Scott Tracey Young adult author. Professionally Sarcastic.

WITCH EYES on the YALSA Popular Paperback 2014 List!

It has been FOREVER since I’ve done anything on the blog! But this is a bit of awesome news!  WITCH EYES was listed on YALSA’s 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. There’s a ton of fantastic books on this list, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

witcheyesppBe sure to check out the rest of the lists from this year. I know there’s a bunch of books I haven’t gotten around to yet that I’m now reminded I need to read! And thanks to everyone on the committee, and all the librarians involved!

 

 

The Great Book Giveaway

(I apologize for the alliteration in that title. I couldn’t help myself)

A couple of years ago, there was a blog post that I thought was such a genius idea, and such a great moment of outreach, that I’ve thought of it often over the past few years. It’s Malinda Lo’s post offering up copies of her phenomenal book ASH to libraries, GSAs, community centers, etc. I’ve always wanted to do something similar, and after receiving another case full of final copies, I decided it was time. There are too many books and not enough shelves in my house!.

When I first started writing the book that became WITCH EYES, my goal was to tell the story of a gay teenager who wasn’t defined by the fact that he was gay. A character who had already come out, and his adventures had nothing to do with his sexuality.  The kind of book that I would have wanted to read at sixteen.

So here’s the situation: I have many copies of all three books in the WITCH EYES trilogy, as well as the first book in the MOONSET series (which features a gay character as well, although he is not the narrator of that book).  And I want to put those books into the hands of people in the community.

Are you a school or public librarian looking for books for LGBTQ teens?

Do you advise or participate in a school’s Gay Straight Alliance that has a lending library? Or are you staff or volunteer at a local LGBTQ community center?  Do you interact with LGBTQ youth in a way that I didn’t cover? 

If the answer is yes, I would like to give you free books! Well, my books specifically. I think it would be weird if I did this whole outreach thing and then gave you someone else’s books.  It would be like asking if you liked ice cream and then giving you cheese fries.

Mmm, cheese fries.

Anyway, if you fit the above criteria, please email me at scottshouldbewriting at gmail dot com. Please put some form of ‘Giveaway’  in your subject line so I can keep all the requests together!  Also, if you have a professional email address, that would help significantly. :)

In the email itself, please let me know 1) what it is that you do with LGBTQ youth. 2) What you plan to do with the copies (lending library or a book club maybe?) and 3) what I can provide for you.  If you already have some of my books, great! If you don’t, even greater! Let me know so I can supplement your supply. :)

If you know someone who fits one of the above criteria, please send them this way.  Please note that this giveaway is meant for groups and organizations. There will be other giveaways for personal copies of my books, I’m sure, but this is not one of them.

I have many copies I would like to get out there.  Depending on the reaction, I may not be able to fulfill all requests, but I will do my best to fulfill as many as I can.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or leave them in the comments. I will update this post as needed.

 

 

DARKBOUND Cover! And summary!

DarkboundSo I’ve been meaning to post about this for awhile.  You may have seen this cover floating around recently, so this may not be a surprise or anything.  DARKBOUND is the second book in the Moonset series, and follows Malcolm’s struggles in Carrow Mill in the aftermath of the first book.  I’m a bit partial to it. ;)

And I’m insanely in love with the cover! How awesome is that? And the tag line?  It’s perfectly fitting for the second book.

Here’s a little more about what takes place in DARKBOUND:

Malcolm has seven days to unravel a twenty year old mystery, find a body, capture a killer and keep a demon at arm’s length.

No one hates being a witch quite like Malcolm. But if there’s one thing worse than being a witch, it’s being a Moonset witch. There are very few things in his life that he can control, and after a fight with his siblings, he’s losing his grip on what he’s got left.

A creature as old as Hamelin has crept out of the Abyss, and its siren song has infected the teenagers of Carrow Mill compelling them, at first, to simply be swept away in love. But love soon turns dangerous, as passion turns to violence and an army of sociopaths is born.

The Pied Piper isn’t just a story, and he’s got his eyes set on Malcolm, promising a life of freedom from magic and the shackles of the Moonset bond. As Carrow Mill burns, Malcolm must make the hardest choice of his life: family? Or freedom?

DARKBOUND will be released in the spring of 2014.

MOONSET is available now!

It’s MOONSET’s release day!

You can find links to purchase the book online up above under the Moonset tab.  If your local bookseller doesn’t HAVE Moonset in stock, consider asking them to pick up a few copies!  And if you’ve read and enjoyed the book, please think about posting a review.  Bookstores and reviews are crucial for the care and feeding of all authors. ;)

Be sure to check out the stops on the blog tour, which you can find over on the Rock Star Book Tours site!

In honor of the book’s release, I put together a little playlist of songs that either inspired scenes in the book, or were heavily in rotation as I wrote. (Assuming I can get Spotify to make the playlist work).

 

Moonset Monday – Meet Cole

Wow, I really fell off the radar with this one.  Me and blogging…best frenemies forever.

Name: Cole Sutter

tumblr_lp7f59gGpk1qccxt6o1_400Cole’s difficult for me to picture in my head, so I did a search for “blonde teen model” and picked one of the boys who looked close.  Right from the start all I knew about him was that he was awkward looking as a kid (big ears) and he’d just recently started growing into them.

What’s his deal:

Cole is the trouble maker, the prankster.  In any other family, he would be the leading source of trouble, but with Jenna in the mix, Cole takes on a backseat role.  In ways he’s one of the most child-like – Justin, Jenna and Mal have always done their best to protect Cole and Bailey as much as they can, trying not to make them grow up too fast.  Cole acts before he thinks, and even when he thinks something through first, he’s not considering the consequences.  He likes to be funny, he likes for people to pay attention to him, so partnering up with Jenna gets him opportunities for both.

But he’s also got a dark side.  Cole lets the things he’s feeling bottle up, and take over.  Sometimes he sinks into a depression that no one can seem to shake him out of, and then just as quickly it will vanish like it was never there.

Excerpt: 

“Am I supposed to be scared of you?” Cole laughed—laughed!—at the wraith. “You should see Jenna without makeup. That’s scary.”
“Cole, shut up!” Jenna and I shouted as one.
The wraith growled, the next chain flying a little sloppier, a little less fierce.

“You look like Betty White’s grandmother,” Cole called. “And you smell like a Kardashian.”

Senior Superlatives:  Most likely to get arrested during graduation, Prank War Champion, Class Clown

How his siblings would describe him:

Justin:  Challenging.

Jenna: Protege.

Malcolm: Seriously?

Bailey: Funny.

MOONSET comes out next Monday, April 8th.

Moonset Monday – Meet Malcolm!

hughfeistblondeName: Malcolm Denton

When I first started working on Moonset, I did a lot of internet searches to kind of define in my head what all the characters looked like.  This was the picture I found that defined Malcolm for me.  Model pretty, and cast in black and white.

What’s his deal:Malcolm is the oldest, and in a normal family, that might make him the leader.  There’s only one problem.  A childhood spent trying to shelter and protect his ‘family’ has left a bad taste in Mal’s mouth, and he’s not a fan of magic.  It causes too much trouble, and gives people too much reason to treat each other like crap.  He’s the moodiest and the most isolated of the siblings, preferring to be on his own.  He’s openly gay, although with as often as the kids are relocated, it’s not like he has a public coming out in every new city.  People find out, or don’t, naturally.

If Jenna represents one extreme among the kids, Malcolm represents her polar opposite.  He’s cautious where she’s impulsive, kind where she’s cruel.  But he’s also the first one to go toe to toe with her and put her in her place.  He’s not averse to trouble himself, but it takes a lot to get him involved. He finds his curiosity getting the best of him sometimes, which never ends well. Mal’s also considered the ‘hot’ one, which isn’t helped by his stoic nature or loner outlook.  He gets objectified fairly often, and feeds into it even if he doesn’t mean to.  He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie in training, and works out obsessively.


LuckyExcerpt:

“Hey, check it out,” Malcolm said, nudging me and pointing back towards the entrance.

Through the glass I saw a man stumbling through the parking lot.  He wore a mechanic’s jumpsuit, stained from something more than just dirt- thick, dripping streaks splashed across his middle.  His long hair hung limp and scraggly around a face that hadn’t seen a razor in weeks, and a shower in twice that.

I couldn’t decide if he looked more like a serial killer or a homeless person.  “Crap, stop staring,” Mal said.  I focused, realizing the man was staring directly at us, and headed right for the door.

“What’d you have to stare at him for,” Mal whispered furiously.

“Me? You were the one who pointed him out.”

“I can’t take you anywhere,” Mal said wit

h an embarassed huff.

Brothers are so overrated.

Senior Superlatives: Best Dressed, Most Likely to Succeed, Best Brooder, Most Likely to be Stalked.

Party of Five Sibling he’s Least Like: Charlie, played by Matthew Fox.  Sure, they’re both the oldest, but Charlie steps up to take care of his siblings, and Mal’s just not comfortable with that.  He let’s Justin take the lead, and only steps in when things get too far (i.e. any time Jenna has any fun at all).

Theme song: Tricky thing, Mal has a theme song, but it’s more for book 2 than for the first book.  I’d have to go with “Everybody loves me” by One Republic.

How his siblings would describe him:

Justin: Trustworthy.

Jenna: …bitch.

Cole: Vanilla, but cool.  Like french vanilla.

Bailey: Dad-like.

Moonset Monday: New Cover Copy, Blog Tour, and a Teaser

First off, I’ve seen the final cover copy for Moonset, and I love it.  Flux always does such a great job with these.    Without further ado:

Moonset, a coven of such promise . . .

Until they turned to the darkness.

After the terrorist witch coven known as Moonset was destroyed fifteen years ago—during a secret war against the witch Congress—five children were left behind, saddled with a legacy of darkness. Sixteen-year-old Justin Daggett, son of a powerful Moonset warlock, has been raised alongside the other orphans by the witch Congress, who fear the children will one day continue the destruction their parents started.

A deadly assault by a wraith, claiming to work for Moonset’s most dangerous disciple, Cullen Bridger, forces the five teens to be evacuated to Carrow Mill. But when dark magic wreaks havoc in their new hometown, Justin and his siblings are immediately suspected. Justin sets out to discover if someone is trying to frame the Moonset orphans…or if Bridger has finally come out of hiding to reclaim the legacy of Moonset. He learns there are secrets in Carrow Mill connected to Moonset’s origins, and keeping the orphans safe isn’t the only reason the Congress relocated them…

Moonset-Banner

Next up, the lovely ladies over at Rockstar Book Tours are organizing a blog tour for Moonset, and there will be lots of shenanigans afoot.  If you’re a blogger and interested in participating, click the banner or the link to get involved!

There is also a book blast being organized by the fantastic Amber over at Me, My Shelf, and I that will have some awesome prizes when it goes live.  So bloggers, make sure to check it out! :)

And finally, a teaser just because I’m struggling for a third thing to include this week! ;)

The mortar between the bricks was crumbling down into sand, spilling out from between the stones like a broken hourglass. In places, larger chunks were breaking free, no bigger than pebbles, and bouncing off the tiled floor where they struck.
Something swept over me, a feeling, or a warning, and I grabbed Cole and pulled him closer.
“Honestly, there’s nothing to be scared of,” Miss Virago said, her mouth barely able to express such an incredible amount of contempt. “You’re all being ridiculous.”
The front of the school exploded inward, just to prove her wrong.

 

Moonset Monday – The Theme song

Moonset FinalPlease forget the last month where I was totally intending to do regular Moonset Monday posts, and then got caught up in Christmas, New Year’s, laziness, and distraction. ;)

This week, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what I listened to while I was writing Moonset, and specifically the song that I connect most to the book.  I’m one of those writers who has to have a specific song for every project.  Each book has one song that encompasses the entirety of it as far as I’m concerned.  I may switch between several playlists as I write – actual songs, movie scores, violins, and even the occasional white noise machine, but first I have to have that one song that makes everything make sense.

The Birthday Massacre is this electronic-synth-rock band from Canada, and they’re epic. I first heard of them while watching the Vampire Diaries, which was right about the time I started working on Moonset.  From the first song I was hooked, and I listened to them extensively all while drafting the novel.  One song in particular really seemed to resonate with me, and it is literally the most played song on my iTunes next to the song I listened to while writing Witch Eyes.

“Kill the Lights” is ostensibly about performers – whether they be actors on a stage, musicians, ballet performers, or even members of a circus.  They’re on a stage, whoever they are.  And it’s all about how when the lights go down, they put on a show, but once the show is over, everything is revealed as a lie.  They’re just performers pretending to be something they’re not.

For me, the song is perfect for the Moonset kids.  There is a build up and expectation to who they are – people expect that they know exactly what they’re getting into just because of what they’ve heard about them.  That because they’ve heard about what Jenna was like, they know what she’s capable of.  They know who she is.  As though the kids are just performers on a stage, acting out roles that have already been defined for them when they couldn’t be farther from that.  Everyone thinks that they know who the kids are, but the kids don’t even know who they are, so how could anyone else.

 

Moonset Monday: Meet Jenna!

Nina DobrevSo Moonset comes out in a little less than 5 months.  And I thought, what better way to introduce you guys to the book than to do some sort of Moonset Monday theme on the blog.  So to start out, I thought I’d introduce one of the five main characters of the Moonset series.  When I pitched the first book, I called it Party of Five meets the Craft.  And if you don’t know what Party of Five is….what is wrong with you.  Get thee to Youtube!

Name: Jenna Bellamont

What’s her deal:  Jenna’s the troublemaker.  Her father was the leader of the Moonset coven, a trait she shares with her brother, Justin, although they each have different mothers.  But where Justin is even-tempered and solid, Jenna is wild.  She likes being a witch, and hates the fact that the adults keep her from learning all the magic she wants to.

She enjoys stirring the pot, messing with people, and generally alleviating what she sees as ‘boredom.’  She’s the main reason the Moonset kids are currently on their seventh school in three years.  When Jenna gets bored, things have a tendency to get bad very, very quickly.

Excerpt:

“Incoming,” Jenna announced as she strode into the kitchen. “It’s the Witch of Skankbird Pond again.”

Heavy footfalls started down the stairs as Meghan Virago swept down the hall.  She was still wrapped up in the same dark green overcoat, her hair pulled away from her face.  “The Congress still has some questions for the two of you.”

“I thought we finished this already,” Quinn said in an icy tone.

“Is this some kind of good cop, bad dye job thing?” Jenna asked, looking between them.

Senior Superlatives: Crazy Hot, Most Likely to End up in Jail, Biggest Flirt, Most Likely to Marry Rich

Party of Five Sibling She’s Least Like:  Julia, played by Neve Campbell.  Julia started out fairly passive, needy, and struggled to fit in and find her place, and that’s pretty much the exact opposite of Jenna.  Jenna is acerbic, headstrong, and expects the world to try to fit in around her.

Theme song: For a girl that likes attention and games, being in the ring is perfect.

How her siblings would describe her:

Justin:  …complicated.

Malcolm: Bitch.

Cole: Badass.

Bailey: Sweet, but scary.

Inspiration and Costs

For a lot of different reasons, I’ve been thinking about inspiration, and where it mashes up with motivation.  Like…why do some ideas sit in the back of our heads for years before we start working on them, and why do others just flow out the moment they occur?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my uncle recently, and about Moonset.  Moonset comes out in about four months, and I just started working on promo materials and stuff for it, so it’s been on the forefront of my mind.  But whenever I think of Moonset, I end up thinking about my uncle. Let me explain.

There was a time, back in 2009 when I had accepted that Witch Eyes wasn’t going to sell.  Or at least it wouldn’t sell right then – maybe in a few years or something.  I don’t even remember what had spurred on that realization – it was still on submission and hadn’t even been seen by THAT many people.  Maybe it was just a moment of weakness or whatever.  I don’t know.  But the idea stuck.  I came to terms with it.  I was preparing myself to Move On. This is a thing you have to do sometimes, and I was determined that I was going to be a big boy and start on a new project or something, and life would be good.

In the midst of all this, a line of dialogue popped into my head and latched onto something, the way that ideas sometimes do.  It was that way with Witch Eyes when I wrote about Braden being chased through the cemetery by a group of Homecoming Queens, and its still that way with a WIP I haven’t finished, about a girl who steals dreams and hunts Muses.

But anyway, this line of dialogue popped into my head, and it encapsulated everything about a character in a moment for me.  A boy was giving a speech, or engaged in some kind of debate, and the words were a struggle.  Frustrated, he said, “When they were sixteen, my parents were Romeo and Juliet.  In their twenties, they were Bonnie and Clyde.  And then they became Rasputin and Elizabeth Bathory.  And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that.”  It was this idea that he was reciting a list of well-known truths, but he didn’t have any way to put them into context as far as what that meant to him.  How it affected him.  Who that made him.

That was my first moment in Justin’s world.  Obviously on some level I was inspired by the Runaways comic – a group of kids come together because their parents are supervillains.  It’s not a new idea, for sure, and it’s not even a new idea for me.  The characters in Witch Eyes all have to deal with parental issues.  But for me, the context was different.  These parents were…more.  Worse.  Darker.  They weren’t small town villains or supervillains.  They were mass murderers.  Terrorists.  And they were clearly dead, and their kids were left to pick up the pieces.

I got all that out of one line of dialogue.

Fast forward six months.  Witch Eyes sold to Flux, but I still couldn’t get Justin and his evil parents out of my head.  So a few weeks before Christmas, I gave myself permission to just sit down and…tell as much of the story as I could.  I didn’t really have a plot, I knew a few points I wanted to hit, but all I really had was the characters.  Right from the start, I knew exactly who the five kids were, how they fit together and how they clashed.

I started a few hours before midnight on December 10th, 2009.  I wrote 5,000 words before bed.  And another 5,000 over the course of the 11th.  All about these five messed up kids, and the situation they’d gotten themselves into. Literally 10,000 words, in just a little less than 24 hours. At the time, their story was only beginning.

And then I got a phone call.  My uncle had died that day.  He’d been going through some stuff, but I hadn’t really just how bad it had gotten.  That’s how it is sometimes, you know someone is struggling, but you never really UNDERSTAND it. Until it’s too late.

For me, it was almost…fake.  I mean, he’d been at Thanksgiving a few weeks before, and he’d helped me pick up and unload a new computer desk to my apartment only a week before.  He’d never been in my apartment, so I got to give him the nickle tour, he asked me a lot of questions about my book deal and how I liked my life, just random stuff like that.  My book deal was only a few months old at the time, so I basically jumped at any chance to talk about it.  And then when he left, he said we’d see each other at Christmas.  The usual sort of thing.

There were still two weeks until Christmas, and so my mom had to be wrong, didn’t she?  Because he said he’d be there at Christmas. So he couldn’t be dead.

Actually, thinking back to that night, my mom never actually used to the word “dead.”  This became a problem a few hours later, but for the time it took me to leave my apartment and head the ten minutes over to my parents’ house, it was the only thing I grabbed onto.  Because it’s what you do in a situation like that: you rationalize when you can, for as long as you can.  Because it’s easier than the alternative.

One of my sisters had gone out of town for something – either visiting college friends or had gone to a concert or something, I can’t remember.  And my mom didn’t want my other sister to be alone while she was gone.   So I went to house sit and keep my youngest sister company while my mom drove out to my aunt’s…and did whatever you do in the aftermath of something like this.  I spent hours trying to rationalize that since no one had said “he’s dead” that it wasn’t true.  That she hadn’t meant to freak me out, and everything was going to be okay.

Only it wasn’t.

I remember being mad at myself.  Like…furious.  It’s an instinctive response, I think, when you lose someone you love.  You blame yourself.  At least, I think most people do that, right?  “I could have done something/said something/tried something.”  But for me, it always felt like it was MORE personal.  MORE damaging.  Because back in my senior year of high school, my best friend committed suicide.  I’d been through this before.  There had been warning signs I should have seen then, and now too.  Especially now.  If anyone should have noticed something, it should have been me, right?

But that’s the thing.  I saw what I wanted to see, and didn’t see what I didn’t want to. And I saw what my uncle wanted me to see, which was nothing at all.

The aftermath was particularly horrific, and I think I just spent two weeks in shock.  My birthday is four days before Christmas, and it’s one of the first times that it’s ever gone completely unmentioned.  There was no Christmas, but there was a family dinner.  Everything just…drew to a stop.  I helped my parents pack up my uncle’s house and basically his life, and one of the only things I can tell you for sure about the weekend after he died is that when you’re knee-deep in papers and pans, and your dead uncle’s cell phone rings for the first time in days – in a completely silent house when you’re all alone….well yeah, tell me you wouldn’t pee your pants, too.  Hands down probably one of the most traumatic things that has ever happened to me.

And then it was January, and the holidays were over and I…had nothing to distract me.  And I turned to Moonset.  What had started for me as this book about a bunch of kids from a messed up family became the only thing I did for six weeks.  I wrote 120k thousand words about Justin’s struggle.  Cut half.  At one point, the “first day of school” section of the book approached 40 or 50 thousand words.  Seriously.  It was insane.

I cut it down to 60k, then turned around and added another 40.  I did all this in 6 weeks.  I even took a week away where I did nothing but play video games just so I could decompress for a few days.  I was obsessed, and probably a little unhinged, and I don’t even know where half of it all came from.

It became this book about a family struggle, about how far a makeshift family will go to keep themselves together.  It became therapy, because if I could write about these kids trying to keep their family together, while mine was busy falling apart, maybe it would be okay.  It was weird, too, because Moonset was actually the first novel I finished after Witch Eyes.  I wrote the second book in that series, Demon Eyes, after Moonset.  Somewhere along the line after Moonset, I felt like I “got it” a little more, and Demon Eyes was a far, far easier thing to draft.  It’s been the easiest book I’ve ever written, and I think that probably had something to do with just how rough Moonset was on me.

So needless to say, Moonset is a book that I have…issues with.  But I don’t think the book would have been even a fraction of what it became if I hadn’t gone through some stuff. Every time I’ve gone to edit it, it has become this herculean project that seems like it will never be finished.  I am the Greek dude pushing a boulder up a hill, knowing I will never make it to the top.

Every time has been like pulling teeth, because for me the book is wrapped up in all this weird headspace.  I had a friend edit like…fifty pages, and I seriously think I was in tears (which…crying?  I don’t typically cry) because of it, because every critique was just so personal.  And this is my super warm, super supportive friend.  But she now gets major warnings ahead of time just in case she decides to rip out my heart and stomp on it in her bright green Wellies. ;)

And yet when my editor came in with some big ideas, it almost became clinical.  Because it was a real book, and this was a real process, and there was no time for emotions.  Even though there was a breakdown or two behind the scenes (and many, MANY panicked emails about deadlines).  Seriously.  I still have deadline nightmares.

Still, I can look at it and even ten or twenty years down the road, I will know exactly what I was thinking and feeling when I wrote that first draft.  Even though the final version has whole sections that are brand, spanking new and were never even a glimmer in my eye until my editor very wisely made some points about the direction.

I’m writing this post out at the desk my uncle helped me carry into my apartment three years ago.  It’s a little dented, there are a lot of scuff marks, but it’s still my desk, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

I started Moonset three years ago today.  That’s so weird.