The Sacred Writing Space

Hello world!

Here’s another question I get sometimes and one that I love chatting about:

“Do you have a ‘sacred’ writing space?”

I do!!!

It is so important for writers to think about their ‘environment’ and the place that will get their creative juices flowing. It’s just as important as a workbench for a carpenter, or a laboratory for a chemist, or a studio for a painter!

I know plenty of people who can work in coffee shops and get a lot of great work done there. They love hearing the steamer at Starbucks and the gentle hum of conversation. They thrive off of listening to the acoustic guitar player in the corner. They get a “creative buzz” off the “caffeine buzz.” For me? This doesn’t always work. Sometimes I’ll get the urge to take my laptop and go sit in a coffee shop, but I know that I get my best writing done at home and at my desk. It’s a space that I “curate” over time and it’s always in flux depending on what I need, but there are always a few things in the atmosphere that I keep close by.

writing1

I try to keep my writing space practical, so I want to make sure that everything I need is close. The laptop is a given, but it’s also important for me to have my earbuds there, because I know music is usually going to stimulate the creative juices for me. I also know I may want to reach for a book on the craft every now and then, so I keep a shelf full of those nearby. Oh, and every now and then I need a little nudge to get off Facebook and write. That’s why you see the great Brett Dalton offering his encouragement on top, and the more recent additions: Victoria Schwab suggesting that I should probably be writing, and my baby niece looking sweet and innocent and asking me to please write her a story 🙂 because how could I say no to any of them?

writing2

See those white coiled books stacked in the middle? Those are my original manuscripts for The Carver, The Unseen, and The Hummingbird! Whenever I complete the first draft of any project, I print and bind it, destroy it with red pen and highlights and sticky notes, and then I keep it so I can look back on the evolution of my writing. It encourages me to have a reminder of how far I’ve come! I usually keep my vision board at the top, and I’ll move pieces of it down to my whiteboards and clip them up with magnets. Right now, there’s not a whole lot of relevant book stuff on the whiteboards. (But I DO love the Egyptian blessing I received from Katherine Blakeney and her mom!) I also keep my goals dangling from the top shelf. Right now, the bigger sheet on the left is all my revision goals for The Hummingbird, and the smaller sheet on the right is a word count goal I update every week for my next novel!

writing3

Books! Books! Books! Everything on the bottom shelf has been signed by the author, from James Dashner to Victoria Schwab, Pierce Brown to Katie Salidas, Krystal Wade to Isaac Marion, Aaron Galvin to Audrey Grey, and a few others! I keep a lot of those close to remind me of the amazing people I’ve met along my journey. I’ve learned something from each and every one of the writers on this shelf, and their accomplishments inspire me! Below my favorite coffee mug and that old family photo, I keep An Ember in the Ashes and Stardust for no other reason than the fact that I absolutely love those two books and often find myself opening them up to random passages to admire the way the words are strung together. And the candle next to them smells like oakmoss and cedar, which is how I imagine Enzo, Pino, and the DiLegno home smell when Carla’s not making her famous cobbler 🙂 scent is a very powerful way to put yourself in another world!

My writing desk is very organic and always evolving, but it’s where I work best because it’s uniquely me! It’s my portal, the same way the wardrobe is a portal to Narnia.

If you’re a writer, where do you do your best writing? If you’re a reader, do you have a special place where you do your reading? I love hearing about other people’s “happy places”!

Wishing you a phenomenal week!

-Jacob

The Economy of Time

One of the most popular topics I get asked about as a writer–whether I’m among coworkers, friends, family, or aspiring published authors–is how I find the time to write as a full-time member of the work force. I sometimes respond with some zinger like “I do this thing where I never sleep” and make a goofy face. More often, I just say “It’s definitely not easy.” And that’s truth. Working and doing anything isn’t easy. Doing anything and writing isn’t easy. Writing isn’t easy. But I write because it’s my passion. I keep my day job because it’s what makes sense for this particular time of my life, and because I enjoy having a helping profession to hold in my “other hand”. (For more on this “hands analogy” and the writing-as-a-career topic, I highly recommend reading this post by V.E. Schwab!)

That being said, I know many people who write for a living, and I know many other people who write full time and work full time. All are very successful at what they do. Oh, and if you’re reading this and you’re like “No I’m not!” chill please. You’ve done an excellent job at faking it in front of me!

Here are a two things I know to be true for everyone, and two things that are true for a lot of people:

  • No matter who you are, we all start with a baseline of 168 hours in a week. (7 days x 24 hours).
  • We all get to make a certain amount of choices about how we’re going to set up our “economy of time” and how much structure we’re going to carve out of those 168 hours.
  • The average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep. For argument’s sake, let’s say you actually get 8 every night. You spend 56 hours sleeping every week. (Remaining “balance”: 112 hours.)
  • Also for argument’s sake, let’s say you work full time and let’s say you work 40 hours. (Sometimes more, sometimes less, but we’ll go with this for now!) Remaining balance: 72.

I don’t know about you, but I actually found this number kind of enlightening and encouraging. That’s three full days of time left over in a week! Now, that’s not to discount the fact that we have many other things to do with that time. We all have to eat, commute from point A to point B (and sometimes C through Z as well!) bathe, cook, and you might even be raising children, pets, or fostering a relationship. Maybe you’re a student. Everybody’s lifestyle is different; therefore their economy of time is different. But breaking down this number helped me put things into perspective.

Knowing how this all breaks down for me personally, I set weekly priorities for myself and write them down, and hope that I’m spending at least 90% of my time on one of these priorities. In no particular order:

  1. As a higher ed professional, I want to make sure I am spending a good chunk of my 40 work hours having meaningful and positive interactions with students. This is my “full time job” priority.
  2. As a son, brother, and uncle, I want to make sure I am carving out time to see my family.
  3. As a professional author, I set at least one goal every week. If I’m working on a new manuscript, this is a word count. If I’m in the editing stage, this might look like “Revise issues in chapters 1-10” or “Fix all villain scenes.” There’s usually some sort of marketing goal too! These aren’t related to time but to outcomes. They take me as long as they take me!
  4. As a human being, some of that time has to go back to my health and well being! “Do 45 minutes at the gym”, or “Make home-cooked dinner six out of seven nights.” Sometimes it’s just “watch an episode of Arrow!” Something that isn’t tied to external accountability.

Yes, I do have to make a few sacrifices every now and then to make this work. I can’t make every happy hour, be the last to leave at every gathering, and no, maybe I wasn’t quite ready yet to give up two nights a week for haidong gumdo lessons! But with priorities in mind and written down, at the end of the week I usually feel pretty good about where I’m at! Sure, there will eventually come a day where it doesn’t make sense for me to have my current job anymore, but when that time comes, I won’t be replacing that work time with more writing time. First, I know that I wouldn’t be productive writing 12 hours a day every day (you can get burned out on something you love to do!) Second, I would find more happiness filling that gap with something else that enriches my life experiences, such as travel or another degree or a separate hobby, because it’s those life experiences that will get infused into my writing later on! This is what I see with many of my friends who do write full time. They’re community volunteers, business owners, parents, musicians, artists, travelers . . . Nobody is ever “just a writer” 🙂

I should also add that all these priorities need to be treated with equal importance. I know myself to be an “obliger,” or somebody who tends to put my expectations of myself below the expectations other people have of me. The challenge then? Protecting your writing time and your mental health time. I had to learn to put both categories in my work calendar and treat them as appointments, just as I would treat any external obligation somebody else might ask of me. Are you willing to do the same for yourself?

I talk about all of this in more detail in my latest YouTube video below, but I also want to know what works for you! How do you balance your obligations and your passions?

Until next time!

Finding Your Idea (and hanging onto it!)

Happy July! (Am I the only one who feels like it’s really weird to be saying that already? Like, isn’t it still February?)

So, I’ve made the decision to try and do a little more maintenance on my YouTube channel that’s existed for over a year now. Oh, you didn’t know I had a YouTube channel? HOW DARE YOU. Just kidding–I had only posted two videos before today! And I can’t guarantee that I’m going to do an awesome job at posting regularly from now on, but, I’ve decided that I at least want to try to make a better effort to use the channel!

That’s why today I uploaded the first of a series of videos where I break down all of the burning authorly questions I’ve heard over the past year, which are all the same questions I had before I found Blaze Publishing. I love when people ask me about balancing writing and full-time work, or how to come up with ideas, or how to get into the world of publishing. After all, it really wasn’t long ago that I was the one doing all the asking instead of just some of it! Now, I won’t claim to know everything–I still have a world of growing and learning to do–but it turns out that after a full year in the publishing game, I can actually answer a good amount of these questions and draw from experiences. So today, in honor of Camp NaNoWriMo 2017 kicking off, I decided to chat a little bit about how to find an idea (and hang onto it!)

Now here’s something else I want to acknowledge: not everybody has the time or the desire to watch a 16-minute video! If you do, have at it and enjoy! But if not, I wanted to break my information into more snackable advice below. Here’s what I’ve learned about the challenge of committing to a story:

  • Every writer faces it, and it comes in different forms. We either 1) Have a folder full of half-developed ideas that we’ve started and abandoned because we’re afraid it sucks, or because something more interesting came along, or 2) We just don’t know where to start.
  • It’s not going to come as a single, powerful eureka moment that you’re going to remain enthusiastic about forever. That exciting million-dollar idea that hit you on the freeway will become familiar to you, and you may grow bored or frustrated for a short time while a bigger, shinier idea calls out to you. Jot down a few notes about that new idea, and then come back to your project. You will thank yourself when you finish the manuscript, and that other idea will be waiting for you when you’re ready!
  • In the case of THE CARVER, I found that it helped me to have a sort of accountability partner, someone who cheered me on until my passion for the book could stand on its own.
  • Make your fingers move! If you’re stuck, write “I’m stuck” over and over again until new ideas emerge. If you’re worried that those new ideas are lame, it’s okay! Write them anyway. As they say, you can’t edit a blank page. Just get something on paper 🙂
  • If you get bored, play with the manuscript itself. Reformat. Use Comic Sans. Insert pictures from your Pinterest board. It’s your manuscript and you can do whatever you want with it until you start submitting queries. Making it look new can put the spark back into your drive.
  • Be willing to read. Discover what kind of reader you are and what kind of stories you enjoy reading. Analyze your favorite books and writers and emulate what you love about their craft. I myself am a sucker for strong descriptions, well-placed humor, and a certain ratio of emotion to action.
  • Books I can recommend (especially for finding an idea):
    • Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
    • Your First Novel by Laura Whitcomb and Anne Rittenberg
    • The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood
    • 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

Inevitably, I’ll think of more to say after I post this, but until then, I think this is a pretty robust list of the elements that have worked for me. Maybe they’ll work for you too! But every mind is a little different. If you’re trying to start a writing project, play around with these ideas! If you find that something different works for you, I’d love to hear about it. As I said earlier, I’m still learning every day!

I do have a few more videos planned about work/life balance, the challenges and joys of writing a trilogy, thoughts on editing and revising, and getting into the publishing game! If you want to see any other topics, I’m happy to hear suggestions! Comment or email me at authorjakedevlin@gmail.com.

If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m wishing you all the best, and hoping you have a fun and relaxing 4th of July!

YA Scavenger Hunt (Stop #125)

The YA Summer Scavenger Hunt (free books and giveaways!)

Good day, my friend!

Author Jacob Devlin at your service, and I am your humble, happy host for this leg of the YA Summer Scavenger Hunt. Welcome to stop #125. You’re almost there! Sit with me real quick and have some water!

Three quick facts about me:

  • Italian is my second language. Amo parlare con i miei carssimi lettori!
  • I am a Ravenclaw. I have yet to try a Butterbeer.
  • When I’m not at my desk, you can usually find me at the movies! Or at some sort of comic convention.

But enough about me! You’re here to get that treasure. If you haven’t heard of this “treasure” yet because you came here first, I’ll get you caught up real fast!

RULES

Each author in the scavenger hunt has been given a special keyword, which will be bold and ALL CAPS on their websites. Hint: Mine is also typed in orange!

All you have to do to participate in the scavenger hunt is visit all the authors’ sites in the order of the map below, write down the special keywords to discover the short story, then enter the giveaway with the completed short story HERE. Then sign up for the main prize HERE.

There’s one main giveaway for the main prize, but most of the participating authors also have smaller giveaways for free books, amazon credit, and author swag, so make sure you read their post carefully to see what else they’re offering while you’re on their site for the keyword.

THE MAP (PARTICIPATING AUTHORS)

  1. Cindy Ray Hale

  2. Katherine Bogle

  3. Melle Amade

  4. David Kudler

  5. A.M. Yates

  6. Alethea Kontis

  7. Stevie Rae Causey

  8. Katlyn Duncan

  9. Debbie Manber Kupfer

  10. Meredith Efken

  11. Meredith Rose

  12. Lara Ann

  13. K.M. Robinson

  14. J.A. Culican

  15. Heather Karn

  16. Rob L. Slater

  17. Dylan Keefer

  18. Sarah K. Wilson

  19. L.J. Higgins

  20. Gina Marie Long

  21. Em Kazmierski

  22. Travis Hall

  23. Heather Young-Nichols

  24. Anna Santos

  25. J.L. Weil

  26. Jo Schneider

  27. Rebecca Fernfield

  28. Kristin D. Van Risseghem

  29. Martine Lewis 

  30. Tara Benham

  31. Stacy Claflin

  32. Beth Hammond

  33. Erica Monroe Cope

  34. Nicole Zoltack

  35. Char Webster

  36. Sabrina Ramoth

  37. T.J. Muir

  38. Raquel Lyon

  39. Beth Rodgers

  40. S.L. Beaumont

  41. Eva Pohler

  42. Melanie McFarlane

  43. Cheryllynn Dyess

  44. Audrey Rich

  45. Amanda Zieba

  46. Sandie Will

  47. Elle Scott

  48. Angie Grigaliunas

  49. Ashley Maker 

  50. Mandy Peterson

  51. Audrey Grey

  52. Elisa Dane

  53. Amy McNulty

  54. Melinda Cordell

  55. Monica Leonelle

  56. Claire Luana

  57. Frost Kay

  58. Preeti C. Sharma

  59. Bentz Deyo 

  60. April Wood

  61. Lena Mae Hill

  62. Angel Leya

  63. Wendi Wilson

  64. Wendy Knight

  65. Chogan Swan

  66. Tamara Hart Heiner

  67. Norma Hinkens

  68. Patti Larsen

  69. Megan Crewe

  70. Jamie Thornton

  71. Jessie Renée

  72. T.A. Maclagan  

  73. Lydia Sherrer

  74. Phyllis Moore

  75. P.D. Workman

  76. J.A. Armitage

  77. K.N. Lee

  78. Angela Fristoe

  79. Rhonda Sermon

  80. G.K. DeRosa

  81. Erin Richards

  82. Ali Winters

  83. Larissa C. Hardesty

  84. Kristine Tate

  85. Debra Kristi

  86. Bella Rose 

  87. Cortney Pearson

  88. Jeff Kohanek

  89. Kristal Shaff

  90. Rachel Morgan

  91. Emma Right

  92. C.L. Cannon

  93. Joanne Macgregor

  94. Lindsey Loucks

  95. Farah Kuck

  96. Erin Hayes

  97. Jesikah Sundin

  98. Dorothy Dreyer

  99. Danielle Annett

  100. C.J. Ethington

  101. L.C. Hibbett 

  102. Madeline Dyer

  103. Katie John

  104. Nicole Schubert

  105. Rachel Medhurst

  106. Tee G Ayer

  107. May Freighter 

  108. Heather Dyer

  109. Jen Minkman

  110. J.L. Gillham

  111. Karen Tomlinson

  112. Kate Haye

  113. Tom Shutt

  114. Martina Billings

  115. Jo Ho

  116. Brian King

  117. Inna Hardison

  118. Rachel Bateman

  119. Sally Henson  

  120. J.L. Hendricks 

  121. A.L. Knorr

  122. T.M. Franklin  

  123. Konstanz Silverbow

  124. felisha Antonette

  125. Jake Devlin

  126. S.F. Benson

  127. Laurie Treacy

  128. Emily Martha Sorensen 

  129. Leia Stone

  130. T. Rae Mitchell

  131. J. Keller Ford

  132. Kat Stiles

  133. Jessica Hawke

  134. Elyse Reyes

  135. Sophie Davis

  136. Bianca Scardoni

  137. Jenetta Penner

  138. David R. Bernstein

  139. Olivia Wildenstein

  140. Derek Murphy

Giveaway

I am raffling off a $10 Amazon gift card along with a set of my first three eBooks, The Carver, The Ivory Queen, and The Unseen!

Image result for the carver jacob devlin

The Carver (Book 1)

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind.

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time. 

Ivory Queen

Ivory Queen (Book 1.5)

Retrace the timeline of The Carver and discover what happened on the other side of the mirror, where our villain rises.
Related image

The Unseen (Book 2)

Picks right up where The Carver left off and gives the story a Wonderland twist! If you’ve ever wanted to attend the Mad Hatter’s tea party, follow me down the rabbit hole!

Thanks for hanging out! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter while you’re here. I only send emails once a month, and I love giving away fun stuff and keeping my readers in the know. For a chance to win something now though, enter THE giveaway!

YA Summer Scavenger Hunt!

In June, the Alliance of Young Adult Authors is sponsoring a massive young adult scavenger hunt. This is a chance to meet some new authors, grab a bunch of free books, and sign up to win a whole bunch of epic prizes!

RULES

Each author will be given a special keyword, which will be bolded and all caps like this: BUTTERFLIES.

All you have to do is visit all the author’s sites in this order, write down the special keywords to discover the short story, then enter the giveaway with the completed short story HERE

There will be one main giveaway for the main prize, but most of the participating authors will also have smaller giveaways for free books, amazon credit and author swag, so make sure you read their post carefully to see what else they’re offering while you’re on their site for the keyword.

THE MAP (participating authors)

  1. Cindy Ray Hale
  2. Katherine Bogle
  3. Melle Amade
  4. David Kudler
  5. A.M. Yates
  6. Alethea Kontis
  7. Stevie Rae Causey
  8. Katlyn Duncan
  9. Debbie Manber Kupfer
  10. Meredith Rose
  11. N.M. Howell
  12. Lara Ann
  13. K.M. Robinson
  14. J.A. Culican
  15. Heather Karn
  16. Rob L. Slater
  17. Dylan Keefer
  18. Sarah K. Wilson
  19. L.J. Higgins
  20. Gina Marie Long
  21. Em Kazmierski
  22. Travis Hall
  23. Heather Young-Nichols
  24. Anna Santos
  25. J.L. Weil
  26. Jo Schneider
  27. Rebecca Fernfield
  28. Kristin D. Van Risseghem
  29. Martine Lewis
  30. Tara Benham
  31. Stacy Claflin
  32. Beth Hammond
  33. Erica Monroe Cope
  34. Nicole Zoltack
  35. Sabrina Ramoth
  36. T.J. Muir
  37. Raquel Lyon
  38. Beth Rodgers
  39. S.L. Beaumont
  40. Eva Pohler
  41. Melanie McFarlane
  42. Cheryllynn Dyess
  43. Audrey Rich
  44. Amanda Zieba
  45. Sandie Will
  46. Elle Scott
  47. Angie Grigaliunas
  48. Ashley Maker
  49. Mandy Peterson
  50. Audrey Grey
  51. Elisa Dane
  52. Amy McNulty
  53. Melinda Cordell
  54. Monica Leonelle
  55. Claire Luana
  56. Frost Kay
  57. Preeti C. Sharma
  58. Bentz Deyo
  59. April Wood
  60. Lena Mae Hill
  61. Angel Leya
  62. Wendi Wilson
  63. Wendy Knight
  64. Chogan Swan
  65. Tamara Hart Heiner
  66. Norma Hinkens
  67. Patti Larsen
  68. Megan Crewe
  69. Jamie Thornton
  70. Jessie Renée
  71. T.A. Maclagan
  72. Lydia Sherrer
  73. Phyllis Moore
  74. P.D. Workman
  75. J.A. Armitage
  76. K.N. Lee
  77. Angela Fristoe
  78. Rhonda Sermon
  79. G.K. DeRosa
  80. Erin Richards
  81. Ali Winters
  82. Larissa C. Hardesty
  83. Kristine Tate
  84. Debra Kristi
  85. Bella Rose
  86. Cortney Pearson
  87. Jeff Kohanek
  88. Kristal Shaff
  89. Rachel Morgan
  90. Emma Right
  91. C.L. Cannon
  92. Joanne Macgregor
  93. Lindsey Loucks
  94. Farah Kuck
  95. Erin Hayes
  96. Jesikah Sundin
  97. Dorothy Dreyer
  98. Danielle Annett
  99. C.J. Ethington
  100. L.C. Hibbett
  101. Madeline Dyer
  102. Katie John
  103. Nicole Schubert
  104. Rachel Medhurst
  105. Tee G Ayer
  106. May Freighter
  107. Heather Dyer
  108. Jen Minkman
  109. J.L. Gillham
  110. Karen Tomlinson
  111. Kate Haye
  112. Tom Shutt
  113. Martina Billings
  114. Jo Ho
  115. Brian King
  116. Inna Hardison
  117. Rachel Bateman
  118. Sally Henson
  119. J.L. Hendricks
  120. A.L. Knorr
  121. T.M. Franklin
  122. Konstanz Silverbow
  123. felisha Antonette
  124. Jake Devlin
  125. S.F. Benson
  126. Laurie Treacy
  127. Emily Martha Sorensen
  128. Leia Stone
  129. T. Rae Mitchell
  130. J. Keller Ford
  131. Kat Stiles
  132. Jessica Hawke
  133. Elyse Reyes
  134. Sophie Davis
  135. Bianca Scardoni
  136. Jenetta Penner
  137. David R. Bernstein
  138. Olivia Wildenstein
  139. Derek Murphy
For rules, updates or trouble-shooting, make sure to check out this main post which will stay updated.

TIMELINE

Authors will post the rules and the full list of participating authors sometime in June, and have their post up and visible on their site/blog, with their keyword, by June 1st. Readers just need to go through the list, find the words, and use the story to enter for the grand prize.

Interview with the Flying Man’s Son

Hello World!

In a couple days, it’s gonna be May, and that means it’s a time of summer vacations, of beach weather, of people graduating and moving on to bigger and better things, and of my next book release! TEN MORE DAYS!

I have another character I’d like you all to meet. He’s the son of a beloved CARVER character, the best friend of our hero, and a young man who absolutely deserves to be defined as his own person. Here is my interview with Zack Volo, the son of Peter Pan!

Jacob: So, I have to say that I’ve been more excited to interview you than any other character from The Unseen. You were sleeping on the sidelines the whole time in The Carver, and I can’t wait for readers to finally get to know you!

Zack: Oh heck yeah man. Finally jumping in on the action! And I’m not gonna hold back.

Jacob: I’m sure you won’t, especially if you’re anything like your parents. Your dad has been quite the popular guy among readers and characters alike.

Zack: Umm. Okay, I guess. Kinda weird for me to believe. I mean, he’s my Pop and I love the man obviously, but I don’t understand what makes him so cool to everyone. He’s kind of a dork–no offense if you’re pals with him or anything.

Jacob: No, he is a dork. That’s what makes him so awesome. I’m sure you’ll learn to appreciate that one day. Hey, you recently learned that he’s Peter Pan! When Enzo found out who his father was, he sorta freaked out. How did you feel?

Zack: Well, first you gotta understand what I had just gone through. I woke up in a fairy den, watched my best friend smash some demonic mirror that whispered things to me, then woke up again in this weird land of overgrown bees, hissing mushrooms, and flying shadow things. So when Rosana broke the news to me–that the man I call my Pop is Peter freaking Pan–I had already learned to start rolling with things, y’know? Sure it was a little weird, and I haven’t seen him fly or anything, but I accepted it. I don’t care who he really is. To me, he’s always gonna be Pietro Volo, my goofy dad.

Jacob: And who are you, Zack? Sorry, I don’t mean to get all deep on you. I just don’t want readers to see you as a mini version of your father. What do you want them to know about you?

Zack: I’m still figuring it all out, I guess. I was sleeping for so long that I missed a couple years of my childhood. But I know I’m kind of athletic. I really like basketball, which is awesome because I’m tall. I always had fun sparring with Enzo in the backyard, and I had to let him win sometimes. You won’t tell him I said that, right?

Jacob: Nah, your secret’s safe. It’s great you have such an awesome friendship with Enzo, especially in these weird times you two are going through. You remind me of the modern day Corey and Shawn.

Zack: . . . um. Who?

Jacob: Did you never watch Boy Meets World?

Zack: Isn’t it called Girl Meets World?

Jacob: Never mind. But here’s a question! If your life right now were a TV show, what would you call it?

Zack: Boy Meets World Between? Zack in Wonderland. How I Met Your Mother, because I meet one of my friend’s mothers! Umm, let’s see, how ’bout Lost? Because it would be really nice to go home.

Jacob: You know I’m rooting for you! I hope you go home soon, and I hope you see your parents again. I promise they’re out looking just as hard for you.

Preorder THE UNSEEN and learn more about Zack and his adventures!:

Interview with the Hatter

Hello World,

I finally get to say that THE UNSEEN comes out in about 16 days! I hope you’re all prepared for The World Between! To give you a primer of what’s to come in Wonderland, I invited one of it’s native residents for my next blog interview. His name is Matthew Hadinger (but don’t mistake him for the jolly old man in the Disney cartoon). Let’s hear what he has to say!

Jacob: Welcome to the blog, Mr. Hadinger!

M.H.: Please, call me Matt. The pleasure is all mine, Lore Master.

Jacob: Please, call me Jacob. I like that hat, by the way! Can I ask where you got it? You weren’t at the 4th Avenue Street Fair a few weeks ago, were you? There was a Mad Hatter booth there.

M.H.: Me, 4th Avenue? I’m afraid not, Sir Jacob. Wondertown is one long brilliant boulevard of wonders. We hardly have the room for four, nor do we have the need. We have all the amenities you could ever need in Wondertown. There’s a Starbucks, a castle, an extravagant library, a place for brunch, a shop for boots and jackets and neckties, a boutique to style your eyebrows and your tongue, and of course, a place for hats.

Jacob: Wow! Suddenly 4th Avenue’s shark meat on a stick doesn’t seem so strange to me. What could I expect if I went to Wondertown and set up an appointment with a tongue stylist? I’m curious.

M.H.: It’s remarkably similar to getting a tattoo, only there’s less pain–so I’m told! It confounds the mind that the New World citizens are content with stitching an image on their arm with a needle. What terror!

Jacob: What’s your story, Matt? How long have you lived in Wondertown, and what do you do there? Do you run the hat shop?

M.H.: Oh, no–I’m simply not business-minded. I’ve traveled most corners of the World Between. The plains, the beaches, even the Wondercity. I settled into Wondertown when I met my dearest friend, Alice the Brave. What an adventure we had! If only she were still there to help stitch Wonderland back together. The division, the factions, the violence . . . it was never supposed to be this way. Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, and Clubs used to work together. Now, two of those factions have been eliminated. The Spades and the Hearts are now at war. I serve the Spades.

Jacob: I’m sorry to hear what Wonderland’s become. Where I’m from, we always imagine your world to be filled with singing flowers and dancing mushrooms and such. Doesn’t sound like that’s the case anymore. Do you think there’s any hope that the Hearts and the Spades will work together again?

M.H.: ‘Tis looking bleak. We’re only one battle away from going completely mad.

Jacob: I truly wish you all the best. Maybe you’ll find somebody in Wonderland who can help you through these hard times. You never know when someone might stumble into town.

M.H.: Your hope makes all the difference. (Matt takes off his hat and reaches inside. Everything up to his elbow disappears, and he pulls out a Snickers bar.) I trust you like chocolate?

Jacob: Dude. It’s like you know me.

M.H.: Should you ever stumble down the rabbit hole, come to Wondertown. We throw the best tea parties. Walking balloon animals, musicians, magic, and of course, a healthy dose of wonder.

Jacob: I’ll keep that in mind! Good luck to you, Matt.

Be sure to join the fun in just a couple weeks! I have some giveaways planned, and we have TWO WHOLE DAYS of festivities ahead!

Until next time!

Tucson Festival of Books! 2017

Hello World!

So, if you’re subscribed to my newsletter, or if you live near me/work with me/follow me on any sort of social media, you know that I’ve been obsessing over the Tucson Festival of Books for months now. This is one of my favorite things about living in Arizona, and it’s the spring equivalent of Christmas for me. Last year, I had a great time going to panels from authors who couldn’t wait to share their insight on the publishing world, pass me their cards, and dole out great advice for a rising YA author! This year, I got to experience the festival on a whole new level, and it was an amazing experience.

First of all, I probably earned the step equivalent of a day at Disneyland on my FitBit, and I’m not mad. This is the 3rd largest book festival in the nation, and it takes up a large part of the square-mile campus at the University of Arizona. Booths on booths on booths. Booths everywhere. For day one, I spent a couple of hours in the Young Adult Pavilion, and I had the best time connecting with readers old and new! I ran into a lot of great friends of mine and was happy to have my family there. It was also a treat getting to say hello to fans I met at Sunnyside High School in February, along with the coolest kid ever named Kayden who I met at Barnes and Noble in December. What an awesome feeling it was to hear him talk about how much he loved the book, how much he loves Pietro, and how much he can’t wait for the sequel!

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But of course, I always love experiencing the festival as an attendee as well. I love the smells of paperbacks, kettle corn, and sunscreen in the air. I love the music. I love the little science town where the kids play with water and look at Gila monsters. And I love connecting with other authors! The highlights for me were Bob Proehl, who wrote A Hundred Thousand Worlds (which I listened to on Audible and loved so much that I bought the hardcover and read it again), and James Dashner, who wrote the Maze Runner series (which I haven’t finished but am loving so far!) There was so much I wanted to ask and share with these two, but you know how it goes. When you meet people you look up to, you forget your own name. Basically, even after you’re published, you never stop being a fanboy/fangirl!

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Oh, and did I mention food? Gelato is my tradition, but I also had to get one of these amazing chicken-on-a-stick things. Like, how can chicken be so tender without being a chicken tender? I’m legitimately curious.

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Anyway, that’s the quick version of a long weekend that I will cherish forever! I’m already marking TFoB 2018 on my calendar, and if you’re a lover of books, food, authors, music, or sunshine, I hope to see you there!

STARFALL Launch Blitz & Giveaway

Hello readers! February is a fantastic month for book lovers. First off, I can’t wait to reveal the cover for my next novel, THE UNSEEN, tomorrow! It’s been so hard to keep under wraps since I first saw it in September! But today is all about the awesome Melissa Landers and the novel she just launched. Congrats Melissa, I’ve been waiting a long time for Starfall! Here’s what she wants you to know, and be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below!

STARFALL Launch Blitz & Giveaway

Hi, booklovers!

I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m so excited to launch STARFALL, the second and final book in my Starflight duology! This story picks up shortly after the first book ends, but now Cassia and Kane are the main characters, with Doran, Solara, and the rest of the Banshee crew pitching in to help take down an intergalactic mafia. (You know, just an ordinary day in space.) And while saying goodbye to characters is never easy, I think I gave the crew a proper sendoff with plenty of humor, heart, and action. I hope you love STARFALL as much as I do!

Haven’t read the first book? You’re in luck, because for a limited time, Starflight is on sale for 99 cents in all e-formats. Now you can binge read the entire duology in one sitting!

Praise for Starflight:

“Smart, action-packed and utterly addictive!” –New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman

“Starflight has the cinematic appeal, warp-speed action and unlikely heroes of Star Wars.” –Justine Magazine

“A lively tale of romance, space pirates, conspiracy, and made (as opposed to genetic) families.” –Booklist

“A great choice for fans of raw sci-fi action, reminiscent of the lawlessness presented in the television series Firefly.” –School Library Journal

If you love sci-fi adventure with a dash of romance, I hope you’ll pick up the Starflight duology today. Starflight and Starfall are both available in stores and online.

STARFLIGHT (book 1)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jmEOqA
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2kjs57n
Book Depository (free international shipping): http://bit.ly/1OoN2WD
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1IIMPx7

STARFALL (book 2)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jmNsW2
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2ddKuih
Book Depository: http://bit.ly/2k98EvN
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/2dhMLry

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Starflight duology swag pack, complete with bookmarks and two signed mini posters! The giveaway is open internationally. Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information or just to say hello, visit http://www.melissa-landers.com.

Interview with The Ivory Queen

Happy New Year from the World Between!

Wherever you are today, I hope the stroke of midnight sparked a year of magic and excitement. I was happy to spend New Years Eve with family, putting party hats on my week-old niece and enjoying champagne and cider to celebrate The Carver’s latest milestone. Yesterday, we hit #1 Best-Seller status on Amazon, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Enzo and Pietro are over the moon excited right now that so many people chose to join them on their road trip, and 2017 is going to be filled with amazing new destinations for them. In fact, I got to visit one of them last year when I was writing The Carver. I’m not sure I’d go back any time soon, because Queen Avoria’s presence lingers and our interview unsettled me a bit. I think it’s time I tell you about my conversation with her. Don’t worry–I took every precaution to make sure that I would be safe during my interview with Queen Avoria of Florindale, and even if I lost a part of my soul, I have faith that Enzo will save us one day. One can only hope…

Ivory Queen: You may enter.

Jacob: Do you promise you’ll be cool? You won’t reap my soul or anything?

I.Q.: Don’t be dense, Lore Master. If I reaped your soul tonight, who would tell the story of my glorious ascension to the ultimate throne? Somebody needs to keep a record of my beauty and persistence, and ensure that all the worlds know of my conquest. You favor me by conducting your inquiry. I might even thank you when it’s over.

Jacob: I suppose I appreciate that. Thank you for not ending my life.

I.Q.: Spare me the small talk.

Jacob: Alright, let’s dive right in. There are three worlds that I know of at this point in my research–the New World, where I’m from; the Old World, where you’re from; and The World Between where we sit today, also known as Wonderland. Why are you here? Did you choose to be here?

I.Q.: My ultimate destination is a world beyond, one that I’ve made where people bend to my will. I do not intend to stay here forever. I asked why Lady Fortune steered me here. It seemed a cruel punishment for a beautiful queen–being trapped in a cursed mirror–but I choose to treat Lady Fortune’s plan as an act of kindness. I can add the realm of wonder to my conquest, and my ascension will be all the more glorious for it. I’m happy to be here.

Jacob: And yet I assume you’re already working on a plan to get out?

I.Q.: Yes. That plan is of no concern to you. Next question.

Jacob: I want to show you a picture and find out what’s going on. Do you remember this night?

ivory_queen

I.Q.: *snatches picture out of my hands* Who painted this portrait? How dare anyone spy and capture an image of me without my knowledge like some shameless bandersnatch paparazzi? Was it you, Lore Master?

Jacob: Ha! I can promise you it wasn’t me. I couldn’t even draw a stick figure of you. It’s why I write instead. I have a question about the man in the painting, though. He’s giving you a really weird look. You ever see a reality show, like The Bachelorette? People give each other this look all the time on those shows. It usually means drama’s about to happen. What’s going on between you two?

I.Q.: That is Cornelius Redding, the so-called King of Hearts. He found me on the streets of the Wondercity and offered me shelter. I offer him protection and strengthen his hold on Wonderland. In turn, I strengthen my own hold on the realms. Our relationship is professional and symbiotic. How dare he give me those dagger eyes behind my back? It is you who means drama, Mr. Devlin, showing me this image to spite me!

Jacob: Well, I can hardly imagine the two of you were having friendly brunches and playing golf with flamingo clubs every day. Surely there’s something else there, right?

I.Q.: You are merely seeing the visage of a troubled man. You may have heard that the Queen of Hearts is no longer alive after Alice showed up and wreaked her mischief in the realm of wonder.

Jacob: Wait, really?

I.Q.: Oh, you didn’t know? Somebody killed the queen. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to figure out that it was probably that girl. Certainly don’t get the idea to blame me, Lore Master. I think that’s quite enough for today. I demand my own book, Mr. Devlin. Have your spy paint me on the cover, and call it Ivory Queen.

If you’re ready to learn more and set the stage for the second novel in the Order of the Bell series, preorder this novelette on Amazon and enjoy Ivory Queen on 1.10.17!

The Ivory Queen EBook