Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debra-- Go Buy The Book. Please.

I didn't see anyway to disguise my promotional blog so I'm just putting it out there. Today is the release date of WITCH HIGH, a young adult anthology from DAW (Penguin).

Me. Writing Young Adult Fantasy. Who knew?

I loved it. My story COYOTE RUN is about the last girl in the Junior class without a familiar. In my version of the high school, finding your familiar is a rite of passage and a sign of status in the world of witches. If you don't have one, you're talked about, pitied and generally a failure. You can't do the more powerful spells without a familiar. In the South we'd say, "Bless her heart. There isn't a familiar that wants her."

On the day we meet my young water witch she's just finding out she is officially the last of her class without a familiar. Worse, if your familiar hasn't bonded with you by the time you're seventeen, it's not going to happen. In two weeks she'll be turning seventeen.

And so her misery and the schemes to find a familiar begin. Little does she know she's about to have a much bigger familiar problem that will make NOT having a familiar seem like a piece of cake. Toss in a mysterious young man from Ireland, the emotional scars she carries from her mother's suicide when she was younger, a new stepmother, one of the darkest familiars of the craft, and you have COYOTE RUN.

I found an early review on the Internet:

"...imagine having to handle those awkward years and magical powers at the same time.
This is the central challenge to the characters in the 14 stories that make up this truly delicious anthology. There is not a dud in the bunch, each deftly written with a keen ear and eye for the angst-ridden lives of the typical teenager in today’s culture." Pulp Fiction Reviews

So, buy the book already! If you don't read YA, give it whirl. buy those early Halloween and Christmas gifts.

One of the reasons this story was so much fun for me is that I was offered an opportunity to write this story by the editor. We were in casual conversation. I mentioned the anthology sounded like a good one. She immediately said she had room and asked if I'd like to write a story. Like every well-trained writer, I said, "Yes" immediately. And later wondered what had come over me. I had one month to learn everything I could about YA fantasy and meet the deadline. I spent a fortune on YA books and found a new genre to love in the process. Found a new genre to publish through BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books.

Have any of you guys gotten unexpected opportunities? Times when you weren't seeking an opportunity but it found you anyway, and made you realize everything happens for a reason?


Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Deb. Congratulations on the new release!! It sounds amazing and wonderful and all the things a book should be.
As to unexpected opportunities - my shift from category romance to single title romantic suspense was very unexpected. I had pitched my bodyguard series to my category publisher, thought it was a done deal,(because my editor had said it was) but then had the proposal rejected by the senior editor. I was crushed. I'd just 'quit my day job' and had been counting on that 3 book contract so to crushed, add panicked. I had a 24 hour meltdown, then a consult with my agent and we decided to beef up the proposal and throw my hat into the single title ring. So what started out as a debacle ended up as one a very unexpected silver lining in that cloud of rejection. Which just goes to show - you can make lemonade from lemons :o)

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, I just wrote a comment and blogger ate it!

Deb, this book and your story both look wonderful! Congratulations on stretching into a new genre and a fun part of publishing!

And Cindy, your story is inspirational! It's true that when something bad happens, something good may just step right into its big old ugly footprints on our hearts.

I was fired once from a job and boss that were insane. Got canned on Friday and Monday got a call from the school system where I wanted to work. . . was teaching by that next Thursday. it was like that job was a stop-gap measure to get us financially through the summer. Then I got fired at just the right time to take the teaching gig!

And my current contract with Blaze is an example: it came while I wasn't looking!

Michele Hauf said...

I love the story already and I haven't even read it. ;-)

I'm like you, Deb, I know to say 'yes' to an unexpected offer. Later I may question my reasoning, but in the end, it usually proves to be well worth the ride.

Kylie said...

The story sounds fabulous, Deb!

I had finished my masters program when we moved here and my new school district paid for forty hours beyond a masters. With five kids, every little bit helped, right? But it was hard for me to consider that much more schooling (taken nights and summers) without it going to another advanced degree.

So I checked out the doctoral program at a nearby university. Ran it by my husband, and got an enthusiastic, 'well, you can do it but don't expect me to be happy about it all the time.' And started figuring how long it would take me. How many school events I'd miss. How many ball games. How much time with the kids. And after fretting about it all summer--decided not to pursue it.

The feeling of relief I got was so overwhelming I knew I'd made the right decision. And the following summer, when the kiddos were 4, 4, 6, 10, and 11 I decided I had time to write a book instead.

So maybe this isn't so much about opportunities as two very divergent paths. I've never looked back.

(But I did get the extra 40 graduate hours. Hey, we were POOR!)

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- Amazing. Sometimes the universe seems to know more about our potential than we do! I'm sitting here smiling at how that unexpected opportunity to "go for it" turned out in light of last week. (g)

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- We ought to do crazy boss stories sometime as a blog! Everyone's had one or two. And it's nice to know we didn't suffer alone!

Debra Dixon said...

Michele-- "worth the ride" is definitely how I feel about the opportunity to write COYOTE RUN. I was literally finishing in in a hotel room on the road and emailing it to the editor at the 9th hour. It was a wild ride.

I think most of what I do turns out to be a wild ride. I may be an opportunity hog. Hmmm....must go think about that new insight.

Debra Dixon said...

Kylie! I know you're in the convertible, but you're the new kid on the block and I haven't known you as long as Cindy so I am now finally registering...FIVE KIDS ???

How on earth did you even think about a doctoral program with 5 kids under 12 ?? You are my new idol. I can't image that with 1 kid much less 5 and 2 very small ones. How much energy did you have? To even think about it makes me tired!

But you're right about the opportunity coming only when we've made room in our lives for it to set up camp.

Helen Brenna said...

"Five kids!"

I had the same reaction when I found out. lol, Kylie, you must be a saint!

Deb, your story sounds wonderful and I hope the book flies off the shelves. The concept sounds like a good one.

I once quit a job to spend more time writing, although I was not looking forward to the loss of income, only to get offered one that night, paying twice as much and working flexible hours from home. First and only time I can remember anything like that happening to me.

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- These stories are so interesting. Loss-suddenly-becoming-gain. The whole "silver lining" aphorism certainly seems to come from reality.

Anonymous said...

It sounds wonderful. I'll put it on my TO-BE-BOUGHT list.

See you Friday!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Deb, the book looks wonderful. I mentioned yesterday that vampires don't do much for me, but witches are another story. When I was about 10 I used to draw witch interiors--rooms with furniture and details for witch characters. Don't remember what put me onto that hobby. It was before "Bewitched," which was one of the few non-Western TV series I loved. (I mentioned Addams Family yesterday. Loved that, too). Witches are fun!

Life has been so full of serendipity for me. I'm one of those control freakin' planners. But when I take "the road less traveled" life becomes interesting beyond my expectations. Ending up in Dakota right out of college happened that way. I was waiting to see someone in the placement office, wandered over to a rack of pamphlets, and reached for one called "Invest Yourself." No rhyme or reason. Took it with me, filled out an ap for a summer adventure (between jr and sr year) which had no place in my best-laid plans, and just kept going. And that has made all the difference. Where would I be if I hadn't picked up that pamphlet? Interesting question.

Serendipity, fate, destiny, witch's spell? The stuff of our lives, which (witch?) thrown into the pot with a measure of imagination cooks down to story after story.

Debra Dixon said...

Cyndi-- I know! The weekend Retreat trip will be like old-home week. I'm looking forward to it!

Debra Dixon said...


"The stuff of our lives, which (witch?) thrown into the pot with a measure of imagination cooks down to story after story."

Perfect. As a writer, this resonates for me. I didn't see this at first and then once I got a number of books under my belt I began to realize this. I really like the way you put it.

Carolyn Jean said...

Wow, congratulations! This sounds like a really fun anthology, and how adventurous of you to jump in like that! Good luck with it.

Debra Dixon said...

Carolyn Jean--

Thanks! That's all I was saying to the editor! One of her authors had told me she was writing a story for it and I was just making polite conversation. "Hey! Witch High sounds like a fun anthology. I think it'll do well."

And that's when the editor popped the questions. LOL! I swear I wasn't angling for an invitation.

Liza said...

I'll add it to my tbb list. I love to read YA books. My oldest niece and I share books now(she is getting all of my House of Night books this weekend). The story sounds really great!

Debra Dixon said...

Liza -- Bless you! :) I've gotten to be the "cool" aunt recently because I do know the YA fiction shelves now. My nieces are impressed. :)

Kylie said...

Deb--LOL, I'm not sure I ever thought of myself and the word energy simultaneously. Usually I felt like I'd been hit by a truck!

But it's all about what's 'normal' for our lives at the time, I guess. And I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that my dh has always been great at helping out with the house and the kids, since we've both always worked.

And though I love Helen's term of 'saint' I'm pretty sure no one who knows me would buy that one, either!

I'm so excited about your venture into YA. I often think that if I weren't writing thriller serial killer suspense stuff I'd like to try my hand at YA. I was a fan of YA romance in Middle School and have many fond memories of Beverly Cleary and other favorite YA authors at the time. There's just so much more for young adults to choose from now and that's so cool.

My greatest sorrow is being such a voracious reader myself and having not one of my five kids turn out to be 'readers' at least the way I define it. I have kids that will read but not like I was with books in every room and one in my hand every spare moment. I can't help but think they're missing out, even though they've always been involved in more activities than I was at their ages growing up.

Debra Dixon said...


"My greatest sorrow is being such a voracious reader myself and having not one of my five kids turn out to be 'readers' at least the way I define it."

OH NO! I feel your pain. I was so concerned about this with my son because during his formative years my husband wasn't a big reader. (Is now.) Somehow I struggled through and found some combination that worked. I knew my work was done when he asked, "Do we have any more books by that Mark Twain guy?" LOL!

One thing we did (which was really about my addiction, and not reader-training (g)) was allowing him to buy books anytime, anywhere. If he wanted to go to the bookstore, we'd drop everything and go. He wanted the toys, of course, but soon learned that a book was better than nothing.

Then he learned that a book was better than anything. :)

Now that he's in his 20's he has less time for reading and I'm very sad about that. We do share movies and TV, but I miss the books.

Kathleen Eagle said...

We're readers in the Eagle family. I have to say that I'm the only avid STUDENT, even though the Indian cowboy is technically "better educated" than I am, being inches away from his second Master's when I only have the one. Our kids love to read but didn't love school the way I always have. The older 2 are back in school--the older son full time and our daughter nearing the end of her police officer program while she works full time in the adult probation dept. That's doing it the hard way, but whatever it takes, right? I just want to see them doing something they really want to do. I really did lead them to the water, my three pretty horses, and I'm convinced it's the reading habit that kept bringing them back. I never had to make them drink, but after high school I couldn't get them to hang around the trough for 4 (or whatever) years at a time. (Stretching the metaphor, I can see the books they never stopped reading as canteens.)

Deb, I'm pretty sure once a reader, always a reader. You get away for a while, but you feel the loss, and sooner or later you rediscover. I know I didn't read as much in my 20's except teaching mat'l and stuff about babies and homemaking. Survival reading! But readers are readers, I think. Hooked on books. Nothing else works for us quite the same way.

flchen1 said...

Those are great stories, Deb and everyone! I do think that there are times when things just come together unexpectedly and it's such a confirmation for me that Someone's got a plan, even if sometimes I'm not in on it yet :)

Christie Ridgway said...

Deb: I just love that cover! Neither of my boys is a reader either, which I chalk up to (maybe) that they're not girls so I can't share my love for romance with them.

As for unexpected opportunities...right now I'm sure enjoying my reviewing gig with BookPage which came up out of the blue.

Debra Dixon said...

flchen1-- There is an opportunity play book and, boy, howdy! do I wish someone would drop me an advance copy!

Until then I just have to keep saying, "There is a reason. Just shut up and put one foot in front of the other and you'll get there faster."

Debra Dixon said...


Yeah! Your reviewing gig is an example of unexpected opportunity. You'll have to let us know what you think the final purpose of that will turn out to be...once you think you've figured out the "next thing" that the gig somehow led to. Whether that's a book, an understanding of genre or whatever.

Kylie said...

Deb--be still my heart, LOL. If you turned your son into a Twain fan you have done your duty as a mother! Twain is my hero.