Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES

Hello to all my dark and lovelies! I hope 2017 treats you all well, and let’s start it off with some excitement, yes?

On January 3, 2017, Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES hits store shelves, and if you watch my video below, you’ll find out why this book means so much and why I hope you’ll want to pick up a copy for yourselves.

I live with OCD and panic disorder. There have been times when it’s been such a challenge to even get out of bed and leave the house because the world outside seems so frightening. It can be easy to think you’re the only one going through it, but if you take away nothing else from UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, I hope it’s that you know you’re not alone. Other people live with these struggles and people love you.

See you all soon,
~S

Friday Free-For-All

Second Friday of 2016!

It’s been a week that ebbs from extremely calm and quiet to furious flow of activity. Often within the same day. The kids went back to school–except my oldest two missed the first day back due to a particularly nasty cold that I’m grateful not to have caught (Yet. Knock on wood.)

So what’s up for this week:

* THICKER THAN WATER by Kelly Fiore. Such an incredibly beautiful and sad and amazing book about addiction and its effects on a family. A Must-Read of this year.

*THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS will be at ALA Midwinter this weekend, and if you head over to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt booth, you might just be able to snag an ARC. Even better if you tweet a pic of yourself with the ARC to me, I’ll send you some swag.

*Secret Projects. We all like to have secrets. My friend Meghan Harker is drawing up something very fun for MQM, and here’s a sneak peek:

Secret things....ooooh

Secret things….ooooh

*We are supposed to get our first accumulating snow of the winter this weekend. About right on time for the part of Missouri where I live. Fun fact: I love snow. I probably love it more than my kids or dogs. Snow is cold, red cheeks, cups of hot tea, embers glowing in the fireplace, and hunkering down in quiet as the world outside turns blue and white.

That’s all for now. See you soon.

~S

Friday Free-For-All

This Friday brings me to the end of a week that has left me tired and humbled and heartened. And I have thoughts.

1.) Writers cannot write alone. We need someone to check our work and call us on stupid things. However, I cringe when people claim to be harsh and brutal critique partners. That, to me, sounds like someone getting their jollies by bringing down another author’s works. There are more constructive ways to critique someone rather than saying, “This sucks.” If you have a suggestion for where to improve a critique partner’s work, you can couch in saying, “This is my opinion and this is why I think this adds/takes away from the story.” Things like drawing big red slashes through a critique is not about helping the author in need; it’s you feeding your ego. Don’t be that person. The flipside is that you also don’t want to be the person where every comment is, “YAY, I love this.” That’s great to hear, but it doesn’t help the author know where they need improvement because NO ONE has a golden pen that drips ink harvested from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. NO ONE.

2.) This week marked 11 years since my mother died, and it was a strange passing of time for me. One part grief. One part extremely bitter at the doctors who did not listen to her as their patient, dismissed her pain as imaginary, and ultimately sped up her death. And all this has led me down the rabbit hole of thinking about emotions and personal causes and how so much of the things we champion are because of the emotion we feel.  I try very hard not to be a bitter or angry person. I try very hard not to be negative. I’m not a Sunshine Bunny, but it doesn’t pay to be upset or pissed off all the time. Your body and mind will like you better if you learn acceptance. This is not to say that you shouldn’t bring the fury when it’s warranted. We all have our soapboxes. One of mine is healthcare, mental and physical. Because I’ve seen what it looks like when patients are dimissed. Because I know what it’s like to go to the ER and have the doctor see in my record that I suffer from panic attacks and assume I’m there to get a sedative when in reality I’m in a lot of pain and very scared. If you have the ability to channel your emotions into an outlet that reaches others, use it for good. Do not merely bark into the wind, as my friend Heather Reid calls it. There are better ways of reaching ears through thoughtful dialogue rather than, “You’re wrong. I’m right.” All that’s going to do is turn people away.

3.) A few mornings this week have felt like autumn is coming. And autumn means all of my favorite things like stormy gray skies, pumpkins, orchards, and Halloween. My kids have already picked out their Halloween costumes. My littlest is going to be a vampire Minion this year. Because he’s awesome. For me, autumn is the time of year that I want my books extra creepy, and there are some coming out soon that need some love. THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich was one of my favorite reads earlier this year and it will hit stores in the US next month. Also, look out for SWEET MADNESS by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie, because who doesn’t want a story about Lizzie Borden? The last book I’m going to recommend is BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett. It’s beautiful and haunting. Do make sure to grab this one up.

That’s all for now!

See you on the dark side.

S

THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS has a cover!

Hello dark and lovelies!

I have a treat for you today. I FINALLY get to show off the cover for THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS! I really couldn’t be happier with how it looks. Woods and water? Check. Creep factor? Check. And just wait until you see the inside…but that comes later.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt gave me quite a few mock-ups for the cover, but this one was a unanimous, “We have to have it” from everyone: my agent, my editor, my design team…there was something so striking and haunting about the picture. Truth be told, my nine-year-old is creeped out by it. Which is probably a good thing, considering the kind of book this is. Polish artist Marcin Nagraba is the photographer, and his work is jaw dropping in how gorgeous it is. His image reflects the isolation of Rowan’s Glen, and I love that the vintage quality of the picture makes it hard to tell if the photograph was recent or much older–perfect as past events play in heavily with the present. I don’t look at the cover model as a direct representation of Ivy or any of the characters but the idea of the May Queen as a whole and what she represents.

Here’s the summary of the book:

Two girls: one with a secret, one with a promise that she’d uncover it.

Welcome to Rowan’s Glen—a place full of old fashioned superstition and secrets. Twenty-five years back, a teenage girl was murdered after being crowned queen at the Glen’s May Day celebration, and outsiders have regarded the isolated farming community with suspicion ever since.

But that was before Ivy Templeton was even born. She’s lived in Rowan’s Glen for all of her sixteen years, and feels safe there with the company of her free-spirited cousin Heather, and their friend, Rook, son of the sheriff.

Until . . . animals start showing up dead, clearly from unnatural means. Dark omens seem to appear everywhere Ivy goes. And Heather, who used to tell Ivy everything, is sneaking off after dark with a mysterious lover.

Ivy worries her cousin could be in danger—especially after Heather is elected queen of the May Day celebration. When Heather goes missing, Ivy must come to terms with the fact that she never knew her beloved cousin—or Rowan’s Glen—as well as she thought she did.

Readers looking for horror, romance, and suspense will find it all in this chilling tale that resonates with dark beauty.

Ready???

Why, yes, THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS has its cover.

Why, yes, THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS has its cover.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

And if you’re so inclined, you can add it to your GoodReads To-Be-Read pile or preorder a copy: Amazon

Also, make sure to check out YA Books Central who is hosting a giveaway for your chance to win an Advanced Reader Copy of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS and other goodies!

May can’t come soon enough!

All the things at once

This upcoming week is a big one for THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS. There’s a lot of stuff coming your way.

First, we have that MQM is up on GoodReads, and you can add it to your To-Be-Read pile.

Second, PREORDERS. Yes, they’re starting to show up on various websites. Like AMAZON. More will be available. So watch this website or Facebook for which sites have it. Also, know that if you preorder from Amazon, when the book comes out, you will be charged the lowest price of it’s preorder duration, so if it’s $17.99 and $13.13 the next, you’ll get the lower price.

Third, my publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is going to start putting out more information about it this week. Which brings us to…

Fourth, COVER REVEAL! It’s coming. Thursday. It’s going to be spooktacular.

Where I’m At

The flurry of activity surrounding the announcement of THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS has passed, and now it’s time to get to the real work. Editor Julie has some suggestions for augmenting the story and tightening it, making it stronger and staying true to my vision for the book. It’s nothing terribly hard and really is only a matter of shifting things around.

While I waited for edits, I was working on my addiction YA horror. It’s another dark book, a bit bleak, a bit maddening. The main characters has been in my head since 1999, and I could never quite get his story right. It’s right now, but I need to finish the MQM edits before I can return to his world and finish his tale.

Some very hard things happened at the end of last year. While I have dealt with panic attacks for several years, they became severe in September. It started off softly: a few in relation to some work troubles. The day before my birthday, I found myself pacing my house in tears because the inner terror was so great that I couldn’t breathe. Two of my friends dragged my three-year-old and me out for coffee. By the grace of God, I got in to see a brand new psychiatrist the next day and began a new medication routine. Things were OKAY.

They didn’t stay that way. December was a horrible month. It’s usually difficult for me. My late mother’s birthday was in December and she loved Christmas so very much. Last year marked ten years since she passed away, and with that anniversary, I found myself in renewed mourning. Several friends’ parents and other relatives passed away. I helped out with funerals. I believed I could help shoulder their grief, that I was strong enough. But I broke. My mentor, who I’ve had as a family friend for over thirty years, had a stroke. The prognosis wasn’t good. During that time, I flailed. It was ugly. I wrote a short story for the YA Scream Queens that I do not recall writing. I vacillated between alienating friends, panic, grief because I knew the inevitable was coming and soon. A strange thing sometimes occurs when you’re in a panic state. You either dwindle into a very isolated world or you start reaching out for anyone to be a rope. I reached out. It didn’t go well. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I awakened that morning and sensed my mentor was gone. A message from her daughters confirmed it, and it broke my heart. She was a mother-figure to me. She knew my mother and was one of the few tethers I still had to her. Losing her cracked my already fragile self. I had a long talk with my therapist and considered hospitalization. I scared my husband and mother-in-law because I lost my shit. I was ordered to stay home for New Year’s Eve instead of traveling. The stress of any travel was too much.

Grief doesn’t mix well with obsessive anxiety with panic attacks. There were friends who kept me afloat, but it was hard. New medication. Lots of therapy. I learned about meditation and art therapy. I got to the point where I could write again and wrote furiously.

It has been two and a half months since I had a nervous breakdown. It was only through self-care and the attentiveness of others that I managed to not go into the hospital. I love those people who got me through that time. They were strong for me when I was shattered glass.

To be able to edit, you have to be able to rip your book apart and find what it’s assets and weaknesses are. Ultimately, it is restitched into something better, stronger, most cohesive. My nervous breakdown allowed me to edit myself.

I am OKAY again. I hope you are, too.

Until next time,

S

The May Queen Murders

THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS took over 18 months to write the  books, much of the time lapses caused by bouts of severe vertigo where looking at the computer screen and typing made me physically ill (now under control) and having two of my three children fighting serious but different illnesses (better now), leaving me overstressed, fearful, and trying to grab a few coherent words in hospital rooms or when my brain didn’t make the world tilt. It was the book with a story I HAD to tell, a book of my heart so to speak. That first major falling out with your closest female friend and how can you cope. First love. First revelations about yourself and all that you thought you knew. And murder, horror, and old Ozarks folklore. It’s Southern/Midwestern Gothic and creepy and all the things I love.

Ivy is half-Mexican like many of my cousins, her father having gone to Mexico and come back with his wife like my uncle did 50+ years ago. She is a shy thing compared to her cousin, Heather, who seems to draw all the attention. But they are best friends. I think every teenager, especially girls, can relate to having that one friend they love to pieces and envy. It was also inspired, in part, by the murder of a friend who was the cousin of my best friend growing up. It was incredibly hard to not be able to say goodbye. And of course, there are woods with scary things, first love, first deep grief.

October 28, 2014, was special. This was the day Miriam told me an editor loved THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS and was taking it to her editorial director.

Things began to happen. Quickly.

November 10. My niece’s birthday. My daughter had a dentist appointment, and afterward, we were going into Target. While walking through the parking lot on a blustery afternoon with my daughter and Little B in tow, my phone rings and my cartoon picture of Miriam popped up. Oh, my God. I answered and told Miriam I was walking into the store and could barely hear here because of wind. Little B and I sat in the food court while my daughter announced quite loudly, “I gotta pee!” Off to the restroom, she goes. I’m watching the door and shaking. B is getting squirrely. Miriam says, “We have an offer.” Happy panic ensues. A woman asks if I’m okay because I’m beet-red. I call my husband and my sister. My phone battery dies. At home, I start calling my close group of writer friends and my mother-in-law.

I don’t remember much of the next few days until we accepted Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s offer to publish THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS. The phenomenal Julie Tibbott will be my editor. Look for it in spring 2016.

From Publisher's Marketplace

From Publisher’s Marketplace

 

Yeah, I can’t read that squinty, little writing either so:

January 21, 2015
Children’s:
Young Adult
Sarah Jude’s THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS, when a sixteen-year-old’s cousin is murdered by a legendary madman in the woods, she uncovers truths she never suspected about her cousin, the Ozarks commune where she lives, and herself all while trying not to become the next victim, to Julie Tibbott at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, by Miriam Kriss at the Irene Goodman Agency (World English).

I feel really damn lucky.