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Pondering narrative structure

[NOTE: I'm still aiming for blogging semi-faithfully. I think the key is using this space to ponder & be random--which is what I first used it for. Any & all are free to comment, ignore, etc. I read all comments.]

Every so often, I see remarks about books (including my own) on the difference point of view and "head hoppping."  Head hopping could be multiple point-of-view (my preferred way to write), but more often it means an unspecified narrator who has the ability to be omniscient (know all characters thought & feelings at once). I think there are benefits to both--and to various other types of narrative structure. Right now, I only enjoy writing one way: 3rd person, past tense, with multiple limited point of view narrators. Most days if you ask why I write, my answer boils down to point of view. What I like about stories is that hazy space between voices, the sense that truth in stories is completely impossible because all stories are told via subjective stance.

Why I write so many povs . . . I write because who tells matters, because who doesn't tell matters, because several tellings change everything. I don't know if absolute truths exist. In the real world, we have the illusions of truth. "What happened?" is a question that can only be answered from the voice we possess. Our voice is filtered through our beliefs, our experiences, and the physical space where we exist. It's filtered through memories . . . which are further filtered by emotions . . . and by any number of factors.

When I write a book, I choose several characters with disparate experiences, conflicting motives, and the story is left to unfold through those narrating characters. If the chapter is in Kaleb's point of voice, the emotions are filtered through his world-lenses. HIS opinion of the other characters is what conveys.

His chapters are in his head. Other chapters are in other characters' pov. Multiple pov is the narrative structure that makes sense to me (& yes, in my personal belief structure I'm pretty wide-open as a result of this).

One thing that I sometime do is rewrite scenes in several characters' pov. Over on my website, I have posted a excerpt from Radiant Shadows that is originally in Ani's pov (ie in the book it's in hers), but I rewrote in Irial's pov. It was helpful to me to see what the same exact events and words mean when in different skin. 

The difficult part is that in doing this it's always pretty clear that there are very few villains. In most cases, if we understand the villain's pov, we might realize that they're not as bad as we think.  This is why I never wrote Beira or Bananach's pov in the WL novels. It's why when we see Keenan through Leslie's eyes he's a lot less good than when we see him through his pov OR through Donia's eyes.  It's why Seth looks so perfect in Book 1, but by Book 3, we know he's NOT. In that first book, we saw him through others' gazes--a girl who loved him, a faery who admired him, and a faery king who saw him as a threat.  

I'm not interested in "head hopping" in the sense of an omniscient narrator, but I'm rarely content with the idea of only one narrator. Maybe a story will present itself one day that requires omniscient or even first person, but for now I'm happy writing multi-pov 3rd but reading the other types of books .  

  

On Serial Killers & Book Recs

I don’t do proper reviews. In truth, I rarely even name 90% of the books I read, but there are those books that stand out, books that make me feel COMPELLED to recommend them. Recently, I read an early copy of Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers.**  When I'd heard about the book, I liked the idea of it and hoped it would be interesting. It was . . . but it was so much more than that. 

If you know me, you know that I’m fascinated by serial killers. I read bios, histories, and fictional accounts. If I watch TV, I like Criminal Minds or one of those movies my spouse calls “horror for women” (ie stalker, serials, etc). One of my exes back in my 20s was an older man who’d done over a decade in a maxi security prison (not for murder!), and I used to nag him to regale me with stories of the serials he’d been in with.***  In other words, I have high hopes when it comes to serial stories.

I taught Joyce Carol Oates’ brilliant short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” regularly when I taught university, but I have had a hard time finding a serial book that hit all the right notes for me. I wanted beautifully constructed, compelling, and emotionally satisfying. I wanted chills, but not the cheap sort. I wanted A LOT.  My standards were unfairly high.

To make matters more difficult, I Hunt Killers was aiming to integrate the disturbing realities of serial killing into a Young Adult novel.  I had worries. Will the book avoid maudlin or gratuitous content? Can the plot be intricate enough to make me turn the pages? Will the protagonist be believable without being unsympathetic? Lyga satisfied every one of my requirements.

I read all but 60 pages of it one evening, and then decided I had to stop to avoid dreaming of death. An hour passed. I realized I couldn’t wait till daylight to finish. A few days later I handed the book to my 18 year old daughter. Asia’s a critical reader, preferring Shakespeare and Faulkner to YA books these days. She read I Hunt Killers cover-to-cover in one sitting. This one is a well-written, intense page-turner. 


---
** I don’t know the author and have never read his prior books. I received the book from the kind folks at one of my publishing houses (Little, Brown).

***: I don’t recommend dating ex-cons as a rule, but I was young and on a self-destruct kick back then. Note Part 2: Ink Exchange is dedicated to said ex-con, & if you catch me on an open day, I might admit that Irial’s character may be more than a little influenced by him.

Answering Questions on the Writing Life

I'm midway into my annual anti-travel season. I take trips for family or writing retreats, but every year since I started this job, I've taken to adding "blackout" dates. There are some scattered throughout the calendar--the kids' birthdays (8 Sept & 14 Oct), the days around Oct 31, and Winter Solstice. Overall though, I try to be flexible. This is, in part, to keep my publishers from throttling me, but also because I like to do book events. While being flexible, I still am fiercely protective over this blackout date plan. I believe that to create, to live a life worth living, it is essential to have time to recharge, be with my family, stare in speechless awe at whichever natural vista lures me in, & generally refill the well. This refilling is as much a part of the writing process as revisions. Without it, I have nothing to say. 

Recently, as I am here in my not-travel window, I was asked about promotion/events advice. Here were my replies (originally in very short snippets via Twitter & much expanded here).

Q: "Do you have promotion advice for new writers?"Read more...Collapse )


Short Version of all of that:
Keep looking forward instead of backward.  Yes, your house will ask you to do some PR, but the truth is that being caught in the PR machine will distract from the best part/the reason we all wanted to think about PR in the first place-- writing

6 book giveaway winners

The six winners are:

1. Avery (Canada)
2. versusthesiren
3. Heather Albrecht
4. Jenna DeTrapani
5. embethrose (Australia)
6. Suzan Lacey (Ireland)

Please contact Donna (donna @ melissa-marr . com) with your book selection & address before Feb 12th. 

Thanks to all who entered.  BOTH Graveminder and Faery Tales & Nightmares are also up for giveaways over at Goodreads right now.

Faery Tales, Nightmares, & Graveminders

This week I received copies of GRAVEMINDER US paperback which released last week.

. . .and copies of GRAVEMINDER UK paperback

. . . and copies of FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES US hardcover. Releases 2/21/2012

. . . and there are two 6s in my Twitter followers number. 

Clearly I should have a contest, right? 

I have 6 books to give to new homes.

To Enter:

+1 Recommend a song that makes you think of Faery Tales (link to YouTube video or lyrics page; no piracy links!!!)
+1 Recommend a song that makes you think of Nightmares (see above).
+1 Post a new review (pos or neg) of one of my books on Goodreads or Amazon or B&N.  Link to it in replies.
+1 Post of new POSITIVE review of another book you love (on Amazon or Goodreads or B&N)  Link to it in replies so I can get book recs.
+1  Tweet to this contest blog.
+1 FB link this contest blog.
+6 Make a donation to  RAINN (http://www.rainn.org/) or your local Women's Shelter (You will need to email proof of donation if you are a winner)

RULES/NOTES:
Open internationally. At least 1 winner will be not-US (so tell me what your nation is in the reply)

Randomizer will pick the 6 winners.

Winners will pick which book they want from the 3 listed. 

Winners will be posted on the blog on the 6th of February. 

Winners not claiming prize by the 12th of Feb forfeit. 
 
I'm sure my attempts to blog more faithfully will fade, but since I'm traveling less this year, I thought I'd try blogging more because, over time, travel is why the blog became to spiderwebby.

I spent last week away writing. It was a productive 17k flurry. Well, it was MORE, but then there was revision, deletion, edits, re-writing, & at the end, it was 17k that wasn't tossed in the fire. Right now, I'm working on the next adult book. Aside from a short story, that's my whole to-get-written focus for 2012.  That short story is a bit scary for me bc it's for an anthology that I'm editing with my friend & fellow writer, Tim Pratt, & we (in some blur of insanity) invited some authors to be in that I am pretty sure I'm not worthy of sharing pages with, much less editing . . . yeah, I'm way nervous.  (And this, my dears, is why good friends are so essential. Writers don't become less insecure--at least not most of those I know--so we need each other to pat our hands/smack us & say "hush.")

Ahem.

Eventually, I'll resume the second Blackwell well . . . which, oddly, has an outline. (See the process notes below on that little aberration.)  For now, though, I'm pretending I'm going to finish this novel & write a short story, & then . . . not-write for a few months. I like the occasional illusion now & again. . .  

News-y Stuff:

GRAVEMINDER
It just came out in paperback last Tuesday.  There were even more reviews: Lesa's Book Critiques was one that made me grin like a fool.  She writes: "Once in a while (not often when you read as much as I do), a book comes along that is amazing, surprising in its originality. Melissa Marr’sGraveminder is such a book. It’s not new. It won the Goodreads Readers Choice Award for Best Horror for 2011. However, with the paperback just out, I had the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the book. And, honestly? I can see why it’s called horror, but it isn’t horrifying. It’s remarkable."

There are a bunch more reviews over on my webpage from the hardcover release, including the ones from USA Today, NPR, & Library Journal.

The new cover is over on the webpage too.

FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES:
There are a bunch of Wicked Lovely world stories and other ones in this collection.

Reading Teen reviewed one of the stories that actually led to me selling the collection. I wrote it the weekend before I wrote WICKED LOVELY, & it was first published in CRICKET magazine 6 months after WL released.  Reading Teen is also doing a giveaway.

Reading Lark reviewed the whole thing.

It releases in exactly one month from today.

Notes in reply to questions: Yes, there is a story about Seth after the end of DARKEST MERCY. Yes, there is a Keenan/Donia story. Yes, "Stopping Time" & "Old Habits" (Dark Court stories) & "Cotton Candy Skies" (Shadow Court story) are all in there. So are the story that started the series "The Sleeping Girl & The Summer King," a vampire story, a selchie story, and a handful of others.

CARNIVAL:
My next YA is releasing 4 September 2012 from HarperCollins. No flap copy, cover image, or much else is available yet. I think the cover is going to be available in March. There may be a dedicated CARNIVAL website around that same general time too.  Advanced Reader Copies will be at both BEA & ALA in June  (as will I).

I'd love to tell you more, but I thought I'd try playing by the rules this time because it's the opposite of habit for me so therefore entertaining to me to try it.

. . . mostly.  I do periodically share sentences from it over on Twitter.

Co-authoring Blackwell

In theory, I'll blog about various upcoming projects, but since a lot of folks have asked about the co-authoring thing, I thought I'd (finally) mutter about this some here.

Blackwell is an almost criminal amount of fun. Kelley & I only work on it when we are together in the same place. This means we've gone to the mountains (VA), coast (Oregon), & desert (AZ) on writing retreats. I do retreats regularly, but co-authoring has been such a joy because the entire time is spent writing or discussing the project while we take walks in the desert or alone the ocean or . . . umm, sit at a concert at a festival drinking mead (her) or bad wine (me).

We began the project in part because of Sarah Rees Brennan & the first Smart Chicks Tour in 2010 & a woefully early airport day. Sleep deprived & chugging caffeine to wash down our very healthy breakfast of donuts, Sarah said, "You know what you should do? Write a book together!!!" Kelley & I exchanged a suspicious look, & then we patted Sarah on the head & explained that too much sugar might be bad for her.

. . . but Sarah had planted a dangerous idea. Kelley & I successfully planned a tour, edited an anthology (ENTHRALLED, Sept 2011), & executed a second Smart Chicks AND second anthology (SHARDS & ASHES, out in 2013).  Umm, and we had a giant retreat 3 group retreats for writers (& 2 more on the schedule & a third Smart Chicks Tour, details to come soonish).

We ignored the subject, but we kept circling back to it.  So we decided to tentatively try. We wrote 1/3 of a book, & then we shopped it.  Because we both had an editor and didn't want to play favourites, we shopped widely. Our agents took it out to a list of editors--in the US & abroad, In every case, we included our publishing houses for existing works, but no one received special treatment.

It immediately sold in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Brazil, France, Vietnam, Thailand, & Russia.

Then we wrote the other 2/3 of the book (& the outline for book 2 & some chapter of book 2, but don't tell our editors that bc the FIRST book isn't technically even due till March 2012, so we're not admitting exactly how far ahead we are).

We submitted the book to the US & UK editors & the agents, completed revision, & now we wait (READ: inevitably write the rest of book 2 & outline 3).  Yesterday, the series sold in Romania--the first deal based on a whole book. Film folks are sniffing around a bit.  All of that is nice, but honestly, the best part is that I get to hang out with a writer I admire/friend I cherish and make up a story. The retreats, tours, & anthologies are all fun, but this is . . . better.

The challenging parts are still there though.  Writing is fun, but it's still work.

How we work:
Kelley gets up in the morning. No, really, it's a very odd thing, but she wakes up in the wee hours (about 2 hours after I go to sleep).  She reads what I just finished & then writes her next chapter/chapters, & then I wake up. We talk about the text, and then she has her lunch while I'm having breakfast.

I take possession of the file while she takes a break. I read hers & write my next chapter(s).

We either break for dinner OR she writes while I break. Then we discuss. She breaks & sleeps. I write.

What this means is that, aside from odd moments,  we are working on the book 24hrs a day when we're together.

It's not a work routine that would fit every co-writing team, but for us, it's perfect.

The hardest parts (& how we deal with them):
Kelley & I write our solo projects very differently.  She outlines; I am totally not-outlined. To make that work, we have to meet in the middle: we use a loose outline that we tweak as we go.

Because of the nature of the characters, my characters are not as "rush into fights," whereas Kelley's character is more actiony. There are days where she wants to NOT kill things & days where I desperately want to fight a troll. We either a) suck it up and stick to the outline or b) revise the plan.

I like to wait till I'm at the retreat; Kelley likes to get a head start so writes on the flight out. . . But Kelley finishes the writing before the flight home; I'm still writing on the plane home.  We accept it. She writes her first chapter on the way to retreat, & I write "just one more" on the trip home after retreat.

After the 4th day, we break out the painkillers or heatwraps for our hands (I travel with these essential writing aids) OR we take a day off and go to a music festival/the beach/hike.

Other:

If you have topics you want me to address or questions on co-authoring, post them.  Since the beginning, I've always tried to answer questions in the blog or on Twitter or in the newsletter. (Info on newsletter sign-up here.)
2011 recap:
It’s been a strange and kind of surreal year for me. I ended my first series in February with the release of Darkest Mercy, released my first adult novel (Graveminder) in May, and co-edited my first anthology (Enthralled, Sept 2011) with Kelley Armstrong.

In between those, I co-authored (also with Kelley) my first children’s book, Loki’s Wolves: Blackwell Pages Book 1, and then sold it (Little, Brown; releasing in 2013).

To make life more chaotic, the universe saw fit to throw the film stuff into a little more of a spin—the director of the Wicked Lovely film switched to Mary Harron (of American Psycho fame) and we parted with ways with Universal Studio. I got the call with that news the day my plane arrived in Philly (returning from my annual Scottish escape) moments before an earthquake (??). Yes, I was standing in the street outside the airport on the phone with one of my producers answering the “Is this an okay time to talk?” trying to answer without laughter. Of course, the extra amusing part was receiving the renewal check the same week an article in Variety and everywhere else announced that the project was dead. . . The lesson here, my lovelies, is that Hollywood is a weird place OR “don’t believe everything you read.”

In the personal corners of my universe, my kids and spouse are doing great. We spent part of August in Scotland again, and we are spending quite a bit of time in the mountains. My son is obsessed with both snowboarding and tennis, so we’re up here a lot (including right now). I had a bit of extra travel because my daughter was college shopping and because of two releases so close . . . and a trip to Italy for tour & the Bologna Book Fair. I turned several of those into holidays by adding extra days in various places and having family join me--this meant a week in Florence with my spouse.  (I so LOVE Italy!) Still, I feel like I had far too many frequent flier miles this year, so I’m planning a stay-home-more year in 2012.

For those who didn’t see my gleeful tweets in December: my little girl nailed the SATs, and between that & her awesome achievements to date, she got into her top pick and their Honors College program and a great scholarship. I am so proud of her! (I’ll be weeping like crazy when she leaves, but for now, I’m concentrating on her successes.)

The other big news in the personal corner is that, after YEARS of discussion, Loch & I are finally going through the process of adopting. I’m told it could be up to 18 months of waiting for the baby—or as little as a month from now. I’ll share the good news when our new son or daughter arrives.

Some of my 2011 top reads:
I read daily (unless I’m writing), so it’s hard to keep track of everything I’ve loved. I’m sure I’m forgetting some (I do tweet them when I read them so follow me there for book recs throughout the year). At the end of the year, though, a few stand out:

How to Save A Life by Sara Zarr—I think this is my top pick of the year. I didn’t know the topic when I started to read it—only that Zarr=books I love. Reading about the adoption as I was on the verge of entering the journey was a bit more intense, but even without that extra jolt, I would’ve loved this. She never disappoints.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray—I can’t recommend this enough. I laughed aloud. I nodded at the feminist notes that were so true. It is a fab read.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore—Sweet & snarky & fun. I’ve read ALL of her books, and I have yet to find one I didn’t put on my keeper shelf.

Molly Harper—I’d list a title, but I love them all. Like Rosemary’s books, these are sweet, snarky fun . . . but with Adult Content too.

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton (and sequel out in 2012)—In a sea of paranormals, it’s hard to locate the original ones. These stand out.

The Taker by Alma Katsu—This is technically an adult book, but it’s definitely YA friendly. Gothic and engaging.

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes—Nag Jen for me, please.  I want a sequel to this one. Monster fighting, strong protag. Good stuff here.

UPCOMING:
Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee-- I’ve read and really loved both of her contemporaries, and her newest (which is somewhere between contemporary and supernatural) is yet another wonderful read.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan—If you’ve read Sarah’s blog or seen her at events, you’ll already know that she’s frightfully funny. That voice comes through here beautifully. I’ve read and enjoyed her Demon’s Lexicon series (which I recommend), and this is another smart engaging read--but funnier.

Masque of Red Death by Bethany Griffin –Dark and delicious world building, literary writing, and a storyline that lingers well after finishing the last page.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand—Enchanting and exciting, romantic and believable.

Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton (see above) If I could become a character in a fictional world, I would pick this one. Action and romance combine with good storytelling and an alluring world. More, please!

Icons by Margaret Stohl—No release date yet on this (2013, I think), but it’s so SO good that you need to just write it down now. I loved Beautiful Creatures (Southern Gothic, how could I NOT like it?), but this is even better. I’d tell you more about it, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to.

Reader Questions:
Is there or isn't there going to be a Wicked Lovely movie?
We are pretty far along, so it certainly looks a lot more likely than it has any other time since the initial option. That’s why the articles were so funny: they were announcing the death of the project even as I was getting good news in it. I’ve seen the concept art (it’s stunning). We have a script, director, producers, and a few other aspects I can’t share. My producers continue to say there IS a movie, & to verify that it’s not just words, they pay me. Books are optioned, but option doesn’t equate to being filmed. There are stages. In other words, I’m tentatively optimistic that there may be a film. We won’t actually know if it’s filming until the cameras turn on though.

Will there be more Wicked Lovely books?
My publishers have asked the same thing, and right now, my answer is “I doubt it.” It could happen, but I’m not planning to write any more right now.

Is there a Graveminder sequel?
Again, I’m not planning one. I have written about a third of one, but I’m not committed to it right now. I’ve actually written the starts of 2 other adult novels (different worlds) that I haven’t finished either. Maybe someday, but that’s not where my Muse wants to be right now. I am working on another adult novel, The Ananchronists, that’s due to my editor in 2012.

Will you have a book out in 2012?
Yes. I have a new YA novel (Carnival ), a short story collection, and the paperback re-release of Graveminder & Darkest Mercy.

What's Carnival about? What about arcs? Cover?
I'm not allowed to answer that one yet. They have a schedule. I just write the books. They're in charge of the rest--and honestly, that's just fine. I have THREE publishing teams now: HarperTeen, Harper/WilliamMorrow, and Little,Brown.  I can't imagine trying to handle all the tasks they do! Mostly, I write and say thank you to all the amazing people who handle the rest.

. . . also, I am getting superstition about the presence of a KATE in every endeavour. My adult editor is Kate Nintzel, children's is Kate Sullivan, & one of the heads of HC YA is Kate Jackson. With this many Kates in my corner, I'm feeling like there's some good luck associated with the name. That's my new writing advice: look for a Kate ;)

My 2012 schedule:
Jan 17—Graveminder trade paper releases.
Feb 21—Darkest Mercy paperback AND Faery Tales & Nightmares (my short story collection, about 75% Wicked Lovely stories)
April 11-15—RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago.
June—I’m at Book Expo America in NYC and (I think) ALA in Anaheim. There will be copies of Carnival there with or without me : )
September—Carnival (my new YA) releases. It is NOT a stand-alone. I meant for it to be, but as it turns out I couldn’t fit the whole story in one book.
Still September—“Justine and the Smart Chicks,” AKA Smart Chicks 3.0 tour (US & Canada) with Kelley Armstrong & other not-yet-announced authors in not-yet-announced cities. Tour organized in cooperation with Justine Magazine.
. . . and that’s it. I’m home with my family and writing.
NOTE: I will not be doing anything else event-wise in 2012.

Questions for me:
I make no promises of knowledge, but I do try to answer when possible (ie ask away).

Question from me:
How was your year? (I love reading replies even if I don't answer them all.)
What did you read & love?

Blackwell Pages announced

My secret project is not secret now. The deal was just posted in Publishers Weekly.

PRESS RELEASE:
Here's the press release sent out by my agent:
New York Times bestselling authors Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely) and Kelley Armstrong (The Summoning) will join forces to write the middle grade trilogy The Blackwell Pages for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The title was acquired by Megan Tingley, Senior Vice President and Publisher, with Kate Sullivan editing, and Marr's agent Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House made the deal for North American rights on behalf of Armstrong's agent Sarah Heller of the Helen Heller Agency. Both Armstrong and Marr have a strong young adult following and this will be the authors' first foray into middle grade fiction.The Blackwell Pages will tell the story of two 12-year-old boys and one girl, all distant descendants of the Norse gods, who must journey to prevent the impending Ragnarok (the apocalypse). The first book,Loki's Wolves, is slated for publication in Spring of 2013.

How did this happen?
A couple years ago, not long after my second novel released, I met Kelley. At that time she was about to release her first YA book, and I loved it even more than her adult novels (which is saying something bc I was a fan already).

We did a few signing events, and then we organized a tour (Smart Chicks Kick It) together…and edited an anthology (Enthralled, coming out this fall) together. Then we organized a writing retreat, the Smart Chicks 2.0 tour (also coming this fall), and started planning another retreat. Somewhere along the way we became good friends.We also decided it would be fun to try to write together. The Blackwell Papers is the result.

Why Norse?
In 1998 (literally 13 years ago bc as I write this it’s my 13th wedding anniversary!), I married a wonderful man with a Norwegian surname that is often misspelled. Loch has not a speck of Irish or Scottish in him. . . despite this, he’s amazing. However, in a blink, I suddenly had a wonderful daughter (who is now 17!) and was pregnant with our now 12 yr old son—two kids of Norwegian ancestry and me with insufficient Norse info.

At the time, I was panic-stricken. It obviously wasn’t cool to only pass on MY half (the Irish & Scottish) of the folklore. I spent a lot of time researching pregnancy, preschoolers and reading, gender roles, and Norse lore. Now, I may have gone a bit overboard on my Be A Good Mommy goals. I had charts to assure I said all of the right affirmations frequently enough and first aid kits in every possible place. I may have even had a troll trap built for my son when he was 3. These were all rational actions. Folklore matters (seriously, my kids had to be on the lookout for trolls and faeries), and the world is riddled with dangers (ie first aid kits are important enough that 6 or 7 in a house is rational).

Six years later (2004), that “be a good mommy” obsession led to writing a feminist fairy tale novel with the folklore I knew and loved from childhood (Wicked Lovely), and now, seven years after that, it has led to co-authoring an adventure series using the lore I learned in order to be their mother. Being a mother continues to be the root of everything wonderful in my life, and getting to share this news on the anniversary of my marriage to the man who made me a mother is pretty incredible.

bestseller lists & other news

Thank you, all, for the deluge of support on the release of Darkest Mercy. The way you have embraced the character from WL forward for the last few years has been very important to me. Thank you for that.

With your support, the fifth book in the series--as with the first four--hit the NY Times.  You've made 5 releases in a row all NYT bestsellers. THANK YOU.  With the 3rd book in a series (in children's or teen), the books move to the series list--which is crazy-hard to reach.  You, however, made the series appear on that list with Fragile, Radiant Shadows, & now Darkest Mercy.

. . . AND you put Darkest Mercy on the USA Today bestseller list too!

*sends many hugs*

What a way to celebrate the end of the series!

Release day itself was pretty fabulous, too. I had fun doing the live stream, and reading your emails/FB/twitter/msg-board/print letters celebrating the release.  I also celebrated by going out for dinner on release day with one of the Wicked Lovely film producers.

ON THE FILM
I continue to be so excited to work with the film team, especially my fabulous producers & screenwriter. It seems like such a strange process, though, in many ways like writing a book.  How? Well, out there waiting (as I do for books or films I want to see!) you can't see the process, all of the things that go on between starting and it getting to you.  With books, there are revisions, copyedits, galleys, cover design, meetings on so many things, and with films, there are revisions (on the screenplay), meetings, strange last minute requests that always seem time sensitive (note: these happen in the book process too), yet almost all of those are steps that no one sees.

Last fall I sweet man said to me "it must be great to just get to sit around and write."  I laughed out loud.  I didn't mean to, and I immediately explained why & apologized in case my moment of outburst hurt his feelings.  Luckily, it hadn't. . . although he did admit that he was sad that his illusions were shattered. He told me he wanted to think that the job I do was one without a lot of actual, yanno, work bc he wanted to write some day.  I did admit that the days when my job is good--when the muse is dancing or that first copy is in my hands or readers astound me with wondrousness--it's the best job in the world (aside from motherhood, of course!)

The waiting parts are always hard, though, and the not-sharing things is hard. I like to share my glee. It's always more satisfying to share than not. . . but all I can say is that we are moving forward, not as fast as some would like, but the project remains positive & my producers & studio remain amazing.

Writing stuff
I am getting a lot of "are you sure this is the end of the series?" questions. I am.  This story is over.  Could there be other stories in this world? Maybe some day, but it's not where I'm at now.  Now I'm finishing up Carnival and then I'll be back to the 2nd adult novel (which lacks a title). After that, I'm contracted for the new YA trilogy  (which I call Shadowlight). . . so Darkest Mercy really is the end of this story, but thank you for the love that makes you want to hang out with these characters a bit longer.

I did, admittedly, write some WL World short stories--"Old Habits," "Stopping Time," and "Cotton Candy Skies" (which are out in ebook format only so far), and a story in Enthralled (Sept 2011) anthology. Those and "A Hoard" will be in the short story collection, Faery Tales & Nightmares (February 2012).  That collection will also have the selchie story ("Love Struck") that was in Love is Hell and a few very short stories that have nothing to do with faeries.

Yes, to those asking, the print story collection will be in the UK, Australia, & NZ too.

And as of yesterday, "Stopping Time" will be released in Germany too.

Signed Books
Yes, you can get signed copies of Darkest Mercy. I signed a pile of them at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, CA, and yesterday I signed them at Fountain Books in Richmond, VA.  Both stores ship worldwide.

No, I am not not doing many events.  I will be at RT in Los Angeles, CA (April); Booksoup in Hollywood (April); and FaerieWorld in Eugene, OR (June).  All event details are on my website.  I am doing a few tour stops for Graveminder, & I will sign WL books there too. The only of those I can confirm right now is Kepler's in the San Fransisco area on June 3rd.

Graveminder

The first industry review on GM came in on Darkest Mercy's release day too! I won't post te whole thing, but the closing lines of it were:

". . . the emotional dance between Rebekkah and Byron will captivate female readers.

Fantasy-horror fans will demand more." (Kirkus, Feb/March 2011)

Here's hoping that they're right, & you all like it.  Of course, I was also pleased that they had as much trouble as I do deciding the genre! It's for "female readers" and "fantasy-horror" readers. Yeah, that whole "what genre" thing kicks my ass every time it comes up . Relieved that it's not just me!!!  :)

Top Reads of the Year

A lot of folks are doing their year round up, so I figured I would share, so here are my top picks of the year (NOT IN ORDER!) are--

YA
House of Dead Maids--Clare Dunkle*** Top YA Pick
Divergent--Veronica Roth*** Top YA Pick
White Cat--Holly Black
Heist Society--Ally Carter
Raised By Wolves--Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Across the Universe--Beth Revis
Matched--Ally Condie
The Poisoned House--Michael Ford
Clockwork Angel--Cassandra Clare
Rise of Renegade X--Chelsea Campbell

MG
NOTE: In MG, there were 3 that stood out.  I don't read as much MG, but these 3 were addictively good.
Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place--Maryrose Wood
Rise of the Darklings--Paul Crilley (Victorian, faery, adventure) *sighs* 
The Search for WondLa-- Tony DiTerlizzi

Adult:
Darling Jim-- Christian Moerk  ***Easily my favourite book in a long time. I absolutely devoured this. His use of narrative structure and narrative timeline . . . *shivers in glee* Serial killer, storyteller, & some truly unlikeable characters with layered structure that made me re-read. LOVE.
The Sorcerer's House--Gene Wolfe

All Ages
Pegasus--Robin McKinley

What about you? What book or books did you find irresistible?