Tuesday, December 14, 2010

News Week - 12/13/10

Hurray! For Hilary Wagner's release of her debut novel NIGHTSHADE CITY, I made her a card:

These little rats are quite different from the evil and ratty Billycan I drew. Remember him? He's the villian rat of NIGHTSHADE CITY I illustrated a while back for Hilary's interview.

To see the other cards the talented Niki Smith and Stacey Vaughan (Lisa and Laura Roecker's sister) made, check out Hilary's post about the cards. Their artwork is awesome.

Thank you so much for the shout out, Hilary! Congrats again!


In other news...I'm back from NYC! I got to meet my agent super Joanna -- yay! I will post more on the trip later on. I am also finally moved into my new place.



Thursday, December 2, 2010

News Week - 12/01/10

I have to share this with you all because I think it's so awesome. This artwork was done by Holly Cupala for TELL ME A SECRET.

I love the whole mood in this with the lone flower and girl and sea depth colors. For a chance to win this collage, go to the interview over at Total Bookaholic, and spread the word and enter over there!

Also, check out this artwork Holly did for me a while back. She is truly talented!



Aside from work, I've been packing to move to a new apartment in Seattle...busy! After this madness though, the busy season should be over for me. Phew. I can't wait to have some quiet hours to work on book revisions.

Also...I'll be in NYC next weekend! I shall bring back pictures.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Author Interview - APRILYNNE PIKE

Long time no post, everyone. Fall has been super busy for me at work, but I am back to interview a very special guest...Aprilynne Pike! I met Aprilynne at the Supernatural Summer Tour last year. She was very kind, outgoing, and funny. I adored her immediately. This year, her second book for the WINGS series came out -- SPELLS!

The illustration featured is of Tamani, the fairy in the WINGS series that wants the attention of protagonist Laurel. I tried to capture his mirth and free spirit...and green, green eyes!

1) Thanks for joining us, Aprilynne! What is SPELLS about?

Spells is the second book in the story of Laurel Sewell, a teenage girl who discovers she's a faerie--and that faeries are not quite what you might expect. In this book, she gets a chance to travel to Avalon to learn more about her heritage before coming home to face an old enemy. Spells also continues to explore Laurel's relationships not only with Tamani and David, the boys who vie for her affections, but with her parents and her friend Chelsea.

2) The series has a unique take on fairies. What inspired you to come up with the idea for the WINGS series?

So many things! In particular, when I was little there was a book I loved to look through that was filled with pictures of faeries. I have no idea what that book was, but I loved it--I would look through it page by page, then flip back to the beginning and start again. I have always loved telling stories, I have always loved faeries, and I'm not sure it gets much more inspirational than that.

3) I remember I used to be obsessed with fairies as a kid. For SPELLS, what were some of the major changes from WINGS? (With no spoilers, of course!)

Well, as mentioned, Laurel gets to visit Avalon. In Wings Laurel is at a new school in a new town and she's kind of figuring out who she is; in Spells she is more settled but also must face the consequences of some of her choices. Also: troll hunters.

4) Troll hunters! Wonder what that job is like. What was your journey toward publication like with your debut novel WINGS?

Wow, short question, long answer... my journey to publication is extremely well-documented because I started blogging about it a couple years in advance. My blog at apparentlyaprilynne.blogspot.com has entries going back a loooong way. The short version is that my journey to publication was a lot of work and a lot of fun--but not nearly as much work, or nearly as much fun, as being published.

5) When I was at your reading, you were a fun speaker with a great sense of humor! Any advice to other authors on talking about his/her book in front of others?

You know, I think every author has to find his or her own style. I have friends who do Powerpoint presentations and others who just do Q&A sessions... some plan routines well in advance, others fly by the seat of their pants. I personally spent a lot of time on stage in high school and college and I definitely draw on that in my own presentation style.

Thank you, Aprilynne! It was a pleasure having you on The Blog.



If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recent Read - Hunger Games Series

This will be a review (which I believe is spoiler-free) of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay has mixed reviews with strong reactions, but I will not get into specifics in mine. Rather, I am doing a simple rundown of what I think Suzanne Collins did right. As Katniss says, list the goodness.

(The art on the left is something I drew a while back.)

Why I appreciate The Hunger Games:

1) It's entertaining, gets right to the point, and most chapters end with a punch.

2) It's got great world-building. Collins give Panem and the Capitol and districts fine detail WITHOUT going on a long tangent about the backstory. She picks the right information to convey. The world has its own distinct visual style, names, and symbolism that all tie together nicely.

3) The Hunger Games is focused. (Even the book cover!) It's got a theme, and that's the Hunger Games itself. From the start, Collins constrains the story and characters down to the Games. They are thrown in one conceptual pot, and there, in their little fishbowl, they create an interesting story as different scenarios and symbols about the Game unfolds.

4) It's visual. A lot of the fun for me was being able to imagine Katniss' fire dress in great detail, seeing each scene as if it were a movie, and I can imagine exactly how the citizens of Capitol look like...and sound like. Speaking of which, Collins uses visual contrast to separate Panem from the Capitol. The Capitol is colorful, while the District workers are grayed.

As an artist, I really appreciate the focus on theme, constraint, and visual clarity. Her process of crafting this story made a lot of sense to me.

5) It didn't sugar-coat anything. The romance was sparse and the war was unglorified. By the way, my least favorite theme of all is war. I think too many movies, for example, use war...whether it's about Alice and Wonderland (the CG one), Avatar, Harry Potter, or that upcoming CG owl movie...somehow, everything is about war and about the grand final battle at the end. That's one thing I'm extremely tired of. Personally, forcing myself to not write about war has made me a better storyteller. In any case, though the war aspect of Hunger Games didn't interest me, I did appreciate the fact that Collins didn't put in the heroic sparkles and cheers and glorified battles and what have you. She portrayed it as it is.

I once complained that Hunger Games wasn't "hardcore" enough...but I think Mockingjay squelched my complaint. It's exciting to see an edgy, sci-fi book for young adults - a category we don't see too often these days - do so well. And it's a category I love to work in.

My favorites were the first two books. And my favorite character? Peeta, of course! Second, Johanna.

If you've finished Mockingjay, you probably feel worn out, tired, and perhaps in the mood to stare at the ceiling for a bit...That's how I felt.

Listen to this...it's a great closure song (thanks, Jennifer!) :


Monday, September 13, 2010

News Week - 09/13/10

Woohoo, my agent sister Kody Keplinger's debut book THE DUFF is out! Go to her blog and congratulate her. I can't wait to read THE DUFF and review it. It seems like it was only yesterday when I interviewed Kody.

In other news, Holly Cupala has the serialized audio podcast of TELL ME A SECRET running! TMAS is read by award winning actress Jenna Lamia (The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Chosen One).

Tell Me a Secret - Free Audiobook Podcast

If you guys want to check out an awesome blog, go to my boyfriend Joseph Pedersen's tumblr page. He's got photos of architecture, outer space, and other unique observations to inspire the creative mind. "Exploring broad-spectrum patterns of organic energy."

I'll be uber busy this fall. I am still revising and I've also got an exciting interview to post here coming up in a couple of weeks.

Here's a huge part of what's keeping me busy. If you haven't seen this yet, check out the new Portal 2 co-op trailer that's been released:



Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back from Morgan's Graduation!

This weekend, I went over to Santa Barbara to celebrate my best friend's graduation. You may remember Morgan from my post I did a while back. I made her a logo, which she used on her portfolio.

Check out some of her work (amazing!):

A HUMMER limousine picked us up to go to the vineyard, pool-side party. I've never been in a hummer limo before!

I had a very wonderful time surrounded by the people I grew up with.

Some days are made pretty perfect:


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back from North Carolina!

My fam rented a beach house in Nags Head for a week. Dolphins could be seen from the balcony and the sea was just steps away from our pool. The ocean had an abundance of shells, both rough and polished. At sunset, little crabs would begin to poke out of the sand, scuttling away from people's feet. We went to see some wild horses on the beach as well and my brothers went kayaking in the alligator swamp. There's a lot of life in Nags Head (and cool stories from the locals)!

Hope you guys liked the photos!


Monday, August 9, 2010

News Week - 08/09/10

Hope everyone is having a great summer! We're having a pretty mellow one over here in Seattle. It's now been two years since I've had the fabulous agent, Joanna Volpe from Nancy Coffey Lit and Media Rep. She has continued to be a wonderful support as I get my new project rolling. In celebration, I wanted to share some links.

First off, here is the new Nancy Coffey blog, which I recommend following: http://www.ncliterary.blogspot.com/

Second, this is the new Nancy Coffey website: http://www.nancycoffeyliterary.com/

I love the site layout.

You'll notice a new project on there. DUST.

I've just finished the third draft of DUST! I'm having a lot of fun with the black and white illustrations.

Cheers, everyone!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Tell Me A Secret Trailer Launch Party!

Today is the trailer launch for Tell Me A Secret! Watch the trailer and read on for info on how to win some cool prizes!

Here are the prizes available!

Signed TMAS books!
TMAS t-shirts!

Fan-made bracelets by Hannah S!
Music that inspired the book!
Sneak Previews!
Bookmarks and Handmade Magnets!


A Tell Me a Secret handmade necklace!

HOW TO WIN? Share the Trailer Love!

  1. Click here to go to YouTube, then click the Share button to send to your Facebook,Twitter, MySpace, or blog! 5 pts each
  2. Click here to tell us where you posted and enter to win!

Plus Holly will be featured at readergirlz for the entire month of August, with a live Twitter chat coming up!

Enjoy the trailer!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Inspiration - Glassblowing Class

A couple weeks ago, I took my first glassblowing class. It was a hot summer day, and the furnace especially made me sweat a bucket. I learned to dip metal rods into molten glass to "gather" and keep it spinning so that it doesn't drip. Also, glass explodes. Be sure not to mess with glass freshly congealing because it's still hot inside and the pressure can cause it to burst. First day, I learned to add colored grits into the molten glass, shape it with pliers, and then add more glass to it.

I made a paperweight, which came out really nice. I tried to put a heart in the middle, but it came out wonky:

I made a sad, melting snowman with the saddest beady eyes you ever saw:

It takes a lot of patience. Got to keep going back and forth between furnace and tools because the glass must always be piping hot.

Second day, I learned to blow glass. Now, when you think of blowing glass, you may think it magically expands as you breathe air into the tube. Nope. There's a special technique. You got to push air into it a special way with your thumb in your mouth to immediately trap in the air. Anyway, it was way harder than it seemed! I was glad I made a bubble at all!

So, here are my two twilight blue ornaments:

Pretty, pretty!

I had a lot of fun and recommend it to anyone that wants to give it a whirl.

I'd like to make something that looks like the nebula award with glittery galaxies...how cool would that be? I hope I can make something that awesome one day.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Inspiration - My Little Bro

So, two Saturdays ago, I went to my sixteen year-old brother Gabe's cage fighting tournament. Even though he is young, he is a master pianist, welder, getting great grades, and will be training as a fire fighter this year...and MMA fighting is one of his hobbies.

I grew up watching Bruce Lee flicks and tend to write a lot of action in my stories, so I was interested in going to the show. I was a bit nervous about seeing my little bro fight, though. Especially after I saw the first cage fight with the loud smacks. My heart was about to bust out of my ribs when it was Gabe's turn.

But Gabe was so lighthearted and showed such a good attitude...it took all my worries away.

Many fighters have been training hard for this tournament, but it seemed to be a mind over matter kind of thing. The tense, too rushy, and serious fighters all lost...the relaxed ones won. It really shows that attitude is everything in all things. (Including art and writing!) I was inspired by my bro, who somehow exhibited peace and lightness in an unlikely environment. And he did win his fight!

Go, Gabe!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Author Interview - HOLLY CUPALA

I've waited a long time for this day! My friend Holly Cupala's debut novel TELL ME A SECRET (HarperTeen) is out! YES! Why does Holly rock? Check out this post I wrote about her. (Also features her art work.) A fellow Seattlelite, I met her at Justina Chen's book reading. Holly is a very warm, creative, and organized author. If you take a look at her blog, you'll see just what I mean! Not only that, she is a Readergirlz diva.

Also, stay tuned at the end of this interview for prize info for commenters for all blog tour stops!

The illustration featured for this interview is of Miranda, the main character of TELL ME A SECRET. She is standing in front of her older sister, Xanda. I wanted to use smokey tones with a glow of yellow, like a candle that's been lit on a rainy day. I've always felt that TELL ME A SECRET was a story about hope and finding your inner light to illuminate the way.

1) Thanks for joining us today, Holly! What is TELL ME A SECRET about?

Thank you for having me, Realm!

TELL ME A SECRET is the story of Miranda Mathison – seventeen, and on the cusp of everything she wants…art school as far from her family as she can get, a seductive friend with access to the secret world of her bad-girl sister (who died mysteriously five years before), and a dreamy boyfriend to take her to the ends of the earth – or at least to Boston, where they both want to go to school. The problem is, Miranda has a secret of her own that will shatter everything she hopes for: a positive pregnancy test.

It’s a little bit mystery, a little bit relationship story, a little bit family, and even a little of suspense. Almost everyone has a secret, and things aren’t always as they seem. At its core, it’s about forgiveness, identity, and finding a way into the future.

2) What inspired the story?

A very sad chapter in my own life – two significant losses. I almost stopped writing altogether. Then Justina Chen (who wrote the wonderful book NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL) took me aside and asked if I planned to write about it. We had lost our daughter at birth, which was devastating – but somehow, Justina’s question opened a door I had thought to close. Right after that, we went to hear Libba Bray speak about “How to shut off your brain and get to the heart of your writing,” and suddenly it was right there, like a movie trailer in my head. I wrote it all down in the notebook – just found it not long ago, actually, and the story had for the most part followed that initial inspiration.

It wasn’t an easy book to write, but surprisingly, it was very healing. As Miranda struggled to make sense of her sister’s death and deal with a pregnancy, I did the same. In the end, we both found a kind of hope.

3) I'm very sorry for your loss, Holly. I'm glad that TELL ME A SECRET helped you heal and know what you mean about how writing can suddenly be born like a movie trailer playing. Can you tell us about how you wrote TELL ME A SECRET and your journey toward getting it published?

One sentence at a time…until it wasn’t so painful anymore. Then I received an SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grant, which was such a signpost! I kept going. At some point I realized I would probably need an agent. One disastrous agent meeting taught me I wanted to sign with someone who really got the work (grokked, for the sci-fi geeks out there!). I eventually found that agent – the most awesome agent ever, Edward Necarsulmer IV – quite randomly at an SCBWI conference. We worked on polishing it for a couple of months, and he sold it to my pie-in-the-sky dream editor in just a few weeks. It was kind of unbelievable!

4) Sounds like a dream! You have a great connections with readers through your blog. Also, you're a Readergirlz diva! What's your advice for networking and building a platform?

Thank you! I started my blog when I found out about the grant – they told me a couple of months before it would be announced, so I had time to get myself ready (sort of). At first I just blogged about the struggle of writing and finishing a novel. Over time, more readers came, I joined the readergirlz team, and eventually I sold the novel. So my content has evolved to reflect the shifting audiences of friends, the writing community, kidlit bloggers, and ultimately teen readers. I try to have something for everyone!

I also attended one of the amazing kidlit blogger conferences with readergirlz, and that was huge in terms of cracking open the blogging world. I came away with a great community of friends and some terrific advice.

5) Speaking of your blog, you have an awesome Summer Revision Smackdown program on your blog! Can you tell us about it and give us your best revision tip?

It all started with a piece of licorice. Actually, it all started with a crazy November goal of 25,000 words…so modest, compared to those high-achieving NANOWRIMO people!

I was 20K words behind, and all I had was a laptop, a timer, and some licorice to motivate me. So I set my timer for 15 minutes…and wrote 400 words! I ended up writing 5K that day. Jolie Stekly saw it, and she decided to try it, too. The next day, we did 5K again…and again and again, until we finished.

So when summer rolled around, we both had novels to revise. I think it was Jolie who said, “Let’s crack the whip and get these revised!” So it started as just the two of us and ballooned to hundreds of participants. We got everyone we knew to contribute revision tips, and here we have the entire compendium.

Let’s see…my best revision tip? I’m so bad at revision—that’s why we had to do SRS! I’m kind of a big picture girl—the hard part is figuring out all of the little, detailed points from start to finish. And my least favorite part is writing dialogue. So I have developed this wonderful, top-secret method of dealing with dialogue…I call my best friend, Amy! She writes for the stage and is awesome at dialogue, and we’ve known each other since high school so she knows everything.

There’s this one scene in TELL ME A SECRET involving one of Miranda’s friends—I was down to just that scene with no idea how that was going to go down, so I called Amy. She asked me a couple of questions, and out of nowhere the answer hit me…the friend had a secret, too! And crazily, the groundwork for it was already there. I didn’t have to change a thing. So Amy is my secret revision weapon. It’s really helpful to bounce ideas with a friend.

Speaking of friends—thank you so much, Realm, for inviting me to your blog!

Thank you so much, Holly! I'm very much looking forward to reading all of TELL ME A SECRET and will be cheering you on! (Already started the book -- loving it!)

Readers, if you're interested in TELL ME A SECRET, a two-chaper preview can be read here, and it can be purchased here.

The next stop for Holly's tour is...tomorrow at Little Willow's Bildungsroman! You can also view the full tour schedule here.


TELL ME A SECRET Tour Contest Entry Rules

Leave comments at any official tour stop or Holly’s blog throughout the tour! Each comment counts as an entry (one comment per post*).

Tweet about the tour (@hollycupala) and tell us what you think!

Post about the tour, then leave a comment at my blog with a link.

Each week's prizes will be announced at Holly’s blog the following week - check back to see if you've won and contact us at the contact link at www.hollycupala.com (we will hold prizes for 2 weeks).

* Comment calculation: for instance, during week one you can comment once at every official stop, and once on any of my posts for that week to be entered in that week's prize drawing.





If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!