First, I want it to be known that it's a pet peeve of mine when people don't use direct address commas. They're one of my favorite things, along with tea and books and cats.
But, more importantly...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ELLA!
Who is Ella, you ask?
Here is a picture of half of Ella's face. You may have seen her on the first edition book cover of The Trace. She's the main character of my Whitewashed trilogy, and today, September 7th, is her birthday! I've introduced her before, but I wanted to highlight Ella again, in honor of her growing a year older and all.
A few of her favorite things include:
Some of my favorite Ella moments are the ones that include a painful self-realization–when she knows she's wrong and forces herself to admit it. It was very important for me to have Ella make poor judgments and choices, but to learn from her mistakes and resolve to do better the next time.
So, on that note, here are two of my favorite scenes with Ella. Don't worry, these are spoiler-free. I'm not evil.
THE TRACE, Book I:
The rooftop got quiet again, and I couldn’t ignore the elephant lurking on the roof any longer. “I’m... I’m sorry for being rude to you earlier,” I said, nervously flicking my fingernails against each other. “I was a total brat. You were trying to help, and I know you already have enough on your plate. Anyway, you were right, so... I’m sorry. Really sorry.”
“It’s all right,” he said, which only made me feel worse.
“No, it’s not. You can’t let me get away with things just because Kara is....” The word tripped in my throat and tumbled silently out. Missing. How long would that be true?
The simple act of inhaling became difficult, so I copied his position and lay flat. The millions of stars and galaxies that blinked above me reminded me how very small I was, and how very far away Kara was. Somehow, the MTA would find her. Somehow, I’d be strong enough to defeat whatever Grifters held her captive. But, if Sanders was right, I wouldn’t be strong enough, not until I worked some things out, things I didn’t exactly want to think about.
THE INTEGER, Book II:
"I'm not ordinarily a rude person," I mumbled, "but... well...." I glanced at him. "You haven't noticed my... snarkiness, have you?"
"I noticed, Kepler."
Shame warmed me. For the past two months, he'd seen right through me. "Why'd you keep me here, then, instead of sending me away for insubordination?"
"For all your uncivility, you've never been insubordinate. Besides, you have an understandable reason for your sullenness, though there's never an excuse for rude behavior."
I let his rebuke sink in. Maybe he would make a good friend, one day in the infinitely distant future.
"I'll do better," I said, holding his gaze for once.
I just realized that both of these scenes include He-who-will-not-be-named. No, not Voldemort. Calm down. I speak merely of the aforementioned guy on Ella's list of favorite things. Apparently she's rude to him a lot. But at least she apologizes, so there's that.
To all those celebrating a birthday today, may you always grow in self-awareness!
So I mentioned before that my mom was a daydreamer. When her family members caught her zoning out, they would say that she was "Playing Bobby." No idea where that expression came from, but I do know what Playing Bobby means. Growing up, I assumed everyone daydreamed to the extent that I did. It wasn't until early adolescence that I noticed that none of my other friends daydreamed anymore. In fact, they'd never daydreamed like I had.
For a while, I just felt like a weirdo. I was plagued by the desire to do something I should have stopped doing years earlier. Somehow, the topic came up with my mom, and that was when I realized I wasn't alone. She knew what daydreaming was, too. Lots of writers probably Play Bobby, she told me. That was where they got their stories. It was then that I became proud of my imagination and didn't resent it.
So, what the heck does that even mean, and why can't you just call it "daydreaming" instead of talking about some guy named "Bobby" who none of us knows?
Well, for starters, it doesn't mean that I can't distinguish between what's real and what's not. I don't believe I have mystical powers. I may be a proficient cat whisperer, but that's not imagined—that's real. Just ask my former piano teacher's cat, who only came downstairs when I came over for lessons. It wasn't because he wanted to tell me to stop hurting his ears; it was because he liked me. Thanks, Beethoven.
I love reading books. Goes without saying, right? I think, though, what I love more is reading a book AND getting to know the author, too. There's this magic thread that somehow draws authors together, and that thread did its thing and introduced me to K.A. Parkinson - who not only is super cool, but also writes great books.
A CHOSEN LIFE (<-- that's a link, so click it!) reminded me why I write young adult: it is such an experience to empathize with the raw joys, heartaches, and frustrations of adolescents. Parkinson has succeeded in tugging my heartstrings all over the place, and she's done it so expertly. Often times I find myself irritated with the selfish or angsty motives of YA protagonists, but I TOTALLY understood Tolen and Macy. The best part is they're completely self-aware. They know when they're being stubborn boneheads - and that's what makes them real.
This book was a ride from the very first chapter, all the way to the gut-punching end (ahh, you cliffhanger demon, Parkinson!). I'm a sucker for powered people, and these Chosen are legit. I want my own Bastian (numero uno fav character). The cleanliness of A CHOSEN LIFE was awesome, too, proving that books can still kick you in all the right places without needing the language, gratuity, etc. I loved the world and its explanation for the existence of evil. I laughed at Macy's sassiness and awwww'd over Tolen's awkwardness. I got scared every time the flippin' Shadows were mentioned. And I got angry when the book ended. Already started reading the sequel, THE SHADOW PRISON. Yessss. I love when sequels are already out.
Thanks, Parkinson, for reminding me why YA books rule.
Guess what? The Integer will offish be releasing November 2018! It might seem a long way off, but I know a way to make the time fly, something that'll satiate your curiosity and give you an exclusive look into the backstory for The Integer. I'm excited to announce the launch of Project Anamnesis.
The world of Whitewashed began long before Ella entered the scene. She's a mere blip in a story that's spanned for generations. Project Anamnesis is a collection of vignettes from that greater story; it's a glimpse into the tales Ella can't tell because she doesn't own them. Each month, I'll be releasing a short story or two from the perspectives of characters we love, characters we hardly know, and characters we fear. These vignettes will be available only through my newsletter, so you won't find them anywhere on my website or through Evolved Publishing. To gain access to these stories, just sign up for my newsletter. It's literally that easy!
I have a million stories in my head that I've been wanting to tell. Now, I finally can. Project Anamnesis is the culmination of too much daydreaming; but, more than that, it's a reminder that our own stories aren't the first, nor will they be the last. Stories existed before us, and they'll continue long after. I'll let Tolkien finish making my point here.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Book 2 had a title, and then it didn't. It had a title that I thought was pretty cool, but the more I researched the word, the more I realized that anamnesis is something far too deep and complex to be attributed to a single book. Anamnesis is a more encompassing word that, in my mind, is the crux of the whole trilogy. So Book 2 became title-less again.
I remember how long it took me to come up with a name for The Trace. I tried variations of different things for weeks until I finally settled on a title that I thought worked. The Integer came from a two-minute search. When I read the full definition, it clicked.
Once upon a time, the symbol didn't exist. And then someone was like, "You should have a symbol that carries throughout the book" and I was like, "Okay" and then the symbol existed.
The symbol has progressed from a crooked blob to a more crooked blob that's even blobbier. Here are my attempts at drawing that probably make the people in class wonder if I'm a psychopath who has an obsessive need to draw a weird shape all over the margins of her notebook.
^^ Not really. Though that would be cool.
Ella Kepler was created in Astronomy class, hence the space reference here and throughout Whitewashed. Her name was stolen from my favorite childhood book, Ella Enchanted. (Let's not talk about the movie. No really, don't bring it up. I will get depressed.)
The name "Ella" was a filler at first, because I had no idea what else to call her. The last name came from the fact that, when I started writing, we were discussing Kepler's laws of planetary motion. Which I still don't really understand, but I think Kepler is a cool name. As the story progressed, the name Ella started to fit her character, and I realized that she was officially Ella Jane Kepler.
So, tomorrow The Trace will officially release. Books won't plop on doorsteps at 12:01 a.m., but eBooks will unlock, and, later this week, paperback "Hey-these-are-real!" books will start arriving. Which leaves me over here a bit like this:
That's right. Sure, I've got a little bit of this,
but I'm mainly a puddle of self-doubt and terror. Why am I like this? Well, because I'm a human being, not a bastion of assurance and repose.
It's a dangerous business, going out your front—wait, what am I doing? What I meant was: it's a scary concept to me, this idea of faceless readers thumbing through my book, dog-earring the pages (don't you dare), tossing it aside as they dig through their bags, absorbing my sentences into their brain. How does one emotionally prepare for such a thing? Not that I want to complain, because, again, I'm excited! See giddy Frodo above? That's me! That is, until I remember that not every reader will regard my book with the same affection as me.
I've had months to prepare for this, but I'm still quaky. It's humbling for me to admit that I'm not a cool cucumber at the moment, especially because everyone keeps asking me how I feel, and I keep putting up the "I'm all eagerness and no terror!" facade. The truth is that I am quite afraid. This is a leap for me, a plunge into the utter unknown, because I cannot predict how hundreds of individual brains will react to The Trace. Love it? Hate it? Feel indifferent?
Here's where I start telling myself this, in very bold and giant letters: STOP WORRYING SO MUCH.
There. I feel relieved. People may love it, people may hate it—but, in the end, my brain was overrun with a story, and now that story is out. I've done it. And that's something to celebrate.
Wanna celebrate with me? Shoot me a message, a comment, whatever you like! Tell me about a time you were nervous to share your work but did it anyway. I'll pat you on the back and ask you how you did it. Then we'll watch LotR together.
Once upon a time, I had an idea for The Trace's book cover. I penned a letter to [Facebook messaged] a girl I used to play with when I was a wee youngster, someone who grew into a very talented artist. (I'm talking about her, not me.) I asked her, "Hey, can you draw half of a normal face and half of a creepy, zombie-like monstrosity? K thanks." Years later, I met another talented artist via an interview for an article. I kept her on my talented friends back burner and eventually approached her with a request: Can you take this sketch and turn it into a book cover? K thanks.
This is the result.
This cover exceeds all my expectations. And trust me, they were pretty high. The odd thing is, I didn't technically decide what Ella looks like. My two artists did. That thrills me, especially because my brain is no good with visual effects, so I honestly found it hard to picture Ella as anything other than a blob with hair. I gave the sketch artist some photos to model after and let her use her own imagination. When the graphic artist added the coloring, I gave her my preferences, but ultimately she created the perfect hair, skin, and eye colors. Ella herself became a collaborative effort between three people. And now I finally know what Ella looks like! My readers can, too. If you want to picture Ella while reading, just jump to the front cover. Or come up with your own image. I won't be offended. My good friend who's read the book a few times is still convinced Ella has brown hair. She's half right, at least.
The back cover is also beautiful, but that's not quite finished yet. I'm excited to reveal it to you when it's done! What do you think will be on it?
You have no idea how stressful this question is. It's a common question, obviously.
"What do you do?"
"Oh, I'm a writer."
"Oh, cool! Have you written a book?"
"Yeah, I have!"
"Awesome! What's it about?"
".........Uh, a girl...yeah, a girl. She, uh...yeah."
You'd think I'd know how to answer this question. I've had five years of practice. Besides, I wrote the dang book! I can quote passages verbatim. But I couldn't tell ya what it's about.
Initially when people asked what my book was about, I'd compare it to Hunger Games, X-Men, and the Percy Jackson books. HG for the female-heroine-must-fight-for-justice theme; X-Men for the whole academy of superhumans plot; and I honestly have no recollection for why I used Percy Jackson. But there you have it. If you like all of those stories, you might like mine.
The first confusion is the genre confusion. The Trace fits trickily into a couple genres. I can tell you that it's YA, but once I say "sci-fi," people think aliens and space battles. If I say "light sci-fi," people think it's quasi-scientific. "Urban sci-fi" evokes lightsaber street-fighting; "fantasy" evokes dragons; "fiction" is too vague. So I skip the genre question when people ask me and go straight to the synopsis.
I've had to write synopses for query letters, my website, and my book cover. Each time, I start fresh and try a new approach, and it always sounds like either the most boring or most epic book of all time.
"Ella Kepler had weird things happen to her. Then she realized she was special and she did stuff."
"The world isn't as it seems, and Ella Kepler is about to have the truth thrust upon her, a truth that will define her as she's never been before."
I don't even know what either of those two hooks are saying. And I wrote them.
Writing a synopsis is harder than writing a book. True story. Thankfully, I have an editor who has worked his magic. We've come up with a first-person synopsis that I'm much more comfortable with. This is from Ella's POV, instead of from this omniscient narrator who sounds detached. Omniscient narrator doesn't know how to tell Ella's story – only she does.
So, here is what my book is about. I'm letting you read it with no pressure, no expectations, and without me awkwardly fumbling for an explanation. Henceforth, when people ask what my book is about, I'm just gonna say, "Go to AdelaideThorne.com" and walk away.
('Cause that's not awkward at all.)
For centuries, the Metahuman Training Academy has protected unaware civilians from the Grifters, creatures whose humanity is as deformed as their craggy faces. I spent eighteen years ignorant of either group and their endless war. Then, the Grifters found me.
The MTA whisked me away to safety while the danger passed. Only it didn’t. The Grifters, too stupid to know or too cruel to care that I’d left, kidnapped my best friend instead. It won’t take them long to figure out their mistake, but I’m not going to give them the opportunity.
Finding Kara means grueling training at the academy—a sequestered hub of classified operations, psychic powers, and fighting creatures that should only exist in nightmares. Grifters are stronger, but we’ve got the weapons, the technology, the brains. Who cares if the Grifters can’t feel pain? We can, and Grifters are the perfect outlet.
The Trace is the first book in a young-adult trilogy following Ella Kepler, a nascent metahuman whose strength and speed is matched only by the enemies set against her.