NaNoWhatMo?

It’s official! NaNoWriMo starts in less than a week, which means it’s time to find your favorite writers and give them hugs or send them snacks and inspiration. Throughout the month of November, many of us are going to be bleeding out our fingertips to write the stories of our hearts. It’s National Novel Writing Month, and tens of thousands of writers across the country will be participating.

I’ve had this exact conversation with more individuals than I can remember now:

Person: “Wow, you write books? How cool! I’ve always wanted to write a book. When I have time, I will.”

Me: “Oh, hey, you should think about signing up for NaNoWriMo this year.”

Person: “NaNoWhatMo?”

Me: “NaNoWriMo! It’s a yearly event and a non-profit organization that encourages you to write a novel in a month, or at least make progress and establish a habit.”

Person: ” . . . oh. Yeah, no. I could never write a novel in a month. That’s crazy!”

A: Yes, perhaps a little. All writing is a little crazy. We sit at a keyboard or a pad of paper and manipulate 26 letters in infinite combinations with the goal of creating vivid shared hallucinations. It’s fantastic.

B: NOBODY inherently has time to write a novel. Many of the writers who have done so did not have any more time than you do. Time is a finite economy and we all make do with the little pockets we can scrounge. More on this in a blog post I made last year. The Sparknotes version: If you are waiting for that magic moment to open up when the stars will align and you’ll have ALL the inspiration and ALL the time, you will never write your novel. *puts down the megaphone and steps off soapbox*

C: Truth, homie! Writing a novel is difficult. Writing a novel in a month is SUPA HARD. It can be done, but I certainly have never done it before. In fact, I’ve never even hit the 50,000 word goal that we’re “supposed” to hit during NaNoWriMo. That’s why I use the month to taken in all the creative juices I can and attempt to make significant progress on some sort of project. I pull up my playlists, print out photos of my “fan castings” or settings, light candles that smell like Florindale Square or the ocean or the leather goods someone might find in my world, and I simply add as many words as I can. My record is probably somewhere over 30,000. Fifty K? I can only dream for now.

But, whether I know I can write 50,000 words or 500 words in a month, I could never pass up the opportunity to move 500 words closer to typing “THE END.” After all, I find the revision process a whole lot more fun than the first draft process, and every year I can’t wait to print out that beautifully-spiral-bound-but-terribly-written first draft so I can begin to splatter the pages with red ink and make them sing. (Oh, and nothing I’ve written in November has ever been publishable until at least June or July!)

So, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge into the writing waters “when you have the time”, why not get started this November and see if you can write half a novel? A few chapters? An outline? Even if you finish with a basic description of a main character and a random sentence that belongs somewhere in the middle, that’s something you didn’t have in October.

I’m here to tell you: You have a book inside of you, you can bring it out, and it is valuable.

You’ve got this!

Cheers,

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San Diego Comic Con Recap: 2018!

Hey Friends,

If you’ve been keeping up with anything “pop culture” this week, be it through Entertainment Weekly, the Conan show, or even just your Facebook timeline, I’m sure you know my favorite “holiday” just ended: San Diego Comic Con!

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Every year has had its share of amazing memories, and it’s hard to pick a favorite moment since I started going in 2015. This year, I don’t even know if I can pick a favorite day! As always, I left feeling both exhausted and rejuvenated. My body is tired, but my heart and mind are filled with love for the power of creativity–love for a yearly phenomenon in which thousands of people of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and life stories come together to share a creative passion. Maybe that’s for books, film, graphic arts, or any of the various rabbit holes of SDCC that I probably haven’t even explored: gaming, tech, cosplay, the scientific panels, etc.

Here are some of the highlights from my fourth year at SDCC.

Wednesday

“Preview day”! I wasn’t a badge holder for Preview Day, but as a volunteer, I got to work the Art Show! I wasn’t allowed to snap photos for obvious reasons, but there was at least one artist whose work I was sure I’d seen before, and it was fun getting to help him unload his van and carry his paintings to the Marriott. There was also an interesting man who made wooden robot figurines and spent most of his time talking to them. I guess all of us creative types are strange in our own ways?

When I finished my shift, I walked around San Diego a bit and scoped out the off-sites and wraps they were setting up for the weekend!

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Thursday

The real “day one”! I actually spent a lot of time retracing some of those off-sites once they opened, and there were a lot of really great ones this year. The Good Place was one of my favorites. You start with a questionnaire about your morals: Yes, I have spoiled a movie for someone before (sorry…); No, I have NEVER reheated fish in an office microwave, how could you even accuse me of such a thing?! Based on my answers, I got to move into The Good Place where a merry-go-round, a super chipper mailman, a cupcake lady, and a bunch of other “neighbors” were there to welcome us to their neighborhood. Among them was a lady who told me she was supposed to go to the Bad Place and she needed my help keeping her secret, and if she could just see my phone, she needed to take a photo of me to commemorate my time in The Good Place. When I got that phone back, I had 8 selfies just like this:

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And then they all started fighting and it turns out we weren’t supposed to be in The Good Place at all, so we had to leave before the Architect came to kick us out. Darn.

Amazon also promoted the heck out of the upcoming Jack Ryan show, with two huge building wraps and a HUGE off-site I only scraped the surface of. Seriously, they brought their A-game, with a huge escape room where you could win a Fire stick just for participating, an “analyst physical training” course where 100 people a day completed a VR obstacle course that ended in them zip-lining out of a helicopter, and a bazaar where if you completed a puzzle, they’d give you a cool bag and a sweet water bottle. They also gave out free ice cream, water bottles, and fruit. So yeah, they really want you to watch Jack Ryan, and because John Krasinski is awesome, I was already planning on watching it anyway!

Oh! And John Barrowman from Arrow and Doctor Who signed an autograph for me! Super nice guy!

Friday

Friday was so much fun! This was the day I saw a very dedicated group of cosplayers dressed like the Scooby-Doo gang, and overheard this candid conversation:

  • Fred: *yawns* “So what do you guys think? Do we wanna do Ghost Busters first?”
  • Daphne: “Sure! That’s a thing we want to do, right?”
  • Shaggy: “I’m gonna check out the taco food truck. I’ll meet you there.”

I also got to be in the “Marvel Group Hug.” Full disclosure, group physical contact with a bunch of strangers sounded terrible to me, but I saw “free shirt!” on the sign and registered right away. It turns out this Group Hug wasn’t a physical embrace but a simple discussion with about 10 other people and a Marvel rep so we could sort out all of our “feels” about Infinity War. We discussed that “I don’t wanna go” scene, the fate of the Guardians, Bearded Cap vs. Non-Bearded Cap, and then the rep gave us donuts and shirts and showed us a deleted scene from the movie. Yay! I also had to sign a bunch of releases and sit by cameras and stuff, so watch for me on the Blu-Ray extras! (Just kidding–I don’t know what Marvel Studios is doing with the footage!)

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I also saw a few panels in Ballroom 20 that day: Sissy Spacek and Bill Skaarsgard for Castle Rock, a new Stephen King show coming to Hulu, and the “Warriors of Prime Time” panel featuring Benedict Wong, Jay Hernandez, Santiago Cabrera, and a few others.

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Saturday

Three highlights from Saturday:

  1. The Manifest premiere and panel featuring Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh. The pilot was amazing, and this is a show I’m going to get really into this fall! I have a feeling it’s going to resonate with LOST fans.
  2. I played a 15-minute demo of Kingdom Hearts III, specifically the intro to the Toy Story world! I confess the controls felt a little weird at times and felt very demo-ish (it was also XBox which I’m not used to), but the magic was all about diving back into this universe and dusting off those memories of the first time I played Kingdom Hearts as a 5th grader. I’m 27 now, and the dude next to me looked like my physician and had to have been at least 40. We’ve been waiting all our lives to start bashing Heartless again!
  3. I made it into Hall H for two panels! The first was all about “Women Who Kick Ass,” featuring Chloe Bennett, Amandla Stenberg, Regina King, Jodie Whitaker, and Camila Mendez, and the following panel was all about Deadpool 2 and the “super duper extended cut” they’ll be releasing soon. Seeing Ryan Reynolds was probably the highlight this year!

Overall

There’s tons of great programming on Sunday as well, but I had to catch an early flight and opt out of the last day! I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface of everything that happened this weekend! I didn’t even mention that I was signed up for a scavenger hunt and placed around 17 out of 120 participants. There were close to 200 tasks, ranging from easy to hard to embarrassing:

  • Easy: “Pose with a Deadpool cosplayer!” (This is actually kind of hard once you start looking for them… otherwise they’re everywhere.)
  • Slightly harder: “Get arrested by a Stormtrooper.”
  • Hard: “Kill Jon Snow.” (He actually wasn’t that big of a cosplay this year!)
  • Embarrassing: “Start a rousing sing-a-long of the “500 Miles” song.” “Take an awkward prom photo in front of the convention center!”
  • Impossible: “Spot a celebrity in a hotel elevator. Take a selfie with them.”

Would do the hunt again, hands-down!

This isn’t the rest of the photos, but I think this assortment summarizes SDCC 2018 quite nicely. Until next year!

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The Hummingbird v. 2.0: Cover Reveal #3!

Hey friends!

I’ll cut right to the fun stuff: You’ve already seen the first two covers for the new and improved Carver Trilogy, and all week long I’ve been itching to release the third and final cover! I’m just going to drop it right here for ya:

Here we have a glimpse of Neverland, pirate ships, a dragon, some of the towers from Avoria’s Citadel, and perhaps my favorite element of this cover: We finally have a look at Enzo himself!

The books themselves are in formatting, and once that step is complete, I’ll be working to hard to get these live and ready for your hands. I have a feeling they’re going to look pretty awesome in person, especially when you put them all together!

This week to celebrate the release of all three covers, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon credit to one random winner. Entry is simple:

  1. Follow my Facebook page.
  2. Add ROSES IN THE DRAGON’S DEN, my upcoming February release, to your Goodreads list.
  3. Comment on this blog post and tell me what your favorite fairy tale retelling is, or any fairy tale/myth that you would like to see retold in the future! Or, just tell me what you think of these covers!!

I will choose a winner in a week!

Happy reading!

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The Carver v. 2.0: Cover Reveal #1!

Good morning, friends!

I know I’ve been promising you all an update on the new branding and re-release of THE CARVER for a couple months now, and I was going to hold off until I closed the sales for the old cover and made my Make A Wish donation, but well, I just couldn’t hold it any longer! How ’bout now?

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Things I love about this cover:

  • The way the New York skyline bleeds into The Woodlands, signifying that we’re in our own backyard and an uncharted one at the same time, that this story spans entire worlds near and far.
  • That tiny silhouette against the Empire State Building.
  • The strange dark blue pattern, signaling that this is not an everyday story and that something dark and epic is about to go down…
  • The new font, dark enough to be mysterious; whimsical enough to say, “But don’t take this too seriously 😉
  • The everything though.

This was done by the amazing Kim G and is only the first of three! I’ll be revealing one new cover every Tuesday in the month of June, so come back on the 19th for THE UNSEEN!

Still waiting on an official timeline for the re-release, but I am going to make every effort to have this out by September for you to hold in your hands! I promise to keep you posted!

In the meantime, I’m giving you an opportunity to win one of three sets of eight character trading cards for my next book, ROSES IN THE DRAGON’S DEN! I’ll post a new challenge with every reveal, though most of them will involve sharing and following 🙂 This week, all you have to do for a chance to win is:

  1. Be following me on Facebook and/or Instagram!
  2. Comment on the cover reveal post on Facebook or Instagram!
  3. Share the cover on your own Facebook or Instagram, and
  4. Tag me in your post!

Pretty easy, right? Every week, in June, one person will win a set of trading cards, which contain a clue about one surviving character from THE CARVER TRILOGY who will make an appearance in ROSES. Yes, these books share a universe! Here’s one of the new characters!

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Carlos “Charlie” Rosas is one of the main protagonists in ROSES IN THE DRAGON’S DEN. He’s twelve years old, lives in Tucson, AZ, and might have been having a much better summer if he weren’t stuck having to rescue his Uncle Diego from a dangerous fire-breathing monster. It’s safe to say his summer is anything but boring, though. Right?

What do you all think of the new cover, and of this new character reveal? Feel free to sound off in the comments! Happy Reading!

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The Carver’s Last Hurrah!

Howdy chums!

I hope everybody had a nice weekend and had the opportunity to do something nice on Memorial Day. Shout-out to our heroes and veterans out there! We thank you for your service!

I have so much I want to tell you today, especially about Phoenix Comic Fest! If I get into a full recap, I’ll be sitting here writing for days and you’ll likely get super bored, so here’s the quick version:

  1. I sold a lot of books and ate a lot of Mexican food, oh and a little bit of Thai cuisine, too. Katie Salidas and Jenna Johnson are the most excellent con crew I can think of off the top of my head!
  2. Michael Rooker walked into our booth just because he can do that and he’s awesome. It happened so fast that I didn’t get a picture with him, although I DID offer him a slice of pizza . . .
  3. Dr. Strange, Star-Lord, and Bob Ross Deadpool seem to be the most popular cosplay right now, finally edging out Ledger Joker, Leto Joker, and Jon Snow. But only by a little! Although, I have to say I think this Hogwarts crew was my personal favorite . . . Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing

And with the end of Comic Fest, it’s also the end of a wonderful era: The original print run for The Carver is at an end. I am now actively phasing out the mirror covers, and I recently got my first preview of the new look. I promise you it’s phenomenal–it’s very different and very new, while also holding true to the thematic mood and overall feel of the book. A VERY worthy and replacement for the original branding I loved so much!

For now though, I need to phase out the rest of my stock and get the original books into good hands: yours! As a last hurrah for the stock, I am offering signed and personalized copies, and even some annotated copies for readers who want a glimpse into my thought process and some additional commentary. These will make great gifts and summer reading, and for every order placed on or before June 15, I am pledging to donate half the proceeds (after the cost of shipping) to Make A Wish ArizonaSo, every order supports an indie writer, a child who could use a wish right now, and gives you a fun beach read for the summer. It’s like having a triple chocolate cake all to yourself, with none of the guilt and all of the yum!

You can order HERE while supplies last. Orders are first-come-first-served, and I should tell you that at the time I am writing this, there are only three copies of The Hummingbird left! So if you’re looking for a full set or the finale on its own, order fast! I’ll be following up with PayPal invoices a day or two later 🙂

Lastly, my newsletter subscribers will be the first to see the new cover VERY SOON, so if you’re not on the official newsletter (it’s different from this blog and just a little more exclusive!), you can subscribe here!

Happy Reading!

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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,

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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