Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten Things in 2010

Ten Things I Realized in 2010

  1. A book deal doesn't really make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.
  2. Everything's easier if you don't whine and just buckle down and do it.
  3. Don't be afraid to admit that you're wrong, even if what you're wrong about is 80% of your book and you have to then rewrite it.
  4. Give back whenever you can. Tithe, donate to charity, help others merely because others helped you. It's the right thing to do, and doing the right thing makes you happy. Or at least, it works that way for me.
  5. Be grateful for every experience. There is great joy in the mere act of writing a beautiful sentence, but also great joy in stepping away from your desk and going outside to play with the dog.
  6. The darkest times are often followed by the brightest. And you appreciate the joy more for it.
  7. Don't compare yourself to others. That way leads to the darkside.
  8. Let it be. There will be bad reviews, there will be negativity, there will be people who forget that you're a person. Let it be. Walk away. You can't change everyone; you can only be yourself.
  9. Story first. Don't worry about the "lesson" or the moral or the theme or what you had planned or where you thought the book would go or whether or not your genre sells. Tell a good story first.
  10. Just trust.

Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before 2010

  1. Marketing is very important. I am deeply, deeply aware of how awesome my publisher is and how much whatever success I have in the new year relies upon what the Razorbill marketing team has done. I am also deeply aware of some very awesome books that didn't have the marketing and publishing support, and how unfair that is.
  2. Marketing isn't that important. When I joined the Elevensies, my first thought was that they would be a tool to help me market my book, but I quickly realized that the camaraderie and friendships I found there were much more important.
  3. Writers are people. Shocking, I know. But I'll be the first to admit that some of my literary heroes seemed almost mythical to me--but then when I talked to them, I realized they were people like me. Likewise, I've started to get some treatment from others that makes it clear that they see me in an ivory tower (not reality), not on a couch in the living room by my stinky dog (reality).
  4. Keep working. I'll admit--I could have been more productive. Transitioning from having a day job to not made me get a bit lazy with writing and everything else. I can't help but wonder if I'd been stricter with myself, I might have finished Book 2 sooner and might have re-worked it differently.
  5. Invest in better carry-on luggage.
  6. Invest in a better coffee maker. I now own a Keurig, and life is better.
  7. It's okay to keep one aspect of online life private. This links back to the "marketing isn't that important" thing--I used to think I had to keep Facebook public, but privatizing it was a HUGE relief. It would also have made my life easier if I'd done it this way to start with.
  8. Play with the dog more.
  9. Be more selective when you say "no" and when you say "yes."

Ten Things I'm Grateful for in 2010
  1. A husband who is always supportive, whether he's telling me that my book is good the way it is...or isn't.
  2. A father who reads my blog. Hi Poppa!
  3. A mother who yells at me for cussing on my blog, even though it was only one word.
  4. Friends who are genuinely happy for me--Laura, Jennifer, Bessie, my writing buds...
  5. An agent (Merrilee!) and her assistant (Jennifer!) who I know have my back.
  6. An editor (Ben!) and his assistant (Gillian!) who I know help me make my book be what it was always trying to be.
  7. The behind-the-scenes guys. I never knew how much work went into making a book before, but there's book designers and copy editors and marketing and sales reps and so so so many awesome people who help make a story into a book.
  8. Indie book sellers, particularly my own indie, Fireside Books and Gifts. They're awesome.
  9. Bloggers. You guys are the best! The blogosphere is filled with awesome, supportive, friendly, cool people.
  10. Readers. All my life I wanted people to read my stories. And now...some do. That's...amazing.

Ten Things I'd Do Differently in 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Prepare for a Book Launch

There are *gulp* just a little over two weeks before ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is out. I mean...really out. Some of you have read ARCs, and your reviews have bolstered me and filled me with joy (many times as I'm reading them I'm thinking yesssssss, they get that point! Yay, they liked that twist!). But there's something oddly terrifying about the idea that soon it will be really out there. As in, people who have never heard of me at all might pick it up off the shelf...and might put it back there. People who I hated in high school might recognize my name and roll their eyes that the nerdy girl wrote a nerdy book (that one doesn't bother me that much, actually). People who I really like and admire might read it...and hate it. My friends might read it and hate it. My family might read it and hate it.

This is why I panic so much.


When I was 16 years old, I had a sweet sixteen party. Now, it was nothing elaborate. I wasn't in the "cool kid crowd" (shocker!) But I did invite about five or six of my closest friends, and we were going to do the exciting thing of eat pizza and watch movies. one came.

Dude, I was crushed. I mean, my friends all had good excuses. One got called in to work unexpectedly. One locked herself out of her house. One's car broke down. But fate or whatever made it so that on my sixteenth birthday, no one came to my party.

Which has totally given me a complex about parties ever since then.

I have never had a party since. Not really, unless you count my wedding (and one of my showers was crushingly short of attendees). Dude. I invited my parents to eat Christmas Eve supper at my house last week, and called them three times to make sure they were coming. My parents. I usually have tons and tons and tons of confidence, but when it comes to me + a party, all I get is self-doubt.

Here's where the relevance comes in!

...I have a book launch party in about two weeks.


I'm not telling you all this because I'm fishing for compliments and reassurances. I tell you all this so that you know why I'm going crazy right now.

So, to make sure that someone actually comes to my party this time (because really? how could it be much worse than a zero-attendance rate on a Sweet Sixteen?) I've been wracking my mind for ways to promo the book launch party, beg family and friends to come, and berate strangers into accepting invites.

First: design things!

I made a poster to print and hang around town:

This took me a ridiculously long time to make.

And I also made invites to send to family and friends and people I was vaguely connected with and random strangers I'd berated into giving me their address and people who lived at least 100 miles within range of the book store. It was basically the same poster, but without a background, much smaller, and with specific directions of how to get to the bookstore. (PS: if you live near Forest City, NC, and/or are willing to go there, pop me an email and I'll send you an invite, too!)

Then I made up a gift basket:

Clicky to embiggen!
Contents of the gift basket:

  • Star mints, suckers, and gummies
  • Pin buttons 
  • A metal bookmark that has moons and stars
  • A bright pinkish-purplish booklight
  • A "Reach for the Stars" Keepsake Box
Oh, did I forget to mention that I have the audio book of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE now?! BECAUSE I DO AND IT IS AWESOME AND I LOVE IT SOOOOOO MUCH. More on that later.

So: preparation for book launch. Posters? Check. Invites? Check. Gift basket? Check. I'm also going to work on refreshments...and, of course, Fireside Bookstore (which I adore and LOVE) are also doing the same things and making it even more awesome. And I'm working on the program: a short speech, a reading, and a Q&A session.

What do you guys think? Any ideas I should be incorporating into the book launch? What would you, personally, like to see at a book launch?

Do You Live Near or In Western NC?

If you're not too far away from Forest City, NC, email me your address and I'll send you an invitation to the book launch party on January 11!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Starry Christmas

Used under the Creative Commons license:
credit to badastronomer.

Flying at Night

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I'll be sending out a newsletter soon--if you want to check it out, feel free to sign up! It is over there--->>> in the side bar.

This month's newsletter is a bit of a repeat of lots of news here (so my non-regular readers can catch up), but I will be including a hint about the prize for the next contest, as well as my recommended read, and more.

Also: next newsletter will be more awesome. I'm still getting a hang of this newsletter thingy.

Edited to add: Newsletter went out! Clicky here to read, if you want to.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Because Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube aren't enough...

I thought I'd try out Tumblr. It may not be my thing, but I thought it might be nice to have a place to post short things, like pics or writing quotes I like. Just trying it out for now, but people do seem to like it.

So, yeah. Now I tumbl.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

YouTube review of AtU!

OK, I promised myself I'd never spam you guys with reviews (if you want to read some, you can click here or the link on my sidebar), but I just saw this one done on YouTube, and I'm a sucker for video reviews, and I think she did a great job of summing up the book, and oh, I just had to share!

Maildrop of DOOM

And so today I went to the post office.

First, I had to pack everything up--but I wanted to show you the scope of everything, but the dog didn't want to cooperate.

The big black hole around the envelopes is my dog.
He was NOT moving for something as simple as 100 pieces of mail.
Fortunately, I've got a HUGE bag that actually fit all the packages in it. I think the bag is actually a TARDIS--bigger on the inside.

This bag amazed me.
And then off to the post office! Now several of you expressed concern that I'd be in line for hours. But no! You are mistaken! My post office is teeny-tiny. Only the last third of the building is the post office. The other two-thirds of the building are actually just store-fronts, I think. They're boarded up. It is, perhaps, a passage to Hogwarts. I must go tap some bricks.

This picture was taken from my car.
I live in such a small town, I can stop in the middle of the street and take pictures.

I adore my post office it's really old--with a sign in the front to tell you about it.

And the inside is tiny and cute, too, with those really old-fashioned PO Boxes (mine is #27).

This is the entirety of the post office--I'm standing in the far corner as I take this picture. It's deep enough to support a line of about three or maybe four people in front of the window. I should have taken a picture of the window--it's frosted with old-timey gilt lettering.

And that was my postal adventures for the day! One hour and one hundred packages later, and I left feeling very much like Santa!

Contest Prizes Packed and Ready to Ship!


Well, my label maker failed me, and I ended up printing out everyone's addresses on the prizes by hand, which delayed me a bit, but I finished up tonight, and will post pictures tomorrow.

And--you guys are awesome. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who participated! Originally, I thought I'd be able to send everyone a little something, even if it was just a postcard...but within the first day you guys went through more postcards than I'd had printed! I was able to sneak in a few extra prizes, though, so...

How about some statistics:

At least one person from all 50 states entered the contest
49 countries entered

Top ten most entries came from (in order):
1. California
2. Canada
3. Texas
4. North Carolina
5. New York
6. Michigan & Florida (tied)
7. Australia
8. Pennsylvania
9. Illinois
10. The United Kingdom (all countries represented!)

The Grand Prize went to someone in the US
1 ARC Watch Prize went to South Africa
3 ARC prizes went to other foreign countries
12 smaller prizes went to foreign countries

It was so surreal to be filling out the envelopes and see names I recognized--at least a dozen bloggers whose blogs I've been with or who I've conversed with on Twitter. One of the winners was someone I knew personally--a friend from college who I've not seen for at least five years and had no idea she even knew I had a book coming out (hi Amber!).

It was even more surreal to see names and places that I had no idea people even knew who I was. In some cases, it brought back memories--I'd been to Switzerland and France and (ironically) stayed on a street nearby one of the London winners when I did my study abroad. The foreign envelopes were so much fun to fill out--my favorite was one of the winners' addresses from Sweden--I got to make all sorts of funny accent marks on the letters and it just made my day! And it was so weird to see that mulitple entries came from countries where I've not sold yet--China, Barbados, Herzegovina, Slovakia (a winner came from here), Macedonia, Malaysia. And it was especially neat for me to see that FIVE people entered from the Netherlands--I know one of them (hi Corrine!) but not the other four!

This was SUCH a blast. I'm actually glad I didn't get the label maker to automate the labels and I was able to hand-write all the addresses. It was so much fun writing down the addresses and imagining each one whizzing off to a far corner of the world. I'd smile when I got to another California or Texas (I think these two had the highest percentage of winners; ironically, of the top ten most entered places, North Carolina had the fewest winners). The person with the longest name of all--it took up two whole lines on the envelope--was from Puerto Rico, and I spent a good five minutes trying to pronounce the name. 

Right now, I can't wait to see my small local post office worker's face when I show up with two laundry baskets full of mail going all across the world and the US! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ask Me Anything

After discussing it on Twitter, I decided to try this out...

Some of you may have noticed that I have a FAQ on my website.'s kind of lame. Because the Frequently Asked Questions are, for the most part, questions I made up to fill out the FAQ.

So I thought--are there any questions you want to ask?

Bookanista Feature: Franny Billingsley's CHIME

The Bookanistas are a group of writers - in various stages of the publishing process – who have decided to band together and review the special books of our peers.  No negative reviews here! We post every Thursday and cover various topics– upcoming ARCs, books we love, special diamonds in the rough, classics, and even cover reviews.

CHIME by Franny Billingsley

I read this book out of desperation. Seriously. I didn't intend to read it at all. It didn't seem like "my" kind of book--the cover looks a little angsty, and the back description didn't hook me. But a friend pressed it into my hands after she heard that I'd run out of books to read on an airplane trip (I'd only packed one book, and should have packed three), and she insisted I would love CHIME.

And dang was she right.

CHIME is gorgeous. It's rich and vivid in language and description, it's brilliantly crafted in plot.

CHIME is one of the best books I have ever read in my life.


I'm not talking about this year. I'm talking about EVER. 

Reasons why I loved CHIME:
  • The magic is dark and twisted and scary, but vividly realistic
  • The main character, Briony, is riddled with guilt, but rightfully so--but she's not angst-ridden or stupid or even self-hating. She accepts that what she did was wrong, and she strives to make up for it.
  • The love interest is a genuine love interest. Their relationship starts as a friendship and develops over MONTHS of talk and mutual attraction. This isn't silly I-love-him-because-he's-hot. This is what true love is.
  • There is sacrifice. There is GREAT sacrifice. Not everything ends with a shiny bow on top, and the story is so much more real because of it.
  • This book reads like a Grimm fairy tale. Not like a Disney one. There is a difference.
  • The language is just amazing. Voice exudes from the pages. You can absolutely picture the entire world just from the dialect of the writing.
  • The plot is twisty, but solvable. The ending doesn't come out of left field, but it's something you have to think about, too.
  • The book requires your focus--but you will enjoy giving your undivided attention to it.
  • CHIME will haunt you in the way all good stories haunt you, hovering around and poking at your conscious long after you close the cover.
CHIME is one of the few books that I would unreservedly present to someone. It needs no corollary. It simply IS one of the best books I've read.


Other Bookanista Features Today:
Kirsten Hubbard celebrates JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD and THE MOCKINGBIRDS
Elana Johnson gives a little love to JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE
Beth Revis chimes in on CHIME
Lisa and Laura Roecker rave about BOOKS THEY’RE DYING TO READ
Carolina Valdez Miller looks ahead to JANUARY RELEASES
Bethany Wiggins fawns over Firelight

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Charity Auction: Critter & St Jude's

It's the holiday season, and the time of giving. There's tons of great charities out there, but I wanted to make sure you knew about something special the Kid Lit blogosphere is doing: auctioning off a signed piece of art that features TONS of Kid Lit authors (including yours truly) to benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

First: the charity. St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital has a high cancer survival rate for children and works tirelessly to care for, treat, and research cures for children. One reason why I love them, though, is because "St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay."

Critter is the brainchild of Christy Evers--after seeing the artwork of local artist Ian Sands, she decided she wanted to make the experience of art interactive, and to include kid lit people from across the world. She commissioned a special piece of art from Ian--a Critter with space for kid lit authors to sign and share as they mailed the artwork (literally) around the world.

According to Christy:
For those of you who don't know about Critter, here's a little summary:
For over 14 months Critter has traveled the worldvisiting talented writers, artists, and authors: while exploring their world. Christy Evers sent out Critter after an interactive art project, directed by the cutting edge artist, Ian Sands.
Critter has visited (and was signed) by PJ Hoover (author of the Forgotten Worlds trilogy) and the Texas Sweethearts, in Texas. Beth Revis in North Carolina (whose debut novel, Across the Universe, coming out in January 2011, is expected to be a HUGE success!). Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, (who is frequented in Highlights magazine), MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones (author of multiple picture books) in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith (NY Times best-selling author) in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins (author of “The New Kid and Me”, and “Two of a Kind”) in Michigan, Tina Ferraro, (author of “How to Hook a Hottie, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, and The ABC’s of Kissing Boys) in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis, (Picture book author of “Dog Gone” and “Buck Fever”) in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander, (YA author of “The Sweetheart of Prosper County”) in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia, Alberta, Canada with Angela Ackerman (the blog-genius behind the “Writing Thesaurus”. The World-famous artist, Robert Bateman, also signed Critter (on his backside) as an honorary host.

Now--with ALL those signatures + a scrapbook full of his adventures, Critter's on auction and 100% of the proceeds will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It's the holidays--you were going to make a donation somewhere to celebrate anyway, weren't you? Why not put some of that towards a worthy charity and get a piece of art and collection of kid lit signatures in return?

Wanna see Critter's adventures with me? I took him to a castle.

And hey, listen--let me sweeten the pot--if you're the winning bidder, drop me a line and I'll also mail you a signed copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.


Yesterday, I turned Book 2 in to my editor.

Some of you might remember that I finished the first draft way back in October, just before I left for my big trip to New York. When I got back from New York, I realized the draft was all wrong (with the help of my lovely crit partners) and so...I scrapped it. Everything after Chapter 3. And started over.

Which, to be honest, led to some rather frantic writing. It took me half a year to write the first draft, and I only had a month to write the second? But I lowered my head and did it. I rushed it off to my agent, who had a few (spot-on) comments, stayed up all weekend, polished the draft, and pulled an all-nighter on Sunday night to email in the final draft of the manuscript to my editor at 5:30 am.

I slept Monday.

But as soon as I had sent off the manuscript, a little worm started nibbling in my ear. What next? it said. You didn't quite get that one plot-point right, did you? You'd better go ahead and start working on that. And don't forget about the Epic Contest of Epic. And dude--you haven't even thought about doing Christmas cards yet. Or baking cookies. Or washing dishes. You're out of clean clothes. And there may be a Christmas tree on your porch, but it's not in the living room and decorated, is it?

And the panic set in.

So much to do. So. MUCH.

So I collapsed on the couch and pulled my laptop into my lap and opened my email and looked at the sixty emails waiting on me, and I took a deep breath...

...and my dog collapsed beside me and snuggled his head into my leg.

And I smiled.

And shut the laptop.

Flicked on Samantha Brown and watched her tour Italy.

Petted the dog.

And remembered to breathe.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What day is it again?


It's December 11.

I've gone all day long, not realizing it was December 11. <<<---official countdown




On January 11, the book will be out there. YOU might have the book. month. One month.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Epic Contest of Epic

As promised (and long teased)'s the announcement of the Epic Contest of Epic!!!

To start with: some background. So, I decided a few months ago that I wanted to do three contests leading up to my book launch--one in October, one in November, and one in December. I decided early on that I wanted the December contest to be a sort of Merry-Christmas-Happy-Hanukkah-It's-December-Have-A-Present sort of contest.

So I thought: why not gather people's addresses and not announce who won--just mail the prize off and let it be a happy surprise in their mailbox? I told Penguin/Razorbill my idea, and, being the awesome people they are, they were all on board...and they helped make it even bigger.

And that's when the Epic Contest of Epic was born.

What makes it so epic?

The fact that there are 100 prizes.

You heard that right.


Thanks to Penguin/Razorbill (have I mentioned I love them?), I'm able to offer up ONE HUNDRED PRIZES for this contest!! And since this IS the season of giving and all that, the prizes are going to come with a twist...I will not be announcing any winners. The prizes will just be shipped off, and hopefully Santa your mailman will put it in your mail box.

Wanna know what the prizes are?

Let's start with the smallest and go up.

67 Mini Swag Packs
Signed AtU Bookmark
Signed AtU Bookplate

15 Button Swag Packs
Pin-button featuring AtU
Signed AtU Bookmark
Signed AtU Bookplate

Those are the smaller prizes. But you know it'll only get bigger *g*

15 ARC Packs
Signed ARC
Set of three pin-buttons (1 large, 2 mini)
Set of Bookmarks featuring 
fellow debut 2011 authors (many signed)
Signed AtU Bookmark
Signed AtU Bookplate

2 ARC & Watch Packs
Signed ARC
A super-rare AtU Watch
Set of six pin-buttons (one of each design & size)
Set of Bookmarks featuring 
fellow debut 2011 authors (many signed)
Signed AtU Bookmark
Signed AtU Bookplate

Added into as many of the prize packs as I can stuff in them are collections of bookmarks from fellow debut 2011 authors, many of which are signed. The top three prizes are getting one of each; the rest are getting divvied up wherever I can squeeze them into the packaging. Pictured below are most, but there will be a few more surprises along the way...

To win any of the 99 above prizes, all you have to do is enter your address into the form below. I will pick a random 99 people (open internationally), pop their address on the envelope, and drop it in the mail. By the end of the month, you may open your mailbox and find a neat surprise waiting for you! I'll also be mailing out all the left-over postcards I have until I run out of postcards or funds for postage...

Now, a contest isn't a contest without a big-huge-amazing grand prize, is it? 

The Big-Huge-Amazing Grand Prize
Signed Hard Cover, First Edition of AtU
A super-rare AtU Watch
Set of six pin-buttons (three designs, two sizes)
Set of Bookmarks featuring 
fellow debut 2011 authors (many signed)
Giftbag of swag I'm planning on 
giving out at my launch party in January
Signed AtU Bookmark
Signed AtU Bookplate

Since Penguin/Razorbill helped so so so much with providing prizes (I seriously couldn't have done this without them), there are a few strings attached to the Big-Huge-Amazing Grand Prize. All the other 99 prizes, all you have to do to win is throw your address in the pot and hope my label maker picks yours. But for the 100th prize, the biggest of them all, you have to do one of three things: fan the book on Facebook, post about the contest on your blog, or pre-order the book (on any online bookseller such as Amazon or the Book Depository; or through your local indie bookstore). It's not too hard--but it's my way of making sure Penguin/Razorbill can see that the goods they supplied for the contest paid off.

Questions? Leave them in the comment box!  

Rules and such: Contest ends December 20th. Prizes will be mailed soon after but winners won't be posted--hopefully you'll get a cool Christmas/New Years surprise in your mailbox! Open internationally. You only need to do one of the three qualifications to enter for the grand prize. If you did one of them before (i.e. you've already pre-ordered a copy of the book, or you already were a fan on Facebook), that totally counts. You can absolutely do all three qualifications, and I will love you more for doing them all, but you only have to do one to enter. I think that covers it...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pics Or Didn't Happen

I <3 my publisher.

Look what early Christmas present I got!!!

Sirius is unimpressed.

YES!!!! The hardback copies of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!!!!!

It is GORGEOUS, if I do say so myself! But maybe I'm biased.

Now, some of you may not be aware of the awesome that is my dust jacket. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is told in two points of view--one is Amy, a girl from Earth who is cryogenically frozen with her parents for the journey to a new planet. The other point of view is Elder's, a boy who was born on the ship as part of the crew and is destined to be the next leader.

There are two points of view--one of a boy, one of a girl--and Razorbill decided to match that with...TWO different jackets!!!

I call this Amy's jacket--shiny and pink and purple.

This is Elder's jacket--blue and space-shippy and scientific.

YES. YES. Razorbill made TWO entirely different, entirely unique dust jackets for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!!!!!!! The books are shipping with Amy's jacket on the front, but if you take it off and flip is around, it's then Elder's jacket!!

*dies of happiness*

I don't know which one I like best. I keep switching the jacket around and around and around.

Don't we look cute together?

Oh, but we look cute together, too...
So, guys, if you go out and get the hardcover (American) release, then you will get TWO, yes TWO different looks you can show off your book with! It is SO. MUCH. FUN. to dress your copy in different colors!!

Now, I knew about the different jackets (although omg, so much better in person!). What I didn't know about?


When I went to take Amy's jacket off and flip it over to Elder's side, LOOK WHAT I FOUND:

I dropped the book when I saw. I was so shocked.

Lemme show you a closer up shot:

Click to embiggen. CLICKY. It's cooler when you see the detail.

In case you don't recognize the symbol, it's the logo for the ship Godspeed, the spaceship Amy and Elder are on, the schematics of which are featured on the cover.


*faints of joy*

^^^Seriously. My heart stopped beating when I saw it, and I had to take several deep breaths, and then I almost fell over.

The logo is so perfect for Godspeed. I adore it. You might have noticed it here and there--on the official website for the book, in place of the regular Razorbill logo on the spine, and whenever you see Godspeed's map:

Usually, this is a razorbill bird.

From Elder's jacket.

I adore that logo. And I ADORE that it's embossed on the cover.

People have been asking me, when did it feel real? When did I feel like a published author?

When I saw that logo on the hard cover.

That's when.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Bit of Awesome News!

So much awesome is going on right now!!! So: a bit of news today, some EEEE! pictures tomorrow, and the EPIC CONTEST OF EPICTM coming the day after!! And then back to our regularly scheduled not-all-about-me posts :)

Here's my first bit of awesome news:

Tour Stops!!

I don't have all the deets yet, but the city and dates have been confirmed! Just click above on the ^^^News^^^ link for the info. And please--let me know if I'm going to be near you! Because dude, I'd love to meet as many bloggy peeps as possible!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

And Speaking of Contests...

Scribbler to Scribe is featuring ACROSS THE UNIVERSE this month--and kicking it off with a giveaway of the book!

Check back later for an interview!

Contest at the League

I'm not quite ready to announce the EPIC CONTEST OF EPIC...but if you head over to the League right now you'll see the contest we're planning. It has five different unique daily prizes and a grand prize that I want for myself...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

J'adore Anna!

So on Thursday, I did something wicked awesome.

I went to a bookstore.

Oh, that's not such a big deal, you say?


I just won the internet.

Click to embiggen, but it's a bit blurry. But lookit me being artsy and getting the bookstore sign in the photo!

For those of who you haven't heard, Stephanie Perkins is the author of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, a book so good that I have no qualms at all in saying that it is the best contemporary YA novel I've read ALL YEAR, possibly EVER.  (Rave review: here.)

Also: she has blue hair.

I rest my case.

If you ever get a chance to see Stephanie in person, DO. Her hair is more awesome in person. And also--she's just so great. The event was pure fun. Here's how much fun: the chocolate croissants were the LEAST cool thing about the event (which means that everything after it was so mind-boggingly cool, there's not really a term for it).

Stephanie introduced herself and the book, and entertained questions from the audience (did you know that Stephanie started writing her book based on a dream? That it started as a NaNo book? That she'd never been to France when she wrote it?). But the part I loved the best?

Stephanie reading her first chapter.

A single room can barely contain this much awesome.
Also: I have no idea why "BOOKS" is backwards on the shelf.
It bothered me all night long.

There's something magical about an author reading her own work. But Stephanie made it so much cooler. It was the way she slowed down her speech in all the right times, and the tone of her voice when she spoke about Anna's father (the entire room started laughing), and how she leaned into the mic for emphasis.

So. Wonderful.

I must now figure out how to coerce Stephanie into reading the entire book aloud and recording it for me...

So! If you've not read ANNA yet, DO IT NOW, RAWR! If you live in or near Salisbury, NC, you've not missed your chance to see Stephanie and ANNA in person.

I am cool by association.
[PS: I stole this pic from Stephanie! Her adorbs hubs was the official photographer.]

On a different note: THANK YOU ALL for sharing your congrats about my book trailer! I'm in love with it an obsessively watch it. As soon as I polish up the last draft of AtU Book 2 and send to me editor, I plan on thanking you all individually :)


Friday, December 3, 2010

AHHHH!!!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG LOOK!!!! LOOOOOOOOOK!!!!!

Narrated by Lauren Ambrose, the voice actress for Amy in the audio book version of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. (Carlos Santos is the voice for Elder).

I'm going to go ahead and scream in joy for a few more hours.

Yes, I am Placating You with Videos While I Do Other Stuff

So...yeah. I'm still preparing for the EPIC CONTEST OF EPIC (TM), so no proper post. BUT DUDE, THIS VIDEO IS AWESOME.

Watch it even if you don't like/care about Harry Potter (*gasp!* How could you not!)--because it's really cool how he uses books to make music.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Greater and Lesser

A couple of things have had me thinking. Always a dangerous thing. First: the things that made me think:

  1. A fellow writer sent an email out about how she was having a confidence crisis, worried about making it.
  2. Natalie Whipple wrote a blog post that made me cry.
Here's something you may or may not know about me. 

I get jealous.

Like, ridiculously, stupidly jealous.

Before I finished my first novel (ten years ago), I was jealous of the people who'd actually written a whole novel, omg amazing.

Then I finished my first novel.

After I finished writing it, I was jealous of the people who got published with their first novel.

After my twentieth birthday, I was jealous of all those teens who got published. Christopher Paolini gave me a complex and made me feel ancient while I was still in college.

I started blogging to get practice with writing and network with writers. I was (and sometimes still am) jealous of everyone with more blog followers than me. Or more comments. Or cleverer posts.

I could go on. Long story short: I wrote for ten years and completed ten novels, and every. Single. Step. of the way, I was jealous of someone else. Nearly everyone else.

I was jealous of those who were agented.

I was jealous of book deals.

Oh, how I was jealous of the book deals. 

Now I can look back at those years I spent jealous of others, and shake my head. Now I can look at all the rejection, and understand that it made me a better writer, and a better person. Now I can appreciate the whole journey, even the parts that sucked. 


But not then. Not while I was in it.

Look, I know it's not good for me to think this way. I know it. I know that I made myself miserable--sickeningly utterly miserable. I know that I would be happier if I didn't get jealous. I know that there's no point in being jealous, especially when it comes to writing--after all, writing is by definition subjective. 

I know all this.

But I don't always believe it.

But the thing that I gets me through my green eyes is a line from the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. My parents have a copy hanging on the wall, and I memorized a bit of it by accident (when I was little, I just read everything that my eyes rested on--framed poems on the wall, cereal ingredients, whatever. Heck, I do that now). 

Anyway, the Desiderata:

... always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

There will always be someone better: they have an agent and you don't; they have a book deal and you don't; they have 10,000 blog followers and you don't; they have a better review, they have a better cover, they have a better marketing plan, they have something and you don't.

And there will always be someone who's looking up at you, wishing they had what you had.

Knowing that makes it easier, I think. It helps my green eyes fade, at least. It reminds me that I'm human--but so is everyone else.

Oh, and also? I know it's way easy for me to write this. Now. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. But I also know that part of the reason why I wrote this post, today, was because sometimes I still get jealous. I didn't throw that Max Ehrmann quote up there for you. I wrote it for me. Because I still need to remind myself of it. I still need to tell myself, in the dark cold of the night, that I don't have to be jealous of other people, that being me is enough.

I still have to remind myself of some of the last lines of the Desiderata:
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I like the last line the best.

Getting Ready...

Ack! Sorry I've been gone so long--we've had tons of storms here, and since my interwebs requires a satellite, that means no interwebs.




I am gearing up for a contest of such epic proportions that the word epic doesn't begin to cover it. Penguin's helping me out with this one, and there will be. So. Many. Prizes.

But ha! I'm not telling you about them yet! Haha! :P

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This time last year, I hadn't signed with my agent, and I wasn't sure if any book I ever wrote would ever be published.

This time two years ago, Across the Universe was just an idea I'd not started writing.

This time three years ago, I was just realizing that the project I'd been working on...wasn't working. It was the tenth novel I'd written, without one single sale.

Recently, people have been asking me, "How did you know Across the Universe was the One?"

I didn't.

I always thought whatever I was working on at the time would be the One.

In the past, whenever I looked at those ten unpublished novels, I'd feel ashamed.

I'd feel like a failure.


I feel thankful.

I couldn't have written the eleventh novel without writing the first ten. I couldn't be here, without being there.

I'm thankful for Across the Universe and all the dreams that have come true with it.

But I'm also thankful for the toil and rejection that came before it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Online Networking Part 2

So, yesterday I posted about how you don't have to blog (or whatever else online) if you don't want to. But if you DO want to, here's my own personal do's and don'ts:

  • Use proper grammar
    • This is especially true if you want to be an or already are an author. Your profession is in words. Show it.
      • Does this mean you can't have your own voice and/or slang? Of course not. I mean, make an effort for correct punctuation, spelling, etc.
      • Also: please be aware that I'm a former English teacher and a stickler for grammar. So, obviously, I'm probably biased.
      • Also also: I've probably made a gazillion grammatical errors on this blog. Sorry. 
  • When in doubt: be professional
    • Professional layout and design
      • There is nothing wrong with the simplest blog design--but there is often much wrong with the more complicated ones. More graphics/colors/bling does not a better blog make.
      • Please please don't make me listen to your music
    • Professional tone of writing
    • Professional subject of posts
  • But don't be so professional that you don't show your own personality
  • Book covers & info
    • If you are a published author, please make your cover and ordering information easy to find
    • If you are not a published author, be very very very wary of making a mock-up cover of your unpublished book. You tend to either (a) look like an amateur or (b) look like you're trying to trick people into thinking you're published. You just can't win this way.


  • Lose sight of your goal
    • If you're writing an author blog, think about your content and limit yourself. Post about topics your audience will want to know about. This doesn't mean you can't talk about your dog--but don't let it overwhelm your blog.
  • Be combative, rude, or belligerent
    • There's a difference between a negative review and a slam
    • There's a difference between a debate and an attack
    • There's a difference between sharing your opinion and trolling
  • Make it hard to find basic information
    • There are a few things that should just be easy and obvious to find:
      • Contact info
      • Feed subscription links
      • Comment links
      • Permalinks

In the end, I thought about what I want people to think of me based on my online presence. Does that make me pompous or fake? I hope not. But I decided what I wanted people to think of me was that I was professional, but real. To that end, I made an effort to have a professional design to my website, and keep most of my posts in a professional vein. But not all--I wanted to also be real--so I'll have posts about my real life, or tweet about my dog, or show you pictures of me on vacation on Facebook. But not too much. There have been books I've read and not liked--but you won't see a negative review on here (or not any more--I did do some before I got my book deal, but decided to take them down). I won't lie--if you ask my opinion on a book I didn't like, I'll tell you--but I'm not going to post it publicly. There have been reviews of my own book that I've not liked...but I won't comment on them. There have been online opinions that I disagreed with, and while I'll give my personal views, I won't argue. 

But this is all me. Maybe the you that you want to represent is different. Maybe you want to be known for being fun and funny. Or maybe you'd rather be known for being an expert on something. Maybe you'd rather be wise than witty--or vice versa.

Think about who you want to be--and be it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aspiring Author? Here's What You HAVE To Do.

Perhaps it's just me, but it seems that the most common question I hear from aspiring authors is "what do I need to do to market myself?" This question comes out in many forms: "Do I have to blog?" "Do I have to Tweet?" "Should I have a Facebook Profile or a Facebook Page?" "How can I get more blog followers?" "Why the eff can't I just write my effing book and ignore all this effing marketing crap?"

Here's my simple answer:


You don't have to do any of that. The only thing you have to do, if you want to make a profession of writing?

Write a kick-ass book.

That's it.

But, of course, we've all heard that, and even if we know that all we have to do is write a kick-ass book, there's also the fact that we hear about the author who turned mediocre sales into best-seller-status through an online promotion, the self-publisher who went trade because of a Twitter campaign, the blogger who got a book deal because she had 10,000 followers on Google Friends.

And even if we know that the most important thing is the book, we also know that we can probably help with online marketing. The thing is--unless you're rude, pompous, or otherwise unseemly, online marketing can probably only help and more than likely won't hurt. There are exceptions, of course, but I would think being a decent human being (or at least portraying yourself as one online) is really the safe zone to be in.

So, let's say you're a decent human being who has a book (or is working on one) and has decided that, while you know that writing the book is the most important thing, you also feel the need (or want) to do online promotion, social networking, whatever.

Recently, I was chatting with the Elevensies and the Tenners dropped by. Leah Cypress, author of MISTWOOD, had this advice for us:

“The thing about promotion: all of it MAY help. But nothing helps enough that it’s worth doing if you hate it.”

So: if you are convinced that you HAVE to market yourself, my best advice is to echo Leah--do only what you want to do.

I blog because I like to blog. Not to sell you a book. If you happen to buy a book, GREAT. But I'd blog anyway. I think my three years of archives before I sold my book should be evidence of that. I tweet because I like to tweet. I think it's fun. I've found out lots of cool information from links, met a few new friends, and love the drop-in-drop-out ability of Twitter. I use to sometimes advertise contests and such, but I try not to be a commercial because I'd much rather be a part of the conversation. I Facebook...sometimes. It's not my favorite. I have a page for people who like to Facebook so they can find info easily, but I'm honestly not on Facebook much (btw, the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE page on Facebook is run by my publisher, not me).

Do what you want to do.

And if you don't want to do any of it?

That's totally OK.

Have you seen Suzanne Collin's blog? No, you haven't. Because she doesn't blog. Neither do a lot of writers. Twitter's even more bereft of literary figures. For every Maureen Johnson, Neil Gaiman, and Meg Cabot who's tweeting and blogging, there's a hundred other writers who simply don't.

Are there advantages? Absolutely. I know of two writers who attribute their publication success to their blogs--although I think it's debatable. In my own personal experience, there are four books on my shelves that I bought solely because I "knew" the author online--I liked their blogs, so I sought out their books. But guys? I have hundreds of books. And only four purchases made based on an author's online presence.

So, while there MAY be a help to an online presence, don't forget what Leah says: "Nothing helps enough that it's worth doing if you hate it." If you enjoy it, by all means--go for it. But if you hate it? It's not worth putting up with.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Secret Password Revealed!

If you'd like to check out the page behind the telescope, the password is:


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winner of Across the World Blog Tour Prize Pack!

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the Across the World Blog Tour we had running the week before last! But I know what you're really asking...who won??

I'll just say that for one of you, 16 is a lucky number:

Lucky Number 16 wins  an Across the Universe prize pack including:

A signed and doodled ARC
A bag of star swag
A super-rare AtU watch

And that winner is...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kidlit Critterpalooza!

For over a year now, CRITTER, the creation of artist Ian Sands, has been travelling the world, meeting many talented writers and authors and exploring where they live. At each stop he learns more and more about KIDLIT and the importance of literacy and creativity. This journey was the brainchild of Christy Evers, who got her hands on Critter after an interactive art project of Ian’s, where 500 Critters were hidden all over her city for people to find.

Critter has visited PJ Hoover (and the Texas Sweethearts!) in Texas, Beth Revis in North Carolina, Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins in Michigan, Tina Ferraro in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia and finally, Alberta Canada with Angela Ackerman.

Critter has been to college, rock concerts, national landmarks, a palace, attended his first SCBWI conference, walked among giant redwoods, and met the world famous artist, Robert Bateman. Now that his journey is coming to a close, it’s CRITTER’S hope that you will help him celebrate over at The Bookshelf Muse. His new hosts, together with old hosts, have teamed up to create the Kidlit-inspired event, Critterpalooza! and you’re invited!

There are many AMAZING prizes to be won, all in the spirit of helping Critter celebrate the wonderful creativity & support within out KIDLIT community, and to also raise awareness for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to donate a few dollars to Critter’s charity, just click on the I Love St. Jude button. Children’s lives are saved every day thanks to the support of people like you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Answer is No Longer 42

The new answer is: JETPACK.

Source: Cabanon Press (found for me by one of my awesome former students).

I've emailed the artists, asking for a print and if I can use the picture on my permanent website. If I hear back from them, I'm also going to ask if there's anyway I can buy the original. I'm thinking this would be the perfect piece for my office.

It is also the only thing keeping me cheerful today, other than a few awesome friends.

Bookanista Feature: Rachel Hawkins's DEMONGLASS

The Bookanistas are a group of writers - in various stages of the publishing process – who have decided to band together and review the special books of our peers.  No negative reviews here! We post every Thursday and cover various topics– upcoming ARCs, books we love, special diamonds in the rough, classics, and even cover reviews.

DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins

This is the kind of book I wish I could write. Y'all, funny is the hardest style to write, and Rachel nails it.

DEMONGLASS is the sequel to HEX HALL, and because I begged no, begged Shelli (who got a signed ARC) to share, she passed it along the Bookanista line. 

*sigh of bliss*

Here's the good things:
  • The sequel is better than the first: so if you read and liked HEX HALL, you will LOVE DEMONGLASS
  • Sophie, the main character, has the perfect combination of sarcasm and vulnerability
  • Cal, the third wheel of the love triangle (<<--is that even a phrase?) is perfectly painted. What a realistic way to create a love triangle--his love for her is built on friendship and admiration, and seems very real, even though Cal's a silent, stoic character.
  • Sophie is aware of the presence of the love triangle, and she doesn't lead him on, and that's so refreshing. I'm not saying there's nothing there--I'm saying Sophie doesn't take advantage or use either boy she's attracted to.
  • The plot is so tightly woven. And while I guessed the twist about her mom, I did not at all guess the other twist like at all. I gasped aloud on the airplane and woke up the person sleeping next to me.
  • It's set in England. Loff <3 loff <3 loff.
Here's the bad thing:
  • I'm working on my sequel for Across the Universe right now. And she makes me worried that my Book 2 will never be as good as her Book 2!!! *dies of anguish* ARGH ARGH ARGH


Other Bookanista Features Today: