publishing with a big house, but I will get to be a published author the whole time.

So, to answer the question, "Is it worth it?"

Yes. Really. You should know what you're getting into, but I definitely think there are advantages to getting in the thick of the publishing world even before you land your big book deal.