Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thank You for making the Voices Stop...

Please...make the voices stop...

See this picture? This is how I felt last week! With an entire book to edit, I was literally losing my grip on reality! Well, it looks like I will be getting my edits for THE WHITE ASSASSIN done on time--turning them into my editor tomorrow! I want to thank everyone who cheered me on last week! It's so nice to have such support. When I wrote NIGHTSHADE CITY, I was completely alone, no writer friends or support networks to speak of and now I have gobs of good writer buddies telling me I CAN do it--not just myself. So, thanks. You are all the best. :)

xoxo -- Hilary

Thursday, March 24, 2011

She said WHAT???

This is how I feel this week, but less hairy--well, a little less
Okay, talked to my editor and I have eight days to finish edits for THE WHITE ASSASSIN or I won't have ARC's in time for BEA. Etch it in stone, you heard it hear first, I WILL get them done! I'm determined, especially when it comes to deadlines. Anyone else have any writing deadlines they need to meet, self-imposed or otherwise? Even if I give the deadline to myself and no one else is holding me accountable, I seem to hit my goals much better. How about you? 

xoxo -- Hilary

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nightshade City - Crystal Kite Semifinalist! WoW!!!

Check out the nominees in your region here!
So, on St. Patrick's Day I woke up to the exciting news that NIGHTSHADE CITY is a Semifinalist for the 2011 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award!!  I was so shocked--and this is the truth--I voted for my own book before I even looked at the 4 other nominees, because I was afraid it was a mistake and I better vote fast! My family thinks that's pretty funny! ;)

Click here to see the group of nominees in each region! If you’re an SCBWI member, not to be all MTV-ish on ya, but go rock the vote for your favorite children's book of 2010!

Congrats to the semifinalists and thanks to everyone who voted! SCBWI RULES! 

xoxo -- Hilary

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!!! To start off this special day, epic authors Lisa and Laura Roecker are here to talk about their debut YA novel, THE LIAR SOCIETY, and talk about what it's like to write as a team. Gah! I can't imagine! The Liar Society is full of awesome and it would not have been, if these co-authors/sisters couldn't get along! See how they did it here and don't forget to buy your copy of the THE LIAR SOCIETY, in stores NOW!!! Oh, and super awesome contest deets below!

Take it way L&L...


One of the most common writing-related questions we get is "How do you possibly write together and not want to kill each other?" Because we all have nightmares of group writing projects where you're assigned with the kid who can barely spell or the girl who writes nothing but run-ons. Writing is usually a solitary sport, typically works best when done independently. So how is it possible to write an entire book together?

When we first started out, we weren't sure how it would work. We just thought it might be fun. Turns out, it was fun and, shockingly, it seemed to work. But, not right away. Our first manuscript was full of little quirks that tipped agents and editors off that there were indeed two hacks writing--that and pages full of telling, one dimensional characters and head hopping, but that's another post for another day. 

Our first order of business (aside from actually learning the difference between showing and telling) was to learn how to create a unified voice for our work. Our biggest tool in developing our voice was our blog. It's amazing how writing one blog post a day about completely random topics forces you to figure out a way to make it work. By the time we completed our second manuscript we had the process down pat. We knew how to edit each other to create that elusive cohesion. The highest praise we've ever received from our agent was, "Holy crap, I had no idea two people wrote this manuscript." Ok, fine, maybe she didn't actually say "holy crap," but something along those lines. 

Of course for all of its challenges, writing as a team has some distinct advantages as well. First and foremost, writer's block is practically nonexistent because you always have someone reading over your shoulder with fresh eyes and new ideas. And when you get rejected (and there was A LOT of rejection on our bumpy road to publication) you've got another person who really understands what you're going through. Someone who cries with you and isn't afraid to tell you when it's time to stop crying and start writing. Honestly, we can't imagine ever going it alone. We're having way too much fun as a team.

If you want to enter The Liar Society Blog Tour of Awesome contest, and really, who wouldn't want to enter!?! There's a $100 Amazon gift card up for grabs! Just click here and enter the super secret password, SLAMBOOK, for an entry. Remember you can enter one time for each stop on our blog tour, so be sure to click here and see where else we're visiting this month to maximize your chances of winning.

Audi, Vide, Tace,

Friday, March 11, 2011

POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour! Meet Jen K Blom and her MC Princess!

Okay, peeps! It's a very special day here! I have my awesome and dear (and weird) friend here, Jen K Blom (and her book's MC, Princess), talking about her debut middle-grade novel, POSSUM SUMMER, which releases THIS Tuesday, March 15th! Please help us celebrate her big day!

Welcome to the POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour for the middle-grade book, POSSUM SUMMER, coming out IN EIGHT DAYS HOLY COW! (Have you preordered yet?)

"There's a person I know, she's the rattiest one around, everybody hides away when she comes into town..."
Yes, I'll be here all week.

Today I'm (harassing) enjoying my stay here at Hilary's blog. P (Princess) had been forewarned about the Rat Queen...and she didn't disappoint.

First off, a little about the book:

A lonely kid.
an orphaned baby possum.
A dad that says no way.
How do you keep that kind of secret? And what happens when you’re found out?

Here we go or begin strange interview with JKB here:

HW: Jen, can you tell us if you do an outline or you just write from the cuff? It seems to be a hot topic these days!

JKB: Well, I would say before my newest MS** I always wrote without an outline. I like it better because it's more surprising. And I like surprises. Mostly. Unless they come without chocolate. **the new MS is by a synop. Weirdest feeling ever to have the entire story already written out! Good thing I like the idea, or I wouldn't bother.

HW: When do you find you do your best writing? Morning, night, sunny, rainy? Tell!

JKB: I think the best time is when I don't have something tugging on me, wanting something. So the Loki* is asleep, the cats are over on the heater, and the husband is at work. Which never happens, so I just do it when I can. (True story: POSSUM SUMMER was written on a train every morning as I made my way to work.)
*Loki is my kid. She is a trickster.

HW: What is the main lesson you're trying to get across in POSSUM SUMMER?

JKB: I don't know that I have a lesson, per se. I always have a particular word/idea in mind when I write a book and for POSSUM SUMMER the word was :: sacrifice. (Now don't you wanna go read it? Go! GO!!!)

Princess: Lessons are stupid anyways. Nobody ever pays attention.

JKB: Now this should get interesting, as my MC, Princess, talks to Hilary!

P: It's the RAT QUEEN! The Rat Queen, right? I read your book! I loved it! Except there was no princess in it. And no dragons. I love dragons! But I want to know what your favorite food is anyway, even tho there are no dragons in your book!

HW: Hmmm...I'd have to say for the fancy stuff, I love Ahi Tuna with lots of fresh ginger -- the rarer the better! For something casual, I love paper thin pizza with garlic, spinach and pineapple!

P: Is there a difference between Ahi Tuna and that tuna you get in tunafish cans? Because if not, I have some serious concerns about what you're eating. I tried to give Ike somma that tuna in the can and he wouldn't even eat it! And rare? *shudder* what do you like to do, then, Miss Ratty Queen?

HW: Okay, that's a tough one. For me, I love spending time with the family. I love shopping (shocker, I know) and I love just chilling out with my husband and watching some brainless reality TV, the more brainless the better!

P: Family time is good. It almost makes up for what you say you eat. I thought maybe you woulda said you loved reading POSSUM SUMMER as your favorite activity? No? Well, what is something really interesting about you then?

HW: I'd have to say my hands. I'm double jointed, so I can bend back the tips of my fingers at a 90 degree angle, which really freaks people out, because it looks like their broken, especially if I make a breaking sound when I do it! Ha, ha! Uck, I know, but hey, it's fun at parties!

P: I had to look up what you mean by double jointed. I bet rats can do that too, which is why you're the Rat Queen, right? You ought to feel bad, because you just traumatized an 11 year old. Like, forever. So I went ahead and drew you as this:

P: I have to tell you ... JKB wanted me to make you a fangless snake. Or an ugly rat with a hairless skin condition. But here's what I told her (I read it in a book) THE MUSE CANNOT BE DENIED. You are indeed an eastern chipmunk! With pretty stripey stripes on your back! I can't guarantee that their fingers bend back like your freaky ones, but...


JKB: Hil. Sorry! XD Thanks for having me!

Jen K. Blom writes about animals, the land, and kids, not necessarily in that order. Her debut, POSSUM SUMMER, is available March 2011.

Just the thing to give to a kid to start their summer of reading off right! (Available from your local indie, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Book Depository!)

Seen the book trailer yet?
Want more POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour tidbits?
Go here and knock yourself out!

HW: Okay, somehow I think Jen managed to insult me through Princess...hmmm...not cool! ;) Thanks everyone for cheering Jen and Possum Summer on! The book is AWESOME!

xoxo -- Hilary

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The White Assassin (Nightshade Chronicles Book II) Pre-order up! wOOt!!

Illustration by Omar Rayyan
How exciting! 
Just saw the Pre-order link for THE WHITE ASSASSIN, Nightshade Chronicles Book II 
(Oct 2011)
Go Billycan! Can't wait to see the cover!

xoxo -- Hilary

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is Your Book's Hero as Special as this Cat??

My magic violin will save da world, I tell you, da world!!!!
Okay, so generally when we are writing about children's fantasy middle-grade or YA, we see a lot of the same storyline over again.

By and large, it goes something like this:
Step 1. Our Hero is called to adventure.
Step 2. He/she has a road of trials and tribulations they must face.
Step 3. He/she must complete a mission.
Step 4. He/she must go back where hence they came. (That's in hero language)
Step 5. He/she uses their newly learned skill, power, etc. to save or better the world.

Sure, we could say this is a formula. I'm positive you could all name several books in which you've seen this, but what, in your opinion, makes any of those books break through the above formula and elevate to a truly fantastic book? What did that writer do differently? Was it the hero? The plot? The creativity? The world saving magic violin played by a hairless kitty? What made that book rock out the hero theme?

xoxo -- Hilary