Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I feel like the pied piper...

...only without the music.

All I have is a new blog and the plea that you like me enough to follow me there, and the promise that I'll stay put. At first I set out to conquer the internet, and now I must condense my efforts :p


Pretty please, follow me? Would it help if I told you it was my birthday? Maybe?

Well, I'm playing my pipes and wandering over here, if you'd be kind enough to follow. There will be cupcakes in the morning, I can tell you that. Well, PICTURES of cupcakes, anyway :)

Friday, July 2, 2010




I have been editing this book for 9.5 months. Longer than a pregnancy. It has been A JOURNEY. My editor has been challenging, and motivating, and inspiring. My agent has put up with many spazzing emails.


I am planning a WEEK O' DEBAUCHERY. It involves booze, and cupcakes, and sleep. That's how I roll.



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are you ready for a story?

To have a little fun, we've got a Round Robin story going on this week at the YA Rebels. I love it because we all have such different methods of storytelling. Here's my part below, and you can find Tuesday's, which precedes it, below:

Please ignore the fact I wrote this around midnight after a VERY long day, a week with too little sleep, and an impending final exam this morning.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

And now, your lesson for the day: When all else fails, trust in the simple act of writing to relieve the weight.

I've been REALLY stressed lately. If you follow me, well, ANYWHERE online you probably noticed. And the frustration/exasperation/temper was getting worse and worse and I couldn't figure out what I needed to do to relieve it. And then I sat down, and wrote. And just like that, the stress began to bleed away. It's the simplest reminder that this is what I'm meant to do. This is what I'm made to do. It's so easy to forget that all this stuff that surrounds writing, the industry, the (mostly awesome) people, what it all comes down to, what's at its absolute center, is WRITING.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh don't mind that, it's just my jaw on the floor...(books I love)

So, you might have noticed, I don't actually talk about books often on here.

I talk about my TBR pile, but almost NEVER review. There's a reason. I am the Russian judge of the book world. I am so super picky, and anything from bad writing to a familiar plot will turn me off a book. A lacking ending is the worst offense, but poor craft is pretty darn close. The number of books I love is small (but man when I love a book I will shout it from the rooftops).

So let's talk about three books I love, one's been out for almost 15 years, one just came out this year, and one isn't out yet.

NEVERWHERE. Neil Gaiman.

So I'm a little behind. This came out in 1996 and I just finished listening to it driving to and from classes. Oh. My. So, my love of Gaiman is nothing new, and just a few months back I talked about how THE GRAVEYARD BOOK was one of my all-time favorites. This book had me similarly in awe. Perhaps it's because I've been in edits and am thus hyper-attentive to the writing/craft and the world-building/rules, but I found this book to be SPECTACULAR, from the amazingly horrific bad guys down to little details. One of my favorite elements was a major plot element, established in only TWO sentences. It was so cleanly done, I might have paused the CD to marvel. Love love love abounds from my corner for this master.

BEFORE I FALL. Lauren Oliver.
I was so, so happy to see this book have SUCH a strong debut, since I had read an ARC and been amazed by the depth and complexity of the characters. The only way I can describe them is REAL. The most real I have ever found fictional people to be. Beautiful craft and compelling narrative make this one of those books I hock on street corners and in YA aisles of bookstores.

INFINITE DAYS. Rebecca Maizel.
Wow. Okay, so this book comes out this summer. It's a vampire book, and yet it is SO incredibly refreshing. Once again, beautiful language, engrossing plot, and a wonderful attention to detail made this book a DELIGHT. I am actually considering re-reading (and I almost NEVER re-read, no time, but that's how much I loved it). Put this one on your lists, people. LOVED.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Advice: The GOOD and the BAD.

This week on the YA Rebels we're talking ADVICE. Of the good AND the bad variety.

I also polled the interwebs to see what they had to say, too.

Deb Harkness: Best: write every day. Worst: write every day. Sad, but true! Sometimes, the words are just stuck and it's better to take a walk!

Paul Greci: Best advice: Never give up. Worst advice: Don't even start.

Shelley Watters: Best: From Colleen Lindsay a month is like a minute in publishing. Worst: Publishing is luck and who you know, not how well you can write.

Maria Sweet: Worst: worst advice EVER I've been given regarding writing/publishing was to query before I finished a MS and to query even if what I have is only one chapter.

Sara Winters: BEST: To listen to the characters and not worry about everything so much. Let the first draft write itself.

Christopher Morris: Best: Write drunk, Edit sober- Hemingway.

Angela Cerrito: Best: From Markus Zusak "put something unexpected on every page", From Kathleen Duey "keep going, don't stop, be true to your story"...

Kristi Cook: I think the very best advice I've ever gotten is that the very best thing you can do for your career is to simply write more--rather than driving yourself nuts and wasting all your energy trying to promote a book, you're better served concentrating on writing the *next* book, and the next, and the next. Good writing is the best "promotion" there is.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Write Down, Sell Out.

Almost everyone who writes YA/MG gets asked at some point when they're going to go on and write "real" books. It's almost like a rite of passage, that question, along with first bad review, etc.

But I've stopped being asked that. Or at least, the question has given way to a NEW question.

Me: I write YA.
Them: Oh, that was a smart choice, because that's where all the money is.

Well, two things.

1. Obviously it isn't a question, but it's a STATEMENT OF WORTH, if you will, which puts it in with the first question.

2. It seems on the surface less offensive. But it bothers me me.

It makes the assumption that I write what I write because of the money. That my writing YA was a CALCULATED move to get rich (much like my teacher telling all the students that genre fiction was created using a mad-lib format, easy money, so we should all quit school and go fill in the blanks). It also shows an ignorance about the industry, the super-saturation that makes YA even more competitive right now, the real reasons to write YA, the merits of well-written YA...it blankets all of these with the insinuation that I WRITE YA BECAUSE IT'S WHERE THE MONEY IS.

And I think that bothers me worse. But of course it's not an either/or, is it? I still get asked the first question regularly enough, so now I'm accused of BOTH writing down AND selling out.


You know what? I adore writing YA. I write it because it inspires me, because the readers inspire me, because the community inspires me. I could sit here and explain, parse out every motive I have for writing what I do the way I do. But I won't. I don't NEED to. Because the people who matter, the ones who read this blog, they already understand. They get it. You get it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What a difference a weekend makes...

Wow. I feel SO much better, guys.

This weekend I finished my edits, wrote my paper, did all my reading, and got back to work on the next book! Two days off made a WORLD of difference. Thank you for bearing with me, and for your encouragement and support. Was getting a wee bit frazzled. It happens.

I feel refreshed and ready to tackle this week, before I head to Chicago for the weekend!

Let's kick the week off with my TBR pile (of course not including the books on my comp that I'm reading for people)...

These are the books I'm CURRENTLY reading:

These are the ones on deck:

Anything good in your TBR piles?

Also, did you know I'm strongly considering moving to England later this year? It's true. A few things have to come together first, but if the fates are in my favor, I will find myself on the other side of the ocean for at least 6 months. More on these plans in the near future!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


So I'm writing this paper for one of my lit classes, and it's about public/private life in a short story we read.

And it got me thinking (which is always a dangerous thing).

I'm going through a small patch. Not a rough patch, per se, or a hard patch. A stagnant patch. Meaning, despite all the movement and activity in my life and around me, my actual progress on things of import feels frustratingly static.

Add to that the feeling like I can't keep up online (right now I can hardly keep up OFFline, for that matter) and I find myself a little ill.

Sometimes we get to the point where our connectivity becomes damaging to our focus, where the best thing we can do for ourselves and our work is unplug.

My friend told me that sometimes it's okay to be selfish now and then, and I'm hoping she's right.

I'm taking a VERY SMALL break. Literally a long weekend (what does it say about my present state that I felt the need to check in and inform you all rather than just pop off the face of the interwebs?).

I just need to focus. I have my final edit deadline coming up, my new book to make serious progress on, a paper on public/private life about about 100 pages of reading this weekend, etc. etc.

So. I shall return. And until then (let's say Monday, but certainly by Wednesday), I wish you all a marvelous weekend.

Love, of course.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Look! A snippet!

Hoping to start a series of connected short stories here on the blog, but until then, digging around through my WIPs, looking for snippets...

Eli jumped when the massive black shape of Vic's dog brushed by him. Dol had inky fur and the spindly grace of a great dane. Grace was a funny word to put with Dol, a beast whose tail fell off whenever he got excited and wagged it too hard (it had never stuck firmly after being lopped cleanly off once by Lena). But he was graced, in a way.

Vic trailed a tapered finger down Dol’s snout, tapping his nose absently. The dog didn’t seem to mind. His tail swished side to side along the concrete floor. Vic preferred concrete spaces, because the screams bounced around pleasantly without alarming anyone who might be passing by on the other side.

“Who’s my little frankenpuppy?” cooed Sydney, rubbing Dol’s ears.

A long white scar ran like a zipper down Dol’s stomach.

Most people changed. Whenever Sydney woke someone from the dead, they always seemed a little…vapid. But not Dol. Dol had been brought back six times, and he was always Dol.

"He looks like he's been hit by a truck," scoffed Eli.

"He has," said Vic.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This week the YA Rebels seem to have...misplaced on of our team. On Monday, we realized she was missing. On Tuesday we were disturbed to find her chair empty, her phone unanswered. And today, I try to piece together the last time we saw her...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Things I Learned Today - 1

Welcome to a new series. It's called, as the title of the posts suggests, Things I Learned Today.

The reason for this series is this: I'm spending the summer prepping for PhD applications. That means studying...A LOT. That means four intensive Eng. Lit classes, plus a crap ton (that's a real measurement, trust me) of independent reading, and poetry, and French, and then a little German, etc etc.

So I figured, if I have to learn all these shiny new things, then so can you! But take heart! Sometimes I learn random things from researching for stories, and I'll throw those in, too.

-Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit.

-Poet Shelley (married to Mary Shelley of Frankenstein at one point) is brilliant. His sense of rhythm and rhyme makes my heart happy.

-I remember entire scenes from any movie seen before the age of 12. Evidence: Men in Black. Could recite first ten minutes while watching at lunch.

-Poet Whitman is too wordy for my tastes.

-I like titles that involve wordplay. I just titled my new book (nope, can't tell you about it), and then I made a list and realized every one of my titles involves wordplay. It makes me happy.

-It doesn't make sense for houses in a village with mostly hills and only scattered trees to be made of wood.

-Dr. Who is intriguing (I just started watching today, eps. 1 and 2 down)

-It's apparently still May.

That's all I've got today! (And don't worry, these segments will probably be incorporated into blog posts of actual substance most of the time). Did YOU learn anything fun/interesting/cool lately?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vlog! Distraction and Lady Gaga Dance Parties!

On a less serious note than last week's vlog...

This week's vlog is a day in the writing life. Co-starring Diet Coke, Cupcakes, and an Impromptu Lady Gaga Dance Party! WITH CROWN.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wednesday (on Saturday) Takes the Bad Boy TOO FAR.

Hey guys. My YARebels vlog this week: a quick look at abuse/manipulation in YA.

Now I'm off to Memphis for the weekend to help my aunt move! So busy! BUT you should be very happy to know that this morning I *gasp* SLEPT IN. Yes, yes, I know, it's a MIRACLE.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A big day in Victorialand!!

Hey guys! So today was kind of a big day!

1. I signed my contracts!

2. My two auction co-hosts and I made the evening news!!!!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Guys. You should watch this video if for no other reason than I somehow found the time to do it during the auction!!!

On little sleep.


I present to you: Adorable baked good/super hero Sugar High decides she wants to be a villain, and turns into...SICKLY SWEET.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Auction Update...The End is Near.

The "Do the Write Thing for Nashville" auction is almost over. The last round goes up today, and it will last until Monday at midnight. We'll also have a closing message, and t-shirts for anyone who wants to make a small donation.

But man, it's been (and still is) a WILD ride. It's been a dream, and a roller coaster, and pretty much two weeks of bouncing up and down upon receiving emails from the likes of Lisa McMann, Meg (freaking) Cabot, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and so many more. More than 200, actually, if you consider only the items we were able to use, and almost 500 if you consider ALL of them.

It's also been two weeks of chugging diet coke, of not sleeping, of very long hours, a few neglected edits (I'm so sorry, Abby, I'm working on them!!!), and so on. But for every small down, there have been a dozen ups, and the fact is, no amount of fatigue will ever weigh down the SHEER JOY I have at being able to organize this with Myra and Amanda.

Somehow our small dream of raising a few thousand dollars exploded. At this moment we stand at $60,000 and that's with three rounds left to close.

We managed to find our way into GalleyCat, Publisher's Weekly, and about 8 straight pages of google when you search "do the write thing for Nashville". We continue to be shocked and humbled by our publishing community and the incredible support, through donation, bidding, and CHEERING. We could not have done this without our cheerleaders.

To all of you, thank you so, so, so much. And with that, we are HONORED to bring you the final round of the "Do the Write Thing for Nashville" auction (And my editor is in this round!).


It's been an absolute pleasure hosting this.

Monday, May 3, 2010



In case you didn't know.

Nashville is drowning.

The Grand Old Opry - flooded.

The Music City Hall of Fame - flooded.

Downtown and the Riverfront - consumed.

The Symphony Hall - flooded. $2.5 million organ, and grand pianos - ruined.

Homes lost - thousands and thousands.

Heritage, culture, history lost - TOO MUCH.

Please spread the word. There has been FAR too little coverage of this nationally, and I find it horribly depressing. My city is being devoured.

*puts head down*

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Wants You to be INSPIRED.



If you can't see, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Day in the Writing Life...

Hey all!

I'm over at the Elevensies (2011 debuts) site today, talking about a day in my writing life. There's dogs, vlogs, and gummy vites. Stop by if you get a chance and say hello/lurk/show some love :)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Wednesday Puts the Pieces Together.

This week on the YA Rebels we're talking about how we get our ideas, and for some reason I kind skirted that question and instead talked about what I do with my little ideas once I have them :p

You should watch, because I actually committed to an analogy for once!

If you can't watch, click HERE!

So my question to you all is, how do YOUR stories start?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On Chocolate.

I was going to do a really deep post on subjectivity. I even started writing it. But then I realized I had something more pressing to discuss. CHOCOLATE.

Laugh if you will, but chocolate plays a big role in my writing. If you ever saw my very first YA Rebels vlog, I showed the world (or at least the 7 people watching the YAR that first week) my chocolate DRAWER.

The chocolate is strong in this one (I hope I got that line right, I have only seen Star Wars twice).

I made a comment about my chocolate love on Twitter last night. Apparently, others feel the same. I never expected to get so much sugary support at 12:15 on a Saturday night.

But then people say, HOW can you always be eating sugar???

And this is where the third factor in my writing triangle comes in. Thankfully, writing and exercise (not EDITING and exercise mind you; during editing I turn into a slug) are really intertwined as well. I've told people, only half in jest, that I tell my stories first to the stripe on the swimming pool floor.

So. Writing. Chocolate. Exercise. It makes a good triangle. But back to the CHOCOLATE.

Oh chocolate
Bitter and yet sweet
You tweak my words to make them richer
You make my book complete
Taken late night from the drawer
Snagged in cupcake, bar or cookie
I am always wanting more
And sugarfied I sit awake
And ponder that last chapter
The rhythm, plot, mistake
The line before, that scene right after
Chocolate smooths the moments out
And makes the scenes all sweeter
Oh chocolate
You make my book and me complete...r.*

That's about as far as I got before I realized this blog idea seemed MUCH better late last night.

But the moral is simple. Chocolate is important. As Jocelyn Davies and I agreed last night, chocolate is necessary for revisions. And drafting, and plotting, and musing, and editing, and percolating, and wondering, and formulating, and thinking, and reading...

*That was not intended as a serious attempt. Please don't judge me :p

PS. I love that I already had a post tag for chocolate.

Friday, April 16, 2010

First Teaser from the New Book!

I'm taking today off to bond with my new book, to look it in the eyes and ask it about what it wants in life, and woo it with chocolate in the hopes it gives me many words...Anyway, I thought I'd give a teaser!

"I hear a sound, a song, none of the words but the melody, wandering up from the valley. I sit up and look down at the Arch, and see a girl in blue with two dark braids, dancing alone by the falling walls.

Emily has this crown of flowers in her hair that loses petals as she spins, and she looks for all the world like the queen of the wild. Except for the smile. I don’t imagine queens have such foolish grins. It pales only to Edgar’s, as if he turned and kissed her, and left part of his smile behind, an echo."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The book that scared the crap out of me...

And how I wish I'd written it.

The theme this week on the YA Rebels is haunting/disturbing/dark reads. My choice below (and it's so so so so good)...

If you can't see, click HERE.

Sunday, April 11, 2010



Many people have asked me in the past few months where my PM listing was, did they miss it, why wasn't it up, was it going to be up, or something to that effect.

Well, it's FINALLY HERE.

April 11, 2010

Children's: Young Adult

Victoria Schwab's debut novel THE NEAR WITCH, a darkly romantic original fairy tale set on enchanted moors where children are disappearing from their beds at night, and a 16 year old girl must protect a mysterious boy whom the villagers accuse of kidnapping, to Abby Ranger at Disney-Hyperion, for publication in Summer 2011, by FinePrint Literary Management (world English).


A NOTE: I feel like I'm trying to double up on my YAY! and *HUGS* and OTHER FORMS OF DIGITAL ENTHUSIASM because most of the time when people first announce their book deal they show the PM listing with it, but I had to wait on mine for various reasons, and I know it should seem like no surprise/no big deal after eight months of edits...but this is A BIG DEAL for me. It makes it seem REAL. It's an official declaration.

It's like, in the south, we have debuts, where you're introduced to society. This is my debut, my introduction, and I feel like I've finally, truly joined the party.

And I've NEVER been able to sum up NW in one sentence. I marvel.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Which Vania and I Cast THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS...

...in the magazine aisle of CVS...using only tween magazines...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pay It Forward Interviews - Karen Mahoney!

Happy Friday, all!!!

It's time to finish up our Pay It Forward Author Series with a great, great girl from across the pond...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

1. THE IRON WITCH (Llewellyn*Flux, early 2011) is a contemporary fantasy set against the backdrop of a centuries-old war between human alchemists and the dark elves (who were kicked out of Faerie for being... um... dark). Aided by a gorgeous half-fey dropout, a girl with magical iron tattoos must race to save her best friend's life - even if it means betraying the secret of immortality and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family. Secret societies! Adventure! Romance! Indian cooking!

Find out more at: www.kazmahoney.com

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

Ooooh... The Journey! The thing with me is that I came to all this later than a lot of my writer friends. I always WANTED to be a published author of fantasy novels (preferably for teenagers), but I never had confidence in myself - for a lot of reasons that we won't go into here. ;) I always wrote - well, apart from the 5 years I gave up completely - but in January 2007, a good friend took me aside and told me to stop whining about my 'lost dreams' and get back to work! REAL work. Which I did. (I am forever grateful to him, by the way, and not only is a character in THE IRON WITCH very loosely based on him, his name will be front and centre under: Dedicated to...)

Anyway, I digress. So I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote a LOT in the following year; I honestly believe that all the frustration during those five years when I gave up sort of poured out in one go. It was like a tidal wave of creativity! In January 2008 I started querying agents in the US with THE IRON WITCH. I'm from the UK - based in London - and I'd already decided that because I love urban fantasy so much (both YA and adult) I wanted to be published first and foremost in the US market. In July 2008 I signed with an agent who I can only describe as that very dangerous cliche: Dream Agent. We revised and went out on submission later that year. But! The road to publication is never smooth, and in January 2009 (there are lots of January's in this story!) the publishing industry in the US got into some serious trouble which affected many writers out on submission, especially those looking for their first sale - myself included. We waited... and waited... and waited. To cut a long story short, after a total of 10 months on submission I finally started getting offers and signed with Flux in a two-book deal. Flux could not have been more enthusiastic about the book and the world I created, and I am so grateful to them for this opportunity! Not only do I get to see my debut novel on ACTUAL bookshelves, I'm able to write the sequel under contract. *beams*

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

As I said in the previous answer, I sort of DID give up during my earlier incarnation as a writer, but I realise now that I just wasn't ready back then. It wasn't my time. When I started again in January 2007 I can honestly say that I never once thought of giving up. I'm not saying there weren't 'down' periods (for sure, it was tough being out on submission with a wonderful agent but not getting any responses from editors at all) but I was never down enough to want to throw in the towel. Maybe I would've got there eventually, but I told myself: Just try for 5 years. If you don't have a book on the shelves by 2012, maybe this isn't for you. Luckily, my first book will be out in early 2011 so I didn't do too badly.

Other things that helped keep me going: the writing community, especially those writing urban fantasy and YA. LiveJournal was such a source of inspiration during the first couple of years, along with VerlaKay's blueboards and many other writers' blogs. I am grateful for how generous the YA/MG authors community is! If it weren't for the internet, I would never have met all my wonderful friends and CPs and fellow writers. I was also lucky enough to get introduced to editor Trisha Telep shortly after I signed with Miriam Kriss, and because Trisha had worked with Miriam's clients on an adult anthology and they had a good relationship, I was given the opportunity to submit a short story to a YA vampire anthology. My story, 'Falling to Ash', seemed to go down very well and has enjoyed a lot of success and positive reviews in THE ETERNAL KISS (Running Press, 2009). I have a follow-up story coming out in another anthology this summer. While we out on submission with THE IRON WITCH, that anthology kept me going throughout last year - working on it, seeing it published and then getting emails and LJ comments from teen readers all over the world. It was wonderfully inspiring! :)

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

4. Hmm... this is a difficult question, V. I do love cupcakes, but I'm definitely addicted to blueberry muffins. But okay, since you insist! *g* It would have to be a chocolate cupcake, there is absolutely no contest from any other kind. (Please see photo!) Mmmm....

Victoria, thanks so much for having me - you are one of those awesome and inspiring people that I'm happy to have met! Thank you for sending me many of these: *\o/* when I needed them most, especially in recent months.

Karen, you are incredible, and I'm happy to know you and to witness your ascent into rock star-dom :)

Thanks everyone for joining me this week! Be sure to check out Karen's blog HERE, and have a great weekend :) Thanks to all the authors for participating!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Three Times the Fun this Thursday!!

This lovely Thursday is three times wonderful.

1. I'm off to Atlanta for author photos!!
2. My interview is up over at the simply marvelous blog of Lisa and Laura Roecker, AND
3. I get to continue our Pay It Forward Author Interview series (dreamed up by Elana Johnson) with the fabulous...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

SKIN & BONES is a dark, paranormal YA novel about Consuela, a suburban teen who discovers she has the power to remove her skin and craft news ones out of anything - air, earth, feathers, fire - to keep people from dying before their time. It is based loosely on the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos and I describe it as "Latina Buffy meets Quantum Leap." SKIN & BONES is due out by Dutton Books, spring/summer of 2011.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

Oh dear. Well, it wasn't the usual way! I went to SCBWI's Winter Conference in New York in 2007 and signed up for a Writer's Intensive -- that's where 7 other writers and one professional critique your 500 word sample. (*gulp*) The editor I met at my table later asked me for the manuscript. I was thrilled! But it was rejected. I sent her another...which was also rejected. And a third...you get the picture! What I didn't expect was that the editor would call me, tell me that these were good books but not a "breakout novel," and asked what I'd like to be known for? I described my latest project, SKIN & BONES. She asked if she could read the four rough chapters and notes. I said, "Sure," thinking that she would give me feedback. Instead, she gave me an offer!

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

Yes and no. No, I never feel like giving up on writing. Yes, I've felt like giving up on the writing-for-publication process. It has not been an easy road, despite my fairy-tale beginning. With an offer in hand, I approached my favorite agent...but never heard back. I picked my Top Five and met them all, chose a successful and savvy agent...who then disappeared. Dissolving that relationship, which was one of the hardest things I had to do, I was back looking for an agent and chose a great one recommended to me by my editor. In the meantime, I'd been bumped once (from spring/summer 2010 to fall 2010) and then again (from fall, 2010 to spring/summer 2011). You can imagine how this can play havoc with your creative brain! Fortunately, I've had a lot of time to explore online opportunities, social networking, research, make friends, write another book, keep busy & still hold a candle for my editor who -- believe me -- is worth waiting for!

I try to remember through all the hard stuff that this is a lifelong dream come true and I am very, very lucky.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

Anything chocolate. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! (No sprinkles, though.) Mmmm!

Dawn, you're marvelous. Thank you so much for stopping by! Everyone, be sure to follow Dawn (in a non-creepy way) back to her BLOG!!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pay It Forward Interviews - Kiera Stewart!

Pay It Forward Week continues with our third guest, a pretty rocking woman who is my editor-mate, the fabulous...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)
FETCHING, December 2011, Disney-Hyperion.
(Stealing the PM description here: A crew of middle school nobodies secretly use dog training techniques on their classmates to go from eighth-grade underdogs to leaders of the pack, only to discover being top dog isn't all they expected it to be. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?
*lays down on couch and prepares to re-live harrowing journey*
It started innocently enough. I made my lists, devised a strategy (three or so agents at a time), got all chuffed up about my query letter, told myself I wouldn't let the rejections get me down, and then BLAM! The first rejection stung more than I expected. The second had me questioning my writing ability, my story, and myself as a whole. And the third? Well, the third brought me to tears because it wasn't just a standard rejection. It was a request for a full, which overinflated my heart with hope, and only THEN turned into a polite rejection, therefore effectively sticking a pin into that overfull heart. 
The following months saw much of the same cycle of hope and despair -- both speedy rejections and requests for fulls. Then, one day, an agent emailed me to schedule a call. We talked for a long time, and she said all sorts of fantastic things about my writing, nearly causing me to faint with joy. She asked me to tweak a few things in the story, and I did, quite happily. But then a month later, the crushing pain arrived via email. The revision didn't move her, she said, and the market sucked even more than it did the month before. STAB! It felt like a terrible breakup, and I was tempted to take to my bed for about a month, waking only to write a few lines of bad poetry here and there.
Thank God for the Verla Kay blueboards. Very few people outside of the writing world really understand the misery. After a few days of whining, crying, and okay, posting anonymously about my strife, I forced myself back into the game. The upside to this? I became a little jaded. Rejections were like paper cuts rather than the full-on assaults they used to be, and interest felt more like little snack-bites of hope rather than organ-altering, head-swelling promises. And then, when I least expected it, I got THE CALL. One of the best memories of this whole experience was being able to send an email to other interested agents with the words, "I HAVE AN OFFER" in the subject line. And yes, in all caps. 
And then it got even better. People wanted to buy my book! And we had a sale! I feel so fortunate that things worked out the way they did. I have both a wonderful agent and a fantastic editor, and all that angst along the way? Was totally worth it.

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
For a while, querying did seem like an "all signs to point to no," type of situation. But my best friend/chief beta reader kept saying, "I can't imagine someone not loving this book." And she's the type of friend who will tell me (and often does) when I'm being stupid, clueless, naive, or basically any form of ass clown. The Verla Kay boards, like I said, were also an infinite source of support from smart, experienced, helpful people who really know what they're talking about. And I think stubborness played a small role in it too.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)
Now, this changes from time to time, but I can say that I can really, really appreciate a really well-done vanilla. *ducks* But hang on! I'm not talking about let's-just-add-sugar-and-a-teaspoon-of-the-synthetic-stuff and pass it off as vanilla, but the really, really GOOD stuff. The kind of cupcake you can huff and actually start hallucinating about warm, exotic places. Pure Ugandan Gold.
Or, wait. Do they make ice-cream cupcakes? Because that would totally work as well.


Kiera, thank you so, so much for sharing your fabulous answers, and everyone, be sure to check out Kiera's BLOG!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The title says it all!! I have for you TWO AWESOME THINGS.

1. This week on the YA Rebels, we're having guest authors. And mine is...

2. It's time for my next Pay It Forward Interview!! It's none other than the witty, talented, pixie-haired...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

BLOOD MAGIC is a contemporary gothic horror love story insane Frankenstein amalgam of a book about two teens who meet in a cemetery and plunge into a dangerous world of dark magic, first love, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood.  It comes out Summer 2011 with Random House Children’s Books, and the sequel CROW MAGIC comes out in 2012. More here: www.tessagratton.com


2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

WELL. I did this weird thing where I would write a book, query 5 agents, and when they would read 50 pages or a full only to say “sorry, nice, but no,” I’d write a whole new book.  Instead of, ya know, trying more than 5 agents.

I did this three times. And finally I had this YA book that I was really happy with and my crit partners (Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff) said, “TESSA THIS IS THE ONE.”  So I wrote a query to Laura Rennert of ABLA, who was also Maggie’s agent, saying that I was Maggie’s bloodier doppelganger and that we should have literary babies (half of this clause is absolutely true). I only sent the book to her, and because she knew who I was through working with Maggie and our fiction website The Merry Sisters of Fate (www.merryfates.com), she asked for and I gave her an exclusive.

Three weeks later we signed together.  We did some revisions after that, sent Blood Magic out to editors, were slowly and achingly rejected, revised again, sent out again, and then in August 2009 Blood Magic went to auction while I was at a wedding in England. WHEW

It was almost exactly one year from writing the first words to getting the first offer.


3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

Only one time. I mentioned above that our first round of submissions failed.  My book went to THREE acquisitions meetings, and still the final answer was no.  I worked with my agent, my crit partners, and my SO to figure out what was drawing everybody in so well, but then ultimately causing them to reject.  It came down to the fact that in the last third of my book I was dealing with to pretty major taboos; queerness and necromancy/suicide/grief.

The queer issues/gender issues were what had caused me to write the book in the first place, but the way the book developed over 6 complete rewrites made those issues less of the focus (to the betterment of the story, I assure you). It became painfully clear that I was trying to do too much. To say too much.  The queer/gender issue had to go. It was too big for the role I’d given it.  

When I quit graduate school to write, I promised myself I’d always try to make a difference with my stories. And I still believe that. But removing that theme from Blood Magic was the hardest thing I’ve ever done with my writing, emotionally and spiritually.  But I truly believe that it is better suited to another story.

The morning I finally made the decision, I shut myself up in a bathroom stall and balled my eyes out. For about 2 minutes I considered quitting.

But I knew if I did, I’d never find the right chance to tell all the stories I’m meant to tell.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

Red Velvet. Or lemon. Or… red lemon velvet. Does that exist? I should experiment.

Thank you, Tessa! Loved those answers. Everyone, make sure you check out Tessa's

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pay It Forward Interviews - Myra McEntire

This week is made of EPIC.

First, the YA Rebels are having GUEST REBEL WEEK, and oh man, oh man, we have some AMAZING guests. Check in each day to see who we've snagged!!

Second, there's a movement happening in the writer blog world this week. It came from the frightening and wonderful minds of Elana Johnson and Lisa and Laura Roecker (where my own interview will be up Thursday!). It is called...Pay It Forward Author Interviews.

The point: To inspire.

For the next five days, I'll be spotlighting five up-and-coming authors! Just a quick glimpse at some truly talented writers. They made it, or they're well on their way. Interviews will be going up all over the interwebs. Some authors with agents, others with deals. All have found their way through part of the maze to publication!

Here's the lineup:

Monday: Myra McEntire
Tuesday: Tessa Gratton
Wednesday: Kiera Stewart
Thursday: Dawn Metcalf
Friday: Karen Mahoney

Up first, the incredible, astonishing, charming...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

HOURGLASS will be released in Summer 2011 by Egmont USA. It's a time slip romance about a girl named Emerson who can "see" people from the past, and the boy who knows what her ability really means. Romance! Murder! Intrigue!

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

I entered a query letter contest that set things in motion. An agent expressed interest - I sent out letters to my top ten picks - and the third offer was a charm. I am with my DREAM agent, Holly Root at Waxman Literary. Absolutely adore her.

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

Five minutes ago? Yes. Part of the purpose of my creation is to tell stories - I know this in my bones. It's a gift and it's a job (and as Holly says the job part "isn't always sunshine and kittens"). Some days the work surprises me with yummy goodness, and some days it's utter crap. But I don't know what the day will produce if I don't put my bum in the chair and try. So I do - every day.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

I'm usually a chocolate gal, but I'm a huge fan of the "Miss Princess" at Gigi's Cupcakes. Also? It comes with a tiny little crown that I can wear when I take over the world. http://www.gigiscupcakesusa.com/cupcakes.aspx


Thank you so much, Myra, for stopping in. You can find Ms. McEntire at her BLOG, and on TWITTER.

And check back tomorrow for another awesome author!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Tiffany Schmidt,
Kim Harrington, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I feel like I should say something of consequence.

Instead, it being Sunday, I'll offer a bit of a medley of random and mostly useless information.

1. I'm reading LINGER right now, by Maggie Stiefvater, and loving it.

2. I'm writing a new book. This new book is taking up a lot of my brain power, not just in the writing, which is going painfully slow, but in the planning, because I want to do it right. I alternate between excitement and nervous terror with this project. We'll see what happens.

3. I got my first email about the NW cover! No idea what it will look like yet, but this was very exciting :)

4. This is my TBR stack right now:

5. I'm going to ATL to get my author photos done this week! The incredible Vania Stoyanova, who is quickly becoming quite the rock star, is taking them. There will be photos, cupcakes, vlogs, and other shenanigans, I'm sure.

6. This upcoming week on the YA Rebels is ZOMG VERY EXCITING. That's all I can say, but you MUST tune in.

7. I needed a 7th because I hate even numbers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

YA Rebels - Wednesday Looks at the Query that Landed her THE AGENT

Hey guys.

Today on the YA Rebels I look at the query letter that first got me my agent.

And the query:

Dear Ms. Tipton,

I understand from your agency's website that you enjoy young adult fiction, and so I hope you'll consider representing my 56,000 word YA novel, "The Shadow Mile."

When their car hit the river three years ago, Nell's mother died, and Nell went to sleep. A deep, dreamless, sleep. The doctors called it a coma. She called it coping. But when Nell woke up a week later, something stayed behind. Since the accident, shadows have begun to bend the wrong way, the seams of the world glinting on the edges of her sight. One day a shadow peels itself straight off the wall and flutters away, like a moth. Even to Nell, this is a bit peculiar.

A world away, Death is growing restless. Bound to the Shadow Mile, the place between the living world and the one beyond, the reaper has grown sick of its mundane occupation. When the reaper decides it wants out, it calls in a professional. Death enlists recently departed scholar Lucas Bradley Link to devise a plan that could not only free the reaper, but ultimately lead to the downfall of the living world. Step one: Lure a living soul into the Shadow Mile, and steal their life

When Nell stumbles into Death's trap, she finds herself in the dreamlike Mile, where doors are one-way, people are shadows, and when it rains, the sky actually falls. A shifting space where getting out is much harder than falling in, and the price for staying too long is steep.

"The Shadow Mile" is a cat-and-mouse-game that forces Nell to confront her mother's death and her own disconnection as she tries to find her way back home before the reaper steals her life.

I am a rising senior in college, and this is my first novel. Thank you in advance for your time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting Your MC/Narrator to TALK.

So, over the past few days I took a course to get my scooter/motorcycle license,got hit by a motorcycle, and then proceeded to crash my own scooter during a drill on a very, very rainy Sunday. Front wheel locked and went straight over the handle bars.

I also started writing a new book (yay, new book, but won't be saying word 1 about WHAT it is).

The thing about a new book is it means a new MC, and in the case of a first person narration, a new VOICE.

I have a few tactics for starting books, one of my favorite being to create a list of shots, essentially vivid still frames from the book. But no matter how much info I know about plot, or how many vivid moments I've got jotted down, I can't really get into a rhythm until my MC decides to TALK, to tell me the story in his/her own words. Once that happens, the book finally begins.

THANKFULLY, my new MC took pity on me.

If your MC won't start chatting, here are two things that work for me:

-Think about how your MC would describe the other characters in the book. This tells you about their voice, but also about relationships and dynamics and other things that tend to come in handy when building a story.

-Sometimes you can "interview" your MC, or any character in your book, but I prefer to take a walk with mine. As I walk and let my eyes wander onto different things, paying attention to the way thoughts trickle in, that is when I start to make progress. I start to think of where my MC's mind goes when they wander. And the seemingly innocuous thoughts are often very telling. I recommend not confining your MC to a list of questions, but letting them ramble.

I'm sure there are many more ways, but these are the two that seem to work for me. Do you have any techniques?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YA Rebels - Wednesday Q&A + QUERY CONTEST

Hey guys.

This week at the YA Rebels we're doing a Q&A session, and we're also holding a query contest. Anyone who wants a query critique can enter, just by leaving their favorite line of the WIP in comments section on the youtube page.

Today, I talk about how I start books, pseudo-outlining, being inspired by other authors, and my hatred of waiting...

As usual, you can also view HERE.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Critique Partners

Do you have critique partners?

They're a funny thing for me. Up until about six months ago...

I'd never had one.

They kind of scared me.


See, I'd gotten used to being judged by my agent, by editors, then by my editor, but not by my peers. Part of me justified by saying I got this far without one, but let me tell you, crit partners are INVALUABLE.

First I should say that my mother is my ultimate reader. No story makes it past our front door and out into the pub world without crossing her desk. She's incredibly intelligent, and honest, and if others are beta readers, she's the alpha.

So I didn't really know if I wanted crit partners, or how to go about getting them, and then one day a good writing friend of mine offered to read NEAR WITCH. I was TERRIFIED, because I didn't want this person's opinion of me to decrease if they didn't like the ms. I feel like our stories are clothes, and people judge other people by how they dress.

But I sucked it up and gave it to her.

And the feedback this person came back with was so thorough! So HELPFUL. I was in shock.


The shock led to the realization of how much better my books would be, and I got braver and extended the circle of critique partners.

Now I have 4-5. All of them are authors at or around the same part in the publishing process. All of them are people I know and trust.


That last part is VERY IMPORTANT. These people are handling material that is private and precious (to me) until it makes its way onto the shelf.

Get to know your crit partners, choose wisely, test the marriage, do everything you need to, because if it's a good fit, it can be an incredibly fruitful, and hopefully fun, relationship.

Oh, and make sure I have a spectrum of NICE to EVIL. So I have 1-2 who are gentler, and 1-2 who will tear me a new one without fail.

Wherever your crit partners fall on the spectrum of mean, having them is great practice for letting your book out into the real world, and because of them, it will look a lot better when it gets there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Forgive Me.

So I've been sparse, and I'm really sorry. I have a MAJOR deadline this upcoming Friday, and several things I'm trying to juggle, in addition to figuring out a PLAN B since I'm not getting into any MFA programs (and it's okay) and I have to remember to shower and sleep...

But I will resurface soon with an ACTUAL post full of yummy content. I promise. Please stick with me.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

YARebels Vlog - Wednesday...

...hopes for residues, fears lunch tables, and announces a contest winner!!

As usual, if the above isn't working, you can click HERE.


Next week the YA Rebels are answering questions, so if you have any, either for me personally or someone else in the group, or the group as a whole, ask them now!

--> http://www.formspring.me/yarebels

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Makes Me a Rebel??

This week the topic on the YA Rebels was just that, what makes us Rebels? The answers will vary from the silly to the sincere, of course, but this one is actually really important to me.

It's about not being afraid to try.

As always, if you can't see, you can go HERE.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I am really freaking lucky.

I have some INCREDIBLE people in my life.

I have people who send me emails to check up on me when I'm having rough days.

I have people who send me DMs to tell me they randomly thought of my book and how much they want to read it, or how they can't wait to see the cover.

I have people who send me care packages with various forms of chocolate.

I have people who give me killer pep talks, and people who put up with my rants, and people who offer endless digital hugs and support. (Nicole, Tye, Rachel, Scott, Leah, Tiff, Suze, Courtney, Daisy, Emily, Linda, the list goes on...)

This is one of those incredible people.

Vania Stoyanova is an incredibly talented friend and photographer, whose work you might have seen around the web. If you haven't come across it yet, you will. She did the book trailer for Beautiful Creatures, and for Prophecy of the Sisters, as well as The Body Finder and others. She also did that fabulous photo for The Near Witch.

Vania has always been a wonderful source of smiles and support.

A couple weeks back, Vania sent me this three massive prints from her Near Witch photo shoot and I giggled and bounced around. And then last week, she sent me a cupcake-themed care package, complete with an emergency chocolate kit. I almost cried. Not because I love cupcakes, which I do, but because this kind of support is something I've been lucky enough to encounter, not just from Vania (but man is she good at it :p) but from many people.

I was having a hard time of it the past couple weeks, between grad school drama (it looks like I'm not going for the MFA, enabling course correction now), and waiting on edits and a few other key pieces of news, and so many people stepped forward to make me smile. They're my cheerleaders. I don't know what I did to deserve them, but I'm thankful every day. Vania is just one of them, but she cheers so loud that I can't help but smile.

Thanks, V.

And thanks, everyone.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fairy Tale Comes to an End...

The fairy tale has come to an end. As I've said before, it was a little gift for a friend of mine who humored me one day when I desperately needed to write. She provided a few parameters, and this is what came of it. I hope you enjoyed!

[Part Six]

The fairy dance was in full swing.

            Tye walked right up to the black-lipped fey, and crossed her arms.

            “Child, child,” hissed the one who’d stolen Tye from her bed. “What do you wish for?” And this time the echo was in Tye’s head, and not aloud. What do you wish for?

            The music swirled around her limbs, easing the strain of sitting by the tree all day, but Tye focused and formed the words.

            “Turn me into a tree,” she said. “So I can sit with Rohan, and not grow stiff or hungry or tired.”

            The black-lipped fairy’s smile tightened, and her eyes narrowed. The light glowed beneath her skin, and the air around her warmed. And then her face changed, and she was all sharp teeth with her broad black smile.

            “How about a bird?” she cooed.           

            “Birds need food. And birds must fly. I wish to be a tree.”

            “Be a bird or be a girl,” hissed the black-lipped fairy. “Fly when you must and see if you can find your way back.”

            Tye frowned. “Very well,” she said, at last.

            And with that the black-lipped fairy curled her hands around Tye’s shoulders. She kissed her forehead, and her nose, and her hands, and stepped back, lifting one long sharp hand.

            “Shoo now birdy,” she said, slipping back onto her rock.

            A sharp gust of wind cut through, forcing Tye back, and the up, and up, through the trees and over, until she looked down on the black forest in the black, black night.

            Tye circled the woods until morning, and when the sun rose she ducked into the canopy and searched and searched for the tree with the red ribbon on its branch. When at last she found it, she crumpled onto the branch beside the swatch of cloth, exhausted. Fatigue crept through her feathers, and she embraced it. It was the best kind of tired in the whole world. And there as dawn spread, nestled between branch and trunk, tucked beneath Rohan’s red ribbon, Tye fell asleep.


The End

The Fairy Tale Continues...5 of 6

[Part 5 of 6]

The fabric fell away.

The world was burning.

Or so it seemed to Rohan’s unused eyes. A wash of orange and blue and black. As Rohan blinked seven years of haze away, he began to see the lines of trees, the orange sky filtering through every gap in the forest. He caught his breath. The world flooded in, brighter than it had ever been before, more beautiful. And for a moment Rohan was just a child, sitting on his family’s fence, trying to stretch himself wide enough to hold it all.

“Isn’t it worth it?” came Tye’s voice behind him. “Isn’t it better this way?”

He turned, half-expecting to see the black-lipped faery, smirking and victorious. But all he saw was a girl. The edges of her dark hair glowed in the sunset, and her eyes were a dozen different colors, but human, hazel, not alive with tiny fires like the fairies.

“It is,” he whispered, half-expecting to die right there. But he didn’t. He turned back to the sunset, and took several long breaths before Tye’s hands wrapped around his shoulders. She kissed the slope of his neck, letting her chin rest there as she watched the world burn with him. When the last light had bled away, the music started. Faint and far-off, the strands of it gathered, tangled, and the forest around him began to shift and change, glowing with moonlight and magic. Tye tipped her head in the direction of the dance.

“Do you want to?”

At first Rohan thought to pull away, to run to the farthest edge of the forest and close his eyes. But then, he nodded.

“I want to live. As much as I can, before it’s over,” he said. “I want to take it all in.”

And then Tye smiled, and her smile was as many shades as her eyes, sadness and contentment and something like fear but not quite. She wove her fingers through his, and led him toward the fairy dance.


Seven years had passed, but the fairy ring looked just the same.

The same wicked fey all spun and twirled and cracked and hissed and glowed like fireflies. The sounds changed when Rohan stepped in to the ring, a hundred pairs of faery eyes all finding him. Smiles grew longer.

“Young Rohan Black,” came a voice from a rock, and Rohan turned to find the black-lipped faery. Her voice echoed in his head. Tye’s fingers tightened on his, and the faery’s eyes found the girl. Her smile sharpened.

“Come dance, come dance,” she cooed, and leaned back against the stone.

And Tye and Rohan did. At one point Tye pulled him close, and said, “Let it in.”

And then she tipped her head back and they spun and the music seemed to fill him, all bread and honey and water and warm blankets. And Tye, like a cool salve in a burning room, soothing him. Her touch, her voice, it coated him against the world on fire. She laughed and it was a perfect sound, so unlike the fairies, so human. And Rohan ached for losing seven years, he ached because he’d missed the world so much, and now he had it back. Something filled him and it wasn’t anger, and it wasn’t fear. And he didn’t bother planting any hate against it. He just danced.

When dawn came near, the music faded and the faeries broke apart like dandelions, dancing into the waning dark. The black-lipped one was the last to go, and she only smiled and tipped her head, and vanished.

Tye and Rohan let their feet slow. Rohan felt fatigue brush over him, and he welcomed it. It was a wonderful, full kind of tired, earned by living. He felt his legs give way, and sank to the forest floor. It was the best kind of tired in the whole world.

And whether it was Tye, or the tiredness, or the fire touching the edges of the world, it was at that moment that Rohan’s feet began to sink into the soil. The tiredness spread as the roots did, slowing his blood, hardening his skin. Little by little the bark overtook him. Little by little, so slow and calm it felt like sleep.

Rohan’s eyes found Tye’s, and he managed to blink and smile before the light in his eyes went out.

Tye sat beside the tree for a very long time, running her fingers over the roots, tracing them up over the bark. She hummed to herself, a soft, slow song that no one knew but her, one she did not even have a name for. It was a song sung to her from her child’s bed, before the faeries stole her into the forest. It was a song that made her ache inside, the way Rohan’s stillness made her ache. It was the only thing she knew to do, since she couldn’t bring herself to leave him, despite his company of trees.

She sat beside him as the sun crossed the sky beyond the forest, and the shadows grew short and then long again.

Finally the night came, and Tye pushed herself to her feet, stiff and tired. She pulled Rohan’s blindfold from her pocket (she’d kept it as a token), and wrapped it around one of the lowest branches, so she wouldn’t lose him. And then she went to find the fairy circle.

[will post the final part tomorrow]

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Fairy Tale...

[Part Four]

That night Rohan dreamed in color.

Emerald trees, and pre-dawn light, and worlds on fire. He woke up with his chest hurting, and the old sense of something breaking inside. The pain left a bad taste in his mouth, and his fingers shook as he tried to keep them from peeling the blindfold off and flinging it away. The fairy girl’s words had burrowed down into his cracking self. What kind of life is that?

He shook the words away, brushed himself off, and stood. His legs felt heavy, and his eyes pricked in a strange way, as if straining to see through the blindfold for the first time in years. He ached with want of color.

Rohan growled, the feeling shrank back, and he went off through the forest.

The day was warm, and as it faded he could feel the air cooling on his skin. I like this, he thought of that narrow frame of day when the air is just perfect. I like…he swallowed it, leaning back against his tree, his hand wandering up to his chest.

“Don’t look so sad,” came the fairy’s voice. Something in Rohan brightened, to his surprise, as if he’d been waiting, hoping she’d come back.

“You’ve ruined it,” he said to the girl.

“How so?” asked Tye, and this time her voice was inches from him.

“We plant seeds, and they grow. We plant them in the ground and get flowers. We plant them in the mind and get weeds. I just planted a question. You let it spread.”

“I was doing fine.”

“No you weren’t,” she said simply, her fingertips skimming his face. Her skin was cooler than most faeries. This time he didn’t shrink from her touch. He fought the urge to lean in, the way his mind kept leaning toward her words.

“Who are you?” he asked, his voice quieter, almost soft. “You’re not like the other fairies.”

“I’m not a fairy. Not really. They stole me away when I was a child, and gave me treats and trinkets, and bid me stay.”

“And you just did? Just gave up everything?”

Her fingers fells away.

“You of all should know, turning away faeries isn’t so simple.”

A drop of water touched his ear, but then he realized it was a kiss.

“Take off the blindfold,” she whispered. “It isn’t worth it, like this.”

It isn’t worth it, the words echoed.

“How can I trust you?” Rohan asked.

“What does trust have to do with it?” she asked, and he could almost see her expression, in his mind, young but pensive. “It’s not my life, it’s yours. But the sunset tonight is so pretty. It looks like the world is on fire.”

The thing in Rohan broke. He brought his shaking fingers to the knotted fabric, but couldn’t get the knot undone.

“Help me,” he whispered, hoping that by keeping his voice so low he could hide the fear and excitement blossoming on his tongue.

Tye’s fingers found their way up his neck to the knot and deftly undid it.

The fabric fell away.

[To be continued...]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Fairy Tale Continues...

[Part Three]

Rohan Black lasted seven years.

He came to know the world by touch. His hands skimmed the trees as he passed through them, fingers dancing over the bark. And he reminded himself that he hated the roughness, just a little. Rohan had learned to keep a kernel of hate in him, for every little thing, so that he would not grow to love it.

At night he’d hear the fairies snicker, and in the distance, the weaving music of the dance. He’d head the other way are as far as he could without leaving the forest. He could find it in himself to hate this place, the woods that drew him in on fire, that were the reason for his curse. But Rohan feared that out there, in the world he’d left, there would be too many things to love. Love, the word made his chest tighten. A wicked word, or at least a word made wicked.

One day at dusk—he could tell by the smell, and the way the forest sounds shifted, and darkness felt different on skin, like dew—he heard a voice.

“What kind of boy wears a blindfold?” It was a girl’s voice, or so it seemed, neither quiet nor musical but loud, with a kind of electricity.

“Who are you?” asked Rohan, tipping his head in the direction of the voice.

She didn’t answer right away, instead began to move in a circle around him. The girl had a way of walking, seeming to touch the ground only with her toes, skipping over the surface of the world the way rocks skip over water. Rohan could tell, just by the sound of her movement, that she wasn’t human.

“Fairy,” he said, “don’t toy with me.”

“So harsh, your tone,” the girl chided, dancing in a circle around the boy, her fingertips skimming his shoulders, his neck. Rohan straightened. Her fingers brushed against his blindfold, and his hand shot up and closed around her wrist.

“Not that,” he warned. The fairy flexed her hand in his, and he let go.

“Why would anyone blind themselves in such a gorgeous place?” she asked, but there was a hint of something in her voice, a kind of bitterness, as if she could think of several reasons.

“Take it off,” she said.

“I can’t.”

“You won’t.”

“If I do, I’ll die.”

“How’s that?”

“If I take it off, I’ll see things. Eventually I’ll love them. And then maybe I’ll fall in love with them. And then I’ll die.”

The girl shifted her weight.

“A curse?” she asked.

Rohan nodded.

“So you keep the blindfold on so you won’t fall in love with anything.”

He nodded.

“You keep it on to stay alive.”

Again he nodded.

“But what kind of a life is it?” She took a few steps back, and he could feel the weight of her eyes on him. “I don’t think you’re living, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Take it off.”

“You’re trying to trick me, Fairy.”

“I’m not,” she said, “and my name is Tye.”

“What do I care a Fairy’s name?” he spat.

She gave a half-choked laugh.

“What do I care if you live or die?” And with that he heard her turn and trudge off.

Rohan took a deep breath, and let it out as the night settled around him. Tricks, all fairy tricks, he thought, and found a large smooth rock to settle on. He sat on the edge and tried to find a seed of hate for Tye. For her voice, and her skimming touch, and the way her steps sounded like rain drops. He took each thing he knew of her and make sure he hated it, just a little. And then he went to sleep.

[to be continued...]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The World on Fire - Part Two

[This is Part Two of the story started yesterday]

The black-lipped fairy smiled.

“Why me?” he asked, his chin tipped up defiantly between the fairy’s fingers.

“We are wicked things,” the fey said, “and we like to be amused. Whether you last a day or a week, this game shall certainly amuse us.”

“What game?” asked Rohan, feeling smaller as the fires of the fey grew tall and towered over him. The black-lipped one came close, the heat dripping from her touch. But when he tried to step back again the ground shifted and saplings grew, up around his legs and held him fast. The other fey became a rustling wall of “game” and “play” and other murmured words repeated menacingly.

Rohan tried to peel himself back, to lean away from the fairy’s touch, but the binds grew up his back and over his shoulders and held him fast. The black-lipped fairy drew close, close enough to kiss him.

They say the fairies can look into your eyes and know what you want most. And that is why if you ever find yourself so close, you must never look at them straight on. But poor Rohan. His eyes found hers, and she smiled.

“This world is beautiful,” said the fairy, and this time her voice didn’t echo. This time the line was loud and clear and sharp enough that Rohan winced.

“This world is filled with things to love.”

And then she kissed each of his ears.

“Love yourself, or love another.”

And each ear.

“Or love the ground, or the sinking sun.”

Then his lips.

“Love until you fall in love.” And these words she said with her lips on his. “Until you feel you’ll break apart from loving…”

And when her eyes, small lights dancing in them, found his again, she said, louder now for the group of chanting fairies to hear:

“The first thing you fall in love with, be it the sun through the trees, or the vibrant and always changing leaves, or a girl, or a day, will be your last. And you shall be a tree in our forest.”

The fairies hissed and cracked with joy. And the black-lipped fairy stepped back, smirking, her head tipped to one side
“How long will you last, Rohan Black?”

The sapling binds vanished. A faint glow poured into the forest, the first sign of a far-off dawn. With the snap of a twig, the faeries disappeared.

Rohan felt something crack inside him, a strange pain that had nothing to do with his aching body. He slipped to the forest floor. The light began to shift and spread, tinting the forest with soft color. The day was just beginning to warm, that lovely air just cool enough to remind you of the magic at the seam between night and day. Young Rohan noticed all these things, and then remember the words in the fairy’s game. Could one really fall in love with the world? The crack inside him deepened. And behind it, something hard, a child’s stubborn will. He would not lose the fairy’s game. He would last.

Rohan took one last look at the moss, and the trees, and the first signs of day. And then he tore a strip from his shirt, a dark red cloth, and bound his eyes against it all.

[to be continued]

Friday, February 19, 2010

I wrote a fairy tale!

I wrote this fairy tale for a friend. So I thought over the next several days, I'll post it for you all to read, if you so choose.

Let's begin.

The World on Fire

(A short story for Tye Cattenach created at odd intervals and with little logic but much whimsy, by Victoria Schwab).

Part One

Rohan Black was just a boy when he wandered off.

He was a passionate child, and he spent most of him time just trying to take the world in, as if he could open his eyes wide enough, or listen close enough, and stretch himself to hold it. And so one evening he sat on the fence by his family’s home, watching the sun sink down the edge of the sky. It seemed to set the nearby trees on fire, grazing the tips of every leaf, and haloing the woods. The world looked like it was burning. Young Rohan could not bear to sit still in the middle of the blaze, so he hopped off the fence, and headed straight for the forest.

Rohan tumbled through the places between trees, his bare feet sliding over moss and wet earth. Again and again he stumbled, all because he could not bring himself to look down. The forest around him and above him was as green as emeralds, flecked with sunlight, a world so alive and glittering that the young boy could hardly bring his eyes to settle on a single place.
And so he stumbled and tumbled and crawled deeper and deeper into the forest.

Now, the forest fey are wicked things.

The woods brim with life and fuel their spirits, and their dancing, and their mischief. And all who live by the forest know never to follow the sounds of music that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere. If you get caught on a thread of it, you must hurry toward quiet, and light, and sparser trees. For once it wraps itself around you, like the shimmering colors it draws you in, draws you deeper, into the darker parts of the forest.

It was growing late, and all the colors crept towards shadow, and Rohan was tired and lost, and so it is not surprising that when the music found him and began to weave around his arms and legs, he did not think to turn away. The music made colors behind his eyes, and it began to drag him through the trees. But to the small, lost boy the thicker woods seemed warmer, more alive.
And so he followed.

He followed the forest to the fairy ring.

Set in a circle of trees, on a floor swept clean of stones and sticks and paved with moss, the faeries all were dancing. The world around was dim but each wicked fey glowed with their own strange light, one that wound beneath their skin like fireflies. Poor Rohan watched, and found his body loosening, unraveling. His joints grew soft, and his eyes grew heavy, and he found himself slipping onto a rock and watching the dance. He was so hungry, and the music seemed like bread and honey and water and warm blankets all at once.

For the second time the world was on fire, this time with magic. It was a moment Rohan would have liked to last forever, but it stopped short when a stick-thin faery danced over to the boy, and laid her lips, without a word, on his. Rohan meant to pull back, for he didn’t like girls, was still too young to crave their touch, but before he could the fairy’s lips slipped away and he found himself looking into mischievous eyes. Eyes that were a dozen colors at once.

“Lookie you,” she said, and without another word she pulled him to his feet and took him onto the moss floor. He wanted to protest, to say that his legs were too tired, his arms were too heavy, but somehow all of it vanished from his lips and mind. He let her sweep him around the faery ring.

Just as he was sliding into the rhythm, the same way he had slid into the haze of it on his rock seat, again he was wrenched away. Away from peace and bliss and magic, as the fairy girl stopped hard and fast and Rohan ran into her, and winced. The stickish girl felt as if she was made of stones, heavy, sharp edges that dug into his skin. He rubbed his shoulder and looked up to see why they had stopped.

“How fun, how fun,” said a larger fey with painted black lips. He looked around but the fairy who’d danced with him was nowhere to be found. The music was louder and the night darker, so that every fairy glowed twice as bright, their edges blurring. His head swam.

“What’s this, what’s this,” said the fey, and Rohan couldn’t tell if she said everything twice or if he heard the echo in his head.

“A game, a game!” said the fairy, smiling her black-lipped smile. Suddenly there were others gathered round, and Rohan felt very aware of the fact the he was the only one not glowing.

“Let’s play, let’s play.”

“Play what?” he asked, finding his voice for the first time all night.

“With you, with you.” And when she said this Rohan took a small step back. He felt warm and he realized that the fairies were circling round, all glowing like match tips, and for the third time he felt like the world was on fire.

[to be continued tomorrow]