Last month, I was able to share the news about my middle grade mystery series and the cover for the first book, Partners in Crime. Well, now, I can share all three covers! It's a covernanza! A covercopia! Okay, I'll stop and just show them to you.
Click on any of the images to see them in a larger size.
Partners in Crime releases 5/1/12, Sleepover Stakeout on 6/1/12, and Framed & Dangerous on 7/1/12. And the first two are available for pre-order now!
I have amazing, happy-making news, and I’m going to attempt to remain professional throughout this blog post. Ahem.
Clarity has been optioned for television!
Kim Harrington's CLARITY, in which a teenage girl uses her visions to track a murderer and defend her brother's innocence, to Warner Brothers TV by Shari Smiley at CAA, on behalf of Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.
I’ve actually been sitting on this news for months, waiting for things to get signed and official. And every time someone mentioned to me, “I think Clarity would make a great TV show,” I smiled and nodded, but inside I was all ZOMG ME TOO I WISH I COULD TELL YOU MY SECRET BUT I CAN’T.**
And now I can! Yay!
So, this doesn’t mean Clarity will definitely become a show. (BUT HOW FREAKING AWESOME WOULD THAT BE?***) It’s just optioned right now. A gazillion other things have to happen for the show to become reality (like a pilot script, casting, shooting the pilot, a network pick-up, etc.). All these things I know nothing about and have nothing to do with. But, seriously guys, our Clare could not be in better hands. Warner Brothers Television is a TV powerhouse. Their production history includes some of my all-time favorites: The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars, Pretty Little Liars, and a gazillion other awesome shows. I am thrilled beyond words.****
Giveaway alert! Closed! Dana is the winner! To celebrate my good news, I’m giving away a signed/personalized hardcover of Clarity to anyone, anywhere. To enter, just leave a comment below letting me know what you think about the possibility of a Clarity TV show. Winner picked at random on 11/22.
*Okay, that wasn’t professional. **Admittedly, the use of ZOMG isn’t professional either. ***I would be this show’s biggest fangirl. ****I am dancing in my living room.
I'm delighted to share the details about my middle grade mystery series, SLEUTH OR DARE. There will be three books, released back to back in Summer 2012. How's that for exciting? And here are the awesomely awesome titles:
Sleuth or Dare #1: Partners in Crime (Scholastic, May 2012)
Sleuth or Dare #2: Sleepover Stakeout (Scholastic, June 2012)
Sleuth or Dare #3: Framed & Dangerous (Scholastic, July 2012)
And here's the cover for the first book!
(click for a bigger version)
Isn't that fantastic? I love everything about it. The colors, the spooky tree, my girls with their flashlights. (That's Darcy on the left and Norah on the right.) It's just perfect. Erwin Madrid created the cover art. You can check out his website for more of his amazing work.
In book one, for a class project, Norah and Darcy create a website for a fake detective agency. But then that fake agency gets an email about a real case.
Here's the official synopsis:
When best friends Darcy and Norah have to create a fake business for a school assignment, they come up with a great idea: a detective agency! Darcy loves mysteries, and Norah likes helping people, so it's a perfect fit.
But then their pretend agency gets a real case. Someone is missing, and it's up to Darcy and Norah to take on the search. Unfortunately, there's someone else out there who doesn't want the two detectives stirring up any trouble. . . .
With the help of hidden clues, spy gadgets, and trusted friends, can Darcy and Norah crack the case in time?
Book #1 can be pre-ordered now from your local independent bookstore, Amazon, or B&N.
I'll share the covers and descriptions of books two and three when I get the okay.
The books feature suspenseful mysteries, friendship dynamics, and...of course...there's a boy. My main characters, Norah and Darcy, are nerds and proud of it. And they have earned a permanent place in my heart. I think the books are a lot of fun and I hope you will, too!
Whoops. That headline sounds a little like a tampon commercial, but I’m not going to stop and change it right now. I’m going to keep going because thoughts are pouring from my brain through my fingers and spilling onto the keyboard. If I stop to think of a new headline, I might not be able to get back into this thought-process that’s working on overdrive right now. So I'll keep typing and promise myself I’ll fix the headline later.
The above paragraph is completely true, but it’s also the writing tip I want to share with you today.
Disclaimer: when I (rarely) share writing tips, it’s a YMMV thing. This is what works for me. It may not work for you. I don’t know everything. In fact, most days I feel like I know nothing. So take it for what it’s worth. (A quarter? Fitty cent?)
Back to business. When I’m drafting, sometimes I find myself really cranking out a scene. The dialog is snappy. The setting is working. The suspense is building. But then I start to type the next sentence and realize I need something that would make me stop for a few minutes. Maybe it’s a fact I need to research. Or just something simple like a street name. Or the name of a minor character who just made his first appearance in the book.
I do not stop and figure out what to name this person.
I insert a code into the book, marking it as something I need to come back to later.
My code is XXX. For example, a line in my first draft might read: I took a left onto XXX Road with my tires screeching.
It’s not necessary that I know the name of the road right now. It’s not worth breaking my flow to stop and figure out what to call it. Because I could spend five minutes on that, then try to get back into the scene and find that my flow is blocked. And then take more time to get back into the groove I’d been in before I'd stopped.
Instead, I leave the XXX and keep going until I’ve either finished the scene or that burst of energy is spent. I usually start each day by reading and editing what I wrote the day before. This is usually when I fill in the XXX. Or I can always do a search in the document for XXX and find the places I need to fix. (This is why I chose XXX as my code. It’s never going to show up in a word. At least, not in my books. Tee hee.)
So that’s my little writing tip for the day. And lastly, don’t count on remembering that you need to go back and fix something. Insert a code. That way you don’t end up leaving something in that should have been changed.
This wasn’t supposed to happen for a couple more months (with a contest and a lot more hoopla) but I woke up this morning to find the cover is out there early on B&N, Goodreads, and other places. And you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, so after a flurry of emails I have the okay to reveal the pretty today!
Here is the beautiful cover for Clarity’s sequel, Perception!
(Click on the image to see a larger version of the pretty!)
I thought it would be hard for the wonderful folks at Scholastic to come up with a cover as beautiful as Clarity’s, but I think they actually surpassed it.
I adore Clare’s hair in this photo. And the way the model is looking over her shoulder with the woods in the background gives that sense of danger. (Tease: this is actually a scene in the book.) And birds! This cover has forest birds instead of seagulls. And it still has those magical lights around Clare’s hair. I could go on and on. I love, love, love it.
What do you think?
Perception comes out in March 2012, but in the meantime you can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.
And now for the official synopsis!
This hotly anticipated sequel to CLARITY delivers another dark, paranormal mystery.
When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?
Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.
Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.
But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?
One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.
Ooooooooh. :) I'm excited to hear what you guys think!
So apparently in my son’s third grade classroom all the students have been working on their own picture books. Yesterday we got to see Lil’ Guy’s work. Anyone who knows me well will not be surprised to find that it involved the Boston Bruins. It’s so cute, I have to share.
You can click on each image to see a larger size. And I’ll transcribe beneath each one because, you know, eight-year-old boy handwriting.
The title is I Know A Stadium.
I know a stadium where the players play hockey. In a stadium where Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Nathan Horton play.
I know a stadium that Bobby Orr will never forget. Where hockey legends skate with a rubber puck on the frosty, solid white ice.
I know a stadium where over 18,000 people go to see the game and go to the train station on the first floor. Where hockey players shoot, and light the lamp. HOOOONK! HOOOONK! (I love the how the goalie has a sad face and is all NO!)
I know a stadium where they take faceoffs, pass, and check hard into the glass boards. (This is by far my favorite illustration. That Bruin is delighted to be bringing the pain. It must be Marchand.)
I know a stadium in Boston near the Fours Restaurant where the fans wear their jerseys and eat before the game.
I know a stadium where fans buy juicy hot dogs, #1 foam fingers, rubber pucks, pink cotton candy, and a lot of other things.
I know a stadium where the black and gold go on a quest for the cup. They try to win the championship.
I know a stadium which is the home of the big and bad Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics. That stadium is T.D. Garden.
Aww! This is now my new favorite book. So should I let him stay up past his bedtime tonight to watch the entire game?
There are two kinds of writer’s block and both suck. Suckage #1: You have no work-in-progress and you can’t figure out what to write. Suckage #2: You’re stuck in your current work-in-progress.
Maybe the same methods can help both types of writer’s block, but I’m going to focus today on the second kind.
So you’re in the middle of your novel and…you have no idea what happens next. *gulp* Or you’re editing and you realized a giant supermassive plot hole exists in your story and you have no idea how to fix it.
First, take a deep breath. Don’t freak out. You’re a smart dude/dudess and you will figure this out. And—good news—I have the cure!
The cure is…a quiet mind.
When you’re sitting, staring at the page on your computer screen, pounding your forehead, yelling WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT…the answer is not going to come to you.
Have you ever had this happen? You spend all day squeezing out a measly 200 words. You must have written and rewritten the same paragraph ten times. You can’t figure out how to fix this scene. You go to bed frustrated and feeling kind of hopeless. You spent eight hours with Microsoft Word open and got nothing done. Then…while you’re lying there drifting off, almost asleep…BAM. The answer comes.
Why is it that you couldn’t figure out the scene while you were working on it, but your mind came up with the answer while you were lying in bed not even consciously thinking about the book? Because your mind was quiet. It does interesting work while quiet.
I asked my pal Sarah Fine about it. She is both a YA writer and a psychologist who writes this awesomely awesome blog. She said, "It's possible to get 'stuck' in a kind of cognitive loop that prevents you from thinking outside the box. If you're staring at that ms--all the words you've already written, all the thoughts you've already gotten out--it might be harder to think outside that frame you've built for yourself. When you feel stuck like that, getting away and doing something that's fairly 'empty' of intensive cognitive demands could give your brain the space to get the ideas flowing again."
But Sarah warns, "Even mindless activities won't help if you fill them up with anxious thoughts--so you really have to turn it off."
So what if you don’t want to wait until bedtime to fix this scene? Is there any way to get into that quiet mind state now? Glad you asked! There is!
Here are some examples that have worked for me:
- Mindless exercise. Not chatting with people at the gym. Not watching TV while on the treadmill. Go outside and walk for 20-30 minutes. Leave your iPod at home. Your mind doesn’t need to be singing along with a song. It needs to be set free. Walk at a swift pace and let your mind wander. Let it go where it wants to go.
- Shower/bath. I don’t know what it is about the shower, but I get my best ideas in there! I think it’s because it’s an automatic activity. I don’t need to use much brain power since it’s something I do every day and I’m used to it. My mind is not focused on anything. It’s free.
- Take a drive. Alone. Radio off. Not a stressful city drive or a scenic pretty route. Something monotonous like a highway. This one has worked for me so many times. Once I even pulled over to take notes on a Panera napkin I picked up off the car floor. (It was all I had!)
These are just a few examples on how to get your mind into that open, quiet state. YMMV. You may find other methods that work for you. Please share in the comments!
I spent the last four days in Salem, MA for the NECRWA conference. I met up with fellow YA authors Sonia Gensler and Maurissa Guibord. We didn't have much fun because we're Serious Writers who take ourselves Very Seriously.
Yeah. So that happened.
We had a blast! On Friday we had lovely weather so we walked around Salem and took in some of the historic sites, including the Witch Trials Memorial and the Old Burying Point Cemetery. This may sound morbid, but I found them very inspirational.
This headstone from 1688 is for a young man who "had seen but Nineteen Winters in the World." Kind of a sad and haunting way to put it. It was also apparently in fashion to have those creepy angel skeletons on your headstones in the 17th century because most stones had them.
We stayed in a "haunted" hotel but none of us had any uninvited visitors. It's actually a historic home built in 1834 that was restored and turned into a hotel. Very cool.
My non-haunted room.
Sonia and Maurissa were lovely company and we shared some great talks over meals. And, yeah, it was a conference, so we attended many panels. (I didn't take pictures of those so that's why this is only a "kind of" recap.) And when I got the crazy idea that we should go into a vintage photo shop and dress up in witch costumes, they were great sports about it. We were laughing so hard, you probably heard us...wherever you are.
But I'm back now. All good things...
...must come to an end.
For more pictures of us being ridiculous, check out my Facebook page.
Those who were at my launch party for Clarity may remember that, during the Q&A, my eight-year-old raised his hand and declared that it was “unacceptable” that he wasn’t allowed to read my book yet and started trying to negotiate an earlier age than the one we’d agreed upon. Everyone busted out laughing. It was probably the highlight of the day for many people. That little spotlight stealer!
Well, now he has good news. He’s not old enough to read the Clarity series, but he’s old enough for my next series.
Author of CLARITY Kim Harrington's untitled girls detective agency series, about two smart girls who, for a class project, create a website for a fake detective agency, but then that fake agency gets an email about a real case, to Aimee Friedman at Scholastic, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2012, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.
The books will be released back-to-back over three months in Summer 2012. I am so excited! And busy! :) I’m having a blast writing the first book. I love these characters so much. And I can’t wait to share them with you next year.
When you start a novel, you have to make a couple broad decisions about setting.
First: Should your work take place in an everytown? Something most readers can relate to. Or a specific setting? Somewhere to draw readers into.
Second: Do you want a real setting? NYC, Boston, etc. Or a fake or fictionalized setting?
I don’t think any choice is better than the other, it’s all about the execution and what’s right for that particular work.
For Clarity, I knew I wanted the setting to be an important part of the book, almost like another character. Due to the nature of my main character’s family business, I thought a tourist town would work well. I chose Cape Cod simply because I know it well and love it. My father is from Hyannis and has told me stories about the pros and cons of being a teenager in a tourist town. I grew up about 40 minutes from the bridge so we spent tons of weekends down there, especially in the summer. And I do the same with my own family today.
But now that my heart was set on Cape Cod, I had another decision to make. Real town or fake? If I went real, I probably would have gone with South Yarmouth or Hyannis. But I decided to create a fictional town. (Locals may be able to identify some of real places that inspired the settings, though!)
My main reason was that there were particular places I wanted to write into the book that did not exist in real life. And I know it takes some readers out of the story if they run up against a place in a real town that does not exist in reality. (For instance, my father went cuckoo bananas a few years ago because a book put an MBTA station in a town where there is no station. Yes, it was fiction. And Dad loved the book. But he couldn’t get over this fictional MBTA station.)
So I created the town of Eastport, MA. I was free to use some real spots on the Cape (from any town) and invent new places. For example, the 7-Eleven in chapter two is the 7-Eleven in West Yarmouth.
First, a reminder that you only have one more week to enter my contest!
On Saturday, I had my release party for Clarity at Tatnuck Booksellers…and it rocked! I am so thankful for all the family, friends, authors, bloggers, and readers who came out to celebrate with me. We sold out (80 books!) and had a blast! On to the pics….
When we arrived, my husband was excited to find the first pile of Clarity books.
I did a book talk, reading, and Q&A.
Then, on to the fun! While I signed books, the lovely Jen did tarot card readings. And my best friend brought a Clarity cake! (Even though I killed her namesake in my book.)
Awesome Editor came!
The Boston Blogger Entourage (Gail, Danielle, Danielle, Laura, and many more not pictured) came wearing T-shirts, which was SO COOL! And they had some made for a few of my family/friends too.
With my parents, who were just a tad proud. (Okay, more than a tad.)
The cutest picture of all is a candid of my eight-year-old chatting up my editor in what looks like a very serious conversation. But I don’t put pics of him on the interwebs, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The cuteness!
He also raised his hand during the Q&A to ask a question and I was horrified. Because, as any parent knows, eight-year-olds are unpredictable and can literally say ANYTHING. But he merely wanted to know if he could read Clarity at age ten because waiting until age twelve was “unacceptable.” I told him that Scholastic rated it 14+ so he’s lucky I’m letting him read it at twelve. :)
It was a great day, and I want to again thank everyone who came, a thousand times over. Thank you!
First, I want to send out a big giant thanks to everyone who has sent me messages on Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. about Clarity. It’s amazing to me that this file from my computer is now a real book that people are excited about. People I’m not related to. People I don’t have blackmail against! That is 10,000 kinds of awesome. So thanks. :)
This has been a dream of mine since I was old enough to hold a pencil. And today it’s finally coming true. So I’m a bit emotional.
No, not that kind of emotional.
That’s better, Dawson. Thanks.
So today I release Clarity into the wild. If Clarity is not available in your favorite bookstore, please ask them to order it. (Or it might just be hiding in a box in the back and they haven’t put it out yet. Please ask!) If you’re a New Englander, consider attending one of my signings. If you can’t attend one of those, but would still like your book signed, you can get a bookplate.
Note: This contest has ended. Thanks!
And now I celebrate with a CONTEST!!! Buy Clarity, take a picture of yourself with your Clarity (hardcover only), email the photo to me at [redacted], and I’ll enter you in my new contest. There will be two winners!
The first winner will receive...an ARC (advanced reading copy) of Meg Cabot's new book Abandon! That's right. The Queen of Awesome has a new trilogy coming and you can read the first book before you can buy it!
The grand prize winner will receive:
- an ARC of Meg Cabot's Abandon (because I got two and it's double awesome),
- an ARC of Allison van Diepen's The Vampire Stalker,
- an ARC of Veronica Roth's Divergent,
- an ARC of Gayle Forman's Where She Went,
- signed Clarity swag,
- and a massive amount of Elevensies (2011 YA/MG Debut Author Group) swag (some signed). Added: Plus a Clarity T-shirt from my release party! Only a few of these exist!
Awesome, right? Enter away, and please pass the word on about the contest. The last day to enter is 3/14/11. The winner will be chosen at random on 3/15/11.
I truly appreciate everyone who has helped to get the word out about Clarity via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and the truly awesome kidlit blogosphere. Your excitement is contagious—especially to me. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
First off, CLARITY comes out one week from today! ZOMG, freak out, happy dance!
Now that that’s out of the way…back to the post.
Last month I talked about The Idea Factory and how writers can find inspiration almost anywhere. Today, I’m going to specifically detail how CLARITY came to be! (Note: there are details below, but no real spoilers. Nothing you wouldn’t learn from the book’s summary and the first two chapters.)
Some ideas come to you fully formed. In one flash of inspiration you have the characters, setting, plot, everything.
CLARITY was not one of these ideas.
No, CLARITY came from me playing my favorite game: come up with characters you love and adore, and then figure out the most fitting ways to torture them.
But let me first step back to the initial moment of inspiration. It was one line.* It came to me out of blue in a sort of snarky, sarcastic voice. (And, no, I wasn’t talking to myself! Jeez! Me? Snarky and sarcastic? Never!) I started wondering who would say something like that and why. And I came up with this teenage girl and her family of “freaks.”
I immediately knew I wanted to set the book in a tourist town where the psychics ran a family business out of their home. This was inspired by…seeing psychic family businesses run out of homes in tourist towns. Brilliant! Anyway, I also quickly decided to set the story on Cape Cod. (Mainly because of all the time I’ve spent there, but I’m going to go further into the how and why in a future blog post on settings.)
So I filled the characters out and gave them some complexity, strengths, and flaws.
Clare is tough, defensive and uses words like bullets. After years of being the bullied outcast “freak girl” in town, her hard outer layer is the shield she uses to protect herself. But underneath she wants the same things any girl wants. And she loves her mother and brother LIKE WHOA. Even when they bicker.
Starla, the matriarch of the clan, looks like a free-spirited hippie on the outside, but she takes the family business very seriously. She may not be the strongest person at times, but she loves her children more than anything on earth.
Perry, Clare’s brother, is a lovable man-whore. He goes through tourist girls like disposable paper cups, but he is a loyal best friend, would do anything to protect his little sister, and steps up to the plate as man of the house when he’s needed.
Okay, I love these characters. Time to torture them.
I threw a dead body in because that’s how I roll. And then I had Clare pulled into the murder investigation, forced to use her gift and to interact with the ex-boyfriend she wants to hate and a new guy with a built-in conflict of his own.
Then, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Her brother becomes the main suspect.
The rest of the plot grew from that. At each twist and turn I asked myself, what’s the worst thing that could happen now? And then I did it. Oh, those poor characters. I torture because I love.
And that’s how CLARITY was conceived, grew, and is now one week from being released into the wild!
*The one line that started it all is now the last line of chapter two. Also, this was my original title of the novel. I thought it was fresh, snarky and BRILLIANT. Then my editor said it kind of reminded her of the circus and I was like…crap on a stick, she’s right. That’s one of the many reasons editors rule. They stop you from giving your un-circus books circus-y titles.
I thought it might be cool to talk about how I came up with the names of my main characters in CLARITY.
For most characters, I flip through the white pages for last name inspiration and baby name websites for first names. But for main characters, I put more time and intention into it.
For example, for CLARITY, I knew I wanted my main character’s last name to be short and punchy—like her. I went with the name “Fern” because, like the plant, she looks delicate but is actually quite hardy. :)
Part of the Ferns’ family dynamic is that Starla, the mother, leans toward the strange and her kids sometimes just want to be normal. So it made sense to me that Starla would give them unusual names. And they’d just go by more “normal” nicknames.
The boy was always Periwinkle “Perry” Fern. I worked backwards with this one. I picked the nickname first—Perry—and searched for an unusual name that could be a longer version of that.
My main character was originally called Andromeda “Andie” Fern. ("Andromeda" because I’m an astronomy buff and I like the name. "Andie" because I think it's a girl's name that's both cute and tough at the same time.) But I suddenly needed a new title. Something suggestive of Andie’s gift. My friend and I pored through words in an online thesaurus and “clarity” stuck out. I thought…that’s a cool word. It’s evocative, a bit mysterious, and speaks to my main character’s ability. So with the title change, came a name change.
UPDATE: This contest is closed. About half the swag packs were mailed earlier in the week, the other half are being mailed today. Random.org has calculated a winner for the Mega prize and that is...
Emily - your swag pack already went out. The mega prize will come separately. Congrats!
Why is this called a “thank you”? Why not a contest or a giveaway?
Because everyone wins.
Pre-order Clarity from your favorite bookseller and I will send you a Kim Thanks You For Being Awesome Swag Pack (I should trademark that title). This includes: a signed bookplate for you to stick in the book, a signed bookmark, and a Clarity sticker!
But, since contests are fun, one entry will be chosen at random to win The Mega Thank You (wow, an even better title). This includes: a signed, super special* Clarity hardcover, a signed bookmark, a Clarity sticker, Cape Cod touristy gifts, a $10 iTunes Gift Card to go with the Clarity playlist, and…a handwritten note containing the first line of sequel.
*I realize it’s kind of weird to give a copy of Clarity as a prize to someone who…bought Clarity, but this one is special. I will sign it and mark it up throughout so it will truly be one of a kind. I’ll underline my favorite passages. Circle the passage I wish I could edit out but it’s too late. Include little secrets in the margins like where certain names came from and what real places inspired my fictional settings. There will be lots of cool notes! And then you can give the copy you pre-ordered to a friend and she’ll think you’re awesome. So there’s that.
How to enter:
It’s easy. Just pre-order Clarity from your favorite bookseller – Indiebound, Amazon, B&N, Borders, The Book Depository, etc. -- and email the e-receipt to me at [redacted]. I will then mail you your swag pack and enter you for the Mega Thank You. (This is the only way to enter/receive a swag pack. I can’t go by the honor system on this one. I need the receipt.)
International peeps can enter to win the Mega Thank You, but the “everyone wins” swag packs are for U.S. only, sorry. The postage is going to kill me enough as it is. ;)
Contest ends 2/11/11. Note: I may have to close the contest earlier if I run out of swag!
I've told a couple people this story face to face, but never actually typed it out. I don't know if it'll be as funny, but here we go...
If you are offended by mentions of male genitalia, press your back button now.
I’m not what you’d call a photogenic person. It takes over 100 shots to find one picture where I don’t look like I’m staring into the sun while someone simultaneously stomps on my foot. Luckily, my father knows his way around a camera pretty well and agreed take my author photo for free due to the whole “being his daughter” thing.
I knew exactly where I wanted to go for the photo shoot. The town I grew up in has this big pond and a wooded park area. There’s a long bridge crossing the pond and—in my memories, at least—the end of the bridge had this cool, gothic looking arch. So, we headed there.
Present day didn’t quite match up with my memories as the cool arch was peeling and partially disintegrated. No problem…it actually looked even better this way. Instead of doing a full shot in front of the arch, we’d do a close-up head shot with the crumbling wall behind me. Gritty, urban feel. Like it.
Then, we got closer, and there was a problem.
Have you seen the movie "Superbad"? A character in that film has an obsessive disorder where he compulsively draws penises. Apparently someone with that same disease lives in my hometown.
Yes, there were graffiti weenies on my precious wall.
Dad said, “It’s okay, we’ll do it anyway.”
I said, “Dad! I’m a YA author! I can’t have a DONG in my author photo!”
But, we made it work. We moved over to the edge of the wall where there was no prominent pecker. The original plan was to have only the wall behind me, but now we additionally had some bright green foliage that added some color to the background. It actually turned out better that way. So, thank you, trouser snake obsessed graffiti artist.
And I’ll share a secret with you, blog readers.
When you open a copy of CLARITY and check out my author photo on the inside back flap...look in the upper left-hand corner of the picture and you’ll see a black, curved swipe.
Yes, folks, that is the bottom of an artist's rendering of a testicle.
CLARITY won’t be out in the wild for another month-ish, but Awesome Editor sent me an early copy hot off the press because she likes to make me cry. Kidding. No, because she’s awesome (hence the name). And I may have cried. One or two tiny tears. Because I was chopping onions when the mail came.* Yeah, that’s it. *lies
So...how about some pics!
And when you take the jacket off…purple! (My favorite color! LOVE!)
The best part for me, though, might seem kind of weird. It’s the bumpy letters.
I think the technical term for the raised type is “embossing,” but I’ve always called it bumpy letters. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a habit of tracing my fingers over the bumps back and forth while a book is open on my lap. My husband once said, “Some dream about their name in lights. Kim dreams about her name in bumpy letters.”
I am delighted to share the news that Clarity got a starred review in Publishers Weekly! Here's a little snippet:
Harrington's well-developed characters and tight plot are simultaneously charming, realistically complex, and intriguing. While recalling classic sleuth stories, Harrington creates a fiery and sharp-witted heroine who's more Veronica Mars than Nancy Drew (Nancy almost certainly never used the term "Skanky McSkankbag"). Clare is a teen detective for the 21st century.
Yes, the esteemed Publishers Weekly just said the words "Skanky McSkankbag." EPIC WIN.
Click here for the full review (down the page a bit).
I am so happy. To be honest, even after having sold three books, part of me still feels like this giant fraud. Like my publisher is going to call and tell me this whole thing was a mistake and I suck. Irrational, I know, but I'm sure I'm not the only insecure writer who has these thoughts. Anyway, reading this review has quieted the "you suck you are a fraud" monster who sometimes lives in the back of my brain.
So cheers to that! If it wasn't -40000 degrees outside right now (slight exaggeration), I'd run up and down the street in joy. :)
First, hop on over to my Facebook page and comment to enter to win my swag pack giveaway!
Now...on to the topic of editing!
I turned in Clarity 2 (title to come/Spring 2012) a month or two ago, after working on the line edits for a few weeks. And since then I’ve been revising my standalone (coming Fall 2012) and getting that ready for Awesome Editor to read. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
1. I catch more errors reading a printed out manuscript than reading on the screen.
2. Reading dialogue out loud works. Seriously. Though you might want to save this for home editing and not, say, Panera editing.
3. I needed to know exactly how many days had passed at a certain point and this sounds easier to figure out than it actually was. It required a chart.
4. Clarity 2 has a couple storylines that I consider equally important. I wanted to make sure they maintained a good balance. For example, I don’t want storyline B to be dropped for four chapters in a row while storyline A runs wild. I want both to show consistent progress. So, again, I made a chart. This time a color-coded chart.
5. I like charts.
6. I reach a point in editing when I’ve read and reread the book so many times that I want to rip the manuscript into 1,000 pieces, eat the pieces just so I can throw them up, then stomp them into dust. But that’s okay because this feeling passes and is eventually replaced with excitement when I realize that, once again…
7. I love this book.
Feel free to add more editing tips in the comments!
Ask writers where they get their ideas and some will laugh and say, “The idea factory.” But it’s not a joke. The idea factory actually does exist. It’s a little section of the brain that sees things through a writer’s eye. Whether it’s a news story, a song, a piece of artwork on a wall, a snippet of conversation overheard at Panera…the idea factory is always listening, always paying attention, always wondering if there’s a story in that.
This is why I love news feeds. I’m an information junkie and read all that I can. Both because it’s interesting and you never know what you’ll learn or take from it.
For example, I read this article about a woman with a damaged amygdalae who cannot feel fear. My first thought was…wow, she would make a great character. She could be a hardcore, noir private detective. Or—for a paranormal—what better demon slayer could there be than someone who doesn’t feel fear? Or…what if the government started purposefully creating soldiers with damaged amygdalae, but their experiment went very, very wrong? In just seconds after reading the article, I had hooks for a mystery, urban fantasy, and a conspiracy thriller.
And I read this article about an Australian company offering a test that can analyze your child’s athletic potential based on DNA. And, of course, my mind started to imagine…what if all babies were tested at birth for their potential in athletics, music, math, etc. and then they were placed—unwillingly—in schools segregated by their potential and forced into careers based on their genetic code rather than their interests? That’s some cool dystopian world building there!
I'm not going to write books based on either of these articles (so feel free to take those ideas and run with them!), but I have tons of snippets of ideas like these. I keep them in notebooks and Word documents because you never know when one will lead to something more.
A few years ago, I read an article in the real estate section about “stigmatized properties” (better known as “murder houses”). The notion stuck with me and I wrote it down. Last year, when it was time for me to start playing with something new, I flipped through my idea book and this one grabbed my attention again. So I toyed with it.
What if a family wanted to move to an upscale town with a top-notch school system, but couldn’t afford it...until a house went up for sale—a murder house. What if they bought it, but didn’t tell their teenage daughter about the house’s history? And what if the murder victim still haunted the house? I played around with these ideas for a while and they ended up being the basis for my standalone YA supernatural mystery that’s coming out in Fall 2012.
How did I come up with the idea for CLARITY? That's an entire blog post of its own...coming soon!
So, my advice for ideas? Read the news. And keep your idea factory open at all times. You never know when you’ll hear the one line that will change everything.
Two blog posts in one day! I know, it's like Bizarro World up in here. But I simply couldn't wait to post about...drum roll...the CLARITY book trailer!
I am so excited to show you this. I am also not too cool to admit that, when I first watched it, I actually screamed out loud and flailed my hands in the air. Oh yeah. I did. I am the epitome of composed professionalism.