Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Cecily White

Today, I'm happy to welcome my friend Cecily White, who just finaled in the Golden Heart, RWA’s major contest for unpublished authors. Congratulations Cecily on your wonderful contest news-- and for signing with a fantastic agent, nearly at the same time.

Thanks! Nice to know all those voodoo ‘agent summoning’ rituals finally paid off, right?

Sounds like another book to me, LOL. So, would you mind to share your story of ‘The Call’?

Sure, um, it was a dark and stormy night in September-- No wait, that’s how I lost my virginity. Sorry, let me start over…

It was a bright and sunny day in New Orleans when I got an email from Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (who used to be Laurie McLean’s assistant and is now an associate agent at Larsen-Pomada. Woohoo Pam!!!) asking to set up a phone call. At first I thought they just wanted to reject me in person, or maybe give me the ole “We-like-your-style-but-the-project-just-isn’t-for-us” schpiel. But no, apparently Pam had read the manuscript and fell in love with it, then handed it off to Laurie, who also loved it. And thus, they decided to offer representation. Apart from the near cardiac arrest and the fact that I spilled my coffee, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Your novel, ANGEL ACADEMY: PROPHECY GIRL is a young adult paranormal. Can you tell us what gave you the idea for this particular story?

Well, it’s mostly autobiographical.

No, it’s not.

Yeah, it totally is. Substitute socialites for angelblood demon-slayers, tree-hugging liberals for Paranormal Convergence agents, and punk-ass skater boys for Crossworlders and you’ve got my adolescence.

Well, then, other than nostalgia, what draws you to this genre?

I’ve always liked paranormal, especially young adult. You’re allowed to be honest through metaphor in a way folks won’t always accept directly. That, and I want to be snogged by a vampire.

What are you working on now?

It’s a contemporary YA. We’ll see how it goes.

I know you write phenomenally fast. How long did it take you to finish your last manuscript?

Ten weeks, give or take. But when I got to the end, I hated it. So now I have to rewrite it. That’ll take at least another six. . . Live. Eat chocolate. Learn.

While I contemplate--four months???--the speed of your production, do you have advice for writers?

Just remember to write what you love. Find your voice and speak it. Don’t be afraid to say hello to people you admire, or do a cartwheel for the hell of it, or go night swimming in your underwear. Keep your eyes and ears open. Good stories are borne from good observers.

Would you share an excerpt of ANGEL ACADEMY?

Sure thang! This is a scene where angelblood warriors Amelie and Jack (our intrepid H/H's) are off-campus for Amelie's class placement exams. Jack, on loan to St. Michael's Guardian Training Academy from his usual assignment at Paranormal Convergence, has been given the unhappy task of subbing for the school examiner (a dude who was recently murdered by a Reaper). Needless to say, Jack's having a hard time being objective:

Excerpt from: Chapter Nine: Lessons and Nightmares

"Caret initio et–” I began the portal incantation, but was rudely interrupted.

“Include translation, please.”

“Seriously?" I frowned. "Am I five years old?”

Jack made a few notes but said nothing. Smug bastard.

“Fine." I cracked my knuckles and wiggled my fingers theatrically. "Caret initio et fine. There is no beginning and no end. Ab initio, ad patres. From birth unto death. Deficit omne quod nasciture. Everything that is born returns.”

In an icy hot rush, energy shot out of my fingers into a wide arc in front of me. The air between the wards began to ripple– as if someone had painted the scene on a bed sheet then given it a shake. A harsh sound like ripping silk echoed through the room, and when I glanced up, the portal had opened. Disaster free.

Hah! Take that, Jackson Smith-Hailey!

Looking into a Crossworld portal is a little like looking in a mirror, only it’s made of thickened energy instead of silvered glass. I held it open with one palm, the other hand scrawling an immobilization glyph over the Chelax demon. Not that he needed it. His eyes were so wide with fear, he looked like a harsh word might convince him to hurl himself into the portal.

I watched the tendrils of oily dust wisp about the room, then curl back in wild arcs. “Something’s wrong. This doesn’t feel right.”

“Try not to think about it.” He gave me a dismissive pat on the shoulder, drawing the last shreds of darkness out of my head. At the same time, little spurts of golden light flashed over my skin. “A job well begun is half done.”

“Thank you, Mary Poppins.”

I tried to focus on my breath and not on the deafening sirens in my head as I kicked the demon into the portal. Telling me not to think about it was like making someone chug a 20oz Diet Coke, standing them in front of a waterfall, and telling them not to think about peeing.

I’d just turned to say that out loud when the world. . . shut off.

Whatever platitudes Jack was about to spout were lost under a curtain of thick, black silence. And when I say ‘black’ and ‘silent’, I don’t mean ‘kind of dim’ and ‘naptime quiet.’ It was as if someone had dropped one of those heavy, fireproof blankets the EMT’s use in emergencies over the entire building. It shut out everything. Light, street noise, air, even the sounds of birds and crickets vanished. The result was something so oppressively empty it felt deafening.

“Okay, what just happened?” I whispered, certain that anything louder than a whisper would shatter my eardrums. I was wrong. Even if I had screamed, the words wouldn’t have made it more than a few inches in front of my face. They disappeared as I said them, sucked into oblivion.

Jack’s hand still rested at my shoulder. He tightened it now. “Don’t move.”

The cadence of his voice suggested yelling, though I could barely hear him. His arms threaded snugly around me, tugging me against the firm line of his chest.

“What’s going on?” I yelled.

“Don’t let go of me.”

"Um, wasn't planning on it."

He stood just a few inches away, but I swear, he sounded as if he was whispering from the end zone of a football field. All noise seemed to evaporate like an early morning fog. With both hands tight around my waist, he started moving toward the place where I remembered the door having been. Maybe. Frankly, I couldn’t tell squat given the sensory deprivation tank the room had become. Jack, thankfully, could. When we’d reached the doorframe, he freed one hand, groping at the wall in search of a light switch. Clearly a man with some experience groping in the dark. Because that wasn’t intimidating.

With sight and sound gone, the rest of my senses seemed to sharpen into hyper-focus. Jack’s touch was velvet on my skin, and he smelled amazing– like shampoo and marshmallows and something uniquely musky. Sunshine, if sunshine had a smell. Sigh, I could die happy now.

Wait, not literally. . . .

What a place to stop. Where can we get more?

If luck holds, you'll be able to read the rest at some point in the future. ;-)

Well, it shouldn't be long. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your good news. Be sure and come back when the book is out.

Thanks again for having me on the blog, Barb!!

Visit Cecily at her website, http://cecilywhite.com/
and follow her on Twitter @cecilywhite.


  1. Hi Cecily,
    Glad you're here. Congratulations on the GH final--and on nabbing the agent of your dreams. It won't be long before we'll be checking out your titles on a long booklist :) Good Luck!

  2. What a mean place to stop the excerpt and then tell us we can read more "in the future." I hope you're happy you ruined my morning! I loved the tone of your excerpt (and your interview). I don't usually read paranormal or YA since I've been married longer than a young adult has been alive, but I'd like to make an exception for this story. Congratulations on all of your great news. --Karri Lyn Halley

    1. Karri, you will absolutely love this YA paranormal. It's just as entertaining as her answers :)

      Glad you stopped by.

    2. Karri,
      I'd be honored to be the exception! Thanks for the kind words!


  3. Hey C,

    SO excited you're getting this book published. I remember this scene well, although it's changed a bit. Can't wait to read the whole story when it comes out. I hope you finish the other one I read, (can't remember the name...ghost runners maybe?) No pressure. :-)

    Great interview ladies! As usually C you had me in stitches. Congrats again and all the best with your successful career as a YA author.

    1. Thanks, Elke. It's impossible not to be entertained by Cecily's writing, isn't it? It's just as sharp and quick as Amalie's sword. Hope to see your own story pubbed soon, too.

    2. Oh, right! GhostRunners!
      Eric's almost old enough to read that, right? Thanks for the support, sweetie. I miss you!!!


  4. Wow and I love that excerpt! I've already told you, but congratulations on the GH final and on the agent. You are a wonderful lady who deserves the best!

    What a great interview and love Cecily's sense of humor!

    1. Love you back, sweet pea!!!
      Keep fingers crossed for me to join you up there on the "published angels" list.

      Unlimited hugs!!!

    2. Hey Kellie, It's great to see so many of you published and 'tottering on the brink.' Loved your blog this week :0 Thanks for being here:)

  5. Dang girl! And to think we knew you when hehe Couldn't be happier for you, kiddo. Your description is AMAZING! Your sense of humor is something I'll always associate with the name Cecily. I think your daughter has it too. Looks, brains, talent, sense of humor. Wow! Good Luck in the GH!

    1. Angela, sounds like you have some stories to tell LOL. Glad you came to visit.

  6. LOL. I have read every line of your novel, and I remember none of the above. You re-wrote again. You are already a great novelist. Now the world is about to discover you. Way to go, Cecily. You rock.
    Diana Locke

  7. Great interview, thanks Barb! Good work Cecily. Now do some voodoo for your friends so we can all party together!

    Thanks for the laughs!


    Stephanie Jarkins

  8. I love the premise of your book.