Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ivy Bookshop Signing (note on book availability)

I just spoke with the Ivy Bookshop today about how many books to order, and they are currently planning to get in 10 copies each of Glittering Shadows, Dark Metropolis and Magic Under Glass. At this point I have 5 titles, and for a small bookstore it's a lot to order all of them. This is about how many I sell at an average signing, but I've never done a signing in Baltimore before and it's always hard to predict numbers!

Which is to say, if you are planning on attending this event and you have your heart set on obtaining a particular one of my books, I recommend you call or email the bookstore and reserve them in advance. They told me they can pre-order any of my titles with just a few days notice. (And if, for some reason, you end up not being able to make it, I will of course sign and sketch in them for you when I'm there!) 

Their phone number is 410-377-2966 and their email is info@theivybookshop.com.

Someone just asked me if this event costs any money. Heck no! It's free and we have plenty of fun planned! We just hope you'll buy a book or two to support the bookstore's ability to bring authors in!

I look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

BEA Envy

It's near the end of May, which means one of the hottest book events of the year, Book Expo America, is underway. If you're at BEA, you are probably having a TOTAL BLAST (whenever you're not overwhelmed, hungry, sweaty or lost).

If you're an author or otherwise heavily invested in the book community, you're probably feeling a bit glum and, if you know what's good for you, avoiding Twitter.

Because chances are, right now someone you know just picked up an advance copy of your favorite author's new book that doesn't come out for seven months and now they are, like, having chocolate at Jacques Torres, and they're tweeting every detail and photo. It's horrible, don't look.

Every year loads of authors sign at BEA. I've been to BEA twice, myself, always on my own dime (well, kind of...remember that year I crashed four different people's hotel rooms? yeah, I'm still pretty proud of my shameless cheapskate skills on that one) and without being invited to do a signing or go to a publisher party or anything. This is quite normal, tons of authors have never signed at BEA, but I'll admit I always get a case of the "I just want"s.

"I just want to be invited to sign at BEA...once!"

This is, of course, complete nonsense. No one ever gets invited to sign at BEA and then says, "Wellp, I'm good." Unless they are so introverted they hate any kind of attention at all. But usually even introverts enjoy a moment in the sun. Attention is kind of like sugar; you probably got introduced to its addictive properties at a fairly young age and while you might get burned out on it, you'll find yourself wanting it again before long. Writing is, in fact, full of "I just want"s:

--I just want to sell a book
--I just want to sell a second book
--I just want to sell a trilogy
--I just want to sell this PARTICULAR favorite-of-mine book
--I just want to earn out my advance
--I just want to get a starred review
--I just want to be invited to sign at a conference
--I just want to be invited ANYWHERE
--I just want to hit a bestseller list
--I just want some awards recognition

I've achieved a couple of these, and yet when I catch myself thinking about external markers of success I feel just as despairing as I did when I hadn't sold a book at all! I'm sure this probably goes for other things in life as well, anything that is really important to you. I actually skipped BEA this year mainly because I've been so busy working on two projects that mean a lot to me. I don't want to take time away from them. I miss New York City and all my friends, but this year I'm trying to focus on two things: taking joy in my work, and getting it done.

I do, however, give myself full permission to eat fancier-than-usual chocolate this week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Unschooling/Homeschooling Video Interview w/Me (Bilingual: Spanish/English)

I did a video chat recently with some lovely homeschooling/unschooling moms in Spain about my experiences with my unschooled/homeschooled background and navigating the world of adulthood post-untraditional education. The interview is in Spanish and English...which made it a little awkward for me, since sometimes I had trouble thinking in short bits to be translated...but I still enjoyed it very much and I hope it was helpful to them!

I am occasionally approached by people with questions about homeschooling, so I'll put it out there again, that if you have any questions feel free to ask and--time allowing--I am also happy to chat with any groups who associate themselves with free schooling without charge, as it is a subject close to my heart!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sketches for the day

From the Hidden Lands novels I am working on now. Sometimes these random moments pop into my head. This is Alfred, eldest son of a "potions Mafia" boss, and his right-hand man George, who is a faithful bodyguard but would nevertheless rather do almost anything else... 

A color sketch of Det Arianni, one of the pivotal figures in the series. He is one of the most notorious people in the Hidden Lands but so often I draw him chopping vegetables. That's probably what he's doing here... Playing with Copics! (And I do mean playing. I don't know WHAT I'm doing.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

YA Author Event in Baltimore/Kinda Sorta Launch Party for Glittering Shadows!!

Hey ho!

Just a quick heads up that on June 23rd at 7 pm, I will be doing a YA Author signing event at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, MD with fellow YA authors Leah Cypess, author of Death Sworn and Mistwood, and Martina Boone, author of Compulsion. I'm not having an official "launch" for Glittering Shadows, but it comes out just about a week before this event, so I'm going to be feeling launchy.

I don't really know what that means. A craving for attention and cupcakes? (Note: I will not have cupcakes. I'm not that organized.)

I hope to see some of you there! As always, come to a signing and get a sketch of a main character in your book.

(I know what you're thinking. Jackie, stop dressing up SOOOO glamorously for your promotional photos! How can mere mortals compete with your acne and flannel? Weirdly, acne and flannel is pretty much the description of every boy I had a teenage crush on.)

Let's look at that Glittering Shadows cover by itself! I love it SOOO much!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Automata at the Morris Museum in New Jersey!

It's been over five years since my girl-meets-clockwork-man love story Magic Under Glass was released, but the fascination for 19th century mechanical entertainment remains as strong within me as ever. I'm talking about automata and mechanical music devices, and it turns out the Morris Museum in New Jersey, just a few hours north of me, has an amazing collection.

So I recently went on a wee road trip. We arrived just in time for the daily demonstration at 2 pm. I got to hear, among other things, one of my favorites, the Violano-Virtuoso, an early electric device that starts up with an exciting stirring of machinery and plays a violin by way of a music roll in the lower cabinet. Then we got to see two automatons in action, slowly moving their limbs in a semblance of life--an eerie sight.

Even when they weren't moving, the automata were very photogenic. This was the largest one:

This ethereal ballerina reminded me of the UK Magic Under Glass cover. 

Speaking of, how about Girl and Creepy Monkey Under Glass?:

Many of the automata were under glass domes, and those scary monkeys were a popular theme as well! Apparently most automaton makers were French, and the monkeys were mocking the French aristocracy. Monkeys aside, many of the themes in Magic Under Glass were present in this exhibit, such as the 19th century fascination with Orientalism, leading to exotic figures reminiscent of Asia and the Middle East, that Nimira's "Trouser Girl" act was based on. I loved this belly dancer:

Finally, I will leave you with this (possibly taxidermied?) cat:

More photographs will be available at my author Facebook page. And if you're in the area, the Morris Museum is definitely worth a visit!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour Tag

I was tagged for this writing process thing by the fabulous Gwenda Bond, author of Blackwood and The Woken Gods and the upcoming Girl on a Wire which I want to read because CIRCUS and THE BEST COVER. The idea is, you answer these four writing process question and then tag two more people to answer them.

However, as with so many of these kinds of things, I couldn't find anyone to tag who hasn't already done it...though admittedly I also didn't try that hard because I am SCRAMBLING to turn in a book that is late.

1.     What am I working on?

I am currently working on the sequel to Dark Metropolis, which of course, I can't talk about much at all because it is chock full of spoilers for Dark Metropolis. It deals with the aftermath of Dark Metropolis and the revolution. It's a very out-of-my-comfort-zone book for me, because it has lots of battles and politics...but also a love triangle-ish thing. I hate love triangles. I'm not sure how that happened. It's a weird book because I feel like it's happier than the first one even though in some ways the characters go through even WORSE stuff. Like, some of you are probably going to hate me for the stuff I do to these people.

When that is done I'm getting back to the "magical Mafia" book, which is an older manuscript I love to pieces but my agent was less keen on. I still love it, but after working with a pretty hard-core editor on Dark Metropolis I have definitely learned a lot that I can apply to the older work, so I'm rewriting it and trying to really notch it up a level. This book is really all about the characters, for me...Alfred Brynn Brawder, the blind heir to an illegal potions dealing dynasty, is my favorite character I've ever written, because on one hand he seems like this laidback, charming guy with some nerdy interests, but he's also very determined and capable of being pretty crafty. Alfred thinks he's a better person than he actually is...and there's a lot of inner conflict to that. I am also equally fond of Olivia because they have such great chemistry but she doesn't want to be in a dangerous business. Or does she? Mostly Olivia is just a normal girl who is vegetarian and outdoorsy-crafty and would probably spend a lot of time of Pinterest thinking about weird-cool things to knit and tasty stuff to bake, if she wasn't so busy getting wrapped up in an overarching storyline, but she also has a badass streak equal to Alfred's. Basically, unlike my other books which have been more external-plot-driven, this book is all about the relationships between characters and it is so fun to write so I hope this rewrite can bring it all together.

2.     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

If we're talking about the work I've already published (or is in the pipeline), definitely one thing that has defined my first five novels is that I start with a historical period first and do a LOT of research on the setting, and then I try to come up with a novel that suits that time and place, twisting real aspects of history into the story in new ways and adding a dash of fairy tale and myth.

I am trying to pull away from that a little...as I've learned more about writing with every book, I'm trying to put more emphasis on character rather than setting in the future. Of course, the setting is a character in and of itself, but it probably shouldn't be the main character.

3.     Why do I write what I do?

At the core of all my stories is that feeling of being an outsider and trying to find one's place in the world. My characters (unlike me, but true to the way I sometimes feel inside) often have something that marks them visibly as different that they have to contend with. Like many artistic types, as a kid I often felt like a total weirdo and I never had a best friend stick. I also had anxiety issues. My stories and characters were like faithful friends and to this day, they help me to face what is dark and hard in life.

4.     How does your writing process work?

I think I'm pretty straightforward. I always have the next story or two percolating while I'm working on the current project, so when I'm done with one, I'm ready to jump into the next. Usually a lot of sketching and scribbling of notes is involved throughout the process. Even though I'm certainly glad the computer was invented for the actual typing of thousands of words, there's nothing like a pen and paper for brainstorming. I write in a linear fashion with an outline I usually deviate from frequently. And I love me some rewriting. I usually tear up every book and rewrite it almost completely, at least once, sometimes maaaaany times. I use playlists to keep me in the mood, though sometimes I also need quiet. I prefer to write at home and I have a wonderful, though very messy, little office that overlooks a rather low-key stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I lived in Florida this was my dream! It helps my brain, somehow, to be able to stretch my view out when I'm stuck.