SOKY 2018

If a couple years in Virginia didn’t convince me that I love southern hospitality, Nashville and Bowling Green have certainly done the job! It’s Monday, and I’m still riding the euphoria of being surrounded by so many wonderful people in the state of Kentucky this past weekend! The Southern Kentucky Book Fest really was “one for the books!”

From Tucson to Phoenix to Houston to Nashville to Bowling Green, it was a long day of travel (a whopping 12 hours each way!) This also was my third time stepping on Nashville ground, if only for a moment, and it was refreshing taking in all that creative energy again before it was time to get in the shuttle and ride to Bowling Green. Cat Jordan was an excellent shuttle mate, and I’m proud to call her the first friend I made during the festival!

I have to say getting a tour of Corsair Distillery was such an interesting experience! I’ve never been to any distillery before, and Corsair takes pride in being one of the “weird” ones. Checking a distillery tour off the bucket list! Oh, and also checking off “smell a bottle of fish-flavored bourbon.” P-U! Following that tour, I had the chance to meet a ton of other authors and illustrators and chat over drinks and appetizers, and it was an awesome evening! But after about 20 hours operating on fragmented sleep and pure adrenaline, it was time to crash out! *cannonballs into hulking king-sized hotel bed at beautiful hotel*

The festival itself was phenomenal! Hundreds of kids and teens on Friday, followed by another couple hundred Kentuckians filing in and out on Saturday, and I can hardly believe I was signing books for 11 total hours. I had to spend a little time walking around the festival myself and meeting the authors, and I can tell you this about our interactions:

  • One is an Italian travelphile like me, and a former professor who knows some of my former professors.
  • One won The Gong Show last year, and I totally remember watching the episode where her group performed last summer.
  • One found his love of writing by sitting at home and filling up a floppy disk with X-Men fan-fiction, which is eerily similar to how I used to pass the time in the third grade . . .
  • Two have a Netflix deal for their co-authored series, and are both so entirely sweet and humble about their success.
  • One wrote the first chapter book I ever read when I was a 1st grader, and every other book in a series of fifty that I devoured for the next 3-4 years.
  • One gave me a homemade, perfectly shaped and delectably textured cookie, and I was so thrilled to learn that she has ideas for a baking cookbook.
  • One turned the entire convention center into a cozy mystery, doling out stick-on mustaches that filled the room with tiny incognito detectives.
  • One has a second life as a MMA fighter/instructor and I never ever want to mess with her. Ever.
  • One came to Tucson last year and I was still too shy to approach her at TFOB because she is larger than life. She then became my table buddy at SOKY and I spent two days laughing with her, learning from her, and drinking up her encouraging words and amazing ideas. Oh, and I super-appreciated her signing a paperback for me, which became a very effective distraction during a rocky flight home!
  • I probably missed a few, but I should say ALL were amazing and gracious people I’m proud to call friends!

The festival marked a bittersweet transition for me as it also signaled the end of my trilogy’s production under Blaze Publishing. The greatest thanks goes to them for opening these amazing doors for me, even as they close their own doors and prepare for bright new futures. But don’t worry! If you don’t own a copy of THE CARVER or its sequels yet, come see me in Phoenix next month. I’ll be selling the last remaining copies as they currently exist, and later this summer, look for some updates from me! This isn’t the end of Enzo’s story, and after SOKY this weekend, I’ve never been more optimistic about what’s to come!

Make a wish,

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

YA Scavenger Hunt Spring 2018

Hello my friends!

And welcome to the Spring 2018 edition of the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt! You’re hunting for TEAM BLUE, which happens to be my favorite color ever. I’m Jacob Devlin, your humble host for this round of the search, and I’m here to guide you to the coveted book prize (and a couple fun ones I threw in myself)! Here are two fun facts about me:

  1. When I was a tiny little kid I tried to eat a Christmas ornament because I thought it might taste like fruit. (I mean, it was on a tree…)
  2. I enjoy singing along to Italian pop rock in my car.

Deep within this hunt–in a land/blog post far far away–I have hidden an exclusive deleted scene from my most recent book, THE HUMMINGBIRD! Find it to uncover a story of what could have been and a twist on an old story you may know. I’ve also hidden a secret number on this very post. Your main task is to collect ALL the secret numbers on Team Blue, then plug ’em in on this page for a chance to win big. But of course, have fun along the way, and enjoy your chance to connect with all these great writers!

This season, I’m psyched for you all to meet Tobie Easton!

BIO:

Award-winning author Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. Her debut novel, Emerge, is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and is Book 1 in the acclaimed Mer Chronicles series. The trilogy follows the descendants of the Little Mermaid and offers fans a peek into a world where Mermaids aren’t just real, but live secretly among us on land.

She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie splits her time between Los Angeles and Boston.

Here’s what Tobie has to share with you all!

 

Hi, all!  I’m Tobie, author of the Mer Chronicles series, which follows the descendants of the Little Mermaid and offers a peek into a world where mermaids aren’t just real but live secretly among us on land.  The first two books in the trilogy—Emerge and Submerge—are out now, and the third book, Immerse, comes out this year!  I’ve received a bunch of messages from you guys requesting more about the Mermaid everyone loves to hate: Melusine.  So for YASH, I’ve created a Melusine mood board to share with you, and I can’t wait for you to check it out!

https://www.pinterest.com/tobieeaston/  

You can also explore the Clay, Caspian, and Ondine mood boards I created for YASH last year 😉  Is this how you picture the characters from the Mer Chronicles?  I’d love to hear what you think, so give me a shout!

xo Tobie

Get a look at these covers:

TobieEaston-Emerge_1800x2700_1

SUBMERGECover

Tobie sounds like a great author to follow if you’re up for a dive into a world of fantasy and mermaids. If you’d like to keep up with her, give her a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. I’m no math whiz, but completing each of those tasks just might increase your odds of winning THIS RAFFLECOPTER by a little over 21%. Just a rough estimate, though.

To continue on your hunt, please go visit the great ELIZA TILTON!

Happy reading and happy hunting!

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

Updates!

Hello World,

Checking in with some updates! I’ve been keeping busy in about seven different ways since THE HUMMINGBIRD came out last month. Whew! In some ways, releasing the end of a trilogy felt like Christmas to me . . . spending months at a time prepping, wrapping, eating, jamming to whatever it is you like to jam to during the holidays, and all of a sudden it’s over and the following days are a bit of a letdown. But just around the corner: something new and equally promising!

I’m happy to say that the Tucson Festival of Books on March 10-11 was amazing. For me, the true highlight was speaking to the Upward Bound group who came to the festival as part of a larger event their coordinator organized. They had thoughtful questions and infectious enthusiasm. I also loved sharing panel time with Zoraida Cordova and Daniel Jose Older. Our talk really fueled an intentional drive for me to write hard-hitting, exhilarating fantasy stories with strong, diverse characters.

festival

Nearly related: The movie “LOVE SIMON” has been in theaters for a week now, and I can’t talk it up enough! In the world of Young Adult movie adaptations and the movement for representation and inclusion, it’s a major win, and I want it to get all kinds of hype! Check it out sometime–not only will you laugh hysterically, but you’ll probably leave with a better understanding of someone you know. There’s also a good chance you might feel a little more understood in return. Personally, I felt quite a bit of both. 🙂

Oh! I’ll be at two more events these next couple months:

  • April 19-21: SOKY Book Fest in Bowling Green, KY
  • May 24-27: Phoenix Comic Fest in Phoenix, AZ

I hope you’ll come see me at one of these! April will be my first time in Kentucky! This is pretty exciting for bucket list purposes. Kentuckians, is there anything I have to do when I’m there? Specifically, a place I should eat in Bowling Green? (Because if you don’t tell me, I’ll just go to KFC, and that’s not blog-worthy at all. I want all my KFC runs to be kinda boring and non-memorable, unless Chris Pratt is ordering there at the same time.)

As for Phoenix, this will be my first time as a vendor at any Comic Con, and I can’t wait to share the week with Katie Salidas and Jenna Elizabeth Johnson! I’m also hoping I’ll see Ming-Na this year, but I’m even more hopeful I’ll see YOU!

Following these two events, The Carver and its sequels will likely experience some changes. I’m not going to share details quite yet, but I can say that if you want to grab copies of the books as they currently exist, this is an excellent time to do so!

In the meantime, I’m shifting most of my attention to a new adventure in the middle grade world: The cursed and terrifying wonderful and exciting process of submitting query letters! It’s been a few years since I’ve done this part, and it’s every bit as nerve-curdling as I remember it, but twice as exciting after all I’ve gained in the past few years. For now though, I could use a lot of good vibes from my friendly readership! With me luck!

Finally, a heads up that #YASH Spring 2018 is around the corner! Keep an eye on my blog in about two weeks for a chance to win TONS of prizes and discover new writers.

Until then!

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

Of Finales and Finish Lines (The Hummingbird Release!)

So, we’ve arrived! I have some great giveaway stuff and info below, but first I need to be a sap for a few paragraphs. It is February 20, 2018, the day THE HUMMINGBIRD flies off into the world and the ORDER OF THE BELL trilogy comes to its close. As Marie Lu said at the end of CHAMPION, the end of the road is a strange and wistful place. It’s bittersweet. Today feels a lot like watching a friend or sibling drive off to college. Well. Kinda. It’s hard to describe. Sometimes even authors can’t quite find the right words.

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Just as Aladdin had three wishes and Goldilocks sampled three bowls of porridge, it took three challenging and wonderful years to write three books about three “ordinary” teenagers who discovered that magic is everywhere, especially deep within. And that story is now complete with a start, a finish, and hopefully a wildly fun ride in between! It’s not a perfect set, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, but it is 100% true to my vision, and I’ve never been prouder to put my name on something. Oh and Enzo, if you’re reading this:

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And I couldn’t have done any of this without my amazing readers and the best publishers/editors/cover designers/beta readers/bloggers/social media followers/family/friends I could have asked for! I hope THE HUMMINGBIRD is the finale you hoped for and deserved, and I hope THE ORDER OF THE BELL has given you even just a fraction of the escape, the hope, the adventure, and the light you’re looking for today–ESPECIALLY today.

Oh and don’t worry. This isn’t really the end of the path. It’s the crossroads. My fingers and those gears in my brain are still moving, so keep an eye out! I have so many more stories to tell you–some from places very close to the bell tower and some much farther away than that second star to the right–and I hope you’ll continue to explore with me.

Wishing you a happy Tuesday and a safe trip back to Florindale,

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

THE HUMMINGBIRD (THE ORDER OF THE BELL #3)

In the aftermath of the great battle that left Wonderland in ruins, Crescenzo DiLegno and his two best friends have reunited with their families in Florindale, but the war wages on in every kingdom. The Order of the Bell is scattered, presumably left to the mercy of Queen Avoria, whose grip on the New World grows tighter every day. Cities have already fallen, the shadows have spread, and a fortress of nightmares has appeared in the heart of New York City.

Determined to take back his home and restore order to the worlds, Crescenzo must rally all the people he’s met from his adventures, from the troubled prince to the rebellious Lost Boys, and storm Avoria’s castle of illusion. The Carver’s war against the wicked Ivory Queen brews to an explosive finale, but dark secrets about her true nature have yet to emerge, and not everybody will be prepared to survive them.

ABOUT THE ORDER OF THE BELL SERIES

In this twisted modern fairytale, the lives of three teenagers, Crescenzo, Rosana, and Zack, collide as they contend with the disappearance of their families and learn a secret that uproots their lives: They are actually the children of Pinocchio, Alice, and Peter Pan, and there are dark forces in the fairytale world that want their parents back. With only a handful of handcrafted wooden figurines to light the way, Crescenzo and his friends set off on an epic quest to rescue their families, making unlikely friends–and relentless enemies–out of the storybook legends they thought they knew. But with the growing threat of the nightmarish Queen Avoria looming over his head, Crescenzo won’t just need a few loyal allies to bring his family back to the world he knows: He’ll need a whole army to save all three.

THE CARVER (Book 1) | IVORY QUEEN (Interquel/Novella) | THE UNSEEN (Book 2)

 

 

 

 

 

The Carver is currently on sale for $0.99 on Amazon! Witness the adventure from the very beginning, and own the complete series for less than $5!

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate his third release and the “rule of three” in fairy tales, Jacob is giving away three of his favorite paperbacks for YA adventure lovers: STARDUST by Neil Gaiman, THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken, and AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir. You can earn up to three entries as follows:

  1. Follow @jacob_devlin on Instagram and comment on the giveaway post, tagging a friend who loves to read as much as you do!
  2. Subscribe to Jacob’s newsletter and respond to the welcome email with the name of your favorite fairytale character.
  3. Follow @jacob_devlin on Twitter and retweet the giveaway post (pinned to the top of the page!)

Open internationally. Each entry gets your name/handle written on an index card and entered in a hat, and on 2/28, Jacob will draw one card at random to win the paperbacks along with some special swag items.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Devlin is the author of The Carver, which recently won a LitPick Top Choice Award, and its sequels, The Unseen and The Hummingbird. When not reading or writing, Jacob loves practicing his Italian, watching stand-up comedy, spoiling his niece, and geeking out at comic book conventions. He does most of these things in southern Arizona.

Jacob’s Website | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

Interview with the Flying Man

Dear Friends,

I’ve been keeping tabs on Florindale for a little over three years now, and I can tell you that the past few weeks have been the most distressing and busy as I watch the Order of the Bell train day-in and day-out for the war against Avoria. It almost doesn’t look healthy, the way they’re all exerting themselves.

Good news: I managed to talk Violet into letting everybody stop training for one night only, because it’s a special occasion in our world. I explained things a little differently, but here’s how Violet seemed to understand Superbowl Sunday: Tonight, families and friends gather in front of their TV and eat snacks while they watch two opposing kingdoms fight over a ball and an overlord narrates for the spectators. In between, spokesmen advertise more snacks, and the High King of Pop, the uber-charismatic Lord Timberlake, will perform hymns and New World anthems.

So yeah, the people of Florindale are learning an American tradition tonight, which is very exciting for New World natives like Pino and Pietro, who grew up learning all about the Superbowl. As fate would have it, Pietro Volo–Peter Pan himself–came to my house to relive this tradition, and I decided to interview him during some of the less fun commercials. Here’s our transcript:

Pietro: Hey so who’s playing again? Did Ravenclaw make it this year?

Jacob: Sadly no . . . you have the choice of rooting for the Eagles, the Patriots, or Justin Timberlake.

Pietro: Who are those first two? Let me look at the logos real quick. Pass me the onion dip?

Jacob: The Eagles are supposed to be the underdog, as I understand it. We’re really all here for JT.

Pietro: That’s the guy from Backstreet Boys, right? I kinda miss them.

Jacob: We might need to catch you up on New World pop culture. So how are you feeling about the war against the Ivory Queen? Are you ready?

Pietro: I’m tired. Violet’s relentless. But I’m excited to change roles soon. Tomorrow, she’s sending me back to Neverland for a recruitment trip. I get to see my old friends, Nibs, Curly, the boys I used to hang out with on the island before I became a New World man. I hope they’re all still there. We need ’em. We need as many people as we can get in this war.

Jacob: Neverland . . . wow. I’m sure it’s been a long time. You must be really excited to revisit a place you used to call home.

Pietro: Of course, Jay! I’ve been dreaming of the island for years. But ever since Avoria showed up again, these places don’t quite look right. Weird things are happening in New York, Enzo tells me Wonderland was a nightmare, and there are shadows all over Florindale Square. *cracks open a soda and thinks for a minute.* I hope with all my being that Neverland is the way I left it. That’s the whole point of Neverland–it’s not supposed to change.

Jacob: You know, I left Tucson for a while too. When I came back, a lot of things were different. I really hoped they wouldn’t be, but a lot of things don’t stay the same. Look at you! You broke away from Neverland and became a grown man with a family. Remember how badly you didn’t want that for most of your life? Look at JT on the screen right now! He’s changed a lot too since the NSYNC days.

Pietro: That’s different though. JT isn’t about to go fight an evil queen.

Jacob: Meh. I’ll give you that. But it’ll all work out! At least you’ll always have those memories of Neverland, right? And hopefully many still to come of your time in the New World. We’re rooting for you all!

Pietro: Thanks, Jay–HEY! Is that me in that commercial right there?

Jacob: No, that is Chris Pratt. You need to watch Jurassic World soon.

Pietro: Are there dragons?

Jacob: Never mind.

On a side note, watch for a special release day giveaway coming very soon! Are you following me on Instagram or Twitter? More details coming in a couple days!

Wishing you all the best until then!

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

Interview with the Future Queen

Dear Friends,

January is zooming by like a plane, or better yet, a hummingbird *wink wink*. That means in just a couple of weeks, I will be able to present the final chapter of the ORDER OF THE BELL to you. I’m psyched, I’m bummed, I’m a tiny bit nervous, I’m proud, and I’m everything in between. So just imagine how Enzo and his friends must be feeling! I don’t have to fight the Ivory Queen and save the world (lucky for you all)–but they do 😉 They don’t have a choice.

I want to thank the one and only Snow White for sitting down with me earlier today and taking some time out of her ludicrous schedule. She’s a wonderful human being, and I wish we could have chatted about happier things. Anyway, here’s the transcript of my interview with her:

Jacob: Thanks so much for coming to visit me, Your Majesty. I know the Order is keeping you crazy busy right now.

Snow: Mr. Devlin, how long have we known each other now? Please don’t be so formal with me. It’s just Snow. And the pleasure is mine. You’re giving me a much needed break from the daily trials.

Jacob: Trials?

Snow: There’s no way for Avoria to hear what we’re discussing today, right? It’s very risky to discuss the Order’s plans in the open like this. We have to stay one step ahead of the Ivory Queen at all times, and if she finds out . . . *begins wringing her hands and staring out the window*

Jacob: I promise our conversation is safe. Nobody will know a thing except for my very loyal blog reader, who would never mention a thing to Avoria. They hate her too, you know.

Snow: *sighs* Violet and Hua Mulan have us training day in and day out with very little rest. It’s exhausting. Not everybody has the exact same training, of course, but everybody is required to run obstacle courses and a choice of weapon: blades, staves, or projectiles. I work with the arrows and crossbows. I’m much more effective from a distance.

Jacob: You are fierce. We’ve seen the way you handle that crossbow.

Snow: *looks down and fidgets with a loose string in her sleeve* You mean with Hansel? I feel I’ve been too harsh on him. He’s trying to atone for his errors. He truly is. I really want to see him happy, I just . . . I worry that time is running out for us, and it’s hard not to apportion some of the blame to him.

Jacob: I’m glad you’re taking those steps to start forgiving him. This can’t be an easy time for any of you. I did want to ask you something, and stop me if it gets too sensitive: How is Liam doing? I would’ve thought he would come with you today.

Snow: *silence*

Jacob: I’m so sorry, we can always–

Snow: No, no, you’re fine. You deserve to know. Liam is . . . very broken right now. Haunted, even. He’s not the man he was when I met him. At least, not on the surface. It’s been hard for me, and for everybody else who looks up to him. He doesn’t come out of the house, he doesn’t train, he barely leaves his bed. It feels like we’re always training by moonlight now. Without him, it’s like there’s no sun, and I’d give just about anything to see that sun come back.

Jacob: You two have been through so much since Avoria came back. You lose each other, you find each other again, you love bits and pieces of yourself, and you find yourselves again. If anybody is going to make out it out of this war, it’s you two. I have hope!

Snow: You’re too kind. Violet said something similar a few days ago. She had this crazy idea that it’s time to make us King and Queen of Florindale. For hope, I suppose. If only Liam would get out of bed!

Jacob: King Liam and Queen Snow? That’s awesome! I’ve been wondering when that would happen . . . as if you don’t have enough on your plate, though. Do you feel ready?

Snow: As ready as I’ll ever be. I have a terrible feeling about the coronation, but you know Violet. Once she’s made up her mind, there’s no stopping her. One way or another, they’re going to crown us soon. I can think of about seven dozen people more deserving than I, but I’ll accept if it will bring people hope.

Jacob: And that’s exactly why it should be you . . . the fairest in the land! I hope the event goes well. Here’s hoping for a new age, free from Avoria and all that darkness she brought with her.

Snow: Thank you, Mr. Devlin. May the light be with you!

THE HUMMINGBIRD releases February 20, 2018 and the eBook is currently available for pre-order!

The Hummingbird EBook

Four Lessons From My “Desert Friends”

Hi Friends,

I hope you had a wonderful end to 2017 and a better beginning to 2018! A few of you wrote to me with your “one word themes” for the year, and there were some great ones out there. Focus. Fitness. Courage. Finish. No matter what your heart is set on this year, today is the first page of a crisp white notebook. May you fill it with the story of your dreams!

One of the really fun parts of starting a new year is when you get to ceremoniously let go of something ugly, or take a look back at the good and understand how much you’ve grown, how much you have to look forward to, and who has been there along the way.

Tonight I went to my mom’s for posole, and she was waiting with stacks of goodies for my sister and I. My sister got to open a time capsule she made years ago as a school project, and it turned out that my mom had been saving some fun stuff from my elementary school days as well. I now submit this evidence that I should have been a Studio Art major, with an emphasis in illustration:

I know, right? Eat your heart out, Picasso!

These were picture books I made as school projects 20 years ago. I’m only showing you two, but my mom had books I wrote all the way through the 6th grade, and then a series of papers I wrote for my classes. So, over the course of a little less than an hour, I got to see my progression from THE DESERT FRIENDS FIND A NEW HOME to one of the research papers I wrote in the 10th grade. All of these sort of make me cringe, but there were lessons and things I learned about myself as I traveled through time, especially reading Desert Friends:

  1. Jake the Snake, Carl Coyote, and Randy Roadrunner were all best friends with a tarantula, so I wondered if I had some level of sympathy for spiders at one point. The poor coyote even gets injured by a car running around by “A” Mountain whereas the tarantula crosses the street unharmed. Why is the spider faster than the tarantula? Because I liked the spider more? Nah, I think it’s because spiders are evil and the little devil probably teleported. I learned that my fear of them has always gone beyond the natural. Carl Coyote deserved better.
  2. I’ve always had mad love for family. I dedicated all these picture books “to my little sister Ciara,” who was barely even about to become a person at all.
  3. I’ve always enjoyed good, darkly epic villains, especially if they have sarcastic or biting dialogue. I’ll leave you to debate who the villain of DESERT FRIENDS is: the sun who laughs maniacally as he fries the paloverde tree, or the guy who bulldozes through the desert and tells the friends “I don’t care.”

Fourth and absolutely the most important: my mom has always been the most supportive person in my corner, because she took these projects seriously and made sure I did too. She, along with my teachers, found the author in me and made sure he loved what he was doing. I can remember how much fun I had making up stories as a 7-year-old. At 27, I still feel that same unfiltered joy even as I write for career purposes rather than grades. I’ve never looked away, and neither has my mom.

This year, I challenge you to do more of what you love, whether it’s a hobby, a career, something in between, or something far off the rails. If you’re still looking for that, ask what you loved to do when you were seven. There are clues there!

Hold that passion, give it a big hug, and thank the people who always believed in you.

Happy New Year!

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

The Year of Calm

Hi Friends!

I wanna start off with a request: Stand or raise your hand if 2017 was a 10 out of 10 for you.

I see three people! Good job, three. You’re the most optimistic people I know. For all of you still sitting, I’m right next to you! This was a weird, weird year, and I wasn’t totally in love with it. I don’t have to describe it all to you. We know our news feeds have been trash fires almost every other day–so much that I took a “Facebook detox” for about three blissful weeks just to get away from some personal negativity.

And I also know that there’s been a lot of good. I hope you can agree and that you’ve pocketed some really great memories this year. Having celebrated my niece’s first birthday and been invited to serve on my first author panel recently, I’ve definitely had my “10/10” moments. But I won’t call it a 10/10 year. Not by a long shot.

I want to share my goals for 2018 and my “one-word theme”:

  1. Add my current novel-in-progress to my publishing contract.
  2. Complete one novel and one short story.
  3. Go somewhere I’ve never been before.

So here’s my one-word theme: CALM.

Let me clarify. I want my life to be full of exciting new adventures, and I don’t want 2018 to be the exception. I hope it’s filled with places I’ve never seen, things I’ve never done, and new opportunities. I hope I see many new faces. That is something I thrive off of.

It’s on the inside that I need to do some maintenance. I know it sounds cheesy! But I’ll share that sometimes my ambitions and my anxiety get in the way of a healthy mindset, and in turn, a healthy body, and sometimes at the expense of great opportunities. I sometimes worry that the world will open up beneath my feet if I don’t get x amount of words on a page or 50 hours into my work week, and then when I accomplish these goals, I ask “Did I do enough? Are these words strong enough? Will people actually like this?”

As an example, my family recently discussed the option for me to travel to Hawaii with them sometime in the new year. I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but without hesitation, I shook my head and said, “There’s no way I can make that happen right now.” My mind was already spinning before I could sit and process it. What about my schedule? Am I on any deadlines? Will so-and-so let me?

But if I can sit, calm down, and be present for a minute, and be okay with taking ten minutes of not doing something, the bigger picture comes clear. I have enough vacation days stored up for this. I’m not going to forget how to write if I sit down on a beach. I can scribble notes on an airplane if I’m really worried about forgetting them.

So 2018 will be the year of CALM. (Literally, I’m going to use the CALM app on my iPhone and hope to meditate around three times a week!) Sometimes we make the best progress by stepping out of the hustle-bustle and off our Facebook feeds, taking a deep breath, and allowing ourselves to recharge. I know that’s what I’m going to do.

Do you have a one-word theme for 2018, any goals, or something you hope to accomplish? (Or any books you can’t wait to read?) Feel free to share ’em with me and I’ll cheer you on! Whatever that is, I want to wish you the best as we close up shop in 2017 and get ready to start a brand new chapter on the calendar!

Happy reading,

Jacob Devlin Logo Small

New Short Story Coming Soon!

Hello warriors!

I’m excited to announce that at the end of this month, I’ll be releasing a very special story from the Florindale universe!

This story will be exclusive only to my newsletter subscribers with no current plans to release it beyond the December newsletter, and that’s what makes it so special! It’s one that’s been on my mind for years, and it’s near and dear to my heart. So I’ll give you just two hints on what to expect:

  • Chronologically, it takes place before the events of The Carver, but can be read at any point in the canon whether you’re brand new to the series or salivating for The Hummingbird. It is truly a standalone story.
  • The focus will be on young Pinocchio and his puppet days. But you’ll see a few other characters you might know and love as well 🙂

If you want to give it a read, all you have to do is be subscribed to my newsletter. This is the perfect time to subscribe, as 2018 is shaping up to be a jam-packed year! I’ll be sending this edition with the short story out on Christmas Eve, and THE HUMMINGBIRD will follow on February 20th!!!

Wishing you a happy Wednesday, and I hope to see you in Florindale soon!

Happy reading,

Jacob

Taming the Dragon (Or: The Art of Revision)

Happy December!

In Jacob news, I saw Coco recently and I wanted to recommend it to anybody who’s down to cry. I have this theory that Pixar uses our tears to water their gardens and that’s why Disneyland is so green and beautiful. But we love them for it, right?

In all seriousness, it’s a beautiful movie. The story, the themes and messaging, the graphics, and the representation of the Latino culture made me happy even if I walked out a little red-eyed! I couldn’t help but wonder about the writers and the process they took to develop the story. How many times did they go back to the storyboard? Did they write somebody out? Did those twists come to them naturally? How many lines were deleted and added after the initial draft?

We have to remember that writing is a fluid and ongoing process and not a one-and-done deal. Recently, we talked about Stephen King and how he nearly destroyed the original manuscript for Carrie. But what happened between the time his wife dug it out of the trash and the first time it was bound into a book? I can’t profess to know much time passed for him, but I can imagine there was quite a bit of work in between, just as the screenplay for Coco probably had to undergo its own share of narrative revisions.

I love when people ask me what my own revision process looks like, because it’s honestly my favorite part of the cycle. Everybody does it differently. Some swear by a three-draft method where it should only take three major revisions to get your manuscript market-ready. I’ve seen a checklist that goes through somewhere around 30 passes. I see merit in both, because you have to use what works for you! For what it’s worth, here’s what do:

  • After I type “THE END”, I put the manuscript into a different font than what I wrote in and then format it to my own liking, usually double-space and Garamond or Times New Roman. Then I save a PDF and pay to have it printed, spiral-bound, and shipped to me. Seeing it bound and spanning a thick stack of paper gives me that happy boost–a tangible sense that I’ve accomplished a major step already. Plus, I really recommend paper as opposed to the machine for that first revision (call me a Luddite if you must!) There’s something almost cathartic and valuable in taking an actual red pen, post-its, highlighters, and marking that bad boy up!
  • The first pass is just me reading for glaring big-picture issues: plot holes, continuity errors, major lapses in characterization, and pace issues. When I see something that needs a change, I slap a post-it on the page. In fact, I slapped one on page one of my current WIP: “rewrite in 1st person POV.” Naturally, this means the first revision takes the longest and requires the biggest changes!
  • Once I make these major changes, I feel ready to show it to betas who can help me assess the big picture. It’s crucial to get outside feedback. Have you ever played Cranium, where it asks you to do something like sing a simple and well-known song using only the syllable “doo”, and suddenly you’re frustrated that your buddy can’t tell you’re “dooing” Happy Birthday? “How can you not know this?” you ask. Of course he’s heard the song a million times, but he’s hearing it in a brand new context and all the info you need is at the forefront of your mind. When you reread your own work, you’re listening to yourself “dooing” Happy Birthday, so of course it makes sense. But other people have to understand you, too. So you ask for feedback. I usually get a couple friends I trust, plus an equal amount of people I’ve never met before, like a professional beta reader who is not invested in my emotional well-being or obligated to be nice to me. When the feedback comes in, I start taking notes and figure out where it all converges. That’s where my attention needs to go in the next draft. I always have to remember to take it with a grain of salt, because it’s not going to come back perfect! 🙂

  • You may have to do this a couple times or find somebody who’s willing to reread your changes, but over time, you’ll start to close all those big gaps. Your manuscript only gets better! Once all those gaps close, the next drafts are about sentence fluency and the flow of the book. I recommend reading aloud. It’ll take a long time, but it’s the best way to catch those places where somebody else might stumble! The sand castle can stand on its own now, but you want it smooth, right? Take your shovel, pat it down, shave off those lumps, and make the words sing.
  • Crutch word time! I run the whole manuscript through a word analyzer and figure out what I’m saying too often. It’s usually a lot of just, so, very, suddenly, was, and even. Find your crutch words, cut them out, and that will usually bring your word count to a submittable length.
  • After this, I close my eyes and hit send. This is right about where I was when I submitted THE CARVER, THE UNSEEN, and THE HUMMINGBIRD. Of course, once the publishers get involved, that kicks off another couple rounds of work, but if you land somebody great, they’ll help you and tell you exactly what they’re looking for while also keeping true to your vision.

Again, none of this is set in stone. It’s different for everybody. While this process has worked well for me, I definitely wonder what kind of work goes into Coco or my own favorite books!

Does your process look any different? Let me know in the comments if you have a revision ritual you want to share!