Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Necessary Quiet

I don't know if it's the time of year, or the blogs I follow, or what, but lately I've  been seeing a lot of posts out there about taking a step back from all the "noise," unplugging from social media, and getting back the perspective and focus that can so easily be lost in the whirwind of it all. 

This sentiment is everywhere.  It's definitely in me.

I went in for a massage a few days ago, and my masseuse didn't even need to touch me to see it.  She took one look at the apparently obvious knots in my neck and asked how much quiet time I'm getting each day. 

I laughed.  Quiet time?

Like when my kids are asleep or at school and I finally have a chance to do something like work on Book 3, or write a blog post, or answer interview questions, or check my email or my Twitter or my Amazon rankings or Goodreads reviews or...that kind of time?

She just looked at me with the kind of calm those spiritually aware people seem to have, and said: I know you live on the beach.  The beach that inspired you to write your book.  Starting today, you need to go down to that beach every day, no matter how busy you think you are and put your feet in the ocean.  Bury them  for a few minutes in the warmth of the sand.  And ground yourself there. Breathe it in, soak it up, give yourself a few minutes of quiet because it is absolutely necessary.

I wanted to hug her. Somehow she knew exactly what I needed to hear.  And she said it was necessary!


I think the desire to have it is a natural one, but one that gets lost when we have something big on the horizon, like say, the release of a book.  It's easy to get swept up in the anticipation and excitement and amazingness of it all.  But somewhere along the line it can get to be a little overwhelming.  A little much.  A bit loud.

So we have to unplug.  Leave the email unchecked and the Twitter feed without an update. Let the world of social media and networking go on happily without us while we take a breather and get back to the other world that's been going on all around us this whole time.  The one we've kind of been missing, where we put our feet in the ocean, or watch the sunset, or cozy up with an actual book instead of the computer.

It's about being present, and it's absolutely necessary.  So starting this month (June), I have a few goals: get off the computer (unless its actual writing), put my feet in the ocean every day (as soon as it warms up a few degrees I'll put the rest of me in too),  and enjoy being in the moment.  That's what summer's for, right?

What are you all looking forward to this summer?   

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bookanista Thursday: POSSESSION

It's been a little while since I've done a Bookanista review, and this week I'm so happy to be getting back to it with POSSESSION by Elana Johnson!  This kick-ass dystopian tale of controlling or being controlled hits bookstores June 7, and believe me--you want to be there when it does.

Before I get to the review though, let's first take a moment to ogle this gorgeous cover. Beautiful, no?


 Now, here's how Goodreads sums it up:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

My Thoughts:

Holy wow. Seriously.  From beginning to end, those two words were on an endless loop in my mind. But the thoughts were my own.  Not like in Vi's world, where one can never be sure where a thought comes from.  In POSSESSION, Elana Johnson gives readers a peek into a well-drawn, believable futuristic world that poses question after question regarding freedom, control, will, and rebellion.  And she does it at a crazy fast pace with engaging characters you'll want to follow.

Vi is a strong personality from the get go with her just-right mix of intelligence, sarcasm, and will.  Through her perceptive eyes, we see the lines between good and bad blur. We see assumptions smashed and  unanswered questions scatter like shrapnel afterward.  We also see Zenn and Jag, two clearly different characters, both charming in their own way, each tugging Vi in a different direction.  The question is, which one will she choose?

POSSESSION is wild, intelligent ride that will hold on to you until the very end.  And um, let me just say, when you get to that end... your mind...it will be blown.  Just sayin.

Look for it soon!

Curious what the other Bookanistas are up to this week?  Check it out:



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

El Rancho School Visit!

Before I got to call myself a writer, I called myself an English teacher, and in my last two years of school employment, a librarian.  I worked at a gem of a middle school in Anaheim Hills, CA--El Rancho Charter School.  The students were amazing, my coworkers the best, and it's a place I feel lucky to say I've been a part of. 

So yesterday, when I got to go back for my first author visit was a fantastically special day, which started the moment I walked up the front steps, with this:

How special is that? I teared up right then and there, but I had to suck it up, because my schedule for the day was to speak to six class periods, just like it was when I was a teacher.  Only this time, there were 4-5 classes packed into the "Little Theatre," which is exactly what it sounds like. I have pictures I took from the stage, and would love to show you the crowd, but there are tricky rules about that, so you just get me and a lot of backs of heads.   All told, 600 kids sat down to listen! (Or at least pretend to.)

 I didn't really plan, didn't outline, which is rare for me, and as soon as the first bell rang I got nervous enough to regret it.  But once all the kids filed in, it came pretty easy. I talked about how as a kid I dreamed of being a writer, how as a twenty-something I was busy raising a family and teaching, and then how when I was about to turn 30 I decided to give writing a serious shot.  I told them how if you really want something, you have to put yourself out there, go after it with everything you've got.  Yep. I decided to try and inspire. Who knows if it worked... 

At one point I said something about the main character's dad moving her to a "new beach," but judging by the laughs from the back of the room, I don't think that's what they heard. Say it out loud and picture me saying it to a hundred 8th graders.  Bet you'll laugh too. 

At break, there was a cake, and my colleagues, hugs all around, and even sand, sea glass, and a mermaid.   (El Rancho has its very own Martha Stewart, who arranges things like this.)

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better first school visit.  El Rancho holds a special place in my heart and I can't say thank you enough to them for their support and enthusiasm.  Go Coyotes!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Launch Party Awesomeness!

Last week was one of the busiest, craziest, best I've ever had.  There's no way to put into words how amazing it was to finally get to the day I've been waiting for so long. 

Tuesday was a crazy mix of normal--packing lunches, dropping kids off at school, realizing I was supposed to make cupcakes for open house, buying them instead...

And surreal--walking into Barnes and Noble to see Moonglass on the shelf for the first time.  I had my sweet five-year old daughter with me, and at the moment I was about to burst into happy tears in the middle of the Teen Section, she brought me right back to reality with this:

"Mama, can we GO now? We have these at home. And I don't even like your book anyway. It has no pictures."

Yep. Nothing like motherhood to keep you grounded.

But then there was Saturday, and a launch party I will never forget.  So many of my friends and family came down to the Cove to celebrate, and that was like a dream.  And to prove to myself that it wasn't, I have pictures!

The Crystal Cove Store

Happily signing one of the almost hundred books the store sold that day!

Fellow writer friends and Bookanistas: Shannon Messenger, Christine Fonseca, Gretchen McNeil, Kirsten Hubbard, and LK Gardner-Griffie.

The backyard at my house, Pre-Party. You don't want to see the After.

The best-tasting cake I've ever had.

Everything about this day was perfect, and I couldn't have possibly asked for more.  I have to give a special thanks to my husband Schuyler, who hosted and BBQ'd for the ENTIRE party.  We're talking a hundred people! He is nothing short of amazing, and I feel like the luckiest wife on the planet!