Monday, June 25, 2012

I love kids

I've always loved kids. Babies, toddlers, little kids, tweens, even teens. I'm a big fan of children. Which is why most people who know me aren't surprised to find out I write for kids. They are a natural audience for me. In many ways, I think the fact that I've retained my own inner exuberant child inside me helps. I still process reactions as I would when I was ten years old. I love strong emotions, I love strong reactions. Awesome, gross, exciting, boring, disgusting, funny, frightening, etc. That's how I tend to process my world.

I've been so very excited about the fact that my book will be out in 6 months and that kids will be getting their hands on it. Real live kids will read my book and let me know what they think. Love it or hate it, they will let me know. And I'm so excited about it. The funny thing is that I'm not at all nervous about how they will react. Kids are brutally honest. When they love something they will rave about it and when they hate something they will not hold back. Good or bad, they will provide the most honest responses that an author can ask for. They won't pick apart plot holes and criticize words choices. All they care about is if it's a good story and were they bored. Hey, that works for me!

So it was pretty awesome when my editor decided to get some early kid readers for Prophecy and I asked Oldest to pimp it for me. Within ten seconds of her sending the text, we had more offers to read than I had copies to give out. For all that we are in a technologically driven world, kids really do love to read.

I got some amazing responses. The kind that's handwritten on torn pieces of paper and stuck in the MS with loopy handwriting or cramped chicken scratches. The one that is signed "from your number one fan." Or one that said "I really really really loved your book, how soon can I read the next one?" All of them had read my book so fast, they made my head spin!

But I think what really got to me was an email I got on a Friday night. One of my teen readers had just been passed a bound copy of my book with a lovely letter from my editor that evening. At a little after 1:00AM, an email popped up in my inbox from my young reader. It said "I started reading and now I can't stop! It's so excellent!!!" I kind of felt my heart swell. That reader was so excited, they wrote to me in the middle of the night! It was my deepest wish fulfilled. A kid was staying up late to read my book because they couldn't stop reading.

I don't know what the reception will be when Prophecy comes out into the real world, but right now, I'm feeling great because there's a handful of kids who think my book is amazing. And that, to me, is worth more than any review by any adult, no matter how prestigious.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cover Reveal Day Wrap up!

What a week! It was an amazing experience revealing the PROPHECY cover! Special thanks to YA Book Central for doing such a fantastic job for both Megan and myself. If you haven't seen Megan's cover yet, let me share it with you now:

It's lush and atmospheric and so beautiful! This book is a must read that you should be definitely adding to your Goodreads list of books to read in 2013! And it comes out in January with my book! I can't tell you how happy I was to be able to share such an important day with Megan! She's awesome and a fellow Thirteener as well as another HarperCollins author. You can visit Megan on her blog here.

And now I can put my cover up on my blog! If you are on facebook, you probably already saw me put this up with the spine on the Prophecy Series page. But I particularly love how the book spine catches your eye.

I couldn't have imagined a better turnout for our cover reveal. I know Megan and I were stunned to hear that 10,000 people had visited our cover reveal within the first few minutes of the reveal, overwhelming the site. That's the kind of statistic we couldn't have even dreamed of! And it was slightly surreal to see the tweets flying in about our covers when I hadn't even seen the page myself! What an experience! I can only hope that there will be as much interest when our books come out in January!

But a heartfelt thanks to all of you for making my cover reveal day so successful and so meaningful!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Today is the day that I finally get to share with you the PROPHECY cover! Except, it isn't here. It's over at YA Book Central who are providing my Thirteener buddy Megan Shepherd and I with our exclusive joint cover reveal. So please click over to YABC to see not only the PROPHECY cover, but the cover for Megan's THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER. But then come right back! I want to know what you think plus I've got more to share!

First of all, I have two amazing blurbs from two amazing authors. These are both authors I adore, both as people and as writers. I admire them both immensely! So I can't tell you how thrilled I was to hear their thoughts on my book. It seriously made me weepy. I'm so pleased to share with you PROPHECY blurbs from Marie Lu and Robin LaFevers.

"What an adventure! I fell in love with the lush, richly woven world of PROPHECY. Kira is truly a force to be reckoned with. When I finished my journey with her, all I wanted was more. Spectacular!" - Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND trilogy

"Filled with ancient lore, political intrigue, non-stop action, and a fiercely determined heroine, PROPHECY is a rich and thrilling read—my favorite kind of book!" - Robin LaFevers, author of GRAVE MERCY

Man, if this wasn't my own book I totally would want to read it!! ;o)

Anyway, I have a bit more for you also. When I was up in NYC last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with my art directors Amy Ryan, Senior Art Director (who has been with Harper for 12 years!), and Joel Tippie, Art Supervisor at HarperTeen. Not only are they wickedly talented and smart, they are really nice people who took the time to explain about the cover process. So here's my interview with my design team giving you a behind the scenes look at how HarperTeen comes up with their fabulous book covers!

Ello - When I first saw my final book cover, I was blown away by the intensity of the colors and the smoky effect of the water dragon that wraps itself around the ruby. So my first question is how did you come up with the design?

Amy - Thank you! We love to hear about how our authors react to our covers! The ruby was definitely appealing to us from a design aesthetic.

Joel - Although we did explore figurative approaches based on scenes from the book, but we just kept coming back to the ruby. We had a strong feeling about it from the get go.

Ello - During a design process, how many various ideas do you consider before deciding to move forward with a specific design?

Amy - The design process really varies from book to book. We usually like to comp up 3-5 rough ideas and then develop 2 of them to a tighter concepts before we share them. We have cover meetings each week with editors and we discuss ideas there and show really rough comps at that stage. Then, we develop the best of those ideas and prep them to show the Sales team for feedback.

Ello - May I ask how the design process happens? Is it brainstorming ideas together or putting together picture layouts?

Amy - For each book, we get a cover summary that includes main plot points, details on the characters, and competitive titles that are in the same vein as far as the type of book. Sometimes the summary even includes the author's ideas. The design team meets with editorial early on to toss around ideas and look at competitive titles. From there, we begin pulling visuals and swipe images that evoke the right mood.

Joel - We also used your map as a frame of reference as it was such a great map. (Map by the fabulous Virginia Allyn!)

Amy - Sometimes, we put together comps in-house to share and sometimes we hire a digital artist to do so. For this book, we worked with a wonderful designer and digital artist, Sarah Hoy, to create the comps. We sent her all of the relevant info and material based on our discussions with Phoebe and Jess (my wonderful editorial team!) and she worked the magic!! Sarah put the comps together and then digitally composited all of the stock photos for the final cover, too.

Joel - We really wanted to do an iconic cover. The first comp was just the ruby but we were looking for a fresh way to add to an iconic cover so we added the water dragon and there you have it!

Ello - And I love it! How long does the process take?

Joel - Generally it takes about a year.

Ello - Is it a difficult process?

Amy - I wouldn't say that the cover design process is difficult but it certain is challenging! Each book needs to look unique and special and we look a lot at the competitive titles to see what is working in the market. When we work on concepts and comps, we're often using swipe images or fpo (For Placement Only) images just to get the concept across. Once we get a concept approved, we need to figure out the best way to create the cover. Sometimes, we're able to license multiple stock photos and then have a digital artist put everything together in a seamless way. If we can't find the right photo (especially if the concept involves seeing a character) in stock, we will do a photo shoot. We will work with a photographer to cast just the right model and then work with them on the lighting and mood to achieve the best result. While all of this is happening, we are also working on various type treatments. We often try quite a few different fonts and lock-ups to start and work closely with the editor to be sure our type gets across the right mood. Sometimes, we even hire a hand lettering artist to create the type.

Joel - For PROPHECY we used a font that a boy or girl would want to read.

Amy - It's so fun to work with all types of creative people to create covers.

Ello - Thank you Amy and Joel! And thank you Sarah Hoy! I couldn't be happier with my gorgeous cover!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some News and a Favor

Next Monday will be the day of the PROPHECY cover reveal. So stay tuned for details on where to go next Monday. I really hope you like the cover as much as I do. I'll also include an interview with my amazing art directors from HarperCollins who did such a fantastic job on it. It'll be a behind the scenes peek at the whole book cover process. There's even going to be an ARC giveaway. Yes, exciting times!

Also, my book is already listed for preorders on Barnes and Nobles and on Amazon. The series name is wrong, but it is available.

Lastly, I need a favor. You guys may know that the series name changed from The Dragon King Chronicles to the Prophecy Series. Although I did have a facebook page for the book, the URL is now for the old series. Since we couldn't get facebook to change it for us, I made a new facebook page at my publisher's request. That means starting all over with the likes. So, as much as I hate to ask, will you "like" my new facebook page? I'll be your friend forever...

Thanks again everyone! My blog readers and followers are the best people in the world and I'm so happy to be taking this journey with all of you!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Korean Fan Dance

Shall I share with you a little sneak peek at Book 2 of the Prophecy series which I just recently completed? Yes, I know it's weird for me to do that when Book 1 isn't even out yet. But you might find it interesting. See, Book 2, called WARRIOR, has a pivotal scene involving a Korean fan dance and an assassin. That's all I'll share. But enjoy the beauty of the fan dance.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Miscellaneous stuff...

In case you missed it, I did a very embarrassing post on old bad pics over at the Friday the Thirteeners which you can go see here.

And another one of our awesome Thirteeners just had a cover reveal that I forgot to blog about. Blame deadlinitis! But I have to put it up here because it is simply too beautiful not to share: