Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PS

My interview for the Pay it Forward week is online now at Elana Johnson's blog. Read it to see my book's plot summed up in a tweet!

Edited to add: Several people have asked me to add a little more about one of the questions in the interview--namely, the question of who I'd most like to meet. I chose Martin Luther, and people would like a little more of a reason why.

Martin Luther is someone I've been aware of most of my life, since I'm a Lutheran and was raised as such. But more than that, I'm just hugely impressed with the courage it took to question things. That's what I most love about him. He was raised a Catholic in a world where being anything but Catholic was not just considered wrong, it was considered wrong-and-they-could-kill-you-for-it. But despite being raised in the status quo, so to say, he was able to question that world. He used his eyes and mind and heart to come up with his own opinion, and once he developed his own set of beliefs, he struggled--at risk of his own life--to stand up for his beliefs. That's what I love about him. As a young girl, I will never forget about learning of the Diet of Worms and hearing the words attributed to him: "Here I stand." That's been the way I've modeled my life: determine on my own what I myself believe, and never back down from it.


Now, there are some things I *don't* like about Luther, namely his anti-antisemitism and the way he recanted his translation of the Bible at his death. That's one reason why I'd want to *meet* him (as opposed to unilaterally saying he's my hero) because I'd love to be able to discuss--and hopefully dissuade him from--these ideas.

Pay it Forward: Author Interview with Katie Anderson

Everyone has a different path to publication. This week, I'm featuring authors on the way: authors who have found their agents or their publishers and are in the homestretch towards reaching their dreams. Their stories are each different--but they are all inspiring. By showing you how THEY did it, I hope you remember that YOU can, too!

So, stick around all week to find out about lots of up-and-coming authors! Today, I'm featuring Katie Anderson, author of KISS AND MAKE UP, represented by Cheryl Pientka with Jill Grinberg Literary Management. Her blog, Plot This always has something new and exciting to share.

Tell us about your book.
KISS & MAKE UP is represented by Cheryl Pientka with Jill Grinberg Literary Management and is currently under consideration.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?
I started writing a movie about 6 years ago with my blogging partner, Sarah Frances Hardy (www.plotthis.blogspot.com).  During the course of writing that screenplay, I wrote a few picture books, a graphic novel and finally a YA, which I ended up falling in love with.  Writing YA has stolen my heart. I started KISS almost 3 years ago and queried for about a year or so. I am not a mass queryer.  I would carefully choose agents I liked and then query them.  The agent I eventually chose was not someone I had ever heard of or considered but was recommended to me by an adult agent. She was previously a scout.  I was in the lucky position of speaking with a few agents about representation and as soon as we talked, I knew she was "the one." She is truly my perfect match.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
I never felt like giving up. I have felt frustrated, but it has never dawned on me to flat quit. I just love writing too much.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear some word I want to write down, or hear of a book I want to read, or think of some random character trait I love.  Bottom line: I have never found a hobby I am as passionate about as writing. It never tires me. I can have a horrible, frustrating day and yet I still want to do it.  It's an amazing gift - this joy.  I love it.

Thank you, Katie! You can find Katie on her blog.


This week of interviews is being hosted by Elana Johnson, and several other bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon, including:
 Be sure to check them all out for inspiring, first-hand stories of authors on the verge of publication!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Inside Out is Out!

I'm going to be doing a Maria Snyder week next week (with a wicked-awesome prize...just saying...) but I couldn't help but join in the celebrations for the book's launch today.

As Maria says on her website:
The celebration starts on March 30, 2010 and includes the following: Events, a Video Trailer for the book, a Website What's Inside Out, an Internet tour with Q&As, contests, and prizes Blog Blitz. To see Maps of Inside, go here: Maps, and to see pictures and reviews, go here: News


The website is very cool--be sure to check it out! It has the first three chapters (although, personally, I think the first three pages is enough to hook you), but it also has a really cool quiz to see where you'd fit in the world of INSIDE OUT. Considering I'm always the girl who reads Cosmo for the quizzes, this should show you how cool I think that is. Especially since the quiz said I was a Rebel Leader. Kick @$$!

Next week, I'll have an interview and giveaway with Maria. But for now, here's a taste of what INSIDE OUT is all about!

Pay it Forward: Author Interview with Shannon Morgan

Everyone has a different path to publication. This week, I'm featuring authors on the way: authors who have found their agents or their publishers and are in the homestretch towards reaching their dreams. Their stories are each different--but they are all inspiring. By showing you how THEY did it, I hope you remember that YOU can, too!

So, stick around all week to find out about lots of up-and-coming authors! Today, I'm featuring Shannon Morgan, author of BRIAR-BOUND, represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow, and blogger at Daily Pie.

Tell us about your book.
To find answers about his missing father, and armed with only an ancient book of tales and a cryptic note from his mentor, twelve-year-old Jack enters an enchanted forest he knows he can never leave again. In that wood lives ten-year-old Stump, whose elderly guardian hides a ring that holds clues to the girl's true parentage. To bargain for the ring, she lures into the forest a boy who resembles the old woman's long-lost son: Jack's five-year-old brother Peter. BRIAR-BOUND is a middle grade fantasy, represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary and currently on submission to publishers.


Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?
1987: My PSAT suggests I become an actuary. Here's what an actuary does. Riveting.

1988 - 2006: I get a degree in history, then work many, many different jobs, carefully avoiding the shiny but deadly lure of actuarial science. Exactly like Luke and the Dark Side. During this time, I begin writing... grant proposals and standardized assessments. (OK, so I totally dabbled in the Dark Side.)

2006: My favorite TV show ends in a crazy-good cliffhanger! Sudden urge to write fiction! After I write and receive feedback on several stories for an online community, a friend suggests I try NaNoWriMo. I participate in NaNo for the next three years.

2008: I decide to query agents with BRIAR-BOUND, my second NaNo novel, much revised and then titled JACK. I research agencies through Writer's Market and make a list of twenty prospective agents. I query my top 10 first. Get my first rejection in 10 minutes -- SUPERSTAR! Have several requests for partial or full manuscripts.

One of those fulls rests with Nadia Cornier at Firebrand Literary. She decides JACK isn't quite right for her (eek) but earns my eternal thanks by passing it along to Brand-Spanking-New (Not-Even-On-The-Website-Yet) Agent Chris Richman. By coincidence, I'm on vacation in Queens when Chris decides he wants to talk. (I maintain the coincidence. Chris is skeptical, possibly because I was vacationing in Queens. In December.) We meet, chat about books in general and mine in particular, and talk about our career goals. I leave calmly. Two blocks away, I show my husband Dave an envelope containing two signed contracts, and freak out.

2009: Enough partying already, it's time to revise! Chris leads me through three revisions, during which JACK becomes a much stronger project and gets a new title. In April, we go on submission. During that process, I get such consistent feedback from editors that I decide to revise again. This time, BRIAR-BOUND changes dramatically. At this stage, I create Stump, one of the three current main characters. Roughly 43.6% of this revision is new text.

2010: After three draft stages, Chris and I decide the project is ready for submission. Huzzah! Chris takes over and sends BRIAR-BOUND out. I open a YA novel I started writing in 2008 and try not to obsess.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Never because of rejection or self-doubt. I did wonder early on if writing would become one of a string of hobbies in my wake. But it stuck. I feel like I've found the perfect outlet: years of being a fringe observer, gathering a wide range of skills, and exploring a lot of interests -- it's all paying off. Plus, I'm meeting a lot of great folks in all areas of the industry. Writing is so rewarding I can't imagine giving it up now. Besides, if I did, I'd have to become an actuary, and I'm already square enough. :)


Thank you, Shannon! You can find Shannon online at her blog daily pie or on Twitter @nomadshan


This week of interviews is being hosted by Elana Johnson, and several other bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon, including:
 Be sure to check them all out for inspiring, first-hand stories of authors on the verge of publication!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today in Class: Dramatic Drama

We're studying the plays of Sophocles. They read OEDIPUS REX last week, and this week we're reading ANTIGONE.

Me: So, remember in Oedipus, when Jocasta said, "From this moment forward, I will be silent forever?"

Kids: *nod*nod*

Me: And Antigone is a sequel to Oedipus Rex. There are some things parallel to Oedipus. For example, what did it mean when Jocasta said, "From this moment forward, I will be silent forever."

Kid 1: She was going to kill herself!

Me: Exactly. And here, in Antigone, Haemon says to Creon that "You will never see my face again." What could that mean?

Kid 2: (with utmost sincerity) He's going to rip his own face off!

Pay it Forward: Author Interview with Miriam Foster

Everyone has a different path to publication. This week, I'm featuring authors on the way: authors who have found their agents or their publishers and are in the homestretch towards reaching their dreams. Their stories are each different--but they are all inspiring. By showing you how THEY did it, I hope you remember that YOU can, too!

So, stick around all week to find out about lots of up-and-coming authors! Today, I'm featuring Miriam Foster, author of 2010 novel THE FLUTE AND THE DAGGER, as well as the awesomely-titled blog "Dancing with Dragons is Hard on Your Shoes."

Tell us about your book.
The Flute and the Dagger, Oaktara Publishers, Summer 2010 (hopefully)

Lissandra Adney, the daughter of a lord, is flung from her
home in medieval England to Hope, a magical refugee world fraying at the seams. Lissandra might be able to help, but first she has to survive earthquakes, assassins and a queen who can manipulate your dreams and claim your soul...

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?

I started identifying myself as a writer in high school, and played with it off and on for a few years after I graduated. Then somewhere along the way, I started to commit. I took classes from the Institute of Children's Literature, finished and revised my first novel. (Ruined it with revision, really. But that's another story.)  But I kept trying to learn. I wrote another book, and took what I learned from that one back to the first novel and put it back together.

Around that time, a family friend told me he'd sold a book to Oaktara Publishers, an inspirational small press. He suggested I send the repaired first book to them. I balked at first, because I don't really think of myself as an inspirational author. But my book was clean, and set in a monotheistic world, and I still liked it too much to stick it in a desk drawer. So I sent it in. And they accepted it.

But it didn't turn out to be that easy. A few months after I signed the contract, Oaktara was forced to change their name. This meant they had to re-release ALL of their backlist under the new name, changing covers, marketing materials, everything. So I entered publishing limbo, a state I'm still not completely out of. Even though Oaktara is releasing new books again, my release date for this year is still fluid. So it's been an exercise in patience, and letting go. Mostly I keep sane by writing more books. :)

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Lots and lots of times. The whole publishing-limbo thing was a big one, but it wasn't the only time. Every time I realize how much there is still to learn, I feel like giving up. I'm trying to find representation for my next book, and that process is fraught with disappointment. When revisions aren't working, when a first draft just won't come. When I read about a writer who's gotten huge success with their first novel, or when I enter a contest and don't even make honorable mention. All those things make me want to quit, and to be honest, I don't expect the feeling will ever completely go away.

Mostly I don't give up because I'm super-stubborn. According to my husband, I'm the original immovable object, and if you tell me something can't be done, the first thing I do is try to figure out how to make it happen. I've come to terms with the fact that I can't control much of this writer business. But as long as there's something I can do, whether it's writing consistently or finding beta readers or just being willing to send stuff out, I'll do it. As long as I can see myself improving, making progress, I can't give up.

Thank you, Miriam! You can find Miriam online at her blog.


This week of interviews is being hosted by Elana Johnson, and several other bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon, including:
 Be sure to check them all out for inspiring, first-hand stories of authors on the verge of publication!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Interview!

Sherrie Petersen, who's a freaking awesome blogger, interviewed me today! Be sure to check it out if you want to know my dark, dirty secret....how many trunk novels do I actually have?

Books in the Science Fiction World

Let's wrap up this "Future of Books" week with something fun, k? I'm such a nerd...but I actually think it' pretty cool to see what science fiction worlds think books will look like...

Now, we can't go any further without first talking about....Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! This is the classic future of books. A small device that connects to a wireless inter-universe network of information constantly updating all the information in the entire universe. And it has a nice sensible logo: Don't Panic.

As Adams put it:

"What is it?" asked Arthur.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a sort of electronic book. It tells you everything you need to know about anything. That's its job."

Arthur turned it over nervously in his hands.

"I like the cover," he said. "'Don't Panic.' It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody's said to me all day."

But, by and far, most science fiction authors, movies, and shows tend to show the future of books as a thin-as-a-sheet-of-paper display screen. I think the most realistic version of it come from Joss Whedon's Firefly (seen right). It's sort of like a paper-size iPad with many windows open at a time. That can constantly stream new downloaded information. Pretty cool stuff.

Caprica does something similar, but it also shows how casually people treat the future tech: the digital paper has become so cheap and common that people fold it up and stick in their pockets much like we do with our shopping lists. I haven't actually seen Caprica (yet), but here's a vid showing the tech:



This is certainly not a new idea in sci fi (although Caprica and Firefly are among the best, graphics-wise, to show the tech). And there's a perfectly valid reason for why this type of display is so prominent in fiction. We're pretty darn close to this sort of tech already. Check out this flexible color screen--it's thin as paper, can bend, and plays movies and video.



Looks to me like the future is almost here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Espresso Book Machine 2.0

In a week of discussions on the future of publishing, I would be remiss to focus only on text on a screen. Because, while I believe that ebooks are not just a passing fad, I also believe that print books will never ever--at least not in my generation or the next--be replaced by ebooks.

How we buy print books? That's constantly changing. I am just old enough to remember when Amazon started, how people said it would never replace brick and mortar stores. And, as much as I hate to say it...Amazon is. At least for now. Because one bit of tech that's been developing mostly quietly is the POD machine that can print, bind, and distribute a book to a waiting customer in literally minutes. The Espresso Book Machine is a marvel, and even though I'd never seen one, I'd heard a lot about it.

Fortunately, I found a really cool video that shows how the machine works with the cover off, letting you see just how quickly a new book can be printed...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

iPad and iBooks

I'd be remiss in my tech week if I didn't post a link about what iPad means to publishers.

Online Serialization: An Interview with Cat on The Witches of Greenwitch

When my friend Cat contacted me about a new project she's started, The Witches of Greenwitch, I wondered if this is where we're going to see a lot of new work heading in the future, especially as ebooks (inevitably) grow more popular. It's not that new of an idea to put a work online as a bait-and-reel gesture, but it is fairly unusual to pair quality, one-of-a-kind illustrations with a new, well-written story. This isn't an emo vamp story with a glitter background as you probably saw in 1993--this is a classy, well produced affair.

At its core, The Witches of Greenwitch is classic high fantasy mixed with a contemporary a young girl who gets sucked (literally) into the book she's reading. Three pages in, and the engaging storyline has me hooked.

The author, Cat, is herself a fascinating individual--an international writer fluent in both English and German (The Witches of Greenwitch is available in German, also), and an all around nice person. Cat, graciously allowed me to interview her about this innovative endeavor. Below are her answers!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a writer?
I don't like clich├ęs. Unfortunately, I am one myself because I really did write stories from the day I knew my alphabet. I can prove it, too. I rescued the one-page manuscripts over several moves all over Germany and Scotland, and although the paper is brittle and the writing faded, they are still readable.
For years, I wrote just for fun, never believing that my stories would be worth publishing. The turning point came in 2000. My best friend found a box in her attic with what she thought was recycling paper but it proved to be historical papers dating back to the 16th century. Out of my mind, I decided to write a novel about the things she found while translating them into modern day German. I learned a lot - the book was published in English and German and it still sells in small numbers. Since then, I took many courses, wrote many more novels, and was finally accepted by the best agent for Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Historical Novels in Germany.

That was when the world wide financial crisis hit. All the manuscripts I have under consideration with publishers are currently on hold. It's nerve-wracking.


Can you tell us a little bit about the story you're serializing?I wrote The Witches of Greenwitch in 2006 from an idea I had had two years prior. The story was aimed at the late MG and early YA age (10-13) but my agent classified it as All-Age.
It tells the story of orphaned book-rat Melissa who is magiced to the world of Greenwitch by a mysterious stone. She desperately looks for a way home trying to ignore her past that pops up at the most inappropriate moments. She has to cope with fairy tale and other creatures that are not at all what she expected. At the same time, dangerous pursuers are at her heels getting closer by the minute.


What made you decide to serialize it online rather than seek traditional publication?
The Witches of Greenwitch had been a story for a series of a very small independent publisher who folded just after accepting one of my other novels.

Since it had been a fun story to write, I didn't want to abandon it but my agent told me that it was too short for a traditional publisher. After a long time (and many more novels) I decided to use it as a serialized online novel in English and German for those who would like to get to know my writing. I hope readers will have just as much fun reading as I had writing and translating (Also, it's a great chance for students of the German language to improve their reading and understanding).


What are your goals with serializing the novel? Are you trying to turn this into something you can make a living off of, or do you want to use it to gain fans, or something else entirely?
Fans would be great but for the moment, I'd be happy to provide entertainment. I tried blogging and found it hard to come up with stuff that might interest people enough to read my rants. I still blog - once in a while - but mostly for closer friends and family. With this novel, I'm trying to reach a broader audience. I'd be delighted to find readers who love my serialized novel just as much as some online-comics are loved and admired.

Not for a second do I believe it possible to make a living off serializing a novel and giving it away for free.



How are you striving to accomplish those goals?
By providing the story as best as I could. I'm revising each individual post prior to publication. Of course, there is much I'd love to rewrite (I learned so much during the last 4 years) but that would result in an erratic publishing schedule. So I nudge little things and keep the story as it is but smooth the rough edges.

Also, my illustrator Eszti makes the plain text come to live. Considering that she is only fifteen, she does an excellent job. With some more training, she'll have a big career in front of her.


Eszti's illustrations are wonderful! Could you tell us a little bit about how that partnership evolved? When did you start working together, and how do illustrations set your work apart from others'?When I decided to serialize my story on the Internet I knew I needed pictures because the www is a very visual medium. Unfortunately, my drawing skills are not up to the task. Also, I knew that it would be impossible to find someone turning it into an online-comic. So I contacted several artists whose work I liked but they were either too expensive or didn't have the time. One day, I stumbled on Eszti's DeviantArt page and contacted her on a whim.


Right now, the story is free online. Do you intend to turn this into a pay-as-you-read endeavor and/or turning it into a downloadable e-book? Why/why not?
The online-version will stay free for as long as I keep it online (currently that means forever). Eventually and if enough people are interested I will probably publish it as a PoD and a downloadable e-book. With current services, I can keep both reasonably priced. At the moment though, that's still music of the future.


How do you plan on reaching readers and drawing them to your site?
Doing interviews like this ;-) and maybe a blog tour. I might even take the time to create a book trailer (I love making weird films so that would be fun). Next week, I'll devote some time on brainstorming. I appreciate ideas from anyone willing to post one on the comment section of The Witches of Greenwitch. Also, I hope that readers who like the story will tell their friends about it.


What's your opinion on e-books? Do you think they will play a prominent role in the future, or will they always been a small percentage of the market?
I believe that the share of e-books will grow continuously in the future but like CDs never fully replaced vinyl they will never replace books entirely. There will always be those who love the smell of freshly printed paper.


What are your future plans for your writing in general?
I will keep writing in German and English, alternating between fantasy stories and historical novels. I do hope to find an agent in the US and a publisher in Germany, soon. Until then, I am improving my craft and my knowledge of US-English grammar.



Thank you, Cat, for sharing your ideas with us!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Speaking of Ebooks (with your wallet)...

I have long felt that the model of selling ebooks is flawed at the least--a prohibitive measure against developing electronic reading at the worst.

There's a lot of conversation out there about what an ebook should cost. Some (like Amazon) feel there should be a cap at a certain level, say, $9.99. Others feel that the absence of a hard copy should equate a significant difference in price ranges. I'm more in favor of the sliding scale of price--an ebook that's a little less money than the cheapest form of the book out in hard copy--i.e. a new release in hardcover is $25, so the ebook is $20; when the trade paperback comes out at $15, the ebook can be $10; when the mass market is released at $8, the ebook could be $6)

BUT.

I also like the new Barnes & Noble structure announced recently:
Barnes & Noble is planning to begin bundling print and eBook editions of books in the next two or three months... Customers who buy the print edition of a book will have the option to get the digital version of the same book at a discounted price.
That, personally, is something I can get behind. Bundling is--I hope--the wave of the future. And a great model for introducing people to ebooks.

So, would a "bundle" of ebook and hardcover entice you to buy a book more? What price model for ebooks do you feel is fairest?

Elevensies

Who's that new chick over at the Elevensies?

Me :)

Check it out to learn 11 random things about me! One of which involves my thumb.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interviews!

Today, I'm being interview by Christine and Sarah on their blogs about my book deal. I'll be heading back there after I get back from dundundun! ~jury duty~ so if you have any questions for me, drop by their lovely blogs and leave them there!

Why You Shouldn't Run in Terror of Ebooks

I have never understood people who were afraid of technology. It's a point of much mocking and laughter in my family (as in: me making fun of my mom for not knowing what cookies are, and she taking away the homemade cookies for mocking her)--and I think it is, at least for my family, a generational thing that's a product of money. In short, my parents remember how much money we paid for our first computer, but I don't--so I was willing to play with it in such a way that might (and did) break it, all in the name of exploration.

But the long and short of it is that I actually quite like technology. Despite the fact that I got a minor in history. Despite the fact that I value old books in much the same way that some people value antiques. Despite the fact that I sometimes fear the rapidity in which technology is encompassing our daily lives.

Because I do think tech is pretty darn cool.

And I am actually pretty excited about the advent of ebooks.

But wait.

Let me clarify.

Not ebooks like this:

Because, really? That's just words on a screen. And slice it any way you like, that's not that different from words on a page.

No, I'm excited about ebooks like this:


Whatever your opinion on ebooks, that video is totally worth seeing. Because that's what we're looking towards. Not words on a screen. Ebooks aren't about that. Or, if they're about that now, they're not going to be about that in the future.

No, the future of ebooks, and tech's role in reading, is just starting to emerge because we're just starting to have technology that can catch up to the ingenuity of books developers' minds. We're just on the edge of it. If you check out the news site where I found the Penguin concept of ebooks above, you'll notice that most people's comments were along the lines of how unlikely they were to give a $500 gadget to a child to play with.

Sound familiar?

That's what I mean about tech just now starting to catch up with book developers--and readers. Because it won't be too much longer until the above picture is more commonplace. Etextbooks may very well replace paper textbooks--and hurrah for that! Think of how much cooler learning--and reading--will be for a student who can read about a scientific theory, then click on a link in their personal ereader to see a video of the experiment in progress? To learn about philosophy and zoom in on a personal picture of Raphael's School of Athens at the same time the teacher's lecturing about it? To not just read that Roosevelt believes the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but to hear it?

But beyond that--how much more can literature be enriched if a reader has the option to toggle between just the words on the screen, and the author's notes on the inspiration behind the text? Or links to communities chatting about the book? Or the possibility to turn on the authors playlist while reading? Or an interview with the author embedded in scenes? Editor's notes?

This is what the future will hold. And so much more. Because technology is growing at a rate so fast that our ideas now may very well be outmoded tomorrow. Ereaders are just the first step. What our children will be reading from--and learning from, and playing with--has yet to even be invented.


And if you're still curious about what I, personally, am excited about in terms of tech, then just click here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I'm Trying to be Organized

Hence, the calendar. I never have anything on calendars, therefore, I never saw the point of one. But...then I realized I'm trying to make blog posts more consistent, so I could post that! And if you look closely, you'll see that all this week's theme is: technology in publishing!

Calendar

I used to have a Google calendar here....but I'm going to change that to a list of events. You know, when I actually have events to list.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Very Cool Video

I might be last person in the pub world to watch this video, but I adore it. Make sure you watch it all the way through, or you'll miss the whole point.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today in Class: Of Fame & Signatures

So, word has spread. The kids know.

(Side note: to all my new awesome readers, I teach 10th grade world literature.)

Kid 1: Mrs. Revis, why does everyone keep congratulating you?

Me: I got a book deal! My book is going to be published!

Kid 1: Like, for real?

Me: Like, for real.

Kid 2: Are you going to be famous?

Me: Nah, I--

Kid 1: I'm going to keep the hall pass she signed!

Kid 2: I'm going to keep the chill-out form she signed!

(chill out = in school suspension)

Kid 1: We can sell them on e-bay!

Me: I don't think it works like that...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Deal Celebration!

Ohmygah you guys!

Words cannot express how awesome your outpouring of love and congratulations was is. I am seriously going to print out all of this and post it near my desk so whenever I feel blue, I can look at it and feel awesome.

(Speaking of blue, did you notice the cool blue mitts Jodi made me? That was so the icing on the cake yesterday when they arrived.)

All you cool people who subscribe to my newsletter already know this, but I know of no better way to celebrate news this awesome than through a giveaway! And I've been putting together prizes for this giveaway for ages...

First, off, there will be two winners: one prize pack for writers, one prize pack for readers. Because you are both my kind of people. You can click on any of the pictures to get a bigger view  (and sorry they're wonky and on the side...dunno why.)

PRIZE PACK FOR WRITERS:
-A critique of your query letter and first three chapters
-A copy of Elana Johnson's super-amazing e-book, From the Query to the Call
-A HUGE bag of chocolate-covered expresso beans from my fav coffee shop, Village Coffee (cause we all know writers need chocolate and coffee)
-A copy of the Working Writer Day Planner, full of tons of helpful info for writers
-A really pretty journal
-Flag-it Post-it Notes that you can use to highlight and mark-up your manuscript as you revise
-A Laini's Ladies (the Muse of Writing one, of course!)
-A "Rolla" style notebook--it's like a binder and notebook in one, with the ablity to add, remove, and move around pages. I thought this would be perfect for organizing editing notes, or to take to a conference
-A sekkrit surprise
-A book-shaped locket. One of the themes in my novel, Across the Universe, is that of leaving home and standing on your own two feet (hence the original title that some of you probably remember: Long Way Home). The locket is shaped like a book with a bird's nest stamped on the front, and a bird flies away from the chain. This was custom made for me by The Enchanted Locket on etsy, and you and I will be the only two people with the original design!



PRIZE PACK FOR READERS

-A $30 gift certificate for Amazon (or other online book seller of your choice). That way you can get whatever books YOU most want to read RIGHT NOW. I've got plenty of good suggestions if you want any, though!
-A "Get Happy" tea set from the Tea Revolution: includes mug, tea, strainer, and top. I can't think of anything better than curling up with a good book and sipping hot tea. Unless, of course, there's chocolate involved. Hey...
-A package of Lindt chocolate truffles, the best chocolate in the world, imo
-A booklight
-A "booksling"--a bookmark that can also hold a pen or highlight for those days you want to read and take notes
-A fancy flower bookmark for those days you just want to read :)
-A sekkrit surprise
-A journal--hey, readers can write, too!
-A star necklace from Avon. I saw this necklace and flipped--it is full of pretty stars. As you guys know, Across the Universe is a science fiction, and stars play a pretty important role in the book.


To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 3rd. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Rumors are True! BOOK DEAL ANNOUNCED!

So this happened:
Deep Freeze
In another major YA acquisition before the Bologna Book Fair, Ben Schrank at Razorbill pre-empted North American rights to the debut novel by high school teacher Beth Revis, Across the Universe. Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House brokered the deal, which is for three books, and Universe is scheduled for spring 2011. In the novel, set in the near future, a teenager is cryogenically frozen only to thaw too soon, before arriving at the new planet that's her destination. Set to wake 300 years in the future, She rouses 50 years too early, still on a spaceship in transit. Schrank said he thinks the book will do for popular sci-fi what The Hunger Games did for postapocalyptic fiction. Rights have been pre-empted in the U.K. (by Razorbill UK, which will do a joint publication with Penguin USA) and Germany, and sales have also closed in France and Greece.
(via Publisher's Weekly)

And there's also this:
High school teacher Beth Revis's debut ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, in the near-future, a reluctant teenage girl and her pioneer parents are cryogenically frozen for a 300-year trip to a new planet; she awakens 50 years early on a vast spaceship with a murderer on board, to Ben Schrank at Razorbill, in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in spring 2011, by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House (world English).
 (via Publisher's Marketplace)

...and so, it's official!

I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fear

There is a lot of fear when it comes to writing.

Fear of beginning--what if you can't finish? Fear of finishing--what if it isn't good enough? Fear of feedback--what if he/she/they hate it? Fear of querying. Fear of meeting new people--at conferences, in critique groups. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of bad reviews. Fear of not being able to do it all again in book two, book, three, book four. Fear of not being able to revise. Fear of not being able to revise well enough. Fear of rejection. Fear of rejection. Fear of rejection.

Which all adds up to something simple:

Fear of failure.

But there is another fear that is often overlooked.

Fear of success.

It easy to dismiss this fear. It's like a skinny girl who orders a salad--she already has a killer bod, why does she need to eat healthy, too?

But there's safety in failure. We forget that often. If we fail, we still have the chance to blame someone else. You can blame failure on anything and everything. Your book isn't good because you didn't have time. Your critique partner was bad. The publishing world is against you. You can still blame them, still walk out of the ring with your head held at least somewhat high. But success takes away the safety of failure. Success takes away the illusion that your work is anything but your work. Success strips away the armor and leaves you in the ring alone.

Ultimately, behind every single success story is a person. A naked, scared person without a stitch of armor on.

Stephanie Perkins shared this link of a TED speech by Elizabeth Gilbert that I found particularly insightful. It is totally, totally worth seeing, if you've not already. And if you have? Olay!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

"... the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"
                                   --Jack Kerouac 

In other news, actual posting to resume next week. You know, posting with actual content.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Connection

...between clothing and stories. A very cool concept: this designer made the clothes from a fairy tale with amazing attention to detail, creativity, and tech.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From Start to Finish

Here's something I bet you didn't know about me.

I almost didn't become a writer.

During my young years, I had two great loves: reading/writing, and clothing. Not like designer jeans--nah, I liked to sew. And, if I do say so myself, I was (am) pretty darn good at it. Look at it this way: I designed my prom dress using scraps of silk being thrown out by a local clothing factory that cost me a whopping $8.

When it got to be college time, I was torn: did I follow my love of books and go into literature, or did I follow my love of cloth and go into textile design? I like both equally, but I knew I didn't want to try to juggle both as careers or even as majors. Textile design involved more science and technical work, literature involved more reading and philosophy. I knew in my heart of hearts, I would only be happy if I focused entirely on one--but which one?

In the end, obviously, I chose literature. But I've always maintained a love of clothing. Which is why this poorly dressed writer who loves nothing more than oversized t-shirts and yoga pants will watch--and have very strong opinions on--Project Runway.

Segue.

Recently, I was watching a vlog of Maureen Johnson who is way cooler than me, and I noticed that she had these cool finger-less glove mitts. This particularly stood out to me because when I type, my fingers get cold. They just do. And fingerless mitts would be perfect to solve this problem!

But where to buy them?

Fortunately, I know Jodi. Yes, that Jodi--supercool amazing Jodi who not only writes, but also spins (spins!) and knits. She started with this:
And then she came up with these:
Now, Jodi says these mitts aren't quite good enough yet (which astounds me, really), but I still think they are pretty darn spiffy in the utmost. It's the perfect tie for me between my first love of textiles and my second love of writing.

Especially considering that the fiber Jodi used to make the mitts came from the same fiber that she used to describe and explain the process of spinning when she did a guest post. For. Robin. Freaking. McKinley.

You know the old game of 12 Degrees to Kevin Bacon? Well, my degrees to Robin McKinley just got a lot shorter--and since I plan on wearing these mitts while I type my next masterpiece--well, I'm gonna pretend that warm fuzzy on my hands is Robin McKinley telling me to go on and write better.

Tu Publishing Becomes Tu Books

Saw this at Jill Corcoron's site:
Stacy Whitman's Tu Publishing is now Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books.
LEE & LOW BOOKS, the respected independent children's book publisher specializing in diversity, has acquired Tu Publishing, an independent press focusing on multicultural fantasy and science fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. http://blog.leeandlow.com/2010/03/09/announcing-tu-books/

 This led me to the press release, on which I noticed this:
Supporters met Whitman’s project with great enthusiasm and donated funds via the online organization Kickstarter to help launch the company. Through many small donations, Tu Publishing surpassed its $10,000 goal, catching the attention of LEE & LOW.

“The fact that Tu was able to raise so much money indicates that there is a real need for this,” says Low.

And that just made me smile.

You mean my $25 that I donated to Tu Publishing made a difference? Not just in terms of starting up Tu Publishing, but also in making Tu Publishing be noticed by other people, higher up in the business, who are now going to make diversity in fantasy and science fiction and even bigger prerogative--something which is already garnering national attention?

That, my friends, was $25 well spent. And a lesson to us all: if we believe in something, a donation, no matter how small, really does make a difference. I'm not trying to make myself look grand with a measly $25 donation--I'm just saying that a donation--no matter how small--can make a difference in ways we never expected possible.

If you believe in something, if you care about something: donate. You don't know how much of a difference your small donation can make.

Unless, of course, they do a press release on it sharing the good news :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quote of the Day

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?"
                    --Vita Sackville-West

Friday, March 5, 2010

Editing: John Green is a Nerd's Dream

I recently found Ricki Schultz's blog, and she had a link to John Green's vlog on editing. It stems from NaNoWriMo, which seems out of date, but lots of people are saying that March is the new November, so: relevant!

ANYWAY.

This video is awesome. Epically awesome. About revising and editing and sucking turning into not sucking.



Also: John Green is the reason why I don't vlog. I can never be as cool as that. It saddens me, but the first step is admitting the problem.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

National Grammar Day!

I have a confession.

I judge you by your grammar.

Now, that don't mean I don't know how to bust out some slang. I'm cool with that.

But if you have bad grammar just because you're too lazy to learn good grammar?

I judge you.

Sorry.

I do try to keep it in check.

I've only once taken my red pencil to an already published book before sending it back to the publisher.

Then I realized I was being crazy, and I tucked my red pencil away.

But, fortunately, there is a day for people like me! A grammar day! A National Grammar Day, to be precise! Yes: you heard me correctly. NATIONAL GRAMMAR DAY.

My nerdy side just sighed with joy.

In celebration: here's a link to my Simple Rules of Grammar series!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Books I Cannot Like

I like books.

I like a lot of books.

But there are some books that I just can't like.

I think that's true of everyone. My mother can't stand anything with vampires. Nothing. Wouldn't even pick up Twilight even though I think she might actually like it. The husband doesn't like teen books. He loves zombies, and I think he'd love The Forest of Hands and Teeth if I could somehow trick him into thinking it was an adult book, not a teen one. Personally, I don't care for books about angels. Like at all. So even though there are some great angel books out there right now, you won't see one in my hand.

I'm thinking about this now because here recently, I've been reading a bunch of books that everyone says are great...but I can't get into them. It's not the writing--I can see where my friends and reviewers are coming from. The book itself is good. But it's not for me.

It fascinates me sometimes on how subjective this reading and writing thing is. When I pass out copies of books to students, I'm amazed at some of their reactions. There are some classics I don't particularly like, but feel it important to teach--and some of my kids love them. (Really? Really. I hate Gilgamesh, but some of my students remember it more than any other work, despite the fact that it's the first story I teach a semester.)

So, what about you? What kind of book do you simply not like--or what kind did you expect to not like and were pleasantly surprised by?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall Giveaway

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.


Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Well, go on over to Headdesk and enter to win a copy!

Writerly Joke!

This was shared to me through my state SCBWI listserv by the charming Teresa Fannin, and I couldn't help but shamelessly steal it.

A writer died and was given the choice of going to heaven or hell.

The writer thought she'd check out each place before making her
decision. So with an angelic escort she descended the brimstone steps
to the fiery pits and here she entered a grimy sweatshop and saw rows
and rows of writers chained to their desks. As the writers worked on
their manuscripts they were repeatedly whipped with cats-o-nine tails.

"Oh gosh golly," the writer told the angel, "I'd better go check out
heaven now!"

So they walked back up the brimstone steps and now proceeded up the
golden steps that led to Heaven. Here the writer entered another
sweatshop, and here again were rows of writers chained to their
desks. Just like in Hell, the writers were whipped with cats-o-nine
tails as they struggled over every precious word and vital scene in
their stories.

The writer was confused. "But this is just as awful as hell!"

"Certainly not!" protested the angel. "Here, your work actually gets
published!"

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pass a Fork

...because I need to eat my words.

Long time readers will know that I not only have had an opinion on ebooks, but I've not been shy about sharing that opinion.

I said--well, lemme just quote myself:
...here's what I think the future really holds for e-books to be profitable and a success:
  • e-readers must be versatile and affordable (such as iTouch)
  • e-books should never cost more than $5
  • free e-book downloads should be included with the purchase price of a book (after all, I can rip music into my mp3 player after I buy a CD)
So.

Yeah.

That was my opinion.

Note the past tense.

Because...I'm ready to eat my words.

World, take note. I'm admitting it here.

I was wrong.

I was basing my opinion on two things: the effect of electronic media on the music industry and my own assumptions about the cost of ebooks. Which means, basically, that I was basing my opinion on two fallacies. First: books aren't songs. And while I knew that (obviously), it didn't really register with me that marketing the electronic versions of books and songs would necessarily be different. And regardless of that, I was also ignoring the underlying costs of ebooks.

Books are more than paper. I know that. I know that. But when I thought of what the cost of ebooks should be--I only factored in the cost of paper.



I've been thinking a lot about ebooks lately, in part because, for the first time, I am considering purchasing an ebook reader. I might have mentioned it before. A little device that I kind of sort of want...  Before, I honestly dismissed ebooks easier beacuse they were not really a part of my immediate readership. Which meant--I didn't really want an ebook, because it was an inconvenience to me. So, at that time, for me personally, an ebook would have to be cheap or free for me to consider purchasing it, in order to compensate for the personal inconvenience to me. 
Now, I am looking at purchasing an ebook. And suddenly, they've come up on my radar in a much more personal way. Now I'm thinking of how convenient it will be to have immediate purchases. Now I'm thinking of just how much a new release is worth to me.

And now my previous self assertions on the topic seem rather foolish.

As the NY Times pointed out:
But publishers also say consumers exaggerate the savings and have developed unrealistic expectations about how low the prices of e-books can go. Yes, they say, printing costs may vanish, but a raft of expenses that apply to all books, like overhead, marketing and royalties, are still in effect.
Yeah. That was me. One of those consumers that exaggerated the savings.

Now my perspective is different--which, I think, is a good sign. It is true that consumers tend to exaggerate the savings on electronic versions of products, be they music or videos or games or books. That is something I don't think will change--people want to feel like they own a thing when they buy it, and a physical hard copy is part of the value there. 

But it is also true that there are significant costs in the production of an ebook, and it is necessary for the consumer concept of value in terms of electronic media to shift. And it is. 

Just look at me, eating my words.

Music Monday: It's all about the Wordplay

I <3 Jason Mraz. Hardcore. He's one of those singers who plays with language, and any man that can twist words is awesome in my book.

Here's his most word-twisty song for you:


(PS: Did you catch his nickname? Mr. A to Z...Jason MRAZ....*sigh*)