Friday, February 28, 2014

Nyquil Booziness

So I'm sick. I have this nasty cold, laryngitis, cough, nose-faucet and it just sucks. You've heard of walking pneumonia, right? Well this is a walking cold. Not bad enough that I need to be in bed all day, but bad enough that I feel like my brain's been stuffed with cotton.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I'm trying to keep up with blogging (if trying means thinking about it every day, and not necessarily putting finger to keyboard.) But my schedule has been getting more crammed since my book came out and something's gotta give.

So I'll be trying to blog weekly (unless hit by a walking cold, in which case I'll blog on a random Friday. Hello!) I have a great Medical Mondays coming up soon, as well as updates on my future bookish travels.

But I just wanted to wave my tissue-laden hands and say "HI!" to all of you. I miss you guys. I know your lives are super busy so if you do stop by, thank you, thank you.

*Squishy germ-filled hugs from Lydia*

Also, one last word of advice--Nyquil makes you do bad things. Like eat BBQ chips in bed. Just a word of advice. Don't do anything on Nyquil except SLEEP. Ha.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Elana Johnson's ELEVATED releases today!

Hey guys! So I was really lucky to get an early read on Elana Johnson's contemporary YA novel in verse, ELEVATED.

Here's the blurb:
The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.


I love poetry, and I'm a fan of contemporary fiction (thought I'm too chicken to write it myself). ELEVATED was the best of everything I like. With novels in verse, there is so much you can't write down. There is no luxury of taking 70,000 words to depict the story and emotions.  So with that economy of words and so much to express, it's really such an intense, amazing read. 

Here are some excerpts:

The promise of laundry detergent
Brown sugar,
Oranges
Teases my nose.

His scent.

It hides in every crevice of the elevator,
A permanent passenger.

Here's another: 

The only time I don't feel twisted inside out
Like my skin is on wrong
Is when Travis is holding my hand. 

I hope you guys get a chance to read this. But I warn you, it'll go by very fast for all the right reasons. :)  Enjoy every verse! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chicago! And School Visit Schooling

Hi guys!

Well, this year is going to be ripe with a lot of new experiences. Last week, I went to my first school visit with the awesome students from Drauden Point Middle School in Plainfield Illinois!

Look what they made to welcome me!


Look at those helices! It is pure awesomeness. They even decorated the snack table with black jellybeans, as homage to one of my Aureus characters, Ren!

And after my presentation, they presented me with a gift for coming to visit:


They purposefully picked something a little edgy, and the D and Z are the initials to the two sisters in the book, Dylia and Zelia. I may wear it forever!

I did learn a few things on this visit.
  • Prezi.com is an awesome way to do a vivid, interesting visual slide presentation that's way less boring than PowerPoint. Thanks to author Kelly Fiore for the tip!
  • Make the presentation interactive if possible. I asked a lot of questions to the audience throughout, and I think it helped keep the energy level up.
  • Pick a presentation topic that is related to your book, but isn't all about your book. My topic was "Fiction that's not Fiction" and I spoke about all sorts of random things that seem like they're not real, but can be, like immortality and cyborgs.
  • Having an enthusiastic teacher/librarian behind the scenes is so important. A few kids were encouraged to give book reports on CONTROL before I came, and word spread. Since lots of kids read my book before I arrived, they were more invested in my visit, which made it so, so special.
  • Make sure that you have a few different ways to do your presentation. As in, have it on a USB, and easily accessible via online or email means. I sort of befuddled my way through this part, but luckily Prezi can be accessed online. 
  • Bring swag! I should have brought more! They loved the buttons, stickers and bookmarks. 
  • Build in time for unforeseen traffic. I was a little bit late, but it would have been worse if there wasn't a big time buffer built into the travel time.
Later that day, I had a wonderful book signing with Rachel Caine at Anderson's Bookshops (Two Doors East) in Naperville, Illinois. 

Rachel is a gifted and gracious (and prolific!) author whom I met at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. She was signing her new book, Prince of Shadows:


It's a retelling of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Benvolio, Romeo's cousin. I haven't been able to put it down all weekend! Her ability to weave readable, Shakespearean dialogue with a rich and tautly woven story that feels familiar, yet wholly new is amazing. Highly recommended! 

And finally, here was the icing on the cake of a great day...

I got to meet Kelly Polark! I've known Kelly for years now as a fellow blogger. She drove 90 minutes to come to my signing and I think I actually squealed when I saw that legendary smile of hers! Hooray for bloggy friends!

And finally, a huge thanks to Dana and Anne at Kaye Publicity for helping out with all the details. You guys rock!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mini Yeti At My House

It's been cold here. As in, freeze-your-tukas-off cold. After weeks and weeks of occasionally sub-zero weather, we got a few inches of snow. 

I found these in the fresh, morning snow:


Now, we know footprints at our house. We've got a few references to how to identify prints. Even scat. (No, I'm not going to show pictures, because I know you're probably eating breakfast.)

Usually, the prints show things like tail markings, or claw prints, or stuff like that. I can tell you that these are about 2 inches across, with a 7 inch stride. No tail markings. No long paw prints, like we see with the cottontail rabbits. It's too big to be a squirrel, and it's no four legged creature either, like a cat or dog or raccoon (usually you see the grouped front and back paw prints.) And they don't seem to be turkey prints, since they usually leave telltale three-toed marks.

Nope. This thing is bi-pedal. Walks upright. It's got narrow hips and, if I must say, a bit of a swagger.

My conclusion? The rare Nebraskan Miniature Yeti. Looks like this:


Okay, so my drawing skills have gotten a little rusty. And my Yeti looks like a furry tooth with questionable grooming habits and a piece of lint for a tail. And he looks mentally unstable, but in a happy way. But look at those dainty feet! 

Well, if you see the same tracks in your yard, beware people! It's on the loose!

Haha.

Meanwhile, in the non-Yeti universe...some updates in the world of CONTROL!

I'll be in Chicago on Friday, February 7th for a school visit and evening book signing with Rachel Caine (yes, THAT Rachel Caine, of the NYT Bestselling Morganville Vampire series!) at Anderson's Bookshop (Two Doors East) in Naperville. 

I just found out I'm going to be on two YA panels at C2E2! (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo), which will be in April 25-27th! So psyched for this!

Glitter Magazine included CONTROL in their Books that Rock: Winter Reading list! Click here to download PDF.

And finally...I finished my revision of Control's sequel, tentatively titled CODE! Woot! That was a long, hard six weeks, y'all. So glad it's closer to be finished!

Hope you are all surviving the cold! Don't let the Yeti's get ya. :)