Friday, November 30, 2012

Deja Vu

As I'm finishing up a heavy line edit on HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW for my editor, I'm starting to realize that very soon my book contract will be over and done with. Completed. The end. I have maybe three more edits of Jo's story, and then I'll kind of be back to where I was two years ago when I was preparing for submission for TRANSPARENT.


When you want to sell a book and haven't, I know it's hard to picture the "other side" as anything but awesome and way better than where you are. But I'm starting to learn that it's really not so different at all. Yes, I sold two books. I feel super lucky. I AM lucky and happy and excited for my debut.

But who's to say it'll happen again?

I sure hope it will, and at the same time I'm very aware that I'm right back to where all novels begin: working on a manuscript, loving it, wondering if anyone else will, hoping it will sell if I can manage to finish the darn thing. Lots of stuff has changed since I sold, and yet I've found the work of writing and trying to publish remains the same no matter what phase you're in.

Truth is, being published once doesn't guarantee anything. It's always about the story you're working on and if it's one an editor wants to buy. Or not buy. For example, I wrote something this summer that my editor passed on. And with good reason. I certainly don't blame her, because looking at it now I don't think it's something I put my all into. I don't have the proper passion for it, which means I'll probably have to set it aside out of necessity. Because this business is too hard to waste effort on something you don't 150% love.

So yeah, you can still strike out, even after you've sold a book. You can still write a story that isn't quite good enough. You can still feel like you have no clue what's going to happen with your writing, or that you may never sell again, or that you aren't sure what the next best move is.

At least I hope so, because I've been feeling that way a lot lately. And I think it's okay. In a lot of ways it's nice to have that freedom back—to write what I want to write without anyone telling me what I should be doing. It's also scary, standing at yet another precipice, unsure of what lies ahead or if I'm ready to take that jump.

Potential. It's everywhere. Exciting, scary, bright, unpredictable potential. I just have to wait and see if any of it comes to fruition.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let's Make Bio Punk A Thing

TRANSPARENT has been put in almost every genre it could possibly slip into, and I find this rather entertaining. It's been called paranormal, dystopian, sci-fi, etc. I've even heard alternate history. But if I were to categorize my own book, I'd call it Bio Punk. Why?

1. Mostly because it sounds cool. 

2. It makes the most sense. 

What is Bio Punk? It's a genre that relies on biotechnology for world building (I'm taking that term looser than some). AKA: Superhero-esque stuff, dealing with genetic alterations, mutations, evolution, DNA hacking, and whatnot. 

Problem is, you don't hear Bio Punk often. There's Cyber Punk (fiction based on computer tech world) and there's the currently very popular Steam Punk (fiction based on steam tech), but rarely any mention of Bio Punk though it is an actual term. I can think of a lot of YA books that are basically Bio Punk, not just mine. So I'm thinking we should just start making it an actual thing. Especially since 2013 is like the year of YA Bio Punk. 

So next time anyone asks me what genre TRANSPARENT is, I'm gonna say Bio Punk, no matter how many weird looks I get.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things I'm Reminding Myself Of Lately

I wish I could say I was the kind of person who learned a lesson once and then never made the same mistake again. But well, I'm not. I'm constantly learning and relearning things along this whole writing path. Thought I'd share a few of my current ones:

• Write what you are absolutely 100% in love with. It's the only way your writing will have that spark, and the only way you'll have enough passion to see the project through.

• My characters are not me, and thus they often do things I don't want them to and certainly wouldn't do myself. This is okay.

• Have the courage to tell the story the right way. If that means going places that scare you, do it. If that means major revisions that scare you, do them. If that means writing a genre that scares you, do it.

• A messy first draft doesn't make you a bad writer—it just makes you normal. Don't compare your raw writing to another author's finished novel. It's like comparing a 4-year-old gymnast to an Olympian. AKA: Totally unfair.

Feel free to comment about what you've been reminding yourself of lately. I am always in need of reminders.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


They're here! And they are so pretty and this is so weird but also cool and there's nothing that can really describe what this feels like except for run on sentences.

This is my view as I'm writing this, a stack of my own books. A stack of this story that took two years to write and rewrite and 18 months post-sale to land in my hands. By the time TRANSPARENT debuts, it will be four years in the making—half the time I've been married.

Okay, I hadn't cried yet, but that just made me tear up a little.

This story—and trying to get published in general—has been so much of my life. When it debuts, it will have been a total of seven years since I sent my first query, eight years since I started writing seriously and not just as a hobby. So essentially, this book is the summation of just shy of a decade of my life.

It is the beginning of something new. I'm turning 30 next year. I'll be an officially published author. And I will have new, uncertain waters to tread and many, many more things to learn.

I feel so lucky right now and so grateful. And to all of you who have stuck with me through all of this, thank you. You all deserve medals.

P.S. I'm gathering a list of people interested in receiving an ARC for my publisher to review. So if you'd like to be considered, please fill out this simple form.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What The Rest Of The World Doesn't Get About YA

For as long as I've been writing YA, there have been articles in various publications in which the journalist scratches their head and asks, "Why is YA so popular?" There have also been those articles decrying the "darkness" of YA or the "stupidity" of YA or whatever is the flavor of criticism for the week.

Truth is? These articles never really bother me. Because I know they're missing the point. I know they don't quite see the big "secret" standing right in front of them. But I get why YA has exploded, why it's important, and today I want to talk about that and how being a YA author has personally affected my life and the lives of those around me.

We're a little mangy here, but this is a picture of my little sister and me at a writer's retreat last year. Yes, I have a 13-year-old sister. She was born when I was a teen myself, at the end of my freshman year in high school. But despite the age difference, Pika (I nicknamed her Pikachu as a baby and still tend to call her that) has always had a very special place in my heart. She is such an amazing, strong, vibrant girl—I am the proudest big sister ever (of all my siblings, really, but this one is about Pika).

And this is the story: My sister did not like reading in elementary school. It was a chore, not a pleasure. My mom would make her do her required minutes each day, but my sister had never fallen for a book. Middle Grade just didn't strike her fancy for whatever reason (I was the same way at her age, actually.).

When she was 11, my dear friend Kiersten White debuted with her first novel, PARANORMALCY. The fact that my sister knew she was my friend piqued her interest, and she decided to try and read about Evie and her crazy world at IPCA.

And guess what? That was the first time my sister ever finished an entire book of her own free will. She LOVED it. She couldn't stop thinking about it. She asked me for more—she wanted more, more, more. (And I gave her HEX HALL because Evie and Sophie are BFFs in my head. She LOVED that, too.)

I had never seen her so excited about a book in my entire life, and in that moment I realized a reader had been born. A girl who couldn't have cared less about books, who was a "slow reader," who didn't think there were novels out there for her—this girl now consistently reads books in a day or two. She always has a novel with her, and she loves reading. I'm pretty sure she reads more books than I do!

This story still makes me cry every time I think about it.

Because it is not stretching to say that PARANORMALCY changed my sister's life in a very real way. YA has changed her life. It has given her novels that mean the world to her, with heroines she can identify with, who face problems she does but also ones I hope she never runs into. It has given her worlds to explore, and something to share with me and her friends and my mother (also a huge reader).

This is why I'm proud to write YA. This is why those articles don't get to me, because they just don't get it. YA is popular because it fills a need—it speaks to girls like my sister (yes, the genre is female dominant, please no arguments about whether or not that is a good thing), and not just girls but a slew of women who craved this kind of book but didn't have it in such plenty growing up. And not only that, but it's something girls want to share. My sister has all her friends reading, and they have something to talk about that isn't gossip or reality TV. YA has created community; it has created a new generation of readers that will someday grow into adult readers. We should all be ecstatic about that.

Many writers dream about hitting lists or winning awards. But when I look at my sweet, littlest sister, I know that her story is the one that matters most. If my books could do for one teen what PARANORMALCY did for her, then I will consider myself a success. There is nothing more important to me than helping someone fall in love with reading.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I have just realized that it have been a few months since I did my ONE regular feature—the all day Q&A. In penance, I shall now be doing an all WEEKEND Q&A to make up for it. Yup.

So ask me whatever question you want! It doesn't have to be about writing, but of course it can be, too. You can also ask as many as you want (in the past people seem to think they've been limited to one). I promise an answer as soon as I can type it up, and ALL questions will be answered in comments.

*sits and waits*

*twirls pencil*

Bring it on, people.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hey! Another Blurb!

Way at least three years ago, I read a book called Hex Hall. I loved this book so very much—burned through it in like a day (which for a slow reader like me is a Big Deal)—and then I went on Twitter and said something like, "If Kiersten White's Paranormalcy and Ally Carter's Gallagher Girl series had a baby, it'd be Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins."

Well, Rachel replied, and she was as funny and wonderful as her character Sophie. She has since been one of my favorite authors, so when she decided to blurb Transparent you can understand that my jaw pretty much dropped that she would say such nice things about my book! I feel equal parts humbled and ecstatic. And now I get to share!

"Fast-paced, fun, and so original I was downright giddy, TRANSPARENT is a truly awesome debut from an author destined to be on my auto-buy list." —Rachel Hawkins, owner of best awkward foreign cover EVER. 

I'm pretty sure I can die happy now.