Friday, June 29, 2012

The Wild Wood

Today is a very special day for one of my really good friends: Julie Anne Nelson. It is her book's birthday!!! Happy Birthday THE WILD WOOD! (Well, technically, it was out a little early so it's birthday was a couple days ago, but for the sake of my post, it is today. TODAY.) 

THE WILD WOOD is available in print and digital form at amazon. Click on the image to check it out. 
Summary: In the town of Dunlowe, being different can be deadly. No one knows this better than the seven girls born on the exact same day, at the exact same time. From birth, they've been feared, judged, and controlled. And yet, still loved by their families. Still hoping for a future. Still believing that acceptance would one day come. As their seventeenth birthday approaches, events occur that leave Cecily Daye and the other girls grasping with the possibility that their oppressors might have been right about them all along. Maybe they are as evil as the town has believed. But without an answer, they must make a choice when the town turns on them: to die or to run to the one place no person would follow—they must enter The Wild Wood.

In honor of this special day, I asked Julie a couple questions about writing and her book. 

1. How long have you been writing?

Like many writers, I have been writing and creating story worlds since I was a small child, but four and a half years ago, I finally buckled down and focused on writing—and finishing—novels.  The Wild Wood was the first young adult novel I wrote after writing a commercial fiction series, and what can I say, I got hooked and every novel I’ve written since is YA.

2. Why do you write?

I write because only through the written word can I process my life and the world around me (both real and imaginary… yes, writers, you know what I mean).  Disappearing into fictional worlds and being the person who, through a series of finger motions, gets to set them down and hand them to others never fails to inspire gratitude.  

3. Where did you get the idea for The Wild Wood?

When I was a middle school teacher, I was so busy with creating massive battle activities and lesson plans, serving as the school videographer, and sponsoring a film club, I didn’t have the time or energy to write entire novels, so I developed what I would come to call the “Quote/Proverb Project.”  I would (mostly) randomly choose a quote out of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations or from a series of proverb books and write a few pages of a story.  The Wild Wood was inspired by a quote from Percy Bysshe Shelley from The Invitation, “Away, away, from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs—.”  I recently read the original story that I wrote and some names were the same, but the story took me in a very different direction.  The really wonderful thing about the project was after almost 200 different stories, that first, blank page thing that writers face doesn’t affect me at all.

4. What was the hardest part about writing The Wild Wood?

Because The Wild Wood was written and rewritten several times, I would have to say that the hardest part was finding the most authentic story to tell in what is the beginning of a fairly complex world/series.  I only write series, so knowing what part of the grander story to tell in each book is always a consideration.  Thankfully, I have a great group of readers to help me hone the story, and they were invaluable to the creation of this book.

5. What was your favorite part about writing this book?

The answer to this question is very easy: Dusty.  My main character’s brother delights me every single time I read his name, and happily, all of my readers have felt the same way.  In a broader sense, the characters are always what I love most and that feeling that I would know them if I bumped into them on the street (which would be a very bad thing because I really don’t want to live in the town of Dunlowe!).

6. Name 5 things (unrelated to writing) about yourself.

  • I love music in a big way and if I never saw another television show, it would be nothing to the idea of never being able to hear another song.
  • I am short and recently, to reach a high shelf, I put on a pair of my five-inch heels and successfully accomplished my goal, while feeling like a bit of an oddball.
  • I feel really blessed in my life and last year sought to balance the cosmic scale by becoming a platelet donor (like giving blood but a little more time-consuming), and I’m really fired up about the possibility that my blood is saving babies.
  • I am a bit on the OCD side of the force and if I cook you dinner, there is no worry at all that anything wasn’t washed, rinced, soaked in lemon juice, and then rinsed again (no ecoli here!).  
  • I love pretty dresses, especially prints, which means my closet should require a warning label and special glasses.

7. Since seven is such an important number in your book, we have to have seven questions, so what has been the best moment of your publishing journey?

I would definitely have to say that the high point was the fact that my thirteen-year-old niece read The Wild Wood like an addict and gave me her review, “Amazing.”  And she’s already pestering her mom to pester me about the sequel.  From six years teaching middle school, I know that middle schoolers won’t read a book that quickly unless it grabs them and the fact that it did made me feel like I honored the story I was supposed to tell.

Big thanks to Kasie for helping get the word out about my book and for all the support she gave me during its creation.  She’s pretty fabulous!

Thanks, Julie, for being on my blog today! I'm so excited that other people can read your book now!  

Friday, June 22, 2012


So I've been waiting to show you my cover for months now!!! I'm so excited the day is finally here. To see it, head on over to:

YA Book Central

And if you can't get enough of me today, I actually have two other blog posts on two separate sites. I have no idea how my blogging universes collided today but it was totally unplanned. I have a hard enough time blogging on one blog let alone three on the same day. Ha.

The Lucky 13s

Friday the Thirteeners

Thursday, June 21, 2012


One more day until my cover reveal! I'm so excited to share it with you. But for today, I'd like to share the blurbs that will be on the jacket. I thought I'd share them in their full form on the blog. On the book jacket some of them are shorter because of limited space. I also wanted to thank these authors. I feel very honored that they took the time out of their very busy schedules to read my book. I can't wait to read their next round of books.

"Kasie West is a master of suspense. The unique structure--seeing two alternate realities playing out at once--leaves you pleading with the characters, don't answer that phone, don't go to that house, don't talk to that person. PIVOT POINT is at once tense and romantic, challenging and engaging. It's a truly remarkable debut."                                                                                   
--Robison Wells (Author of VARIANT)  
"West’s debut is an expertly plotted, delightfully clever story. Addie’s dual realities pull the reader along to a startling—and devastatingly unavoidable—finale. I can’t wait for the next book!"
--Kiersten White (Author of PARANORMALCY)   
"With superb storytelling, a masterful blend of paranormal and normal, a helping of wit and humor, and a mouth-watering romance, PIVOT POINT is one of the most delicious books I’ve read."         
--Elana Johnson (Author of POSSESSION) 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Art!

So when I was planning my trip to New York to visit the Harper team, one of the things my agent said was, "You should come up with a fun little something to give them that relates to your book." And my mind filled with a buzzing noise to inform me it had absolutely no fun or clever ideas.

Then I started thinking about my characters. One of my characters is an artist. He draws comics. Now, I happen to have a good friend who writes/draws a comic. A really good one. You should check it out:

His name is Brock Heasley. He also writes books. This is his site:

Yes, as you can see, he has hogged a lot of talent. I think it's okay to hate him. Well, maybe I shouldn't hate him because he so graciously agreed to use his talent to make me a bookmark to hand out at my meeting with Harper:


Isn't it so cool? These are three of my main characters. Addie in the middle. And then the guys from her two different paths on either side, Duke and Trevor. I love it. Thanks so much, Brock! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm in New York!

And yet I'm posting on my blog. It's like magic. Yes, I'm a dork. I'm still enamored with the fact that I can send posts into the future. I wish there was a way to do this with texting. I constantly think of things I want to text people at 1o'clock in the morning. And since I don't know who sleeps with their cell phones, I think, "If only there were a way to schedule this really important text to be sent at 9am' because I don't want to wake my friends. Am I the only one who does this? Hmmm. Maybe I better move on before I start typing more things that nobody else but me does.

So anyway, while you're reading this, I'm on a plane to New York to meet with the Harper Teen team. I'm so excited to meet the people who've helped me make my book a book. They're going to fill me in on the plans going forward and I'll get to pick their brains about marketing and such. And by 'pick their brains' I mean, 'forget everything I was going to say the minute I'm in front of all of them'. Then I'll stare at them with a huge, creepy smile on my face until they all look at each other uncomfortably. I hope that doesn't happen. That's my nightmare. Actually, the nightmare I've had for the past two nights in a row is that I wake up late and miss my airplane. Because I have a really early flight and I am not a morning person. So here's hoping I don't turn off my alarm.

And as for this week of scheduled blog posts, I have some really cool things to share with you. Wednesday, I'm going to show you some fun book related artwork I had a friend put together for me for this trip. And then Friday!!! Friday, I get to reveal my cover over at YA Book Central! I can't wait for you to see it. I love it so much!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Never SURRENDER blog tour

Refer to my last post to get information on the tour, read my review, or sign up to participate yourself (for some very cool prizes). In honor of SURRENDER, by Elana Johnson, being released last week, and because I read and loved the book, I wanted to participate in her blog tour. Which involves me blogging about a time I didn't surrender.

Now, I wouldn't describe myself as a fighter. In fact, in the "fight or flight" response method of coping with threatening situations, I am hands down "flight". Seriously, you would not want to be standing anywhere near me if a man walked into the room with a gun because I'd be jumping out the window before my brain had a second to even register what floor we were on. And I wouldn't even think about you until I landed and was all the way behind the first solid object I encountered. I'm a huge wimp.

So this is one of the reasons it took me so long to throw myself into publishing. I did not want to face rejection. More so, I did not want to fight with rejection. I just wanted to avoid it. In high school I wrote a short story my teacher loved and she said, "Kasie, we should submit this to (such and such) magazine." I thought that sounded cool and had no idea how the whole publishing process worked back then so in my doe-eyed innocence, I said, "Yes. Let's do it!" A few weeks later I received my very first rejection letter. I did not like how that felt at all. So, I tucked it in my drawer and thought, 'Well, that wasn't fun. I never want to try that again.' And I didn't. For a long long time.

This fear of facing rejection battled with my desire to share my creative expressions. When I finally wrote a story that I thought was worth something, through lots of pep talks and many deep breaths I forced myself to query it with agents. Cue the theme music for the parade of rejections that followed. (I wonder what that theme music would be anyway? Something to do with rain or sad clowns or crying babies, I'd imagine.)  This was my fear coming true. I wanted so badly to crawl back in a hole and forget I tried. To never tell anyone I'd even thought about this silly dream. The problem was I had already told people and they were pushing me forward.

So far this sounds like a very depressing story. With the talk of jumping out of windows and my poor high school self and my sad music full of babies crying. I should fast forward a bit. Problem is, it took a while. I decided to keep trying. That first book died a slow and painful death. And by slow and painful, I mean a hundred edits that sucked the life out of it. So onto my second book that actually got me an agent. That book also died in the submission pools. And my agent and I parted ways.

That leads me to Pivot Point. I was kind of tired by this point. It had been years. I wrote Pivot and really loved it, but I was beginning to question whether or not I knew what was good anymore. I almost quit. I was so close to quitting. And I don't say that lightly. I remember laying in bed one night in tears telling my husband I didn't think I could handle any more rejection. That it hurt too bad. But I had the most supportive family and friends and crit partners ever and they wouldn't let me quit. I surged forward and well, obviously, the rest is history. Pivot Point sold and I am so happy I didn't give up. And not to sound melodramatic or anything but it is the name of the blog tour and the book, so I have to say it: I didn't SURRENDER!! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday Reads

So, on Friday, I'll be participating in Elana Johnson's blog tour event where I post about a time I didn't surrender, in honor of her book release (SURRENDER). I have read this book and LOVE it! Make sure you scroll to the end of this post for my review. You can participate in the blog tour too for a chance to win.

In her own words:

All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender. Trained for a marathon? Queried agents? Had to study for an entrance exam? I'm looking for inspirational stories that you have experienced. Hard things you've accomplished because you didn't give up. I want to be inspired by you!

Anyone who blogs this week for the theme can enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. Everyone who blogs this week will receive a SURRENDER swag package.

Don’t blog? Put the cover of Surrender up on your FB wall, or pin it on Pinterest, or change your twitter avatar to the cover. Use the words “Never Surrender” somewhere to go with the picture, and link back to this post.

Sign up in this form to make sure you get the swag package. Elana will visit each blog to read your inspirational "never surrender" moments. Sign your blog up to participate in the Never Surrender blogfest linklist below.

This is Elana:

Bio: Elana's work including POSSESSION, REGRET, and SURRENDER is available from Simon & Schuster wherever books are sold. She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query, which can be downloaded for free on her website. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and is a member of SCBWI, ANWA and LDStorymakers.

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

This is Elana on dru....oh, wait, no, this is Elana's book:

About SURRENDER: Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.
All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.
Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque…. 

This book grabbed me from page one and wouldn't let me go until the end. It was full of suspense and heartache and romance and action. Gunner was an amazing lead. And Raine was multi-layered and shared the second voice for the dual POV structure amazingly. Even if you haven't read book 1 in this series--POSSESSION--I think SURRENDER stands strong on its own. But having read POSSESSION, it made the world even more rich. I loved this book.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Love Movies

This last weekend I saw SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. I'm not going lie, I mainly saw it because of this guy:

And he was a very good reason to see it. He was amazing! But all Hemsworths aside, the movie was really good. I was a little worried that Bella would make an appearance, but I thought K-Stew did a good job. The english accent may have helped. And there were only a few heavy sighs and stuttered lines. So I thought she pulled it off.

I knew this lady would be amazing:

And she was in a hauntingly creepy sort of way.

So all in all I loved this movie.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Big News!!!

Yes, this:

June 6, 2012
Young Adult 
Kasie West's THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, a humorous love story about a girl who has her lifelong disdain of the wealthy challenged by the son of a hotel mogul, whose attention and loyalty almost convince her that being rich isn't a character flaw, until she finds out that money is a bigger part of their relationship than she realized, to Sarah Landis at Harper Teen, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2013, by Michelle Wolfson at Wolfson Literary Agency (World English).
Translation: Taryn Fagerness Agency

I sold another book!

So. Excited.

I feel so very lucky. Truly, very lucky.

I love to read contemporary. It's one of my favorite genres. So when I decided to try my hand at writing it, I was terrified. More than terrified. At first I wrote it to get it out of my system. To fail miserably at it. But I fell in love with this story. I am so happy that my editor (Sarah the awesome) loves it as much as I do and so grateful she thinks I can write another contemporary. Don't tell her I said this, but, I sure hope I can. Ha!

This book, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, will come out in between PIVOT POINT and its sequel.

Guess this means I need to break out the hair dye. :) Have I mentioned how much I love my agent? No? Michelle Wolfson, you are amazing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's okay to suck

Every time I start a new book I have to tell myself this again. It becomes like a mantra for the first fifty pages or so. This can suck. You can edit later. Just get words on the page. Because otherwise I'm just frozen. I sit there and stare at my screen. I tell my husband I forgot how to write. I think back to the last book I finished and only remember that it seemed to come easily to me. How come that book was so easy to write? I ask myself. And this book is like ripping out my toenails one at a time?

So this is where I was--In the midst of beating myself up the other day while barely choking out a hundred words on my WIP--when I pulled up an old blog post. I don't remember which blog post now, but I read through the comments section and one of my friends had left something along the lines of: You need to send me more Doll Store chapters (this is what we called my last WIP because it didn't have a title for a long time). And my response was: That book is being bad. It's in a serious time out.

I stared at that comment for a long time. Because much like a year after visiting Disneyland, where you only remember the fun and you don't remember the tantrums and breakdowns, I only remembered my last book being simple to write. It seemed to come out already formed. Or so I thought. But apparently I have a horrible memory because this comment, written by me, would say otherwise. It implied that my perfect adult book was actually a difficult teenager. Huh. Weird. But it helped. I told my husband, after reading this comment and having it help me so much, that I should keep a book-writing journal for each of my books. So that later, when I'm whining about my newest WIP, I can look back and see that every book gives me difficulties.

So here, in the first 50 pages of my newest book, I tell myself: It's okay to suck.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I love Germany. It's actually one of the few places I've visited. It's gorgeous and the people there are so kind. Several years back we hosted a foreign exchange student from Germany in our home for a year. It was fun. And so when she went home, we visited her and her family along with several other places.

So, when my agent emailed me and said that the German publisher, ARENA VERLAG wants to publish my book and its sequel, I was soo excited! (I mean, even without having a small connection to Germany I would've been excited, but with the connection, I am even more excited.) Knowing that my foreign exchange student can read my book in her first language makes me happy. Not that she needs to read my book in German, the girl can speak/read 4 different languages. Yes, I'm impressed and feel slightly uneducated when I find out that people can speak multiple languages. Why can I only speak one?!? 

Sorry, I got off topic there for a minute. And the topic is: Germany is awesome. I love Germany.

In other news, I saw the full cover for my book! People, I love it so very much. I can't wait to share it with all of you. Soon. Very soon.