Shanna’s Road Journal | Meet Rachel Caine

Rachel CaineUNSEENIf you learned everything you know about authors from watching TV or movies, you might think we’re all wealthy, that we just send off a manuscript and then get a check in the mail almost instantly, and that we become famous and live like movie stars after publishing one book. Even when you know more about what it’s really like to try to build a publishing career, there’s a lot you may not realize behind the success of a bestselling author.

I’ve known Rachel Caine, author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series and the Weather Warden series, among others, for many years, but I hadn’t realized just how much effort and even failure came before her success until I heard her give a presentation on her career. If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, this story may be scarier than any of her books, but it can also be encouraging because one failure doesn’t mean you’ll never be successful.

Her very first novel was a role-playing game tie-in. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” she confessed, but the editor liked her style. She decided to join a writers group, and one member told her she sucked, while another told her she’d get better. That wasn’t exactly encouraging. She wrote her second book, a vampire novel, on a lark, then a friend bought her a membership to a science fiction convention, took her to the convention and told her to talk to people. She talked to an editor, who ended up buying the book. The novel, called THE UNDEAD, did okay for a vampire novel at that time, before vampires were the hottest things in publishing.

After that, she decided to write a hardboiled crime novel, which didn’t do so well. Then she wrote another vampire book, which had an awful cover and sold only about two thousand copies. She thought that what she needed was to be more edgy, and she wrote a book that was “so edgy that even I didn’t understand it,” she said. It involved hookers, spontaneous combustion and dry cleaning. After that book, her publisher fired her.

Her next move was to write a mainstream romantic suspense novel. “They put a cactus with a giant flower on the cover, when chapter one was about a woman and a child dying of heat stroke in the trunk of a car.” Then she tried a murder mystery, in which a woman and a dog died in the first chapter and were reincarnated. “It was a total failure,” she said.

“I was starting to think I wasn’t cut out for this,” she said. But then she realized there was a common thread in her work — it all had paranormal elements, and paranormal was starting to be a hot trend.

She had an idea for a series about the weather, but it got rejected everywhere, mostly because it had a difficult element in it: the main character had cancer. “You couldn’t do that,” she said. So, she changed the cancer to a demon mark, and everyone loved it. “As long as you don’t call it cancer, it’s fine,” she said. This time, she didn’t get fired. She started with a three-book deal, then the publisher asked for three more books, and three more. The series came to an end last year with TOTAL ECLIPSE. She started a spinoff series, and the next book in that series, UNSEEN, will be released in February.

Meanwhile, she was asked about writing a young adult novel. She said no because she didn’t think she’d do it very well. But then in a talk with a friend, she mapped out Morganville. “I had to write it because my friend dared me,” Rachel said. The Morganville Vampires series got off to a good start, but it kept building and building. The ninth book, GHOST TOWN, was issued in hardcover last fall, and the series sold to thirteen countries in one year. “It’s been fun watching that,” she said. “The spread in young adult is exponential. Entire schools will write to me at the same time with questions, and I’ll know they’re doing reports.”

Her next adult series will be called Revivalist, about a funeral director who discovers that his bosses are reviving the dead in the basement. It’s a scam, with the victims having to pay every week to be kept alive. WORKING STIFF, the first book in this series, will be released this summer.

Until next month…
Shanna Swendson

Shanna Swendson writes “Fairy Tales for Modern Times” and is the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series about a Texan in New York City, a magical NYC. Visit her website or blog for more information.

Rosemary Clement-Moore | Exciting Reads for Your April Spring Fever Slack-Off…

THE RECKONINGRosemary CLement-MooreFresh Takes from the Teen Shelves
All the news, updates and gossip for the Young Adult — books, authors, movies and more!

Ah, spring fever. Every April, I have the hardest time making myself do work. I just want to lay around enjoying the gorgeous weather–not too hot, not too cold–goofing off. Which for me means reading books.

Here are a few suggestions for your Spring Fever Slack Off, starting with interviews with Kelley Armstrong and Heather Davis, who were nice enough to tell me about their new releases.

Kelley Armstrong has been delighting fans of contemporary fantasy and paranormal romance with her Women of the Otherworld series (Bitten, Dime Store Magic) for awhile, and in 2008, she added a series of YA books to her extensive list, the third of which comes out on April 6th.

Kelley Armstrong: THE RECKONING is the final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy. In the first book, fifteen-year-old Chloe Saunders started seeing ghosts. After a breakdown at school, she was taken to a group home, which she quickly discovered was not what it seemed. After being on the run in THE AWAKENING, she’s taken shelter in a place that seems safe. But for Chloe and her friends, no place is safe for long.

RCM: Is this the last of Chloe & her friends?

Kelley ArmstrongKelley Armstrong: After THE RECKONING, I’m introducing a new trilogy with new characters in a different Edison Group experiment, but I intend to bring Chloe and the others in later in that trilogy. I’m also open to writing more about them if that’s what readers want.

RCM: You’re already popular (and prolific!) writing for adults. Did you approach anything differently when writing for teens?

Kelley Armstrong: I was asked this at a recent convention, and after giving a long explanation on what isn’t different, one person said “So, basically, the only difference is the age of the protagonist?” Um, yes. That sums it up nicely (and much more succinctly!) While you can tone down profanity, sexual content etc, as I did from my adult work, you don’t need to. The only thing you have to do is have a teenage protagonist and make sure he/she really is a teen, dealing with teen-issues and a teenage skill set.

Kelley summed up exactly why I think that good YA fiction can be enjoyed by readers of all ages!

This is a definitely a trilogy (rather than an episodic type series), and I suggest you start with the first book, THE SUMMONING. (For a short time, you can read it online for free at the Harper Collins website.)

For a completely different type of paranormal novel, we go to Heather Davis, whose April release, THE CLEARING, is a bit different from her recent YA debut.

Heather DavisHeather Davis: THE CLEARING is about Amy, a girl recovering from an abusive relationship, who moves from the city of Seattle to live with her Great Aunt Mae in a small country town in the North Cascade Mountains. She’s seeking a fresh start, a way to forget her past. The town seems not too much different than what she left behind though, and she retreats to the woods and fields of her aunt’s farm. And then one day wandering in the clearing at the back of the property, she meets a boy who seems different than any guy she’s ever known — and he is. He and his family are stuck in the endless summer of 1944. They strike up a friendship that eventually teaches Amy to love again and gives Henry the courage to face the destiny he’s denied.

RCM: I love meet-across-time type stories, and it sounds like these two really need each other. What led you to write THE CLEARING?

Heather Davis: I was inspired because I moved to a small town in the North Cascades, like Amy did, where nothing was what I expected it to be. It brought me to writing though, and every day as I sat as my desk, I gazed out a sliding glass window toward my neighbor’s forty acre field. At the back of the property was a red barn with cows and horses gazing in front. Some days, the mist on that field got so thick the barn would disappear. I would wonder about what was “really” on the other side of that mist — and then one day, Henry came walking out. Amy was a harder character to write, but after suffering a life implosion that brought me back to the city a single girl, older and wiser, I knew what her journey had to be.

RCM: Your debut novel, NEVER CRY WEREWOLF, sounds considerably lighter in tone than this one. How does THE CLEARING compare?

Heather Davis: It is a very different novel from my debut. It has the same heart though, the same touch of bitter and sweet and the reminder that it’s okay to be who you are – and to ignore those who try to define you and your life. I hope readers will like the strong heroine and the absolutely dreamy, dependable Henry who came to me that day out of the mists…

Sounds delicious to me. THE CLEARING comes out on April 12th.

Here are some other books that will be making it onto my stack by the hammock:

CINDERELLA SOCIETYCINDERELLA SOCIETY, is author Kay Cassidy’s debut novel. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Jess Parker is sort of invisible until she joins a group of the most popular girls in school, where makeovers–inside and out–are the order of the day. But there’s more going on here than meets the eye, an ages old battle between good and evil, and joining the fight means Jess will have to choose between a dream life, and doing something important with her own. Engaging conflict, great characters, and a ‘girl power’ message that is still fun to read.

RULES OF ATTRACTIONRULES OF ATTRACTION, by Simone Elkeles, is the sequel to the author’s (Rita® nominated) novel PERFECT CHEMISTRY, a bad boy/good girl star-crossed lovers story. In “Rules,” Carlos Fuentes, newly arrived from Mexico, wants nothing to do with the path his brother Alex has laid out for him. He wants to make his own life comes to Colorado from Mexico, and path and meets a girl who needs him just like he is. Simone is particularly good at bringing a character’s rich cultural background into the story, and she has some great book trailers (that do her books much more justice than I just did). Check them out on her website.

I’ve mentioned them before, but Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series are great books. They remind me of why I used to love vampire novels, and what I still enjoy about the breed. KISS OF DEATH, the eighth book in the series, comes out this month.

April also sees new releases from popular authors Melissa Marr (RADIANT SHADOWS), Meg Cabot (RUNAWAY: AIRHEAD), and PC & Kristen Cast (BURNED: A House Night Novel). Excellent authors to check out if you’re new to YA.

Happy Reading!

Rosemary Clement-Moore

Rosemary Clement-Moore writes Young Adult books because she loves to read them.
Visit her webpage or blog
to find out more about her award winning Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series, and
her gothic romance, THE SPLENDOR FALLS.

Sara Reyes | Book Signings and Elvis

sara reyesThe new year is here and book signings are starting to happen…I spent a whole day entering the local signings at our Book Club’s web site. We have a few (ha!) good ones coming up in 2009. Steve Berry was our first one for 2009. I managed to write down the right bookstore but insisted on driving to the wrong one. All was well since fortunately the bookstores are close together so we only missed the introduction. Whew. He was a great speaker and told the 50 or so of us there about the way he does research, how he picks the places and objects he weaves stories around and then what’s coming down the pike. He also enthused about the ThrillerFest organization and the annual meeting they have in NYC. It was a fun way to start an evening, which we had to top off with a late dinner.

Dinner, that was a real challenge. Since I was “confused” on the location my favorite spot, Cheesecake Factory wasn’t close. So a new place had to be negotiated. Isn’t that the way it happens with other families and friends, the restaurant negotiation. Who’s on what diet, who’s hungry for what, who will EAT what….I could go on. Fortunately being a “mom” holds some sway so being hungry and tired I threw out the ultimate tease…Chuy’s. A new one opened in our town and what a better time to try it?

Hold on…obviously I’m not in the know. Thursday was also Elvis’s birthday. Elvis is the pinup for Chuy’s. Chuy’s celebrates Elvis. Do you get the drift? First sign was the parking lot was crowded. Second sign was the Elvis fans on the windows and doors. Third sign was the huddle in the front area. Yes, they had the Elvis impressionist in the bar area, singing loudly (he wasn’t that bad). But the place was also packed with a 20 minute wait. ON A THURSDAY NIGHT at 8:30pm? Seriously! But the wait was worth it. The food was HOT and great! And we had the entertainment of Elvis fans … some dressed in costume, okay, T-shirts and Elvis pompadours, to admire.

All in all, it was a great way to start off 2009 signing trips. Next up is today’s tea with 19 friends and Rachel Caine. First a signing with her at Legacy Books, then a high tea this afternoon. It will be fun!

Sara Reyes

DFW Tea Readers Group

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