Monday, April 24, 2017

Things I Learned After My Book Release

Under Locker and Key is out in the world!

It's at Barnes and Noble, right there on the shelf! The B&N here let me sign a few copies!

And the next day, I had a launch and a signing!

It went well. I had a good turnout (most of the guests were friends and family, but they were super-encouraging and all the cupcakes got eaten, which is nice) and I didn't embarrass myself too much signing books. It's a good thing I practiced my signature before the book came out.

This is wild. It really is. I thought it would feel real when the book was out, and it does, but no more real than it has been feeling. Then again, I haven't had a lot of time to sit and dwell on it. It has been a few very busy weeks, which taught me the first lesson of post-release life:

- Life goes on despite the release.

See, I knew this already, but it's interesting to see it happen. I have the release, the launch, everything, and then I have errands to run and chores to do and my actual day job to work, so I haven't had time to get ice cream and sit and smile that I am now a published author!

That will have to wait until life slows down a little. I did have a launch party, and there was cake, but lesson 2:

- The release and launch are work, not play, for the writer.

Holy cow, Tuesday and Wednesday were exhausting for me. I'm not even that sure why. Tuesday I had no events; the book just came out! But for some reason I was so tired at the end of Tuesday. Maybe it was the social media notifications, or just the emotions of the day. The launch itself meant I had to be on all night, and even before that, I had to help set up. I slept in the next day! However, lesson 3:

- The launch is fun!

It really was! I had a great time. I was working, and it took a lot out of my introverted self, but I really enjoyed presenting about my book, running a giveaway and activity, and signing copies later. If I didn't think too hard about it, I felt like I belonged there, signing books. It felt right, and I loved talking to people as they came by. I would love to do more book events, and I'm trying to set some up.

And now? What's happening now? Life goes on, but it is a little different. Lesson 4:

- The book isn't mine anymore, so I have to be more careful online.

They tell writers not to read our reviews, so it's not so innocent for me to go on Goodreads anymore. I still do, but it's hard to see the number of reviews going up while doing my utmost to ignore it. People are talking about my book, and they will say good and bad things about it. None of it will help me be a better writer, so it's better to let it go for now.

As for the future, here's what I learned:

- This is only the beginning.

There will be other books, other launches, other reviews...this isn't a one-time thing. I have a sequel coming out, and between now and then, I'll be visiting schools, bookstores, and libraries, trying to get the word out about my book.

You know what? That's fine with me. As tiring as the launch was, I loved it. This is the work I want to be doing, and I'm finally doing it.

Here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Sarah Jean Horwitz - Carmer and Grit: The Wingsnatchers (4/25)
Patricia Bailey - The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan (4/25)

Young Adult:
Kes Trester - A Dangerous Year (4/25)
Joanne O'Sullivan - Between Two Skies (4/25)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Under Locker and Key: Meet Jeremy!


Oh my goodness, people, my book comes out tomorrow! And the day after that, I have my release at the Provo Library!

It's finally happening. A book I wrote is hitting shelves. I'll be able to see it at Barnes and Noble.

This feels...unreal. Like I'll wake up and it will have been a dream. But it's not, and even when I look calm, inside my head, I'm constantly doing this:

Anyway, I'm sure you're here for this week's interview. This week, in honor of the release, I'm interviewing Jeremy Wilderson himself, 12-year-old retrieval specialist.

Jeremy: Hey, you got the title right!

Me: Well, you're a retrieval specialist, right? Not a thief?

Yep. Not a thief. I don't steal anything, no matter what you might have heard.

But you do break the rules, so I hear.

Only when the rules get in the way of helping people. Then those rules, much like graham crackers, were made to be broken.

All right. Ready for a few questions?

Fire away.

Tell me about your work. What do you do, exactly?

Well, if you're calling me a retrieval specialist and not a thief, you probably have a good idea of what I do already. But, this is for your readers, right? At the core of it, I retrieve lost or stolen items for my classmates. So, if a bully steals lunch money, if you get a cell phone confiscated by a teacher, or even if you accidentally leave your hat on the bus or throw away your retainer, I'm the guy for the job. I can get anything back.

Why ask you, though? Why wouldn't kids go to a teacher to help them?

Sometimes they do. But sometimes the teachers are the problem, like with confiscated stuff. Besides, teachers aren't exactly subtle, are they? If a kid wants their stuff back but wants it back discreetly, they ask me. I don't make a mess, I don't leave evidence, and I don't make waves.

So, why don't you ever get in trouble? It sounds to me like this kind of thing would get you enemies.

Like I said, I don't leave evidence.

Do you have enemies, then?

One, for sure.

May I ask who?

Do you really have to ask? That gumshoe Becca! I could regale you with stories of all the times I outwitted her, but it might be better if we move to the pizza question now.

Very well. How do you eat your pizza?

I'm fond of pepperoni, and if that's what I have, I like to peel some of the pepperoni off and eat that first, then eat the slice from narrow point to the crust. I've tried Case's fork-and-knife combo, and Hack's roll-up method, but I prefer the classic style.

 How is it working with Case and Hack?

We don't really work together, since we all have our own areas of expertise. I'm no help to Case with his art, or Hack with his computers, and they haven't exactly mastered the art of picking locks, which is pretty much standard practice for retrieving. But it's great to be able to talk about my jobs with someone, and Case and Hack understand. We also use our skills to help each other. Case gives Hack and me forged hall passes, and Hack knows all the cheats for video games. They're my first priority when they need something retrieved.

You sound like quite the trio of criminal activity.

In the best way. We never use our skills to hurt anyone. We help people, and we're good at what we do.

So I hear. What is your favorite Disney movie?

I take it you're not counting Pixar, am I right? No? Then, at this point, probably Zootopia. It was smart and funny, and I loved the characters. The ending was pretty great, too. I like movies where someone gets outsmarted. That said, I have a soft spot for Tangled. I like Flynn Rider as a character. I know, I know. Figures, right? But I'm not a thief.

 ....By any chance, did you read Becca's interview from last week?

I read Case's and Hack's, but I don't really care what Becca has to say, so no, I didn't. Why?

No reason. Except that you and Becca may have more in common than you think.

Right, Becca and I are similar. Sure. She thinks rules are the greatest thing since buttercream frosting, and I think rules get in the way as often as they help. She throws people up against the wall and yells at them, and I quietly do my work with grace and finesse. She's a detective, and I'm a retrieval specialist. I can see why you'd think we have things in common.

But you both help people.

I guess there is that. I thought we could have worked together, but she made very clear what she thought about THAT idea.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not working?

Hanging out with Case and Hack. We play video games mostly, but we also do other things like ride bikes and mess around with our craft, like explore air ducts and try to invent a better invisible ink. Sorry, I guess that counts as working. But it's more fun when we're all working on something together.

What are you most afraid of?

Easy. Becca Mills. Next question.

I was going to ask you what you thought of Becca, but I suppose you just answered that.

You know those horror movies where the monster isn't particular fast or strong, but is just always there, one step behind the hero? That's Becca. It doesn't matter where I am, or what job I'm working, she's always there! Lurking, just around a corner, waiting for me to leave evidence.

Which you don't do.

Nope! No evidence, nothing Becca can do. What can I say? I am just that good.

Well, thank you, Jeremy. That wraps up my questions.

No problem. And hey, readers? If you ever lose something, feel free to hire me any time. Refer your friends. And, if you want to pay me for my services, I like chocolate cake.

All right, that's all the interviews! If you want to see more of my characters, you can get the book starting tomorrow!

Here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Allison K. Hymas (MEMEMEMEMEMEME!) - Under Locker and Key (4/18)
Mark Maciejewski - I Am Fartacus (4/18)

Young Adult:
A.E. Caplan - Grendel's Guide to Love and War (4/18)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Under Locker and Key: Meet Becca!

Guys...8 days!

For all of you in Utah, next week on the 19th, I will be having my launch at the Provo Library at 7 pm. It's open to the public, and will be a fun event, so you should all come!

All right, I'm sure some of you have been looking forward to this week's character interview, so I'll get right to it. This week, we have with us Becca Mills, 12-year-old private investigator.

Becca: Hello. Yeah, I guess that's kind of me. Without those heels. I don't like heels.

Me: All right, so I'm going to ask you some questions.

I've seen the past posts with Wilderson's crook friends. I know how this works.

Some of your questions will be a little different.

They'd have to be. I don't work the same way those criminals do.

So tell me about your work. What do you do, exactly?

Like you said, I'm a private investigator. When kids have problems, like stolen goods, or if they're framed for cheating, they can hire me to solve the case and clear their name. My rate is reasonable.

I hear it's not just kids who hire you.

It's true. I'm a peer mentor during the school year, so the teachers give me a certain amount of responsibility, and I'm glad to say I've earned it all. They know if there are kids sharing gum in class or cheating on their cell phones, I'll find out and stop it. I ALWAYS stop it, and I do it WITHOUT breaking the rules!

May I ask how you got your start?

Sure! I've always wanted to fight crime. Dad's a lawyer, and Mom's a detective. I've grown up watching them make the world a better place by stopping criminals, and they seem so strong and happy. Especially Mom. So, when I entered middle school and saw what a lawless nightmare it was, I joined the peer mediators and started taking on individual cases. I did some freelance solving in elementary school. Not much, but enough so people knew I was the girl for the job.

It sounds like you're well on your way to being Scottsville's next big detective.

You really think so? That would be great!

So, tell me how you eat your pizza?

So, I am getting some of the criminals' questions. Hmm. Normally, I guess. I pick up the slice and eat it, and then toss the crust. It's a waste of stomach space. I like veggie pizzas best.

Me too, typically. What's your favorite Disney movie?

That's easy. I like Tangled. But, honestly, Zootopia really spoke to me. Maybe that one will become my new favorite. But right now, Tangled is definitely my favorite.

I notice that both those movies involve charming thieves.

What are you saying?

Just making an observation.

Reclaimed thieves. Both of them. Eugene and Nick both stop stealing and work for the good side.

Have you come across any thieves you think may be reclaimed, then? Someone who might switch sides?

I thought I had. Turns out I was wrong.

May I ask who?

I don't want to talk about it. What's your next question?

Favorite thing to do when you're not working?

Working is my favorite thing to do. But when I'm between cases, I like hanging out with my friends. Elena throws great sleepovers, and Liesl is the best to just spend time with at the mall or at a movie or something, though I prefer to be with all my friends.

Sleepovers? The mall? You like girly things like that?

Why so surprised? It's not like they take time away from my work or from the track and field team.

Tell me more about track and field.

I throw shotput. There's not much more to say. Coach says, though, that I'm the smallest shotput athlete he's ever had, and that's something to be proud of, I think.

*Silence while I speculate on how someone so small can throw shotput and decide to drop it*

Anyway...I have two more questions for you.

Fire away.

What are you most afraid of?

I'm not afraid of anything.

Everyone's afraid of something.

Not me.

You sure?

*glares at me*


...Okay, then. Last question. What do you think about Jeremy Wilderson?

I don't want to talk about that creep.

Well, he's going to be here next week, and I'm going to ask him about you--

And he'll tell you all kinds of lies because that's what he does! He's a thief and a liar and he gets away with all of it! It's not lawful and it's not fair and I won't stand for it. Sure, the guy's cute, I'll give him that much, but it shouldn't matter. It doesn't matter. Crime is crime. If no one else is going to stop him, then I guess I'll have to do it.

That wraps it up. Thank you, Becca.

You're welcome. It was a pleasure. Can I go now?

You're free to go.

Don't talk to me like I'm a suspect. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a thief to take down.

All right, that was Becca! Come back next week when we have the big man himself here and I interview Jeremy Wilderson.     

Here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Lindsey Becker - The Star Thief (4/11)

Young Adult:
JC Davis - Cheesus was Here (4/11)
Corrie Wang - The Takedown (4/11)