This year I’m going to be a unicorn for Halloween. I’ve never gone to a Halloween party as a mythical animal before and I thought the time was right
Are you dressing up tonight? What are you going to be?
I thought I’d give you a treat instead of a trick this Halloween. So, for today only you can go to Smashwords and use this coupon NE68Y to download a free copy of TRANSFER STUDENT, an intergalactic tale of beauty & the geek. I hope you enjoy Rhoe & Ashley’s story. What would you do, if a boy geek alien’s science fair experiment went horribly wrong and he swapped lives with you, a popular Beverly Hills surfer girl?
Here’s a big HALLOWEEN hug for my good friends that I met just a year ago, and now they’re all such good friends. Nothing like a haunted tour of Savannah, Ga! Here’s some more info on the Paranormal Plumes tour last Halloween.
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!
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?
Congrats to Candace Hawkins @canyco01, you won a signed paperback of Transfer Student! Yaysss! I’ll DM you on Twitter for your address:)
I’m putting the finishing touches on the 14 on Halloween cover, because nothing says Halloween like April, right? LOL! this week will be a HUGE week in the life of the story.
What am I reading now? CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff
I watched Ever After with Drew Barrymore over the weekend. It’s been forever since I watched that movie. It’s so adorable.
I hope you’re having a wonderful Monday!
Dude! Today at the carnival we’re posting 4/20 excerpts. Here’s one from TRANSFER STUDENT, an intergalactic tale of beauty and the geek. Here we meet Ashley, a surfer from Beverly Hills who’s always held a grudge against the yellow stars she never learned how to draw in kindergarten. While on The Field Trip from Hell to the Griffith Observatory, Ashley realizes the person she’s allowed herself to become and wants to make a change, but doesn’t know how. Ashley’s whole life will change in ways she never imagined…
My teacher, Miss Carmicheal, thinks today’s a big deal because this yellow-star mecca has been closed for five years.
“Gather around the obelisk!” Miss C. says, clapping her hands. The class swarms in the creepy shadow of the statue, a black sword slicing the popular kids from the rest.
Six astronomer statues stand in a circle with their backs to each other and look down on my friends and me like all brainiacs do. The statues’ dead-eyed gaze melts my manicured, blow-dried heart. I’m just as trapped, just as lame as them.
The class clip-clops around me.
“Let’s ditch these losers and blaze.” Tiffany puts a couple fingers to her mouth and takes a phantom toke of an invisible joint.
I collect friends. Get high when I can. Drink to get drunk. Do whatever to stay on top. I wear the right clothes, the right make-up. Hook up with the right guys. I’m a fake. A yellow star. But nobody knows. Nobody, but me.
Tiff tugs my arm and points to a hill with a view of the city. “Come on,” she says.
Normally, I’d be right with Tiff, wanting to flee a gum-chewing, screaming crowd of yellow-star drawers. But I don’t now. I’m not even sure why, exactly. “Let’s wait a while,” I say, shrugging Tiff off, knowing she won’t go without me.
I walk in a circle around the obelisk and read the names of the astronomers sculpted in stone: Hipparchus of Rhodes [190-120 B.C.], Nicolaus Copernicus [1473-1543], (Johannes) Kepler [1571-1630], Galileo (Galilei) [1564-1642], Sir Isaac Newton [1642-1727], and William Herschel [1738-1822].
I wonder if people got high in 190 B.C.
“Whatever,” Tiffany says with a sideways glance, like I robbed her of something. “This is beyond boring.”
I examine the brainiacs’ chiseled faces and stare into the eyes of Galileo. His stare over the LA basin draws me in. I take a step closer to his statue. What I read as trapped before fascinates me now. The power of answering the questions of a lifetime.
“Ash, come on.” Tiffany puts her hand on the door to the entrance of the observatory. I almost take out a few yellow-star drawers when I finally open the heavy bronze door and step inside. I’m not used to the end of the line, but from my spot here, the clunky metal monstrosity of a telescope casts a kind of spell over me.
I wring my hands.
“Let’s go,” Tiffany whispers.
I fix my gaze on the telescope.
“Come on! Miss C.’s clueless,” Tiffany whispers even quieter. She tugs on my elbow and eyes the door we came in.
Blazing, getting high, used to sound so much more exciting than being straight or sober… myself. Someone I don’t even know how to be anymore.
“I want to look through the telescope,” I say.
“It’s daytime. What are you gonna see through that stupid telescope?” Tiffany says, rolling her eyes.
“I want to see what the brainiacs saw,” I say.
“The astronomers, the ones carved in the stone,” I say.
“You sure you’re not stoned?” Tiff says.
“Just. Chill,” I say.
“I can’t chill when my BFF takes a tragic turn toward the lame.” Tiffany nods to a group of smiling girls at the front of the line.
“Maybe this will be golden,” I say, knowing the irreversible damage a cross into geekdom will do to my carefully crafted reputation. “Don’t judge me.”
Tiffany scoots to the front of the line, taking cuts where she can, smiling at the people behind her like a recently crowned homecoming queen.
Tiffany & Co. snake their way around the hall and out the observatory doors.
The line goes so slow it feels like I’m getting farther and farther behind. I shift my feet and lean up against the wall. A poster hanging there kills the boredom––the moon has mountains, craters and seas that aren’t really seas. Some named Tranquility, Clouds, and Serenity. Others named Storms, Cold, and Crises.
I’m like the moon.
To celebrate TRANSFER STUDENT on SMASHWORDS I’m giving away one signed paperback. All you need to do is tweet:
I want to win a signed paperback of TRANSFER STUDENT! “spell-binding” “intergalactic tale of beauty & the geek” http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/152382
Every tweet is an entry, more tweets=more entries! Good luck and thanks for helping to spread the word. Now readers can download & sample TRANSFER STUDENT in any format! Squueeee:)
Check out the other awesome 4/20 posts by the carnis this week! Thanks for stopping by:)