Wow, it’s been a while since I posted (guess I was in the writer cave longer than I thought). I looked at my last post, where I had 19,000 words in the sequel. HA. Now I have 115,000 and it’s DONE! That’s right–this book is going to exist. It’s going to come out this September. And it’s going to be really freaking awesome (but I think you guys knew that part already). And if you’re wondering what 115,000 words actually means, I’ll tell you that the first one was 85,000 words, making this a much bigger book. I would estimate that gives you guys another 100 pages to read.
Of sex and math jokes.
Just kidding. There aren’t any math jokes in this one.
I had so much fun writing this book. And drank so much coffee. And, while I miss the characters again already, it feels good to have it done. I finished the first one nearly six years ago. Six freaking years. And there were times since then when I was absolutely certain there would be a sequel, and times when I was absolutely certain there would not. But you guys kept writing to me, telling me how much you loved Renegade X and asking when there would be another one. And if it hadn’t been for you guys telling me all that, I don’t know if I would have ever written it. But you did, and I did, and now I’ve finished the best book I’ve ever written. And I can’t wait for you guys to get to read it in September!
And since, no matter how much planning I do, books have a way of morphing and getting away from me as I write them (or at least the best ones do), I reworked the book description. The old one wasn’t inaccurate, but it wasn’t so much the story anymore either. So here’s the new blurb:
Can a half villain ever be a full hero?
Damien Locke didn’t choose for his supervillain mom to disown him—just because he sort of defied her and ruined her evil plans to take over Golden City—and he didn’t choose for his superpower to be flying, a superhero ability that involves his least favorite thing: heights. But now that he’s living with his dad’s superhero family and enrolling at Heroesworth Academy, he’s ready to embrace his new life, get his H, and finally belong somewhere. But belonging isn’t as easy as signing up for classes, and Damien finds himself struggling to fit in more than ever.
Just when he’s sure his fate as a hero has been decided, though, he gets a new villain power that he can’t control. And things only get worse when he accidentally screws up one of his sidekick Sarah’s gadgets, altering her personality and turning her into a crazed, anti-supervillain vigilante—leaving him no choice but to team up with her annoying superhero boyfriend if he hopes to have any chance of getting the old Sarah back, before she captures—or kills—another supervillain like him.
To celebrate Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye’s one year anniversary, the Kindle version is free all weekend–Friday, Saturday, and Sunday–over at Amazon. And if you don’t have a kindle, you can still download it and convert it to a different file type, if you’re into that kind of thing.
AND my good news about Harper Madigan is that it’s going to be an audiobook! It should be out sometime in April, and of course I’ll have more details then. I’ve gotten to listen to the first half of the book and I LOVE it and can’t wait to share it!
That’s all for now–must get back to writing Trials, which, for those of you who missed my tweet. is up to 19,000 words so far.
Newsletter subscribers got a sneak peek at this last week, and now, as promised, I am proud to present the description for The Trials of Renegade X:
Can a half villain ever be a full hero? Damien Locke didn’t choose for his supervillain mom to disown him—just because he sort of defied her and ruined her evil plans to take over Golden City—and he didn’t choose for his superpower to be flying, a superhero ability that involves his least favorite thing: heights. But now that he’s living with his dad’s superhero family and enrolling at Heroesworth Academy, he’s ready to embrace his new life, get his H, and finally belong somewhere. But belonging isn’t as easy as signing up for classes, and Damien finds himself struggling to fit in more than ever. Of course, it doesn’t help that his sidekick Sarah has a new hero boyfriend—not that he’s jealous or anything—or that, just when he’s sure his fate as a hero has been decided, he gets a new villain power he can’t control. And it’s so easy to slip into his old ways when he catches his supervillain girlfriend Kat committing a crime at Heroesworth and covers for her, charming his way out of trouble. But as Damien’s attempts to lead a purely hero life continue to backfire, he’ll have to learn to embrace both his hero and villain sides, or else risk pushing away everyone he cares about and losing any chance he has of ever finding his place in the world.
And there it is! I’ve tried to keep it exciting but not too spoilery. I’ve got about a week left on the current WIP, and then I’ll be back to working on Trials full time!
P.S. Today is coincidentally the four year anniversary of the day I got the offer for The Rise of Renegade X. Crazy how time flies!
Am almost done with WIP. Disclaimer, it is not Trials, which I know is what everyone is waiting for right now. (Understandable!) But it’s still a book that’s very important to me. It’s much darker than my other work–sort of a dark fantasy YA version of Dexter–and I am, like, 8 scenes away from being done with it, though some of those scenes might turn out to be more like plot points and actually be 2 or 3 scenes, especially near the big climactic boss battle part.
I started this book about a year and a half ago now, or at least this version of it, and as I mentioned in my last post, I was pretty dead last year, thanks to poor thyroid treatment. It feels like I’ve been working on this book a lot longer than that. I keep recounting the time in my head and being like, “Are you sure it wasn’t two and a half years?” Still, very slow for me, and there were times when I worried I was just going to be stuck in the middle of this book forever. And I finished no books at all last year, and it wasn’t very long ago that I was also worrying that I might never finish any books ever again. Even though I know from experience that that’s not true, it certainly felt true when I was a thyroid-less zombie with hardly enough thoughts to survive, let alone put in a book.
This also isn’t the first version of this book I’ve written. I’ve talked about this before, but this is a book I first wrote 6 or 7 years ago. That version was pretty flawed, though I loved it so much at the time. And it got me my first requests from agents, though ultimately that was all it got. And it kind of broke my heart that nothing ever happened with it. I spent years blaming this book for being a failure, and resenting myself for loving something so horribly flawed. Well, the book had issues, but there were still things about it that made it good–reasons why it got any agent interest in the first place–and so I’ve taken those good things and transported them into a new, better book.
So, anyway, my point is that while it’s always amazingly awesome to finish a book, finishing this one is going to be extra awesome. And then, once it’s done, I will be working like mad to finish up Trials. Which is also awesome–I know because I was rereading some of it the other day and had to force myself to put it down and not get sucked in, at least not until I’m officially working on it.
What about you guys? Are you close to any finish lines of your own?
So, I don’t think I ever mentioned why I chose to self-publish Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a noir detective story. It’s also MG, so self-publishing it isn’t the most obvious path to get it into the hands of readers. A lot of people have misconceptions about self-publishing, or at least that’s what I’ve been noticing lately. (I did not notice much last year. Last year was a dead sort of year, what with my doctor mistakenly putting me on way too low of thyroid meds and turning me into a zombie, which made for very little writing and even less of everything else. But I got a new doctor and better meds and a better dosage. There’s more to the story, but that’s another post for another time.)
Anyway, the hard truth of publishing is that good books do not always get published. The Rise of Renegade X came this close to not finding any love at all and fading into obscurity on my hard drive. In fact, Harper Madigan got more editor love than Renegade X, with three separate editors falling in love with it and wanting to buy. But editors alone don’t decide what gets bought, no matter how much they love it, and their houses said no, they couldn’t sell it. So here’s me with this awesome book that I still want people to get to read, but no publisher.
So what’s a girl to do? Put on her DIY hat and PUBLISH IT HERSELF, that’s what. And you know what? Putting it all together myself was a lot of fun and I was able to do it quickly and easily and pretty much stress-free. It was also a great way to get started in the world of self-publishing before putting out The Trials of Renegade X. I am very pro hybrid-career at this point, and while I hope to continue to find traditional publishers for some books, it’s not something I can control. I can, however, control how many books I self-publish.
And speaking of Harper Madigan, I have some good news to share about it! But not yet. Soon, precioussss. Soon. And I have good news to share about Renegade X, but if I wait a little while, it may turn into really freaking awesome news, so, again, we must all wait.
Went to the EMP/Sci-fi Museum here in Seattle this week. The sci-fi museum is probably my favorite museum ever because, well, to be perfectly honest, because it has things from TV. And I love things from TV! I mean, just look at that Dalek! I got to see that in real life and it was so amazing. Kinda shabby up close–was made in 1988–but still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
Another highlight from the trip was seeing Mr. Pointy and Nighthawk, two of the stakes used on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (I mean, you remember Mr. Pointy, don’t you?) I stared at these things for way too long! There was supposed to be a spellbook from Buffy on display, too, but it had been put away “for conservation.”
There were lots of other cool things, too, like Superman’s costume from Superman IV, Shaun of the Dead’s shirt, and this creepy Pon Farr perfume I saw in the gift shop:
You can see more pics over on my Pinterest board.
This weekend was also ALA Midwinter here in Seattle. Got to hang out with lots of people and scored a bunch of ARCs. Didn’t get any writing done (sad), but feel refreshed and excited about books in general.
Mark your calendars for September, 2013! That’s right, The Trials of Renegade X will be released next September! This might seem like a long way off, especially when you guys have been so patient–a lot of you have been waiting for this since 2010. But September is when everything can be done by–both on my end and for others involved in getting the project out the door–and it’s going to be amazing.
And I have another book coming out next spring that hopefully I will be able to announce soon. It’s not Renegade X related, but if you like the voice in Renegade X, you’re going to love this one, too.
In other news, The Rise of Renegade X came out in Russian! I found out from a Russian fan messaging me on Facebook–one thing you learn very quickly in this business is that nobody tells authors anything. I knew we’d sold Russian rights, but I had no idea when it was coming out. Damien’s name in the translated version is “Damien Loki,” which seems appropriate. ;) Oh, and according to Google Translate, the Russian title is “The Desperate and Undefeated Renegade X.”
Frankly, I think writing fiction is the most important, most noblest career anyone can aspire to. That may just be my years of wanting it so badly brainwashing me into thinking that, but stories are important. They change lives, they comfort us when we’re sad (no one understands you like your favorite book, you know?), they let us glom up all the experiences of another person, both the fictional experiences of the characters and the real thoughts and emotions and tidbits of reality put in by the author. Stories are transformative and allow us to experience change in a safe setting.
And writing is hard. You could take a writing class, turn in all your assignments, and get an A but still be a crappy writer. It’s learnable, obviously, but it takes a lot of time and effort. People often say it’s a ten year apprenticeship, which it definitely was for me, though I guess it depends on how quickly you get in your million words/10,000 outlier hours. But that’s a lot, and that’s just to be publishable, just to start a writing career. And most people don’t have the discipline to put in the crazy time and effort it takes to become a pro writer. Everyone who’s read your books has a little piece of you in their minds now. That’s pretty amazing. More amazing, I think, than going to grad school or earning lots of money.
This week in my Meaningful Gamification class, we’re studying behaviorism and how rewards are used to affect behavior. So basically people have studied how doling out rewards/in what ways they’re doled out affects learning. So if you have someone push a button to get a reward, but they only get a reward at one minute intervals, then they learn not to bother pushing the button until that one minute mark. But if you make the rewards come at random times, so that the person never knows when pushing the button will get them something, then they learn that behavior really well and it becomes an addictive “checking” habit.
When I was listening to that part of the lecture, my first thought was, “Wow, that sounds annoying. What a stupid thing to get hooked on.” And then of course I realized that it sounds EXACTLY like me checking my email. I think most of us can relate. And if you’ve ever gotten a really good email–whatever that might be to you–that gives you a really good spike in happy chemicals, then it becomes even harder to quit. Mostly, though, it doesn’t matter if I ever get the reward of an email or not–checking for it has become an addiction and just the hope of having a message keeps me going. If I leave for a few days and don’t check my email, then I break that habit a little and I don’t feel the need to check once I get home. I always feel at that point like I could just walk away from it. But then I get curious and want to check, just once, just to see… and it’s a slippery slope from there. (I read once in an entrepreneurial magazine that it’s recommended you check your email no more than four times a day, so it doesn’t become stressful. I think I’ll start by cutting back to four times an hour.)
And it’s not just me and the other email/Facebook/Twitter addicts out there, by my cat, too. One of my cats, Kitten, saw a particularly
interesting skittery bug in the corner of the bathroom once, maybe twice, and now he’s hooked. No matter how many times he doesn’t see a bug in the corner, he can’t stop checking for it. And every time he checks, even if he comes up empty, it seems to reinforce the behavior, making him just want to do it more. Every time he follows me into the bathroom (he’s also obsessed with following me around everywhere, so maybe he’s prone to addictive behavior–I don’t know), he goes right to that corner and checks it out. Sometimes he’s in there just staring into the corner, hoping and waiting. And I often think, “Wow, that is sad!” And then I wonder if it’s really any sadder than checking the internets over and over. I mean, I’m pretty sure all my precious emails are a little more important than the possibility of there being a bug in the corner. But as much as I don’t care about chasing bugs, I’m sure Kitten is equally unimpressed by chasing emails. If getting to see a bug gives him the same spike of happiness, then is it really any different?
As most of you probably know (I think), I do a lot of knitting and crocheting. Last year I made my first venture into crochet design with the ponies, and this summer I made my first knit design. In all my years of knitting and crocheting, I honestly thought I would never get into design work, but I really love it. It’s kind of like with writing where I read tons as a kid and so of course I wanted to make my own stories. And now I knit and crochet tons of stuff, too, and eventually there’s that drive to create something.
I was inspired to make this when I saw a hat with the NYC skyline on it. It’s supposed to be one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, and I thought, “Maybe, but the Seattle skyline is MORE recognizable.” (Though I admit I may be a bit biased…) So I sat down with a piece of graph paper and a Google image search on the Seattle skyline and got to work.
Rainy Day Seattle Hat:
Reminiscent of a cool, rainy morning in the Northwest, this beanie-style hat has everything you need to show off your love for the Emerald City. The hazelnut and cream ribbing represents warming up with a hot mocha on a cold day, while the Seattle skyline rises against a typical drizzly gray backdrop. (The dark green yarn carried in the back shows through the gray a little, creating the perfect rainy look.) Washington apples form a ring above the city, alternating between solid green and heart-shaped outlines, and snow-covered evergreens top off the ensemble.
You can see more pics (or buy the pattern) on Ravelry. Also, if you have a Ravelry account, feel free to friend me!