Thursday, April 3, 2014

Upcoming appearances

Now that we're all the way to April (April!), I've got some upcoming events I wanted to highlight here. First off, I'll be signing both days at the LA Times Festival of Books next weekend! If you're planning to go, do stop by and say hi.

  • April 12th, 1pm in the Mysterious Galaxy booth #368
  • April 13th, 11:45am in the Mrs. Nelson's Book Fair booth #720

Later that week, I'm participating in a panel discussion at the Sunland-Tujunga library with four other local authors, for the LA Public Library's Los Angeles Teen Author Reading Series. Moderating the discussion will be Cecil Castellucci, whose most recent book is one I'm looking forward to reading, sci-fi thriller Tin Star. That event takes place April 17th at 4pm. More details on the flyer!

And finally, at the end of April, I'll be making an appearance at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival. This looks like it's going to be an amazing event, with around 25 local YA and MG authors appearing, including special guest Andrew Smith. This will take place at the Pasadena Public Library on April 26th from 12-4pm. Tickets are free, but last I saw they were starting to run low, so for more information go to:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Launch Week Recap!

This post about my launch week is going up shamefully late--almost a month after my publication date! It was a crazy, fun, hectic week, after which I came home and melted into a puddle for a while. So please excuse the delay. I was busy putting myself back together.

Photo: Jasmine Lord
The launch party was held on January 27th, the day before my official publication date, at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach, a fabulous little independent bookstore. We had wine and mini-cupcakes, and all my wonderful friends came out to support me and my little book. Honestly, it was incredible. I gave a completely unprepared speech about how writing a book had always been my dream from childhood, and how much work and sacrifice went into making it happen. Then I did a reading from the book, with the help of a few engineers from Space Exploration Technologies, the company that my husband worked at for almost ten years. Rocket scientist theater! They did an awesome job. As the culmination of years of hard work and persistence and the celebration of a big milestone in my life, my launch party was everything I'd ever dreamed of. And Mysterious Galaxy sold out of copies of my book to boot!

Rocket scientist theater!
New friends!
Photo: Jasmine Lord
Early the next morning, I got picked up at home for the first day of my book tour. My amazing publicist at Macmillan had arranged four action-packed days of visiting schools in LA, the Bay Area, and San Diego so I could talk to kids about THE LOST PLANET and the path I followed to become an author. Here's a little secret: Up until my launch, I'd never spoken to a single kid about my book. So I had an insane amount of fun sharing my stories with them and answering their questions, and meeting the young writers who came up to me after my presentations to let me know that they had author dreams as well. All the schools were fantastic--one even hung their students' Lost Planet art projects in the room where I gave my presentation. I just about had an out-of-body experience when I saw them:

More awesomesauce!
Since I got home, I've been wrapping up some final publicity stuff and getting to work on revising the sequel to THE LOST PLANET, which is turning out great and I'm super excited about! I've had to take things a little slower than usual because of another project I'm working on in 2014, one that will come to fruition this August. Unlike my writing projects, this project has the side effects of extreme fatigue and the need to huddle on the sofa in a ball of miserable nausea (another reason I've been so slow to post anything). I'm counting down the days until I will (supposedly!) start feeling normal again, so I can get cranking at a decent pace and get all my to-dos in order before life as I know it implodes.

Other updates:

ReadKiddoRead is running a sweepstakes this month for THE LOST PLANET. I've been promoting this on Twitter and Facebook, but I wanted to mention it here because there are still two days left to sign up here:

I've got a guest post up today on Read Now Sleep Later about world-building in THE LOST PLANET:

I've got some appearances coming up in the L.A. area in April--click on the Events link for more info if you're interested!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Pub Day

Wow, guys. It's finally here. Today THE LOST PLANET officially leaves my hands and heads out into the world, to hopefully find its readership among science fiction fans, and maybe even some readers who don't think they like science fiction.

I've been so busy getting ready for this point, I haven't had a lot of time to reflect on how I feel about it. It's been about fifteen months since my book sold, but I still kind of can't believe that something I wrote is going to be sitting on the bookshelves of people I've never met. That is beyond surreal to me.

But I'm also incredibly proud of this little book. When I was in grade school, I loved writing SO MUCH--it wasn't so much a dream that I would be an author some day as an expectation. And then I grew up and got sidetracked by life and the zillion wonderful and not-so-wonderful distractions it offers. I still thought about writing, and even tried it again every once in a while, but I didn't get serious until the day about four years ago when I realized that if I didn't put forth some serious effort RIGHT NOW, my dream/expectation was probably never going to happen. And that scared me.

Writing a book takes a ton of effort, and a lot more knowledge than just how to put pretty sentences on a page. But I've had the best, most satisfying time putting in that work, and I've made some amazing friendships along the way. I hope my little book brings readers as much enjoyment as it brought me writing it.

Every once in a while when I'm talking about my book to someone who's not a writer, they'll ask a few more questions than usual and get a bit of a hungry look that makes me think, This person probably has a book they've always wanted to write. And I wish I could just grab these people and say "Start writing NOW." Nobody says, Man, I wish I'd spent more time at the office, right? I wish I'd watched more TV series, seen every single episode of Law & Order at least five times. I wish I'd spent more time loafing around on the Internet, browsing my social networks over and over. If you've got a dream, carve out time for it. Find a way to make yourself do it--a calendar, a reward system, whatever it takes. Because keeping that promise to your dreamer self? It feels really good.

I'm not going to rewrite my entire acknowledgements here, but a huge thanks to everyone who's cheered me on along the way--family, friends, critique partners, my agent, my editor, friends who I've only met online. Your support has pulled me out of my hidey-hole, gotten me through some ruts, and most importantly, made this whole endeavor a ton of fun.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013! And a great Booklist review!

I'm a little nostalgic about saying goodbye to 2013. It's been a good one for me, in many ways. As a writer, I got to announce my first book deal, see that book come to life with a fabulous cover, and have some exciting new experiences like signing ARCs at BEA in May. I got to see my book translated and published in Spain. And I wrote a second book, both an accomplishment and a huge learning experience. Hey kids, writing books is hard!

On a personal level, it was a rewarding if somewhat stressful year. In April my husband and I moved to a new home, and while we're still just renting for now, it was a great change to go from the tourist-packed Venice boardwalk to a clean, quiet neighborhood just a mile down the road. We took two big trips, one to Israel and Turkey to visit friends and family, and one vacation driving from Budapest to Rome with friends. We just closed out the year with a weeklong stay in Wisconsin and Michigan, visiting my family and getting our fill of snow for the coming year or two...or five.

2014 is going to be a big year. Big. Huge. For one, it's my debut year! I know I only get one of these, so I hope to enjoy it as much as possible. I'll be announcing my launch party shortly, along with some tour info. But besides writing, there are some potential big changes brewing on the horizon, hinting that 2014 might be one heck of a year. I'm excited (and not a little nervous) to see what all happens in the next twelve months.

And now I'm thrilled to close out the year on a happy note, as THE LOST PLANET just got a wonderful Booklist review, calling it "perfect for younger teen sci-fi fans." I'll post the full review below. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and all best in 2014!

The Lost Planet.
Searles, Rachel (Author)
Jan 2014. 384 p. Feiwel and Friends, hardcover. (9781250038791).
Terrifying monsters, cold androids, and intriguing mysteries abound in Searles’ first novel. Chase Garrety awakens on a planet he doesn’t know and with a face he doesn’t recognize, his life up to now a complete blank. But his amnesia is far from his biggest problem: the only thing he can remember is a secret message, but what does it mean? Who is it for? His adventure across the planets of the Federation garners him new friends, old enemies, and more problems than he knows what to do with. Even though Chase is confused from the second he wakes up, his need to find out his history makes him easy to cheer on. Comparisons to Star Wars are not out of bounds, as this intergalactic escapade races on at an exciting pace. This fun, adrenaline-filled story is perfect for younger teen sci-fi fans. There could certainly be another installment to this story since Chase’s exploits aren’t easily put to bed, but The Lost Planet has a solid, satisfying conclusion. Let’s hope Searles has more up her sleeve.
— Stacey Comfort

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Rewind: My Top 10 YA/MG Reads

As the year winds down, the YA Buccaneers are taking a look at our favorite YA and MG reads of 2013, both new releases and old. You can see everyone's #1 pick listed here:

I read 30 YA and MG books in 2013, along with a handful of adult books like Gone Girl, The Twelve, and several of the Song of Ice & Fire books. My top ten YA/MG list for 2013 is:

1. SIX INNINGS - As I said over on the YA Bucs, I was not expecting a MG baseball story to take top billing, but this lovely story about a Little League team and the championship game really stole my heart.
2. DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT - Laini Taylor. Do I need to say anything else? She weaves magic. 
3. MORE THAN THIS - I wrote a post on this book back on YA Buccaneers a while back--a very unique story that kept me guessing. 
4. WONDER - If you haven't read this one yet, do so. My nephew sent it to me and said it was one of his favorites. 
5. THE DREAM THIEVES - I have to admit, this book left me a little unfulfilled--I had that "I want the whole series NOW" feeling at the end. But the writing was absolutely lovely and I'm looking forward to the rest of the books. 
6. THESE BROKEN STARS - Thriller, romantic, space, done. For me, it was worth reading for the spaceship crash scene alone. I love huge action scenes!
7. TTHE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS - This one sat at the top of my TBR pile for a long time, and I finally got to it this fall--a wonderfully creepy and atmospheric MG read. 
8. THE PLANET THIEVES - I may have a weakness for space adventure, and this book is the real deal. Breathtaking action, inventive descriptions, and bold heroics--loved it!
9. WINGER - Andrew Smith is another favorite, and this book is a standout. Loved the voice so much.
10. UNDER THE NEVER SKY - I started out not sure what to think of this one--dystopian burnout, maybe? But the story grabbed me, and the characters were terrific, and by the end I was a fan. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some Updates of a LOST PLANET Variety

We're about two and a half months away from the publication date of THE LOST PLANET--it's going to be a real book soon! Everything has gone so quickly that I can't believe it's almost here. The awesome people at Macmillan are cooking up some exciting plans for promotion, and while we're busy getting ready and finalizing details, I'm sure January is going to sneak up on us like a ninja.

Today I have some fun news to share. First, Publisher's Weekly put up their review of THE LOST PLANET, and it's a good one!


Secondly, THE LOST PLANET is coming out in Spain next Monday, the 18th. Yes, next Monday! I'll be toasting that day with some good Codorniu cava. Here's the cover of EL PLANETA PERDIDO (I just love saying that):

Finally, if you can't wait to get a peek inside THE LOST PLANET, you're in luck! Macmillan will be releasing a free excerpt of the first five chapters next month. You can find information for pre-ordering here

That's all my news for now! Happy Monday!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A NaNoWriMo Tip Treasure Hunt!

The time for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, is nearly upon us once again! This year, we lady pirates of YA Buccaneers have put our scurvy heads together to come up with a treasure hunt of advice for all you brave NaNo participants. And we have a prize drawing for you at the end of the journey! To learn more and get to the start of the treasure hunt, go here:

Now, for my tip. Writing is solitary work, but one of the best parts of it is meeting other writers and sharing mutual support for the joys and the difficulties of the craft. NaNoWriMo is a prime example of how that support can help people accomplish amazing feats of writing! So take advantage of this time, and use the forums and Twitter to make new friends and participate in that group energy.

And now you must head on to the next leg of your adventure with our smiling pirate Curly McGee! Don't forget to comment below and enter the Rafflecopter to get your prize entry. I leave you now with this very NaNo-relevant quote from Jane Smiley, one that you may have seen me use before. I repeat it to myself regularly:
"Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist."

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