22 April 2014

The Time has Come

I’ve been rambling about this book launch for three weeks. What’s left that hasn’t been said?


Pretty sure I’ve already said that. Ah well.

I thought I would toss this up for anyone who hasn’t heard about it, or who is going to be in the Layton, Utah area on Friday, April 25th.

Jo Ann Schneider


Jolly Fish Press

Are excited to announce the release of Jo’s book

New Sight

In order to properly introduce New Sight into the big, bad world of readers, there will be a launch party of epic proportions.

When: Friday, April 25th 6:00pm-800pm

Where: Barnes and Noble in Layton, Utah
1780 North 1000 West

There will be giveaways. Jo will entertain you with her melodious voice at 7:15pm. Thankfully this will be reading from the book, not singing. Then she will sign your book. And you will be able to say that you were there when it all began.

Please join us!

Come and hang out. Win a prize. Get a book signed. Heck, just hang at Barnes and Nobel for a few hours. It’s an excuse to get your reader on!

I should thank everyone who has read any version of New Sight, has given me feedback, who made me cry with their harsh reviews and has encouraged me to follow my dream. I wouldn’t be here without you.

This also means you’re obligated to come to the party. J

17 April 2014

Again and Again and Again

The manuscript for New Sight went through more revisions than I care to remember. The simple act of opening the folder still sends me running for chocolate and a Diet Coke. I thought I was finished with the novel at least six times before I really was.

Remember how I vowed to have it finished in a year?

Well, I did that.

It wasn't pretty—I know I ended up in trouble with more than one of my friends for burying myself in writing instead of hanging out—but I did it.

And can I just revel in that for a moment? How many people even start writing a novel? How many of those get past chapter three? And of those, how many actually finish writing their novel?

The statistics are depressing, so I ignore them. (Never tell me the odds, right?)

So triumph #1 is that I finished. On time. And did indeed pitch my book to a great agent at the conference. I also won the first chapter contest of the conference with the first chapter of New Sight that year.

Pretty much I felt awesome.

But that agent didn't end up taking New Sight, so I delved in yet again for more revisions.

I sent it to 25 or so agents and didn't get a bite. I stalked the TOR YA agent at WorldCon—late night parties with about a million people are NOT my thing—that same year and sent the manuscript to her. She ultimately rejected it.

That felt like the last straw. I seriously got the rejection letter at the SAME conference a year later than my first agent pitch. So two years had passed since I'd vowed to write this book. I'd already written rough drafts for two other stores—I was kind of over it.

Then, that night (literally, that night) there was a meet and greet with the local publishers. I didn't want to go. I'm pretty sure my BFF writing buddy made me go—she's really bossy. And that's where I saw the Jolly Fish Press crew.

My first thought, “They're all like 13 years old.”

In me defense, they all either look or are very young.

My second thought, “Didn't I send my manuscript to them a while ago?”

In a rare moment of bravado, I sauntered over, adjusted my messenger back on my shoulder, smiled and said, “I think I sent you the first 50 pages of my manuscript a while ago.”

One of the younglings smiled that smile they'd been smiling all day and asked me what my story was about.

I said, “Kids addicted to magic.”

Of course all they remembered was the eyeball/spoon part of the book. I admit, it isn't exactly forgettable. (I had a friend call me up one time and tell me she'd had a dream about trying to take all of the guys at her work's eyes out with a spoon. Oops.) They all got excited—going on and on about the horror of it all—and asked me to send them the rest of the story.

I knew, right then, that New Sight would be published by Jolly Fish Press. Don't ask me how, I just knew.

And here we are! Just a few days away from the big launch. After literally years of my life on this project and I finally get to unleash New Sight onto the world.

Catch the wave!

Here's a snippet that I really liked but didn't get to keep in the novel (not edited, don't judge). Lys is approaching the rehab compound—the one I didn't really use—and has been given a sketchy compound that's making her hallucinate. Enjoy!

Only a few minutes more passed before Mark said, “Here we go, love.”

Lys glanced up and saw him pointing toward the front windshield.

The pine trees were leaning in, practically trying to stop the SUV from continuing along the dirt road. Lys 
could feel them closing, could see them reaching for her.

Then they were gone. In a burst of sunlight, Lys found herself in a clearing the size of a football field. She blinked, there was the road behind them, with it's leaning trees and grasping boughs. Lys blinked again. This time she saw the SUV she was in, only from the air. Pine needles stuck out of every single spot they could burrow into. Hanging out of the other door, a seat belt flapped, covered in dust. Lys shook her head and took a deep breath.

The scene resolved itself, and Lys found a wall of logs on the far side of the clearing. Sharpened like pencils, the logs stood as sentinels—fifteen feet tall, brooding and waiting. Two towers loomed even higher than the walls, filling Lys with a feeling of smallness, weakness. Like it didn't matter how hard she tried to hide something, because they would see. They would see and they would come for her.

The SUV did not slow. Lys' internal willing it to stop failed miserably. As they approached the impenetrable wall, a section of it swung open, revealing a path to the interior. Lys wanted to beg the driver to stop—she did not want to go into the fortress, but before she could say anything they were through the gate, a blonde woman in a green shirt and khaki pants waving them through.

The clothes must be a uniform. Ayden and Mark were dressed in the same attire. Sentinels, uniforms, guards . . . prison, a prison that did not let people out.

13 April 2014

One Thing Leads to Another

Last time I talked about where the initial idea for New Sight came from.
(Spoilers—if you haven't read to the middle of the book)

Kids addicted to magic.

I don't even remember how many ideas I went through. A friend at work used to run one of those outdoor camp places where people send their behavioral and drug addict kids. For a while I thought that's what the story should be about. But my mind had it set in a totally fantasy world where those blue people from Avatar kept flying through on their dragon things.

BOTH of those things stressed me out to the point where I had to put the aside. While a story about kids in a magic rehab camp sounds awesome, it felt too dramatic for me.

If you don't know me, you should be informed that I'm NEVER dramatic. Well, hardly ever. Only when I don't get exactly what I want. You understand, yes?

Anyway, in my heart and mind I loved both of the above ideas, but as I started to write, the story became so much more about the adventure of the kids finding out about their magic and all of the horror, wonder and issues it would lead to. I'm an action addict, and the emotional side of the story kept dragging it down.

In my mind anyway. I'm not the one to write that story.

So I scrapped the totally fantasy world and set it in our world. Magic is almost dead, hardly anyone knows about it, and those that do should not be trifled with. This made writing the novel so much easier. Introducing a whole new world takes time and experience, neither of which I had in abundance when I started. Simplicity won that round, but I don't think an almost normal world takes away from the story.

Y'all will have to tell me after you read the book!

I do admit to a little bit of sadness when I gave up the flying dragon things. I'll have to pull them out in a different novel.

10 April 2014

The True Power of a Deadline

What kind of a psycho decides to get their first ever publishable novel written in a year?

Er, yeah, that would be me.

I vowed, after a writing conference (see last post), that I would have a novel to pitch the next year.

Before the conference ended, during the closing remarks if I remember correctly, I started scribbling ideas for the novel.

At this point I didn't know what story I would use. I had three or four that I'd already done some work on and had some great ideas about. One I love, love, love, but didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle it yet.

So I wrote a list of ideas and let them sink in.

Yeah, that whole sinking in sometimes never happens.

None of the stories I'd written down sparked my interest. And when I figured out that I should start something new, I was not happy.

Starting from scratch is not one of my strong points. I can edit until the cows come home—don't have cows, btw—but the creation process is hard for me.

So I pouted.

Oh get off it, everyone pouts about silly things. Don't judge me.

Well, I knew I wanted to write either science fiction or fantasy. I knew I wanted to write a YA novel. I probably jotted down a hundred different story ideas. None off them really tickling my fancy.

Okay, the next bit is a spoiler. Sort of.

I remember quite clearly driving north on I-215 coming home from work. The Ivory house neighborhood sat to my right, and the sun warmed the left side of my face. Music played, but the air whooshing through the opened windows drown it out.

I was still pouting about the lack of inspiration/spark on which story I should write, when this came into my mind clear as the day was outside.

The story is about kids, addicted to magic.

Huh? What?

Well, the idea stuck in there. I couldn't get rid of it. And New Sight ensued. After a whole lot of ideas, trauma and rewriting. More on that next time.

06 April 2014

In the Beginning

I've told this story before, but figure I'll tell it again.

After all, it is the beginning of New Sight.

A few years ago I went to a writing conference. It was the first real writing conference (not a convention with people dressed up as Dragonball Z characters with authors on the side) and the experience opened my eyes to a whole new world.

A big world.

A world where I could get a book published.

Oh, I'd been writing for years. I'd probably typed out five horrendous novels at this point. The latest had been an off-shoot story from what ended up being Babes in Spyland. I had actually gone through my Nanowrimo of the tale, re-outlined it, researched locations and technology/weapons and had rewritten the thing.

It wasn't great, but it was finished.

Not publishable, but finished.

I'd never been to an official convention of any sort before this. Apparently lots of people come by themselves (or at least hang out by themselves) and go to classes. Two loners sit near one another and start to chat about what they have written, are writing or hope to write.

I swear that every person I sat next to had a novel that had either just come out or was about to come out. Real books. Some of them were on sale in the bookstore. When my newfound friends smiled and asked me what I wrote, I told them (somewhat sheepishly) that I'd just finished the edits on a super secret spy novel that should never, ever see the light of day—too cheesy.

They all smiled and laughed and we had a great time.

But through all of those conversations, and the meals and the hallway visits, my mind started to churn. Why didn't I have a novel ready for this? What had I been doing all this time? Just playing around?

A friend of mine actually met with an agent to pitch her book—I'd never before heard of this terrifying experience—and got an invitation to send them her manuscript.

Well, that cemented my fate. I vowed right then and there that the next year, at this very conference, I would have a novel written and edited and ready to pitch to an agent.

And I did.

Oh yes, I did.

03 April 2014

The Cast

Every main character needs a support crew. The crew can be populated by one friend, a dozen cheerleaders (literally or figuratively), the chess club, the main character's family or...well...just about anyone.

Lys, I introduced her last post, starts off quite alone, but throughout her adventure, she picks up a few friends. Some more, er, friendly than others.

This story, after it settled in my head, screamed for an international cast of characters. The nature of what is happening to the world and these kids is such that it would not be a localized cross section of the population. So I got to think way outside of the USA. I pulled out a map and started picking countries. I also retrieved my baby name book and began searching for names.

Without the right name, I can't write the character. They come alive only after I have a name and a face for them.

Read on.

I pulled the pictures off the web ages ago, so I'm sorry to say that I don't have any credits to go with them. And besides, they're more like guidelines. If anyone wants to claim them, know that I've been picturing these faces (ish) as I write.

Meet Kamau (he usually wears his shirt)

 Kamau comes from Mozambique, and can squeeze water out of rocks, track foes through any terrain, eat bugs when the situation calls for it and has the table manners of a Jane Austin character. It doesn't take long for his eye to wander to Lys. In more way than one. Not to give too much away, but Kamau is very good at smelling rats.

Next is Brady

Brady is the youngest, as well as the geek of the bunch. Everything is a pop culture reference for him, but being from England, not everyone gets all of his jokes. Lys thinks he's adorable and likes to listen to his accent. Who wouldn't? Brady fancies himself a ladies man, but doesn't exactly have a soft touch.

Inez is our last crew member

It's kind of a rule that someone has to be grouchy, right? Well, Inez gets to be the angsty one. However, you can hardly blame her. She grew up poor, had to run away when she was young and now lives in a bit of Las Vegas that shouldn't even be inhabited. Lys is her polar opposite, and the two girls have their moments of, shall we say, animosity? Inez's little talent is talking boys into doing exactly what she wants, but not in the way you're thinking.

There are plenty of other characters in the novel, but these are the ones to watch out for!

31 March 2014

Meet the Star of New Sight

When I first scripted New Sight, I knew I needed a teenage girl protagonist/main character.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t feel like I was a very normal teenage girl—I hardly ever squealed, and I never pined for more than about thirty minutes. Plus, I was extraordinarily boring. My friends were cool, but also not terribly exciting. So I was a little nervous to write an entire novel from inside the head of a California girl who grew up rich, went shopping for fun and loves to take pictures and draw.

First problem, a name. Right before I got married, my fiancĂ© came over to help me pack. I put him on the book shelves—hello, big strong and manly—and at one point he stops and says, “Uh, Jo, why do you have this?”

I turned around and saw him holding up a baby name book that I’d bought not long before starting New Sight. I laughed and told him it was for finding good character names. Because if I have to pick them, everyone will be called Jennifer, Brad and Bernice. Or worse.

If I remember correctly, I flipped open the book and thought, “what letter should her name start with?” The “M” section came into view. Nothing jumped out, so I flipped back to the end of the “L” section and found Lysandra.

Thus Lys (like bliss, NOT lice) was born. Ish. A week later, after writing a few chapters of New Sight, I decided I had to have a last name and a face to go with the Lys. The last name Blake popped into my mind—easy. The face, not so much. I looked up and at my DVD shelf, spotted the movie Easy A, and decided that Emma Stone with dark brown hair (less red than in the picture) is what Lys looked like. Mostly.

Her personality came out in the script after that.

At the beginning of New Sight, Lys finds herself strapped down in a psych ward with little to no hope in her life. Horrible things have happened to her—thus the psych ward—and she has no reason to carry on.

But she does.

Because giving up isn’t her style. She doesn’t flaunt it like a pair of 6” glittery red high heels, but she quietly sorts through her circumstances, grits her teeth and moves forward. Even if that means leaving her family and going off with a sketchy fellow named Jeremiah Mason who leaders her into even more trouble than she had originally stirred up.

Lys is like so many of the girls and women I know. She is awesome in her very own way.  A way that no one else can pull off. Lys can steer a motley crew of confused and traumatized teenagers she’s barely met out of danger and back on track.

Well, she has help. We’ll meet the rest of the crew next time!