Thursday, November 28, 2013


It's a beautiful (albeit smoggy) day here in SLC, UT. The sun is out, it's hovering around fifty degrees. Soon, I will be gorging on tons of delicious food.

But the real beauty of this day is the chance to reflect on the blessings in my life.

I'm not going to lie, this life is hard. It's full of trials. At least, my life has been. It's had its ups and its downs. Some of the downs have been very, very low. But if I try to look for the good, I can always find it in abundance.

Many of you have been reading this blog for years, following me through all sorts of trials and triumphs. There has been joy, there has been grief and pain. There have been tears of happiness and tears of sorrow.

In just over a month, a lifelong dream of mine will be coming true. I will be a published author with Scholastic. I remember as a little girl, reading The Babysitters Club and wishing I could be Stacey. I thought if I had diabetes and was from NYC, then people would like me. I signed all of my i's with a heart like her. I even pretended I had diabetes at school once in second grade, hoping it would win me more friends. (That was an #epicfail, btw.)  Harry Potter is my favorite series of all time. And The Hunger Games is in a league of its own. Scholastic book fairs...I LOVED getting those flyers at school growing up. When I had sleepovers with my FarMor (my Swedish Grandma), she would take me to the mall to get something, and I always had her buy me books. Reading and writing have been a part of me my entire life.

And now, in just over a month, my book will be on a shelf with that same logo on the spine.

It is unbelievable. As I sit here writing this, I'm trying not to cry, and failing. (Unfortunately, I'm in a public place, too.)

Having a dream come true is an interesting thing. It's beautiful and amazing, but it's also hard in surprising ways. I've poured my heart and soul into this book, I've done everything I could to make it the best it could be. Am I perfect? No. Is my writing flawless? Of course not. But I tried my best, and I love these characters with my whole heart. I hope that many of you will, too. I know not everyone will and that's hard. It's hard to hear when people don't understand Alexa or Damian or Rylan the way I do. But that's also the beauty of writing a story and giving it to the world. It is no longer my story. Once you pick up that book, it becomes yours. You will meet these characters and experience their stories on your terms. My hope is that for some of you, you will lose yourself in Alexa's story, in her failures and triumphs. In her weaknesses and her strengths. This is a story of overcoming loss, of continuing on no matter what. It is a story of finding love amidst pain and fear, and it is a story of discovering true strength and the courage to overcome all obstacles on the path to the hope of a better future.

DEFY is preparing to spread its wings and take flight into the world. And that is both thrilling and terrifying. It is happiness and dreams-can-come-true and this-is-really-happening.

Not all of our dreams come true, this I know. God has blessed me with much in my life, but some of it has come at a great cost, and some blessings have not come at all, as much as I wish they had.  But I do know that God loves me, and I know that all of the blessings in my life are from Him. I have an amazing husband. I have three beautiful, healthy children. There was a time when I thought I would never have children, and then a time when we had to face the reality that we might only have one. We have an angel in heaven, watching over us. And miraculously, I have two more gorgeous children, even though getting them here were some of the scariest trials I've endured. I want more babies, I wish I could have more. There may yet be another miracle or two in store for me, but I hardly even dare hope or pray for that. I don't want to be greedy and risk leaving my family without a Mommy. But as I sit here, thinking over my life so far I realize just how incredibly blessed I truly am.

I hope that all of you are with those you love today, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. I hope you take the time every day to look for the good, because all of us are blessed in unique ways. Some blessings may only come after we do all that we can--as was the case with my dream of getting published. I struggled and worked for years and years to get here, but because I never gave up, I eventually had that dream come true.

And I am so grateful that I never gave up and never quit.

I am grateful for so much.

I am blessed.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It's been a crazy two weeks, and it's not over yet! I'm so excited for the Thanksgiving weekend. I'm ready to rest and relax for a few days with my family.

Now, on to the Q&A!

Nikki asked: how much does the YA Valentines group help you? Or the benefits of being a YA Val?
Being a part of the YA Valentines has been a huge benefit and help! We are all there for each other, supporting each other through the ups and downs of debuting and just publishing in general. We are all so different, as are our books, but that's part of what makes it so great. I always know I can go to them and that they'll make me laugh, make me feel better, and that they'll understand. That's a huge thing as an author, which can feel very lonely sometimes. I'm so glad I have my Vals!

Katy asked: I would love some background on how you came up with the basic story idea for DEFY! How long it took you to write it, to query it, etc.

The inspiration came from a very dark place in my life, when someone I loved (my cousin's husband) had just passed away from cancer. He was just 24. The very first scene I wrote stemmed from that grief, and for a long time I thought that was all it was--an exercise in grief. But the characters wouldn't leave me alone so I kept going. However, about 7 or 8k words in, I hit a wall. I couldn't figure out where the plot needed to go. So I put it down. But again, the characters wouldn't leave me alone. When I finally figured out that one of them was keeping a major secret from me, the rest of the plot suddenly clicked into place and the rest of the book flew out of me. (I finished writing it 2 weeks after I figured out that one, integral secret.)

I'd been querying agents for almost 9 months (with two different books) after parting ways with my first agent in February of 2012. This was now October. But I knew DEFY was different. I started querying on Monday, about fifteen queries. Then on Tuesday night, I saw that an agent I liked had just re-opened to queries. I sent one off, and was shocked to get a full request ten minutes later. And even more shocked to get an email the next day before lunch, asking to talk to me about the book! I ended up receiving more than one offer. It was a dream situation. But TRUST ME, I've been through query hell (TWICE!) before this. If you count up all the queries from both times I searched for an agent, the rejections were probably well over 200. It was amazing to have everything move so fast with DEFY. 

Andrea asked: How many books are you planning in the defy series/world? And what is your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?

There are 3 books in the DEFY series, with the second one coming out in January 2015!

One of my least favorite parts is when I'm on a roll or have some great inspiration/ideas and can't find the time to write and lose my momentum. 

And one of my favorite parts is when I feel like I'm going to burst from excitement because everything is coming together the way I dreamed it would, and I've got the perfect music playing, and my heart is racing and I'm writing as fast as I can to get it all out before I lose my steam! 

Thanks for the great questions you guys! We'll have to do this again soon! Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me, DEFY, and my writing journey!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winner of MadLib + Something Awesome!

You guys, these MadLibs were SO hysterical! I was rolling on the floor laughing.
But, we'll get to that in a minute. First, I have some AWESOME news!

DEFY was selected for the Winter 2013-2014 Kids' Indie Next List!!!

I am SO unbelievably excited and honored to have my book be chosen for this list! I've seen so many wonderful books make the previous lists, and it still seems slightly surreal that DEFY is now one of them! THANK YOU for loving DEFY and choosing it for your list!!

I also want to take a quick moment to remind you of this Pre-Order M
adness post. If you've already pre-ordered DEFY, make sure you click through to enter to possibly win an awesome THANK YOU gift! And if you're still thinking about it, click through to find out how to pre-order a signed/personalized copy of DEFY from my local bookseller, The King's English! (They're awesome, so I hope you'll help me support them--and you can get a signed/personalized book of your very own, even if I don't live anywhere near you!)

Okay, now, on to the MadLibs!

This was TOUGH you guys. I had to assemble a panel of judges to decide the winner. We laughed so hard at so many. We narrowed it down to the top three, and then, finally, we found our winner....

MadLib scene from DEFY (with some verbs changed for tense):

"Nice job, Alex. Don’t DROOL to the prince. We all know he
couldn’t use a YO-YO if his life depended on it.” Rylan SNORT-LAUGHED at
me with an approving smile when I WINKED over to him and the
other men who’d been watching.

I CARTWHEELED, modulating my tone to keep the sound of my
amusement low and as BLUBBERY as possible. I’d been doing it
for so long, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Trying
to sound like a WHISKER was natural to me now. “When have I ever
cared what the prince thinks? The day I start taking advice about
WHIRLING from him will be the day Marcel can finally beat me.”
Rylan SHREDDED. “True. I think Marcel’s going to be feeling
that hit for a few days.”

“Well,” I replied, “it’s always good to give him a reminder of
why I’m going to beat him out for the captainship someday.” I
chucked my UNICORN through the air and Asher TICKLED it at the last second, just before it hit him in the chest.

I mean, how can you beat tickling a unicorn? We died laughing over that. Do you know who won yet? It was ANNE RILEY!! Congrats Anne! Email me your address so I can send you the signed ARC! :-)

Now, anyone curious to know what it really says in the book? Here you go! 

The real version:

   "Nice job, Alex. Don’t listen to the prince. We all know he
couldn’t use a sword if his life depended on it.” Rylan nodded at
me with an approving smile when I walked over to him and the
other men who’d been watching.
   I laughed, modulating my tone to keep the sound of my
amusement low and as unfeminine as possible. I’d been doing it
for so long, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Trying
to sound like a boy was natural to me now. “When have I ever
cared what the prince thinks? The day I start taking advice about
fighting from him will be the day Marcel can finally beat me.”
   Rylan laughed. “True. I think Marcel’s going to be feeling
that hit for a few days.”
   “Well,” I replied, “it’s always good to give him a reminder of
why I’m going to beat him out for the captainship someday.” I
chucked my sword through the air and Asher grabbed it at the last
second, just before it hit him in the chest.

Thanks again everyone for participating! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2 MONTHS until DEFY ARC Contest!

Have you looked at the date yet today? It's November 7th.


*ahem* Sorry about that outburst. I'm only a *little* bit excited. 

But, hey, there's reason for you to be excited, too! That means it's time for another DEFY arc giveaway! 

This time, I'm making it much easier. This idea was submitted by Nikki Wang--congrats Nikki!! (please email me your info, so I can send you the DEFY swag you've won!) Her idea was to do a mad-lib with a scene from DEFY. So fun, right? 

Okay, here goes! All you need to do is write your answers in your comment:

For example, if the first one were a noun, I'd write in my commment: "1. Noun = (the noun I picked)" then "2. adjective = (adjective I picked)" and so on until you did them all. 

I will pick the best one, post it for your enjoyment and that person will win the arc! 

Easy, peasy right? 

Here are your options--I tried to make this easy, so hopefully everyone can participate. 

10. NOUN
11. VERB

Remember to leave your responses in the comments. You have until Wednesday, November 13 at midnight to enter!

Also--don't forget, if you've already pre-ordered DEFY, or if you're thinking about it, you have a chance to win one of two pretty awesome THANK YOU packs--details can be found in THIS POST. (Including info on how to pre-order a signed copy of DEFY!)

Good luck everyone, and happy Mad-Libbing! (is that even a word?)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pre-order Madness (aka my way of saying THANK YOU!)

It's hard to believe that yesterday was near 70 and beautiful. Today, I'm sitting at my "desk" (aka, my dining table...if you don't believe me, go HERE) staring out at a blizzard. Oh, Utah. I guess we had a nice October, so I can't complain too much. It is November after all, so it's time for winter to come.

Whether you are excited for snow or not, there is one reason you can be really excited it's November--that means it's only 2 months until DEFY comes out!! Can you believe it? In just over 2 months, my little baby book will be out in the world!

There's intrigue, magic, sword-fighting, hot boys, a totally fierce heroine, hot boys, a kingdom set in the jungle, hot boys... *stares off into the distance, dreaming of the hot boys* 

Oh! You're still here. *ahem* Sorry about that! Anyway... On to the point of this post...

I know that some of you have already pre-ordered DEFY--which just blows me away with gratitude!! That means SO so much to an author, especially a debut author. I'm also guessing that there might be a few more of you out there who are on the fence, trying to decide if you want to pre-order or not. I know that's a big decision to make--to buy something you haven't read, especially when it's the first book in a series.

So I've decided to do something as a way of saying "THANK YOU" to those who already have pre-ordered--and to those who hadn't decided yet, maybe it will be the extra boost you are hoping for to make your decision.

Anyone who pre-orders my book before January 7, 2014 can enter the Rafflecopter drawing (below) to be entered to win one of two "thank-you prizes!!"

One Grand Prize winner will get to choose between getting a signed ARC or a signed hardcover of DEFY + a swag pack made of awesome! You can keep the extra book, or use it for your own giveaway, or gift it to a friend, or whatever you want! Now, why would you want the ARC instead of the hardcover? Well, because there's a little surprise in my ARC that you might want to see. When I got my ARCs, I had no idea it would be there either. I opened it up to look through it and saw an extra page--a letter from my editor, talking about her first experience reading DEFY and why she loves it so much! It pretty much made me cry. So, if you'd like to be able to read that letter, you can choose the ARC. Or if you'd rather have a signed first-edition of the hardcover, then pick that!

**EDIT** I just got word that I can add 2 MORE PRIZES to this giveaway!! You can now win a FREE download of the DEFY audio book, too!!!! EEP! I can't wait to hear this--I love the actress who read the book. WOOHOO!!!

PLUS a second lucky winner will also get chosen for another swag pack made of awesome!!

Wanna see what that swag pack will be? Here you go:

A this is teen "I read YA" bag (Scholastic gave these away at BEA last year, and there are only a few left in the world--how cool is that?!), a beautiful DEFY button (this picture doesn't do it justice AT ALL), a signed bookmark, a signed postcard, and surprise treat in the bag!!

Pretty cool, right? 

(Psst...For those of you who live by me and might come to my launch party on January 7th at The King's English, I will be doing a raflle with these same swag prizes--except there might also be a few bigger surprises in the possibly some ARCs of debuts coming out next year! So if you live close by, mark your calendars!)

***And speaking of The King's English--if you want to increase your chances of getting a signed copy (like, by 100%), if you pre-order through them, The King's English will have me sign/personalize your book the night of my launch party and ship it to you! How awesome, right?? GO HERE and you can order online, or you can call them to place your order (801-484-9100). Make sure to specify that you want it signed and/or personalized!***

This contest will run through DEFY's release, on January 7th, 2014 (when it will no longer be possible to pre-order). ;) 

Again, whether you pre-order or not, I can't thank you all enough for your support and excitement for DEFY. It means more than you could ever know!! *huge, awkward hugs*

a Rafflecopter giveaway