Eight Themes

I wish I could remember where I read it– I’d have loved to link to the article!– but somewhere around the internet I read the suggestion to boil my novel down into 7-10 major themes and post them where I could easily see them.

As I write Mill City Heroes, these are the themes I keep on my radar in image form (my computer desktop’s background actually!):

themes mch

Clockwise from top left: poppies, winter, feline, slavery/freedom, red, Peter Pan, city (particularly Mill City, i.e. Minneapolis), ravens.

So, are you intrigued? Confused? A little of both?

I can’t wait to tell you more as this novel takes form!

Spread Some TRUEST Love Today!

Would you consider re-blogging this post, sharing a link to it, or pinning/sharing/using one of the images below in your social media? #Truest

My debut novel Truest comes out on September 1st, and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce the world to these characters who have captured my heart! The highlight of 2014 for me was when I got an email from my editor that said:

I don’t know why it took me so long to finish this version. But I just did and all I can say is WOW. I just think it’s the kind of book that will change kids and adults, too–forever. Jackie–it’s just a beautiful book. You’ve written something meaningful, deep, thought provoking, sexy and uber-romantic.

To learn more about Truest— or to pre-order your copy, click here. FINAL MEET THE CHARACTERS FINAL BLOG BANNERTruest quote storm cell Truest alacrity truest baptism with website White genuine leather classical style sofa in vintage room with desk lamp

Fresh organic oranges halves  fruits on blue wooden background with copy space

man plays the guitar on the street. retro style.

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red shoe truest

Ultimate YA Book Boyfriend: Round Two

ultimate ya book boyfriend round II

Augustus Waters vs. Jonah Griggs

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“What do you think would happen if we kissed right here, right now?” he asks, digging his hands into the pockets of his khaki pants, grinning right back at me.
“I think it would cause a riot.”
“Well, you know me,” he says, lowering his head towards me. “Causing a riot is what I do best.”
Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Park Sheridan vs. Tom Mackee

“Next time,” he said, “I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, duck behind these bushes with me, I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t kiss you.’”
She didn’t move, so he thought it was probably okay to touch her face. Her skin was as soft as it looked, white and smooth as freckled porcelain.
“I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this rabbit hole…’”
He laid his thumb on her lips to see if she’d pull away. She didn’t. He leaned closer. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn’t trust her not to leave him standing there.
Park Sheridan from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

“Don’t let anyone take care of you. Can you maybe leave that for me to do? I mean, take care of you? Feel free to take care of me in return… because I think I’ll need you to do that.”
Tom Mackee from The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Will Trombal vs. Gilbert Blythe

“Do you think people have noticed that I’m around?”
“I notice when you’re not. Does that count?”
Will Trombal from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

“I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends – and you!”
Anne wanted to speak but she could find no words. Happiness was breaking over her like a wave. It almost frightened her.
“I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it again today, will you give me a different answer?”
Still Anne could not speak. But she lifted her eyes, shining with all the love-rapture of countless generations, and looked into his for a moment. He wanted no other answer.
Gilbert Blythe from Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Four vs. Sean Kendrick

I feel the urge, familiar now, to wrench myself from my body and speak directly into her mind. It is the same urge, I realize, that makes me want to kiss her every time I see her, because even a sliver of distance between us is infuriating. Our fingers, loosely woven a moment ago, now clutch together, her palm tacky with moisture, mine rough in places where I have grabbed too many handles on too many moving trains. Now she looks pale and small, but her eyes make me think of wide-open skies that I have never actually seen, only dreamed of.
Four from Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I say, ‘I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.’
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, ‘It’s late for that, Puck.’
Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Thoughts from a Lazy Saturday

I was very kind to myself today.

I wore sweatpants, took a long nap, ate chocolate, watched Harry Potter.

I’ve been terribly stressed lately. I really can’t say I recommend closing on a house and starting renovations at the same time your first draft is due to your editor. Just saying.

When I get really stressed– as in, very stressed, not just my regular run-of-the-mill stressed– my body starts to shut down. Sometimes I get really weird inflammations– like the inside of my mouth or the tissues around my eyes. When this happens, I know I’ve got to find a way to chill out.

Hence all the self-care today.

I’m in a tough spot with my first draft. I love the characters. I have a beginning, middle, and an end. I know those are both very good things. But I also get very overwhelmed by how much more there is to do. I know that many scenes are in the wrong places; I know that my transitions are awkward at best and nonexistent at worst.

It needs work. Literal work. It requires hours of butt in seat, hands on keyboard. I need to show up.

But I’m exhausted. And I need to believe in the magic of the creative process again.

I know– KNOW– that it works. That writing, feedback, revision, repeat is the key– and that if I do it enough times, something special will happen. I’ve seen it happen. But there’s this little element of doubt that niggles into my mind: what if it doesn’t work this time?

Doesn’t matter, right? I’m still going to write.

That makes sense to me too. But I’m still allowing myself to get caught beneath the waves of doubt and stress.

I will say that I feel better and stronger and less afraid than I did back in October. Then I was having nervous breakdowns left and right. I was also writing a different book. I had about 65k words of Ardor Valor Splendor written when I started my meltdown routine. And now, here I am with 62k words of Mill City Heroes written, and I’m starting to hit the same wall. Maybe this is a pattern for me? Maybe the end of the first draft is the worst part for me. I’m a new novelist. I’m still learning these things.

At the end of this month, I’ll turn in my draft to my editor, who– by the way– has seen nothing of this new project yet. She’s the sweetest, loveliest, most amazing editor in the world, but I’m still scared. She’s never seen anything this messy of mine before. She tells me that’s okay, that we’ll make it perfect. But I still worry.

I am, of course, a recovering perfectionist. And still desperately trying to trust that creative process. Write, feedback, revise, repeat. I can do this.

Tomorrow.

🙂

7 Things You Never Knew About Me

7 things1. When I was little, I was so shy I could barely talk to grown-ups. My dad would take me to the local bowling alley and let me get a candy bar if I’d ask for it myself at the bar. Somewhere I found the guts … anything for chocolate!

2. I’ve always battled with the desire to be the best. I didn’t just want an A; I wanted the best score in the class. I’m still this way. Sometimes I think it’s served me well (I’m a hard worker), but sometimes it kicks my butt (no one can be perfect– not everyone is going to love me … or my stories).

3. I can probably out-passive-aggressive you. That said, I have no qualms in asking for what I want.

4. I’ve been recruiting for almost a dozen years now. It’s a weird and not too enjoyable feeling to watch the kids I recruited get married before me.

5. My particular combination of strengths means that productivity is rewarding to me and relaxation is hard to come by, partly because it’s not supremely enjoyable to me. I get more pleasure out of creating than resting.

6. Except for my 3 years in college and the 3 years after, I’ve always been debt-free. It’s overwhelming to take on a mortgage. I’m terrifically motivated to pay it off early.

7. Mediocrity terrifies me.

Book Characters I’d Like Updates On

I’ve told you before that I think a lot about book characters outside of the actual novels. Here are a few characters I’d like to check in with.

Susan Pevensie | After the railway accident … (I’ve actually thought about this one so much that I wrote a story about it called “Nine Names“)

Raffy & Chaz | In Jellicoe Road, it is hinted that these two have a story that continues. I want to know it.

Jimmy Hailer | Always. And Melina Marchetta keeps hinting that we’re actually going to get his story too:

jimmy hailer 2

Rose Weasley | And Scorpius Malfoy too. Duh.

poppetPoppet Murray | Take me back to The Night Circus please, Erin Morgenstern– I want Poppet and Bailey’s love story!

Maddie Brodatt & Jamie Beaufort-Stuart | Fascinated by these two from Code Name:Verity and Rose Under Fire. Want more.

Puck & Sean | But of course. I’ve got my head-canon, but I want Maggie Stiefvater’s words.

Quintana of Charyn | If you can’t tell, my answer is always, “More Marchetta please!”

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Broke & Bookish.

The Ultimate YA Book Boyfriend: Round One

Indulge me for a moment (or a month).

ultimate ya book boyfriend

Augustus Waters vs. Cole St. Clair

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Beneath me, the bed tipped as Cole edged closer. I felt him lean over me. His breath, warm and measured, hit my cheek. Two breaths. Three. Four. I didn’t know what I wanted. Then I heard him stop breathing, and a second later, I felt his lips on my mouth. It wasn’t the sort of kiss I’d had with him before, hungry, wanting, desperate. It wasn’t the sort of kiss I’d had with anyone before. This kiss was so soft that it was like a memory of a kiss, so careful on my lips that it waslike a memory of a kiss, so careful on my lips that it was like someone running his fingers along them. My mouth parted and stilled; it was so quiet, a whisper, not a shout. Cole’s hand touched my neck, thumb pressed into the
skin next to my jaw. It wasn’t a touch that said “I need more”. It was a touch that said “I want this.”
It was all completely soundless. I didn’t think either of us was breathing.
Cole sat back up, slowly, and I opened my eyes. His expression, as ever, was blank, the face he wore when something mattered.
He said, “That’s how I would kiss you, if I loved you.”
Cole St. Clair from Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Froi vs. Jonah Griggs

“You’re supposed to say I don’t have a pointy chin or pointy nose,” she said, somewhat dryly.
“But you do,” he said. “And you also have pointy eyes,” he added as he kissed both lids, “and a pointy mouth,” he teased, pressing his lips against hers, “and a pointy tongue.” His body covered hers as he held her face in his hands and captured her mouth, the silk warmness of her tongue matching his, stroke by stroke. Then he felt the sharp nip of her teeth as his mouth dared to leave hers, traveling toward her throat, fleetingly tracing the scars from the noose. “And a pointy, pointy heart,” he murmured, feeling the powerful beat that her enemies had tried to crush from the moment she was born.
Froi from Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

“What do you think would happen if we kissed right here, right now?” he asks, digging his hands into the pockets of his khaki pants, grinning right back at me.
“I think it would cause a riot.”
“Well, you know me,” he says, lowering his head towards me. “Causing a riot is what I do best.”
Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Max Vandenburg vs. Park Sheridan

Such a brilliant German day and its attentive crowd. He let his mouth kiss her palm. “Yes, Liesel, it’s me,” and he held the girl’s hand in his face and cried onto her fingers.
Max Vandenburg from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“Next time,” he said, “I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, duck behind these bushes with me, I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t kiss you.'”
She didn’t move, so he thought it was probably okay to touch her face. Her skin was as soft as it looked, white and smooth as freckled porcelain.
“I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this rabbit hole…'”
He laid his thumb on her lips to see if she’d pull away. She didn’t. He leaned closer. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn’t trust her not to leave him standing there.
Park Sheridan from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Thomas Finch Mackee vs. Richard Campbell Gansey III

“Don’t let anyone take care of you. Can you maybe leave that for me to do? I mean, take care of you? Feel free to take care of me in return… because I think I’ll need you to do that.”
Tom Mackee from The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

“I wish you could be kissed, Jane,’ he said. ‘Because I would beg just one off you. Under all this.’ He flailed an arm toward the stars.”
Gansey from The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater

Will Trombal vs. Theodore Finch

“Do you think people have noticed that I’m around?”
“I notice when you’re not. Does that count?”
Will Trombal from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

“You’re probably better at math than I am, because pretty much everyone’s better at math than I am, but it’s okay, I’m fine with it. See, I excel at other, more important things—guitar, sex, and consistently disappointing my dad, to name a few.”
Theodore Finch from All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Gilbert Blythe vs. Finnikin of the Rock

“I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends – and you!”
Anne wanted to speak but she could find no words. Happiness was breaking over her like a wave. It almost frightened her.
“I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it again today, will you give me a different answer?”
Still Anne could not speak. But she lifted her eyes, shining with all the love-rapture of countless generations, and looked into his for a moment. He wanted no other answer.
Gilbert Blythe from Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

And when Finnikin grabbed her to him and buried his face in her neck and then bent down and placed his mouth on hers, the others pretended that there was something very interesting happening in the meadow. The priest-king even pointed at the nothing they were pretending to see. But Froi didn’t. He just watched the way Finnikin’s hands rested on Evanjalin’s neck and he rubbed his thumb along her jaw and the way his tongue seemed to disappear inside her mouth as if he needed a part of her to breathe himself. And Froi wondered what Evanjalin was saying against Finnikin’s lips when they stopped because whatever the words were it made them start all over again and this time their hunger for each other was so frightening to watch that it made Froi look away.
Finnikin from Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Four vs. Joe Fontaine

I feel the urge, familiar now, to wrench myself from my body and speak directly into her mind. It is the same urge, I realize, that makes me want to kiss her every time I see her, because even a sliver of distance between us is infuriating. Our fingers, loosely woven a moment ago, now clutch together, her palm tacky with moisture, mine rough in places where I have grabbed too many handles on too many moving trains. Now she looks pale and small, but her eyes make me think of wide-open skies that I have never actually seen, only dreamed of.
Four from Allegiant by Veronica Roth

“Forget what I said earlier, let’s stick with this, I might not survive anything more.” I laugh. Then he jumps up, finds my wrists, and pins them over my head.
“Yeah, right. Totally joking, I want to do everything with you, whenever you’re ready, I’m the one, promise?” He’s above me, batting and grinning like a total hooplehead.
Joe Fontaine from The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Sean Kendrick vs. Marco Alisdair

I say, ‘I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.’
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, ‘It’s late for that, Puck.’
Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

“Do you remember all of your audiences?”
“Not all of them. But I remember the people who look at me the way you do.”
“What way might that be?”
“As though they cannot decide if they are if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me.”
“I am not afraid of you.”
Marco Alisdair from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Stay tuned for round two next week!

Street Team Update

Truest street teamI think I may have inadvertently intimidated some of you with my last survey. Oops!

If you’re interested in joining the Truest Street Team, all I need is your name and contact info, which you can supply here.

It’s simple.
Your role: be excited about Truest, an “evangelist” for it! Talk about it, recommend it, write a review, etc.
Your incentive: a bunch of really fun free Truest-related stuff!

I hope you’ll consider it!

Truest Street Team

Okay, friends, let me tell you about the Truest Street Team.

What is a street team? Oh, you know, a group of dedicated friends and fans who “hit the streets” (mostly social media) to promote Truest. Street team members will be die-hard evangelists for the book, share quotes and art on social media, write a review and post it on your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, BN, etc., recommend the book to other readers.

What’s in it for you? SWAG, including two exclusive scenes that don’t appear in the story, a poster, and a bunch of fun promo items (some that only make sense if you’ve read the book!). I’ve thought very creatively about my incentives, and I admit: they’re awesome. Really.

If you’re interested, fill out this form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CT9GLZ3

About 15-20 people will be selected.

Most importantly, thanks for caring about me and my writing. You are wonderful people.