Oblong Books, Romantic Times, and BEA/BookCon

I’m doing three events in May: an appearance at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY; several panels and a signing at the Romantic Times Conference in Dallas, TX; and a few things around Book Expo America here in New York City.

Oblong Books
Sunday, May 10, 2015

4:00pm
6422 Montgomery Street
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Justine and I will be talking about our new books, Razorhurst and Afterworlds, and of course signing whatever you want us to sign.

Here’s a link to the event.

Romantic Times
Dallas, TX
May 12-17

I’m on three panels:

YA: From Magic to Gadgets to Alternate Worlds, A YA Fantasy Primer for Writers
Thursday, May 14, 2015 – 1:30pm to 2:30pm
Atrium Level (2nd Floor)
Room: Bryan-Beeman B

Uplifting Service
(Justine and I are special guests in this librarian-focused event.)
Thursday, May 14, 2015 – 2:45pm to 3:45pm
Atrium Level
Room: Cotton Bowl

Humble Beginnings: Your Favorite YA Authors Share Their Teen Writing
Saturday, May 16, 2015 – 4:30pm to 5:45pm
Atrium Level
Room: Gaston

Also, I’ll be at the huge Book Fair signing on May 16. Several of my books will be available for sale there.

Note that you have to get admission to the RT Convention to attend an of these events.

And finally, I’ll be at several events around Book Expo America and Book Con here in NYC.

Book Expo
Javits Convention Center
Friday, May 29th
10:30 – 11:30 am, Zeroes signing (in signing area)
3:30 – 4:45 pm, CBC Tea (room TK)

BookCon
Javits Convention Center
Sunday, May 31st
2:00-3:00 pm, Afterworlds signing
3:30-4:30 pm, The Big Bad Theory
(Sci Fi Panel, moderated by CharlieJane Anders)

More details to come!

NYCTAF

Hey, everyone. I’m back in the States for the New York Teen Author Festival (#NYCTAF). I’ll be doing several events, and there are many more to choose from. Here’s the complete schedule.

And here’s my personal schedule:

“What is YA anyway?”
Monday, March 16
Mulberry Street NYPL, 10 Jersey St
6-8pm

At a time when YA feels ascendant, we’re going to check in and ask: What is YA, anyway? Where does it come from? What does it mean to authors, readers, and the media? Where is it going? Are there fears that it’s just a “trend” right now, and that the pendulum will swing away from it again … or is YA here to stay? How, as writers, do we continue to keep it evolving? None of us will have answers, but we’ll certainly have opinions.

Leigh Bardugo
Daniel Ehrenhaft
Donna Freitas
Lev Grossman
Micol Ostow
Danielle Paige
Scott Westerfeld
moderator: David Levithan

Reader’s Theater/Signing
Friday March 20
Union Square Barnes & Noble, 33 E 17th St
7-8:30pm

Our annual Reader’s Theater, which is always a highlight of the Festival. I will follow up with more details on this one. This year we’ll have two groups of four, with me as the swing.

Cathleen Bell
Holly Black
Heather Demetrios
Kevin Emerson
Tanuja Desai Hidier
Kathryn Holmes
David Levithan
Scott Westerfeld

Exploring Feminist YA
Saturday March 21
42nd Street NYPL, Bartos Forum, 5th Ave at 42nd St
1:40-2:30pm

A conversation about gender in YA, and about writing and promoting feminist YA in particular.

Libba Bray
Gayle Forman
Nova Ren Suma
Scott Westerfeld
moderator: David Levithan

No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing
Sunday March 22
Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th St
1-4pm

My signing slot is 3:30-4pm. Seee the complete schedule for everyone else involved.

Hope to see many of you in NYC!

Tour Is Done

My twenty-city, three-country, back-breaking tour for Afterworlds is done! Now I can go back to that other job I have. Which is, um . . . writing. Yeah, that’s it.

A few notable things:

My next graphic novel project has been announced on io9! (More on this here soon.)

The New York Times gave me a great review, which contained this marketing-department-happy-making pull-quote:

“‘Afterworlds’ is a wonderful book for any young person with an interest in growing up to be a writer.”

Though I would add the words or who is already a writer. Because it’s November, and real writings are underway.

Of course, we can forgive the paternal tone here. We all know that YA reviews in the NY Times aren’t targeted at actual teenagers. (I mean, the review also compares Darcy Patel to Mary Tyler Moore and Cary Bradshaw, as opposed to any characters created in, say, the current century.) And trust me, I fully comprehend that it’s churlish to take issue with one’s positive coverage in the New York-frickin’-Times. So I’m not so much complaining as thinking aloud about who the imagined audience for this review is—not teenagers, pretty clearly—and what that says about the overall relevance of the Paper of Record to the greater project of YA lit.

But please, all you Times-reading adults with credit cards, go order my book for the writerly young people in your life! They’re the ones with dark circles under their eyes muttering “word count, word count” at the breakfast table this month.

They aren’t just growing up to be writers; they are writers right now.

Other stuff:

My first flight in the second leg of the tour was delayed, which left me in DFW airport at almost exactly midnight. If you’ve read Afterworlds, you know that this is pretty hilarious.

In Dallas, a model-making fan named Jon-Luc showed me his diorama of the death of the Goeben, which was pretty amazing:

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The kind students of Alvin, TX gave me this amazing gift basket:

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And at the Texas Teen Book Festival, I learned that there is a tortoise named Deryn.

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Had a lovely time at Changing Hands, as always. And at Hicklebee’s Books in San Jose, CA, where visiting authors sign the walls, doors, and columns, I did something naughty:

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Had a great time at the NaNoWriMo fund-raiser at Books Inc. in San Francisco. Even though we were up against the Giants in the World Series, we pulled a big crowd. Way to put books before sportsball, SF!

Boston Book Festival was the bomb, as was Toronto last week. And the tour finally wrapped up at the amazing YALLfest in Charleston, SC, where I met the very smart and terribly poised 16-year-old author of Popular, Maya van Wagenen:

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And then, with Varian Johnson, I conspired to photobomb the crap out of noted rappers V-Roth, S-Dess, E-Hop, G-4, and D-Paige.*

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All in all, it was too much fun.

To all who came to my events, thank you! I hope it was as fun for you as it was for me. For those of you who missed me, I’m sorry we didn’t connect. Maybe next year.

Yes, I will be touring again next year, though for an entirely new series. (TOP SECRET!)


*Veronica Roth, Sarah Dessen, Ellen Hopkind, Gayle Forman, and Danielle Page. Duh.

Donate to Young Writers

As you guys know, I’ve been matching donations to NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Today, Tuesday June 17, is the best time to donate, because folks who donate between noon and 1PM US Eastern (9AM-10AM Pacific) will be automatically entered to win one of five signed copies of Afterworlds.

That’s right, you get to read it NOW.

The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.

Click here to donate and support young writers.

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Me at BEA (& Heavenly Fire Launch)

To all you folks coming to Book Expo America in NYC, I’ll be signing copies of Afterworlds and otherwise entertaining you! For you non-BEA attenders, I’ll also be at the 92nd St Y for the launch of Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire. And there’s also a surprise on Friday. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the whole week:

Book Launch for The City of Heavenly Fire
With me, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Holly Black.
Lexington Avenue at 92nd St
Kaufmann Concert Hall
Monday, May 26
10:00PM

Update: Sorry, I got sick and can’t do Cassie’s thing. I’m on the mend, though, and will be WELL for the rest of the week. Everyone else will be there tonight, so click here for tickets and details.

BEA EVENTS

Talent Show and Silent Auction
River Pavilion, Javits Convention Center
Wednesday, May 28
5:00-7:30PM

Join the ABC Children’s Group and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) in supporting and protecting the free speech rights of young readers. More than 100 pieces of art from well-known children’s illustrators will be auctioned. Proceeds from the auction support ABFFE, the Kids’ Right to Read Project, and Banned Books Week.

I shall be performing my uncanny “double-Donald.” You must buy tickets!

The Craft of Writing Panel
Me with Brandon Mull, Kiera Cass, and Amy Ewing.
Uptown Stage, Javits Center
Friday, May 30
2:00 – 2:30PM

Afterworlds Signing
S&S booth #2638-9, Level 3 (not the cattle yard)
Javits Center
Friday, May 30
3:45 – whenever 150 copies are gone!

Afterworlds Trailer Revealed
Friday, May 30
Time: ????
Website: io9

Stay tuned for details on this. But here’s a behind-the-scenes picture from making the trailer:

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Pretty cool, huh? More still coming in the next week.

And finally, I’m still matching any and all contributions to the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.

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Donate in the next month through this website, and Justine and I will match the first ten grand of your donations.

Tell your friends!

Support Young Writers

As a little kid, I understood by doing. I rarely listened to music without picking up an instrument, or watched TV without twitching along with the scenes, like those old guys whose shoulders dip and fists clench whenever a boxing match is on. More important to the ultimate course of my life, I couldn’t read without writing.

The word “fanfic” had barely been invented in those pre-internet days, but I spent thousands of pages cloning Tolkien, wrote many proto-novels channeling Joanna Russ, and still commit the occasional Raymond Chandler-esque simile.

Writing has always been a part of my reading. I think it’s a part of any writer’s reading. We understand books by making them.

That’s why I’m a supporter of NaNoWriMo, the month-long festival that invites everyone to become a novelist. A few years ago, Justine and I produced writing tips for every day of November. And my next book is about a young Wrimo who sells her novel to a big publishing house and moves to NYC.

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But I’m here today to raise money. This year, the NaNoWriMo Associate Board is focusing on the Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.

This is all great stuff. If you love novels and writers, you should help out. And as a bonus, if you donate in the next month through this website, Justine and I will match the first ten grand of your donations.

Seriously. We all want to see the novel flourish in the future, right? We want young people to understand the form, to embrace its history and its future, and to continue the mad practice of creating these absurdly long, imperfect strings of text.

We all want this.

So click here to read more about the YWP and to donate. Then tell your friends to do the same.

Uglies on Humble Bundle

A couple of days ago, a new Humble Bundle featuring my book Uglies launched!

Excitement!

But what, you may ask, is a Humble Bundle?

It’s a set of e-books (or video games) that are sold together to raise money for charity and for the creators of the books.

Here’s why it’s cool:

1) It’s super cheap. In fact, you pay whatever price you want. The only limit is, if you pay less than the average of all previous purchases, you only get four of the books. But if you pay the current average or more, you get the two “locked” books as well (one of which is Uglies). The average payment currently stands at US $10.87. Not too bad for six books! And if you pay $15 or more, you also get an audio version Cory Doctorow’s Homeland.

But wait! There’s more! A set of mystery books will appear soon, and you’ll get those books too if you pay the average or more. So many books for a bit over ten bucks.

A slightly helpful infographic:
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2) Humble Bundles support charity. In fact, you can choose how much of your payment goes to charity and how much to the creators (and you also can tip Humble Bundle for providing the infrastructure). The charities for this bundle are WorldReader, a global literacy charity, and the SFWA emergency fund, which helps science fiction writers who find themselves bankrupted by medical bills.

3) All the e-books are DRM-free. You can use them on any device and make as many copies for personal use as you desire. (We are trusting you not to be pirates. Please do not be pirates.)

4) The books are good:
The Best Days of Our Lives by Wil Wheaton
Tithe by Holly Black
Jumper by Stephen Gould
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
Mogworld by Yahtzee Crowshaw
Uglies by me
Homeland (exclusive audio version) by Cory Doctorow
Plus bonus mystery books by mystery authors! (I am fancy and already know what they are and they are great! Note: Not actually mysteries in the genre sense. More like YA.)

In other words, a combination of classic and new YA, and some nonfiction to boot. Plus secret bonus books, which is fun.

As I write this, 12,950 bundles have sold, raising $136,889.60!

Anyway, to buy the bundle simply go to humblebundle.com and cough up some bucks. Do this within 12 days!

So why am I participating in this process?

1) I will get some money out of it. That’s cool.

2) Money will be raised for two fine charities. Global literacy means more readers in the world, which is good for me and for civilization, and emergency medical funds for sf writers are often needed. (I live in the socialist hellscape of Australia, so my medical bills are guaranteed for life. But I have lots of friends who might need this one day.)

3) People will read Uglies for this almost free price and then go buy other books by me for real money. (An old trick.)

4) People who come to buy Uglies will get exposed to the other books on the list, which will be good for those lovely authors! (The reverse is also true, but covered under 1 and 3.)

5) It seemed like the cool kids were doing this. And it’s fun to watch the counter go up and more money appear.

Still not sold? Because, like, all you guys already have Uglies? Surely this video will change your mind:

More Uglies TV show news here soon! (But not instantly, because Hollywood.)

Writing, Community, and the Alpha Workshop

Last July, Justine and I taught at the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers, a science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing camp for people 14-19. It was tons of fun (pic here) and we learned a lot. So when Alpha asked me if I would lend space for their fund-raising and young-writer-recruiting blog tour, I said yes.

So here’s a post by Sarah Brand, an Alpha alum, talking about how workshops and the communities they form help us all to become better writers.


In the summer of 2006, I attended the Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers for the first time. As I boarded the plane to Pittsburgh, easily the farthest I had ever traveled on my own at that point, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being a somewhat anxious, awkward girl, I didn’t know whether I would make friends. But maybe I would learn more about writing, or how to get published. Maybe Tamora Pierce, who teaches at Alpha every year, would look at my novel. (I had brought a printout of all 300 pages just in case.)

I was right about some things, and wrong about others. I did learn a lot about the craft and business of writing, enough to recognize that my novel still needed a lot of work. (Tammy didn’t look at it, which was definitely for the best.) And though I was anxious and awkward, and though minor disasters kept happening to me—getting stung by mysterious bugs, making my parents worry by forgetting to call home, and the like—I felt completely at home with the workshop’s staff and the other students. Something magical was happening.

After ten days, the workshop ended, and I went home. But something was different, something that had never happened to me after any summer camp before: I kept in touch with my fellow Alphans, regularly, via LiveJournal and email. We commiserated about school and traded drafts of stories for critique. Even months after the workshop, I felt as close to some Alphans as I did to other friends I had known all my life. Maybe geography had cruelly scattered us from California to New Zealand and everywhere in between, but we were united by our love of making stories happen, and bringing strange new worlds to life.

In 2009, after I had returned to Alpha twice more—once as a second-year student and once as a staff member—fellow Alpha graduates Rachel Sobel and Rebecca McNulty founded the alpha-crits community, which soon became the way many Alphans stayed in touch. In addition to trading critiques, we celebrate each other’s writing accomplishments and publishing successes. For four particularly memorable months, the moderators ran the “700 words a day or shame!” thread, which resulted in Alphans collectively writing 875,799 words in that time. Also, every year as the deadline for the Dell Magazines Award approaches, eligible Alphans frantically write and revise stories for the contest, and everyone pitches in to give critiques with an extra fast turnaround time. (A couple of months later, we all join in the nail-biting until the finalists are announced.)

Importantly, the members of alpha-crits encourage each other to write things and send them out, continuing the time-honored Alphan tradition of treating rejections from agents and editors as a badge of honor. (Rejections, we have all learned, mean that you are writing things and sending them out, and that is always a step forward, even if it doesn’t feel like it.)

Even if I had never attended Alpha, I think I would still be writing. The entire course of the last eight years of my life would be different, sure, but in the end, telling stories is part of who I am. But being part of a community of such fabulous writers—not only brilliant and talented, but also uniformly encouraging and kind—has made the journey much easier, and a lot more fun.

And lest you might think I’m the only one who feels this way, I reached out to other Alphans to get their thoughts. Alpha graduate Marina Goggin had this to say: “One thing I hear a lot that I would never expect out of a two-week workshop is that Alpha changes lives. This is absolutely true…  Being part of Alpha makes you a part of the writing world—even if you haven’t been published yet, someone you critiqued probably has been. Someone you know just got an agent, or a job at a publishing company. While I’m working to improve my writing, I’m encouraged by the fact that other Alphans have already been through the same process and are there to help me through it in turn.”

“I have a whole community of writer friends who I can go to for advice or encouragement should I ever need it,” added Alphan Mallory Trevino.

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If you are between the ages of 14 and 19 and love writing science fiction, fantasy, or horror, you should apply to Alpha! This year’s workshop will be held July 25-August 3 in Pittsburgh, PA, and applications are due March 2. Everyone else: if you like the sound of Alpha and want to help the workshop, please consider donating to our scholarship fund, which helps students who couldn’t afford to attend Alpha otherwise. All donors receive a flash fiction anthology, written and illustrated by Alpha graduates, as a thank-you gift.

Sarah Brand attended Alpha in 2006 and 2007. She writes young adult science fiction and fantasy, and her fiction is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Uglies Is Free in the UK

If you live in the United Kingdom, you can acquire the e-book of Uglies for the low cost of FREE from iTunes.

[Alas, this offer is no longer.]

Hope all your NaNoWriMoings are going well. Today’s NaNo hint is: Don’t forget that visual aids can help you organize your novel!

Here’s my Action/Tension plot from the first few chapters of Behemoth. Each index card represents one chapter. I add the chapter description, the Action/Tension labels, and the color-coded POV pushpins (red for Deryn, blue for Alek). This is all really easy in Scrivener:

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Rather than software, some writers use physical objects to help organize their novels. Here is Lauren Beukes’ “murder wall,” which she used to keep the serial killings in The Shining Girls straight:

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photo credit: Morne van Zyl

Image ganked from this interview in Zola Books.

I can just imagine the South African police busting into Lauren’s home on an unrelated matter, seeing this murder wall, and being all, “Check the basement.”

Diana Peterfreund also uses a physical medium for plot tracking, color-coded sticky notes!

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Her blog post about this “plot board” is here. This one is for the book Rampant, which I blurbed.

Those of you with more monochromatic tastes should check out Justine’s post about How to Write a Novel, which includes this spreadsheet for word-count and POV tracking:

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Of course, it doesn’t matter what combination of yarn/software/post-its you employ. Whatever helps you visualize your novel’s structure, and gets your eyes out the trees so you can see the forest, is awesome.

Just remember, a good novel isn’t just a piece of text; it’s a terrain, a country, even a world. As its ruler, you should probably have a map.

My New Book in Word Cloud

I AM BACK. Yes, it’s been a while. But I’ve been writing, and a week ago I finished the first draft of my NEXT NOVEL. It is 135,000 words long, almost as long as Uglies and Pretties put together!

At the moment, this draft is with my agent and editor, and various novelist friends of mine. They’ll all have a gander and get back to me with comments and suggestions, and then there will be rewrites, copyedits, page proofs, sales meetings, cover designs, advanced reader copies, etc. Getting through all these stages means that Afterworlds will come out on October 28 September 23, 2014.

Yep. A year from now.

As always when I finish a book, I made a word cloud of Afterworlds. Word clouds take the most commonly occurring words in the text (omitting obvious ones like “the” and “was”) and size them by how often they appear.

I make these clouds partly to amuse and titillate you guys, and partly to make sure that there aren’t any overused words stinking up the joint. Check it out:

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Okay, so what do we have here?

Darcy is the main character, so she’s the biggest word, naturally. Imogen is also key, as are Yamaraj and Lizzie. (Lizzie looks small to me, but her sections are in first person, so her name doesn’t appear as much!) Mindy, Kiralee, and Nisha are the other characters to appear, and they all seem about the right size. And yes, there is an important character that shows up as “mother”/”mom”.

Of the Dreaded Overused Words I look for, most aren’t there. No “eyebrows” or “frowned,” thank heavens. No “smiled” or “laughed.” But I will probably take a look at “looked” and “stared” when I do the rewrites. Looking ain’t a verb you need too much of.

What I mostly notice from this is how plain the words are. There’s very little sign of the genre of book I’ve written. To see what I mean, check out the word cloud of my last novel, Goliath:

Along with all the character names, this cloud has lots of words from the Leviathan milieu: “airship,” “Clanker,” “captain,” “cargo,” and “engines.” But you don’t have any of those in my new cloud. This is partly because Afterworlds is contemporary, and half of the book has no fantastic elements at all.

Indeed, this is a story told in relatively simple words. Notice “bad” and “little” in there, which make perfect sense. (Gotta read it to see why.) This makes sense, now that I see it revealed in the cloud. Must contemplate what it means, though. Certainly there’s a bit less world-building in Afterworlds than there was in the Leviathan series, but that makes sense for a stand-alone novel.

For more on the story of the book, check out this podcast with Sarah Wendell of
SBTB. It’s her interviewing me and Justine in Brisbane, and we discuss both our next-year books. Click here, then go to the bottom of that page and click the player controls to listen. Lots of me talking about the plot, which some might find a bit spoilery!

Enjoy. And be seeing you here more.