Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ask Me Anything!

Since my live chat with Mundie Moms tonight had to be canceled and rescheduled for next month, I thought I'd open the comments of this post to questions.

You can Officially Ask Me Anything! I will answer all your spoilery little details about the PARANORMALCY series! Tonight (Thursday, August 30th) ONLY.

So, here is the warning:

IF YOU HAVE NOT READ ALL THREE BOOKS IN THE SERIES, DO NOT OPEN THE COMMENTS OF THIS POST. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. YOU WILL BE SPOILED. AND UNLIKE SMALL CHILDREN, YOU WILL HAVE NO EXCUSE FOR BEING SPOILED.

Have at it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I Write

Sometimes people ask me why I chose to write for teens. From now on I'm going to direct them to this:

"Been a fan of yours for a while but what made me so happy yesterday was when my 12 year old took Paranormalcy off my shelf...and is currently on page 226. I've never seen her read anything so quickly. Paranormalcy is all she's been talking about...the only other series she's loved this much is Percy Jackson. Everything else she stops reading after a few chapters. I've been waiting so long to find a book series that we both adore and can chat about :o) So...thank you :o)"

OH MY GOSH SHE IS THE CUTEST.

There is nothing--no awards, no distinctions, no reviews, no prestige--that makes me happier than knowing that young teens have fun reading my books, and that parents can share that reading experience with their kids. Moments like these are the absolute pinnacle of my career.

If you write for teens/pre-teens, if you wonder whether maybe you'd be taken more seriously if you wrote for adults, or maybe you'd make more money, or maybe you'd stop getting sympathy acne from all the angst you channel, please remember: IT IS WORTH IT. YOU WRITE FOR THE ABSOLUTE BEST AUDIENCE EVER.

Also I totally want her Pokemon shirt.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How to Write

I know many authors do inspiration boards. Well, the authors at my house do rule boards. Observe:

The first rule of Fight Club...
Wait.
The First Rule of Writing a Book is DONT TELL ANYWONE ABOUT THE BOOK

 The Second Rule of Writing a Book is DONT LOOK AT THE BOOK

The Third Rule of Writing a Book is Choose a Good Pen Name
(First names edited out, but yes: they use my pen name as their last name when writing. SO CUTE I KNOW.)

And, the most important rule:

 The book is going to be great!!!

Don't ever forget that last one.

Seriously, I think these are going to stay taped up on my wall forever. But my kids are pretty dang smart. Observe:

Don't tell anyone about the book. Keep it yours while you are writing it, because so many people are going to see it at other stages. First drafting is for YOU.

Don't look at the book: In their case I think it has more to do with secrecy (in which case, maybe they shouldn't tape the pages up on the wall as they go along? I dunno, I'm not six, so clearly I don't understand these things), but I think it applies to drafting. I try not to look at the book while I'm writing it. Nothing kills that first draft wave for me faster than editing as I'm working.

Third rule, well, we can't ALL use White as our last name when writing. Sorry.

And finally, despair is for after you've finished the first draft and realized how much editing you have ahead of you. First draft? Repeat after me: THE BOOK IS GOING TO BE GREAT!!!

(Just to clarify, there are no "rules" for writing for my kids [or for anyone, really, if you ask my honest opinion]. They did this on their own. I'm still not quite sure where it came from, but making these and putting them on the wall took more time than the actual writing. So, another aspect of writing they have down pat! Doing "important" things to get ready to write and then never getting to the writing! Pros already!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books I Love

The Coming Out Soon or Actually Out Now Edition:

Shannon Hale's PRINCESS ACADEMY: PALACE OF STONE. I was trying to explain to my mom just what I love so much about all of Shannon's books. And besides the fact that her writing has this timeless grace to it that I marvel over, what I love the most is that she writes girls in such an honestly empowering way. It isn't taking over traditionally male roles as being strong, or denying femininity as being strong, which so often is our shorthand for Really Strong Female Character*. It is discovering who they are and figuring out how to use themselves--their hopes, their fears, their passions, their strengths, AND THEIR MARVELOUS BRAINS--to make the world around them a better place.

You don't have to have read PRINCESS ACADEMY, but of course you ought to. I read it a few years ago and dropped many of the details, as I am wont to do, and it didn't impact my reading of PALACE OF STONE or leave me confused.

*I am not bashing these tropes. I enjoy many of these stories. I just really, really appreciate what Shannon writes.

Speaking of Really Awesome Strong Girls, CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein. This book is gutting in the best way possible. It's funny and heart-wrenching and so breathtakingly smartly written. The two main characters are ones that stick in that space between your lungs and your heart. Marvelous, marvelous book. WWII spy drama! True love between friends! Women pilots! YOU WANT THIS BOOK.

Speaking of books you want, THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater. When I read SCORPIO RACES last year I'll admit it caught me off guard. I'd enjoyed the Shiver series, but wasn't prepared for what a wonder SCORPIO RACES was. It was crafted in a way not many novels I've read lately are. Every detail, every character, the simple but brutal mythology that felt like it could very well be real. Violence and magic and history woven around struggles to put food on the table, plus horse racing where THE HORSES MIGHT ACTUALLY EAT YOU.

Wait, I was supposed to be talking about THE RAVEN BOYS. Well, suffice it to say, this is another book that disgusted me with its utter storytelling superiority. I'm really starting to hate Ms Stiefvater and my inevitable "Why couldn't I have written this book it is amazing and I love everything about it and why why why do you do this to me Maggie why WHERE IS THE NEXT BOOK?" reaction.

(Hi, Maggie. I like you very much. Please stop pummeling my brain with your magical books that make me weep with writerly envy.)

Speaking of magical books that pummel your brain, BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. It was everything I didn't know I wanted it to be. I love that this book was a fantasy novel that took place in one city, focused on one girl, trying to rebuild a kingdom torn apart by the worst imaginable abuse from its former king--her own father. Cashore writes such smart fantasy, and even though the plot of this book wasn't as "big" as her previous companion novels, GRACELING and FIRE, I think I loved it all the more for that. If you haven't discovered Cashore, her books are some of my very favorite YA fantasy novels.

And speaking of kingdoms torn apart, GRAVE MERCY by R.L. LaFevers. I know I mentioned it before I read it--assassin nuns! COME ON--but now that I've read it, it bears another mention. Such a fascinating mythology, and the period details were so fun. I can't wait for the companion novel. All I'm saying is, if the love interest isn't a certain knight presumed dead on the battlefield, I will have to call up Ms LaFevers and read her the riot act. Or at least demand some short stories written just for me.

So, those are the books off the top of my head. Some books I haven't read yet but can't wait to get my hands on are:
THE DIVINERS, by Libba Bray (roaring twenties! evil spirits! New York!)
DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT, by Laini Taylor (I. need. more. Karou.)
ASK THE PASSENGERS, by A.S. King (loved PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ)
THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH, by Maureen Johnson (sequel to THE NAME OF THE STAR, which I thought would be out in September but isn't out until next year and I am a very sad panda about it)
UNSPOKEN, by Sarah Rees Brennan (girl sleuth! plus Sarah is super smart and says things I like on tumblr!)

And now your turn, my lovelies: what can't you wait to read? What have you read recently that you love so much you want everyone else in your life to read it, too?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lines From Edinburgh

I found this poem I wrote in a museum in Edinburgh when we were traveling there this April. Come on, don't tell me you don't write melancholy little rhymes while in museums...

The Picts lived North of the Firth of Forth 
And painted themselves in blue
Now nobody knows the things that they knew
And someday we'll disappear too.

I miss you, Edinburgh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Flood and Stone Title Change!

Those of you who follow me on twitter have been privy to an overload of melodramatic rage a bit of editing angst lately as I finished up another round of edits on the book I've always referred to as Isadora.

Isadora, Isadora. This book, guys. To put things in perspective, PARANORMALCY's first draft was written in three weeks. MIND GAMES' in nine days. Isadora? Oh, you know, a year-and-a-half? Closer to two? I don't know how many times I got to fifty or one-hundred pages and started over, but it was at least four or five.

I do not keep working on something if I can't figure it out at fifty pages. Ever. I have no idea how many abandoned manuscripts with twenty, forty, fifty pages I have stacked up over the last few years, but it's a lot. If something is off--the voice, the plot, the pacing--I'm not afraid to abandon it.

And I abandoned Isadora.

REPEATEDLY.

But Isadora, being herself, wouldn't stand for it. I couldn't forget her voice, couldn't forget the setup, couldn't forget the boy. (Yes. The boy. Of course.) There is a certain constellation that is very important to the story, and for an entire winter whenever I'd see it I felt GUILTY. Actual, physical guilt in the pit of my stomach for giving up on Isadora's story, for letting her down.

(I will say it for you: crazytown.)

Gorgeous photo by Mouser, downloaded from Wikipedia Commons

The other factor in this was two people: Natalie Whipple, my longtime crit partner and alpha reader, who has loved Isadora in all her forms, and always encouraged me. And Michelle Wolfson, my phenomenal agent, who read the first fifty pages of one of the drafts and said, "YES, THIS, I WANT THIS." And every time I mentioned I was working on something else, she said, "Sounds great! Can't wait to read it! What's happening with Isadora?"

Those two gave me the boost I needed to go back to a very hard story. In case it isn't obvious, I like writing fast. I like stories that come in a burst of inspiration, that piece themselves together effortlessly, that tell me what they are about from the start and let me just write them.

Isadora is a deliberately difficult girl, though, and I needed that time and those drafts, and most especially the incredibly insightful guidance of Erica Sussman, my editor at HarperTeen, to help me finally, FINALLY tell that story I'd been trying to all along. I can honestly say I've never been prouder of a book. I hope I never have to be this proud of one again, because really: so much work.

Now, to the point! My Fall 2013 book about the modern day daughter of Ancient Egyptian gods has a new title to reflect the book it has, through much sweat and frustration and very-teen-appropriate angst, become at long last:

THE CHAOS OF STARS

I love it. The title, the book, and my incredibly stubborn MC, Isadora. Can't wait for you to meet her! After you meet Fia and Annie from MIND GAMES in February, of course.

Now I just have to decide who I want you to meet in 2014...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Presenting SISTER ASSASSIN!

One thing you learn as an author is that figuring out ONE WAY to represent an entire book is impossible. Plain and simple. It can't be done. So you try to figure out the best way to represent as much of the book as possible, you craft a title and a cover with your publisher, and you hope that it finds the audience who will appreciate it.

And this is where I get to the REALLY EXCITING announcement! I know that my readers in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand had to wait to read the Paranormalcy series. But HarperCollins UK bought the rights to MIND GAMES, and is releasing the same day as the US release! February 19th, whether you are in the US or the UK or Australia or New Zealand!

BUT...the book you get won't be MIND GAMES. It will be...

Wait, I already killed that tension with the post title, didn't I? DANGIT. FINE. How about I just give you the cover?


Guys, I just...I can't even...HOW COOL IS THIS??

I'm so thrilled with the design that my UK publisher came up with. It's amazing to me that I got not one but two covers for the same book, both of which capture it strikingly well in such wildly different ways.  I love the stark intensity of this cover, the drama of the black and white image with the red text. And I love the tagline! I also feel like they nailed the models for Fia (on the left) and Annie (on the right). For such a simple design there was a lot of attention to detail. HIGH FIVE, YOU PHENOMENAL BRITS, YOU! (Unless the design team aren't all Brits, in which case, I really ought to come back and apologize in person, right?)

It's also fascinating to me to see what different countries emphasize depending on their own reading market. If you recall, my German Paranormalcy covers from Loewe Verlag are VERY VERY pink, with a fun and flirty design, emphasizing the perk and humor and romance. (DREAMS 'N' WHISPERS is SUPERNATURALLY, in case you were confused. Titles change a lot!) The US covers for that series are much darker, emphasizing the paranormal drama. And both covers work, both capture the book in a different but accurate way.

I feel the same way about MIND GAMES and SISTER ASSASSIN. Both are books I'd pick up and read. Both are specifically tailored to the audience they are trying to find. And I sincerely hope both find that audience, because I love this book and can't wait for you to read it!

THIS TIME WITHOUT A DELAY, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU THAT MUCH* UK, AUSTRALIA, AND NEW ZEALAND!

*Okay okay fine, it's out of my control, but it does make me so happy that you don't have to wait! Hooray for HarperUK!

Monday, August 6, 2012

ENDLESSLY Is Really The End

First of all, infinite hugs to my readers. You are the best. It has been SO MUCH FUN seeing ENDLESSLY go out into the world and be received with this level of excitement and enthusiasm. To have Evie embraced as a character and narrator makes my cold, shriveled heart expand ten times! I'm returning all the presents to Who-ville!

Wait.

Anyway. Suffice it to say: I love love love the amount of love I have been getting for this series.

I have also been receiving/seeing many requests to continue the series beyond the three books. Which is AWESOME. It makes me so happy that readers want to spend even more time with Evie in her world.

But (yes, here's the but, you knew it was coming), Evie's story is done. At least the written part. Do I know what happens after the books? I have ideas of how her Happily Ever After is structured, yes. Am I going to tell you?

BLEEP NO.

I want you to decide how her happily ever after continues. Because she's yours now. I told the parts of her story that I wanted to tell, and I can honestly say I have absolutely no plans to write another Evie book. For me a young adult series ends when you take the teen and put them through the gate between childhood and adulthood, and in this case I did that...pretty literally. (NO SPOILERS. GO READ IT.) Do I think Evie has more adventures? Absolutely! But not that I want to write a book about. Her arc, for me as a writer, is done.

(Which isn't to say there aren't more ways to tell her story...and yes, the option for film/television is still being actively pursued by my producers!)

Evie's story was always a trilogy, and to extend past that would feel disingenuous to me as a storyteller. I have nothing against longer series--I may do some very long series in the future--but THIS series is a trilogy.

It's all good, though. I have many, many voices and many, many stories that need telling, too! MIND GAMES is out in February, which is like SIX MONTHS AWAY, guys! And then another book next fall! From now into the foreseeable publishing future, I'll have a book out every six months. You won't even have time to go into withdrawal.

In Other News: I talk about whether publishing killed my love of writing on my not-very-secret-tumblr account, Stephanie Perkins has a new book deal that I am OBSCENELY excited about, and stay tuned for title announcements/foreign publishing excitement!