Behind the Scenes of AVATARS…



Finally a cover!  Yippee!  As you may have noticed if you visited the home page this week, this is the cover for Book 3 of Avatars, which is coming out October 14, so Amazon tells me.  Soon!  Oh boy!  The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy!  Featuring mysterious underworlds and hot Maori gods and dog-headed men and orishas and an epic showdown (naturally) and, of course, Quetzie, the enormous bird who was featured on the first cover.

For those of you who haven’t read the books, Quetzie is a highly evolved neoquetzal who is very burbly, incessantly cheerful, prone to fluttering her feathers when she’s complimented, and, apparently, exactly like me.  !!  This is what my friends who’ve read the books tell me — that when they got to Quetzie, they were like, oh, hey, it’s Tui!  As a bird!  (Which is ironic since tuis are birds…HMMM!).  I must say I did not do that on purpose.  If you ask me, she’s a lot more like Sunshine than she’s like me, although not everyone is privy to Sunshine’s telepathic powers. 

And it can’t be a subconscious bird=me thing because in the first draft (alert! top secret behind-the-scenes writer scoop!), Quetzie wasn’t a giant bird: she was a giant flying dolphin.  It’s true!  She did a lot of flolloping and whooping in the ocean.  But then (this is totally true) my dad read the first draft and decided that that was stupid.  Evil flying dolphins, like the pterodolphins who show up later, he had no problem with.  Cheerful flying dolphins, on the other hand, were lame and ridiculous, and he didn’t mind telling me so, and he seriously complained about it until I changed it.  Who knew anyone had such strong feelings about these things?  (Aw, I love you, Dad!)

So I swear all I was originally going for was what I thought a dolphin’s personality might be like, especially if she could fly, which I figured a dolphin would be pretty psyched about.  But if that’s really what my personality is like, then isn’t Dad lucky I’m not a totally lame flying dolphin to boot?  😉

On the plus side, it’s a lot easier for birds to hang out in Central Park than dolphins, so that made THOSE scenes easier.  And Quetzie was still fun to write…I didn’t want her to be one of those wise old characters who shows up just to impart information in a block of blah-di-blah text.  I guess I do appreciate being compared to her; that’s probably better than people saying, "So, are you the angry one who sets things on fire with her brain?"  ;-)  That side of me is buried a little deeper, I suppose…  🙂

You might notice, by the way, that this cover doesn’t look very similar to the last two covers.  I know, I know.  That’s because not enough people BOUGHT the last two covers, y’all.  Clearly if you like one of my covers, you should buy at least fifty of it so we get the message.  ;-)  Anyway, we thought we’d try something new, so I hope you like it!  Personally, I would have loved to have covers like this from the beginning, but authors don’t have much to do with that decision.  Well, not until they’re wildly famous, I think, but only J.K. Rowling can answer that question.  XD

In other news, GUESS WHO is now a CANINE GOOD CITIZEN!!  :)  :)  🙂

Is it me?  Is it me?

YES!  Sunshine passed her CGC test today!  YAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!  She has officially been certified a Very Good Dog.  Soon she will have a shiny certificate proving it and everything.  She sits!  She stays!  She walks past other dogs and is, like, totally chill with that, yo.  Awww!  Who’s my smart little munchkin?  Now I think I should be able to take her on all my school visits.  Don’t you agree?  She is hypoallergenic and all.  Not to mention perfect.  :-) 

We have also, thanks to my fabulous birthday present, been practicing our agility in the beautiful sunny weather we’ve finally been having this week.  (Conclusion: she’s a LOT more agile than I am.  I literally ran into a tree while I was running her up and down the course.  Yes.  I KNOW.  But it came out of nowhere!  I swear!  Sunshine was like, dude, seriously, we’re never going to get as many medals as Michael Phelps if you don’t get your act together.  I haven’t quite broken it to her yet that canine agility isn’t an Olympic sport, although clearly it should be, given that I am so terrible at it.)

Hurdles!  Weave poles!  Tire jump!

Speaking of Olympic sports, I totally have newfound respect for synchronized swimming (eerie!) and dressage (horses DANCING!  like, seriously DANCING!) and rhythmic gymnastics, now that I have actually watched them and realized how hard they are (which doesn’t necessarily make them less funny, of course.) 

I was completely blown away by the team rhythmic gymnastics finals.  I told Adam I’ve decided it’s the hardest Olympic sport (or at least, the hardest one with pretty costumes), and he laughed and laughed at me and then was like, OK, it’s hard, but it’s just a matter of coordination, which is…PRECISELY WHAT I DON’T HAVE.  Hence why I am so impressed.  There is NO WAY I could catch a ring someone else threw at me while I was simultaneously throwing another one at somebody else and doing a standing split-somersault.  In fact, it is highly unlikely that I could catch a ring I just threw into the air while standing perfectly still.  I would trip over my ribbons every time.  Neither rhythmic nor gymnastic = me.

I’m about to totally dominate this hurdle.

Our garden is all presentable and lovely right now, too, thanks to my brilliant and talented Master Gardener mom.  (YAY Mom!)  Check out our ridiculously thrilling morning glories:


I love morning glories because they are the only flower I’ve ever been able to grow successfully in all my gardens (Brooklyn!  Manhattan!  For reals!).  The only downside is the "morning" part, since they literally curl up and go to sleep about ten minutes after I get up at noon.  Which is why I had to run out in my pyjamas and take these pictures today.  🙂

Barney’s favorite thing about the garden is watching the light and shadows and pouncing whenever they DARE move.

Ooooo…I’m gonna get you…just you try it, buster.

This is maybe one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

All right.  I can wait.  I’ve got my eye on you…

If I didn’t have a romantic vampire mystery to write, I would stay out there all day, admiring my morning glories and hanging out with the hilarious dogs and running into trees and stuff.

But I DO have a romantic vampire mystery to write!  So back to the manuscript!  More soon!

Woo hoo!  Flowers surviving in my garden!  It’s a miiiiiiiracle!

Quote of the Day: "My mother was born before women could vote. My daughter got to vote for her mother for president. This is the story of America." — Hillary Clinton  (Not to say anything political, just that that made me cry.  How AWESOME.)  🙂

P.S. I just wanted to add, I’m really sad about Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones’s death last week.  I wouldn’t have known who she was if it wasn’t for Stephen Colbert’s Better Know a District series, so it strikes me that he’s doing something right.  She was classy and smart and awesome on his show — to the point where I was still talking about her three years later — and it sounds like she was in all the rest of her life, too.  Check out how she holds her own with Stephen in one of the funniest scenes ever.  We’ll miss her.