Thursday, December 29, 2011


I'm marinating.

It's the best word I have for that period between books, soaking up ideas, letting everything meld together until it's ready. Or steeping, maybe. I'm waiting for some things on Happy Sauce, so I can't do anything with it, and it's not the right time to work on the (possible) sequel. To keep active, I'm brainstorming something Entirely Different. I've got the basics of the idea, but I'm not ready to put fingers to keyboard quite yet. I'm pondering the situation and the characters, doing research, working out the kinks in my head. Reading, watching movies, absorbing ideas and thoughts and what I want. Usually I do this for a while until I'm so ready I'm bursting with it--I HAVE to go to the page.

It feels slow, though. It feels unproductive, after the rush of sending something out. But I have to remember that it's an important part of my process.

And it's fitting, I suppose, with all the waiting and drip-drip-drip of time during this week between Christmas and New Year's. Fortunately I'm getting lots of good reading in.

I know many of my writer friends are spending this time frantically doing edits or copyedits. What are YOU up to this week?

If I don't talk to you before this weekend, hope you have a WONDERFUL New Year's. May 2012 be happy and productive for you!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Come Christmastime, like many people I crank up Pandora on the Christmas stations. I like to listen to the old classics, the carols, and the classical holiday music. But that last one I only do sparingly. See, that one comes with a little risk. They might play Nutcracker music. And Nutcracker music instantly swirls me into memories.

Oh, God, it came on just now, as I'm typing this.

I first saw Nutcracker performed by the Sacramento Ballet Company when I was 8. I'd taken little kid ballet in L.A., but nothing serious. It didn't matter. I told my mother I WOULD be in that ballet. I started lessons at a local studio the next year. I worked hard, I learned. I tried out for the show in Sacramento when I was 9, and didn't get a part.

I tried out again when I was 10, and I did. One of the easiest parts in the show--Marshmallow Child, 2nd cast. (There was a definite pecking order for casts.) But only 2 years after my declaration, I'd done it. I was thrilled.

I worked harder.

The next year I got in again, as one of the party children in the first act. 2nd cast. That year, for Christmas, I got regular lessons at the Sacramento ballet school, instead of the local school. It meant a 40-minute commute, and at first it was only a couple days a week. But I was serious now. Nutcracker auditions were in September, and from that point until December rehearsals got progressively more demanding. We did 2 full weeks of shows at Christmas, and I had to take off school. My whole class did a field trip once to come see me.

The next year, as a Sacramento Ballet school student, I got a party child part again--1st cast. And a lamb in the Sheperdess dance. I started taking more classes. By the end of that year I think I was up to 5 days a week, maybe 6. I tried out for the apprentice company, and I got in.

The next year, 1984, I got to be Clara.

If you don't know the show, Clara is the lead. She's in nearly every scene, at least on stage watching. She gets to be on stage entirely alone during the most magical part, when the Christmas tree grows. It's an amazing opportunity, and I was ecstatic. I had to share with two other Claras--I was 3rd cast--but it didn't matter. I was freaking CLARA. When I wasn't doing that part, I was also a flower, and a soldier in the battle scene.

The next year I was in the full company. I was dying to be Clara again, but our director said it was time for other kids to have a turn. I was going to classes 6 days a week now, three hours at least on weekdays and all day on Saturday. But I was also starting to get injuries. I had Achilles tendonitis, and shin splints. Politics at the studio were insane, and the driving time was ridiculous, and my parents were getting a divorce. I was starting to be unhappy. I was 15. I got Chinese ( a very good part), and a snowflake, and a flower again.

And the next year, when I was 16, I made the decision, with my mom, to stop.

I was immensely relieved. My injuries weren't getting better, and with my body type (really small, in case you're wondering--I'm 5'3"), it would be a very tough go for me to be a dancer professionally. I did acting at school instead, and went away to university, and discovered writing, and all turned out well. It was the right decision.

Except for when I hear Nutcracker music, and it kills me.

It's funny, because I LOVE Nutcracker, still. I know every beat of every part of that music. I  remember almost all the dances I did, for all the parts. I remember with vivid clarity being on stage as Clara, during a matinee performance, when one of the huge mice was sneaking out behind me and a child from the audience yelled "Watch out, Clara!" I remember paper snow sticking in my false eyelashes, and that tremendous swell of joy as the Christmas tree grew and I held up my candle to it.

But it hurts, too. I'm not sure why--I guess because it's part of the past, and I loved it so and it's over. Has been for many years. I don't regret the choice, but I miss it. And the music--that much beloved music--brings me back. Makes me feel it all, remember it all, just by listening.

I think I *might* be getting to the point where it hurts less than it pleases, though. Where the good memories win out over the loss, and I can be purely glad that it happened. I have my Nutcrackers--I got one as a gift every year--out in a row at home, and my daughter, who is 9, loves them.

Maybe I should go listen to it again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Theme Song

Last night hubby and I were watching Stephen Sondheim's Birthday Concert together
(, and when this song came on I stopped and listened, rapt.

This is my theme song right now. Every word of it.

Of course I'm not sure how well it works out for the character--he finds the love of his life, but doesn't he die within 24 hours of singing that song?

I won't think of that side.

Could it be? Yes, it could. Something's coming, something good. If I can wait...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting there!

Finally, I feel like I'm getting a handle on the holidays.

We went away for a week's vacation (ah, San Diego, you were lovely as always) the first week of December, so I didn't start anything until the 7th. But thanks to a flurry of internet shopping last week, I've got everyone done except my husband. That one might take a while. :)

And yesterday we decorated! The tree is UP, there are lights out front, and all my Nutcrackers are standing in formation, ready for Santa. It makes me so happy to stand there and gaze at the tree, every ornament a story. (Mind you, I've forgotten some of the stories, but I'm sure I could make one up for you if you asked.) It made me happier when Child was heading off to bed last night, and she stopped at the tree and sang to it. Just because.

I've got a lot of work to do today, but I think I'll crank up the Christmas music and light my Christmas Pine candle while I go!

Hope your holidays are going well too. I'll send you a dose of holiday spirit today if you need it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In the spirit of the impending holiday, I am so, so very thankful for:

My family being happy and healthy. They always come first.

My friends. I am blessed with SUCH fabulous, supportive, understanding friends!! May you all have friends like mine. And yes, I mean each and every one of YOU in that.

Jake. And Myka, Dedushka, Eric, and even Liesel. And in times past, Annie and Zilla, Jenna and Katherine. These characters who inhabit my head fully and allow me to inhabit theirs. I love spending time with them. (I admit it--I need it.)

All the hardworking lovely people in the kidlit industry, especially those I'm fortunate enough to know or work with: agents, editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, designers, marketing, sales...all of them. Together they bring books to kids and teens. How very cool is that?

I hope all you Americans in the crowd have a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving. For the rest of you, enjoy the quiet? :))



Friday, November 18, 2011

Sock-knocker: Originality--INCARNATE

I was a very lucky girl last week, for many reasons.

One of the reasons I can tell you about is that I was given a Kindle ARC of an amazing new book coming out in 2012: INCARNATE, by Jodi Meadows.

I was looking forward to it, because I know Jodi on Twitter and she's super-cool. Plus I love the cover. How could you not?
Isn't that gorgeous? PLUS I wanted to read it so hard after seeing this blurb:

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

But I admit I was a bit nervous. Why? Because I like Jodi, and I expected so much, that I was afraid I'd be disappointed. It happens, sometimes.


Why? I'm a tough reader. What did it?

Three things.

1. Originality. Good God, this book is ORIGINAL. It's not a twist on an old story I've read, or an interpretation of a myth, or different dystopian plots shuffled around. It is NEW. I have never read anything like it before. So new it had me getting excited, thinking of how this society would work, and how differently characters would react to each other in this world, and what all the implications were...I don't even know how long it's been since I was struck so by how *different* a book was. And in this case, different = amazeballs.

2. Characters. I loved Ana from the start. She's not perfect--in fact, she has some characteristics, especially at the beginning, that aren't really pretty. (low self-confidence, uncertainty, defensiveness) But you get why she's like that, and you see how she gets it herself, and how she counteracts those issues as the book moves along. Plus from the very beginning you see her strength shining through her upbringing. And Sam!! He's not perfect either, or sparkly or brooding, but he is just...aaahhh. I'll let you find out.

3. Writing. Jodi's writing is beautiful, but not in a self-conscious way. I felt from the very first page that I was in the hands of an expert. She never stumbled in pacing or characterization, never lost me to boredom (this happens easily with me). Brava, Jodi.

Definitely a sock-knocker. I think I'll still be looking for my socks when it comes out on January 31st!

Monday, November 14, 2011


A couple of people have asked me how my elementary school talk went. I suppose I can tell you...


You guys, it was so much fun!! The first group was 1st-3rd graders, and my prepared talk lasted only about halfway through our time--I had a moment of panic. But they asked MANY questions. It was funny what the little kids were most interested in. It was all about numbers. "How long did your longest book take you to write?" "How many pages was it?" "How long would it take to write a BILLION words?" :)

The 4th-6th graders were pure awesome. They jumped in with intelligent, thoughtful questions right away. I ended up not only talking about writing process, but also self publishing, writer's block, social networking, having FUN with writing, my book (I let them see my plot board, and they were fascinated with the book--they all wanted to read it!), and even my friend's book. (Em, they all want to read your book too, AND see the movie!)

In short: it was an easy introduction to school talks. A little scary at first, but great fun. I love passionate kids!

There are many other things going on that I wish I could tell you, lovelies. Maybe soon!

MORE updates: As part of my presentation to the kids, I talked about my writing journals--my favorite tool--and let them see two of mine. I was tickled when the teacher told me yesterday that THREE of the upper-elementary kids bought their own writing journals over the weekend. :))

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where ideas come from

I'm speaking to a whole elementary school of kids about writing on Thursday.

Fortunately, this isn't as nerve-wracking as it sounds. It's two groups of about 12 kids each, and it's at my daughter's school. They were doing a unit on the writing process, and I volunteered to come in and talk about mine, as well as the publishing process in general. (The kids call their stories "published" when they're accepted by the teacher. If only, right?)

The writing process part of the presentation was easy. I've got visual aids and everything (plot boards, marked-up manuscripts, pictures of screaming people...). But the teacher also asked me to "please talk about where your ideas come from."


I know. That question gets asked all the time. But this one I had to really think about. To me, ideas are kind of magical. Sometimes I circle around an idea for a while, pinning it down; sometimes it drops into my head whole. Sometimes it comes from a dream; sometimes a line of text. How do you express that to kids in a way that encourages them, but still expresses that I don't *know* how it works?

I've decided to try this:

Story ideas come from everything you experience: everything you see, read, listen to. Imagination draws inspiration from everyday life, and twists it in a new way, unique to you.

To get story ideas, first you have to pay attention. Then you have to think, and allow yourself to imagine. What if is a fabulous phrase. Play with it.

And then I thought I'd try some what ifs with them, and see what they come up with.

What do you think? How would you answer the dreaded "ideas" question?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I was sitting at a concert last week, and started thinking about creativity. What is it? How does this weird thing WORK?

For a large chunk of my childhood, my creative outlet was ballet. From 8-16, I danced nearly every day. Christmas meant Nutcracker time more than anything else. I was in a company; I had significant roles. I always felt a little queasy before going on stage, but once there I slurped it up. It was my place.

Though ballet is not a personal creativity, per se. Yes, you express yourself in the dance, but you do the steps as someone tells you to, in coordination with others. It's like the symphony, a joint effort.

Then I piled up too many injuries, and things happened, and I stopped ballet. Cold turkey.

I didn't know what to do with myself. All this time. All this lack of direction. I was just like...a normal person or something. Ugh.

So I took a drama class, at my high school. The first few classes I was shy and awful. You mean you want me to talk in front of people? But they can see me! But I had the revelation that I could let go in this situation. It wasn't as proscribed as ballet. I could improvise, have fun. By the end of that class I was voted Most Improved--and a month later I got one of the leads in the school play. Enter phase 2.

Acting is more creative than ballet, definitely. There's more of you involved--you now add voice to body and expression. But with the exception of improvisation, it's still someone else's words, someone else's story.

I rode on acting for a couple years. Then I graduated from high school and headed off to a huge university. I wasn't confident enough to try acting there. I didn't dance anymore. What should I do with myself?

I was an English major--so I read a ton, and dabbled in bad poetry, but mostly I just wrote essays. I was a little...lost. I didn't have any creative outlet. I thought about writing a novel, but I just didn't feel like I'd lived enough to have any stories to tell (I may have been right).

It wasn't until years later that I finally decided I COULD try writing, and I feel like right there, my true creativity was found. With stories, it's all me. My words, characters, plot, world. I've tried to stop writing, for various reasons, but it's never lasted long. Even when I stop, I still tell stories in my head.

Child acts, and dances, and even writes stories, but so far her true passion is drawing.

I imagine creativity as a force that comes from within someone, or maybe surrounds them. It ferrets its way out in whatever form it can find: music, dance, art, theatre, writing, comedy, whatever. And then if you stop that form, that outlet, it builds up pressure until you have to let it out somewhere else, or you'll explode. Or implode, perhaps.

But what of people who don't do any of those things? My husband doesn't, for one. Lots of people don't. Is the urge, the force, just not there?

I know lots of you are creative people. What are your thoughts/experiences?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Love Day Monday

It's time for a Love Day, because Monday needs a little brightening. Especially today--I can't even see the mountains outside, it's so cloudy/foggy/rainy. *peers at mountains*

Today I love:

FALL. Pumpkin-scented candles and salted caramel mochas, sweaters I'd forgotten I owned and everything orange and yellow. Halloween parties crammed with ghosts and vampires and witches.

BOOKS. Specifically, both books I'm reading right now: SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White and THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. Supernaturally is light and fun and escapist, and I love Evie. GoF&T is amazing in its worldbuilding. Once I started the sample on my Kindle I did NOT want to stop. In fact, it's calling to me right now...

FRENCH COMEDIES. Hubby and I have this thing for watching French screwball/romantic comedies every once in a while, and I really enjoy them. They don't do the same plot twists/character developments as American romcoms do, and I love that unexpectedness. I Do is a particularly good one we saw yesterday.

BRITISH DRAMAS. Downton Abbey. Sherlock. Luther. Oh, BBC, I adore you. But PLEASE COME OUT WITH NEW MATERIAL FASTER. Oh my god, the second season of Luther nearly killed was *almost* too dark. So close to that line. But in the end I want more.

HAPPY SAUCE. I hope to finish revisions today or tomorrow and get it out to one more beta reader for a fresh post-revision opinion. Then...the synopsis. Dum dum dum. But I still love this book.

What do you love today?

Friday, October 14, 2011


Each book I write is a very different experience--which makes sense, as they're all unique and lovely speshial snowflakes. *pets manuscripts*

No, seriously.

They each have their overlying themes, their "moods," their music, their various levels of beating the heck out of me--*glares at last book*--and their own mascots.

Mascots are for me to look at as I write, then later as I submit and bite my nails. When I'm first-draft writing I look at them often (or touch them, if appropriate). In the later, more difficult stages they remind me of that first-draft time when I was happiest with the book.

Much, much later, as I move on to yet another book and the old mascots sit on the shelf like abandoned toys, they remind me of what I've accomplished. But it's interesting to see how they change, and what they say about me at the time, and the books they represent.

Book 1: The Murderess's Tale
Didn't have one. I was flailing around, didn't know what the heck I was doing. It wasn't ready for a mascot. Anyone want a first novel YA historical based in 1387 England? *crickets*

Book 2: The Weirdest Thing about Jenna
It had flying monkeys. Hence, this lovely:

It's eyes actually lit up, once upon a time! It's also holding in its lap the mascot for a not-long-for-this-world manuscript, Book 3: Ghost Girl. (I had that title before the published book! I swear!)

Book 4: Salvaged
Did not ever have a mascot either. *shifty eyes* I think there is a reason for this.

Which leads us to:
Book 5: Happy Sauce (not its real name)
This lovely, which I am currently doing edits for, has TWO mascots because one could not contain its fabulous juju.

Mascot #1 is a monster that Child designed and sewed for me. She named it Annabelle.

 She is a little creepy, I admit. But heck, the book's a little creepy too. In a GOOD WAY.

Mascot #2 I bought for myself. I saw it at the gem and mineral show, and when I lifted it, it made me happy. It is so smooth and slick, and just the right weight. It is also gorgeous, from all angles, with greens and whites and pinks that shift. It looks like clouds trapped in stone.

I use this one like a worry ball--when I'm pondering plot twists or what to leave in/take out, I roll it in my hands and it HELPS.

I can't be the only one who does this sort of thing, am I? Do you have mascots for your books?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Unexpected

Happy Monday, y'all.

Good news today: I'm in the middle of the 4th round of revisions on Happy Sauce, and I still love this book with an unholy passion.

Bad news: ...Yeah, I don't really have any bad news.

Child is back safely from her 3-day school campout (they always make me so nervous)--and even though they got rained out at the end, she had a good time. I have new, sexy ankle boots. I have coffee and chocolate. The sun is out, after a week of rain.

All in all, pretty fabulous.

Also, I wanted to tell you guys about this amazing show husband and I saw last week. It was an acrobatics performance, kind of like Cirque de Soleil except based in the old west. It's called Boomtown.

There were lots of flips and amazing balancing feats:

I actually gasped more than once. But my favorite part--the part that made my husband and I both laugh so very hard it HURT--was when they brought an audience member up on stage to interact with the clown, and he totally flubbed it. More than once, in a hilarious way. It really made the evening.

So there are two morals, one for writing and one not.

One: Go see BOOMTOWN if you get the chance.

Two: Embrace your mistakes. Embrace the unexpected. Sometimes what you think is a disaster--just when you're panicking that you've totally messed things up--it turns out to be the best thing you could've done. It twists into the highlight of the show, or the book.

Friday, September 23, 2011


The winner--by random draw--of the signed copy of Witch Eyes is...

Sara M.!!!

Congratulations, Sara, and thanks for playing! I'll email you with the details. :)

Thanks, everybody! I'll be back sooner than last time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Win a copy of Witch Eyes!

It's here. *drum roll* The Scott Tracey interview and GIVEAWAY!!

Scott!! Welcome!! 

First, let me say how fabulous it is to have you HERE. We've been part of Team Sparkle together for a couple years and many thousands of emails, but this is our first formal-ish interview. I feel all official now.

So that's not what I'm going to ask you about.

*shrug* It's already  there, right? Today, we are going to have simple FUN. And be silly. And give away a signed copy of your book!

Let's begin.

In Witch Eyes, Braden has magical eyes that let him see through lies and spells. So let's talk about eyes today. Eyes are the most expressive aspect of a person…and the most revealing.

1. Who has the creepiest eyes you've ever seen?
Creepiest eyes ever?  Steve Buscemi.   

Don't believe me?  There is a Tumblr called 'Chicks with Steve Buscemi eyes' and it's traumatizing.

 *Note: Scott is not kidding with the traumatizing. Click on that link AT YOUR OWN RISK.

2. Most beautiful eyes? Male and female?
Oh jeez.  This is always so hard! Matt Bomer for the guy, for sure.  

For the girl, I have two.  Sharbat Gula, for the best 'real person' eyes.  If you don't recognize her name, she was the 'National Geographic cover' girl with the startling green eyes.  She actually comes up (or she used to) when you search "Witch Eyes" on Google Images. 

For the celebrity, I'm going to go with Kristin Kreuk from Smallville (ahem, or Chuck guest star!).  Or Elizabeth Taylor if we're talking old Hollywood.

 3. There's a beautiful shot of Braden's eyes on the cover. Is that what you imagine them looking like? If not, what did you imagine?

If you took a snapshot, that's probably as close as you'd get to Braden's eyes.  Aside from the "witch eyes" aspect of his powers, his eyes are constantly shifting colors, so while his eyes are blue and green on the cover, if you took a shot a second later, they might be brown and gray, or gold and black.  

The lightning is fairly symbolic image of the power of the eyes, because I don't THINK he can shoot lightning out of his eyes (although who knows?  There's always the sequel). ;)

4. Quick, writing short: write me a story, in 50 words or less, about some sort of special eyes.

Whisper Tony was a legend in my town.  Everyone had a Whisper Tony story; my brother swore ours  was true.  He never said a word, and his eyes were like chocolate and arsenic.  With a look, he'd lull you in, and poison you just as fast. 
I miss my brother.

50 words exactly.

5. I'm watching you…in your nightmares, what kind of eyes are following you around in the dark?

I don't have a doll phobia, but when my little sisters were growing up, they had one of those My Size Barbies, right?  And the Barbie stayed in the basement, where the laundry also was.   

So on mornings when I had to go iron my uniform before school (which was almost every morning), I would stumble downstairs, bleary eyed and half asleep, and the first thing to greet me was that doll.  And in those early morning hours, her eyes would follow me.

So if I gripped the iron like it would have to double as a weapon at a moment's notice, that's totally rational.

6. Show time: let's see YOUR eyes. Close up, please.

Now Scott is watching US!!
And he wants to hear from YOU.

Scott is giving away a SIGNED copy of Witch Eyes to one lucky reader. Here are the rules:

1. Contest closes Friday morning, 11 am MST.
2. To enter, comment on this post!
     (1) Include a link to a picture of eyes that affect you in some way: that you love, that creep you out, or intrigue you. Anything.
    (2) Write a 50-word short about eyes and post it here!
One entry added for each of these things. Total of 3 entries possible.

You WANT to win this, you guys!!! 

Trust me.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Scott Tracey is coming here! Tomorrow!


You know Scott Tracey, right?
*hint: Scott is one of the FABULOUS 7-member Team Sparkle, where I spend all my email time.

But do you know that Scott just released his debut book, Witch Eyes?

Well, tomorrow I'm going to give you a chance to find out a little more about Scott, and Witch Eyes...and even win a copy!!

Also eyes. This interview has a lot of Things about Eyes.

Be ready, my friends. Tomorrow!

(also Friday is Tiara Day, don't forget!!)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It's been so long since I posted here, Blogger has completely redesigned and I can't figure out where anything is.


How are you all, my lovelies?

I've seen many of you on Twitter and such, which I've been sucked back into been visiting again now and then, so I'm not completely off the map. Just haven't gotten back here.

The good news is that I've been busy with: 

1. Vacation! We went for a lovely, restful week to the Oregon coast and a tiny smidge of a visit to Portland. The week included 3 visits to the science museum, 2 visits to the air & space museum, 2 visits to the Tillamook cheese factory, 2 evenings at the waterpark, 2 days at the beach, 1 steam train ride, 1 jet boat ride, 1 motor boat ride up the river, and lots of fudge, ice cream, and cheese. *happy*

2. Book! Still working away on self-edits for Happy Sauce. I'm doing line-by-line now, which is by turns excruciating and exhilarating. Sometimes I forget what I'm supposed to be doing and just read. I like it when that happens.

3. Back to school/dance/art class. This one's mostly for Child, but it does involve a great deal of parental participation. I admit I might have been a bit late on getting the rides scheduled/tap shoes bought/art supplies ready etc., but I *think* we're there now. And Child wasn't going to audition for Annie, but now she's not sure. We may be adding more to our schedule!

Hope you all are well!! I will try to be back here more often...

Friday, July 29, 2011


Thank you so much for playing along, you guys!! I loved your Victoria pictures. :)

I had Child draw a number from the entries, and the winner is...


Congratulations, Annika! Email your address to me at susan (dot) adrian (at), and I'll get your order on the way. I'm ordering my copy too!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

INTERVIEW with Victoria Schwab! And CONTEST!

A year or so ago, I had the honor of reading an early version of Victoria Schwab's debut novel, THE NEAR WITCH. I've always loved fairy tales, and this is an instant classic: it envelops you in the dreamy fairy tale landscape, it intrigues you, draws you in...and WHAM scares the crap out of you.

Okay, so I'm not a lyrical writer like Victoria. But it's true. This story will both scare and captivate you. The language is gorgeous, the landscape and characters whole and real.

And it's out officially on August 2nd!! I can't wait for the rest of you to read it.

To celebrate, I cornered V for a little one-on-one interview time--AND I'm giving away a copy of THE NEAR WITCH, mailed to your (North American) door.

Are you ready? Here we go!

1.    The Near Witch is in the best tradition of fairy tales: creepy, magic, and possible enough to scare the heck out of you. I know you've picked Little Red Riding Hood as a favorite classic, but for research you must've read some more obscure, off-the-wall stories. What's your favorite out of the ordinary fairy tale, and why?

 You know, it’s interesting, but most of my research revolved around the WAY stories are told, passed down from generation to generation, and the way they shape a community. Truth becomes relative, and tradition becomes law. But I have indeed read a good deal of fairy tales and fables. 

One of my favorites is Godfather Death by the Brothers Grimm. I have always had a weakness for personifications, especially those of Death (the first book I ever wrote, and one I’m determined to revisit some day, involves  Death) and in this one we get God, the Devil, and Death. A man with many children is overwhelmed by yet another, a boy, and goes into the road to seek guidance and a godfather. God walks by, but the man refuses, accusing him of being unfair. The Devil walks by, and the man refuses him, too, knowing his cons. Death walks by, and the man, knowing he treats all equally, chooses him. Death goes on to guide the child, to elevate him to a position of power. But the boy crosses Death once, and is forgiven, but he does it a second time, and in the end Death claims him.

2.    Creepy! I am so impressed (always) with your lyrical, almost dreamy use of language—which fits perfectly in the world of The Near Witch. Tell me about the language in this book. How do the village and the moors shape the words? How aware of this were you when you were writing?

The language in the book is incredibly important. Writing a fairy tale means landing the style, and in this case the narration, between fantasy and reality. The tone has to be slightly more formal, without being lofty, well-drawn, but sparse. So much of writing a fairy tale is the WAY in which it’s written. I could have done NW and had it read like high-fantasy, or like paranormal, but I didn’t want to. I wanted a fairy tale, down to the timelessness. And it turns out, as many, many rounds of fine-tuning will attest, finding that little “timeless” patch on the spectrum of style is actually really hard.

3.    You're stuck alone in an elevator with Neil Gaiman, and you have time to ask him ONE question. What would it be?

Can I have this dance?

4.    You get to bring Neil ONE type of chocolate or baked good, without it being at all creepy. :)  What would you bring?

 GASP. I’d probably bring him a batch of chocolate cake cookies. Because they are apparently quite eatable, and in my mind he’d take them home, and keep snacking on them, and then I’d leave a more lasting impression than say, a cupcake :p

5.    Explain your obsession with narwhals.

Narhwals are the unicorns of the sea!! But seriously, I find them enchanting. They are proof that there is still a little magic in the world. 

 6.    Like everybody, you've had ups and downs in this crazy publication path. Tell me your favorite thing that's happened so far. What do you look forward to most?

Oh yeah, it’s definitely been a roller coaster. But one of my favorite things has been so small and random. A friend and fan of the book (that second F-word sounds sooooo weird) told me that one of HER friends recommended THE NEAR WITCH to her after the friend’s mother, a high school teacher, told her daughter about it, after she heard a group of students in the hall talking about books they wanted to read that summer.


I still can’t process that people out there who are not directly related to me/friends with me even KNOW about my book, so that was pretty wonderful.


Victoria's the coolest.

Okay, so you want to win a copy of this book, right? RIGHT?

Here's what you do.

You saw how I scattered images throughout the post, to illustrate? I want YOU to go on an image scavenger hunt.

1. Go forth and find an image or images of things to do with THE NEAR WITCH or Victoria. Suggestions include, but are not limited to:
  • narwhals
  • chocolate
  • cupcakes
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Fairy tales
  • Witches
  • Yorkshire villages
Note: You are NOT allowed to steal the images from (a) this post or (b) anything V herself has posted. Search the internet a *little* further.

2. Post your picture(s) somewhere, and tell me here or on twitter (@susan_adrian) where. You can post it on twitter, your blog, Flickr, Tumblr, whatever. Just post and say what it's for (#thenearwitch), and TELL ME! You get an entry point for each picture, UP TO FIVE.

3. You also get one point just for commenting here or twittering with #thenearwitch hashtag, for those people who don't want to mess with the pictures. See how easy I am?

4. Contest ends Friday at noon!! Then I'll do a random draw and order copy of THE NEAR WITCH for the winner!! North American entries only, please. Though everybody is welcome to post pics.

Monday, July 25, 2011

TWO fabulous things!!

I know it's Monday, but I have GOOD THINGS to tell you!

Good things are always more necessary on Mondays, don't you think?


On August 2nd, the rest of the world will be able to read THIS utterly magical book:
by THIS utterly adorable and extremely talented person (on the left below. Yes, VICTORIA SCHWAB!):
To celebrate, this Wednesday July 27th, I'll be hosting an interview and CONTEST to win a copy of The Near Witch mailed to your door! It will be fun, people. Stay tuned.


On Friday I finished the first draft of Happy Sauce!!!!


It feels a little false to celebrate because:

(1) it only took me 8 weeks to write--it gushed out--and it's really really really rough. I'm already making lists of plot points I didn't thread through or people I kind of dropped or need to re-work.

(2) it's not like Jake's even taken a break from my head. See above RE lists. Also, ideas for how to make everything deeper, more intense, etc. are spilling in. And then there's Book 2, which I'm not allowing myself to think about yet but HE is ready to get on with. And the research I need to do in the next few weeks...

But still. Rough as it is, it's a whole story start to finish, and I still love it, and love Jake. So yeah. We can do a little dancing.

See you Wednesday!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Things I learned over the weekend

This weekend was, in general, FABULOUS. It is perfect summer here at the moment. Highs in the 70s and 80s (mostly), sun, afternoon thunderstorms.

I love thunderstorms. It's left over from childhood.

But I did learn a couple of things, in our Summer Adventures. There's always more to learn.

1. The middle-of-the-night sprinkler breaking thing can happen again, exactly the same, three years later. Down to the time of it breaking (1:30 am) and the depth (and coldness) of the water under the house when I had to jump down there. Ugh. I'm calling the sprinkler people today.

2. It is an absolute glorious high to catch a big, fat brook trout on the first cast with a new lure. Even more of a high when my husband and I caught 25 fish between us. (20 rainbows and 5 brooks! It is a RECORD!)

3. If I realize, after we've been out on the boat on the lake for about an hour, that we both forgot to bring our cell phones, we WILL have engine trouble. It is fated.

4. No matter what husband says, I am not quite strong or big (or coordinated) enough to row a metal boat with three people and gear on it by myself. I can, however, manage one oar if he does the other. For a really short distance. And am sore afterwards. *ow*

5. Almost six hours on a rowboat is a long time, especially when for the last hour you have serious concerns about getting back.

6. Still, those 25 fish--and a full day in the sun, on the water with hubby and Child--are worth it.

Hope y'all are doing well! Still working away on the first draft of Happy Sauce (58k today!), and other Things. Wish me luck, and I'll wish you the same.

OH. And GUYS!! Did you know that Victoria Schwab's wonderful book THE NEAR WITCH releases in 2 weeks??

Did you know that I'm going to be hosting an interview and contest in this space, soon, where you can WIN A COPY of said book?

Stay tuned, lovelies.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Things that Make Me Happy


Let's not discuss the whole continued absence thing, shall we? It's for a good reason, so we'll just leave it at that. I STILL LOVE ALL OF YOU. *~*~*~*~

Now. It feels like time for a Love post, or things that are making me happy right at the moment. Because we should recognize and celebrate happiness when we find it! So these are things I have found recently that I love and can't resist sharing:


Yeah, that's right. Another sparkler rocks a book deal!! Go T!!

1. Sherlock, from the BBC.

You GUYS. We ran across this accidentally on Netflix and watched the first episode on a whim...and I fell in absolute nerd-love. I didn't even read the books (I know, shame), but this series is SO GOOD. It's Sherlock moved to modern times, but so very cleverly: the writing and acting are both top-notch. Unfortunately there are only 3 episodes so far, with a promise of three more to come, probably next year. *sigh* WANT. NOW.

2. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak and Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell.
Yes, I'm combining them. Yes, one is theoretically YA(ish) and one is absolutely not, but they remind me of each other, and I love them both. I am in a very boy-narrator sort of mood at the moment, and both of these characters are so authentic and original. Thanks to Martha Mihalick and Janet Reid for those recs! (ages ago, in one case, but I don't read fast...)

3. The weather, today.
Today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Other than that we've had cold, windy, rainy weather pretty much every day. But today is supposed to be 77 and sunny. Finally, a real Montana summer. Aaaaah.

4. Last but not least, HAPPY SAUCE.
Which is taking up all of my time and my brain, but making me HAPPY, hence the code name. *pets*

Now, I also want to throw in Things I'm Looking Forward to. I am getting desperately behind in reading (because of HAPPY SAUCE, mostly), and there are SO MANY books I am dying to get my grubby hands on and devour, but just can't. Yet. They are tantalizing me. Here is the LIST of must-haves that I already know I will love when I have a second (this is embarrassing, I am so behind):

  • Imaginary Girls by the lovely and extraordinarily talented Nova Ren Suma, with whom I have shared a cupcake and many good conversations. YES. I can't believe I haven't read it yet. I've been waiting for it for ages, and now it's staring at me reproachfully.

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth. Edited by the fabulous Molly O'Neill. Again, glaring at me, daring me to just crack it open. 

  • Hourglass by Myra McEntire
At least I sort of have an excuse for this one, as it just came out. Still, it's waiting. I hear wonderful things.

  • And last (on the TOP of the list), but not least...Vicki Pettersson's The Neon Graveyard, the last in the glorious Signs of the Zodiac series. I've followed Joanna's adventure since that first manuscript, before she was published, and loved every minute. Now I get to see how it ends, finally.

Well. When I come out of the cave. Whenever that is. Or maybe I'll just go into a reading cave instead?

Oh, HAPPY SAUCE is calling me--I'd better go.

Please tell me, lovelies, what YOU are loving right now. What are you reading/writing/watching/doing that makes you giggle?

Yes. I've been giggling a lot.

I KNOW. It's a good thing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hey there!

Wow, when I go away, I really go deep, don't I?

I'd tell you what I've been up to for the past couple months, but then I'd have to come find you and extract the memory from your brain--and that would just take too long for all five of you, or however many are still reading this. It will have to remain a MYSTERY.

I actually was going to wait to post another blog entry until my tulips bloomed, but I am still waiting. It snowed yesterday (really), so all of spring is still kind of on hold around here. Maybe we'll just dive right into summer!

So considering my MYSTERIOUS activities, saying that I'm out of the loop is a serious understatement. I hope you're all doing well, writing and publishing books and doing all your good stuff. If you feel inclined, please comment and say hello, and let me know you're still around!

Later, gators...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've been doing a lot of exploring lately, forging a new path for myself. Why not? If you stay on the same path your whole life, you stop paying attention to your surroundings. Sometimes you need to shake things up and consider new options, reimagine yourself in a different way.

I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about something I discovered, in case you haven't run across it already: iTunes University.

You guys! There are hundreds of high-level lectures, on about everything you can imagine: business, engineering, math, leadership, languages, science, philosophy, history...for FREE! Anytime you want!

I've been listening to lectures and seminars on politics, international relations, and ethics so far, but I plan to keep going. Between that and TED I have plenty of fascinating things to ponder while I'm tweaking images in Photoshop or doing layout.

And for those writers among you, there might even be something useful in there for research.

This message has been brought to you by an absolute nerd, and proud of it. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hey there--

Hello all!

Just wanted to check in and say that I'm here and doing well--very well, actually. I have a lot of interesting things going on, and have been Busy. I hope you are all enjoying life as much as I am!

I probably am going to continue my general quietness, but thought I'd leave you with a couple goodies.

First, the word of the month:

I have a sticky note on my computer that says:

Be positive.
Be patient.

This seems to apply to pretty much everything in life, as far as I can tell.

Second, as I never got around to the Hawaii post, I thought I'd share two of my favorite pictures.

Yes, I'm being kissed by a dolphin (actually, a "wholphin")! Lifelong fantasy!


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The track, I am back on it

Have you ever not realized how deep a slump you were in until you pulled out of it? You shake yourself off and say man, that sucked, and I didn't even know how badly.

That was me. I was having some issues before the lovely 12-day vacation to Hawaii (yes, there will be more about that with pictures later, once I organize the pictures on the right machine!). I was depressed, listless. I wasn't getting anything done in any part of my life, and I hated myself for it--which then made me continue to not do anything, which made me feel worse... Nasty, nasty cycle.

Anyway, vacation was just the trick. I came back with a clear brain and renewed discipline. Starting the day after we got back, I am:

  • writing every day
  • exercising (30 minutes at least) every day
  • (gasp) taking my calcium :)
Granted it's only been 4 days, but it FEELS different. It feels like I'm myself again, back where I used to be. I like this self. And I think I can keep it up.

You're going to root for me to keep it up, right?

Eventually I will also manage to get back to good twitter habits, email habits, and maybe even blog or blog reading habits (though I don't promise). But I think I've got the important things going.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Story that GETS You

Have you ever found a story that feels like it was told just for you? Not one you wrote--that's cheating--but one you read, or watch. It pushes all your buttons, your passions. The situation, characters, and complexities keep you up into the night, imagining. You finish a chapter or an episode with a goofy grin on your face (YES!), and then immediately turn the page or watch the next episode or click PLAY again to keep that feeling going as long as possible.

I hope you have. It's an immersive, complete high (without drugs!), and it's damn fun. I hadn't had that feeling for a while--the last time was with Jane Austen, maybe, or earlier with The Princess Bride. I found it again this past month in what was (for me) an unexpected place: a tv series.

Meet my latest obsession: CHUCK.

I'm not much kidding with the obsession part either. I had been mildly attracted by the ads for a little while, so one lunch break a month ago I decided to watch Season 1, Episode 1 and see if I liked it.

Oh my GOD. A month later and I have watched every single episode of 3 and a half seasons. Avidly. Several of them more than once. That world and characters was so compelling for me it was hard to drag myself out of it every day. Yesterday I finally caught up to the series in real-time, and I just want to go back and watch my favorites.

Now being a storyteller myself, of course I had to try to analyze WHY. What made it so compelling? What was/is the magic? (how do I put that magic into my own books?) So here 'tis. Why I love CHUCK:


From Wikipedia: "Chuck is an action-comedy television program from the United States created by Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak. The series is about an "average computer-whiz-next-door" who receives an encoded e-mail from an old college friend now working in the CIA; the message embeds the only remaining copy of the world's greatest spy secrets into Chuck's brain."

It's not just an action-comedy. It's action, comedy, drama, romance, and spy stuff, with geek references. It really does a great job of mixing it all up, every week. I've read and watched so much that I get bored by the predictable, and it's never predictable when you can dip into any genre and steal the best stuff. This you can definitely translate to books.  

Takeaway: Don't go for the simple and predictable because you're "supposed" to, because it's in the genre. Throw in whatever you like best. Mix it all up together.


At the start, Chuck is about your everyday guy--bumbling, nerdy, not living up to his full potential, but smart. Through no fault or intent of his own, he gets an extremely valuable power (knowledge) thrust upon him. He not only has to figure out how to handle it--or how to try to get rid of it--but how to deal with all these people who are suddenly fighting with him and over him for it. Yes, it's an old story, but it's one that appeals to everybody. Who doesn't want to suddenly find themselves special, valuable, and fought over? And yet the struggle is that it also puts him and the most important part of his life--his family and friends--at grave risk. So does he want to keep the power, or doesn't he? Does he really want to go back to the way he used to be?  I loved that he doesn't embrace his skills right away and just turn into a super-spy. He's actively trying to rid himself of them, even while everything in his life is changing under his feet.

This situation does change after Season 3, but by that point I was hooked enough to want to see the character grow. It was a natural development, and would have been stagnant to keep it as it was. And they still find ways to put in the everyman theme.

Takeaway: It's okay to use an old story if you keep it fresh with new twists.  Keep the stakes astonishingly high, and not just for the main protagonist, but for others we care about. Also, I love spy stuff and powers.  *cough*


Day-am there is good writing in this show. The characters are so very well drawn it's hard not to feel like you know them. Even the minor characters are complex. There are strong plot arcs that keep you coming back and fabulous dialogue. I adore Casey's grunts and Chuck and Morgan's nerd repartee. All the wonderful inside nerd jokes, from movie lines to game references and props. Yes, I am a nerd herder.

It's SMART writing.

People warned me off Seasons 3 and 4, but I'm still right in there addicted. Yes, some of the episodes aren't as strong as others--that's just the way of things--but when they hit the heavy plot arcs of family, loss, relationships, romance, and discovery of self, they always bring it back. By this time I trust the writers. Go Josh and Chris and your teams!

Takeaway: Pay attention to all the details of the story. Make EVERY part of it sing, and it will show. Have fun with it. These writers seem to have great fun. Also, don't underestimate your audience. Assume they're smart; assume they'll get it.


This part unfortunately doesn't translate well to writing books, but I have to give props to the actors. Zachary Levi is outstanding as Chuck. One moment Kung Fu action hero, the next showing the pain of self-sacrifice to save someone he loves. He really does carry the show, and I don't think it would've made it this far without him. Yvonne Strahovski, of course, as Chuck's handler/love interest Sarah, is fabulous. My favorite episode of the two of them, still, is Chuck vs. The Honeymoon. They seemed to have a great time together, and I do love their relationship.

The supporting cast is all fabulous, though. Joshua Gomez, Adam Baldwin (grunt), Sarah Lancaster, Ryan McPartlin, and all the guest stars (Timothy Dalton and Linda Hamilton FTW). There isn't a weak link, and that's important to keep it GOOD.


A Season 5, of course. I've already joined the campaigning. But I also hope the writers live up to that trust and keep it strong, keep the stakes HIGH, not just devolve into standalone bad-guy-of-the-week episodes. I don't think they will.
(spoiler speculations below in white text)
I do think in Season 4 they haven't exploited the potential danger to Ellie/Awesome/Clara enough. Chuck and Sarah are so high-profile now, with many people having seen them in action. I'd love a storyline where the danger is real and they have to seriously consider putting Ellie/Awesome/Clara away in witness protection. Before the wedding. It would take us back to Chuck seeing how this life affects his family, which is a primary theme. *hopes*


This is probably getting a little embarrassing now. Okay, We probably passed that point a few paragraphs ago. :) But I hope a few of you take a look at CHUCK, if you were thinking about it. Or if that's not YOUR story, the one that GETS you, I hope you find a story you can get that passionate about, if only for a little while.

I'm off to figure out how to MAKE a story people can get that passionate about. This obsession has been good for the creative brain.

Now, tell me about the stories that were made for you! Which ones have really gotten under your skin?

Friday, January 21, 2011

NY Extravaganza

Christmas was my last post? Really, Christmas? Huh.

Well, there was Christmas and then holidays and EXTREME WORK DEADLINE CRAZINESS and freelance work and then a trip to NYC with hubby last weekend, so...I forgive myself. :)

Do you want to hear about the NY trip? I am going to imagine that you are all cheering and yelling YES, TELL US.

We flew into New Jersey late Friday night, after a day of traveling. It takes a surprisingly loooong time to get from Montana to New Jersey (more on this flight later, if I manage it). We'd arranged a car, and our driver was waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator with my name on a sign. I don't know about you, but this made me feel *fancy*. We goggled at the city until we arrived at our hotel, IN TIMES SQUARE.

It was about midnight when we arrived, so we checked in and headed right back out on the street to check it out. It was still packed, and everything was open. We managed to snap a picture or two with the cell phone and get the feel of the place before we decided it was WAY too freezing to wander around anymore in our leather jackets, so we ducked into a restaurant for drinks & an appetizer.

There was a LITTLE sticker shock when we got the bill--$66 for 3 drinks and nachos--but what are you gonna do? This was a romantic getaway, after all. We weren't looking for cheap.

Next day we set out (a bit later than we meant to, but the bed was so comfy...) to Rockefeller Center, and signed ourselves up for the NBC tour. We headed up to the Top of the Rock until it was our time. AMAZING views! Then the NBC tour, which accounts for our major celebrity sightings (naturally). Most of it was interesting, but the most fun for me was the Saturday Night Live set, where they were rehearsing for that night's show. We saw Kenan Thompson, Jason Sudeikis, Jay Pharaoh, and...the host, Gwyneth Paltrow, sitting on the set in a brown wig. She looked up and waved at us, which was pretty cool. Yeah, I'm such a tourist. Sometimes that's okay. :)

Next we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where there happened to be a wedding starting in five minutes. Of course we stayed to watch the procession. It was gorgeous, with 10 bridesmaids all in vibrant Indian saris, walking down to the church organ playing Bach...

We headed down Fifth Avenue to Grand Central, ogled the ceiling, and then had a fabulous lunch at Zocalo before heading back out into the cold to check out the Chrysler Building (M's favorite) and the NYC public library. Somewhere there is a picture of me with the lions, but I don't have it here at work, so you can imagine.

Then it was time to go get cleaned up for the big event, the reason we came to NYC: our Broadway show. As soon as we saw that they were showing DRIVING MISS DAISY with James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave? Had to come. That's a once-in-a-lifetime event, in my opinion, seeing two masters at work live.

Yes, it was THAT AMAZING. It really was. I cried.

To top off the night, we headed to Sardi's after and had a wonderful dinner and bottle of wine. Perfect.

The next day we originally intended to go on the ferry, but it was way too freezing (I swear, it really WAS colder in NY than Montana. 20 degrees and biting wind, with humidity? Ugh.), so we slept in again (what?) and then took the subway down to Brooklyn. We wanted to have lunch at Grimaldi's. I was NOT aware that there are often hour-long waits outside just to get a table! Fortunately we timed it perfectly (accidentally) and got in just as it opened. YUM. Second celebrity sighting: Uma Thurman came in just as we were leaving. We think. :)

Then we headed up to the Morgan Library and ogled all the original manuscripts and documents (this is such an artsy-nerd type trip, isn't it? Fitting). We bought Empire State Building/Chrysler Building salt and pepper shakers. Then we decided to get some drinks and then go see THE KING'S SPEECH, which we currently can't see in Montana without driving for an hour each way. It was so good! I do love Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter.

We went to dinner at Manzo at Eataly (walked right in--another example of our perfect timing) and had a crazy-good gourmet meal. Complete with chocolate drink for me and vanilla mousse/hazelnut/chocolate dessert. Because that was not enough of a day, we stopped at the Empire State Building and went up to the very tip-top.

The next morning we headed up to Central Park. We took pictures at the Dakota, walked across the park and over to the museums. A very long, cold walk, but worth it. We went to the Guggenheim and tried to go to the Whitney (boo, closed, no Edward Hopper exhibit for us) and then walked ALL THE WAY back down Fifth avenue. We finished off with lunch at the Playwright's Irish Pub near Times Square, then met our driver for the ride to the airport and the trip back home.

I have no idea if you wanted to hear all that, Internet, but I was happy to type it all up, as it helps me remember what a fabulous time we had.

*happy sigh*