Hello reader friends! So happy to be coming up for air and hoping you’re doing well! Been a busy (and of course, utterly bizarre and challenging), last few years for all of us. I have a whole lotta updates and some random stuff to share so thank you for visiting, and if you’ve left a comment on previous blogs, thank you for your patience. It’s too embarrassing to say how long some comments have languished as I realized they needed to be approved before posted, so I have 40 left to reply to. (Down from 4,906, so that’s progress!)
First and foremost,…LO AND BEHOLD… my first graphic novel! It was a big challenge to learn how to write a story in this format, but that’s what keeps ya on your toes. Below is an example of a page of text and then what the page looked like after the artist, colorist and Random House’s design team got their hands on it. I really couldn’t be happier with how it looks. Thank you over and over to artist Gabi Mendez and colorist Cai Tse for bringing the story to such vivid life!
LO AND BEHOLD is intended for readers 10 and up. It stars 12-year-old Addie, who is going through a difficult time and has closed herself off from the people and things she loves. When she discovers virtual reality, at first it allows her to escape from real life and to forget her problems, as she slays virtual dragons and visits exotic locations around the world. But slowly the connections she makes there and the wonder and joy she experiences makes her realize how much of that is waiting for her in the real world, if only she is able to allow herself to feel it again.
Besides VR, there’s also geocaching. And unexpected friendships. And a tortoise (which by the way, I spell wrong Every Single Time I type it). And moon trees (yes, that’s a thing.) And the importance of cultivating empathy and how it can lead to amazing things. Hopefully you’ll laugh and it would make me happy if you cried (that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean ;o). There’s a short memoir-y section at the end where I get turned into a comic book character and take you on my journey to becoming “gadget girl,” which led to my discovery of VR and shows why I’m so excited to get other people excited about it.
LO AND BEHOLD will be out May 2, 2023, pre-order is available now in hardcover and paperback wherever books are sold. If you’d like to try an augmented reality experience that goes with the book, follow the directions from my website to see a sample, and then come back. ;o)
The character of Addie is named after Adwayta, the world’s oldest tortoise who lived 250 years. In the novel the reader gets to see Addie creating a picture book called ONE DAY AND FOREVER based on Adwayta’s life story (with a few creative liberties including a talking dragonfly named Sam). A good friend of mine, Nicole Xifaras, is a super-talented painter and she is in the process of making Addie’s dream of seeing her book out in the world come true. Nicole gave me a sneak peek at the artist-at-work-in-her-studio and I am happy to share them with you here. I’ll post an update announcing when you’ll be able to read this story of a friendship that lasted both one day, and forever.
The first two reviews for LO AND BEHOLD are in!
From Kirkus Reviews: “This artfully rendered graphic charmer is carefully nuanced and adroitly paced.”
From Publisher’s Weekly: “Mendez’s streamlined and consistent artwork tonally complements Mass’s attentive consideration of the issues addressed. Edge-of-the-seat virtual reality adventure scenes are delicately balanced with accessible and thought-provoking plotting, juxtaposing video game–like escapism with emotionally complex conflict to deliver a solid read that encourages empathy and introspection.”
On another note…
I’m working on a project tentatively titled: “What a Character!” My plan is to find (and, if possible, meet) real people with the same names as my book characters. Over the years a few have reached out to me (including two by the name of good ol Jeremy Fink!) and I’m interested in learning about them and maybe spotting some similarities between their lives and the fictional characters who bear their names. First up is…Angelina D’Angelo from the Willow Falls series! The real Angelina looks a little different than her white-haired counterpart with the duck-shaped birthmark! But she also wasn’t likely to trap me back in time or make my day repeat over and over, so that’s good! Here we are on the campus of West Virginia University.
Also…I made a link tree! It was fun! I hope you’ll check it out. There are links (obvi) to lots of book/author stuff, and also referral codes with discounts on some of my favorite things like the Oculus Quest VR headset! And my favorite could-not-write-a-book-without tablet, The reMarkable!