Sunday, January 30, 2011

Secrets of an Author Photo

I've told a couple people this story face to face, but never actually typed it out. I don't know if it'll be as funny, but here we go...

If you are offended by mentions of male genitalia, press your back button now.

I’m not what you’d call a photogenic person. It takes over 100 shots to find one picture where I don’t look like I’m staring into the sun while someone simultaneously stomps on my foot. Luckily, my father knows his way around a camera pretty well and agreed take my author photo for free due to the whole “being his daughter” thing.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go for the photo shoot. The town I grew up in has this big pond and a wooded park area. There’s a long bridge crossing the pond and—in my memories, at least—the end of the bridge had this cool, gothic looking arch. So, we headed there.

Present day didn’t quite match up with my memories as the cool arch was peeling and partially disintegrated. No problem…it actually looked even better this way. Instead of doing a full shot in front of the arch, we’d do a close-up head shot with the crumbling wall behind me. Gritty, urban feel. Like it.

Then, we got closer, and there was a problem.

Have you seen the movie "Superbad"? A character in that film has an obsessive disorder where he compulsively draws penises. Apparently someone with that same disease lives in my hometown.

Yes, there were graffiti weenies on my precious wall.

Dad said, “It’s okay, we’ll do it anyway.”

I said, “Dad! I’m a YA author! I can’t have a DONG in my author photo!”

But, we made it work. We moved over to the edge of the wall where there was no prominent pecker. The original plan was to have only the wall behind me, but now we additionally had some bright green foliage that added some color to the background. It actually turned out better that way. So, thank you, trouser snake obsessed graffiti artist.

And I’ll share a secret with you, blog readers.

When you open a copy of CLARITY and check out my author photo on the inside back flap...look in the upper left-hand corner of the picture and you’ll see a black, curved swipe.

Yes, folks, that is the bottom of an artist's rendering of a testicle.

Now you know. My author photo secret. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guess what I'm holding?

CLARITY won’t be out in the wild for another month-ish, but Awesome Editor sent me an early copy hot off the press because she likes to make me cry. Kidding. No, because she’s awesome (hence the name). And I may have cried. One or two tiny tears. Because I was chopping onions when the mail came.* Yeah, that’s it. *lies about some pics!

Front view.

Side view.

And when you take the jacket off…purple! (My favorite color! LOVE!)

The best part for me, though, might seem kind of weird. It’s the bumpy letters.

I think the technical term for the raised type is “embossing,” but I’ve always called it bumpy letters. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a habit of tracing my fingers over the bumps back and forth while a book is open on my lap. My husband once said, “Some dream about their name in lights. Kim dreams about her name in bumpy letters.”

And now it’s real.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A starred review in Publishers Weekly!

I am delighted to share the news that Clarity got a starred review in Publishers Weekly! Here's a little snippet:

Harrington's well-developed characters and tight plot are simultaneously charming, realistically complex, and intriguing. While recalling classic sleuth stories, Harrington creates a fiery and sharp-witted heroine who's more Veronica Mars than Nancy Drew (Nancy almost certainly never used the term "Skanky McSkankbag"). Clare is a teen detective for the 21st century.

Yes, the esteemed Publishers Weekly just said the words "Skanky McSkankbag." EPIC WIN.

Click here for the full review (down the page a bit).

I am so happy. To be honest, even after having sold three books, part of me still feels like this giant fraud. Like my publisher is going to call and tell me this whole thing was a mistake and I suck. Irrational, I know, but I'm sure I'm not the only insecure writer who has these thoughts. Anyway, reading this review has quieted the "you suck you are a fraud" monster who sometimes lives in the back of my brain.

So cheers to that! If it wasn't -40000 degrees outside right now (slight exaggeration), I'd run up and down the street in joy. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Which I Pass On Some Editing Tips

First, hop on over to my Facebook page and comment to enter to win my swag pack giveaway!

Now...on to the topic of editing!

I turned in Clarity 2 (title to come/Spring 2012) a month or two ago, after working on the line edits for a few weeks. And since then I’ve been revising my standalone (coming Fall 2012) and getting that ready for Awesome Editor to read. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

1. I catch more errors reading a printed out manuscript than reading on the screen.

2. Reading dialogue out loud works. Seriously. Though you might want to save this for home editing and not, say, Panera editing.

3. I needed to know exactly how many days had passed at a certain point and this sounds easier to figure out than it actually was. It required a chart.

4. Clarity 2 has a couple storylines that I consider equally important. I wanted to make sure they maintained a good balance. For example, I don’t want storyline B to be dropped for four chapters in a row while storyline A runs wild. I want both to show consistent progress. So, again, I made a chart. This time a color-coded chart.

5. I like charts.

6. I reach a point in editing when I’ve read and reread the book so many times that I want to rip the manuscript into 1,000 pieces, eat the pieces just so I can throw them up, then stomp them into dust. But that’s okay because this feeling passes and is eventually replaced with excitement when I realize that, once again…

7. I love this book.


Feel free to add more editing tips in the comments!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Idea Factory

Ask writers where they get their ideas and some will laugh and say, “The idea factory.” But it’s not a joke. The idea factory actually does exist. It’s a little section of the brain that sees things through a writer’s eye. Whether it’s a news story, a song, a piece of artwork on a wall, a snippet of conversation overheard at Panera…the idea factory is always listening, always paying attention, always wondering if there’s a story in that.

This is why I love news feeds. I’m an information junkie and read all that I can. Both because it’s interesting and you never know what you’ll learn or take from it.

For example, I read this article about a woman with a damaged amygdalae who cannot feel fear. My first thought was…wow, she would make a great character. She could be a hardcore, noir private detective. Or—for a paranormal—what better demon slayer could there be than someone who doesn’t feel fear? Or…what if the government started purposefully creating soldiers with damaged amygdalae, but their experiment went very, very wrong? In just seconds after reading the article, I had hooks for a mystery, urban fantasy, and a conspiracy thriller.

And I read this article about an Australian company offering a test that can analyze your child’s athletic potential based on DNA. And, of course, my mind started to imagine…what if all babies were tested at birth for their potential in athletics, music, math, etc. and then they were placed—unwillingly—in schools segregated by their potential and forced into careers based on their genetic code rather than their interests? That’s some cool dystopian world building there!

I'm not going to write books based on either of these articles (so feel free to take those ideas and run with them!), but I have tons of snippets of ideas like these. I keep them in notebooks and Word documents because you never know when one will lead to something more.

A few years ago, I read an article in the real estate section about “stigmatized properties” (better known as “murder houses”). The notion stuck with me and I wrote it down. Last year, when it was time for me to start playing with something new, I flipped through my idea book and this one grabbed my attention again. So I toyed with it.

What if a family wanted to move to an upscale town with a top-notch school system, but couldn’t afford it...until a house went up for sale—a murder house. What if they bought it, but didn’t tell their teenage daughter about the house’s history? And what if the murder victim still haunted the house? I played around with these ideas for a while and they ended up being the basis for my standalone YA supernatural mystery that’s coming out in Fall 2012.

How did I come up with the idea for CLARITY? That's an entire blog post of its own...coming soon!

So, my advice for ideas? Read the news. And keep your idea factory open at all times. You never know when you’ll hear the one line that will change everything.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The CLARITY Book Trailer

Two blog posts in one day! I know, it's like Bizarro World up in here. But I simply couldn't wait to post about...drum roll...the CLARITY book trailer!

I am so excited to show you this. I am also not too cool to admit that, when I first watched it, I actually screamed out loud and flailed my hands in the air. Oh yeah. I did. I am the epitome of composed professionalism.

Here it is!

What do you think?