It’s a very rainy day here on the central California coast, and I haven’t had a heart-to-heart with you in a while, so I thought I’d wrap up in the afghan and hope you have time for a chat as I’m putting the finishing touches on the Shadow Slayer (Shadow Series #2) book trailer. You can read all about The Shadow Series here. The book trailer will debut on The Shadow Slayer book tour that’s coming up next week Dec. 3-15, put on by the fabulous SupaGurl Books. (Every day of the tour be sure to check here on Laurasmagicday for an additional daily giveaway.) Anyway, back to the making of a book trailer. I’ve blogged about the nuts & bolts of trailer making before, and if you want to check out how you can make your own book trailer, you can click here for the article I wrote for Bubble Cow called How To Make Your Own Book Trailer. My process has stayed pretty much the same.
Tired of the malls and the stores? Looking for gifts without breaking the bank? How about 20 Young Adult books each priced at 99 cents now through Monday on Amazon? Buy some books for yourself. Gift books for others. Books are still the biggest entertainment bang for the buck, and there’s SO many great titles to choose from.
Like romance, adventure, humor, or contemporary? How about Sci-fi, fantasy, or mythology? We’ve got you covered!
I love the random things that happen when I’m on the road. And…I’m on the road A LOT! Why? Well, I get to travel to visit readers at some awesome events from time to time, like I did in Santa Rosa, CA last weekend at the Sonoma County Book Festival. And when I’m not doing book events I travel with my husband with his work, he builds and renovates hotels. We road trip together all the time. This time though, he came with me to Santa Rosa. It was his first time as one of my booth buddies and that made it all just that much more amazing.
This is one of the most interesting things that happened in Santa Rosa. A guy walked up to the booth and grabbed a copy of TRANSFER STUDENT (Starjump Series #1)
and he said is this Kendall Carroll? I was like, I don’t know. He said she grew up in Santa Rosa and moved to LA to become a model/actress and the girl on the cover looks just like her. I said I bought an image on iStockphoto, and it’s possible it could be her. What do you guys think? Anyway, it was kind of fun to find out who might be the model behind the image. Especially if she’s a CA girl, since Ashley in TRANSFER STUDENT is a CA girl, and so am I. And if it is her, what a coincidence, huh? TRANSFER STUDENT (Starjump Series #1) is an intergalactic tale of beauty & the geek, if you’d like to find out more about the story, see the trailer, check out the dreamcast and listen to the playlist click here.
So…what’s next? I’ve got a very exciting announcement coming up in the next week, something Shadow Series related! AND coming this October I’m going to host TERRIFYING TEASERS every TUESDAY! EEEEEPPPP! It’s going to get super scary around here!
And the winner is…..Emma Michaels! Woot! Congrats Emma, you won 15 ebooks/paperbacks in the YA Indie Carnival Anniversary Giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered This week you have a chance to win more books!
Today at the carnival it’s all about chemistry––the magic that jumps off the page. Each of us are posting excerpts and all you need to do to enter to win books is leave a comment here and let us know which excerpt(s) you want to vote for in our Chemistry Contest. Easy peasy. All commenters are entered to win an ebook from the author they vote for. Winner announced next week. GOOD LUCK!
This excerpt is from book 1 in The Starjump Series, TRANSFER STUDENT:
Here’s a bit about the story: Rhoe and Ashley would never be friends. Even if they lived on the same planet. But, they’ll become so much more. They’ll transfer. In a teleporting experiment gone wrong, Ashley, a Beverly Hills surfer, and Rhoe, a brilliant geek from planet Retha, swap lives when they make the same wish at the same time. They’ll have to survive each other’s lives to discover their dreams. If only it were that simple. Some wishes can’t come true. Some have to.
Yuke catches up to me. We walk side-by-side in silence through the Golden Meadow. The airboard launch, a sort of gigantic upside-down slide, peeks over a row of Truffula Trees.
“Listen, there are three things you have to remember about soaring. You’ll never soar if your mind is on the ground. Put it up on The Ridge,” Yuke says, pointing to a purple-blue mountain ahead of us. “Rhoe taught me that.”
The way he says Rhoe I know it’s happened. He knows. He really knows I’m not Rhoe, I’m…Ashley. It’s sunk in. Finally. I stop walking and can hardly breathe. It’s the first time he’s ever seen the real me, and his gaze warms me down to my frog-feet. Yuke spots the question in my eyes.
“The Ridge of No Return,” he says with a small smile, “It’s the prime place to catch air. But beware The Devil’s Grip. Soar too high and you’ll be caught in The Grip and lost to The Other Side. Forever.”
He misreads the question in my eyes. Again. I shiver thinking about The Grip and dying in the mythic ice and snow of The Other Side. I stare at my hideous frog-feet, my peds. I don’t care about The Ridge. There’s only one person I care about. One boy I’ll never have. Yuke.
“What else?” I ask, peering deeper into Yuke’s alien eyes.
“You’ve got to feel the beat of the wind in your peds. Surrender to the air. And know, deep in your hearts, no one is its master.”
I hear and don’t hear every word Yuke says. For the first time in my life I can’t speak. I can’t take my eyes off Yuke, now that he knows I’m not Rhoe. He wouldn’t be telling his best friend, an Astral, how to airboard unless he knows I’m Ashley, someone who doesn’t know much about soaring.
“Your catchers will always stop you if you fall,” Yuke says, filling the silence between us. He raises his arms above his head. Delicate wings expand out from under his arms. Thin pinkish-purple skin stretches over delicate, long bones. No feathers at all. Just smooth, glimmering skin. And it’s crazy. A week ago I wouldn’t even look twice at a guy with a big nose, but now, I’m hot for an alien. With wings.
I have to touch him. It’s beyond wanting to. The way Yuke spreads his wings makes his pecs flare and his biceps seize. He’s beyond gorgeous. The way his sheer wings take to the breeze makes Yuke more unreal than he already is to me. He’s everything I never wanted and everything I can’t live without. It feels like we’re the only souls in the universe. The look in his golden exotic eyes melts my ability to stay away from him.
“You can’t be real,” I say taking a few steps closer to him, holding my hand out to touch his wing. Waiting for him to let me. To know it’s OK. He flexes and lets his head fall back a little inviting my touch. I lay my alien fingers on his smooth taught skin, and run them over his wing’s thin hollow bones. My eyes fill with tears. His wings flutter in a breeze. He’s beautiful.
Yuke sticks his chest out and when he drops his arms his catchers vanish back into his biceps. “I can’t let you soar. Not now,” he says, the crowd cheers just beyond the trees.
Only then do I remember where we are. What we’re here to do. A band begins to play a set of songs. The crowd beyond the row of trees cheers again and again.
“I have to. I’m doing this for Rhoe,” I say.
Yuke puts his hand on my shoulder. I shudder.
“And for me,” I say.
Yuke’s golden eyes focus only on mine, on the Earthling inside of this alien body.
“And for you,” I say, feeling the beat of my hearts in my throat. “We’re going to win this damn thing.”
Read more excerpts from my fellow carnis here! Be sure to vote for your favorite(s)!
What’s new at the carnival this week? Click here to find out about the latest releases/cover reveals/giveaways.
Next week at the carnival? Do you Pinterest? Inspiration for Characters & Settings.
I’m back home after unplugging for a five day vacation with the family up to a lake in the Sierras. We had a blast. It’s so good to travel up to the mountains again. That lake is like a second home to us and a place my hubby’s family has been going to for generations.
My daughter and I were able to sneak away from the pack for a while and we started to write a little fairy tale about the lake. It’s the first time I’ve ever written up there. We were sitting on the docks, looking out at the water and she wrote a paragraph and then I wrote a paragraph and before you knew it, we had a wonderful little story brewing. It incorporated a lot of the mythology of the lake, or what we imagined the mythology to be , and includes some of our favorite spots too. I can’t believe I haven’t written there before. I guess maybe it’s not what my brain wants to do at 7000 ft? It’s been years since we’ve vacationed there. We keep asking ourselves why it’s taken so long to travel back to the cabin. A place we’d once gone to two or three times every summer. And then it became so obvious. It hit me at unexpected times. In my search for the table extensions, I opened the wrong closet and found his coats still hanging there. Groggy, on an early morning I opened a drawer in the bathroom and found his razor and overnight bag. Ray’s been gone for about six years now. I can still hear his voice up there. I still expect him to come around the fire at night. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure his spirit does. Ray’s been a big inspiration in my writing. He finds his way into many of my books. So, when I returned home to find the 4.5/5 star San Francisco Book Review of Transfer Student. I smiled. What author isn’t pleased that her writing is well received, right? But my happiness doubled because it came from a different place. It brought more memories of Ray and made my smile grow. See, years ago when I was writing the first drafts of the story, I was trying to come up with the language of the Rethan people. I was having a terrible time trying to come up with how Rethan’s measure time. Specifically, I was hung up on inventing their word for year. I ended up calling it a ray. Here’s a link to an interview where I talk more about the behind-the-scenes inspiration for the story.
I hope you all are getting a chance to escape to a favorite spot this summer. Whether it’s sneaking away to your favorite spot in your garden to read or write or plant something beautiful or just walk around your neighborhood or hang out with friends. Escaping sure is fun.
I wrote the first draft of TRANSFER STUDENT in 2006 after my father-in-law died. It was a crazy, sad time. I was working at the Los Angeles Times on the re-opening of the Griffith Observatory [it had been closed for five years for renovations] and we were back-and-forth between LA and Fresno [a four hour drive from LA], more and more frequently as my father-in-law got worse and worse, eventually ending up on life support. His name was Ray. I named the Reathan word for “year” in his honor.
After Ray passed, just hours after, it was nighttime and my husband Joe, his mom and I all sat out on my mother-in-law’s patio and looked at the stars. She said she knew Ray was up there, one of the stars. And that’s all it took. I had the beginnings of a story about souls that traveled, that starjumped, through space. And I wanted to explore the idea of a parallel planet similar to Earth, a sister planet. Retha is that planet and an anagram for Earth.
There were other things that inspired the story too. Los Angeles was a major inspiration because I raised my kids there and I love the city. So I knew that the female protagonist would be from LA. And since I worked in entertainment for a time, I knew Beverly Hills would be a lot of fun to write about.
I also wrote about places I had more of a connection to––Griffith Park and Zuma beach. And lastly, a news story that unfolded over the years further inspired the plot as I wrote and rewrote Transfer Student.
This same news story is also why I decided to tell Transfer Student from two POVs, a teenage girl and a teenage boy alien. The news story profiled the hostilities surrounding a man who announced he would be having an operation to become a woman. Because he was an official in a municipality this was a very public, personal announcement. It made national news at the time. It captured my attention for a variety of reasons and I knew that I wanted to write a story about how the vessel that a soul inhabits doesn’t define it. A story that’s been written perhaps a million times, but I wanted to write about in a way that explored many things: what it means to love; what it means to be a boy or a girl; what it means to risk everything to become who you really are. Transfer Student is a classic fish-out-of-water story that I’ve written as a love letter to teens and also as a way for all of us to see a piece of ourselves in everyone we meet, no matter our differences, no matter what planet we call home.
As far as the actual writing of the story I had a few challenges. I had never written in a male POV. My early drafts really show that weakness. I always wrote Ashley in the first person. But, I’d always write Rhoe from the third person, as if I was literarily tip-toeing up to the first person present that he’s written in today.
I have no idea how many drafts I’ve written of Transfer Student. But I do know that in order to get to first person present I had to write in the third and past too so I could be sure that the first person present was the only way to tell the story I wanted to tell. There is nothing more immediate than first person present, in my humble opinion. And I want the reader to be on the journey as it happens. To feel and discover with the characters. I want the reader to starjump with the characters and experience the longing and awkwardness that comes when you try to figure out a new world. There was only one tense that would do––first person present.
I hope Transfer Student sounds like a story you’d like to read.
Today the carnis are blogging about where we love to go in books. Like most readers, I love to go to places I don’t expect. I love to see regular places in new ways and feel transformed. Setting is powerful and I like when it’s used like a character. I try to do this in my own writing. Some of my favorite books have done this so well like THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, and AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman. In CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff, setting is used to help ramp up the tension and take us to WWII Russia. Cheri Lasota take us to the beautiful Azores in ARTEMIS RISING. Who will ever look at a train station the same way after HUGO CABERET by Brain Selznick? These are just a handful of fabulous reads that take me where I love to go in books. How about you?
In WINNEMUCCA, Ginny’s road blood ripens on an enchanted road trip which begins when her feet start asking her questions she doesn’t want to hear and take her to a place she never expected to go to find her answers. She’s walking along Highway 33, a deserted two-lane road in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley:
I covered my ears to drown out their trouble-making questions, but all I heard were my own.
What happened to Bobby and me?
Why was I listening to my feet?
Had I lost my mind?
A dirt devil twisted over a fallow field in the tired sun and spun my thoughts backwards to the second in Tar Canyon when Bobby’s eyes met mine and I knew only death would separate us. My Big, Fat, Lie-of-a-Life churned in my gut like the dirt devil. I doubled over, more alone than ever before, and I tied myself into a knot so tight I could hardly breathe. I’d been wrong about Bobby. Wrong about a lot of things.
When I caught my breath and lifted my head, the sun ricocheted into my eyes. Devil’s Rope twisted around the top of the chain-link fences that secured Avenal State Prison. I had no idea why my feeet marched me there. It didn’t look like the kind of place a practically married, straight-A student would find the answers her feet demanded. But the ripening like to surprise me.
In TRANSFER STUDENT we see our world through the eyes of a boy alien named Rhoe and see Rhoe’s home planet, Retha, through the eyes of Ashley, a Beverly Hills surfer after they swap lives when Rhoe’s science fair experiment goes wrong:
Ashley decides to airboard to save Rhoe’s reputation even though she’ll risk her own life on planet Retha, a parallel planet to Earth with lower gravity and a little less technology:
Yuke lets go of my hand. I walk up to the launch platform with him and the two Astrals in our heat. We all shake hands. The same handshake Yuke taught me before. For fortune. I still feel Yuke’s hand in mine when I catch him whispering to the other riders.
The muscles in my arms tense. I place my board over my head and run off the platform. Yuke launches right after, followed by the other two Astrals. My feet dangle and I gasp, caught in the gentle cradle of a rising wind. I tug at the board to bring it close and whirl around, nowhere near as graceful as the golden-sparkle riders of the first heat. I set my frog-feet down on my board, adjusting the suction as I lean to any side that pulls me hardest. Dizzy, I have a hard time knowing up from down, like when I get munched int the surf. Continue reading
It’s May Day and that used to mean dancing around Maypoles and men leaving flowers at the door of the woman they loved after bathing for the first time in, achem, months. Ah, the good ol’ days. May 1st is all about romance. So I want to find out what makes your May Day red hot romance reads?
HERE’S AN EXCERPT FROM TRANSFER STUDENT, an alien romance:
Her lips are so beautiful. I can’t take it anymore. My peds find the bottom of the lake and I steady myself. I wrap my arms around her warm middle and pull her toward me. I lean in closer, expecting her to tell me no or to push me away, and when she doesn’t, I peck her beautiful, soft lips. The Rhoe in me wants to peck her again. The Ashley in me hesitates.
Tiffany’s red, veiny eyes find mine. I wrap my arms tighter around her smooth skin and we collapse onto each other in one long hug. Her body shakes like she can’t breathe properly. Like she can’t exhale. Her wet skin glimmers. It’s my first peck ever––not counting the dare pecks Tanine and I had at Yuke’s birthday party last ray–– and it’s starjumping-good.
Tiffany’s eyes go wide. “Ashley… what’s, going on?”
Tiffany wipes her mouth off with her hand. I reach out to hold it, as I’ve seen boyfriends do with girlfriends at school. When Tiffany places her hand in mine, I decide I’m ready. I’m ready to tell her that I’m not Ashley at all. That I’m Rhoe, I’m a boy, and that she’s beautiful. I stroke her back and take a deep breath, noticing the way the planet seems to be increasing its pull on me. Like it wants to keep me here.
April went by so fast. I can’t believe it’s May. Later today, my first newsletter goes out. Each month I’m sending my blog subscribers freebies and exclusive content not available anywhere else. YAY! This month there’s a little TRANSFER STUDENT surprise, because nothing says MAY DAY like an alien romance
What are your plans this May Day?