Last Day to Win the 1st Advance Copy of ALIVE!!

If you missed it (and you totally might have since I, um, said nothing about it here), my advanced copies are in for ALIVE!!!

ALIVE is my debut novel and will be published on June 9, 2015 and, you guys, I’m starting to think it’s really happening because I received these:

Behold!

Behold!

photo

But most importantly, the awesomely awesome Young Adult site, Icey Books has hosted my cover reveal and this is the LAST day to win one of these beauties. I repeat, this is not a drill, go enter!! It will warm the cockles of my heart…

Heart!

… get it??

Here’s the Link: The heart never lies…does it? Enter to win a copy of Chandler Baker’s debut novel, ALIVE (Disney-Hyperion, 2015)

Some Thoughts on the Season Finale of True Detective

I watched last night’s season finale of True Detective mostly through the cracks in my fingers. It was tense. It was scary. It had many a good moment, but in the end, it was a bit of a letdown.

Let’s get this straight first: I love True Detective. It was smart and played with time in fascinating ways. It was a buddy-cop film that had buddy cops that defied virtually all of the traditional buddy-cop paradigms. It was suspenseful and had a fabulously gruesome crime at its heart and, of course, who wouldn’t love the fantastically depressing monologues of Matthew McConaughy’s Rusty Cohle? In short, I think these writers are basically geniuses.

But still.

I’ve spent the better part of the day trying to justify that damn finale and the more I think the more I have to admit that I’m disappointed.

–Spoilers after the jump—

 

 

Continue reading

My Big News: Introducing High School Horror Story

So this just happened:

Tony DiSanto, Liz Gateley Ink Three-Book Deal for ‘High School Horror Story’ Series

I have been sitting on this news for months. And that’s just post-deal. I met Liz and Tony through another ghostwriting project about two years ago. For those of you that don’t know, Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto created such shows on MTV as Laguna Beach, The Hills, TRL, Jersey Shore, Teen Wolf, Teen Mom, Sixteen and Pregnant, Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life and many many more. I am a huge personal fan of basically all of these shows.

aww yeah champagne yeahh

(I don’t even want to tell you how closely I follow Teen Mom.)

So after working with them from a distance, I emailed Liz one day to let her know that if she and Tony’s then recently-created production company, DiGa Vision, ever had work that I’d be interested. This was a couple weeks before my wedding and I was surprised when she emailed back the same day saying she’d love to chat.

hermione surprised

In the next few crazy months, Teen Frankenstein was born. We started working on the project in earnest in the summer of 2013. Liz and Tony have both been involved every step of the way and it’s evolved from one book to a series of interconnected ‘monster’ stories set in my home state of Texas.

About a week after the deal with Feiwel and Friends was finalized, I flew to New York to meet with Liz and Tony as well as Holly West and Jean Feiwel at my new publisher, Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan).

Here we are in a super hard-to-see picture in The Flatiron Building:

Liz and Tony and me

The trip cemented that this was the absolute perfect publishing home for this project. I love this project with my whole heart and am incredibly thankful for the team of people who love it alongside me. We have so many exciting things in store for High School Horror Story and I can’t wait to share them!

emma stone this is the best

Special thanks to my agent, Dan Lazar at Writers House, for representing me on this deal and to my writing and other friends & family who have supported these books and my sanity while on multiple deadlines. The biggest thanks goes to my husband, Rob Baker, who didn’t question when I said I needed to book a flight to NYC and would be leaving in 2 days. He does so much for me so that I can write and without him this whole insane, time-crunched operation wouldn’t function.

After years of ghostwriting books under other people’s names, I’m so pleased to soon have 4 books out under my own. Can’t wait for 2015!

frankenstein

Much love from “Frankenstein”

The Revision Cave

My edit letter arrived on Tuesday and ever since I’ve been holding my knees and rocking back and forth while humming to myself. (Not really…but kind of.) The good news: the arrival of my edit letter means that things are officially rolling again with ALIVE. There’s a significant lag from sale to when it’s your book’s turn to take center stage for your publisher. When you sell, there are often several “seasons” of releases ahead of yours. Now, it’s my little book’s turn and from here, things start moving at a much quicker pace.

Cue the edit letter.

The edit letter is the first step post-sale in the pre-publication process. A manuscript has to be clean enough to sell, of course, but there is still a long way to go in making it one of the beautiful, polished stories that you see on bookshelves. The edit letter is what it sounds like, a letter from your editor. Usually the first one ranges from 4-12 pages, single-spaced, and generally speaking, an author will go through a few rounds of letters before arriving at the copy edit stage. The first letter focuses on the biggest changes. For me, the letter was divided into categories, one for world-building and one for each character. Types of elements that are addressed in the letter: theme, character arcs, character relationships, logic, timeline, foreshadowing, pacing, plot and backstory. My letter also arrived with an annotated manuscript.

Although an editor will offer possible solutions, it’s up to the author to figure out how to address all the editor’s comments in the confines of their manuscript. This may mean revising or even rewriting large chunks of the book and then, of course, making sure the story still flows.

So, having digested my letter for ALIVE, I now have to formulate a plan to reach my April 2 due date. My amazing writing friend, Shana Silver, made me a template and I’ve been working to fill it in:

Revision Schedule

Small so as not to give spoilers

Basically, I’ve divided the parts of the book into “batches” according to overarching task. That’s what you see in Yellow. It represents a stage of the story. Each “batch” has a due date (see, Red). The “batches” are then further divided into smaller, related tasks. Each small task, also has a due date. If I don’t complete a task by its due date, it goes to the top of the priority list for Pass 2. I’ve planned 6 “batches” along with 2 additional passes through the entire manuscript and a final read through. I haven’t tried this method yet, but so far so good.

How do you guys tackle big revisions?

Diary of a Draft: Hitting “The End”

Despite my complete failure to post my last update, I did, in fact, meet my deadline! I turned in the completed draft of ALIVE on Monday, which was very exciting. It made me want to hug things and give high-fives and most importantly, it made me want to nap.

For those of y’all that have been following along, you know I reached “The End” on Friday. Meaning I got to write those two words. But that’s not even close to the real end. I then spent virtually the entire weekend polishing the draft, connecting dots, fleshing things out, working on narrative logic. Working on actual sentences. All those fun, super time-consuming things that go into a book even after it’s been written.

The Saturday night before my deadline was my saving grace. I have to thank my husband, Rob, because I really don’t think I could have done it without him. He agreed to go to Mozart’s with me, a coffee shop on the lake here in Austin, and we stayed there until about midnight on Saturday. I didn’t turn the internet on once. Instructed Rob not to give me the password. And it worked. I wrote straight through the entire time. No small thanks to this handsome view across the table:

 

Mozarts

Reading Gone Girl, hard to get him to even look up

Sunday was spent in PJs reading through and revising. Again, thank you to Rob for ensuring that our house did not become a pig sty for me to roll around in my own filth. Oh yeah, and keeping me fed.

But in short, it’s done! …For now at least. Since, yeah, the hard work hasn’t even truly started yet. I’m expecting my edit letter in early Feb and then it will be back to the work of tearing this book apart to put it together again. As my agent likes to say, “Onward!”

Diary of a Draft: Days 5-7

The last three days have been a blur. I took a day off of ALIVE to turn in option book ideas to my agent. Because of a number of things (side note: I’m DYING to tell you the THINGS, soon soon so soon), I’m on an extremely tight schedule this year in terms of writing. That means, as soon as I turn in my draft of this book to Disney-Hyperion, I get to work on my option book proposal while I wait for my edit letter. The timing of each project fits into the other like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s essentially not a moment to spare.

But the good news is that my agent loved one of my ideas. And I love it, too, and so next week I get to start writing something new! This is the first time I’ve worked on something new-new in over a year. Cue the trumpets!

For now, though, my nose is firmly attached to the grindstone. This morning, true to my goals, I finished the final chapter of ALIVE. In fact, I already have feedback on it (joy.).

Typing ‘The End’ on a project is an amazing feeling. One I haven’t gotten to do as often as I’d like.

This draft of ALIVE clocks in at 81,718 words. 289 pages in my Word file. The proposal my book sold on was about 53,000 words, so you see that I’ve written a significant chunk in the last couple months.

I wish I could celebrate, but not yet. There’s a ton of work to do this weekend. I have a two-page list of notes to myself that I want to address. Areas that need strengthening. Portions that need polishing.

And then Monday, it’s out of my hands…at least for a bit. These things are like boomerangs, you know.

So seeing as how, between work and writing I can currently barely see, I’ll be taking a much needed break for dinner and a movie.

Status:

Mood: Tired

 

Diary of a Draft: Days 3 & 4

Day 3

I was surprisingly focused. I finished up a significant chunk of new words on ALIVE and revised all the way up to the last chapter. I was even able to send it off for comments. I did all this in record time and then decided to give myself the rest of the night off. I mean, my brain was fried at that point and also I’m painfully behind on my book club book. So, I figured, rest and I will come back the next morning kicking and screaming and ready to attack that last chapter.

Day 4

Oh, I’m so funny. Kicking and screaming and ready to attack the last chapter? Hardly. I’ve saved the drafting of the last chapter for after the entire rest of the book has been revised several times through because this chapter matters immensely to the rest of the book. So I figured, get all my piggies in a row and then I’d know what to do and then I’d right it well the first time and I’d have a nice book with a nice little bow on top and so on and so forth. Try again. Yesterday, I spent most of the day staring at a blank page unsure of how to proceed. Maybe I put too much pressure on this damn chapter or maybe I just can’t figure out how to make words carry the vision. I don’t know. But yesterday’s writing experience was unpleasant. Why can I never string more than 2 good writing days together? It’s a mystery of the universe. Anyway, I arm wrestled myself into getting 400 or so words into the chapter. I don’t think they’re terrible, but let’s face it: I really have no idea.

Goals:

Finish the last chapter by Thursday or early Friday.

Status:

What I wore: work clothes and then a swift change into elastic waistbands the second I got home

What I ate: let’s not talk about it…Today is the first day I’m going to get back in the saddle eating-wise. Exercise, too. I know this sounds crazy to non-writers, but writing for really long hours can take a serious toll on your body. Gotta stay healthy.

Mood: Rollercoaster swinging between excitement and despair