Each Halloween, I like to play dress up with my characters, throw them in a room together, and see what happens. Here’s a snippet of this year:
The box had arrived outside Zabby’s door a week ago, wrapped in bright orange paper with a black satin ribbon. The card instructed her, as always, to wait until Halloween to open it (though Zabby doubted many people actually followed this rule.)
She set it on her dresser and wondered throughout the week which costume the author had chosen for her this year, but none of her guesses were correct. When she opened it, she found a crisp policewoman uniform, and a note from the author’s alter-ego.
We’re trying something different this year. Each of you is dressing up in the profession of another character. Have fun!
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Online Book Club(it’s pretty awesome, though. It’s kinda like Goodreads, but with more emphasis on talking to other readers.) I bring it up because I recently had A Book Without Dragonsreviewed on their website, and I was just so flattered and delighted with what Ashley Simon had to say about it!
In particular, I loved her impression of my dear, darling Willow:
“And finally, there’s Willow Ayers. Willow likes to think of himself as an ordinary guy who loves fantasy novels. But he’s also the guy who invented Unitime. And when the system breaks down, people everywhere turn their eyes to him. He’s the only one who can fix Unitime and restore order to their world. But Willow’s in hiding, and he doesn’t seem to be making a whole lot of progress. In fact, some people would say he doesn’t really want Unitime to be fixed at all. Or does he?”
Ashley Simon, Online Book Club reviewer
With a novel as unusual as ABWD, it just warms my heart when I see a reviewer who really understands what I was attempting, and seems to have taken something positive away from the experience.
Willow picked at his stiff collar and tie, wishing not for the first time that Troy would have agreed to apply for the grant alone. Troy was so much better at this sort of thing.
Troy was charismatic and had a kind of trustworthy voice that made people sure that he was smart enough to accomplish exactly what he said he wanted to do. Willow had the kind of voice that made people wonder how he had managed to graduate at all. If they didn’t get the grant, it would be Willow’s fault. He was sure of it.
Troy emerged from the washroom and joined Willow on the bench. “I have a great feeling about this, Will,” he said, leaning against the wall with both hands tucked behind his head. Willow wondered how he managed to still have such a range of movement available to him when dressed formally. Willow felt like he was in a body cast.Read the rest of this entry →
From afar, blue jays are beautiful to look at, but DO NOT mess with them! Seriously, have you ever been dive-bombed by a blue jay? It’s pretty scary. I could have picked a hawk or something for Jasper, but the blue jay fits better, because 90% of the time, Jasper is just a really chill guy. However, in the presence of a real threat, I absolutely wouldn’t want to get in his way.Read the rest of this entry →
Ralph stepped into the kitchen and found his wife sitting at the table, eyes pinched shut, hunched over a piece of paper. This wouldn’t have been especially odd, except that it was the middle of the night, and she hadn’t even turned on the lights in the room.
“Bethany? What are you…?”
She groaned and slapped the pen she’d been holding down on the table. “I can’t remember.”
Ralph sat down at the table as well, peering at her in the darkness. “You mean you were sleepwalking?”
“No,” she said. “The story idea. I had a dream, and thought it might be a good story, so I came down here to make notes and then… nothing.”Read the rest of this entry →
“I’ll tell you, dude, you missed an awesome party,” Jasper announced when he finally returned to the room that night. It happened that Willow was still awake, but he got the impression that Jasper would have delivered his statement whether or not anyone was alert enough to hear it.
“Yeah, I’ll cry about it later,” Willow grumbled, blinking rapidly and trying to refocus on the book he was holding.
“Seriously,” Jasper went on. “Crazy good.”
Willow looked up with suspicion-narrowed eyes. He was just noticing how much Jasper was using phrases like ‘awesome’ and ‘crazy good.’ It was an infrequent day that Jasper used words like that, and when he did, he normally reserved them for something a little more worthy than a dance party. “Something wrong?” Willow asked.Read the rest of this entry →
If we were having coffee this weekend,you would have a hard time finding a place to set down your cup. My tables, desks, counters, floors… all of them would be covered with papers and notebooks and calendars.
I would give you an embarrassed shrug and explain that I am currently trying to organize my year. You might choose to point out that my ‘organization’ looks very similar to ‘chaos,’ and I would wholeheartedly agree with you.
I’d clear a spot for us on the couch, and explain that I’m working on lining up conventions for 2017. The process tends to be overwhelming since there are so many options out there. I would ask you if you had any recommendations for conventions near your hometown, since I find word of mouth far less intimidating than Internet searches.
But not all of the papers are for conventions. You would also see pages of my latest manuscript, splashed with highlighting and crawling with comments and corrections.Read the rest of this entry →
I was taking a walk with my iPod, browsing for soul songs— [Hannah – You should prooobably explain what you mean by that, Liv.] [Me – Good point, thanks.]
Music has always been very important… [Hannah – no, not here. In a separate page with a linky thing. Like you do with my name.] [Me – Why?] [Hannah – Because you tend to be really long-winded, and I don’t want you to take up the whole blog post with the explanation.] [Me – Okay, fine.]
This post features characters from The World That Forgot How to Dance Drabble type – Canon
Timeline – after the book Contains Spoilers
I’ve had a few people contact me after reading The World That Forgot How to Dance, to tell me that they were curious about what happened to Ellsie and Lester after the book. So, since it’s February, here is a drabble of the two of them sharing their first Valentine’s Day together. Enjoy!
As soon as they saw how lovely the party room was, Ellsie gave a short laugh and skipped inside. Lester lingered at the door, smiling. He loved moments like this, where Ellsie got so excited about something that her feet forgot the process of walking and could only remember how to dance.
She spun around twice, and then looked back at Lester and gestured widely to make sure he noticed that the room was, indeed, pretty.
“I see,” he said. “It’s perfect.” Internally, he was directing the compliment at his girlfriend rather than the room they were standing in, but couldn’t find a way to tell her this without feeling really cheesy, so he let it go.Read the rest of this entry →
Cats didn’t like Willow nearly as much as he wanted to like them. They were so universally considered mystical and secretive, and anyone loved by cats tended to have something unique about them. Given that, Willow couldn’t be particularly surprised that he didn’t easily attract feline companions. But it made him sad all the same.
This particular one was scraggly and thin, and Willow just happened to have a cheese stick in his pocket, so his odds were much better than the average day as he approached the cat. She paused in her fitful attempts to wash her face and stared at Willow indecisively.
With the minimum amount of crinkling, he stripped the plastic packaging from the cheese and separated a segment. Then he knelt, held it out, and waited.Read the rest of this entry →
If we were having coffee this weekend, we would be drinking it on a couch next to a crackling fireplace, and yet I would still find a way to be upset about Winter. I would tell you how much I miss being outside and feeling the sun. But I would also tell you that I’m working on my dislike of the cold months. I am trying to see them as a time of rest and reflection.
Welcome to another of my Two Character Mash Ups! (Yeah, I really didn’t need to capitalize that… but it makes me feel all important and stuff…) This story is the product of Willow x Lester x Disneyland. Enjoy!
“Hey, buddy, did you see a bunch of kids go by here?”
Willow looked up at the owner of the question, wondering how he could possible word his response so as not to hurt the guy’s feelings. After all, they were literally surrounded by children. “Can you be more specific?”
“Kids. You know…” Lester held a hand at his thigh to indicate the approximate height of those he was so frantically seeking. His other hand clutched a plastic tiara.Read the rest of this entry →
This post features Snowiks from A Book Without Dragons. No Spoilers Drabble Type: Canon (aka – Events that really happened to the characters)
Timeline: After the events of the book
Snowiks opened his e-mail with the daily sense of defeat. He didn’t know why he still checked it, really. It was considered antiquated. (People these days were using voice-snaps, which Snowiks refused to send simply because the name sounded stupid.) This time, though, his routine wasn’t for the sake of warming up the keyboard – he had a message.
And what’s more: the message was from the post office. Paper mail hadn’t been delivered for the past decade, but the establishment still existed. The e-mail concisely informed him that he had something waiting for him and could he please pick it up before next Thursday?
No need to wait that long. After his shift ended, he didn’t even swing by his home before heading towards the local post branch. (‘Local’ takes on the meaning of ‘a two hour drive’ when one lives in a town as small as Chagrin Heights.)Read the rest of this entry →
Chief Snowiks saw a brief shadow on the door only moments before it swung open—Jasper, apparently, didn’t feel the need to knock.
He also didn’t feel obliged to ask Snowiks if he was busy. “Chief! It’s Pumpkin Spice Day! Where were you?”
Snowiks flipped over the top paper on the pile, though it was purely a reflex. Jasper technically had security clearance to look at anything that might pass over his desk. “I was right here,” he said. “And what is…?”
It’s today!! A Book Without Dragons is officially out in the world! (Hey, have you been keeping up with the secret code? The last clue is 2:58.) And, in honor of that, we have our final open letter, directly to you from my main Character, Willow Ayers.
So… Yeah, I’m Willow. Thanks for letting me talk to you today!
I know I should probably be talking about the specific scientific aspects of the Unitime Satellites, and don’t get me wrong, that’s all important. But here what I really want to talk about: The title.
It’s a weird title, right? “A Book Without Dragons.” Why would a book be defined by what’s not in it? I guess the first thing I’ll tell you about the title is that the title is an accurate statement. There really aren’t any dragons in the book.Read the rest of this entry →
Its almost here!! My book launches this Saturday, and I’m so jittery and excited as I’m putting the final touches on my party preparations. (There’s still time to sign up! It’s all online. Click for details)
Here is the final installment of my Chapter 0 series forA Book Without Dragons. (Which hits the shelves in less than a week, can you believe it?? Have you been keeping up with your clues for the coupon code? By the way, it is precisely 7:55. Click Hereif you’re not sure what I’m talking about)
Let’s take a look at what Willowwas doing just before the book begins…
Jasper told him to keep the windows covered at all times, but it was a rule that Willow broke at least once a day. It wasn’t that he was claustrophobic or even all that unhappy about being in the hotel suite every day—he was never particularly “outdoorsy”—but he did enjoy seeing the sky.
Willow sat on the floor and eased the heavy curtains away until he saw sunlight. Without meaning to, his mind did some quick calculations to determine if any of his satellites were currently over Chagrin Heights. They weren’t, but one would be orbiting in another hour. He’d have to remember to look out the window again then.Read the rest of this entry →
Well, here we are! In another two weeks, A Book Without Dragonswill be out in the world, and I am so excited! (Also, very sleepy—there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that happens in the home stretch—but mostly I’m just excited.)
And guess what?! I’m inviting you to an online release party. If you’ve never been to an online book release, check out my previous post Here. The party I attended for Coven was lots of fun, so I decided I definitely wanted to host one of my own when A Book Without Dragons was ready.Read the rest of this entry →
So, I was sort of stuck for a topic, and I asked Hannah what I should write about, and she suggested Unitime. (Weird, right? I mean, next week’s letter is from the scientist who invented Unitime. Don’t you think maybe he should be the one to explain it?) But I guess I’ll give it a shot…
I really can’t tell you much about how Unitime works. It’s something to do with a bunch of satellites they launched a when I was a kid. I don’t know exactly when. 10 years ago? Maybe 15? Probably closer to 15, because I was still in grade school. I remember having a class party to watch the news broadcast. Someone’s mom made cupcakes for everyone.Read the rest of this entry →
Here is the fourth in my Chapter 0series. Let’s check out what Zabbywas doing right before the start of the book…
Finally, I’m allowed to leave the diner. This has been the worst waitressing shift ever. (Except not really, because we all know that’s a pretty tough category to win.)
I get outside, and I just want to go home and take a nap, but then I see them: that group of boys who were hitting on me. Fantastic. I duck behind a car like a criminal or something and slink away from the street. I’m not dealing with those guys again. Nope.
I guess taking the long way home isn’t that terrible. Chagrin Heights is so tiny it’s nearly impossible to be far away from anything. I’ll just cut through this residential block and be home in—
“The weirdest thing happened. I woke up last night, and I swore the clock said 9:36, but it was later than that when I went to bed.” (Confused? Click Here)
I’m boosting the signal for my friend, Symphoni, who is a dancer doing wonderful things in her community.
As anyone who has read my book knows, I love dancers. I admire them for their bravery, their strength, and their ability to translate emotions into movements. Symphoni is reaching out to the younger generation by giving them the opportunity to dance, and she is looking for sponsors to help them pursue their dream.Read the rest of this entry →
Guess what??!! The advanced reader copies of my new book came in yesterday! (So very excited.) And I’ve set aside 10 of them specifically for my social media family. (That means YOU!) So, send me an e-mail and you could read A Book Without Dragonsfor free!
Willow Ayers heard the news station’s ‘breaking story’ jingle, and promptly abandoned the simulation he was running on his computer. He crossed the cozy bed and breakfast suite in a few less-than-graceful strides and crouched in front of the little television, breathing shallowly, eyes wide and terrified as they locked on the news lady reporting that the hostage situation in Boise was finally under control.
“Now that the hostage has been rescued,” the anchor announced, “authorities have confirmed that it is not the Unitime engineer, Willow Ayers.”
Yes, but is the hostage okay? Willow thought desperately as the reporter summarized the story for the benefit of those who hadn’t been following it all day. Is he hurt? Will he recover? Read the rest of this entry →
Okay… so, I know I’m supposed to have a letter from each of my POV characters. Trust me, we tried very hard to get Ciderto write a letter but (what can I say?) the majority of dogs have no talent for penmanship.
Here’s what I’m doing instead: I’m spreading out a bunch of different toys in a room, and putting Cider in it. He’ll pick up whichever toys he feels best describe the book. My trusty alter-ego Hannahhas kindly agreed to moderate the activity.
Cider bounds into the room, and sees the girl who is not part of his normal home, but he loves her anyway. He also sees toys. Lots of toys! So many—
But wait! The girl is kneeling down to dog-level and opening her arms like she wants cuddles. Cuddles are way more exciting than toys, so Cider runs over and gives her kisses while they have a nice snuggle.Read the rest of this entry →
Cider is chewing on his squeaky toy when he smells something that isn’t part of the normal house smells. It smells exciting! Perhaps it’s even more exciting than the squeaky toy, so Cider goes to find out.
Daddy is out of the house, and Mommy is asleep, or else he would go find them so they could discover the smell together. But that is okay; Cider will find it on his own, and then when Daddy gets back he will be proud.
“Excuse me, do you have the time? My phone is telling me it’s 8:01, but my favorite TV show hasn’t started yet.” (Confused? Click Here)
I had an UNBELIEVABLE time at Central PA Comic-con last weekend! What an event! The rush of nerd energy is exactly what my life needed. So, in honor of that, here are five things that I absolutely love about Comic Cons…Read the rest of this entry →
Hey there! Do you have a piece of paper handy? You might want to write this down…
My Science Fiction Novel, A Book Without Dragons, is coming out in May, and if you frequent this blog, you probably know that the book has a lot to do with clocks being wrong.
So, here’s the deal: in the coming weeks, I will casually mention something about clocks and say what time it is. Each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a different time (the uber-secret code is given below!) Find the matching letter and write it down. If you collect all 13 in order, they spell out a top-secret coupon that you can use on Etsy to get… wait for it… half off my new book!
You’ve been told (more than once, I believe) that the clocks are wrong. I think you’ve also been told that this is a much larger problem than it sounds, but no one has yet explained why.
Let me start by saying that I was skeptical in the beginning as well. After all, people aren’t idiots. People can make a guess at what time it is. People know approximately when stores open and close. People can put brownies in the oven for around twenty-five minutes without timing it to the second.