The Selection

The Elite, The One, The Selection

Inspiration Week! Day 5!

Now it’s time for my final inspiration post. We started with where the first book began, at America’s house. So let’s close with where the first book ends: the palace.

I also have several pages of notes dedicated to the palace, but the one I’m going with is what we see outside.

I think the picture here is actually of the Spelling Manor. Visually, it’s the closest I can find to what the palace looks like to me. Now, I use the word palace (not castle) intentionally. Castles are typically more war-ready. Palaces are pretty. The staff in the palace have found ways to protect themselves, but they’re not very good at intimidating the rebels to the point that the reconsider their attacks.

The outside of the palace is a lot like this, very bright and with a fountain in the front. But it’s four stories, not two. You would also find things around that look expensive (like statues, etc) on display to impress visitors, but there isn’t a pool in the palace because Gregory thought that was frivolous.

Maxon talks about this being a beautiful cage, and I’m taken back to America’s first time walking up the front steps, with maids escorting her in so she could be prepped. The next time she saw them she was being paraded out to watch her best friend be beaten and humiliated before she was locked inside again.

I think the question you should all be considering now is, will America see those steps again in The One? And what exactly would that mean if she does?

The Elite, The One, The Selection

Inspiration Week! Day 4!

Sorry for the delay on this post, but we’re back today with the final two posts for Inspiration Week. Now that we’ve discussed Aspen at length, it’s time to move on to the other boy who is slowly devouring our souls: Prince Maxon Schreave.

I’m going to be honest, I think one of the reasons I was shocked when so many people immediately abandoned Aspen and favored Maxon was because for me (and America, might I add), Maxon didn’t make sense. Maxon was this distant figure, and for how removed he was from America’s life, he might as well have been fictitious. I mean, I know he is, but like… just work with me here.

These were my earliest impressions of Maxon:

I got distinct feeling of isolation and sadness when I looked at Maxon, though, outwardly, he’s very charming. There is definitely a Maxon for the cameras and a Maxon just for himself. But he’s gotten very good at making sure no one can guess at how desperately he wishes he had more friends, or at least a sibling. If you completely missed how giddy he was when his cousins came to visit, let me remind you: that happened. Even with America upset with him, he was chasing the littlest ones around the garden, soaking up the time before they were gone again.

It’s been different since the girls came. If you’ve read The Prince you know how daunting their arrival was for him, but, when he can get past the actual competition of it, he really enjoys the company. Just the sound of other people in the palace is good for him. And it’s different from guards and butlers who are always around but make a point of never being heard. The Selected girls don’t think like that. They want to be noticed, and that mentality has benefited him.

Anyway, this was the original Maxon, the first impression. And while he looks tall, he’s shorter than Aspen, and while he looks lean, there’s more to him under his suit. I also like the image of him with a gun, off to go hunting. It suits him, as does his photography. You don’t need a partner to do either of those hobbies.

It’s hard to imagine that someone who’s been asked to be an adult since he was a child can grow up anymore, but I think he has. I’m hoping you see special things in him and Aspen and America when you finally get to read The One.

The Elite, The One, The Selection

Inspiration Week! Day 3!

Today is the day! It’s America’s birthday, and in celebration, I’m looking at my inspiration for her. Now, honestly, there are multiple pages dedicated to America in my inspiration book. Some solely focused on her hair or clothes. So when it came time to choose one, I decided to go the page that had the least.

That probably seems unfair. If I’m supposed to be sharing… then why aren’t I sharing? Mostly because she didn’t.

In the beginning, things with America were sparse. She’s a bit reserved, used to the background. Being in the spotlight, even if it was only in my head, was weird for her. I started writing The Selection between editing The Siren, and it sat for a few months before I knew I had to finish it. By the end of the first book, she was a little bit more assertive, a bit surer of herself. Not by much, but some. And it was about at that point (when she was okay speaking up) that I realized I’d have to rewrite the whole thing to get her right.

And I’m really glad I took the time to do that.

The picture we have up here is how I see America in the palace for the first time. Beautiful, but also kind of scary. Like you’re not sure if you want to talk to her or not (unless you’re Marlee and the sweetest thing on the planet and you don’t care). She’s surrounded by music, but also slightly distanced from it, and, of course, there’s a songbird nearby. And I have to say, the butterflies in the background happened before I knew what she’d be for Halloween. Funny how that works out. She’s lovely, but you’re not completely sure what she’s thinking… and you kind of want to know, right?

I like this girl. So glad she popped into my head and not someone elses.

I’ve known America longer than I’ve known my actual children. There’s so much to her, and there are parts that only I have. That said, I’m so happy that so many of you decided to walk through her story with her. I hope that the final book will have been worth the wait for you. Thanks.

To America, happy birthday, love! Thanks for being a companion for so many years, for trusting me with your words, and, oh yeah, for paying off my school loans. Kisses!

The Elite, The One, The Selection

Inspiration Week! Day 2!

Today, we’re going to move from America’s home to the tree house. Namely, to the boy who waits there for her. Yes, today we’re looking at Aspen Leger.

Now, the image that I’ve had saved for Aspen the longest (which, I admit, is a bit of a shocker) is this one:

I know Efron is a strange choice, especially because when I see him, I sometimes think of Maxon. But it isn’t his facial features here that grab me so much as how dirty he looks. He seems gritty in his jeans and his boots. He looks like he’s been through something. There’s energy and exhaustion in him, fighting to control his reaction to things. I don’t know, something in all that screams ASPEN to me.

Also, when I ran across that little line at the top, I knew that was his. I feel for Aspen. I think he and America both always wanted to be more open about loving each other, at least to their families. But America’s mother wouldn’t have it, and so it feels like they both kept the secret for her sake, not his. When they get to the palace, well, that’s a bit trickier.

If you’ve read The Selection Stories, you know how much Aspen regrets his decision their last night in the tree house, and you’ve seen his history through his family tree that somewhat explains where his worries come from. I can kind of see that in the expression here, too. Thinking, looking ahead, trying to plan for every possible scenario.

I get a lot of hate over Aspen, lots of people saying they wish he’d just die. I’m not going to try and convince you how special he is. But Aspen has a sacred place in my heart, and he always will.

More tomorrow!

The Elite, The One, The Selection

Inspiration Week! Day 1!

As the diehard Selectioners know, this Wednesday, February 26, is America’s birthday. Woot woot! To celebrate both her birthday and the final book in the trilogy coming out soon, I thought it might be fun to spend this week looking back. I want to take you to the start, to 2008, when I really started working on America’s story. I’d write bits and pieces, but when I needed to pause (or was forced to by a heroine who took her sweet time letting me get to know her), I’d work on the world surrounding her.

Up in my office, I have a book. My inspiration book. And before Pinterest was a thing, this was how I held onto all the little scraps and images that helped me visualize Illéa and the people and places in it. Some of this, you’ve already seen. You have the complete list of the Selected girls, and you’ve seen my HIDEOUS drawing of what I dreamed the original cover should look like. But there are other things in there, and this week (which I’m calling Inspiration Week) I’ll be showing you a little of it.

Now, there are lots of details I’m holding back because of have to, and plenty of the book is just girls in pretty dresses. So as far as actual things worth sharing… it’s limited. And there might not actually be much to say. But still, this is part of where it all came from. So let’s go back to day one, page one. Let’s go to America’s house.

The first part of The Selection takes place in America’s home, and while I had the vibe of where she lived in my head almost instantly, the thing that I actually had to work on for the sake of writing out a scene was the floor plan. This is America’s house:

In the front left is Shalom and Magda’s room, the "big" one. Beside it is May’s room, which she used to share with America before Kenna moved out. In the back left is Kenna’s old room (now America’s), which you can see has a pretty clear view of the tree house. Next to her room is Gerad’s room, which he shared with Kota before he left.

Note there is one bathroom for the five kids. That sucked. The sketched out TV is big, and I kind of imagined it looked that way in real life. Think pre-flat screen, that’s what the Singers have. I also pictured the carpeting and general style to be sort of 70s-ish. But like, 70s if you grew up in the 80s. Carpet that used to be shaggy now worn down and basically hard in the places everyone travels, colors that are orangey and amber, warm wood tones. Not necessarily that whole style in the kids’ rooms, but in the living area for sure.

There’s a driveway up to the garage, which is never opened because they don’t have a car, and that space is where America’s dad and May (and formerly Kota) do their work. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. They really suffer for their art. It’s got an industrial feel in there, with shelves of supplies they buy in bulk because who knows when they’ll need what, and it’s cheaper that way. Occasionally, they hire a Six (cough cough) to make sure that everything is stocked up correctly and to get an idea of what they’ve burned through. Not all artists are good businessmen.

I think about America’s front door a lot, especially lately. Since they’re artists, I keep wanting to put a color on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s black. Their front yard is small but clean, and they live on the edge of town where the houses end, just before it turns into a mass of apartment buildings. In the other direction, they have to walk a ways before the homes give way to an open space of shops and restaurants, plus the Province Services Office.

The Singer family mostly keeps to their home. It’s old and outdated, but it’s cozy. And despite the occasional wave of tension, there’s a lot of love there.

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed day one of Inspiration Week. More tomorrow!   

The Elite, The One, The Selection, events

Philippines FAQ!

Are you really coming to the Philippines?

Yes. This is real. This is happening. You need to prepare yourselves.

Are the events free?

Yes! There is a registration before the event to see what order you get your book signed in, but they are both free. You might need to purchase a book to have signed, but if you already have a copy purchased from National Book Store, Powerbooks, or Bestsellers, you’re good to go.

What will you be doing?

My guess is mostly answering questions, signing books, and taking pictures.

Will you sign more than one book?

Yes. I’ll sign as many books as you bring me. The book store has a note about maybe cutting off too many pictures or books if things are taking too long, but that is really up to them. Personally, I’m coming to the other side of the world for you guys. You’re why I’m there. I’ll stay there all night. I promise you, if you come to meet me, you will get that chance.

Will you be going anywhere else in the Philippines?

No. We’ll get into Manila, do some media stuff, do the signing, head over to Cebu, do the signing there, and then it’s more flights and home. We’ll have a little down time, but we’re using it for just that: down time! I hope that you can make it out to one of the events because I’m not sure if/when I’ll be out that way again.

Are you bringing Guyden and Zuzu?

No. They’ll be with the grandparents.

Will you bring copies of The Siren?

Unfortunately, no. Mostly for the sake of easy packing, and also because I’m out of copies. I’m going to try to find a way to make this book more accessible. Sorry guys!

When I come to the signing, can I dress up?

The more appropriate question is: WHY WOULDN’T YOU DRESS UP?!!?!?! Seriously, it always makes me happy to see people wearing tiaras to my events, so go for it!

I made this thing for you, can I bring it?

Maybe. Again, because I have to pack and take things through customs, I don’t have room for posters or stuffed animals or things like that. If you want to bring something like fan art, please make sure it fits on a regular sheet of typing paper. If you have stuff like cards, pictures, and other flat things, I think that will be okay.

If you have any more questions, check out National Book Store’s FAQ page!

The Selection

Shipping Asperica

I’ve seen you guys ask why you should bother shipping Aspen and America. Like he isn’t even a valid option for her or something. I mean, I get what you’re saying. Maxon’s cute and sweet and they have an unexpected chemistry, so it’s easy to forget about Aspen sometimes.

But here’s the thing.

Aspen is the first boy that gave America that butterflies in your stomach feeling. For two long years she spent the worst and hardest parts of her day reminding herself that the bad stuff didn’t matter because someone loved her. For a girl who grew up thinking she’d never do anything more that sing songs at parties— than be background noise— Aspen was the only future she ever hoped for. He would be her family; he would give her a family. If you’re at all aware of how much she loves her own, can you imagine the way she felt about starting one with a boy who sacrifices so much of himself for the people in his life?

And Aspen is prepared to sacrifice to have America. He already has. Aspen gives up everything he can for his family, but America always trumps them. She even trumps himself. The pennies in her jar all added up could be food for his younger brothers, clothes for his younger sisters, a chance to leave the light on a little longer in the night. The time devoted to seeing her in secret are lost hours of work, but he hands them over gladly at the chance to see her, hold her, kiss her. Him asking her to put her name in the Selection was a stupid idea born of wanting her to have the best. He’s very proud and intensely aware of just how much she’ll lose the day she takes his name. But, in essence, he already treats her the way he expects a man to treat his wife. For better or for worse, forsaking all others.

It’s unfortunate that you can’t see what I can. Because I’ve seen Aspen look around his family’s apartment, already bursting at the seams, and worry that America will be disappointed the day she’s forced to move in there. I witnessed him sitting up late into the night, watching reruns of The Report and specials about the Selected because he missed her voice. You don’t know how shocked he was that she wasn’t eliminated immediately, how worried he was that Maxon was falling for her already. You didn’t see his face the day the draft came through and he resigned himself to his fate, repeating in his head that it was better that she left since he was probably going to die anyway.

So, no, you don’t have to ship them. But that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to. Don’t doubt for a second that Aspen loves her blindly, almost to a fault. And, while Maxon is moving into America’s heart, Aspen was there first.

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! 

 

 

Personal, The Elite, The Selection

Maternity Leave (I'm not just being lazy)

Honestly, I’d been kind of hoping I could skip any sort of maternity leave and just power through because… well, that’s kind of what I do. But, alas, my body is saying otherwise, so here is what I can leave you with before I take some serious downtime… starting right about now.

We’re scheduled to go in July 9th to have Zuzu. I VOW to at least tweet some kind of picture so you all can see her. It makes me giddy that so many of you have been with me through this pregnancy (and some with Guyden’s, too!) and listened to me fret and be excited, and you’ve done the same right along with me. So, yeah, you’ll get to see her. But I hear recovery from c-sections can be tough, so it’ll still be a while before I’m fully back.

Also, some FAQs I get in my emails:

  1. Your book is rad! Ok, not exactly a question, but I am grateful to anyone who takes the time to not only read The Selection but write and tell me they enjoyed it. Thank you SO MUCH! Each of these little notes is precious to me.
  2. When is Book 2 out? What’s it called? What happens? We don’t have an official date yet, but I’ll put it on the website once we do. Everything else I can tell you is in this video.
  3. Would you do an interview for my blog? I so wish I could! I love book bloggers! Right now, no. But maybe later in the fall. We’ll see.
  4. Can you send me some swag? Again, I wish I could, but no. The only exception to this is for people who want to have their book signed. If you send your copy of The Selection (or The Siren) to my PO box with a self-addressed stamped envelope or box, I will sign it and send it back to you. I will have my minions checking the box for me, so it might be slow, but it will come back to you signed.
  5. How can I be a better writer? Here’s the short version of what I usually say: Read everything, don’t neglect the technical side of writing, let yourself daydream, and get a thick skin. There are much better people to ask that than me anyway, so get on twitter and stalk some authors.

I’ll still be popping onto twitter and FB from time to time, but blog posts and videos will be few and far between. Gotta take care of me and my wee ones. And you want me to get the rest of these books written, right? So know I’m still hearing you, I just won’t be able to interact as much.

Thanks for being so cool.

UPDATE July 7th:

     6. Tell me more about the TV show! Okay, if you're just getting into the swing of things The CW passed on adding The Selection to its fall lineup. BUT they are very eager to continue working on the show. All I know right now is that the script will be reworked and a few actors might be recast, and with any luck we'll see it on TV next spring or summer. Stay tuned for updates this fall!

 

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, 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.

The Selection, contests

Winners!

Okay, I am nerdishly in love with pretty much everything you guys said. You’re all so creative, and it’s clear the same old damsel in distress isn’t what’s expected of a princess these days. I seriously wish I had enough goodies to hand out to all of you, but I had to whittle it down. Below are a couple of my faves:

  • Princesses must be able to charm wild animals with their singing voice.- Rachael L
  • Remind yourself! You are never ugly, the mirror is just broken, or people need glasses.- Sarah M
  • A princess must have hair straight out of a Pantene commercial. If it doesn’t have a shine factor of at least 8, she’ll be suspected of being an imposter.- Lauren K
  • Wear comfortable high heels, nothing is more unattractive than a girl limping around the ball room saying I'm alright while they are clutching onto your arms crying ouch every five seconds.- Ryan

Rachael, Sarah, Lauren, and Ryan, please send me your address via the contact form here on my website, and I will send you each a signed bookmark. You guys get an honorable mention for your general awesomeness!

As for our big winner… when I came across this entry, I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself:

1st RULE: You do NOT talk about BEING A PRINCESS
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about BEING A PRINCESS
3rd RULE: If someone says "stop" or goes limp... Wait. I'm thinking about the wrong book, aren't I?

Ha! Even posting this makes me giggle! So congratulations, Kayla B, you win a signed ARC of The Selection (and I’ll shove a bookmark in there too)!

Thank you guys for all playing along. And if you didn’t win, hop on over to my YouTube channel for another chance!

The Selection, contests

Three Royal Rules (A giveaway!)

So, it’s giveaway time! I’ve been wanting to give out the last little ARCs I’ve had hiding in my room for a while, and this is the moment, people! So, if you would like to get a signed ARC of The Selection, here’s what you need to do:

     1.      Live in the US. Sorry.

     2.      Be awesome. Easy. Done. Check.

     3.      In the comments below give me your three rules that all princesses should live by.

To help you out, here are my Three Royal Rules:

     1.      Princesses NEVER take off their tiaras, no matter the occasion.

     2.      Princesses NEVER turn down chocolate.

     3.      Princesses ALWAYS take naps.

             a. The time and duration of said naps are left up to the discretion of the princess. Of course.

And there you have it! That's how things would be if I was in charge. Now, it's your turn. If you want to get creative and post pictures or something, just leave a link to your blog in the comments instead. I’ll chose and announce a winner next Monday! And there might be a few runner up type things, because I hate making decisions. So yeah.

If you happen to follow me on YouTube or Facebook, stay tuned. ARCs heading that way as well. Wahoo! Happy princessing!

TV show, The Selection

So, about that whole TV thing

In case you’ve had your ears carefully plugged and missed me squealing about this, The Selection has been picked up by the CW for a television series! Typically, I like to make Behind the Book videos to talk about things like getting your first advance check or dealing with your doubt. But this is a bit of a long story, so here is how it all went down:

Last July I was driving to Toddler Talk with Guyden, minding my own business, tra la la la la. My phone rang, and it was Elana calling to say that Warner Brothers was interested in optioning The Selection for a television series! Now, you might be wondering just what that word “optioning” means. Basically, a production company pays for the rights to hold onto your project, usually for about a year. Then they beat it with the Hollywood Stick and see if anything awesome pops out. Lots of projects die in this stage (or so I’ve been told), and I assumed that was what was going to happen to me. You might have noticed… it’s Febtober now. Yeah, it’s been a while.

But backing up. Last July, I had a phone call with some lovely ladies over at WB, and by the end of it, I felt pretty encouraged. Even though I knew that things would have to be changed, I felt secure in their desire to maintain the feeling of the book. I also was excited about the television format, because instead of cutting things out like you have to for movies, we’d have the opportunity to add things in, explore other areas of the world that America doesn’t see. And when it was agreed that I could be hired as a creative consultant, (meaning I’d get to at least offer up some thoughts for the show (though, really, they still don’t have to listen to me)), I was in. Let’s do this!

So the contract negotiations started… and that’s all I knew. I figured nothing was happening because there was all this red tape to get through, and I was sure at some point someone was going to say this wasn’t worth the hassle. Little did I know that while the contract was being hammered out, the people at Warner Brothers were already hard at work. By the time the contracts came back to me a few weeks ago, the talk was “Yeah, you’re going to want to sign these pretty quickly. There are some people looking into shooting a pilot.”… And I was all like HUH?

Yeah, they’d gotten producers, written a script, shopped it around. They were totally on top of it! I signed the contracts and a few days later, the news is on MTV: The Selection’s going to be a TV show.

Now, I will say that this doesn’t mean much. The show still might not happen. They could test it with executives who don’t like it, or show it to the country and everyone starts throwing stuff at their TV in protest… but it also might be something really cool.

At this point, I don’t know a whole lot. We have some fantastic producers/writers in Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain. I’ve read their script, and it’s really amazing what they’ve done with the world. We also have Barbara Stordahl and Angela Terry on board as casting directors, and their IMDB pages are full of awesome things they’ve cast, so you just go look that up. I also hear that they’re going to shoot in Vancouver, which I dig because it seems like all the cool stuff gets done in Vancouver these days, so yay!

And for now, it’s more waiting for me. I’m excited to see what comes, but in the meantime, I’m just looking forward to getting the book in your hands. It’s something like 77 days away now. After the years it took to get to today, that feels like nothing. I SO can’t wait!

Anyway, stay tuned, and I’ll keep you posted on book and movie news as much as I can. And thanks so much for all of the love you guys have given me already. You’re keen!

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.