Monday, December 30, 2013

Year-end Review: Links and More!

I can hardly believe that 2013 is nearly over. This has been a year of stops and starts for me. I stopped writing in the Across the Universe world with the release of the last book in the trilogy, Shades of Earth. I started working on something else...and then something else...and then something else....and then something else. Then I stopped working on some of those projects...and then some of those projects sold (and others did not), so I started working on them again! You should be getting news of the fruition of that work fairly soon...

I'm looking forward to 2014. I'm looking forward to starting a new trilogy, exploring a new world. I'm looking forward to new challenges, and attempting to work on more than one book/world at a time. I plan on experimenting more with short work, and doing some things online--and off--that I've not done before.

2014 will hopefully be a year of change for me. But change is, above all else, terrifying. But wrapped around all that scary change is hope, and it's the hope I'm clinging to at the moment...

Anyway! Here's a collection of some of the recent things to distract you from the nauseous fear of a looming new year:

Also: most of this information is also going out in my newsletter at the end of the week. I'm going to strive to make my newsletter this year a monthly endeavor, with a collection of interesting things for everyone to read. If you're not already a subscriber, please consider signing up for it here!

Free Short Story

A short story of mine, "The Turing Test," was recently published in the online magazine, Lightspeed. The entire story is available online for free on the Lightspeed website. The story was inspire by the Turing Test, a test developed by Alan Turing to evaluate humanity in computers, such as androids. The New York Times recently did an amazing article on Turing that you can read in full here.

Across the Universe was recently featured on the USA Today website. It was selected as a recommended sci fi read, and the reviewer said, "This has been one of the best YA sci-fi books I've read in a few years. Beth Revis also pulled the trilogy into an interesting plotline in the third book that I didn't see coming — and loved every moment." You can read about all the selections here.

 Huffington Post has had two great articles recently. The first, by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman (authors of These Broken Stars) talks about "Why Everyone Should Read More Science Fiction." It touches on everything I believe in when it comes to SF and YA--how both are "universal to the human experience" and should be read by everyone. Also, the brilliant Lydia Kang (author of Control), wrote "Young Adult Sci Fi that will get Readers Psyched About Science," and I'm honored that Across the Universe made the list! Both these articles are really great; check them out!

I was honored to make my own list of must-read books for the LA Review of Books, as well as share the story of how I came to start writing YA Science Fiction in the first place. My list features some of my favorite recent YA SF books. You can read the entire article and see the list here. 

The League of Extraordinary Writers is undergoing some changes as well! We're moving to a more mobile front, with a monthly newsletter highlighting articles, a few new members to be announced soon, and a renewed focus. Make sure you don't miss a thing--this is the hub of all things YA & SF!

I would like to feature one new author a month with a specific story featuring the setting on their novel. If you're an author (or soon to be published), please fill out the form to be featured on my website and in my newsletter! Please direct all your author friends here! This new series will start next month.

If you're an aspiring writer, make sure you're a member of the Reddit sub, YAWriters. I'm one of the mods there, and we have some big plans for the new year. You can always find new articles on YA writing there, and we hold regular crits. Joining is simple and free, and there's almost always someone online to help answer any questions you have about writing, publishing, and more.

Speaking of advice for writers, my friend Jess Spotswood has an amazing article up right now about expectations. I think you should read it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Interview + Giveaway with Amy Spalding, Author of INK IS THICKER THAN WATER

Photographer credit: Jessie Weinberg
Today I'm so pleased to feature the delightful, the funny, the friendly, the awesome AMY SPALDING! Author of THE REESE MALCOLM LIST and INK IS THICKER THAN WATER, Amy is an amazing contemp author that you should definitely have your sights on. 

Check out her interview below, and don't forget to enter the contest for a free copy of her latest book!

You can stalk Amy here:


We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
Once I was dining at a Cracker Barrel in Kentucky, and a waitress told me I looked like someone famous. Obviously I was very flattered, even though she couldn’t figure out whom for nearly the entire meal. But then she announced she’d solved the riddle: “You look like a cartoon bear!” Thank you?

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
Some of my favorite books growing up were two series: Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace, and The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin. Both were about tight groups of friends just dealing with each other, their friends, and—to some extent—boys. The book from my childhood that remains a favorite to this day is A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry. I recommend it to everyone.

I think my tastes have stayed fairly consistent, actually, though these days I’ve really gotten into nonfiction as well, which was never a love growing up. I just went through a phase of reading a bunch about cults and other creepy groups of people.

In your book, THE REECE MALCOM LIST, Devan’s mother Reece is a NY Times Bestselling author. Did you slip in any writer quirks that you have in her character?
The funny thing is I didn’t think “make her seem like a writer”, I mainly thought, “make her seem intimidating and standoffish”—but it turns out? Someone who holes away in an office and doesn’t always like to talk to other people? Kiiiiiinda seems like a lot of writers. Also, of course, her favorite beverages are coffee and bourbon.

Beth's note: The beverage choice is an excellent point.


It's the inevitable question: what inspired THE REECE MALCOM LIST and INK IS THICKER THAN WATER? 
For The Reece Malcolm List, I’d always been obsessed with long-lost family stories, so I thought if I really wanted to read my ideal one, I should just write my own. I loved the idea of Reece being someone Devan would have already heard of, which is why I made her a bestselling author. Since I wanted Devan to have something she was incredibly gifted at that had nothing to do with her mother’s talent, I ended up making her killer at show choir and musical theatre.

For Ink Is Thicker than Water, I was reading a lot and thinking about how many books are about something really dramatic shifting in one’s life. But a lot of what I’d gone through as a teenager, and even then as an adult, was how often life shifts around you, and you have to figure out how you stay afloat.

One of the things that stood out to me in both your novels was the way the families were not the traditional nuclear family of mom, dad, and 2.5 kids. Can you talk a little more about the way you portray such realistic families?
Since with Reece my goal was to write about long-lost family, I knew I obviously wouldn’t be writing a typical family. But I didn’t approach writing Devan, her mom, and her mom’s boyfriend (or the memory of her dad and stepmother) as THIS FAMILY IS VERY DIFFERENT! I just focused on who each character was and therefore how they related to one another. The family is really being built in the book; and Devan and Reece really don’t have a guideline for how it should look—or at least a guideline they’re comfortable with. So their family dynamic grew out of how they and Brad, Reece’s boyfriend, assembled it.

With Ink, it’s funny to me how on one hand it’s definitely NOT a nuclear family. Kellie’s parents are divorced. Her mom is remarried, and with her new husband has a young son. Her dad has a girlfriend, though not one he’s very open about. Also, Kellie’s older sister was adopted. Aaaaand Kellie’s mom and stepdad own a tattoo shop.

But on the other hand, they actually conform to a lot of really traditional family notions. Kellie’s mom is obsessed with her, her husband, and the kids all eating as family. The kids are just siblings; there’s no emphasis on Sara’s adoption or Finn technically being a half-brother. And even after a divorce, clearly both parents want the best for both of their kids.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing your books?
I wrote Reece many, many years ago. It was kind of awful; the characters were there but there wasn’t really a plot—just stuff happening. (Apparently that’s not the same!) I worked hard on consuming a lot of YA, and reading agent/editor blogs, and decided to write something new. That became Ink. I felt pretty confident about it, so I began querying agents. This was toward the end of 2008. I had to go through a round of revisions based off of an agent’s notes, and by early 2009 I’d completed those revisions and resubmitted to the agents who were interested. My current agent Kate Testerman was one of those who offered, and after a lot of research, I signed with her.

After revising a bit, Ink was submitted to many editors. It came very close to selling, but paranormal romance was the trend then, and it was hard to break through with contemporary realistic. In the meantime, I wrote Reece AGAIN! But this time I sort of knew what I was doing. My agent liked it, and after Ink didn’t sell, we went out with Reece.

It had a similar pattern, and honestly I was incredibly frustrated and depressed about the entire situation. My rejections were lovely. People really liked the books. They just didn’t think the marketplace was right to publish it.

In 2011, I began work on my third book (I’d worked on some others in the meantime, but nothing had really gelled), and I decided to go in a different direction. Instead of another family drama—which I loved—I decided to try writing a romantic comedy. I decided to try not to worry about the publishing industry, and just write something that took me out of my writing-related depression. And it worked! Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) is maybe the most fun I’ve ever had first-drafting a novel.

But before I could finish revising it? In early 2012, Reece and Ink both sold! At that point I’d really given up, so it was a really pleasant shock.

So this means I started writing really seriously in 2008, got an agent in 2009…and my first book came out in 2013. I am not naturally a patient person, but I’ve really learned to be.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from INK IS THICKER THAN WATER, what would you want it to be?
Don’t be afraid of change!

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
I think I thought at a certain point it would get easier, but most of it doesn’t. First-drafting is still hard. Revising is still brainfully painful. Editorial letters are still a little scary to read. Releasing a book into the wild is terrifying. But also hearing from people who love your books? Amazing and special each time.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
BE PATIENT! I am proof that this business can take forever. It will happen when it happens. It will be better because the timing lines up. Don’t worry about how old you are as a debut author. I am the age of decaying dust picked up by an ancient breeze, and it hasn’t hurt me at all.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
Weakest for me is definitely the middle of my books. Every single one, I’ve had to rip apart and restructure, because I struggle moving forward, finding a momentum, getting to a climax. I just kinda let stuff happen. Luckily I’ve worked with great editors who spot this and get me on the right path.

As far as strongest, for me it’s my dialogue. I love writing dialogue, and I love making myself laugh or cry at what my characters say (or don’t say) to each other.


Amy Spalding is also the author of The Reece Malcolm List. She grew up in St. Louis and now lives in Los Angeles with two cats and a dog. She works in marketing and does a lot of improv. Visit Amy’s website or on Twitter @theames. 

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below (or follow this link). One winner will get a copy of INK IS THICKER THAN WATER. Open internationally, wherever the book will ship via Book Depository.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 7, 2013

LIVE Interview with Andrea Cremer + Win Snakeroot!

ATTENTION! This live online event has been postponed until January--sorry for the inconvenience!

This Monday, December 9th, I have the very great pleasure of interviewing my dear friend Andrea Cremer at Booktalk Nation. You can see the interview LIVE--and add your own questions to the mix. Andrea and I will be discussing her latest novel, SNAKEROOT, and I'm totally going to sneak in a few questions for her other works, too.

Additionally, we're giving one person a copy of SNAKEROOT--to win, you'll have to answer a question, so to make sure you win, listen to the whole interview!

SNAKEROOT continues the world of NIGHTSHADE, and has all the classic Andrea elements: smexy people doing awesome things, paranormal adventures, and more!

Make sure you tune in to the interview:

Andrea Cremer Interview
Monday, December 9
7:00pm EST

Also! You can order signed, personalized books by either Andrea or I through Booktalk Nation--pre-orders accepted before the interview and will be open for a very short window after.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Date With a Dress

I have been a fan of These Broken Stars for so long that I find it sort of boggling that the entire world hasn't read it yet--although, of course, that's probably due to the fact that it's not quite out yet. The book is released in America next Tuesday, and I really hope you check it out! 

In fact, I loved the book so much, I blurbed it:
Absolutely brilliant. This is the sci fi I've been waiting for! Action, romance, twists and turns--this book has it all!
It has all my favorites:

          ✓ A giant spaceship
          ✓ Pretty stars
          ✓ Alternating POVs, and both protags have an excess of sass
          ✓ A twisty end I didn't see coming at ALL
          ✓ A philosophical edge that is just brilliant
          ✓ A beautiful, beautiful dress

Don't believe me on that last one? Check out this beautiful cover:

RIGHT? ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?! Which is why, when Meg and Amie said that they actually had the dress that is on the cover, and that they would let me take it out for a spin, I knew I had to do something special. I mean, come on! This is the literal, actual, REAL dress that was REALLY used on their book cover!!! (You can even see it in some of the behind-the-scenes photos here!)

I had to take it to a castle.

The Biltmore House is America's largest home, and the closest thing to a castle that I have. Meg and I headed up there on a cold November day to take the beautiful dress from the book cover on a very special date.

There was no way I was getting into that dress--I was terribly afraid of ripping it or messing it up! I don't have the grace of Sooz Dennard or Diana Peterfreund, who did--but fortunately, I happened to know another Diana, one that looked over the Biltmore House.

And let me tell you, she looked hawt.

We were so afraid of being kicked out for doing this!

Can't you just imagine her jumping out of a spaceship, with a hot soldier right on her heels?

Of course I posed with her--and of course I'm wearing my starry tights!
 You guys can see how long the dress is from this pic, but you wouldn't believe how silky smooth and flowing it was. I could not resist taking it for a bit of a dance in the lawn in front of the fanciest house I know of.

I was pretty awkward...

...especially in the spins...

...but the dress was gorgeous.

We totally became besties. 

This was such an awesome experience, and I'm so glad Meg and Amie let me take their book cover dress on such a wonderful date!

And I have to say--it's had a very busy week!

And as of next Tuesday, you can have the dress, too--or at least, the image of it on your book cover. AND if you pre-order the book, you also get a free poster!

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the Skylark trilogy, currently lives in Asheville, NC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and@MeaganSpooner

You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! These Broken Stars will be available in North America onDecember 10, 2013.