Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let There Be Happy Dancing

I did it, I did it, I really really did it! *DANCING*

I beat my goal (December 31) and finished the first draft of SALVAGED today! Just now! WooHOO! Boy this draft is a DRAFT and will need a real major cleanup, but yeeHAW. I have a real end and everything!

So you want to know what this book is about? Don't you? Don't you? *happy grin* Here 'tis:

by Susan Adrian

Sixteen-year-old Annika (Annie) has never used a computer or a cell phone. She's never watched TV, slept in a real bed, or kissed anyone but Xander. Until now.

Annie's always lived in The Community, an ultra-environmental commune tucked in the canyons of San Diego, led by her idealistic, maybe-crackpot dad. What they can't grow or raise they salvage from the wasteful people of "the wild". You'd be amazed what you can find back of a restaurant. But Annie's sister Zilla runs away with Xander, and Dad sends her to drag them back.

To find them Annie has to venture into the wild by herself, into an alien culture of excess. When she crashes a company picnic she meets Bryan, a cute, rich boy who thinks she's homeless. She lets him think it, lets him help. All she needs is a couple days to get Zilla and Xander.

But once she finds them, Annie's not so sure she wants to return, much less force her happy-go-lucky, impulsive sister back under the strict Community rules. The wild is much more complex and captivating than she imagined. And there's Bryan, who's also just a tiny bit captivating. But if she doesn't bring them home soon, Dad will come after them himself. And the last time that happened...that's the one thing Annie won't let herself think about.

Can Annie be salvaged? Does she want to be?

Almost there!

I'm here! I had a LOVELY Christmas, and hope you did too (if you celebrate)!!

I'm just headdown trying to finish this draft. If all goes *well*, this week, my pretties.


(of course I'm in my right mind, sheesh)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Eeeeee!! It's almost Christmas! It's almost Christmas!!

*bounces around the room*

I adore Christmas--it always has been my favorite day of the year. Yet I really had no idea how magical Christmastime could be until I had Child.

Every morning, when I go in to wake her up and give her morning hugs, I point to the calendar right next to her bed.

"How many days until Christmas?" I say.

The past few mornings, she didn't even have to look. "THREE!" she would say, give a little squee, and throw her arms around me. Her eyes are so alive with pure happiness they hurt, in the way that all aspects of parenting hurt just a touch--the knowledge that this lovely, perfect moment will pass.

But I savor those moments. And her excited discussion about where Santa might be *now* (she loves the NORAD tracker), and reminders that she needs to make sure to go to bed early tonight so Santa can come, and LOOK there are presents under the tree ALREADY but there will be MORE and will I help her wrap her presents for Gram and Opa tonight?

Last night, curious, I asked her what she was looking forward to most about Christmas. She's 7, almost 8, and a sharp little kid--I never know what's going on in that head. Did she love the music, the candles, the decorations? One year she told me she loved the Christmas lights best. Or was it the hope of presents? The excitement of surprise?

She thought carefully, her arms around her knees. Then she said, "Spending the day with my family. And giving other people presents."

"Yes," I said, and gave her another hug. "That's really the best part of all, isn't it?"

And it is. May all of you who celebrate it have a magical, merry Christmas filled with family and giving, and love. I feel so, so blessed--because I will.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Craziness..& the Antidote

My workplace has exploded with insanity.

See, we're moving to a new building over the next 2 weeks. Yes, CHRISTMAS weeks. And the Bureau I work for has been in our current building since our inception in 1919. A passel of geologists in the same place for 90 years.

You think we have some stuff? Maybe some rocks? Rooms full of equipment and publications?

You'd be right. And geologists don't want to throw ANYTHING away.

It's an all-new building, and most of the furniture isn't set up yet. But the campus has decided to go the cheapest way and hire students to move us over Christmas break. So we have 30 football players and U-Haul trucks ready to move--with only 2 weeks to do it--but we can't move in yet. Servers are going today, I hear, so we'll have no access to printers or networks anymore. The geologists, seeing the truck, are realizing they finally have to pack up their (ahem) STUFF, so they're scurrying like mad ants.

Oh, and it's 3 days to Christmas. *eeep*

Anyway, all is not lost, because I have the antidote to all this insanity:

--Christmas Cheer
--and CANDY.

Christmas Cheer consists of filling my office with Christmas music as I pack and soothe staff, of pausing to check if my packages have arrived yet...and most of all, remembering Child's happy squeal-and-hug this morning when she counted off the 3 days left.

The candy? Last night, to help soothe, I made My World-Famous English Toffee.

Here's the recipe, if you'd also like to be world-famous! (especially for jmartinlibrarian!)

Susan's English Toffee
(make on a dry day: humidity messes with the consistency)

1 cup roasted unblanched almonds (the bags of slivered almonds at the store will do nicely)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or a little more, because it's chocolate)

Sprinkle 1/2 almonds in a 9 x 13" glass baking pan. Melt butter on the stove, over medium heat. When completely melted, add sugar, brown sugar, and water to butter, mix. Cook and stir occasionally to boil to 300 degrees (hard crack) on a candy thermometer. (you DO need a candy thermometer! It needs to be exactly that temperature) Remove from heat, stir in soda fast. Pour & spread over almonds. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate pieces over the toffee, spread evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the almonds on top.

Note: I always panic when I make this and think the consistency is wrong, because at first it's chewy. But if you let it sit until morning, it will be *perfect*. Should melt in your mouth!

Let me know if you make some. Enjoy!!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Good morning!! In spite of the fact that it's Monday, I am awake and fairly cheery.

It took me a good 2 hours to get that way, but NEVER MIND about that. :)

I LOVED your stories. They made me smile too! Thanks for playing. The winner of OTTO GROWS DOWN, offered by the lovely Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, is...


Congrats, Trish! Send me an email and we'll get the book to you.

You guys, I am so excited about Christmas. I'm just saying.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are you Ready for Another Contest??

You know you are!!

Joanna Stampfel-Volpe generously hosted a contest here with me last week, but she's decided THAT'S NOT ENOUGH. She wants to give away MORE to you guys!

This one is for some lucky kiddo--so moms out there, get on this! Joanna and I are giving away one copy of OTTO GROWS DOWN, a picture book by Michael Sussman.

From an Amazon review:

"Michael Sussman's first children's book is a humorous take on sibling rivalry and suitable for preschoolers and up. In the story, six-year-old Otto is celebrating his birthday when he gets upset at all the attention being given to his infant sister Anna. He wishes that she was never born and soon enough finds his wish coming true in the strangest manner - time moves backwards, and very soon, Anna is sent back to the hospital and Otto finds himself getting younger and younger. As he grows 'down', Otto begins to grow 'up' and learns the lesson of appreciating having a sibling." (reviewer z hayes)

Doesn't that sound cool?

This contest will be open a little longer, since we're all busy: until 8 am MST Monday morning. So you have all weekend to link, and get yourself more entries!!

  • For 1 point, post a comment below with at least ONE thing that makes you smile about any member of your family: sibling, child, spouse, parents, whatever. It's a celebration of what's good about families, even crazy ones!
  • An additional 1 point for tweeting OR Facebooking the contest
  • An additional 2 points for linking to this contest on your blog!
Contest will close at 8 am Monday, and we'll do a random draw. Ready? GO GO GO!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kelly Gay contest winner!

And the winner of a signed copy of The Better Part of Darkness is:

Christopher S. Ledbetter!

Congratulations, Christopher!! Email me at susan dot adrian at yahoo.com to claim your prize!!

Don't forget, tomorrow I'll be giving away a copy of a lovely picture book, OTTO GROWS DOWN by Michael Sussman!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interview & Giveaway with Author Kelly Gay!

I'll announce the winner in a bit! Stay tuned!

Hi all! It is a giveaway FESTIVAL here. So let's dive in to an interview with Enchanting Urban Fantasy Author Kelly Gay, who stopped by to tell us about her debut novel (on shelves now!), THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. We're also giving away a signed copy!

Susan: Hi Kelly! First, congratulations on the release of your first book! How's it feel so far?

Kelly: Thanks Susan! And thanks for having me on your blog! My book being ‘out there’ in the world feels awesome, scary, exciting, surreal… you name it. A book debut fits that whole rollercoaster analogy incredibly well. 

Susan: I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy yet (I will, ASAP!), so could you tell us a bit about the story?

Kelly: Sure. The book is set in Atlanta about a decade after the discovery of heaven-like Elysia and hellish Charbydon, two alternate dimensions, which are home to beings that inspired our myths of angels, demons, gods, and monsters. Now they live among us, and it’s Charlie Madigan’s job to police the off-world sector and keep the peace, but when a new off-world drug is released, an ancient threat emerges, and her ex-husband makes a terrible bargain to win her back, there’s nothing in heaven, or hell, for that matter, that Charlie won’t do to set things right.

Susan: Charbydon and Elysia…aha. A student of the classics, eh? Can you talk about how classic mythology shaped the world you created? How have you diverged?

Kelly: Yeah. I’m a sucker for all things ancient and classical. I was reading Herodotus when I was ten years old. The Histories is still one of my all time favorite reads.

I really wanted to base my world on the ‘what if?’ questions I always had when reading mythology. What if some of these myths were based in obscure ancient truths and these truths were passed down, generation after generation, traveling across cultures until they became the foundations of many different civilization’s myths? Myths diverged, became different, expounded upon, but what if originally they’d been based in fact, in early man’s sightings, in visitations, in the meddling of Elysians and Charbydons in our early history? That question is answered in my fictional world and in the city of Atlanta. The Elysians and Charbydons have been visiting our world for eons, meddling, using our world as a neutral ground and sometimes as a battleground. And now that science has discovered the existence of these dimensions from which they hail, they can no longer hide, they had to come out and admit their presence. Each being in these worlds inspired different myths. The nymphs of Elysia along with the sidhĂ© fae and the darkling fae from Charbydon inspired some of the Celtic myths. The angelic-looking Adonai and sirens inspired tales of angels. The jinn, demons, and so on…  

Susan: I'm fascinated with the idea of an urban fantasy heroine who's also a single mother (I love Vicki Pettersson's take on that too, but I'm sure it's very different). Can you talk about the balance she has to strike? How has your experience as a mother influenced that part of the story?

Kelly: Ooh a Vicki Pettersson fan? Me too! LOL. But, yeah, mine takes a totally different path to motherhood. The thing that makes Charlie who she is at the start of BPOD is that fact that her personal life has been very much like someone you might know; someone who has gone through school, gotten married to their high school or college sweetheart, had a child early on, and who works for a living. Charlie has been a mom to her daughter for eleven years now. It has shaped who she is and defines what is important to her. It’s made her a mature, determined, protective woman. And since she’s been in the workforce while also being a mom, she’s already found a decent balance between work and motherhood. It’s become second nature—hard some days, but it’s the norm where Charlie is concerned. (Thought, events in BPOD change the norm somewhat.) 

But the balance nowadays is shifting as her daughter, Emma, approaches the age where she wants independence and will fight for it. Charlie is in the midst of learning how much to let go while still maintaining her tight bond with Emma. It’s a scary time for Charlie because she knows things happening now between them could define their relationship later in life. It’s a struggle for sure, wanting to protect but knowing you have to let go of some strings in order for your kid to grow and learn from their own mistakes. And, in this regard, I do find I draw on experiences with my own mother and with my daughter as well, a daughter who is getting very close to the stage Emma is at right now. Lord, help me! J     

Susan: I'm not *cough* unfamiliar with the balance of motherhood and writing myself. How do you juggle those roles, which can both be so time-demanding?

Kelly: Oy. It’s hard, I won’t lie. When my son, who just turned 2, entered the mix, it really became a struggle to carve out quiet time, and enough time to be productive and turn out material at the pace I’d been used to. One of the things I’ve learned is that I have to accept it. I can’t stress and fight against that fact that I must stop writing to tend to a need that arises. I used to get frustrated when I had to stop mid-creative streak. But, I’ve since learned to chill, and I stopped trying to work when they’re home, or even when they’re playing quietly (though I will do things like blog posts, email replies, and answering interview questions, LOL). And since I’ve made that little rule, I’m able to enjoy the time spent with my family without wanting to finish that sentence or rework that paragraph. When they’re at school and daycare, that’s when I sit my butt in the chair and work. If there’s a tight deadline and I need to work in the evenings or weekends, then I make sure I’m not the primary caregiver at that time, and I’ll go outside of the house, wake up early, or wait until everyone is in bed.

Susan: Now. Tell me about this YA series. (please)

Kelly: Yay! I’m so excited about this project! DARKNESS BECOMES HER is the first novel in the series, and it will debut in Spring 2011 from Simon Pulse, with a second book a year later. I call the series, ‘GODS & MONSTERS’, but I’m not sure yet if that will change. It’s dark, urban fantasy, set in a post apocalyptic-like New Orleans that has been forsaken and abandoned by the government and most of its inhabitants due to two massive hurricanes that destroyed the city a decade earlier. It's now become a sanctuary for the supernatural, a place run by the Novem, nine of the oldest (and strangest) families in New Orleans.

My heroine, Ari, is a pretty tough and independent teen, with some unique qualities. She’s searching for answers, clues to an obscure past that leads her to New 2 (what folks now call New Orleans). With the help of some misfit kids and teens living in an abandoned Garden District mansion, Ari discovers a curse that has stood since the time of the gods, one that is beginning to stir inside of her and ignite the age old war between gods and monsters.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this story. It’s dark, lush, and has a gothic feel. The city is decaying, ebbing back into the swamps, so the atmosphere is very creepy. And I'm blending some ancient mythology (the gods) and the vampire, witches, & shapeshifter mythos (the monsters) together, connecting them with an ancient curse that lives inside of my heroine.

Susan: What have you found different about writing YA versus adult UF? Does one voice or the other come more naturally to you?

Kelly: So far, I‘ve been able to fall quite easily into the voices of both Charlie and Ari. I’ve been writing young adult for a few years now, so I feel really comfortable stepping into the YA role. In fact, the manuscript I was shopping before BPOD was a YA, and I figured eventually I’d hit with one of the genres and either debut as an adult author or as a YA author. But I think it turned out just right because this new YA is much stronger than the one I’d been shopping earlier.

There’s not a big difference to me when I write one or the other. I’m aware of the differences in things like themes, relationships, and goals and motivations, but my style is naturally dark and paranormal, and since both genres allow me to explore that to my heart’s content, I’m pretty comfortable in both roles.  

Thanks so much, Kelly! Now, let's give away a copy of that lovely, dark UF, shall we? For this one I'm going to make you work...well, a TINY bit. With the holidays, I won't make you work hard.

To enter:
  • For 1 point, post a comment below with the name of your favorite mythological creature. Classic myths, modern myths, whatever you like!
  • An additional 1 point for tweeting OR Facebooking the contest
  • An additional 2 points for linking to this contest on your blog!
  • This is a one-day-only thing: Entries must be in by tomorrow at noon mountain time.
Ready? GO!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why I Love Ya

Dear Fabulous Agent Shark (not-so-secret identity Janet Reid):

I've always loved your enthusiasm. The way you chuckled to yourself when you read my opening pages, standing there in the lobby of the Sheraton. The request for a full, given only the way you could give it. (Remember, it started out, "What the hell is wrong with me that I wasn't leaping all over this the day you sent it?" I laughed out loud.) The way you gulped down my book in one day and offered that night. That unbounded enthusiasm, that love for MY story...the way you *got* it, even the tiny little references...how could I ever turn that down?

I couldn't, of course. You made me wait for the other agents, but in the end I knew who I'd choose.

I love the way you've stuck with the book, with me. It hasn't been easy, I know. It didn't go right away, and still didn't, and still didn't. Not for lack of trying. I bet a lot of other agents would've given up by now, figured they were wrong and it was a lost cause. Not you.

I love that when I email you, fretting, you may very well roll your eyes over there in New York, but I can't tell it from your emails.

I love that every time I talk to you on the phone I get the renewed sense that you love this book, that you're not done yet.

I love that when I fret about the book I'm writing now, you get all Buddha-like and say "I have confidence in you." And when I worry that it's not commercial enough, you remind me that you love what I write.

I love that you have a close-knit cadre of clients I can hang out with on Twitter, that feel like my brothers (and couple of sisters). I love that you're on Twitter too.

I love that you're on my side.

I'm so very glad to be on your team.



**Note: This is part of Unofficial Official Agent Appreciation Day, a fabulous idea of Kody Keplinger's. Because sometimes agents get a bad rap, we wanted to join together to surprise our agents with a little love. A list of participating blogs will be available here:  http://lisa-laura.blogspot.com/2009/12/happy-agent-day.html/**

Thursday, December 10, 2009


TWO Winners this contest, thanks to the generosity of Joanna. Each winner will receive a package of books and one query critique by Ms. Stampfel-Volpe herself.

The winners, by random draw, are:

Mechelle Fogelsong!

Happy Holidays Jeni and Mechelle! Email me at susan (dot) adrian (at) yahoo.com to work out how to get your prizes to you!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Guest blog, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe: BNFFs

***CONTEST IS CLOSED. Thanks, guys! ***

Eeee! You guys, I am SO excited to be hosting a guest blog from Fabulous Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary. Joanna read my manuscript when she was working as an assistant at FinePrint Literary, and she's been a fantastic friend/sounding board/cheerleader ever since. Anybody would be lucky to have Joanna in their corner. Listen to what she has to say! Oh, and did I mention that she's giving away a query crit AND books? Read on!

BNFF – Best Networking Friend Forever
by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe

I need to make a bold statement. One that some of you may disagree with, but nonetheless, I stand by it.

Agents are human beings.

That’s right! We’re not evil goblins who survive on the unhappiness of others. We’re not creepy elves who sit in our offices churning out form rejection letters day in and day out. And we’re certainly not slithery snakes, or sharks.

Well.  Most of us aren’t.

I’ve decided to come out as a human being at this time for three reasons: 

1.    It’s the holidays.
2.    I don’t like it when writers approach me at conferences (especially in the bathroom) with their manuscript in hand, suggesting that I read it on the plane ride home. They charge you by the pound for luggage these days so I usually try to travel light.
3.    I REALLY don’t like it when writers approach me at conferences as if they’re so below me that at any moment I’ll sneeze and mistake them for a tissue. I am not more important than you. Except maybe to my dog, PeeWee, because hey, I control his food.

So there should be no reason not to hang out with us agents at a conference and share a laugh/drink/crazy story/etc. In fact there is a very good reason to hang out with us at conferences—networking, of course! 

I definitely have more than a few writer friends who are not represented by me, and some not represented at all (yet), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have things in common. And most of them I met at conferences, just like the ones you attend. We laughed over dinner, exchanged vacation stories over a glass of wine, played board games and ate popcorn, we talked about movies, food, pets, good books, crazy family and celebrity gossip.  But the one thing we didn’t talk about was their manuscripts.  Because it wasn’t about pitching at that time.  It was about making a connection that had some lasting power.
If and when they do send me something to read (whether it’s a submission or not), you better believe I take it very seriously. And even if they don’t (because they’re already represented, or I don’t work on their genre), I am definitely going to cheer them on from the sidelines. You never know when you might attend an event with a client of mine. You may need a blurb for one of your books (or I might ask you for one!). You may need a critique group suggestion.  And I might send you a book to review on your blog.  Who knows what a wonderful connection like this could bring, right?  But you’ll never know unless you try.
All that being said, as fellow human beings, us agents don’t appreciate being stalked, hunted down or followed around all night. Just like with any connection, you have to make sure the feeling is mutual.

Moral of the story: Treat agents (and editors!) as you’d like to be treated. 

Follow this advice and you just might make a BNFF.

And since it IS the Season of Giving, I’d like to give two lucky people a present!  The two winners of the contest will be picked at random—all you need to do is leave a comment and tell me what your favorite genres are (ie-paranormal YA, adult historical romance, political thrillers, etc). The winners will receive a small package of books to read over the holidays and one query critique.

Cheers & Happy Holidays!

Bio: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is an agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.  She is looking for juvenile (up to YA) fiction and non-fiction, adult genre and mainstream fiction and some nonfiction areas. She accepts hard copy or e-mail queries--e-mail address:LiteraryNancy2@gmail.com. Send snail mail queries to 240 West 35th Street, Suite 500, New York, NY 10001. Joanna's specific interests are: chapter books to upper YA (non-fiction, contemporary, paranormal, romantic, humor, post-apocalyptic, historical and fantasy *fantasy/sci-fi needs to really stand out, unique), adult romance (historical, paranormal, contemporary), fantasy (urban fantasy, steampunk, unique), up-market fiction (dark, literary, horror, women's fic, commercial thrillers, historical, magical realism, speculative fic), narrative non-fiction (pop culture, environmental, foodie).

She is NOT interested in: cozies, cookbooks, academic nonfiction, epic fantasy for adults, hi-science fiction for adults, poetry, collections/short stories, screenplays.


Thanks so much, Joanna!

 So, CONTEST!! As Joanna said, just post a comment below, and list your favorite genres! Also, let's spread the word. You'll get one additional entry (+1) for tweeting about the contest OR posting on Facebook, and another additional entry (+1) for posting on your blog and letting us know about it!

Note: Eeek, I didn't put an end date on this! Let's do until Thursday at noon mountain time!

You KNOW you want to win a query critique from Joanna. Plus...Books!

Monday, December 07, 2009


It's 20 below here right now, with a wind chill of -34. For what that's like, I refer you to a 2007 post, The Sensation of Cold. It's still the same. :)

I've got a got-to-be-turned-in-this-week report on my desk, in addition to trying to get ready to move and finish my first draft of SALVAGED. This kind of busy-ness energizes me, though I realize that's insane.

I still have TWO fabulous interviews/guest blogs coming up, perhaps this week...each one with a contest!! Better keep checking back!

Later! Those of you sharing the cold front with me, stay warm!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Holiday Tiara Day!

Okay, all. We're in need of a Tiara Day. But not just ANY Tiara Day...it's the holidays now, right?

Friday, December 4th, will be a Special Holiday Edition Tiara Day. (wow, that's a lot of initial caps)

You can still dress up your avatar in a tiara to play, OR add a hat! Any kind of holiday hat will do. Like this:

Or these:

Or, you know, ANYTHING you want!

I hope you play. Join in on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or anywhere you play online!!