Wednesday
Aug202014

Introducing...Book Three!

That's right.  I know you have all been waiting on Book Three news for a WHIIIILLLE now, and I'm sorry to tell you I've been sitting on some of it.  I have the name and release date--which will be found in this post--and I hadn't shared yet. 

I didn't know how to. 

Part of that is for you guys--I like doing fun reveals and exciting moments so we can all celebrate together.  I'm not great at celebrating, and that's a problem that I want to fix.  But I also didn't know what to say about this book. 

And then yesterday happened.  Let me tell you a story. 

The day started off inauspiciously--two friends and I were planning on driving to New Hampshire for a third friend's concert, and before we left, one friend got her laptop stolen.  NOT COOL.  But we decided to take Taylor's advice, shake it off, and go anyway. 

Taylor Swift 2

It took us about an hour an a half of awesome chill chatting and driving to get there, and we were almost there, roughly an hour early, when we saw the Friendly Farm in New Hampshire.  IT WAS AWESOME, and sun soaked, and we saw bunnies that were born THAT DAY and ones that were six days old and we held all kinds of animals and petted and fed even more.  Six Day Bunnies!HEY GUYS WHATS GOING ON OMG IS THIS A CAMERA?!My new bestie

Sweet--right?  You might be asking yourself what this has to do with Scarlet #3.  Good question. 

So we left the Friendly Farm and followed our GPS.  The road had gravel patches, and then was full gravel.  And then it started getting really rough and uneven, but I have All Wheel Drive and hey, it's still a road, right? 

Then we started pitching really hard from side to side.  We hit some giant rocks and a mud pit that was about 18inches deep, but gravity and forward motion kept us going through it.  It was rougher than expected, and we're all sitting there wondering how other cars are possibly making this drive ok.  This was rough on an SUV. 

And then it got worse.  Bigger rocks, no clear way for the car to go, and we hit things and screamed and I am still lucky nothing popped or snapped--though I definitely thought it did at the time.  We were all freaked out and it kept getting worse. The road was far too narrow to consider turning around, and now there was a sharp cliff on one side. 

Then we came to a point with a roughly two foot high rock wall across the middle of the road.  There was a sort of way I might have gotten over, but it was at risk of snapping the axle of my car.  So, with terror and prayers, I turned around by ramming my car up a hill and trying to stop and turn before we flew off the cliff on the other side.  We managed! 

And then, on the way back, gravity wasn't on our side and we got stuck in the mud so deeply we couldn't even open our doors.  Out of three cell phones, only one had any service to speak of.

The story ends happily--Triple A saved us by winching us out of the mud and dragging us up a hill.  All safe--we even made the concert, and apparently this happens a lot because GPS thinks it's a road, and it's not really. Everyone was very empathetic (AND YET NO ONE WARNED US?!).

BUT WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SCARLET?

Guys, Scarlet Three was the hardest book I've ever written.  I sold it on an outline, and my outline failed me.  I started writing before I entered grad school, and my head and heart weren't in the right place.  I had opened myself to so many possibilities in my personal life that everything I did to try and close the story felt wrong. 

I hit rocks and mud patches and bigger rocks, and at final count, I had to write 320,000 words to get to the final 80,000.  That means by pretty unqualified math, I had to write this book four times to get one right. 

It was hellish. 

The thing I keep thinking about after yesterday is challenge.  There were so many points at which we probably should have just turned around.  But I didn't think it was possible--I thought this HAD to be the right way because other people did it.  I thought challenges were something to overcome, not roadblocks. 

When is it ok to stop and turn around, and when do we keep going?  Sometimes it's not as easy as having a completely impassable road where the choice is made for you, and often if you get to that point, you've gone past the point of no return. 

In writing Scarlet Three, I had lost trust in my own instincts.  I couldn't feel when it was right or wrong, working or working against me.  I forced my writing vehicle down the wrong road time and time again, only to find a rock wall. 

And then, finally, I found the way out of the woods.  And just like yesterday, when we found the right road, the sun was beginning to set and the green glory of New Hampshire burned golden and warm.  It felt right and perfect in every inch of our bones. 

Book Three is called LION HEART.  It's the hardest thing I've ever worked on, and it's the single thing I am most proud of.  I found a way to tell this impossible story, and I found my own lion heart somewhere along the way.  It was a journey, a path, a trauma--and I certainly had my share of AAA people pulling me out of the proverbial muck--and I made it.  WE made it, because ultimately, this book is both FOR and absolutely BECAUSE OF the wonderful fans, the heartfelt letters, and the love you guys have shown me. 

For so many reasons, I really hope you love it, and that you find your own lion heart. You can preorder the book here (which is very much appreciated!), and it will be in your hands May 19th, 2015!

xx

PS--one more animal picture!

Me and my llama drama friend.

Thursday
Jun052014

Why Slate's Article is a Societal Problem

Ahem.  *Steps on soapbox*. 

I have something to say. 

Maybe a few different things, but they all wrap up pretty neatly. 

1.  An article is raging over the internet today. Part of me doesn't want to link to it, but a bigger part of me does.  Because everyone has a right to be heard, and I respect this person's opinion; she has done her research, she believes her opinion to be well-considered and well argued.  Fair enough. I'm a Voltaire kind of girl. 

2.  I work with teens.  I work in a non-profit, and I've spent the past year earning my Masters in Education.  Through all of these, one thing has become clear: people don't give a damn about teenagers.  I think people give even less of a damn about teenage girls, but I'll leave that alone for now.  Schools and learning are rarely built to accommodate the voice of students; rarely do students have a say in the ways they learn, communicate, express themselves or lead. 

Which isn't for lack of trying.  "For the kids!" is the rallying cry of every educator.  Every parent wants their child to succeed.  "Youth development" is a hot topic.  I was recently at a summit discussing youth development, and there were about 10 teens for the 400 or so people in the room.  They were a token, a nod--a start, but not an accomplishment.  And one of the teens spoke up and said, "You realize all of you are sitting here talking about what 'the young people' want and no one is actually asking us."

People want to hear the voice of teenagers; we just forget to ask them. 

3.  The conclusion that you may think I'm getting to at this juncture may be this: adults love reading YA for this purpose, and that is why adults should read YA.  Because it's the voice of the teens. 

But that's bull.  YA is not the voice of teenagers--I mean, occasionally it is; there is a smattering of authors actually published in their teens--but it's largely the voice of adults.  So lets get this clear--when adults read YA, they're reading books written by adults about teenagers. When you diss this genre, you're dissing the work of adults that a lot of people enjoy. 

Which is fine.  I have no problem with that.  I think you're wrong, but Voltaire me up. 

Here is the actual problem--when you say that YA as a genre is just for teens and adults should be ashamed, you're saying the things that matter when you're a teen don't matter when you're an adult.  You're saying that adults should be ashamed to care about what teens care about.  You're saying their hopes, dreams, passions and experiences are shameful to adults. 

And all you're really doing is stealing their voice from them.  Again.  Tell a kid her dreams don't matter and you sabotage her confidence, her curiousity, her future.  By so doing, you sabotage our collective future. 

I don't believe allowing other people to have a voice diminishes your own.  I don't believe allowing people to care for and love young adult fiction diminishes the love you have for mystery novels.  And I really don't believe that stigmatizing reading, learning, discovery and joy is ever a good call. 

*Steps off soapbox.*

Thank you. 

Monday
May052014

TEDx Talk!

In one of the coolest experiences of my life, I got to speak at the TEDxHGSE conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  The link just went live, and you guys can check out what I had to say!

Saturday
Feb152014

A Valentine's Day Reveal...The Final Part!

Welcome to my Valentine's Day Treat to YOU!  Here is the first kiss between Scarlet and Rob, PART ONE, PART TWO, THE GOOD STUFF, and NOW......

I pressed a kiss to his mouth. “Say it once more?” I asked.

He kissed me. “Scarlet,” he breathed. Another kiss. “Scarlet.”

I didn’t need strength. My heart were so full to bursting that I could have run to London and back without food, drink, or rest. My body were burned over and over with the feel of him, and it were all I needed to stay strong.

It were an awful sin, and I didn’t care. Kissing Rob made me an adulterer, but wedding Gisbourne when he weren’t the one in my heart made me an adulterer too. I didn’t for a breath believe a kiss would make Robin better, but it were all I needed to hold on to everything I were doing this for.

Church bells rang out, and I broke the kiss, listening for the hour. “I have to go,” I whispered against his mouth.

His nose rubbed mine slowly, then his mouth pressed against mine once more. “Do you know how often I’ve imagined kissing you?”

My breath stopped, and I opened my eyes to search his. “And?”

“You cannot tell me to stop now and watch you walk away,” he said, his breath running into my breath. Another kiss. “Especially to him.”

My ring felt heavier then, and I pulled back from Rob. I stroked his cheek slow with my good hand. “I’ll make it right, Rob. I’ll get the annulment and then I can kiss you in public.

All day long. Till the village wives wring their hands at us.”

He smiled, leaning into my hand. “We’ve always been good at causing a bit of chaos.”

I stepped away from him with a sad smile, but he tugged my good wrist and brought me back for one more kiss. Then he let me go and I walked back to the castle, every step dragging and slow like I were fighting against a tide.

Fortunately, if you JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH, LADY THIEF came out this week!

Friday
Feb142014

A Valentine's Day Reveal...THE GOOD STUFF!

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!  Here's "the good stuff"--and if you're not caught up, PART ONE and PART TWO!

Our lips touched. His were dry and rasped over me a bit, like it were so chaste it weren’t even there. Then his mouth opened and it weren’t dry anymore. His lips were perfect against mine, more soft than I would have never guessed, and warm like the sun hitting the water.

My blood ran hot and fast and I felt more than human, like I were powerful beyond every measure. His mouth opened more and his tongue ran against my lips, and my whole body sparked like tinder. I bare had a thought, but I wanted more of him, so much more, and my hands were desperate for it, fingertips running like they could keep whatever they touched.

My back nudged up against a wall, somewhere shaded from the sun and prying eyes, but I didn’t never remember moving. His head twisted and our lips broke for a bare instant before he touched them back again, twisting his head the other way. His lips pressed my bruise and I jerked.

His arms went tense and hard around me, and the kiss broke apart. His nose nudged me like a dog giving orders, and I obeyed, moving my face to one side. Hot hands running my sides, his mouth touched impossible gentle to the bruise by my mouth from Gisbourne. Rob’s lips left, then dropped soft small kisses on the bruises that he had laid. He kissed my closed eyes and without wanting it, water dripped out from my eyes. He kissed that away too.

“I’m sorry, sweet,” he whispered into my ear. “I’m sorry I pushed you to this.”

My hands twisted to fists in his shirt. “I never should have married him, Rob. I should have found another way.”

“We’ll get out of this,” he said. “I’ll get better, and you can walk away.”

I shook my head a tiny bit. “I’m getting that annulment. They call me Marian, Rob, and they act with so little honor it’s a horror to call them nobility.” I pushed my head to his. “They took my name, Rob. ”

His lips touched mine again, more puffed and soft now, burning against mine. When he stopped he didn’t go nowhere, speaking straight into my mouth. “They can have your name. I know who you are, with or without it. And I won’t ever let you lose that. My love. My Scarlet.”

There's just a little bit more to reveal, and you'll get that tomorrow morning!  For now....savor the love!