General

General

A Lovely Lappy!

 

Since I decided to make my laptop all pretty, people have been asking just how I did it. I didn’t document it in pictures, but I figured I could show you what I used and give you some tips on doing it yourself.

First, I chose a theme. I went with clear and pearly gems, and purple flowers. I thought they’d look nice on the green of my laptop. If you have a colored laptop, take it with you where you go to buy your supplies to make sure they’ll look pretty.

 

Second, I made it as easy as I could. If you look, you can find pre-made shapes or swirls in the fancy sticker section at Michael’s. I think I bought two big sheets of pre-swirled stickers, one small one, two packs of individual gems, and the pack of flowers. Some of this stuff was on sale, so I ended up spending less than $20 on this. And ALL of it was sticky already, so I didn’t have to hunt for the right glue.

Three, I got home and cut around the edges of the swirls and gems and laid them out on my laptop. DO NOT just start going crazy here. Make a plan. Once these things go down, they’re hard to get up. If the swirls weren’t working in their original designs, I cut portions off and placed them somewhere else. Use larger solitary gems to unify the individual pieces, too. Unity, people!

And four, I knew when to stop. I think I might actually be walking the line of doing a little too much, but I had a few pieces left over. I didn’t want to put them on my laptop for the sake of putting them on when I was happy with what I had.

I’ve gotten to use my lappy in public once since doing this, and it honestly makes me feel a bit more inspired. If you decorate your lappy, please send a picture! 

General, In the Clearing, The Selection

My BookMarks Festival Experience in 5 pictures

On Friday, I went to Mt. Tabor High School to speak at two classes. This is an image of the creative writing class studying my short story, In the Clearing . Not gonna lie, it was totally humbling to have them actually break it down. They had even written some pieces from other characters’ POVs, and every one I heard was AWESOME! I brought some home, and I’m going to hoard them like buried treasure.

My speaking event at the actual BookMarks Festival was one of the last ones on Saturday. And that was fine until this giant rain/wind storm pretty much shut down the whole thing. After a short delay, I ended up doing my event in an art gallery instead of the outdoor stage. These ladies made up part of the crowd, and I’m so glad they braved the storm. Besides having fantastic questions, they were so much fun to talk to! And Megan there (cute chick in the stripes beside me) was celebrating her birthday! She’s a pretty epic fan, seeing as she made Guyden a baby blanket back in the day. Which I still have. So. Freaking. Rad.

To anyone who came to my reading, I’m very sorry. You might remember that as I was being introduced by my lovely friend Corey, I flew into a giggle fit, totally distracting everyone and ruining the semi-serious vibe. That’s because my friend James held up this request for Freebird on his phone. I lost it. Sorry! But you’ve gotta admit, that’s pretty dang funny.

 

Remember those six awesome girls? One of them (Maddison, I think), requested I sign her book with one of my haikus about Robert Pattinson. After much fretting over syllables, this is what came out. (Rob, if you’re reading, that offer still stands.) 

As I mentioned, I went to Mt. Tabor High School on Friday. Maggie, one of the students there who was volunteering at the event, made this for me. This is what happens when people have access to your Facebook account and know about the things you obsess over. Maggie and Corey, in case you’re wondering, Callaway laughed about as hard as I did. The only issue is where do I keep something this awesome? Still looking for the right place.

Besides all the fun, I can’t say enough about how great the people working the festival were. They fixed my misspelled nametag, took care of traveling and food around town, and went out of their way to make sure my mom and Zuzu were comfortable. I had a blast, and if we crossed paths, I hope you did too! 

 

 

General, The Selection

The Crazies

The Selection has been out just over a month now, and in that time I’ve done events at bookstores, libraries, high schools, and even my in-laws’ house. No two events are exactly alike, and you never know who will show up. Sometimes, that’s the most exciting element. Meeting another local YA author or someone who has a gazillion questions about my story? It makes my life! On other occasions, the people you were so enthusiastic about meeting will make you want to hide under the coloring desk set up in the kid’s section until the store closes. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today, friends. We’re gonna talk about the Crazies.

There are levels of Crazies, and I can’t prepare you for all of them. I’m just now remembering an author friend walking around a convention a while back with his then girlfriend while one of the Invade Your Life Crazies stood nearby pointing and wailing because she was in love him and couldn’t compute seeing him with another girl. Yikes, right? I’ve yet to meet anyone on that level. But here are a few ways to handle the Temporary Crazies, the ones who will hop into your signing line and park there like it’s Duck Appreciation Day, and you’re a toddler with a poor grip on his PB&J. They’re harmless but very loud, and you really want to stay away from their crap. Here’s how:

Tip 1: No sudden moves around the Crazies. They don’t realize they’re making you and everyone around you incredibly uncomfortable. If you start flailing when they delve into topics that genuinely provoke the calmest parts of your soul, it will only alarm them, and the crazy level will increase. Stay cool.

Tip 2: Smile and nod. No, I don’t understand why dying your dog’s fur that color effects world peace, but if it means that much to you, cool. *smiles*

Tip 3: Don’t take it personally. With these Crazies, they don’t care who you are. Your bestselling book and potential TV series are speed bumps in their monologue about bras or reheating garbage or whatever it was they were talking about before they abruptly switched gears midsentence. It’s okay to emotionally disengage until your Spidey Senses stop tingling.

Tip 4: This is what your friends are for. Callaway has gone to all of my store events, and it’s a nice idea to have someone with you to grab water or whatever. And usually someone working for the shop is nearby monitoring the event. Make eye contact. Make special eye contact. And pray that one of them helps you.

If more than 5-10 minutes go by and they’re still making an aggressive political statement or asking you to endorse their homemade body paint, you’re entering the fake-a-heart-attack stage there, and you just do whatever you must to survive, okay?

JUST. SURVIVE.

General, The Selection

The Selection Release Party!

In life there are things you don’t turn down. Like the chance to eat cupcakes and wear tiaras. Therefore, I had a release party for The Selection. Now, release parties aren’t something that you have to do. For me, it was about celebrating, which is why my setup looks an awful lot like a birthday party. That’s pretty much what it was.

And it was awesome. 

I had so many wonderful surprises that day, including friends unexpectedly coming in from out of town, Liz running around in a flaming red wig, and the line that seemed to go on and on of people wanting to pick up the book! But, I wanted to share with you the top three moments of the day:

Number Three: This guy drove up from Charlotte (about a three hour trek) to get a copy of The Selection signed for his wife who couldn’t make it. That chick is rad, and her husband is rad, and that made my day. It was humbling.

Number Two: Nothing makes me happier than to see a guy in line! Love to see the boys reading my books. So when this one guy came in, gushed all over me, and asked to get a picture together, I was totally stoked. And then, seconds later, he tried to walk out the door without paying for his book… I don’t know if he just spaced out or thought the books were free, but it was SO UNCOMFORTABLE telling him he had to go pay for it. But I’ll never forget it.

And Number One: I had lots of free things at the party. There were cupcakes for anyone passing by, tons of bookmarks, and I even gave away goodies at random to people coming in the store. But the one thing I wasn’t expecting to be taken was my décor. I threw a bunch of random teal and silver and white things in my bag, not knowing what I’d use when we set up. There was a lot of space in front of the cupcakes, so my mom put out these glass stones I had. After a few minutes of milling around the cupcakes, this older woman picks up the stones in her hands, looks and me and asks “Are these free?” I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just said yes, and she took a handful. Then, after walking away and deciding she hadn’t grabbed the right colors, she came back and switched some out. I was cracking up!

All in all, it was an awesome day, and the dedication of some readers along with the randomness of others made it completely unforgettable. I can’t thank the people who came out enough, or the wonderful gang at the Christiansburg Barnes & Noble for making the whole thing feel easy.

When I have a release party for Book 2, I’ll be expecting everyone to show up in ball gowns. Even the boys. So prepare yourselves.

 

General, The Selection

How to Help

Because y’all are pretty much rad, lots of you have asked how you can help The Selection do well. First of all, I’m blown away by how supportive you’ve all been! I mean, it’s one book out of thousands, and you could totally just let it exist in the world. That would be okay. But so many of you are crazy enthusiastic! Thank you! I’m slightly floored by you!

Since you were cool enough to ask, here are a few ways that you could help me (or any other authors you really like) promote their books.

  1. Buy the book. I know it’s kind of obvious, but let me just go ahead and say it. I like writing books, and the way I get to do more of that is if you buy them. So, ya know, if you feel so inclined, go for it.
  2. And be smart about how you buy. You can order it off of Amazon, B&N.com, or go to your favorite indie store if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. In general, numbers from Walmart are totally ignored, so even if I sell a million copies there, the powers that be don’t notice it. If you’ve pre-ordered, that’s good, too. You’re probably already on the right track, but I thought I’d mention it just in case.
  3. Tell your homies. If you enjoy the book, tell your friends about it. Word of mouth is still the best form of promotion, and that is entirely in your hands. So if you stayed up all night finishing it, don’t be shy about mentioning that to your BFF. And the people at your bus stop. And your dentist. Okay, well, maybe don’t be that creepy. If you know someone who would like it, let them know.
  4. Write a review. Now, unless you’re a book blogger or a serious fan, taking the time to write an actual review might be too big a task to ask of you. I get that. So, here’s an alternative: like someone else’s review. It’s way faster, and just as good. If you hop over to Amazon, you can like one of these 5 star, 4 star, or 3 star reviews, depending on how much you enjoyed it. If you go to Goodreads (which you have to be a member to like reviews on the site), I would suggest this star-free and totally lovely review.
  5. If you come to an event, support the store. This is just a courtesy thing. The stores are being kind enough to host me, so do me a favor and buy something from them to say thanks. If you’ve already bought The Selection, that’s cool. Get another book or buy a coffee or whatever. As someone who has watched all the bookstores leave her area, I’m totally for helping out the ones that are still around, especially the ones who are so helpful to me.

And, really, that’s pretty much it. Just your excitement up to this point has been so wonderful for me, and I appreciate it more than I can say. Tomorrow, The Selection will be out in the world, and you can go snatch it up. I hope that you do, and that you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

Seriously, guys, thank you.

General, Personal

Remembering

This is a repost of a blog I wrote last June. It just feels like the best way to remember those we lost, be grateful for how we’ve grown, and acknowledge that we’re still moving forward without forgetting our past. I might be really sad at some point today, but right now I feel hopeful. And I think that’s good.

Thanks for listening.

 

June 5th, 2011:

So The Wall Street Journal has written an article about darkness in YA. And they aren’t happy. It seems they rarely are, but whatever. In the wake of this, Miss Maureen Johnson started a hashtag #yasaves and has asked people to share how YA has saved them. My story needs a bit more than 140 characters, but here it is:

I live in Blacksburg, Virginia. If you’ve heard of this town at all, it’s probably in reference to Virginia Tech and our fantastic football team. Go Hokies!

But about four years ago, we were famous for an entirely different reason. A gunman opened fire on our campus killing 32 people and himself. It devastated the school as well as the town. If you don’t live here, it’s kind of hard to explain how integrated the two are, but they’re both fluid and impress upon each other.

This is my home.

At the time, my husband worked on campus, my best friend lived on campus, and since we go to a campus-based church, nearly everyone I knew was a student. Even as a townie, I lost someone I knew. It’s hard to explain just what this did to me, and I know I’m not alone.

At first, I kept busy and did okay, but as the year passed, I was emotionally unstable. I would cry if I tried to experience any emotion. I cried at Disney World, I cried in church, I cried doing anything. I started forgetting things, and poor Callaway was in a constant state of repeating himself. I stopped smiling. I remember that now, just how little I smiled or laughed.

In the fall, I caved and went to a therapist, and she helped me find some things to give me order and routine. That worked a little, but the thing that helped the best was something I stumbled into accidentally.

Just after the first anniversary of the shootings, I was like “That’s it. I’m just going to write a story and give my problems to a character and see how she deals with them, because I can’t anymore.” And I did. But I never finished that story. A few weeks in, I woke up with the idea that would become The Siren. I wrote every day for a month to finish that story, and after that the idea for The Selection and a bunch of other little stories were born and are waiting their turn to be told.

The Siren has language, a near rape, assault, and thoughts of suicide. And it saved my life. It was my path back to normal. The Selection (pending editing) will have some heavy issues in parts of the trilogy too. It’s just part of the story. But now, a year out from publication, it has become something amazing and is already making people excited, and every second of this journey is a gift to me. It’s saving me.

Maybe YA is dark sometimes, sure. But you know what? A few months ago when I sat down and read Jennifer Brown’s Hate List, I felt comforted. I’m glad someone wrote that story, because I needed to read it. I felt stronger when I was done. And I’m 30.

It’s okay to talk about the bad stuff because the bad stuff is out there. It makes us weirdos feel not quite so weird. The lovely thing about this country is the right to not read or listen to or watch things we don’t want to. It’s freedom. So I’ll write what I want, and I’ll be stronger for it, and if you don’t want to read it… don’t.

General, The Selection

The Book!

So last Friday, something awesome happened. I got two copies of the actual, final, real life version of The Selection. I woke up from a nap and there they were! I made Callaway film me, but because I was so drowsy from waking up… I just… I can’t even tell you how awkward it is. So, instead, here are some pictures of the final product, which you will be able to snuggle with in 3 weeks!

This is the book in its hard bound glory. Even though I've had the dust jackets forever, seeing it wrapped around an actual book is crazy! There's no ARC stampy thingy on the side. I'm in love!

This is what is waiting just under the cover. Isn't it lovely? It looks like a diary to me, which I'm totally nuts about. Perfection! 

And, finally, this might be my favorite thing. Maxon, America, and May all write notes at different parts in the story. They each have their own handwriting now, and they're so perfect. I couldn't have picked them out better myself.

Another cool thing is that this copy has my acknowledgments page. Nice to see all the thank yous lined up and pretty. :)

After all this time, I can't believe it's right around the corner! I hope you guys love it!

General, The Selection, advice

10 things I do when I edit

So this will probably be the most boring post ever, but with all my talk about flags in Book 2 of The Selection trilogy, I thought you might like to know how I edit.

In truth, so much of the work you do as a writer is editing. You only get it out of your head once. The rest is making it suck less until (hopefully) it doesn’t suck at all. I’m really lucky because I have an awesome team that will straight up tell me what sucks and will encourage me through the rest. But, at the end of the day, the job of making it pretty falls on me. Sooo…

Once I get my editorial letter and manuscript back, this is what I do:

  1. I bind it. You might have noticed that I tweet from Panera a lot. That’s where I work. I don’t have a space to work in my house, and I’m terrified I’m going to drop it on the floor in public and just lose everything, so I have to have it bound.
  2. I pick a pen. Erica does her edits in purple. I love this. And every time I come across something that she says to change, I check it off with a non-purple pen (usually a really bright pink) so I know I took care of it.
  3. I whip out the sticky tabs. When I come across something, like a big picture detail from my editorial letter or a line that needs to change but I need to think about, I highlight it and put a flag on that page so I know to go back to it. For me, it’s dumb to waste time working straight through when an edit might take me 20 minutes to fix now… or 5 to fix later.
  4. I make notes. You know how I said I bind my book? Well, sometimes that means I punch through Erica’s notes and have to ask her what she said. Or I see something in a totally different light than she does and don’t think it should be changed. Sometimes I keep another document open just for notes I’m making back to Erica, or I scribble them in the manuscript.
  5. I go with my gut. From time to time I come to a section that might be cut or moved or rewritten so fixing what’s in them might be a waste of time. Or maybe I can’t work on what’s next because I think I know how to fix a big scene. If so, I drop the line edits and work on that. 
  6. I finish. No highlights, no flags, all the scenes in the right place, and all the notes worked in. Ahh.
  7. I go through it again. I make sure all the edits have a check by them, or if I kept something a certain way, I make sure there’s a good reason. Often, I even get a new pen and check all the checks over. That’s just me needing to be thorough. This is also the time I make sure everything I could possibly get from the editorial letter into the book is done.
  8. I read it again. I try to leave enough time to really read through the manuscript and make sure than anything I deleted or moved or added makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t all work, and I have to write some more. I hate that.
  9. I send it back. I’ve taken to labeling things “Selection 3.0” and the like so I can keep the rounds of editing straight, because there are SEVERAL. And I send my notes on anything important back with it.
  10. I eat cake and wait. I know it will only be a few months until I have to read through my book again (Which is why you should always write what you love. You can’t escape.), so I try to use the down time to read other books, play with Guy, and work on what’s coming next.

And there you have it. I don’t know if what I do is normal… it’s just what I do. I once saw an author who broke her manuscript down into small pieces and put them in folders so she only had to tackle one part at a time. That’s smart, too. Anyway.

Was this helpful at all? Honestly, I’m still freaking out that The Selection is less than a month away, and my brain is on fire, so I really can’t tell. I hope it was. Even a little.

General, The Selection, advice

On Perfection

I get asked pretty regularly if I have any advice for newbie writers. Usually I say: Learn as much as you can. There’s so much going on behind the scenes of making a book, it benefits you to know as much about it as possible beforehand. This is one of the reasons I keep making Behind the Book videos. I hope my adventures will make your journey smoother.

But today I thought of something else, and I want to pass this on as well: Forget perfection.

Forget it. It doesn’t exist.

I say this because as I sit here working on Book 2 in The Selection Trilogy, I’m looking at a pile of purple marks on my manuscript, and I’m a bit overwhelmed. Granted, this feeling is probably because of the baby brain, but still. And this isn’t technically the first round of edits. The first thing I handed over was so jacked up, Erica (my editor) didn’t even bother doing line edits because I basically needed to gut the book and fix it. And, actually, that wasn’t even the first round because Elana (my agent) and I worked on it before sending it off. She put notes in the margin saying “Why? Just why?” at one point. It was that bad.

And I’m pretty sure that, no matter how long I do this, I will never send out a manuscript that doesn’t come back with something that needs to be changed. I will never get it right the first time.

And neither will you.

You will always have to work at being better, and really that’s a good thing. Hopefully it encourages you to be the best writer you can be and create the best books for your very generous readers. At this moment, it’s hard to look at those notes that way, but I know that every purple dash means you’re getting something better than what I originally put on the paper. As easily tired and confused as I am these days, I can’t complain about that.

On a related note, The Selection is less than two months from hitting shelves, and the pilot for the (potential) series is being shot right now. People have ARCs out there or have gotten hold of the script, and I’ve heard all kinds of opinions on this. There’s a range from “this is the best book I’ve ever read!” to “why are they making this piece of $h!t book into a show?”, and, honestly, that too is a good thing.

Yeah, sure, I wish that only the nice stuff made it to my ears. It’s already a pretty daunting task what I’m doing here, and it’s not always easy to do when you feel like there are people excited at the possibility of you failing— whatever failing even is— but haters are a good thing.

Hard to believe, I know, but that’s how I genuinely feel. If everyone loves what you’re doing, you’re not reaching enough people. If you get out of the safe waters of people who adore you, you will run into those who CANNOT STAND what you’ve done. Querying alone will teach you that.

This is one of those things you have to accept. Your idea of the perfect story will not be the same as everyone else’s. Try to be supported by the good stuff, ignore the bad stuff, and NEVER go looking for either. Trust me, enough of both will make its way to you. Alas.

Let perfection go. Aim for your personal best. And as things change, adjust that goal.

For me, I’m not even sure what that is right now. Maybe just seeing that gorgeous cover finally hardbound and on a shelf. That will be a goal four years in the making. I know, right?

Anyway. Just learn what your best is, always make the effort to create exactly that, and roll with the rest.

General

Housekeeping

I’ve been getting a lot of similar questions lately, so I thought I’d take a minute to cover them, just in case you were curious yourself. If there’s another big picture question, leave it in the comments, and I’ll try to get to those ASAP.

Goodies. If you have been waiting for goodies, everything has been sent out. If you haven’t gotten your ARC/bookmark/button, please let me know! It might be a while before I can do more givaways. I might try to do a blogtv soon, but I can't promise that. But in April (not sure if before or after The Selection is out), I’ll be doing some GIANT giveaways. I seriously can’t wait.

ARCs & Interviews. If you’re looking for ARCs, I no longer have any. Sadface. And from what I hear, HarperTeen is out as well. The Selection is now out in less than 50 days, so just hold on a bit longer! I’m also not doing any more interviews right now as there will be a blog tour soon, and I want to make sure to give those bloggers something fresh. If you’re willing to talk to me in the fall, I’m all over it!

TV Stuff. Basically, I know what you guys know, except that I have also read the script. I find out about castings, locations, and dates from the internet. Mainly via my stalker mother who hunts the web on my behalf. I don’t have any secret news to offer, which is for the best. I can keep secrets if I must, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. I have zero say over the casting, so if you’re trying to get into that, I think you have to goggle that info. Sorry! To anyone still auditioning, best of luck! I think our team is AMAZING so far!

Touring. Currently, there are no plans for me to do a book tour. I’m doing my best to take advantage of any traveling I’ll be doing with my family, and I’ll make you aware of those dates as they come along. If you want me to come to a specific high school, library, or something like that, I’m afraid that’s something your school (or whatever) would have to pay for. I can’t afford to travel at random. I so wish I could, because I’m giddy to meet as many of you as I can! But, alas, I cannot. And you can always check the events page to see if or when I’ll be near you.

Translations. At the moment, the only places besides the US where The Selection will be available are France, Germany, The UK, Australia, and New Zealand. I understand some more deals are in the works, so if there’s nothing for where you are at the moment, hold tight!

I feel like there were other things, but I’m very forgetful right now. So, again, leave stuff in the comments, and I’ll try to get to them soon!

General, advice

Querying: An Update!

I’ve been seeing that a lot of friends on twitter are getting ready for the adventure of querying. Wahoo! Not gonna lie, I’m so happy I don’t have to do that again, but it makes me happy to watch other people do it. I have to tip my hat to anyone with the guts to try, and I wish you all luck!

A long time ago, I did a post on how to query, and I thought I would follow up with a little note about staying organized. I tend to be a bit of a mess, and the only things that save me are tools like festive folders that I can’t possibly lose, pens stashed in every corner of my house, and the gloriousness that is color coordination. So, as you go to make your list of agents, here are some tips on keeping everything together.

I still recommend using agentquery. It’s free and easy to navigate. All the information you need is listed under each agent, and here’s what I suggest you do with all that info. In a Word document:

  1. Order the agents you want to query in order of how much you love them. This is a long-term relationship, so if you happen to see that you have similar tastes in books or know they make you laugh on twitter, put them in your top 10. Or close to it anyway. I may have said this before, but I actually put Elana in the number 11 spot because I thought we would be a good fit and I was so afraid my first 10 would be rejections that I bumped her *just* out of it. Superstitious and silly, but it worked in the long run.
  2. List the agent’s name and beside that any pertinent notes, like that they’re actively seeking your genre or you met them at a conference. Underneath that, put the agency. Note beside that if a rejection from one agent is a rejection from the whole agency. Some are small and share stuff if they think another agent will like it, so you if you have multiples from one agency, pick a fave and go with it.
  3. Get the stats: You need their email address or snail mail address if they’re not down with e-queries. Beneath that, you want a list of what they ask for. Just a query? A query and the first 10 pages? Whatever it is, write it down, and before you send out a single query, make sure you have everything you need. I needed the letter, a 5-page sample, a 10-page sample, a 2-page synopsis, and a 5-page synopsis for The Selection. Oh, and I only sent out 13 queries… so that was a lot of stuff for a small number of agents. Be prepared so they’re not asking for something that you have to make them wait for.
  4. Once you start sending your queries, start color coordinating and dating. Beside each entry, note the date you sent it, and assign a color for sent emails. Do the same for rejections and for when agents ask for more. For some agents, they tell you they’ll get back within a certain timeframe. If you sent a query 8 weeks ago (which you know because you dated it) you can follow up with a “Hey, did you get this?” because sometimes things get lost. This also helps for when agents are reading a partial or whole copy of your manuscript. At that point it gets bumped from things they *have* to read to things they *want* to read, and it might take them a while to get to it, and after a respectable time (I’d say 8 weeks again), I think it’s okay to follow up.
  5. And even though this isn’t about being organized, I want to remind you to be patient. When I was querying, I couldn’t figure out what took so long! I thought that was all agents did all day. But now that I’m on the other side of it and see just how much Elana is doing for me (negotiating contracts, helping with website stuff, giving me general advice, hunting for quarters so I can take the bus when I visit New York, and a thousand other things), I get it. And she’s not just doing that for me, but for her whole list of clients. So cut the agents some slack, and keep writing in the meantime.

So who’s querying in 2012? Keep me posted on your progress, and again, GOOD LUCK!

General, The Selection

More Music

This morning as I was going through a last look at Book 2 (yeah, Book Freaking 2) before sending it back to my editor, I was listening to some music and tweeting lines that I thought were particularly wonderful. I was getting asked where these lines were coming from, so that’s what I’m sharing with you today. Soon… actually, maybe this afternoon, I’m going to finalize the playlist for The Selection. And I can tell you that one of these songs was very inspirational for a certain character. Have fun thinking about that...

I'll be fine, you'll be fine. Every moment seems so long. Don't waste now, precious time. We'll dance inside the song.  -Dance Inside by The All-American Rejects

If you don't know, honey, won't you just say so? Cause I need this now more than I ever did.  -If You Don’t Don’t by Jimmy Eat World

I don't have a choice, but I still choose you... I don't love you, but I always will.  -Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars

I lost my place, but I can't stop this story. I'll find my way, but until then, I'm only spinning.   -Spinning by Jack’s Mannequin

This is gonna bring me clarity... This'll take the heart right out of me...  -She Is by The Fray

You are the hope I have for change, you are the only chance I'll take.  -On Fire by Switchfoot

And I wanna know would you treat me well, would you treat me like a queen?  -Oh Darling by Plug in Stereo

I can hear the sound of your voice still ringing in my ear. I'm going underground, but you'll find me anywhere, I fear.  -The Resolution by Jack’s Mannequin

I still try holding on to silly things. I never learn. Oh why, all the possibilities, I'm sure you've heard.  -That’s What You Get by Paramore

Here we again. I kinda wanna be more than friends, so take it easy on me.  -Animal by Neon Trees

 

Also! I'm in love with this new song by The Fray. I CANNOT wait for Febtober! What are you guys listening to these days?

General, The Selection

YA and Porn

I did a live show last Friday, and, I have to say, I had a blast. I wore an awesome hat, gave out lots of goodies, and read the first page of The Selection! Sharing ANY piece of The Selection fills me with absolute glee, so that was probably the highlight for me. However, it seems the thing that stuck with my viewers the most was a random answer to a great question.

Someone asked how I felt about the opinion that YA literature gives girls unrealistic expectations of love.

I said: Porn gives boys unrealistic expectations of sex, so.

Yeah, I just compared YA to porn, but let me back up a bit.

I’m writing a book about a prince. A prince that lives in a society where people are assigned social standings. These levels are nearly impossible to break out of; no matter how hard you work, it doesn’t matter. There are rebels and riots and uncertainty. There are glamorous parties and gorgeous dresses and at the end of it all, one of these thirty-five girls gets to be a princess.

In real life, that’s not going to happen. You know this, right?

Also what never happens in real life: The pizza delivery girl comes in and compliments your apartment, saying the bedroom must be huge. You take her back to show her, and she decides the best thing to do is rip off her clothes! Then you touch her one time, she’s filled with ecstasy, and you are a sex god.

Nope. Not in a million years, bucko. Not even close.

It’s all fiction! As long as you know this, you should be alright in life.

Now, I’m not dismissing YA literature as the teenage girl’s equivalent to porn. That’s not AT ALL what I mean. Pornography isn’t creative. Wait! Do you count sex in a cowboy outfit instead of an astronaut outfit as creative? Cause then, maybe it…  nah, still not creative. And what’s more, porn can be incredibly detrimental, particularly when we are taught to seek something glossy and immediate as opposed to working on true intimacy with the people in our actual lives.

But books? When Laurie Hales Anderson talks about rape and recovery in Speak or the addictiveness of eating disorders in Winter Girls, it affects you. Even if those issues have never touched your life, it changes you, and it changes your feelings towards people who have dealt with these things.

Or if you want to look at books actually talking about love and sex, what about The DUFF by Kody Keplinger? It’s complicated, it’s messy, it’s painful. Or Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The ache of how difficult love was in that book tore at my heart.

Furthermore, for all the crap Twilight gets about sparkly vamp chests and half-naked wereboys, there’s a lot to be said for how that whole series deals with the feelings of wanting someone completely unattainable, a feeling I had through pretty much all of high school and college. And then it touches on a whole range of issues that loving someone can cause. Does choosing this person mean losing my parent’s approval? Does it mean choosing between them and my friends? Is that something I’m willing to risk? Is it really worth it? Am I being dumb? These are all great questions to ask ourselves! The sparkly vamp chests are merely a bonus!

Actually, as I think through all the YA books I’ve read, I’m trying to think of one that genuinely dismisses love as something easy to acquire, something simple and over-the-top perfect all the time… and I can’t think of single freaking one.

So maybe I’m seriously wrong. YA literature is not like porn. Porn is lame, and our books kick ass.

General, Personal

New Years Goals

I am pleased to say that, even though they were a bit vague compared to my usual goals, I accomplished everything I wanted to in 2011. I was more spiritual, worked hard on my book, AND Guyden is still alive! I'm so stoked!

For 2012, allegedly our last year on earth, what should I do this time around?

Here's a hint: NADA!

I'm putting out a book this year. And I'm building a person. I think that satisfies my need to accomplish things. Anything else is frosting.

What about you? Any goals?

General, Reviews

Recent Reads #8

It's long overdue, but here were my last batch of books for 2011:

Shut out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: It’s out!

The general idea: No nookie for you!

Thoughts upon seeing the cover art: That chick is so B.A.

It made me feel: Glad I’m not in high school anymore.

Romance: Yes. Gross overbearing type, and sweet slow-burning type.

Highlight: Mysteriousness.

Read it if you like: Sports, Sports Illustrated, face paint.

Rating: Two Reece’s Cups

 

Want to go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Release Date: It’s out!

The general idea: Internet predator creepers up in your face.

Thoughts upon seeing the cover art: Spooky.

It made me feel: Dirty.

Romance: Besides the perviness, which doesn’t count, yes, some quiet type.

Highlight: The ending. Not that it ended, just how it did.

Read it if you like: Getting angry, needing to take multiple showers, and feeling inspired to protect your children.

Rating: A large piece of therapeutic chocolate cake.

 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Release Date: It’s out!

The general idea: Inside the mind of a 10-year-old dealing with losing a parent in 9/11.

Thoughts upon seeing the cover art: I might get tattoos on my hands in that fashion one day.

It made me feel: Normal.

Romance: Yes, but not where I was expecting it from.

Highlight: The Empire State Building. Personally.

Read it if you like: New York, whimsy, not feeling alone.

Rating: A cup of coffee. With sugar and cream.

 

Twilight Graphic Novels 1 & 2 by Stephenie Meyer & Young Kim

Release Date: They’re both out!

The general idea: Twilight! But with pictures!

Thoughts upon seeing the cover art: When you put them side by side, they look like they’re holding hands!

It made me feel: Like Twilight did. Except there were pictures!

Romance: Yes, the forbidden type. And with pictures!

Highlight: Seeing the clothes/hair/things described in the book looking like I thought they should.

Read it if you like: Coloring, Muse, big hair.

Rating: A large cup of hot chocolate.

 

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Release Date: It’s out!

The general idea: If you saw yourself on social media BEFORE IT WAS BORN!

Thoughts upon seeing the cover art: Is this cover trying to hack my account?

It made me feel: Nostalgic.

Romance: Yes. What-will-happen-if-we-do-this type.

Highlight: Tighty Whities!

Read it if you like: Saying “tape” instead of “DVR”, time travel without actual time travel, pizza.

Rating: Three Twinkies.

 

Dear Bully by LOTS OF PEOPLE!

Release Date: It’s out!

The general idea: Letters to author’s bullies. Pretty straightforward.

Thoughts upon seeing the cover art: Peekaboo!

It made me feel: In harmony with every author everywhere.

Romance: Not exactly, but that’s okay.

Highlight: Mo Willems cartoon.

Read it if you like: Awesomeness, forgiveness… lots of other –nesses.

Rating: A big fat slice of humble pie. Not for you, though. For your bully.

 

This makes for a sad total of 36 books read in 2011. But, mind you, I read The Selection about a gazillion times, so.

 

General, The Selection

Fame

Here’s the thing about authors: we are not movie stars. I do not have a hard time remembering what Rob Pattinson looks like because his gorgeous, glorious, delicious face is everywhere. I know what he looks like. I also might dream about him a little bit... So, yeah, I could pick him out of a lineup. Easy.

We are also not rock stars. Musicians have it slightly harder than actors, because I can love a band (like The Fray) and not even know the lead singer’s name (truth). And if he walked past me this afternoon, I’d have no clue it was him. Music videos get way less action these days, and even if the CD has the band’s picture on the front, it doesn’t matter because you probably bought the MP3. And MP3s are made of space magic. But sometimes you just know who someone is. Britney Spears, for example. Can’t miss her if you try.

Authors are not like that. We are not movie stars or rock stars. We are word stars. That’s what people know. They know our words, our characters. We have a special kind of fame. You could be a New York Times Bestseller and still go to the grocery store without anyone giving a crap what you wore. And thank goodness for that.

This is how it is. Since book covers have pictures of pretty girls on them or fruit or whatever as opposed to the author’s face, I don’t know every author. Not even all the YA ones.

But isn’t that okay? Shouldn’t our characters be the big deal? I mean, I look at The Selection and know my characters are way more interesting than me. You should totally be paying attention to them. If anything, I’m just a pawn in their sick games. Wakey, wakey, Kiera! We have a story for you to tell! We’re going to make you crazy about it! Weeeeee!

Yeah, that’s pretty much how it goes. You should know.

So, I give you permission to not recognize me. I give you permission to not know I self-published a book before The Selection or that I make videos on youtube. In fact, I give you permission to not give a crap about me at all. At the end of the day, I don’t really matter so much.

But!

I hope with all my heart that you do know my characters. I hope you love them! I hope you stay up nights thinking about them and consider getting things they say tattooed on you somewhere and make quizzes to figure out which one you’re the most like. These are my deepest wishes.

I’m a word star. I hope you like my words. If you happen to like/know/tweet at me, that’s a perk. But I’m totally fine without it.

General

YAllfest!

I totally wanted to do a video about my YAllfest experience, but (as usual) I was having so much fun I forgot to film. So, for you, here are my top five YAllfest moments.

5. Seeing my old friend Kaleb Nation again. I’ve known Kaleb for about four years, he tried to coax my firstborn into the world, and we even share an agent now… but this is only the second time I’ve seen him in real life. There was a camera crew following him around as Kaleb has mysteriously acquired his own reality TV show! And now that I know the premise (which I will not spill yet, just in case) I am SO IN LOVE WITH IT! Anyway, Kaleb is my homie, and it was nice to see him.

4. The authors. They really had a great collection of people there, and it was so fun to listen to (and meet!) so many of the authors I admire. For the record, Beth Revis (Across the Universe) is such an enthusiastic little darling face. Seriously. I think if I could be reincarnated, I’d come back as a cat and pray she adopted me. I have a feeling even a cat in her life would feel adored. Just saying.

3. Hanging with friends, both old and new. I drove down to Charleston with my friend Mary who was a junior bridesmaid in my wedding. I can’t believe this girl is all grown up now! But there were also people I only know through twitter or other creepy online things. Because we all know I’m creepy. Anyway, all I’m saying is, it was great to be in such good company.

2. Mark Morgan (the producer of the Twilight movies) was there to do a panel about book adaptations. However, his little clear plastic nametag holder was empty. I offered to fashion him a nametag from a borrowed pen and a flowery piece of paper from my notebook, and he not only accepted, but wore it for the rest of the day. In general, I like being helpful, but it was also just plain cool.

1. I got recognized! This sweet girl named Michelle knew me from my videos and came up to me, hugged me, asked me to sign her notebook, and took a picture with me. Things like this totally shock me because I don’t expect it! And I’m always happy to meet anyone who enjoys my books/videos/tweets/smell or whatever that it just MAKES MY WHOLE DAY when it happens. Let Michelle be a lesson to all of you! If you see me about anywhere, stop me, hug me, and talk to me because I genuinely want to meet you!

I think, especially for a first year, the festival went really well! It's got so much room to grow, and I hope I get to go again next year!

General, The Selection

Good Company (& Rad Names)

So I noticed something cool the other day. Well, it’s cool to me.

You see, I wrote this book… you might remember me talking about it? Anyway, it’s about princesses. Sort of. Well, it’s about royalty, I guess. And you might have heard that Shannon Hale, after something like five years, has made a sequel to The Princess Academy. It’s out next fall, I think. Then this chick, Cameron Dokey, has this book Once coming out in February. It’s a packaging of three new takes on old school fairytales. And then this girl who seriously has one of the most amazing names on the planet... Are you ready for this? Galaxy Craze. GALAXY CRAZE, people! Part of me thinks that has to be made up, but Peekaboo Street is a real name, so… Anyway. Her book, The Last Princess, is out in May.

Notice anything there?

Yeah, there’s a whole lot of princess coming up. This is just what I saw in an afternoon. And I have to admit, I’m pretty stoked about this! For the record, I don’t think this is a trend or anything. It could be, I guess, but I’m not smart enough to know. That’s not what this is about anyway. For me, it’s about company. I feel like there’s this wave of similar stories, so that if people like one of ours, there will be a lot of similar books out there at the same time. And you can get into ALL of them if you want! I don’t know why exactly, but this is comforting to me. Very. But, then again, I’m an odd girl.

Not that odd, though. My name isn’t GALAXY CRAZE! Seriously, isn’t that phenomenal? Ugh! I thought Kiera was such a cool name, and I’m totally jealous now.

And here’s where the post swerves completely off the map: If you could change your name, what would it be?

Besides Kiera Marie Pattinson (Oh, my love)… I think I’d go with Paradox Anne Cass. I’ve always thought x’s in names looked cool.

Your turn!

General, advice

Support

This is just a quick note, as there's not much to say today. (SIDE NOTE: Next week there will be MUCH to say. Stay tuned.) But I was realizing this morning how lucky I am to have so much support in my life. Today I met with my friend Carl for coffee (hot chocolate for me) and we caught up. I haven't seen Carl in about seven years, even though he also lives in Blacksburg. He used to be my boss when I was an RA at Radford. I could tell slightly shocking stories... but I won't.

Anyway, all this time later, we're talking about our kids, our general weirdness, our jobs, and I pull out the cover for The Selection so he can see it... and he is just super happy for me. It's been years, and he looks like he could do a backflip. And it's not just him. My parents and in-laws squeal when there's new news, and Callaway is behind the scenes helping things go smoothly. Elana and Erica are on the business side of this all, doing my math and making sure the final product is amazing. Even the chicks at Guyden's daycare ask about what's going on and are always happy for updates. I am in a cocoon of support!

I'm so ridiculously lucky.

But not everyone is. If you don't have someone in your life who is there to tell you what could be tweaked in your work or you can update with your query stats, FIND THAT PERSON! If you can't find someone in real life, get online. There are tons of resources, the first in my mind being inkpop.com. You can post your writing, discuss the trials of the publishing world, and if you're as lucky as Leigh Fallon, actually land a deal. I know, right?!

All I'm saying is, it's tough. You need at least one person in your life who can say "I can see your book on my bookshelf". Maybe you need to be that person for someone else. I don't know. But I've learned that this is hard to do alone. So don't.