My first school visit

school visit badge
My visitor pass for the day

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a high school book club, where the club read Threats of Sky and Sea this month. Equal parts nervous and elated, I left Day Job early and pulled up to a place that I don’t think I’ve been to since 2006– when I graduated from there. I tried to disregard the surrealism of the situation and the urge to cry out that “I DON’T EVEN GO HERE.”

go here

Not someone who is innately comfortable with attention, I was pretty dang nervous, but the informal setting quickly helped me relax. I’d estimate that about 20 students attended and we pulled together chairs in a loose circle around a table, and let the questions fly.

A lot of questions that I answered were about my writing process, such as do I ever have writer’s block?

YUP. I talked about pushing through that via Write or Die. My explanation of Write or Die’s “kamikaze” mode was met with horror. I neglected to mention Written? Kitten, for fans of positive reinforcement, which rewards the user with a new picture of either a puppy, kitten, or bunny for every 100 words (or higher, if the writer prefers) written. I also waxed on a bit about Scrivener and Simplenote simply because they sync and I can jump into the manuscript from any computer, or even my iPhone.

The students also asked how I plan out my books and I explained the concepts of “plotting” vs. “pantsing.” I talked about how my book went through several drafts in order to make it coherent and they also asked how it changed from a first draft to a complete draft.

I talked about how I come up with names– sometimes by literally smushing two random words together, which is how Tregle got his name, or sometimes, deriving them from other languages, as is the case with Secan and Perdit, which I cobbled together from Spanish roots for words like “dry” and “lost.” I talked about sites like Nymbler and Baby Name Wizard’s Namipedia, which help you find names based on others you like– which is how I landed on Aleta, from her original name: Alanna.

Note: at this point in the post, you may encounter some mild…



Bree, I told them, jumped into my head already named Bree– it worked out really well for me when I found out that Breena is a “welsh river name.” Some sites have the meaning listed as “fairy palace” which isn’t too far off the mark either.

They asked a few questions about publishing, such as why did I publish under a pen name (answer: branding), or why did I self-publish? (I weighed my pros/cons for traditional pubbing vs. self pubbing for them) Also, did I want to write full-time one day or keep my Day Job?

“Hahahahahahaha,” I said.

“No. I don’t want to keep my Day Job.”

(Not that it’s not nice/I’m not grateful to have it, etc. but I work full-time in finance, so.)

Since they read Threats of Sky and Sea this month, we talked about the book a bit, including some criticism, which I told them I was 100% fine with hearing, but mostly we talked about different scenes.

“Is Da pronounced Da [Dad without the latter “d”] or Dah [Ma with a “D”]?”

I think I said Da [like Ma] and then later used Da[d] in passing when talking about him. So, um… reader’s choice?

“Would YOU have waited around to save him?”

As angry with him and mistrusting of him as Bree was, if I’d been her shoes, I’m not sure I would have, no.

“There’s like 3 chapters of them just walking. Wasn’t there a faster way?”

Beyond horses, which they didn’t have, not really. Air Riders like Da and Katerine could have had a much quicker journey, but not with 3 non-Rider companions. Also, I totally knew some people wouldn’t like the ~journey chapters, but books with long journeys are usually (perhaps weirdly) my favorite books in some series. I love it in Harry Potter, Book 7: Harry Potter and the Prolonged Camping Trip, I love it in the Uglies series, I loved it in the Matched series…

(around here, our talk got a bit diverted into other YA lit and it’s possible I fangirled a bit when I brought up authors like Kristin Cashore, Sarah J. Maas, and Tamora Pierce, and that led to discussing whether we prefer paperback or ebooks, before we went back to Threats)

“What was your favorite scene to write?”

Me, very promptly: “The kissing scene.”

I also got to hear what some of their favorite scenes were and some of them were the action scenes where Bree Reveals or just before they escape. This was a relief for me because I struggle with action scenes.

I’ll wrap up here, but basically it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done to sit and talk with a group of people who have actually read Threats of Sky and Sea. We talked for around an hour, I brought a bit of swag for anyone who wanted it, and signed a student’s book. I was grinning from ear when I left and felt like a “real author.” Validation achieved!

level up

Stories in the Threats of Sky and Sea universe:
Threats of Sky and Sea (Book #1)
Sisters of Wind and Flame (prequel)
Defining Justice (prequel, coming May 4, 2015)
Riot of Storm and Smoke (Book 2, coming 2015)

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