Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shards & Ashes Winner

The winner of a signed ARC of SHARDS &ASHES (available NOW!) is....


I've just emailed her to let her know. Thanks everyone for playing...and don't worry, you're going to  have another chance to win one of these beauties REAL soon...

(Remember how I said I'd cut back on contests? Yeah, I shouldn't make promises. But tomorrow I'm announcing something SUPER COOL and awesome, and it involves a TON of signed books + NASA AND SPACE STUFF AND OMG GUYS. Yeah. You might want to check that out ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Upcoming Events!

I've got two events coming up in March that I wanted to make sure everyone knew about. The first is close to my home--Sylva, NC.

Who: Me, Carrie Ryan, and Megan Shepherd
What: A panel discussion followed by a book signing
When: This Saturday, March 2
Where: At City Lights in Sylva, NC
Why: Because between us all, we have zombies, death, historical, sci fi, and fantasy. And it's going to be awesome. Just sayin'.
More info: Click here

The second event will be in Texas! And I've got some amazing details coming up just for Texas, including a giveaway I'll be announcing next week, which involves things like NASA and space. And while I'm there, I'll be stopping in Houston for a signing!

Who: Me, Carrie Ryan, and Victoria Schwab
What: A panel discussion followed by a book signing
When: March 16, at 2pm
Where: At Blue Willow in Houston, TX
Why: As of right now, this is (sadly) my only Texan event this year. And I'm going to do my best to make it worthy of the awesomeness that is Texas.
More info: Click here

I really hope I see you at either of these events!

Announcing the Winners of YA2U!

As many of you know, I recently took part in a program, Bringing YA to You, that had the grand prize of a visit with five authors, including me! The YA2U program was a huge success--more that eight thousand people entered!--and it was amazing to see where everyone was from!

The winners have finally been announced, so you can GO HERE to check out which cities we'll be visiting. We were originally only going to do one city, but the response was so huge we're visiting two cities and doing a video chat with a third. To find out which cities, just go to the YA2U website!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Best Writing Tips from 15 YA Sci Fi Authors!

As many of you know, I'm one of the founders of the League of Extraordinary Writers blog--and we're starting a newsletter!

If you want to find out what the members of League think is the single best writing tip they ever got, as well as learn about their upcoming events, news, and more, all you have to do is...

We're going to be doing a monthly newsletter, with exclusive content (i.e., you won't see it anywhere else, including on the blog) giving tips, answering questions, and more. Try it out! The first issue is coming on the last day of the month.

Friday, February 22, 2013

On Inspiration

Thanks to everyone who participated in last night's Twitter chat! It was so much fun to talk to everyone and answer questions--it was really great to connect with you all!

Probably the most-asked question I got was "where does your inspiration come from?" And while I did give a few answers to it, that really is a question that cannot be answered in 140 characters or less.

The thing about inspiration is, it comes from everywhere...and nowhere. There are some things that inspire me because they are: art, music, good books. And there are some things that inspire me because they are not: I could not find a book like mine, so I had to write it. I felt a void in my universe, and I filled the space with my book.

On the one hand, every little thing I've ever done or seen has lead up to my books. There was no lightbulb moment, no single spark. It was a slow burn of a lifetime of living. A lifetime of reading brilliant books I wished to emulate (such as the unreliable narrator in Megan Whalen Turner's THE THIEF) and of not reading the kind of books I wish existed (a YA version of the television/movie space operas I loved).

The same goes with themes. Ignore what your high school teacher told you: most writers didn't intentionally add themes to their stories. The only thing I know I added on purpose was that stars symbolize hope. At the time, I'd been teaching Dante's INFERNO, and I emulated that a bit by making stars equivalent to hope. When the characters can't see stars, there is no hope. When they see stars, they have hope. But even that, while intentional, was influenced by other things that were not. I cannot tap into my own subconscious mind, but I know that it certainly influenced every word of the novels.

So while much of inspiration is an intangible, indiscernable mass that cannot be explained or even fathomed, there are some things that I can touch back on as influential.

One thing is this:

I took this video the summer after I got my book deal. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was done edits, but still had more than half a year before it was released. A MILLION SUNS hadn't been started yet; SHADES OF EARTH was just a glimmer in the future. I was fulfilling my last official duty as a teacher: chaperoning a European field trip that had been in the works for two years. We stopped by Venice, which is where I took this video.

I'd seen glass blowing before, but there was something about watching this man make the glass sculpture of a horse that just blew me away. I was fascinated. It seemed almost like magic, the way sand and heat can turn into a glass horse. I remember feeling tingles on my arms as I watched, and something inside of me whispered, This is important.

I held on to that image for years--all the way to writing SHADES OF EARTH. And while the third book of my trilogy had a lot of revision and work and rewriting, one of the things that didn't change was the presence of solar glass. I took that Venetian glass blowing experience and I put it half a millennia into the future. The image you see above is the exact moment when an integral part of SHADES OF EARTH was born. I carried it in my heart until I could put it on paper and give it to you.

That is what a book is: a million little things, a thousand feelings, hundreds of experiences, all melted together and sculpted into a book-shaped vessel.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Twitter Chat! Tonight: 7pm!

Tonight at 7pm is the #ShadesofEarth twitter chat! To participate, just use the #ShadesofEarth hashtag during the hour of 7-8pm, and I'll be responding to as many questions as I can. WARNING: I'll try not to post any spoilers, but I can't promise that of all users using the hashtag.

To help make the chat easier to find, I've made a widget below that you can use directly from this website:

If that doesn't work, just use the hashtag and jump in on Twitter!

Questions for Shades of Earth!

Got questions about SHADES OF EARTH 
or anything else in the Godspeed Universe? 

I'll be doing a live chat on Twitter 
at 7pm EST. 

Just use the #ShadesofEarth hashtag to participate!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Breathless Reads Tour Recap!

Hey! Got questions about SHADES OF EARTH or anything else in the Godspeed Universe? I'll be doing a live chat on Twitter this Thursday, February 21, at 7pm EST. Just use the #ShadesofEarth hashtag to participate!

Whew! The tour this year was AMAZING and I am so so so honored to have been a part of it. Even if tour = no sleep, I'd gladly give it up in order to meet all the wonderful people and readers I got a chance to share the tour with.

This year, the tour was split up into east and west coast. Which meant I had to make grabby hands at Andrea, Marie, Brenna, and Jessica K as they flew west, but I got to have Jessica S., Elizabeth (aka Bertie), Fiona, and Morgan with me the whole time, and got to have a stop with Lili Peloquin (author of THE INNOCENTS) and Adrienne Kress (author of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY).

First up! Chapel Hill! As a true North Carolinian, I cannot help but associate Chapel Hill with UNC. And as a red-blooded member of the Wolfpack (NCSU REPRESENT), entering enemy territory was strange and scary. But Flyleaf Books was wonderful, and made our first event special.

Love this display!
 And in attendance were some of my favorite people! First up there's Taylor and Hailey--who you might recognize as Tailor and Haylee, two of the Shippers killed in A MILLION SUNS. Yup! These lovely, wonderful ladies are former students of mine (all grown up and conquering China going to college now!)

And I got to see Lori and Britne, two of my awesome friends from college (we missed you Melissa!)  Britne also lent me her name so I could kill her off in A MILLION SUNS, for which I'm extremely grateful :)

After Chapel Hill, the girls and I roadtripped to Greenville, SC--and I drove! I have to say, I'm really glad that the roads were pretty empty, because I kept drifting through different lanes. The conversation in the car was just so amazing! I didn't want to miss anything!

In Greenville, we went to Fiction Addiction, a lovely local bookstore that is awesome. And I got to see some of my favorite readers there, too (hi k8! hi Lizzie! hi Allison! hi everyone else!). And I also got to see my husband, yay!

A panoramic shot of the panel: Fiona Paul (VENOM), Bertie Richards (BLACK CITY), our moderator Fran, Jessica Spotswood (BORN WICKED), me, and Morgan Rhodes (FALLING KINGDOMS).

A typical picture of me: smiling, with my hands nothing but a blur.
I talk with my hands a lot! 

And I LOVED these shoes by Allison!! Look! It's the universe! On her feet!

Me and Jess hamming it up for the camera! She is too cute.
After Greenville, we hopped a plane to the sunny and warm MIAMI! YAY! But in the airport, we started doing something that entertained us all the way through the rest of the tour: playing the game of British People Eat Weird Things.

So, if you didn't know, Bertie (Elizabeth Richards) is from England. Which meant that every time she spoke for the first time at an event, everyone in the crowd gasped in awe. But it also meant that she liked STRANGE THINGS to eat. Her favorite food? Yorkshire pudding. Which isn't pudding. It also isn't Yorkshire. I'm not sure what it is, just what it's not.

So anyway, in the airport, Bertie was eating some sort of British thing. They are called Twiglets. They are named after wood. And they taste like burnt.

She looks innocent here.
But she is not.
 We all tried Twiglets. But Jess's face pretty much sums up the taste perfectly:

Later, I got Bertie to try a Fruit Roll-Up. Which, guys, she had never even heard of! Her face when she peeled away the plastic was hilarious.

I told her that I tend to bunch it up and take bites, and she thought I meant stuff the whole thing in your mouth and chew for ten years. This was also hilarious. I wish I had a video. 

It totally continued to fascinate me about what stuff Bertie didn't have in England! Tootsie Pops! She'd never seen a Tootsie Pop before! (We corrected this, no worries.)

SO! Miami! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. Hialeah Education Academy. This was by far one of the best schools I've ever visited. The students were so respectful and polite, and the staff were amazingly supportive of reading. I am still in awe of how wonderful these kids were. Each of the kids were already on track to become police officers, fire fighters, or EMT professionals--and they had such focused, determined goals for their lives. It was wonderful to see.

2. Books & Books = a fabulously awesome bookstore. There's a space invader inside! (Not like a real one, but like the street art kind.)

3. Books & Books is lovely inside. Seriously. This is a bookstore I could live in.

4. Also? They gave us wine before the event. Cheers!

5. And the crowd of people there were simply wonderful! So many quality people :)

6. And Lorena! Lorena gets ALL THE LOVE. First, her dress. It's made of STARS AND GALAXIES. Second: the painting. The painting!!! She made me a painting like the one in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE--Harley floating in the stars with a koi around his ankles. AHHHHH!!!!!

After we sadly departed from Miami, we flew to the fabulous metropolis of Memphis. It also happened to be Valentine's Day, so we dressed for the occasion!

Morgan, Bertie, Fiona, Jess, and me all in shades of pink and red! 
When we finally checked into our hotel, I discovered that my wonderful husband had sent me the perfect gift during tour: an Edible Arrangement! (Which was also super special as, just that morning, I'd broken my engagement ring while in the security line for the airport.)

I was going to share, and then I accidentally ate it all. 
 The only downside of Memphis was this guy, who sawed concrete for three solid hours directly outside my window.

The bookstore, btw, was wonderful. They had beautiful posters hanging throughout the store:

And cupcakes for everyone:

 And a fabulous display! It really never gets old, seeing your book in a bookstore.

Additionally, the moderator in Memphis was an editor at Justine Magazine, and as this is one of my favorite magazines (and features awesome things like YA books and models who are real girls and not anorexic sticks), I was extra happy.

We left Memphis next for New York City! I had a perfect view of the city as we landed in Newark, but, unfortunately, it was hazy and I didn't get a great shot.

And I got to see my fabulous-amazing-wonderful-editor-who-I-adore! The entire trip alone was worth it to see her again :)

At Books of Wonder (which really is full of wonder), we hooked up with Lili Peloquin, author of THE INNOCENTS. She is fabulous and funny and I wish we could have kidnapped her for the entire time. She also left me a secret message in the book she signed for me, but I am not showing you! (It's secret.)

Photo taken from the Books of Wonder tumblr
I didn't realize it until the next morning--just before I checked out--that my hotel had a fab view of the Empire State Building. *sigh* Wish I could have stayed in the city longer!!

But too soon we were off--by train this time--to Madison, Connecticut. RJ Julia's is a lovely bookstore I've had the pleasure of being at before, and was so happy to visit it again.

Dear Editors: I swear we worked on the train. We totally did not play on Twitter and Instagram.

And lest you think an author's life is uber-glamourous: our only option for lunch that day was Chinese take-out. I kid you not. We are high-rollers.

RJ Julia had a group of fabulous teenagers who interviewed us prior to the event. The girls were so well informed and professional--it was an honor being interviewed by them!

During the event, I snapped this photo of the crowd. It gives you a really great bird's eye view of what it was like in my seat, looking out at the crowd before us and the lovely ladies I shared the tour with <3 p="">

And! Connecticut is where I got to see one of my favoritest people in the world, Lauren DeStefano! Whose name I still can't pronounce correctly, but who loves me anyway. In fact, she loves me so much that when she realized my engagement ring had broken, she promptly proposed and drew a new ring on my finger. We're getting married in the spring and are registered at Tiffany's. :p

And I also got to see the lovely Jen from Hypable--I adore this lady :) I'm very glad we kidnapped her during the Ash to Nash tour! 

But, sadly, we had to say farewell to Bertie and Fiona after this event. Too soon! I tried to stuff Bertie into my suitcase and take her with me to the south (she still hasn't tried hush puppies or grits!) but, sadly, she has these things like a "husband" and a "life" to return to in England, so she left.

Our last group photo! *sniffles*

And, finally, for the last stop, Jess, Morgan and I met up with Adrienne Kress (THE FRIDAY SOCIETY) for an event in Toronto, Ontario! But getting there was...something of an adventure. Say hello to the smallest plane I've ever ridden on: it had only 18 seats total, and our flight attendant was also the co-pilot. It was so small that they couldn't even fit all the luggage on board the plane and Morgan's got left behind!

But, the harrowing ride in the tiny death trap of doom was worth it: because at the end of that flight (I swear, we almost barrel-rolled into the landing) was Toronto!

I kept calling this the Toronto Spire, but BookNerdCanada assured me this was the CN Tower :) 

The event in Canada was a little different from the other events we did. It was more of a day-long party (sponsored through Faze Magazine) that was all about the girls: they had make-up stations, girl-empowerment messages, musicians and bands, and tons of prizes. It was definitely different from anything I'd done before!

And! They made cupcakes for us that featured our book covers!

I totally took a bite out of my book!

It was tasty!
Also, it was Morgan's birthday, so we had a cake (decorated with macaroons!) and the entire audience sang to her :)

It was sort of surreal to be here--seriously, it was like a rock concert / make-up party / book event all rolled into one. It was awesome, though, to see the girls get so excited about the bands and books, though.

This is Jesse Giddings--probably the fan favorite of the day. Also in attendance, music-wise,
was Brendn (who is partial to Justin Beiber covers), and Eleven Past One, who rocked.

Jessica and I in the green room under the stage. Jesse was rocking out over us, and the entire room thrummed with music.

Basically, the event was scheduled like this: band, authors, band, authors, band, authors. Jess and I went on stage after Jesse, so we got to see them from the backstage before going out. 

Look at this crowd, guys! It's...amazing! So many girls! So many readers! I was totally gobsmacked, being up there, looking at everyone listening to us as we talk about our favorite books and inspiring messages.

After the Canadian event, we had a chance to go out to dinner with the fab Penguin Canada peeps, including Adrienne Kress, who is way too pretty! In this pic, I'm propped up on Jess's shoulder because, in reality, I'm already asleep (it was a long day, yo!).

So that was my week! It was basically a week of fun, talk, books, and no-sleep...and I couldn't be happier to have been blessed to be a part of it! It was seriously just so much fun, and so wonderful to meet (an re-meet!) so many awesome readers. If you were there: thank you. It really means a lot to me that you came. And if you couldn't be there, I know you were in spirit, and hopefully we'll make a stop in your town soon!

Thanks again everyone! And remember: if you still have something you want to talk about in the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE world, I'll be a part of a Twitter chat tomorrow at 7pm EST. Just use #ShadesofEarth in your hashtag!