Thursday, December 30, 2010
Ten Things I Realized in 2010
- A book deal doesn't really make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.
- Everything's easier if you don't whine and just buckle down and do it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The darkest times are often followed by the brightest. And you appreciate the joy more for it.
- Don't compare yourself to others. That way leads to the darkside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Just trust.
Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before 2010
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Invest in better carry-on luggage.
- Invest in a better coffee maker. I now own a Keurig, and life is better.
- 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.
- Play with the dog more.
- Be more selective when you say "no" and when you say "yes."
- BUY A ROOMBA.
- A husband who is always supportive, whether he's telling me that my book is good the way it is...or isn't.
- A father who reads my blog. Hi Poppa!
- A mother who yells at me for cussing on my blog, even though it was only one word.
- Friends who are genuinely happy for me--Laura, Jennifer, Bessie, my writing buds...
- An agent (Merrilee!) and her assistant (Jennifer!) who I know have my back.
- An editor (Ben!) and his assistant (Gillian!) who I know help me make my book be what it was always trying to be.
- 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.
- Indie book sellers, particularly my own indie, Fireside Books and Gifts. They're awesome.
- Bloggers. You guys are the best! The blogosphere is filled with awesome, supportive, friendly, cool people.
- Readers. All my life I wanted people to read my stories. And now...some do. That's...amazing.
Monday, December 27, 2010
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.
And....no 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!|
- 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
- THE AUDIO BOOK OF ACROSS THE UNIVERSE!!!!
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
|Used under the Creative Commons license:|
credit to badastronomer.
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
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
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!
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.
|This bag amazed me.|
|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!
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:
Thursday, December 16, 2010
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. And...er...it'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?
- 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.
Beth Revis chimes in on CHIME
Lisa and Laura Roecker rave about BOOKS THEY’RE DYING TO READ
Bethany Wiggins fawns over Firelight
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
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
It's December 11.
I've gone all day long, not realizing it was December 11.
|http://acrosstheuniversebook.com <<<---official countdown|
One. Month. ONE MONTH. ONE MONTH.
On January 11, the book will be out there. YOU might have the book.
I.....one month. One month.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
As promised (and long teased)...today'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
Signed AtU Bookmark
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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.
|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...|
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.
AND IT IS EMBOSSED DIRECTLY ON THE HARDBACK.
*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.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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:
Monday, December 6, 2010
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!
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
So on Thursday, I did something wicked awesome.
I went to a bookstore.
Oh, that's not such a big deal, you say?
WELL STEPHANIE PERKINS WAS THERE, I 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.
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 :)
Also: EPIC CONTEST OF EPICNESS is coming ...SOON!
Friday, December 3, 2010
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.
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
A couple of things have had me thinking. Always a dangerous thing. First: the things that made me think:
- A fellow writer sent an email out about how she was having a confidence crisis, worried about making it.
- Natalie Whipple wrote a blog post that made me cry.
... 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
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