Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reviewer Campaign for A WORLD WITHOUT YOU!

The hardcover!
One of the most important things a book needs to survive in the competitive market of publishing today is reviews. Most readers will check out a book's reviews before deciding whether or not to take the plunge on the book, and even if sales are doing well for a book, they do better with more reviews, specifically at powerhouse Amazon, where people tend to check reviews regardless of whether or not they buy the book.

A World Without You is coming out in paperback in June, and before that happens, I'd love for it to have 50 reviews. Why 50? Because at fifty reviews, Amazon gives the algorithms a little boost, making sure the book shows up higher on people's searches.

I need your help. If you've read the book and can spare a few minutes to give it a review, that will help immensely. And to encourage people who've not read the book yet to give a review, I'm holding a giveaway below. 

I'm giving away FIVE signed, hardcover copies of A World Without You. There are several ways to earn additional entries, but to enter, you need to:

  1. Enter your mailing address
  2. Promise to review the book on Amazon as soon as you can. NOTE: It does not have to be a positive review, just an honest one. 
  3. Give the book to a friend and ask them to review it. 
The new paperback cover!
Of course, in case you want to keep the signed hardcover for yourself, I'm also including a signed bookplate and extra swag for both you and your friend--may I suggest gifting your friend a copy of the paperback, which is on sale for just $5 right now

In addition to sending out five books to random winners, I am also going to mail a swag pack of two signed bookplates (one for you, and one for a friend) and a few extra goodies to 25 additional readers. So 30 people are going to have prizes shipped right to them! 

Have you already reviewed the book on Amazon? Thank you! You can still enter as normal by promising to ask a friend to review it as well. 

And yes, this is open internationally! Entries close April 7th, prizes will be mailed by mid-April. 




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For those who love writing...

Valentine's Day is all about love, but when you love books and writing more than as much as some people, let's celebrate them instead!

In my recent newsletter, I talked about some of the books that I've been in love with lately, but today I want to talk about the other side of the books--writing them!

There's a reason why I named my writing and publishing advice books "Paper Hearts"--because writing is so close to our hearts, and it's something you have to love in order to create. So to celebrate that love, I'm going to give 100 aspiring writers a prize--a swag pack with tips on writing advice, resources, and more--and I'll be sending on random winner a signed copy of all three Paper Hearts books.


To enter, all you have to do is fill out the form below. That's it. No hoops to jump through, no strict requirements. I've got a program that will randomize the entries and print 101 labels for me, and I'll slap them on the envelopes of the swag packs and the box of signed books.

While it's not a requirement to enter, please consider sharing with the other writers in your life!

This giveaway is open throughout the month of February and prizes will be mailed out in early March.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Upcoming Events

If you're in the Chicago area, come see me as guest of honor at the Capricon sci fi and fantasy convention! This fantastic convention has a long roster of amazing panels and events, and is perfect for anyone who likes fiction.

You can find out more information here, and I highly recommend you check them out!!

Where: Chicago area, Westin Chicago North Shore
When: Feb 16-19
Who: Me and tons of over authors and experts on sff!

I'll also be visiting a local school in the area, and I should have some extra special swag to share, so make sure you stop by and say hello!

***

If you're in the Greenville, SC area, come see me in Six Wakes, and all things weird and wonderful. All the details are here.
conversation with author Mur Lafferty at the beautiful MJudson Bookshop in downtown Greenville. We'll be talking about Mur's latest book,

Where: MJudson Books, downtown Greenville, SC
When: February 21
Who: Me and Mur Lafferty
***

Nashville, TN area people should absolutely check out the SE-YA book festival! Now in it's second year, this book festival promises to bring together all the best readers and authors in one epic event. Personally, I'm bringing an extra suitcase for all the books I'll be buying. More info!

Where: MTSU Campus in Murfeesboro, TN
When: March 10-11
Who: Um, a ton of authors, seriously, it's a lot

***

There's a ton of stuff to do in Orlando, FL, but the cool kids will all be at this year's Apollycon! The book convention has a ton of your favorite authors getting together for an amazing series of parties and signings and panels and more! This one also features a virtual signing, so if you need to buy books but can't make it to the event, you still can! Info here!

Where: Doubletree Hilton Hotel at the entrance at Universal Orlando
When: March 24-25
Who: Like, seriously a bunch of authors


Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Greatest Lesson I Learned in Writing This Year

In terms of writing, this year has been one of change and challenge for me. 

I published my first contemporary novel, a twisty story that was dark and hit close to home. It was a challenge to write, and it was a challenge to share with the world, and I'm still not entirely comfortable with it. 

I wrote a novel for Star Wars that will come out May 2nd of next year. It's a novelization set around the story of Rogue One, which is now my favorite Star Wars movie. If you've not seen it, go. You won't regret it. Bring tissues. 

But writing my Rogue One novel was a different sort of challenge. I was telling a story that required a lot of cooks in the kitchen, a lot of strings to tie up and not get tangled in. It was difficult, not the least because of the time constraints, but I reveled in that difficulty and loved the challenge before me. 

In between these projects, I've also been working on a fantasy novel that should come out in 2018 from Penguin/Razorbill. And this book has been the very definition of challenge to me. I've solidly written about a half million words just to find the right path for this book. 

I love the idea of it. It's about loss and love and moving on. Set in a fantasy world where people can raise the dead. 

It was the execution that tried to kill me. (Pun not intended, but so hilarious that I'm leaving it.)

First, I wrote it in first person present tense, from the boy's point of view. A key scene happened at the end of chapter three. That didn't work--too much had happened prior to that, so I needed to retell the story. And the voice was off. So I rewrote it with flashback chapters alternating scenes to fill in the past but keep the momentum of the present. It ended up being a confusing mess with little cohesion--I could see the strings tying the story together, but it was impossible for anyone else to. 

So I took a deep breath and rewrote it again. This time in third person, alternating chapters between the boy and girl POV. That worked well for Across the Universe; I tried to replicate it. It flopped. That was the wrong way to tell this story, and it felt heartless. 

Then I rewrote it again. And keep in mind--all these edits are before I've even turned the book in to my publisher! This is all stuff I'm stumbling through on my own, because I know it's not working yet and I can't turn it in until it's at least operable. 

In this rewrite, I went back--way back. All those flashback scenes were now written in the moment. Something that took a paragraph for a character to describe that had happened in the past was now about a quarter of the book, unfolding on the page. 

For lack of a better way to say it, I really went there. I didn't hold back. I challenged myself to write the scenes that I'd clearly been avoiding. I dug my fingers into the wounds. Any time I felt myself shying away from how I said something, I forced myself to rewrite it with as much graphic detail as possible. 

I had just finished this fourth draft when I had to put it away and start work on the Rogue One novel again. And during that interim, I realized that one final thing was wrong about my book--I had written in a subplot on race that wasn't my story to tell and I hadn't done it in an authentic way. Knowing this hung like a cloud over my head as I worked on the SW novel, and it lingered for months as I turned it over and over again in my brain on what to do, how to fix that subplot. The solution was to excise it, so as soon as I got the Rogue One novel turned in, I turned back to this book--this book I'd already written four times--and started again from page one, carefully plucking out the subplot that didn't work and stitching the story back together again. 

I'm nearing the end--I hope. In the new year, I turn this book in to my editor, and I start really getting to work on it. But as I read through it one last time, I know that the biggest lesson I've learned in writing--from all three of the projects I've worked on this year--has been simple this:

Challenge yourself.

Don't hold back. Whatever your best idea is, put it on the page now. Don't wait. If you're hesitant to write something because you're not sure you can, write it. Write it now and without reserve. Constantly challenge yourself to something newer, something bigger, something better. And then rise to meet that challenge.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Holiday Surprise--a New Cover for A WORLD WITHOUT YOU!

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you've already seen this! And if you don't subscribe, click here to remedy that :) 

As many of you know, the original, hardback cover of A World Without You looks like this:


And I love it! The strings are perfect for Bo, who believes he can travel through time using something similar to strings. (I particularly love the bright red string, which is the one he believes connects him to Sofía, the girl he loves.)

However, there's something new coming at you...

A new cover for the book.
A new face, if you will.
For the book about Bo.
A new face of Bo, am I right Whovians?! 


I'll see myself out.

Anyway!

New cover, exclusively for the upcoming paperback release!


*sigh*

Isn't it dreamy?

I love that there's still an element of the timestream with the swirly lines.

And I love that the person isn't clear. It could be Sofía reaching out for Bo. Or it could be Bo reaching out for you.

I love the simplicity of it.

I love the slightly creepy edge--because this book is slightly creepy.

I hope you guys love it too! You'll be able to get this cover from all major retailers soon, when the paperback releases next year.

Let me know what you think in the comments! 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Announcing My Next Book...in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

There were two movies that I wore out on my parents' VCR as a kid. The first was The Princess Bride, which I kept renting from the off-brand video-rental because there was no image on the cover and I kept thinking it was about fairy tales and then getting delighted by all the murder and pirates.

The second was Return of the Jedi.

I was a little over a year old when the movie hit theaters (and not even a twinkle in my parents' eyes when the first was out), so my first experience with the movies was on VHS. Not the fancy tape you buy--no, my parents taped it off the television. It was complete with commercial breaks and the fuzzy bits when they were adjusting the antenna. We also had A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but they were not my favorite. I loved Return of the Jedi. I loved everything about it, from Princess Leia's slave outfit to the Ewoks, the dire battles and the epic fights.

Star Wars became a part of my childhood. My brother's name was Luke. I had hair long enough to wind into double braids around my ears. (Really.) We had a lightsaber--just one, red, but it made real whooshing sounds and we'd take turns slashing it through the basement (Death Star grey) or the field by our house (Endor green).

I found the Young Jedi Academy novels. I didn't know the movies existed past the film. I didn't know the adventures could continue. I went to the library to find the other books, and I did--and more on top of that.

Star Wars wasn't exactly cool when I was in school, but I didn't care. Fortunately, my best friend from high school, Jennifer, loved Star Wars as well. When the prequels came out, we stayed up all night watching the originals at her house, one film after the other until our eyes were watering. At lunch during high school, we were allowed to drive off-campus; I went every day to Taco Bell until I had the whole collection of toys from the movie. (Although let's be honest, all I really wanted was the cool Queen Amidala ship that appeared to be floating.)

I know George Lucas was heavily influenced by Carl Jung and the monomyth, but before I knew philosophical interpretations of literature, I knew Star Wars. I recognized Luke in Gilgamesh, not the other way around. I saw the the symbolism of the mask hiding one's identity by looking at Vader. I understood the hero's journey because of A New Hope. When I got my bachelors and then my masters in literature, I did it with the lens of Star Wars.

I started writing in college, but as many of you know, I had years of unpublished failure. It wasn't until I wrote a sci fi--Across the Universe--that my life changed and I became a novelist. That book--a murder mystery set in space--exists in part because when I was five, I would wind my hair up in double buns over my ears.

So when I say that Star Wars influenced a fundamental way that I saw the world, I really mean it. Star Wars became the omnipresent story of my childhood, the folklore of my youth, the inspiration of my art.

And I say all this now because the book I've been working on takes place in the Star Wars universe.

*cue internal screaming*

Guys, this is the only time I've ever truly lost my cool when speaking to my agent. When she asked if I'd be interested in the project, my reply was one sentence long, including more than one curse word (sorry Mom), and approximately 56 exclamation marks.

Going in, I didn't know much. It was a book about Rogue One, the first of the new Star Wars anthology stories. I would be writing a YA about the main character, Jyn. I wasn't allowed to know much more than that.

My answer was, of course, yes. In less than a week, I was on a plane heading to San Francisco.



So people who know my story know that when I get very very happy, I just throw up everywhere. This is what happened when I got my first book deal (see also: hospitalization for stress-induced gastroenteritis), so I solved this problem by just not eating while I travelled across the nation for my literal dreams to come true oh my gad you guys how is this my actual life what.

The offices are in the Presidio National Park, and they are, quite simply, gorgeous. The trees towering above, the smell of the water nearby...perfection. 



The directions my editor gave me included "turn left at the statue of Yoda" YOU GUYS


I absolutely took a photo of the front desk because I am that kind of nerd. 


Zero shame for posing with Darth in the lobby. Zero. Shame. 


I found my happy place. 


The view from one of the rooms where we discussed the story. Famous landmark chilling right there. nbd


This was just casually sitting displayed in a sitting area near one of the conference rooms where we worked. Just a normal table, nothing to see here.


Passed this display...I'm not sure where, honestly the building was a labyrinth! But everyone in the group stopped when we saw this. The Force Awakens was still very fresh in all our minds. These were life-sized and just...just perfect.

So, amidst all my freaking out about where I was, I also got to freak out rather a lot about why I was there. I was surrounded by some of my biggest writing idols (auuuugh still freaking out). And I was going to get to write a book within the universe (AUUUUGH HOW IS THIS MY LIFE). 

I just. I cannot express to you what this means to me. This book. It's not my heart, it's my soul. Being a part of the galaxy...I just. Hold on. I need a moment.

Since then, I've been hard at work (a) writing the book, and also (b) rewriting the book, and finally (c) keeping the book a secret. THIS WAS SO HARD TO DO. I mean, all the points were hard BUT ALSO KEEPING IT SECRET. 

I'm still not sure how much I'm allowed to say. But at least the biggest secret--that I get to work on a dream project in a dream universe working with dream people auuuuuuughhhhh--is now out in the open. 

My editor told me that I should prepare for an influx of new readers, so just in case you're still wondering who the heck I am, here's some of my past work:
  • The Across the Universe series, my debut works, are sci fi novels, and my most Star-Wars-like books. (PS: They're on sale at Amazon, where you can buy all three books for less than $20.)
    • Across the Universe, a murder mystery in space aboard a generational space ship
    • A Million Suns, a conspiracy mystery where they discover just how jacked up the ship is
    • Shades of Earth, a survival mystery where they land on a planet that wants to kill them
  • The Body Electric is a stand-alone novel, partially inspired by Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and is about what's happening on Earth while my characters in AtU are in space. It questions a lot about what's real or not, and where our memories come from.
  • A World Without You is my latest novel, and it's not technically sci fi, but it's super weird. It's about a boy who believes he has the power to go back in time, but the school for superheroes he thinks he's attending is actually a school for mentally disturbed youth. 
  • And if you're into nonfiction, I have a series of books about making books. Volume 1 is on writing, Volume 2 is on publishing, and Volume 3 is on marketing.
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And now my bobble-headed Jyn is shaking her head at me...reminding me that I still have work, glorious, glorious work to do.