Friday, November 21, 2014

Work In Progress - Melanie

My friend Irene is doing Nanowrimo this year.

I've got lots of friends doing Nanowrimo actually , but unlike the rest of them, I know Irene in real life. We stood in the corridor of the church after an activity on Wednesday, and she told me about the book she's been writing. I hope she doesn't mind if I tell you that it's got a raccoon in it. A cute raccoon who pops out and chitters whenever she's at a loss to know what to have happen next.

We smiled nostalgically as I regaled her with stories about all the times I've used a shovel to kill someone, and how fun it is to try to make the murder so natural that no one says "Ah! The Travelling Shovel of Death." Talk about pulling people out of the story, right?

As we spoke, people regarded us with wide, wide eyes, and stayed as far away as possible. Good times.

But I know you're dying to know the status of my work in progress. I can hardly blame you. Today is our deadline to finish Editing. From here on out, we're calling it Copy Editing.

Sheena, Sabrina and I have got a new title. We've got a gorgeous cover, which we will showcase in early December--I think December 8th. We've got a release date: January 6.  It's all exciting and stressful and not nearly as shiny as writing about chittering raccoons.

Here is an excerpt of one of my favorite scenes from the beginning of the book. It's a little hard to find scenes that don't contain major spoilers, but I did my best. In our book, Juliette, Sam, Ana and Company have been sent from Maine clear across the country to military school in California. In this scene, Ana is making some new friends, and getting a new nickname:

   "You've got to use your imagination," Chad said, and I nodded. Two other guys had joined our group, and we were standing on the beach, looking out at the ocean. The sun had burned off the fog, and the day was sunny and bright. Chad gestured to include the whole ocean.
   "The first time Suzi brought me here, there was a huge flock of pelicans. How many do you think, Suz?" he called out to her, and she answered his question as though she'd heard every word he'd said.
   "Thirty, maybe?"
   "No way," Chad said. "At least 50. And some other kind of little bird, hundreds of those. Right, babe?"
   "Definitely hundreds," she said, and continued her conversation with the other guys as though she hadn't been interrupted.
   "Now close your eyes and imagine those pelicans flapping their wings up, up, up." Chad flapped his arms in demonstration. "And then, when they get to a certain height, they hover for a minute, and then..." He grabbed my arm and pointed out to the sky above the ocean. "They dive. They tuck their wings right in and freefall. Boom." He slapped his hands together and looked at me with wide, impressed eyes. "Over and over again. Like the coolest party ever."
   I made the appropriate "Woah" expression, and he continued. "Then they come up out of the water and the little birds attack them."
    "Oh. Poor pelicans," I said, and Chad nodded solemnly.
   "But then they do it all over again. Dozens of pelicans divebombing the water. Lucky pelicans," he said. "And that's when Suzi had her genius idea. Suzi!" he called, and Suzi jogged up to us, wiping her hands on her legs.
   "Are you ready?" she asked me. I stared at her, confused.
   "For what?"
   "To be a pelican," Chad said, grinning maniacally.

   I can't even express how amazing it is to stand on the beach and have a Pusher lift me into the air and out over the ocean. Terrifying? Yes. But it's a great way to take my mind off my problems. And then they let go. I tried to freefall without screaming, but it was physically impossible to contain that much joy and anticipation. Because right before I hit the water, Suzi grabbed me in a cloud of air again, and lifted me back up, squealing with delight and terror. Eventually it was their turn to Push each other into the air, and I lay on my back and listened to the waves and their loud laughter. It was nearly a perfect moment.
   I felt a twinge of guilt when I lied to my new friends about my primary power being Prophecy. Suzi smiled and shook her head thoughtfully. "It's always the one you'd never suspect," she said, and Chad laughed and agreed.
   "I dare you to land in the water, Daredevil," he said.
   "I don't even know how deep it is," I said. "And it's cold."
   "But you're the Daredevil," he said. "And we won't let you crash into the bottom. Scouts honor."
   I was already striding toward my launching spot. "Divebomb!" Chad shouted as Suzi lifted me into the air. I shivered with anticipation. As I began my freefall, I twisted into a dive. The water wasn't as cold as I'd expected, but that was probably the shock. Suzi slowed my impact at the last moment, which was a good thing, because I think I brushed the ocean floor as I turned and pushed for the surface. At the very least, I hoped I'd just cemented my new nickname. And that maybe they'd let me do it one more time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What's Up Wednesday Plus A Huge Favor!

What's up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers keep in touch with each other. If you'd like to participate, sign up on the linky at one of their blogs, and use one of the cute WUW buttons provided. Thanks!


Blurbs! For our new book, which will be out on January 6. This is not the official blurb...but it's my favorite version so far. 

Magic gave us so much more than we expected. We found a purpose, we found a destiny, and we found each other. 
But California isn’t the new start we were promised. Dr. Child may be gone, but now we must face a military school, dangerous secrets, and a prophecy that has half the country wanting us dead. When the line between enemies and allies blurs, Sam, Juliette, Ana and I need to choose between love and sanity, between magic and survival.  
Freedom feels like safety, but it’s not. There are no walls here. No place they won’t be coming for us. 
No place we won’t destroy.
This book is the sequel to Alchemy, and it will be released on January 6, 2015. The cover is gorgeous, the title is shiny and so much better (I don't dare tell it to you without the permission of my co-authors. Wake up guys!!!)

Which brings me to this huge favor!

We are starting to put together our marketing plan, and I am in dire need of blogs willing to help with the cover release and the release tour. I'm also desperately in need of people willing to read and post reviews of the book before it releases on January 6.

If this is something you would be interested in, please post a note in the comment section or email me at thecrousefamily @ yahoo . com  (But without the spaces, of course). 

There is a raffle for all blog hosts and reviewers, with an amazon gift card as the prize. I'm not sure what it will be worth yet, but I'm thinking either 3 cards for $25 each, or maybe one bigger card....


I'm reading Trust Me, I'm Lying

Sabrina (one of my coauthors) was working on edits last night, and we had the following conversation (via facebook)

Sabrina: Gah! I'm working on...and I'm wondering if it's going to suddenly seem shallow. I mean the chapter goes "Death, death, death, boo hoo you were mean to me once"....but it's hugely important to Juliette's development.

Other suggestions that didn't work for various reasons and then...

Melanie: My only suggestion is that Juliette mentions how dumb it is to fight about the past when people just died...that's one take home lesson from writing this book--it seems like if I'm bothered by something, having Ana mention it on the page sparks really interesting developments.

Now I have no idea if Sabrina is going to take that advice or not, but I started thinking about it, and many of my best scenes were polished by that tiny piece of advice. So I throw it out there, in the hopes that someone else will find it useful too.


I took a lovely 4 day break from writing. It couldn't have come at a more inopportune time, but Sheena and Sabrina were very gracious about it. It wasn't until I took the break that I realized how totally I needed one. I didn't miss writing even one smidge, and when I came back everything seemed shiny and new. I'm in it until it's done now, which will hopefully be sometime this week. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Up Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers keep in touch with each other. If you'd like to participate, sign up on the linky at one of their blogs, and use one of the cute WUW buttons provided. Thanks!


You will have to jump down to the blog post below this on to see my brand new TBR pile.  I've already added to it, as well. Somehow or other, I missed This Shattered World AND I found a promising new book called Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White. 

However, I just, just finished reading Unspoken, and I enjoyed it. At this point in my life, that's like a rave review. I've set down so many books without finishing them that I could be a goodreads reviewer. (No, I didn't just say that. I would never.)


My co-authors and I are down to our last pass through of our book, which Sheena has titled "The Book Formerly Known as Pyromancy." It has a brand spanking new title, but I can't share it with you yet. Soon!



Other than my new book title and my new reading list? Not much. And that's OK. Have a lovely week, my friends!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Melanie's Winter Reading List

Reblogged from

I've been going through a reading slump. For months now, every book I've picked up has lacked that certain something. The best I can say is that I was interested enough to skim to the end, but most often I just forgot about it until I got a notice from the library saying it was due. But, at Sheena’s encouragement, I picked up The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I finished it! No skimming involved. It was a lovely, lovely book that reminded me that books don’t always need explosions to be wonderful. (They do, however, need to be in the past tense, but that’s a pet peeve for another blog post.) I hurried to my library’s web site and reserved The Geography of You and Me, which is another book by Jennifer E. Smith.

And that was when I remembered that sometimes authors I like write new books. And that those books might help break me free of my reading slump. A smidgen of research later, and I had a brand new TBR pile. I hope you like it.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

Mortal Heart came out 3 DAYS AGO! I spent my whole fall not eagerly anticipating this book. What a waste. If you haven’t read His Fair Assassins Trilogy, you should. This is the final book in the series.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

A brand new series by Marie Lu.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Yay! Auri is one of my favorites. I’m so glad he wrote a “short” story about her. (At 176 pages, it’s hardly a novelette, but it is short by Patrick Rothfuss’s standards.)

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.
Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows....
In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card

This is the third book in the First Formic War series, the prequel to Ender’s Game. It is the story of Mazer Rakham and the rest of Earth as they meet the Buggers for the first time. If you are an Ender's Game fan, you've got to read these. If not, you can probably skip them.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I’m late on this one! Book 3 is already out, and I’ve never read book 2. Ana and the French Kiss is book 1, and Isla and the Happily Ever After is the last book in the series.

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

The Whispering Skull by Jonathon Stroud

This is the sequel to the Screaming Staircase

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. 

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found. 

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

    Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?
    But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results.
    The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid to the back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Catalyst by SJ Kincaid

This is the third book in the Insignia series, a series I found completely by happenstance. But I love it.
S. J. Kincaid has created a fascinating dystopian world for Insignia, her futuristic science-fiction adventure series perfect for fans of Ender's Game. Earth is in the middle of WWIII, battling to determine which governments and corporations will control the resources of the solar system.
Teen Tom Raines grew up with nothing, some days without even a roof over his head. Then his exceptional gaming skills earned him a spot in the Intrasolar Forces, the country's elite military training program, and his life completely changed. Now, in Catalyst, the explosive series conclusion, dangerous changes have come to the Pentagonal Spire, where Tom and his friends train. When a mysterious figure starts fighting against the evil corporations' horrifying plans, but with methods Tom finds shocking, he must decide which side he's on.
With slim odds of success, is it even worth the fight?

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

I’ve never read anything by Mary Elizabeth Summer, but goodreads said that if I liked the Heist Society series, I might like this one. So I’m excited, because I LOVED the Heist Society series.

What books are you looking forward to reading?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thinking About It Thursday...

I missed What's Up Wednesday? How did that even happen? Dang.

Welcome to Thinking About It which I type out all of the crazy plans that have been floating around in my head for the month of November.

NaNoWriMo: OK, yes. I'm nearly finished editing one book, and need to seriously work on the next draft of another, but the siren song of Nanowrimo keeps calling me to come and play. I've been putting off the sequel to Hidden Magic for so long. It's already mostly outlined. Maybe just this once.

NaExerciseMo: Here's a thought. I could take all the time I usually devote to NaNoWriMo and use it to exercise. Think how good that would be for my body, and for my mind too. I'm finally starting physical therapy on my hip today. I have a dream that my whole body is going to start feeling its real age instead of 82.

NaDeYoHoMo: Ha! That is so much fun to say! It really ought to be a thing. It's National Declutter Your House Month! Just yesterday the plumber came by and gave us an estimate on the lynchpin home improvement project that has been keeping us from all other projects. It's going to cost a boatload of money to move the washer and dryer out of my kitchen and into the basement, but it's so worth it. I spent yesterday decluttering the basement to make room for them, and I kind of hate to lose my momentum.  A whole section of our concrete floor is bare now. It's so pretty, I could just stand in the middle of it and spin in a slow circle all day long. I should get rid of ALL THE THINGS!

NaGoBaToWoMo: In which I take a massive pay cut, but Go Back To Work as a substitute teacher. I was a long term sub, which was very close to normal pay, but short term subs make next to nothing, but do get job experience and make connections, which are vital to getting a teaching that what I want?

National Do As I'm Doing Month: I couldn't even begin to find an acronym that was possible to say for this one. But I could continue on as I am, finishing my current novel, exercising a bit, watching my house sink under the weight of all that clutter, and substituting once a week or so.

Or current favorite:

National Do It All Month. And Christmas Shop Too.

You know...looking at it written out there, shiny and imaginary, it seems like I could do almost all of it, except maybe write Lost Magic. I hate to set that aside, especially when I could feed off all the excess  NaNoWriMo energy, but this isn't really the time. So here's the plan...I will have a finished outline of Lost Magic by the end of November. I will schedule two hours a week to work on it. Not even close to Nanowrimo mode, but a heck of a lot more attention than I've been giving it.

Which leaves me with a lot of time for exercise. Probably more than I need. But I could do an hour a day. Still not NaNoWriMo levels of time commitment, but more than I've been doing, by a long shot.

So I'll have plenty of time to substitute, declutter my house, Christmas shop, and finish the Pyromancy novel. Easy peasy. I only wonder if I'm not planning enough...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's Up Wednesday Oct. 22, 2014

What's up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers keep in touch with each other. If you'd like to participate, sign up on the linky at one of their blogs, and use one of the cute WUW buttons provided. Thanks!

I've been longing for this day! It's been a while since I had time to participate in WUW, and I've missed you all so much! Reading your blogs and your comments is such a fun part of my week.


Reason #2 that I've missed you: I'm in a reading slump. All of the books I picked out at the library by myself were dumb. Ooh. Except The Screaming Staircase. That was good stuff. Kind of a horror middle grade/YA crossover thing. But my list of TBR books has shrunk alarmingly. I can't wait to see what you are reading.


"This is the book that never ends..." Not true! I'm almost done editing Pyromancy Part 1. I honestly can't wait, even though Pyromancy Part 2 is right underneath it, ready for edits. I should be finished with Pyromancy Part 1 by the end of the week, and the betas are right behind me, so I can jump right into applying their stuff when I'm through. Part 1 should be out in January!


I've been working as a teacher in an elementary school resource room, and you know what? Those kids work dang hard. They inspire me. I taught 5th grade reading in one room and 5th grade math right after it in a different room, and those kids would beat me there and be working on their daily math before I even walked in the door. And they didn't stop! They would be working their tails off when I said "You can clean up now." That inspires me.

So does this post by Glennon Doyle Melton: I couldn't find it on her blog, only on her facebook page, so I'm posting the whole thing here. But the blog is amazing anyway.
Here is what happened: All of the middle school kids were running. Sweaty, near tears, their legs pounding the pavement, hurting, pushing- in FRONT OF THEIR PEERS AND CROWDS OF STRANGERS. Kids have more courage and vulnerability in their LEGS than most of us adults have from head to toe. Can you IMAGINE? The BRAVE this takes?

And the fast ones finished one at a time and everyone was cheering and cheering and then the middle ones finished in packs and then the slower ones finished a few at a time and then nothing for a while.

And then the last ones came around the bend. One a time. Alone. Pushing. They were hurting. They wanted to quit. They were maybe even a little bit embarrassed. But as they moved closer to the parent spectators- the cheering got LOUDER. LOUDER, even - than it was for the fast ones. Because everyone just KNOWS IN THEIR BONES that it is AWESOME to finish first but it is INSPIRING to finish LAST- to FINISH when you’ve got no chance in hell of winning. THIS is the stuff that makes spectator’s hearts explode with tenderness and love and admiration and hope for all of us. THE LAST ONES. And so these last ones heard the cheers and their heads lifted and their pace picked up ever so slightly.

And then this:
Those fast ones? The ones who finished minutes ago? They gathered together. And they jogged directly toward the last one, who was still running. And they loosely huddled around her. Blue jerseys surrounding her blue jersey in more blue. And they matched her pace. And the fast ones ran alongside her and they chanted her name and they celebrated with her when she finally crossed that finish line. The fast ones and the last one FINISHED THE RACE TOGETHER.

You guys - the fast ones just UNDERSTOOD. They understood that the race was the hardest for the last one but that she DID NOT STOP. And so they understood that SHE WAS THE HERO OF THE DAY. All of them understood that We Belong To Each Other. And that regardless of where we finish: LOVE WINS.

I SAW this happen today. It is now my life metaphor for EVERYTHING. We finish together. The fast ones wait and surround the last ones and match her pace and cheer her name. That’s it. That’s the whole ball game, folks.

The kids are all right. The kids are freaking AMAZING.

I've been working as a long term sub in a resource classroom, and Friday was my last day. I miss it. I miss it even though it made writing nearly impossible, and even though it made my schedule absolutely crazy. I miss the kids, especially the ones that I know are missing me too. But I am excited to have time to blog, and time to write, and maybe to clean my house, or return some library books on time. And hopefully I get to go back. Not that I want the poor regular teacher to have any more problems in his life, because he's had more than his share this year. But still...I would like to go back. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Very Strange Little Post.

Have you ever had one of those days where you spend most of your brain capacity composing (and discarding) self-pitying facebook posts? That's where I'm at today. Today I need to remind the world that "I'm here!" and "My life is super complicated!" and "I know I'm a writer but that doesn't always mean I have the words to express myself." I'm not trying to be cryptic and I'm not trying to get loads of people to worry about me. This is what I needed to do to feel better. Knowing my little world has connected with your world for a few minutes was all it took. That might be weird, but who cares?? Thanks!