A Celebration of Gilded

b2ap3_thumbnail_Gilded_final-cvr-comp_12-11-13A Korean god. An ancient curse. Can she escape becoming GILDED?

Tomorrow Christina Farley releases her debut young adult novel GILDED into the world, so we at the BookYard are celebrating!!

First, what’s all the fuss about? Well, we’ll tell you! And we’ll also tell you where you can get GILDED for yourself!

About GILDED: 

Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own — one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.

GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Books-a-Million |  IndieBound

“An amazing contemporary fantasy that explores the vast legends of Korea, this richly detailed novel kept me turning the pages well into the night. Jae Hwa starts off as a strong character and ends as a noble one, using both her brains and her brawn to win the day–she’s exactly the kind of girl YA literature needs.” – Beth Revis, NY Times Bestselling author of Across the Universe series

“Farley brings South Korea’s fascinating culture and mythology into vivid detail in this shining debut, and Jae is a compelling heroine. An exotic, thrilling read, GILDED had me utterly entranced!” – Jessica Khoury, author of ORIGIN and VITRO

Here’s a video about the inspiration for GILDED:

And here’s a pretty sweet trailer for GILDED:

~

So now that you’re all psyched for GILDED, here’s why we’re all psyched for GILDED!

I’m so excited to read a YA fantasy with a multicultural protagonist and, not only that, with a setting outside of the U.S.! GILDED sounds like a luscious, thrilling story with a lot to explore and savor. ~ AdriAnne Strickland, author of Wordless

Soul-stealing Korean gods? A heroine who sounds totally kick ass? Yes, yes, and more yes. I love all things YA fantasy and I, like AdriAnne, am also super intrigued about the setting for this one! Can’t wait to get my hands on it :) ~ Stefanie Gaither, author of Falls the Shadow

I can’t wait to read GILDED and meet Jae because she sounds like a Korean Buffy who doesn’t take crap. I like that. Add in a hot boy with a secret (and kissing? Please tell me there’s kissing) and I’m so in. ~ Danielle Ellison, author of SaltSage, and Follow Me Through Darkness

It’s the mythology that gets me with this one. I’ve always been fascinated by writing that responds in some way to those stories at the very foundation of our civilization. And Korean mythology is totally new to me. I’m so ready to dig in to GILDED! ~ Mary Crockett, coauthor of Dream Boy

A different kind of mythology set in Korea – who wouldn’t jump at the chance to read this book? I have a soft spot for multicultural books and the fact that it sounds like such a kickass YA Fantasy only makes this better! Can’t wait for GILDED! ~ Rin Chupeco, author of The Girl from the Well

Korean gods, curses, and a romance with secrets? Anyone looking for more diversity in YA or fantasies that go beyond Western culture will be thrilled with GILDED! ~ Sarah Bromley, author of A Murder of Magpies

I love the idea of using books to travel to totally different places. I cannot wait to see Korea through the lens of GILDED! ~ Skylar Dorset, author of The Girl Who Never Was

Leave us a comment about why you are excited for GILDED tomorrow!

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Got

What is the best writing advice I have to offer, you ask?

Okay, well, maybe you didn’t ask, but this *is* a question that I’ve actually already heard a couple times already– most recently in a Goodreads message from an aspiring author (and such messages, by the way, are totally surreal– but that’s a whole other blog post).

So anyway, that message is what inspired this post (well, that and the fact that I had no idea what else to write about). And honestly, I really had to think about it before I could answer this girl’s message. Because A.) I’m not sure I’m qualified to be handing out advice, since really I still have no idea what I’m doing about 98% of the time and B.) I’ve received a LOT of advice over the years–from professors, blog posts, books, writer friends, parents, family…etc. and sifting through it all has proven daunting. Sometimes it feels like there are as many opinions about how to write a book as there are actual books in the world, and my own opinions about what’s good and what isn’t are constantly shifting.

But there is one single piece of advice that lives constantly in the back of my mind, and has less to do with books themselves, and more to do with the whole “becoming an author” thing. It comes courtesy of one of my college professors, who shared it with me while we were hanging out in her office, and I mentioned the crazy amount of guilt I was feeling for spending so much time and energy chasing my publishing dreams instead of doing something more practical (such as flipping burgers at McDonald’s, since, in all likelihood, that would probably earn me more money per hours in the long run).

And her response? Well, this was like three years ago, so I’m definitely paraphrasing, but the idea was this:

“Make time for your writing. There are people who won’t understand why you’re spending so much time on something that–most likely–isn’t going to pay off the way a typical “job” might. Ignore those people. Lie to those people if you have to, if that’s what it takes to steal away from them, to get the time you need to escape and write.”

I thought she was joking about the lying part, but she totally wasn’t.

I still struggle with guilt, with knowing that my husband (who is amazing and incredibly supportive) is shouldering most of our financial burdens right now. That’s been one of the most difficult things about trying to make the leap from scribbling stories to selling those stories and making a career out of this: the fact that it requires a bit of, well, selfishness. You have to say–to yourself and everyone around you– that this is what you’re going to do, and yes you realize that it’s crazy and the odds are stacked against you and there’s a very decent chance that you’ll end up burning your unsold manuscripts for warmth, but you’re going to do it anyway. You have to not be afraid to lock yourself in your room every now and then and commit some words to paper.

Your words are important. Your stories are important. They’re worth the time. So if you really, really want to do this, the best advice I ever received, and that I could ever give you, is to refuse to let anyone (including yourself) ever make you think they aren’t.

stefaniegaitherAfter owning and co-managing a coffee shop for several years while simultaneously earning her B.A. in English, Stefanie Gaither left the small business world behind to focus on her author career instead. Now, in addition to penning YA novels, she also works part-time as a copywriter for an advertising agency. Stefanie is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary, and her debut novel,FALLS THE SHADOW– a sci-fi thriller filled with clones, murder, and sibling love and loathing–, will be published by Simon and Schuster in September of 2014. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and an incredibly spoiled Shih Tzu.

A Conversation with My Cover Designer

On Tuesday, I had the fantastic experience of revealing the cover for FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, which comes out October 21, 2014. I have been so excited about FMTD cover for almost a year now (yes, that long) so wanted to tailgate my reveal (and feed my excitement) by having a conversation with my amazingly sweet and talented cover designer (who also moonlights as a book blogger and author) Hafsah Laziaf of IceyBooks and IceyDesign. 

Danielle: Hi, Hafsah! *smotherhugs* Thank you for joining me here today! I know that you’re insanely busy. Do you see that pretty thing up there? You made that for me!! You’re so creative.  How did you get started in cover design?

Hafsah: I had been wanting to dip my feet in cover design for a long time, but never knew where to start, or how it worked. When Britta Gigliotti and Taryn Albright pointed me to Spencer Hill Press’s call for cover designers last year, I jumped on the chance. I had zero cover designs to share in my portfolio, so I quickly put together a few samples.  Note: I don’t own any of these images, they were simply taken off the internet for sample design, not commercial use.

    

Danielle : I remember us looking at those and loving them immediately. They were so pretty.  🙂 I can’t imagine making visual art; you’ve seen my “art” and I can barely draw a stick figure. What’s the part you love about designing covers?  What’s the hardest part? 

Hafsah: I love every aspect of cover designing, but the part I love the most is hearing (or reading) an author’s excitement when they first glance at the cover.  Sure, there are always revisions, but the author’s initial excitement plops me on cloud nine.

The hardest part would be finding the right models/scenes to go with the cover. I first thought cover designers simply purchased stock imagery and that was it, but in reality, it’s much more difficult than that.

Danielle: Ah, yes, the revision process. We, luckily, didn’t have many on FTMD, which was a mind-boggling thing in itself. You got my cover immediately. What is your typical process with a cover?

Hafsah: When I first get a cover inquiry, I ask for a few things: a scene from the book that the author/publisher might like to portray, the theme/emotion of the book, it’s synopsis, tagline, cover, and author name as well as any other text to include on the front.

My next step would be gathering ideas, hunting through stock images, or sketching my own ideas. Font treatments are my favorite, because you can’t purchase them online. To me, a title’s treatment needs to match the story, and blending/styling it to match the cover design is my favorite part.

I’ll let the cover sit for a bit, then come back and look at it once more, tweak it, and send it to my client. Then the revisions begin!

Danielle: You nailed almost everything on my first design comp. If I remember correctly, I think the only things we really changed were the models in the moon, the design of the moon, the water had some tweaks, and the color of my name at the bottom.  When I came to you with my book cover, I didn’t really know what I wanted on the cover, but I knew what I wanted the book to feel like. That feeling was really important to me, that a reader saw the cover and immediately felt the tone of the book.

I sent you three of my favorite covers (THE SHADOW SOCIETY, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, NOT A DROP TO DRINK) and a few pictures before you started anything.  I loved the feelings they invoked, and still do. A feeling I wanted to capture the cover, vs. an image or an accuracy that some covers have.   How did you go about creating my cover? If you can remember, what was the process of FTMD for you?

Hafsah: I rarely read a book before designing a cover, because I’m usually pressed for time. For FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, however, I was able to read the story. I wanted to portray a symbol, and while it wasn’t where the story takes place, the beach stood out to me as a symbol of hope in Neely’s eyes. But because a beach is something we see on a lot of covers, I wanted to add another symbol. What looks like a moon at first glance, is actually two halves of a circle, one depicting Neely, and the other depicting Thorne. (Once you read the book, you’ll see that it also represents an important aspect of the Boundless trilogy.)

The final part was the font treatment. The covers you sent me as examples all featured font-driven designs, and I wanted that, too. I love font-driven covers and I was glad you had the same idea. I wanted a font that depicted a sense of sorrow, a dystopian-feel, and one that stood out. I think the one we used included all three!

Danielle: *beams* Even now, I read your answer and just sigh because it’s exactly what mattered most to me! When people ask, I say that you gave me the  cover I imagined and didn’t know I always wanted. It’s above and beyond and perfect. What do you think makes FMTD stand out from other covers?

Hafsah:  I think the FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS cover stands out from most covers because it combines both elements—a font-driven cover, and one with symbols. Dark covers are seen pretty much all throughout YA, but I like that this has something that makes you go “ah-hah!” once you’ve read the book.

Danielle: I love the “ah-hah!” There are definitely a lot of them here, which is surprising because it seems such a simple cover, but you really tied in so many elements of the story. Is any part of the cover your favorite? 

Hafsah: Can I say I love every part of it? The moon/half circles, the beach, and the font!

Danielle: You can, because I do too! But maybe I’m biased. I will say that I’ve had this cover for almost a year, and I still never, ever get tired of looking at it. It’s hard to believe it’s mine! You’re such a talented designer. Once people see this I’m sure you’re going to be so unavailable! Do you have other things coming up that we can look forward to?

Hafsah: I’ve designed the covers for all three books in the Boundless trilogy, and can’t wait to share the other two.

Danielle: Someday…

Hafsah: I’m also designing another cover for Spencer Hill Press, that I’m equally excited to share in the coming weeks. And since we’re talking design, I’m also working on a new website design for IceyDesigns, along with a new project I can’t wait to share!

Danielle: And I thought I was busy.

One last question from me! What’s one thing you want people to know about cover design that they may not know?

Hafsah: That it’s not as easy as it may look. Sometimes, it looks like a designer has thrown text on top of a stock image/photograph, but in reality, it’s much harder than that! Unless of course, the designer has just thrown text on top of a stock image, which I have seen  before… *shudders*

Danielle: That’s always a sad day. Books need confidence outside to represent the inside, just like people do. Hafsah, thank you so much for helping out with this and sharing some insight into the process.

Hafsah: Thank you for having me!

And to all of you reading this, if you need a GREAT designer — for book covers or websites or anything!! — check out IceyDesigns. And if you’re looking for an addictive read with some really beautiful prose, you should read Hafsah’s book UNBREATHABLE. 

If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here  finishing prep for the NoVa TEEN Book Festival and counting down the days until/obsessing over Veronica Mars: The Movie while staring at the pretty that is my book cover.  Cheers!

~

63306_595695634866_1242484003_nDanielle Ellison is not here right now. She should be writing, but she’s probably drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, planning events, working at one of her many jobs, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. Her first novel SALT came out in January and the first book in the Boundless Trilogy, FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, releases October 21, 2014. You can find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites. 

Meet BookYArd Member, Mary Crockett!

2014 will be a year of firsts for us. As debut authors, we’ll learn what it feels like to hold our books in our hands for the first time. We’ll crack open the covers of our newly printed books and read those first words. We might even be asked to sign a first copy for a friend.

So, in the spirit of firsts, I’ve compiled a list of 14 firsts about my life. And since Dream Boy is all about dreams (both literal and metaphorical), I thought I’d start my list of firsts there.

First dream (literal): Frankenstein, Marilyn Monroe, and some random adults were at a party in a huge white room with a vast sunken hot-tub. Witches showed up and paralyzed everybody. Um… yeah, I was a weird little girl.

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, including Frankenstein head by Cortlandt Hull and witch by Babayaga 14556. Mash-up courtesy of the disturbed imagination of a four-year-old Mary Crockett.
All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, including Frankenstein head by Cortlandt Hull and witch by Babayaga 14556. Mash-up courtesy of the disturbed imagination of a four-year-old Mary Crockett.

First dream (metaphorical): To take off on a cross-country trip with a sexy, kind, and soulful motor-cycle-driving poet.

Photo by Ashley Webb, Flickr Creative Commons. Sexy talk by T.S. Eliot.
Photo by Ashley Webb, Flickr Creative Commons. Sexy talk by T.S. Eliot.

First books: We only had a handful of worn picture books around the house when I was a little kid, so I ended up studying the same books over and over. Some of them I didn’t even particularly like, but by the time I was six, they had become part of my bones. In place of my left femur, I have It Looked Like Spilt Milk. Where once was my sternum is Pitidoe the Color Maker. And somewhere around my fibula, just where it belongs, is Don Freeman’s Space Witch.

X-ray of writer's skeleton
X-ray of kidlit writer’s skeleton

First book I became genuinely obsessed with: Ella Fannie’s Elephant Riddle Book by Ann Bishop. PURE GENIUS! (I’m still kind of obsessed.)

Ella Fannie Elephant Riddle Book
Ella Fannie Elephant Riddle Book — Ann Bishop, wherever you are, I love you!
Question: Why are baby elephants gray?
Answer: So you can tell them apart from blueberries.
Question: What do you get when you cross and elephant with a dog?
Answer: A nervous mailman.
Question: What do you call elephants who ride trains?
Answer: Passengers.

First novel I howled over like a stuck pig: Forever… by Judy Blume.

Various editions of Judy Blume's Forever (which may well be in print... forever....)
Various editions of Judy Blume’s Forever (which, from the look of things, may be in print forever)

First poem I wrote: “Amy and the Ants,” a three-page epic of rhyming couplets in which a little girl teams up with the ants of the world to save humanity (and ant-ity) from nuclear apocalypse.

These high tops are not nearly as outlandish and shiny as my metallic high tops of yore, but they are pretty great. Photo by Riley Alexandra, Flickr Creative Commons.
These high tops are not nearly as outlandish and shiny as my metallic high tops of yore, but they are pretty great. Photo by Riley Alexandra, Flickr Creative Commons.

First shoes I loved: Metallic silver hightops.

First job: Toilet-seat hand model.

First baby: Not a human child at all, but a beagle-chihuahua mutt who let me know she was not only my baby, but she was also The Queen.

Queen Spice The Snaggletooth
Queen Spice the Snaggletooth in her backseat junk pile throne

Sadly, Spice died years ago, but the good news is that she lives on as the star of Dream Boy. (Ok, her spirit possessed me for a second there and made me write the word star. Let me clarify: She is, in fact, a character in Dream Boy, but she’s not the star, she’s just the… ACK! POSSESSION!… Eternal QUEEEEEEN. Bow down, ye measly humans, before the Wonder that is Spice!)

First lie: I ate 50 mini-Butterfingers, and when my father asked if by chance I had gotten into the Butterfingers, I said that I most certainly had not. Then I puked a bucket full of Butterfingers and didn’t eat another one for many, many years.

First thing that, in the words of my mother, could have broken my neck: Jumping off a cliff. (What can I say? My friends were doing it.)

First kiss: A boy named Jimmy whom I had never seen before and have never seen since.

First crush, first love, first husband, current husband, hopefully only husband ever: Stewart.

First time someone stumbled upon a copy of Dream Boy, read it, and let Madelyn and me know they liked it: Ok, this hasn’t happened yet. But you know, 2014 is a year of firsts… and my irrepressible hopefulness is one of my more annoying qualities.

~

MaryCrockett LookawayMary Crockett is the coauthor of Dream Boy (with Madelyn Rosenberg), coming July 1. You can read more about her first poem, job, kiss, and love here, and can find a poem about Spice here.

Add Dream Boy to your Goodreads list here and preorder it here.

What Figure Drawing Teaches Me About Characterization

Disclaimer: None of these drawings are finished (they’re all mine, of course), nor do I claim any mastery in figure drawing whatsoever! They’re also nude, though I censored the detailed ones.

I used to draw in college, but then travel and writing and life in general took over for a while. Still, I’ve found that different artistic 20140211_204013pursuits can really inform and inspire each other, and so this year, with final edits on WORDLESS due, my sequel moving ahead full swing (also due), and other projects in the wings (and occasionally stealing the spotlight for a few moments of writing time), I thought it was, in spite of all the hecticity, a perfect time to take up drawing again.

I enrolled in a figure drawing class, followed by an open session where the model poses without an instructor present, and I’ve since learned a lot from both a 20140211_203805teacher and simply by doing it myself. Not only about drawing—about writing, too, particularly characterization. While I’ve been sharpening my rusty drawing skills by sketching elbows and collarbones, I’ve also been focusing on how I approach building my characters.

Sound odd? Maybe. But something about sitting (or standing) in front of an easel for hours really awakens my inner muse.

So, without further ado, here’s where I usually start drawing, and where I often start building my characters on the page:

Gesture (Drawing)

Gesture drawing is a quick (1-3 minute)  attempt to capture on a flat, still surface (often my newsprint pad) the energy and movement of aGestures C - A Strickland figure. You don’t need a clearly defined and detailed person at this point; you’re really trying to draw something else, and too many details can often weigh down such energy.

To me, this movement is much like the energy of my characters on the page: what they want and what they’re doing to get it. As several great writing instructors have said: on every page, at any given time, it should be obvious what your character wants. So, much like an artist often first draws a gesture to capture the model’s energy before settling in for the long haul, in order to avoid spending hours on something flat and dull, it’s important to give readers a sense of your character’s motivation and momentum at all times, before you go launching off into the other details and risk bogging down the story. But obviously, if you only have movement and no detail, you have all action and no character, so don’t stop there….

Contour (Drawing)

Contour
Contour at its most simplistic.

Contour drawing is what it sounds like: tracing the edge of the figure to capture their overall outline. For me, this type of drawing has always been a crutch, the next step after the stick figure. (NOT that there aren’t masterful contour drawings of all sorts; this is me speaking personally, here.) It’s easier for my eyes to find the edges rather than the inbetweens, and this is often where I’ve started… and finished.

In writing, contour drawing is like establishing your character’s parameters, both physically and emotionally—quite literally, it’s a character outline. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is as far as more two-dimensional characters get.

Writers can masterfully outline characters on the page in a way that isn’t so, “Hi, I’m tall, seventeen-years-old, and endowed with a six-pack, dark eyes, and a moody temperament.” Those are all important details, but if they come all at once, it paints a pretty simplistic picture. Much like a lot of great contour drawings, plenty can be suggested by having unfinished lines, foreshortening, or, say, leaving off a foot that just sticks too far out of the frame to be practical to include. The model has that foot, and you know it’s there, but do you need to draw it?

Reclining C - A Strickland
I introduced a little more shading, but this is still mostly contour.

With a character too clearly defined, they’re sort of written into a small, cramped box. We want a sense of their boundaries, but more importantly, their hidden depths (and heights): in other words:

Value (Drawing)

My drawing teacher handily defines value as “where light meets dark.” This is where we get a sense of the three-dimensional shape and volume and weight in a drawing, all where the brightness intermingles with darkness… or where one overpowers the other.

Sitting 2 C - A Strickland
Still too heavily reliant on contour, but getting better! I should have spent about five times as long on this one (there’s still time!), so don’t mind the rough feet and the “stool” (that barely warrants the name).

To me, this applies perfectly to writing. If a character is too obviously delineated, this can throw off the sense of value. For example, in drawing, if you’re trying to discover the brightest brights and the darkest darks, you can’t have a big fat line crossing between them to show where one starts and the other ends. Sort of spoils the effect. You need that subtle interplay that almost better suggests where the boundaries of this person are (whether in drawing or writing) and where the person crosses them.

Sitting C - A Strickland

You character’s values—what they need (not just want), fear, love, despise; how much they’d hurt or help someone; else how far they’ll rise, how far they’ll fall—are just as important, if not more important, than anything else, for building a fully formed character that can almost step off the page and shake your hand (or spit on you). They still need those contours and energy so they’re not just an amorphous blob of shadow, but this is their core, their substance, the very clay from which they’re made. (Aaaand now I’m bringing in sculpting, so I’d better just stop.)

P.S. Just for fun, here’s a portrait progression that follows nearly every step I’ve discussed (from flat contour to more and more value), with my teacher yelling over my shoulder the entire time (okay, maybe not yelling) to push myself harder—like a good critique partner or editor. The “final draft” still isn’t perfect, and I’m by no means a master at either drawing or writing, but it’s nice to know that I can improve. Drawing, like writing, just takes a lot of practice.

Portrait 1 - A StricklandPortrait 2 - A StricklandPortait 3 - A Strickland

 

What type of art (or anything) informs and/or inspires your writing?

adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

What is love? ~ A Valentine to Young Adult Novels

Love is blind. It conquers all. And, apparently, it’s a many splendored thing. In short, love pretty much looks like this:

Thor in Sparkly Tutu
Thor cut-out by Sam Howzit, Flickr. Blinded and bedazzled by Mary Crockett.

Here, friends, is the reason we can’t depend on such time-tested sayings about love. Because we end up with Thor in an eye patch, wearing a many splendored tutu.

Then what, in these love-troubled times, can we depend on?

Young adult novels, of course!

In celebration of Valentines Day, writers from the BookYArd are looking to their novels to define the true meaning of luvvvvvvvvvv.

Now, petty, tiny humans, take heed–for here is our Valentine.

~  W H A T  I S  L O V E ?  ~

Tavin Barnes, 17-year-old illiterate trash boy and main character of WORDLESS by AdriAnne Strickland, answers:

wordless“Gods, I already feel like enough of an ignoramus without attempting to answer something like this. But here goes: Love is strange, intoxicating, wonderful… and utterly terrifying. It’s sort of like riding a roller coaster drunk. I want to laugh, scream and puke all at the same time.”

~

DREAM BOY by Mary Crockett and Madelyn RosenbergAnnabelle Manning, the main character of Mary Crockett’s DREAM BOY, is a small-town dreamer who comes to understand love as the ultimate acceptance of another person.

She might say love is the mirror that sees all your flaws and thinks you’re perfect anyway.

~

Ward Ravenscroft, one of the main characters in A MURDER OF MAGPIES, believes:

Love is knowing that the person you’re with could go to a dark place and still wanting to go with them. No matter how ugly it gets, you hang on because you can’t imagine letting go. You know you’re both gonna be all messed up and different than you were going in, and yet that doesn’t seem so bad. Life, love, whatever, none of it’s supposed to be perfect.

~

Jae Hwa, the main character of Christina Farley’s GILDED, would tell you that love isn’t simple. It’s full of layers and it requires great sacrifice. In the final scene of the novel, she must make the greatest sacrifice of all. Palk, the god of light, explains it the best when he speaks to Jae:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Gilded_final-cvr-comp_12-11-13“Bravery can only accomplish so much,” Palk says,apparently oblivious to Marc’s panic. “It was your sacrifice for the ones you loved that helped you succeed. That was the difference between you and the others before you.”

~

girlfromthewellRin Chupeco’s undead protagonist in THE GIRL FROM THE WELL has been a ghost for so long that the concept of love is almost alien to her. But as she relearns how to deal with humans, she also discovers that love means sacrifice, to give up what’s left of you for someone else. It’s a lesson she’s been living with for a long, long time, though she’s only beginning to understand this. She says it best – poignantly, if somewhat ambiguously:

“It is not in my nature, to be interested in the living. But there are many things, I have found, that defy nature.”

~

Caroline Richmond’s protagonist in ANOMALY, Zara St. James, has hardened herself to love. Growing up in Nazi-occupied America, she has lost so many friends and family to the Germans that she’s afraid to open her heart to anyone.

But if you really prodded Zara about what love means to her, she would tell you that love is her uncle’s laugh. Love is a warm hug from her friend Mrs. Talley. And love is the gentle eyes of Bastian Eckhart, a boy who should be her enemy but who surprises her at every turn.

~

b2ap3_thumbnail_FallsTheShadow_CVRfinalStefanie Gaither’s main character in FALLS THE SHADOW, Catelyn, struggles throughout the book with concepts of family love and loyalty–both of which are put to the test when her cloned sister turns out to be a lot different than the person she expected her to be (to say the least).

So if you asked her, she might tell you that sometimes love is readjusting expectations, understanding that just because someone isn’t showing love the way you wanted them to, it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing the best they can. And also that sometimes you can still love your sister even when she is annoying the absolute $#%@ out of you.

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Danielle Ellison’s main character in FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS is trying to answer this exact question because love is at the core for what she’s fighting to save, and every decision or regret or question.

At first, Neely never questions love; she has a branding, a mark that all in her community are given, and her branding is connected to Thorne and allows them to feel each other’s emotions. So for her whole life love was always a solidity that she could literally feel.

But then a lot of stuff happens and she learns that her world is a facade…and that may include her feelings for Thorne. Then, her whole concept of love is tested and I think she’s still learning what exactly love is. She used to think that love was a person and solid belief in that person, in what you stood for together, and what you would do to be with that person. It was what she knew. But after, it changes.

Her doubt changes her definition of love and part of her story trying to determine if she loves Thorne because she loves him, or if she loves him because of the bond they share. It may be something else entirely that she’s still trying to define, and love can’t really be defined in miles or hours. It just is.

Everything You Need To Know To Be a Successful Writer You Can Learn From One Direction

*Skinny jeans and beanies optional

Whether you are musically into the boy band One Direction or not there’s a lot you can learn from their journey to making their dreams a reality. *grabs your arm* Where are you going? This is going to be fun! Play along!

Here’s what I learned on YouTube about the Boy Band and their journey that began on the UK X-Factor:

Be Eager: If you watch the boy’s performances on X-Factor-any of them-there’s a common thread of absolute EARNEST need to follow their dream. (Bonus points for looking up Niall Horan’s audition). Lucky for them this comes across as charm,  and not desperation. They were all sooo green (you’ll excuse them, they were all teenagers) but they had a spark of something yet to come. We all have to start somewhere!

Be Tireless: In the video footage of the boys on the X-Factor, you’ll often here the judges comment about the band’s tireless work ethic. Everyone must take time to learn and improve your craft. Work for it. Take classes, read in you genre, join critique groups, and rewrite until every word shines.  Videos I’ve watched show the work ethic continued after the the X-Factor experience–they work as hard as they play–and the improvement from their first year alone and then to present day is amazing.

Love It: Any performance you watch on the X-Factor . . . or video after the X-Factor . . . these “laddy lads” are loving it. Their passion comes through. Be positive about your work, positive online, and positive in general. People are drawn to positive energy. It’s infectious. This helps if, like the boys, you have people along that “get it”. There is no doubt these boys are best of friends, and loving what they do. Bond with fellow writers at conferences and on twitter, then you can celebrate your sweet successes together as these boys do.

Be Patient: The success business, whether music or writing, is all about riding out the ups and downs. Rejection and failures are part of it. The 1D boys all auditioned as solo acts, and were all CUT in “boot camp” week. Then, they were called back and formed in a group. They then placed third, which is to say, they LOST. But then . . .  they were signed and became the biggest boy band in the world. The  journey may be lightening fast, and it may take years. But the secret? Do not give up.

Be Thankful: While they now have staff of dozens (security, stylists, etc.) and are filling stadiums worldwide, the boys are basically the same. Silly? For sure. But they still work hard, are kind to everyone they meet, and remember to call their mums. Stay grounded no matter where the journey takes you. Be thankful to those who helped you, give a helping hand to those coming up next, and . . .  call your mum.

Thanks for playing along!! Find me on twitter and let me know if I’ve inspired your inner fangirl! @MonicaYAWriting