CONSIDER Book Trailer! (Long Version 1)

CONSIDER has a book trailer! Even better, my daughter made it for me. Special thanks to Jason Lyle Black for composing an original CONSIDER song for this project. Check it out below--and please share it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=693Igs-IXyg 

June 10-12, 2016 Barnes & Noble B-Fest Teen Book Festival Weekend

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 The first Barnes & Noble B-Fest Teen Book Festival is happening nationwide June 10-12, 2016.  Check your local stores for author events!I will be participating at three locations along with a group of fabulous YA authors:imageOn Friday, June 10 I'll be at Barnes & Noble in Warwick, RI from 6-7pm for an Author Chat & Book signing along with Padma Venkatraman.See event Facebook page for more info.bfest 1On Saturday, June 11 I'll be at Barnes & Noble in North Dartmouth, MA from 1-2pm for a five YA Author Panel & Book Signing along with Emily Ross, Melissa Schorr, K.R. Conway and Huntley Fitzpatrick (updated).See BN event page for more details on each author.bfest 2On Sunday, June 12 I'll be at Barnes & Noble in Hyannis, MA from 1-2pm for a five YA Author Character Discussion & Book Signing along with Kate Conway, Laura Woolett, Lauren Roy, and Hillary Monahan.See BN event page for more details on each author. Come out and support local authors!

A CONSIDER Book Launch Party Huge Thank You!

Thank-You-4

This is a tremendous and much appreciated THANK YOU!

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me

My debut book launch party for Consider on April 23, 2016 at Barnes & Noble in Dartmouth, Massachusetts was a phenomenal success thanks to the huge local outpouring of support. We sold out of 130 books. Yes, you heard that right. Then people placed more orders. Rumor has it the store has ordered 45 more copies.  The line snaked around the store for 90 minutes. I have no idea how many books I actually signed because some people pre-ordered and brought those copies with them. Family, friends, colleagues, students, locals, strangers. People I haven't seen since elementary school. Old high school friends. Readers. Non-readers.I am completely overwhelmed and still in shock.

The whole experience is surreal. When I look at photos, it all seems like a fabulous, unbelievable dream. Well, it was! Not to mention all the local media attention--Fun 107 & WBSM radio, and newspapers, including this amazing Standard Times review by Lauren Daly.  I am feeling the local love. Many wonderful people--family, friends, colleagues, librarians, book sellers, and students who I taught over the past fifteen years, pitched in and donated items, time, and talent to help pull off the event.Thank you to all who came out to show your support. Thank you to all those who couldn't come and messaged me with more support. You have no idea what it means to have the community behind me and my debut book as I start on an unpredictable publishing journey and a new phase in my creative life.I am so grateful to have good people in my life.

 I'd like to share with you my most touching moment of the day. In order to fully appreciate the scope of this moment, first read my blog post about my "big sister" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization when I was a child. Okay. *deep breath* So a family approached the table and handed me a book to sign. As I signed my name, the father put his hands on his son's shoulders said, "This is Sid's grandson." Then he broke down crying. My brain didn't comprehend at first. Then I looked at the father's face. It was my Big Sister's adult son, maybe around 15 years older than I am. The last time I remember seeing him was when I was twelve. He added, "He never got to meet his grandmother. She died before he was born."

I experienced a complete, full circle moment. Here was the grandson of my childhood mentor, a phenomenal woman who fostered my love of books and brought me to the library for years.  And here I was, handing her grandson a signed copy of my first young adult book.  I felt the loss of her and the love of her and the love of her family all in one moment. Oh, the tears.

There's more. Her son explained that they didn't know about the book signing until that day. A newspaper that they don't subscribe to mysteriously appeared in their mailbox and fell open to my book launch article. You don't need explanations for serendipitous moments like that. As I slid my book over to her grandson, I knew that someday when he reads it, she'll be reading along with him.

It was a truly remarkable life moment to top off a wonderful dream. I feel blessed and truly honored. Thank you for sharing this day with me.

Meet the Winner of the CONSIDER Fan Art Contest

RIOT by Cat Scully First Place

RIOT by Cat Scully First Place

The #ConsiderYourEnd Fan Art Contest inspired artists to create incredible work using scenes from my book, Consider.  Thank you to all the artists who participated in the contest; the talent was overwhelming.The winners were announced on social media on April 4. As one of the first place prizes, the winner receives a special feature on my website. So here it is!

First Place SHOWCASE: Meet the artist

Cat Scully

Cat Scully

RIOT by Cat Scully in stage 1

RIOT by Cat Scully in stage 1

RIOT by Cat Scully stage 2

RIOT by Cat Scully stage 2

RIOT by Cat Scully stage 3

RIOT by Cat Scully stage 3

Amazing, right? Out of all the submissions, RIOT truly captures Alex's (the main character) emotions and anxiety amid the chaos surrounding her.  I can't get enough.

Catherine "Cat" Scully is an illustrator, writer, motion design student, and freelance editor. As illustrator, she has worked on concept art for film, world maps and chapter headings for books, and storyboards for broadcast. She is best known for her world maps in Winterspell by Claire Legrand, her forthcoming maps in 2016 include Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, and the Seven Forges series by James A. Moore. She is currently a motion design student at the ANVEL in Atlanta, GA, where she is lucky enough to learn motion graphics with a fabulous crew of people. UPDATE: Her debut YA illustrated horror novel, JENNIFER STRANGE, comes out in July 2020! Cat loves drumming, Evil Dead, campy B-movies, classic movie monsters, Sailor Moon, yoga, cooking, and firmly believes she would be sorted into both the Ravenclaw and Slytherin houses. Cat is represented by Lane Heymont of the Seymour Agency and is a member of AIGA and the Horror Writers Association, where she acts as the YA Editor. Check out her website,  and follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

I spoke to Cat about her process in creating this winner masterpiece. She said she "dropped the sketch in Corel painter and speed painted it in about three hours" and the sketch "took maybe 20 minutes." Even better, she saved images of her work in stages and was willing to share them with me. I LOVE THIS. 

Now even though only first place was supposed to be showcased on my author website, I can't help but at least list all the other winners with their works below.I mean, check these out...

Second Place

Technological Belly Button by Jason Ford

Technological Belly Button by Jason Ford

Third Place

Beyond the Void by Anissa Basnayake

Beyond the Void by Anissa Basnayake

Honorable Mention

Melia LaFleur

Melia LaFleur

Honorable Mention

Shannen Mills

Shannen Mills

Which one is your favorite?

The Importance of Mentors and Books: My Experience Having a "Big Sister"

Mrs. Ferguson

Mrs. Ferguson

Me as a kid

Me as a kid

When I was seven, my mother told me I was getting a "Big Sister" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Since my brothers were too young for the program, only I would be getting one. I was getting a fake, older sister because I was special. Yeah, I was skeptical, too.

When Mrs. Ferguson arrived that first Wednesday, she limped into our apartment with a metal cane. I received the rejected Big Sister. The Big Grandmother.

She did her research on me, though, and found out that we had something in common. We both loved to read. Our first stop was at the Southworth Public Library in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. I had never been to a library before. She showed me how to navigate the children’s section and gave me space to explore. She headed to the biography section. Back at the counter, Mrs. Ferguson handed over her library card and asked the librarian if I could have an application.

I didn't know they gave kids library cards. No one else in my family had one. I held that application like it was a golden ticket.

After the library, Mrs. Ferguson drove us into the woods.  I worried that I was in a real life Hansel and Gretel situation. Bad things happen to children in forests. It turned out her house was an old cabin with weather-beaten shingles camouflaged among the trees. She showed me her wild garden, explaining flowers and plants with names I quickly forgot. I liked how she let them grow free.

Her home brimmed with tangible treasures. Ships in bottles. Intricate silver tins. Yellowed maps. Benches stacked with books. Landscape paintings by her husband. Haunting art photographs taken by her daughter using only a pinhole of light.

Two enormous antique mirrors hung on opposing walls. White Christmas lights sparkled around them even though it was late spring.  I remember examining myself full-length in one mirror and seeing my back in the other one across the room. From a certain angle, I could see myself standing behind me as well, and another me, and another, front, back, front, back, like parallel versions of me waiting in different frames for different futures. I lost and found myself in those twinkling mirrors.

Then it was time for baking. This was it—I was a goner, a confection in her oven. She opened a cabinet and pulled out a box of cake mix, saving me from a heart attack. While the cake rose alone in the oven, she taught me to play dominoes, backgammon, and gin rummy. Two hours later, it was time to leave fairy tale land where I got to play the fake princess instead of the broken child.

As time when on, you would think I would've respected my time with her. Nope. As I grew older, it was embarrassing to tell my friends I couldn't go bike riding because I was going with my Big Sister. I lied to them and made up excuses. I didn't want them to think I was abnormal.

I started to test her. Several weeks I pretended to be sick to sabotage the program. I didn't want to be someone’s project. Any normal person would've given up. She kept coming. Every freakin' Wednesday. She was more stubborn and persistent than I was. I gave in and learned how to trust someone.

For seven years Mrs. Ferguson picked me up every Wednesday and brought me to the library and her home. I read Amelia Bedelia, The Phantom Tollbooth, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, The Babysitters Club. I began hiding romance novels from her at the library counter. Moved on to King. Koontz. Alcott. Angelou.

At thirteen, the program ended. She said she would keep in touch. I thought that’s just what people said to make goodbyes easier. But she wrote me cards, and we'd still get together every few months to catch up. Every birthday she would send me a book in the mail. She even met my oldest daughter, and we spent several afternoons together collecting sea glass and blowing bubbles.

Barbara (Sid) Ferguson was a stranger who volunteered to care about me faithfully for twenty years. She taught me about growing up gracefully with passion, connection, and creativity in my life. She had high standards yet broke rules if it would bring joy. Her funeral was an outdoor tea party where guests wore crazy hats and told jokes. Even in death, she had style.

We never talked about my childhood. We didn't talk about anything important or life-altering. And ironically, that time spent not talking about heavy stuff helped me develop my inner peace. Art, nature, creativity, books--these are the spiritual tools of survival that are most often neglected. These helped form my identity so I didn't get stuck in patterns of dysfunction.

She would've been thrilled to hear that I've become a published author. I thank her for giving me the quiet gifts of time and commitment. In 2001 I must’ve written her a letter thanking her. While I don't have my letter to her, I saved her written response. I think it's only fitting to end this blog post by sharing her words to me.

Letter from Ferguson p 1

Letter from Ferguson p 1

Letter from Ferguson p 2

Letter from Ferguson p 2

CONSIDER Chapter 1 Free Preview (part 2)!

 
 

I hope you've enjoyed what you've read so far of Chapter 1. (If you haven't read the first part of the chapter yet, click here.)

HERE'S THE REST OF CHAPTER 1. Enjoy!

(Chapter 1 continued)

If I could take the idea of technology and somehow turn it into a living thing, it would look like this thing. The size of a doorway, it glows a deep electric blue, the center shimmering like a metallic, moving liquid. Like something has punched a hole into the fabric of the universe.

“No one knows what’s going on,” Rita reports from my phone. I hadn’t realized she was still talking, and she’s not an easy person to ignore. “Eyewitness reports rolling in. They’ve appeared all over the world."

“We’re near one now,” I manage to say. It takes more effort than I expect to speak. “I think the train stopped”—I take a breath—”since it’s close to the tracks.”

“No way.” She pauses. “Take a picture.”

“I’ll call you back.” I hang up without listening for her response. My heart and lungs compete in a death match for my attention. I relay the jumbled information to Dominick and other passengers. Most people aren’t bothering to listen; faces are glued to phones and thumbs are doing the communicating.

An MBTA conductor’s voice booms over the crackling loud speaker: “We’ve been advised to stop travel at this time. Please remain calm and exit the train when the doors open. Alternative transportation will be provided shortly.”

One lady weeps. Another blesses herself with the sign of the cross and kisses a gold crucifix dangling from her necklace. She grips it so hard I’m afraid it’s going to puncture her palm. Others stare out the window at the oval phenomenon hovering near the tracks in front of the train. Some hold up their phones to capture it on video.

My stomach churns like an angry ocean. I step away from the windows and take in a deep breath for a count of five, hold it for a count of two, and let it out slowly in another five like I’ve been trained to do when my anxiety escalates. I repeat the ritual, but it’s not designed for actual moments of terror. Dominick notices and squeezes my hand. My prescription beckons me from my purse, but two pills in one night is already pushing it.

A woman around my mother’s age bursts into a fit of angry tears. Her traveling companion rubs her shoulders. I try not to stare.

Police officers, firefighters, and ambulances arrive and form a barrier around the supernatural occurrence. An army of city buses charges over the dark horizon and lines up in an abandoned lot to carry us to our destinations. My escape route from the mass of bodies surrounding me.

“Holy crap,” another teenager says, holding the visor of his Red Sox hat. “Holy crap.“

“Open the goddamn door,” the old man in the corduroy coat yells. “Let us out of here!”

My feelings exactly. I focus on breathing again and visualize my safe space. Island. Hammock. Book to read. Dominick catches me rocking back and forth. I stop and feign coolness even though I’m ready to ignite.

“Are we gonna die?” a little boy asks his dad. The father lifts him onto his shoulders and says firmly, “Not on my watch.”

I catch Dominick staring at the boy and the father. It must be hard for him. I squeeze his hand again, and my own worries sink from the surface.

Two high-pitched beeps fill the train before the automatic doors open. People file out in clusters. I’m not sure if we are being rescued or trading one bad situation for something worse. It seems wrong to leave the train in the middle of the tracks.

We have to pass the thing in order to cross the tracks and reach the buses. As we approach, no one talks. The danger creates a type of reverent silence.

What if I accidentally fall inside? What if it’s a black hole and it swallows us all? What if it’s an alien-powered vacuum cleaner and we’re the dirt?

Up close, other colors swirl inside of it, embers of green, silver, and a bright darkness. My eyes can’t seem to focus on the depth. It’s like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. Except instead of the 3D images projecting forward, the colors are falling inward. Like an enormous, ridiculous, technological bellybutton.

The crowd fades into the periphery, and I forget about my own safety. The blue glow illuminates Dominick and me. Maybe it’s the medication talking, but it’s like I’ve walked onto the set of a great sci-fi moment, and my brain can’t figure out if this is supposed to be scary or amazing.

It’s both.

“This is like something outta Stephen King” he says.

Doctor Who. It has a happier ending,” I joke back nervously. My pill has definitely kicked in. Like a warm invisible blanket has wrapped around my organs.

The crowd inches forward since no one wants to pass it. People continue to hold up their cell phones and take videos. The cops try to herd us over to the buses. Dominick squeezes my hand tighter. It keeps me grounded.

Then Something pushes through the blue fire in the oval.

The cops draw their weapons. Some people scream and run. I don’t. Dominick pulls my hand to move, but I pull back. I’d like to credit my compulsion to stay on curiosity or stubbornness, but more likely it’s the result of my meds dulling my reaction time.

The Something looks like a transparent human in a gray uniform. I can’t take my eyes off it.

“Hello,” it announces to the crowd. “We’ve come to save you.”

First contact. Binge-watching thousands of hours of sci-fi shows has trained me for this moment. I want to say, “Greetings from Earth, live long and prosper,” or stick my pointer finger out at it and ask, “Phone home?” but my stomach has swallowed my voice, a first for me.

“Freeze!” yell several cops at once. “Hands up!”

It reaches into its translucent coat pocket. And they open fire.

Dominick forces me to the ground and lays his body on mine. I watch over his shoulder as the bullets pass right through the ghostly figure. The transparency gradually fills in, gaining weight and dimension, yet the bullets still have no effect on its now opaque body. It’s the most advanced holographic image I have ever seen. More like an actual person than a projection of light.

The cops realize their error and cease fire. They shout at everyone to evacuate to the buses immediately for our own safety. Dominick pulls me up from the ground and straightens his glasses. I know I should leave, but my brain still wants to know what’s going on. Ambiguity breeds anxiety.

The androgynous hologram holds out one hand like a mime and reveals a slip of paper the size of a sticky note. Everyone stops to watch. It’s not a trick; we aren’t under a type of mind control or magical spell. Our instincts simply recognize the moment as one for history, regardless of the consequences.

The paper unfolds to form a three-dimensional image of Earth. The hologram sets it on its palm, and the paper Earth begins to rotate. Then in a calm, emotionless voice, it announces:

“We are humans from a parallel future in the year 2359. We are here to save you. In six of your calendar months, a comet will destroy your planet. This is your known destruction; there is no way to prevent it."

The paper Earth silently ignites into a fireball, and then all traces of it vanish before our eyes. “We have opened five hundred vertexes across your planet to send you to our time and dimension. We have enough space to accommodate all who wish to join us. Simply walk through one person at a time. It is your individual choice. Please bring minimal personal items. You will be given all the resources needed to live here.

“We apologize for using images as representatives, but we can only carry physical beings in one direction. Our images are equipped to answer your questions using our standard database responses available in multiple human languages.

“This automatic message will repeat once a day at each vertex location. You have approximately four thousand three hundred ninety-four hours to decide. The vertexes will remain open until then.

“Consider. Save your people. Save yourself before it is too late.”

The crowd stands like a dangling participle, confused, pointless. Sweat beads down my spine, and my pulse pounds behind my eardrums. Everything around me seems muffled, slow.

A bearded man from the horde breaks the silence and shouts at the hologram, “Who are you?”

I can’t believe he asked that question. Wasn’t he paying attention?

The hologram responds, “We are humans like you.”

“Humans, my ass. This is alien invasion shit.”

The hologram responds, “We do not understand.”

The crowd laughs uneasily. “They’re not as smart as they think,” a woman whispers to Dominick and me.

I can’t laugh with them. A question burns inside my head, but my mouth battles with my mind for freedom and words. I take a deep breath and let loose. “Why should we believe you?” I yell out over the crowd.

The hologram responds, “You have no other options.”

                 (End of Chapter 1)

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Excerpted from CONSIDER by Kristy Acevedo. Copyright ©2016 by Kristy Acevedo. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.CONSIDER hits shelves April 19, 2016. Please add it to your Goodreads!

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The Chapter 1 full preview of CONSIDER is HERE! Enjoy!

Consider Book

Consider Book

CONSIDER by Kristy Acevedo

Chapter 1

Day 1-August

When the Boston outbound T screeches to a stop, I lose my grip on the silver pole and slam into Dominick. His black rimmed glasses twist on his face, but he retrieves my purse from the floor before straightening them.“

You okay?” he asks and hands me my bag.

I nod and try to act nonchalant as I glance out the dark windows at the distant headlights of highway traffic. The train has stopped somewhere after the North Quincy station.

My mind begins to calculate and unravel in a spiral of possibilities. Could be a suicide. Or a terrorist attack. Maybe a car exploded. With babies inside. Decapitated. And one survivor, the driver, left screaming on the side of the road. Little bloody hands and feet scattered on the tracks. Tiny severed toes.

I fish in my purse for my anxiety meds and pop one little white savior.

“Seriously?” Dominick asks. “You already took one at the concert.”

“It wore off.” I swallow before he makes me feel guilty.

Other passengers mutter about the delay, and each complaint seeps into my skin and mingles with my fears. "I knew we shouldn’t have taken the train.”

“Cheaper than parking at the Garden. Plus, no traffic.”

“Except we’re stuck.” Dad wanted me home by 11:00, and my phone says it’s already 9:45. If we don’t get moving soon, I’m never going to make it home in time.

The image of tiny severed toes repeats in my brain.

“Why do you think the train stopped?” I ask. “You think someone pancaked on the tracks?”

“No, no. Probably something electrical. Happens all the time.”

Pancaked. Brain oozing on the tracks. A mother with a spatula and tears.

I swallow hard and cross my arms over my chest. I bet it’s a suicide. Or a terrorist attack.”

“No, it’s nothing. It’ll be fine.” He moves in closer and brushes my neck with his fingertips. “Plus, I love being stuck with you. Too bad you need drugs to be stuck with me. Stop worrying.”

He always takes my anxiety personally. Like being with him should be a magical cure since he cares. But telling me not to worry is like telling me not to breathe. It’s like tickling someone to cure depression.

To escape the gruesome images in my head, I trace the pale scar on Dominick’s middle knuckle with my pointer finger, the scar he got trying to gut a striped bass for the first time with his father. He tucks one of my golden brown curls behind my ear. His thumb slides down my neck and runs along the strap of my sundress, sending shivers across my shoulders even though the air conditioner is malfunctioning as usual. His touch brings me out of my head and back into my body. I wish we were alone.

“I can’t believe we only have a few weeks left of summer,” he whispers.

I peck his cheek. “I know. It went by so fast.”

We both know what we’re not saying. Senior year. Pressure’s on. We started dating in April of our junior year, and only four months later, we already have to make major college decisions that could pull us apart. It’s time to start my slow transformation into Alexandra Lucas, Kick Ass Lawyer, and I’m afraid to let anything distract me from that future. Even him. It’s hard enough for me to stay focused.

A sweaty man to my left bumps me with his shoulder and apologizes. His body odor absorbs my oxygen and makes my stomach twist. I lose focus on Dominick. To ground myself, I stare at the rainbow swirl pattern on the seats, the fake marbled black and white floor. The air becomes too heavy to breathe, too thick for my lungs to process.

What if I’m being poisoned by everyone’s carbon dioxide? The intense urge to pry the doors open or claw my way out of the tinted windows for fresh air builds inside me. Ativan, please don’t fail me now. It usually takes ten minutes or so to kick in, so until it does, I need to focus on anything other than the fact that I’m trapped in a hot, crowded train.

Think positive: At least we're not stuck underground. Maybe I should pick a fight with Dominick. Arguing cancels out my anxiety. That’s why I’ll make an amazing defense lawyer, arguing my way to mental health while helping the underdogs of the world get a break for once.

My cell phone blares the Twilight Zone theme song, snapping me into the moment. A shriveled woman sitting behind me jumps and mutters, “Jesus,” so I silence my phone before answering.

Rita Bernardino’s name appears on the screen under a picture of the three of us at our annual beach bonfire. My best friend never calls. Only texts. She doesn’t wait for hello.

“Alexandra?” She only ever calls me Alex.

“What’s going on?” I ask, then mouth Rita’s name to Dominick. He raises one eyebrow behind his glasses and makes a goofy face by touching his tongue to his nostril. Wish I had time to take a photo so I could remember him like that.

“Did you see the news?” she continues in rapid speech.

“No, I’m stuck on the train with Dominick. What’s wrong?”

Rita starts screaming facts that don’t register in my brain. In the last ten minutes—over three hundred so far—

“Wait, slow down. What are you talking about?”

Sitting across from me, an elderly man wearing a corduroy coat much too heavy for early August rises from his seat. He points his arthritic finger at something beyond the window glass ahead of the train. “God have mercy on us,” his voice cracks.

People jump from their seats and crowd the windows. Dominick pulls me closer as we fight for a view. Rita continues yelling nonsense into my ear.And then I see it. The train didn’t stop for a suicide. Or a terrorist attack.

It’s something. Else.

If I could take the idea of technology and somehow turn it into a living thing, it would look like this thing. The size of a doorway, it glows a deep electric blue, the center shimmering like a metallic, moving liquid. Like something has punched a hole into the fabric of the universe.

“No one knows what’s going on,” Rita reports from my phone. I hadn’t realized she was still talking, and she’s not an easy person to ignore. “Eyewitness reports rolling in. They’ve appeared all over the world."

“We’re near one now,” I manage to say. It takes more effort than I expect to speak. “I think the train stopped”—I take a breath—”since it’s close to the tracks.”

“No way.” She pauses. “Take a picture.”

“I’ll call you back.” I hang up without listening for her response. My heart and lungs compete in a death match for my attention. I relay the jumbled information to Dominick and other passengers. Most people aren’t bothering to listen; faces are glued to phones and thumbs are doing the communicating.

An MBTA conductor’s voice booms over the crackling loud speaker: “We’ve been advised to stop travel at this time. Please remain calm and exit the train when the doors open. Alternative transportation will be provided shortly.”

One lady weeps. Another blesses herself with the sign of the cross and kisses a gold crucifix dangling from her necklace. She grips it so hard I’m afraid it’s going to puncture her palm. Others stare out the window at the oval phenomenon hovering near the tracks in front of the train. Some hold up their phones to capture it on video.

My stomach churns like an angry ocean. I step away from the windows and take in a deep breath for a count of five, hold it for a count of two, and let it out slowly in another five like I’ve been trained to do when my anxiety escalates. I repeat the ritual, but it’s not designed for actual moments of terror. Dominick notices and squeezes my hand. My prescription beckons me from my purse, but two pills in one night is already pushing it.

A woman around my mother’s age bursts into a fit of angry tears. Her traveling companion rubs her shoulders. I try not to stare.

Police officers, firefighters, and ambulances arrive and form a barrier around the supernatural occurrence. An army of city buses charges over the dark horizon and lines up in an abandoned lot to carry us to our destinations. My escape route from the mass of bodies surrounding me.

“Holy crap,” another teenager says, holding the visor of his Red Sox hat. “Holy crap.“

“Open the goddamn door,” the old man in the corduroy coat yells. “Let us out of here!”

My feelings exactly. I focus on breathing again and visualize my safe space. Island. Hammock. Book to read. Dominick catches me rocking back and forth. I stop and feign coolness even though I’m ready to ignite.

“Are we gonna die?” a little boy asks his dad. The father lifts him onto his shoulders and says firmly, “Not on my watch.”

I catch Dominick staring at the boy and the father. It must be hard for him. I squeeze his hand again, and my own worries sink from the surface.

Two high-pitched beeps fill the train before the automatic doors open. People file out in clusters. I’m not sure if we are being rescued or trading one bad situation for something worse. It seems wrong to leave the train in the middle of the tracks.

We have to pass the thing in order to cross the tracks and reach the buses. As we approach, no one talks. The danger creates a type of reverent silence.

What if I accidentally fall inside? What if it’s a black hole and it swallows us all? What if it’s an alien-powered vacuum cleaner and we’re the dirt?

Up close, other colors swirl inside of it, embers of green, silver, and a bright darkness. My eyes can’t seem to focus on the depth. It’s like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. Except instead of the 3D images projecting forward, the colors are falling inward. Like an enormous, ridiculous, technological bellybutton.

The crowd fades into the periphery, and I forget about my own safety. The blue glow illuminates Dominick and me. Maybe it’s the medication talking, but it’s like I’ve walked onto the set of a great sci-fi moment, and my brain can’t figure out if this is supposed to be scary or amazing.

It’s both.

“This is like something outta Stephen King” he says.

Doctor Who. It has a happier ending,” I joke back nervously. My pill has definitely kicked in. Like a warm invisible blanket has wrapped around my organs.

The crowd inches forward since no one wants to pass it. People continue to hold up their cell phones and take videos. The cops try to herd us over to the buses. Dominick squeezes my hand tighter. It keeps me grounded.

Then Something pushes through the blue fire in the oval.

The cops draw their weapons. Some people scream and run. I don’t. Dominick pulls my hand to move, but I pull back. I’d like to credit my compulsion to stay on curiosity or stubbornness, but more likely it’s the result of my meds dulling my reaction time.

The Something looks like a transparent human in a gray uniform. I can’t take my eyes off it.

“Hello,” it announces to the crowd. “We’ve come to save you.”

First contact. Binge-watching thousands of hours of sci-fi shows has trained me for this moment. I want to say, “Greetings from Earth, live long and prosper,” or stick my pointer finger out at it and ask, “Phone home?” but my stomach has swallowed my voice, a first for me.

“Freeze!” yell several cops at once. “Hands up!”

It reaches into its translucent coat pocket. And they open fire.

Dominick forces me to the ground and lays his body on mine. I watch over his shoulder as the bullets pass right through the ghostly figure. The transparency gradually fills in, gaining weight and dimension, yet the bullets still have no effect on its now opaque body. It’s the most advanced holographic image I have ever seen. More like an actual person than a projection of light.

The cops realize their error and cease fire. They shout at everyone to evacuate to the buses immediately for our own safety. Dominick pulls me up from the ground and straightens his glasses. I know I should leave, but my brain still wants to know what’s going on. Ambiguity breeds anxiety.

The androgynous hologram holds out one hand like a mime and reveals a slip of paper the size of a sticky note. Everyone stops to watch. It’s not a trick; we aren’t under a type of mind control or magical spell. Our instincts simply recognize the moment as one for history, regardless of the consequences.

The paper unfolds to form a three-dimensional image of Earth. The hologram sets it on its palm, and the paper Earth begins to rotate. Then in a calm, emotionless voice, it announces:

“We are humans from a parallel future in the year 2359. We are here to save you. In six of your calendar months, a comet will destroy your planet. This is your known destruction; there is no way to prevent it."

The paper Earth silently ignites into a fireball, and then all traces of it vanish before our eyes. “We have opened five hundred vertexes across your planet to send you to our time and dimension. We have enough space to accommodate all who wish to join us. Simply walk through one person at a time. It is your individual choice. Please bring minimal personal items. You will be given all the resources needed to live here.

“We apologize for using images as representatives, but we can only carry physical beings in one direction. Our images are equipped to answer your questions using our standard database responses available in multiple human languages.

“This automatic message will repeat once a day at each vertex location. You have approximately four thousand three hundred ninety-four hours to decide. The vertexes will remain open until then.

“Consider. Save your people. Save yourself before it is too late.”

The crowd stands like a dangling participle, confused, pointless. Sweat beads down my spine, and my pulse pounds behind my eardrums. Everything around me seems muffled, slow.

A bearded man from the horde breaks the silence and shouts at the hologram, “Who are you?”

I can’t believe he asked that question. Wasn’t he paying attention?

The hologram responds, “We are humans like you.”

“Humans, my ass. This is alien invasion shit.”

The hologram responds, “We do not understand.”

The crowd laughs uneasily. “They’re not as smart as they think,” a woman whispers to Dominick and me.

I can’t laugh with them. A question burns inside my head, but my mouth battles with my mind for freedom and words. I take a deep breath and let loose. “Why should we believe you?” I yell out over the crowd.

The hologram responds, “You have no other options.”

                 (End of Chapter 1)

Excerpted from CONSIDER by Kristy Acevedo. Copyright ©2016 by Kristy Acevedo. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.CONSIDER hits shelves April 19, 2016. Please add it to your Goodreads!

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Avoiding Writer's Block: My Writing Process

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writers-block

As I'm writing the first draft of Contribute, Book 2 of the HoloSeries, several people have asked me, "Aren't you nervous? You have a deadline with a publisher now. What if you get writer's block?"

Okay, first, Are you kidding me? Thanks for the confidence killer. Second, no. I don't get writer's block. (Stop giving me the finger.) My creative writing process prevents me from getting stuck, and maybe it will help you, too.

Here's my overall writing process for the most part:

1. Come up with a shiny new idea and characters for a manuscript. Ideas usually come to me during walks, drives, or in the shower. Basically when I'm not trying. I keep a file of ideas for when I'm ready to start a new project. When I choose a project, I first visualize major characters and names. Some writers use Pinterest, but I like using an actual corkboard over my desk where I hang images that appeal to me. Feels more tangible.

2. Free write for 50-100 pages or so. (I do 20k for YA.) This is judgment free, creative writing time. You don't have to think chronologically. Write whatever comes to you. Leave spaces to separate different scenes and thoughts. Let your characters interact with each another for the first time. Hear their voices. Write the opening scene. Write the last scene. Write the turning point. Write something funny. Write something heartbreaking. No rules. No fear. This is all about getting thoughts on paper.  You are testing voice, character, and plot during this phase to find out what will work. Explore and let your creativity loose. Free writing gives you the freedom to be creative. It lets characters grow and change and bring you places without fearing that you'll hit a dead end. I have discovered many creative subplots in free writing sessions that I wouldn't have thought of if I had been following a strict outline from the start.

*Warning: There's a possibility that half of these 100 pages will not be used in your book. I promise this is not a waste of time. It helps to get bad ideas on paper and realize what doesn't work before you write the entire novel. You don't want to discover you've relied on a crucial moment or character that needs to be cut or changed, causing a plot avalanche. A major overhaul after 400 pages is the real time waster.For example, when free writing for Consider, Book 1 of the series, my main character actually had an older, pregnant sister living in California. Within twenty pages of free writing, I knew this choice wasn't working. By changing the sister character to Benji, an older brother in the military, I got so much more conflict out of the story, and he has become a crucial character in Books 1-2. I wouldn't have discovered him without free writing, and the series wouldn't be the same.

3. Outline the major plot points and any subplots that have come up during free writing. Your free writing should give you plenty of insight and fodder for creating a working outline. Be as detailed as possible. If you still don't have an answer for a plot hole, write "plot hole" in the outline. Knowing what's missing is different from discovering it later.

4. Make a major, "To Write" list by scene. Include subplot scenes if you know them. Label them accordingly. (For example, these were my first three scenes for Consider):

Scene 1: Train scene with first vertex sighting

Scene 2: Bus scene conversation w/ Alex and Dominick

Scene 3: Hospital scene with Hazmat workers

5. Write your first draft by scene, using your "To Write" list as a checklist.This is my secret to never getting writer's block. I do not necessarily compose scenes in chronological order. First, I sift through the 100 pages of free writing and reuse any material that works. I finish those scenes and check them off the list.Then each day I look at my "To Write" list and choose a scene based on how I'm feeling.  Why would I force myself to write a tragic scene if I'm in a good mood? Nope, that's a comedy scene day. Granted, eventually I face the last few random scenes that I've avoided, but usually the sheer joy of almost being finished gets me through those moments.

6. Reread the manuscript and add any necessary connecting scenes, especially quieter, reflective moments. Those tend to be missing from the outline.

7. Reread the manuscript for continuity and make an "Editing" task list.  Then edit following the list. Reread with a notebook nearby and take notes on any sections that need revising, or print the manuscript and write notes directly on it. Composing out of order can often mess with time sequencing, so be sure to edit for time and season. Character arc issues also need addressing.

8. Reread and edit for language. Many writers spend too much time crafting gorgeous sentences and falling in love with the sounds of language while writing their first draft.  Unless I'm writing poetry, I prefer to get anything down on paper first and tweak for language later. Otherwise, the whole process slows down, and it can takes years to finish a draft. Plan the forest before tracing the veins of a leaf on a tree.

9. Have beta readers/critique group provide feedback, and implement those changes. Do not skip this step. I know you're excited to be near the finish line, but do not start sending out queries thinking that your manuscript is amazing and clear. You need readers. What is clear to you may not be clear to them. Whatever they say, take it in. Use their feedback. You spent a lot of time and effort on your manuscript. Make it the best story it can be.

10. Celebrate that you finished a working, viable manuscript. Query. Take some time off. Do something nice for yourself.  Then start thinking about that next, shiny new idea.

*I'd love to hear from you. What's your writing process?

2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children's Book Discovery Night

On May 3, 2015, I was honored as one of three winners of the 2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children's Book Discovery Award at Simmons College in Boston. The other 2015 winners were so friendly, and their books were hilarious.

2015 PEN CBD award recipients (left to right) Sheryl DePaolo,  The Child Star;  Kristy Acevedo,  Consider;  Alice Caldwell,  Sly as a Sheep

2015 PEN CBD award recipients (left to right) Sheryl DePaolo, The Child Star; Kristy Acevedo, Consider; Alice Caldwell, Sly as a Sheep

Then Karen Wulf, Executive Director of PEN New England, asked me to autograph the event poster. This was my first time signing anything as a professional author. So exciting!

 
 

Such a great night filled with new friends and experiences. It was the first time I had to read my writing in public. Yikes!

Here are some tips I learned for reading in public:

1. Print out pages double-spaced in a large font (I used size 18).

2. Use all caps on words or phrases for EMPHASIS.

3. Underline or highlight prepositional phrases.

4. Practice with a timer.

5. Organize pages in a binder. (I didn't do this, and the pages were awkward to hold in my shaking hands.)

Check out the award. It's BEAUTIFUL (and heavy!)

 
 

How #PitMad 2015 Led To My Two-Book Publishing Deal with Jolly Fish Press

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It all started with Brenda Drake's #PitMad on March 11, 2015.

#PitMad is a Twitter hashtag that runs four times a year where writers pitch their edited manuscripts in 140 characters, and if any editors, publishers, or agents favorite their pitch, they should submit according to that person's guidelines ASAP.The Twitter pitch for my YA sci-fi, Consider:

#PitMad If a hologram said it could save your life, would you believe it? #YA#SFF— Kristy Acevedo (@kristyace) March 11, 2015

One of those little favorites led to a publishing offer TEN DAYS LATER. (This is why you should only participate if your manuscript is finished.)

This is how it went down:On March 12, 2015  I sent three chapters, a synopsis, and query according to the Jolly Fish Press submission guidelines.

On March 13, 2015 I received a full manuscript request.

On March 18, 2015 Editor TJ da Roza sent an email requesting more information about my writing background, specifically my experiences with SCBWI,  my critique group, and the Monthly Twitter Writing Challenge. I took this email as a good sign. After sending my response, I saw this post on Twitter:

Our acquisitions meeting is happening tomorrow where we decide our 2016 spring list. Which book will make our list? Stay tuned. — Jolly Fish Press (@JollyFishPress) March 20, 2015

I tried not to get my hopes up, but I couldn't help wondering...What if?

On March 21,2015 That Saturday morning, I received THE CALL. The call every unpublished writer waits to hear.  TJ da Roza said that Jolly Fish Press was offering to publish my YA sci-fi manuscript, Consider. Since I had mentioned in my query that Consider has two-book series potential, he asked me how much I've written of Book 2. I admitted I only had a few rough chapters, but I explained the basic conflict of Book 2.That's when he said Jolly Fish Press was offering a TWO-BOOK contract for the series! (While my brain stopped functioning at that point, I did manage a happy dance...)That means they talked about MY BOOK at this meeting:

This is what serious managing editors look like in a meeting where we decide our 2016 titles. pic.twitter.com/WSctrBc2Ko— Jolly Fish Press (@JollyFishPress) March 22, 2015

On March 29, 2015 I received the written contract. I hired Mary Flower, Literary Contract Consultant, to review the terms and negotiate on my behalf.On April 7, 2015 I signed with Jolly Fish Press. Click here for Official Press Release!  And the rest is history.For those unpublished writers out there hoping to go the traditional route, you never know how close you are. One favorited tweet changed my life.

me signing

me signing

Thank you, Brenda Drake, for #PitMad! I'm an author now!

Consider Book

Consider Book

CONSIDER (April 2016 with Jolly Fish Press)

Winner of the 2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children's Book Discovery Award

Read a free preview of Chapter 1 here.

Available to purchase in paperback, digital, and audio!

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