Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Celebration Contest

Do you hear that? That really high pitched constant tone that is reverberating throughout your neighborhood since last night? Listen hard.

Yeah. That's me, still squeeing since yesterday. I'm getting a little hoarse!

First: Thank you all so much for the nice compliments you gave me! Next time I ever feel any shade of blue, I am opening up that post and reading all your wonderful congratulations. I read each and every single one of them, and I treasure them all. Truly. Y'all are awesome and make this whole adventure so much more fun.

OK, let's give away stuff!

Those of you who have been hanging around this blog for a bit know that I'm fascinated by inspiration. I love hearing about how writers come up with new ideas for stories.

In my own writing, I've been inspired by dreams, artwork, childhood memories, and life experiences. And stories. Other stories inspire me--either by making me wonder new "what-if" scenarios, or challenging me to write better than I did before.

With this most recent work of mine, I was inspired by several works of literature and one spectacular movie. The full story is on my website, but here's a quick run-down. (And for those of you with short attention spans: there will be a test later. A multiple choice test, along the lines of "which of these works do you want me to send you for being awesome?")

See, I never set out to write a science fiction/mystery/romance. Never. But I listen to inspiration...

First, I read THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner. I won't ruin the story for you, but the unreliable narrator in that story is really a starting point for my own. I love how Turner tricked the reader, and I wanted to do something twisty like that. So, the voice of my main characters evolved from that idea.

Later, I found Mary Pearson's THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX. What I loved about this novel was the way the story focused more on the characters than on the science behind the plot. This was the first time I seriously considered writing a science fiction--her plot was so smooth without going into depth on the science side of it that I couldn't help but start to consider the possibility of using science in my own work, too.

When I read Jeanne du Prau's THE CITY OF EMBER, though, I really started to think of a plot to surround my twisty characters in a scientific setting. The idea of a contained mystery has always intrigued me since my early Agatha Christie days, and somehow the combination of these three books really sparked the idea that became central to my book: a twisty, unreliable narrator; a science fiction light on science; and a contained mystery.

Of course, a writer needs more than an idea. I credit Robin McKinley's THE HERO AND THE CROWN for teaching me what good writing was when I was a wee little thing. That one scene, just at the end of the first part, when Tor and her father find Aerin...that, to me, is the greatest writing of any fictional scene ever written, and the emotional impact of that scene is the one I strive for every time I write.

And while I think the books I mentioned above gave me a firm setting in the plot, protagonists, voice, and twist, I have to give credit to the Joss Whedon movie SERENITY for giving me the idea of the ideal antagonist. I knew I didn't want another Voldemort, another unspeakable evil. I find evil you can almost sympathize with so much more intriguing, don't you?

Finally, I have to give a shout-out to Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME. I read it once, as a kid, and it's one of those books that stick with me. So, while I always told myself I couldn't write a science fiction for kids, there was always a little voice inside me that said "What about Ender?"

So there you have it. While not everything I write has such a direct path back to the books and movies I've read, I can safely link my YA science fiction directly back to these works. Not that I mimicked them, but that I learned from them, or developed new ideas based on what I read. That, to me, is the purpose of reading as a writer.

Now that I have an agent, I want to honor these works that taught me so very much. In order to do that, I'd like to share them with you all! Below is an entry form for a contest I'm going to be holding from now until the New Year. You can select any of the books (or movie) listed above--or, if you don't share my tastes, you can just get a $10 Amazon (or IndieBound or Borders or WalMart or whatever) giftcard and buy whatever it is that you want most or didn't get for the holidays.

Entry is easy! Just tell me in the form (not the comments section here) which book you want. There are lots of ways to get extra entries, too--I really want to spread the word. And if you'd like to join my mailing list, I promise not to spam you, and you'll be my bff.

I am selecting 3 winners for this contest. But, if I get more than 300 followers on this blog, then I'll give one very special surprise not listed here to one of the 300 followers. For every 25 additional followers, I'll give away another prize--so if I get 325 followers, I'm giving away 5 prizes, with 350, I'm giving away six, and so on.

Post a Comment