Shared Worlds Workshop

I recently contributed to a cool fundraising effort for Shared Worlds, a teen fantasy and science fiction writing camp in South Carolina.

Artist Jeremy Zerfoss created a tableaux of fanciful monsters, and each writer chose one to write a short description about.

Click here to see the full-size work, and click on any monster for its description. See if you can find mine!

From that page, you can donate to Shared Worlds or register if you think attending would be fun. It’s open to 8th through 12th Graders.

Here’s the press release from Shared Worlds:

Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, Scott Westerfeld, and thirty-seven more of the most imaginative writers from around the world have contributed to Shared Worlds’ “Critter Map,” a webpage of fantastical beasts. Their whimsical descriptions of imaginary creatures created by pop artist Jeremy Zerfoss are in support of the Shared Worlds registration and fund drive for 2012. Every summer up to 50 teen writers come to Shared Worlds SF/F Teen Writing Camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, from as far away Japan to participate in this unique camp. This year, registrants include teens from all parts of the United States as well as Germany and Indonesia. Wofford College provides a structured, supervised environment in which the students can excel and demonstrate their creativity.

At Shared Worlds, the students form teams in classrooms to build entire fantasy or science fictional worlds in the first week and then write stories in those worlds the second week. Top professional writers are on hand to provide feedback and to conduct workshops. The guest writers for the 2012 include New York Times bestsellers Julianna Baggott, Naomi Novik, and Tobias Buckell as well as Prix Award Winner Karin Lowachee and Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer. The teens also get to attend author readings, take fieldtrips to bookstores, and create videos about their imaginary worlds. Shared Worlds also publishes an annual book of the students’ writing.

“For many of our students, Shared Worlds is a transformational experience,” said the camp’s assistant director, fantasy writer Jeff VanderMeer. ”They not only learn more about writing, they also get to have fun solving problems in in the world-building groups, and they form what will probably turn out to be life-long friendships with like-minded teens.”

The “Critter Map” is the cornerstone of a donation drive intended to ensure that attending the Shared Worlds Teen Writing Camp can be a possibility for all registered students, no matter what their financial need.

Click here for more info about Shared Worlds.

Tally Revealed!

I was all ready to reveal the manga version of Tally this week, and then realized that I didn’t have the final versions of the right pages. Oops. Then there was a bit of miscommunication, but now at last I have them!

So we are delaying Fan Art Friday (often known as Fan Art Sunday) for the Tally character reveal.

Remember that Shay’s Story (AKA “The Uglies Manga”) is all from Shay’s POV, and therefore starts about six months before the events of Uglies, back when Shay and Zane are pals. So Tally doesn’t enter until Zane and Shay have planned to run away and then “chickened out.” (That’s what they told Tally in Pretties, but it’s more complicated than that in reality.)

But when Tally appears, we are fully into the same events as Uglies, so some of the scenes below will be familiar. It’s kind of interesting, duplicating some Uglies scenes almost exactly, but in an entirely new context and from a different point of view.

Of course, there are some times when Devin and I decided to skip over a lot of the scenes in Uglies, using the wonder of montage! You may recognize these flashes from the book, when Tally and Shay are getting to be friends.

Here’s a close-up of a familiar scene in Uglies that gets swept past in this montage:

This scene is also directly from the book, but here only lasts one frame. It’s quite illuminating to see Steven’s vision of it:

What’s interesting is, when you read the book, Tally is the protagonist and is therefore the center of attention in this scene. But in the version above, you can see that Shay is the featured character. She’s literally foregrounded.

And finally, here’s an argument between Tally and Shay at a certain key point in the story:

Click here for a bigger version of this one.

The dialog is directly from the book, but as you can see, Tally has her back to us and we see Shay’s expression.

I didn’t realize any of this (at least, the visual aspect of it) until I started to look for shots of Tally, and realized that there were very few of her. Most of the time, she’s in the background and Shay’s doing something. Because the comic is all about Shay.

But there is a great shot of Tally from near the end of the book, when they’re in the Smoke. So here’s frizzy-haired, not very confident, under-suspicion Tally:

Hope you like her.

Fan Art Friday (SOPA Edition)

In celebration of the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently being considered by the US Congress, this week’s Fan Art Friday will be 100% copyright compliant!

All SOPA-offending elements, such as the remixing and recasting of copyrighted characters and situations, have been censored for your viewing pleasure.

Let’s start with this lovely image by CatieKay:

Pretty sweet, huh? How about those two random people having a possibly intimate moment atop an entirely generic (and thus non-copyrightable) flying whale-beast! Sure, we can’t SEE what they’re doing as the lightning flashes, but at least no one’s interfering with my ability to generate income from this touching narrative moment.

And here’s a lovely piece of fan art from Unforgiven-Unloved:

This one’s very sweet, but of course it would be WRONG to let you see these characters drawn by anyone but Keith Thompson, the only registered and approved artist for the Leviathan series. The dialog is pretty cute too. But let’s face it, only I may legally put words into the mouths of Deryn and Alek.

And here’s some cool Xmas ornaments from AvistheArtistGeek:

Aww. Tiny Deryn and Alek getting ready to climb the ratlines of Avis’s Christmas tree! Too bad that these characters belong to me, and thus her entire Xmas is non-SOPA-compliant! I just hope she takes her decorations down before my lawyers get there.


Most of you have probably seen that Wikipedia is dark today, and that Google’s banner page is sad. In fact, a ton of sites on the interwebs are shrouded in various ways. This is, of course, to protest the SOPA and PIPA legislation being considered in the US Congress.

“But wait!” you may be asking. “Is SOPA really so evil?”

It’s supporters certainly don’t want you to think so. After all, the purpose of SOPA is to protect copyright laws, by which filmmakers, musicians, and novelists (and the corporations that publish them) make money from their work. And that’s me!

But as you may have noticed, the internet is a place in which copyright is treated in a rough-and-ready fashion. People gank photos without attribution, create fan fiction and art based on others’ work, and make lip-sync music videos without paying for the right to do so.

Gee, how horrible. All those babies dancing to “Single Ladies” FOR FREE.

The problem is that SOPA and PIPA are written only with us copyright owners in mind. The lobbyists who wrote these bills don’t care about the rest of you (us, actually, because we all re-mix culture).

Here’s one example: PIPA allows companies to sue websites for the crime of linking to other websites that infringe copyright. So if I link to Deviant Art, and someone on Deviant Art (say, jett-wolfe98) has ganked a photo and added Deryn and Alek to it, like so:

Then I can be sued! Not for the image of Alek and Deryn, but for the underlying photograph of the room, which is, after all, a copyrightable thing.

In other words, everyone on the web will become responsible for the behavior of all the sites they link to, always and forever. Deviant Art will be totally gone, as will everything else cool and interesting.

(By the way, if your fan art is here, don’t be sad! It will return in its non-censored glory on Friday. Sorry, guys, for using your lovely work to make a point!)

These bills are, of course, absurd at a legal level, and as a practical matter they are nothing less than an attack on the structure of the web, its complex web of links and connections, and upon the content of the web, with its rich culture of re-mixing and re-purposing copyrighted works, like the fan art and fan fiction that appears on this blog. For which, under SOPA, I could sue you guys and everyone who links to you IF I WERE A COLOSSAL ASS-HAT.

But in an effort to fight ass-hattery, I’m joining in this protest today. Not by blocking my site, but by offering you the above edition of Fan Art Friday that meets SOPA’s standards, with all the copyright-offending materials blacked out.*

Do you like this version of Fan Art Friday? Would you like everything on the internet to work this way? I think not.

Now, I will mention that President Obama has come out against SOPA/PIPA in its current form. That’s a good thing, but it never hurts to keep the pressure on. He will be president for, at most, five more years.

And throughout your lifetime, there will always be people who try to turn spaces of sharing and collaboration into places of buying, selling, and lawsuits. Stay ready to fight them, or you will leave your kids a world where most stuff sucks.

Click here to learn more about SOPA, or to contact your representatives in congress.

Non-SOPA/sucky Fan Art Friday will return on Friday, with the art above and more, uncensored. Like the internet should be.

*Yes, the legal status of fan art and fan fictions is complicated, but if SOPA passes, we’re heading toward a world where that status will probably become simpler, and not in a good way.

Tesla’s Letterhead

Just in case you think that my representation of Nikola Tesla in Goliath was over the top, you need to see his letterhead:

Yes. He was THAT cool.

The image in the upper right of the letterhead is one of the remote control boats with which Tesla tries to repel the German walker attack in Chapter 39 of Goliath. They were totally real!

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s Keith Thompson’s version:

Of course, the central image in the letterhead is Wardenclyffe Tower, as it was to have appeared had it ever been completed. Note that Keith and I cheated a bit to make it more spectacular:

But as you can tell from the letterhead, it was pretty awesome anyway.

So keep this image on your phone or whatever, so that if you ever get transported back to the early 1900s, you can get in touch with Tesla. (As you can see, his phone number is “8080 Bryant.” I’m not sure how you dial that.)

And while we’re on the subject of mad scientists, I’ll take the opportunity to reveal my new author photo:

Photo from Moonie Baloonie. It no doubt took all day in Photoshop to get my eyes that red. Appreciate it!

NaNoWriMo Preparations!

As we approach the month of November, many of you are no doubt getting ready for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo! In this yearly ritual, tens of thousands of bookish folk declare their intent to write a whole novel in a mere thirty days. (Or at least 50,000 words, which is certainly on the way.) Doing NaNoWriMo is a great way to take a stab at finally writing that novel in your head, or to test your own discipline, or simply to understand better what your favorite novelists go through on a daily basis.

Thinking about doing it yourself? Go here for NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, and sign up!

Two years ago, Justine and I did a whole month of writing advice posts in honor of all you brave NaNoWriMoers. We’re too busy to repeat the effort this year, but below is a handy set of links to all our advice of 2009.

The odd-numbered posts are mine, and the evens are Justine’s.

Best of luck to you all!

(Also, I just signed a metric buttload of books at Books of Wonder here in NYC. Click here to mail-order these signed copies. There are some of every series I’ve ever written, so call them if you don’t see the one you want.)

And now here at the tips!

Nano Tip #1: Dialog Spine

NaNo Tip #2: The Zen of First (Zero) Drafts

NaNo Tip #3: Dialog Spine Analysis

NaNo Tip #4: Word Count is Not Everything

NaNo Tip #5: Write Your Way Out

NaNo Tip #6: Emergency Unstucking Techniques

NaNo Tip #7: Stealing from Chandler

NaNo Tip #8: Square Brackets

NaNo Tip #9: Meta Documents

NaNo Tip #10: Don’t Skip the Tricky Bits

NaNo Tip #11: Passages of Disbelief

NaNo Tip #12: Turn the Internet Off

NaNo Tip #13: Pace Charts

NaNo Tip #14: Procrastination Can Be Your Friend

NaNo Tip #15: Take the Day Off

NaNo Tip #16: Edit As You Go

NaNo Tip #17: Making Writing a Habit

NaNo Tip #18: Breaking with Stereotypes

NaNo Tip #19: Read Out Loud

NaNo Tip #20: Don’t Wait for the Muse to Strike

NaNo Tip #21: Writers Re-Read

NaNo Tip #22: Read Bad Books

NaNo Tip #23: Change Your Brain

NaNo Tip #24: Writing While White

NaNo Tip #25: Read it Backwards

NaNo Tip #26: Giving Thanks

NaNo Tip #27: Word Clouds

NaNo Tip #28: Take Care of Yourself

NaNo Tip #29: Finish Everything

NaNo Tip #30: Rewriting

Scored – A New Dystopian Novel

Today is the book birthday of a wonderful novel called Scored, by Lauren McLaughlin. It was sent to me a couple of years ago for a blurb and, as you can see below, I gave it one.

Scored is what the kids these days are calling a “dystopian novel.” But it’s not set in the far future, like, say, Uglies. It takes place only a few decades from now, and the biggest change isn’t some huge civilization-ending meltdown, but a little thing called the Score.

In this future society, everything you do until age 18 is carefully monitored by surveillance cameras, and all of it adds up to your score—a number between 1 and 100. As Lauren puts it here:

How you walk, how often you swear, who you hang out with, how much time you spend on homework are all fed into the system. The software constantly learns from these observations, fine tuning its scoring algorithm until its results are indisputable. The highest scorers get into the best colleges, qualify for the best jobs, earn the most money. The lowest scorers fulfill their destiny as misfits, delinquents, and the permanently dependent. No one can argue with the accuracy of the score because there are no exceptions to the rule. Society doesn’t allow them any more.

It’s one of those books that, like Uglies, might seem to be a straightforward exaggeration of today’s world. High school students live and die by their SAT’s, after all. You can’t get into a good school, and thus have a good future, without a high score. (Everyone tells you so, anyway.) And, of course, cameras are popping up everywhere these days.

But worrying about high-stakes testing and surveillance cams is different from living in a world where they’ve become all-powerful. And that’s what a good dystopian novel does, it takes you into a future and shows you what it’s like to live there.

The main character of Scored is Imani, a high school senior whose score has been in the 90’s her whole life. In other words, she’s a good student and a good kid. But her best friend Cady has started hanging out with an unscored boy, which means Cady’s score is falling fast. And since Peer Group is one of the five pillars of the Score, Imani’s own standing will soon suffer. I won’t spoil anything else, but trust me, the story gets much more intense and complicated as it heads toward its conclusion.

If you’re facing the SATs (or whatever test your school system uses to create your “permanent record”) you should check out Scored. It will be in bookstores everywhere, online and in the real world, starting today.

Click here to read more from Lauren herself.

(Also, I just signed a metric buttload of books at Books of Wonder here in NYC. Click here to mail-order these signed copies. There are some of every series I’ve ever written, so call them if you don’t see the one you want. They probably have it.)

Fan Art Friday Returns!

The Goliath tour is finally over, and that means the return of Fan Art Friday. Because I’ve missed so many in a row, I decided to do it a day early!

Of course, for me tour’s end means many other reasons to celebrate, like eating much less cheese. (Vegetarian + room service = cheese. It’s a fact.) I realize, of course, that complaining about touring is churlish. Traveling across this continent and seeing so many of you was both a pleasure and a privilege (a highly cheese-filled privilege). So my thanks go out to everyone who came out, dressed up, and otherwise made my tour a great experience. (And special thanks to the Moonlight Hotel in St. Louis, who had non-cheesy vegetarian food on their menu even late at night when authors return exhausted to their rooms.)

But enough about cheese. Let’s get onto the fan art. Lots of you sent me art while I was on the road, and I will eventually get to all of it. But for the next few editions of FAF, I’m going to stick to art, signs, and costumes I encountered on the road. Hope you enjoy them!

Let’s start with a beautiful piece by skeithe at DeviantArt. She handed a printed out version of this to me, which I’m going to get framed!

Everyone loves holding hands, right?

Here’s an incredible piece of not just fan art and cosplay, but fan engineering by the amazing steampunk crew at Austin Teen Book Festival in Texas. Check out their life-size Huxley!

Um, all I have to say about this is pretty much . . . whoa. I can’t imagine how much effort and planning goes into something like this, because I am a mere typer of words, not a builder of things. Luckily there were about 2,400 people at ATBF to see this magnificent fabrication, so the effort was mightily rewarded with many ooohs and ahhhs.

One of the cool things about writing books is how readers glom onto certain lines in a novel. Out of thousands of sentences, one will somehow resonate with lots of people. (I’m looking at you, “The things you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.”)

Here’s a lovely example of that, an illustrated quote from page 13 of Behemoth. This one simile stuck in someone’s mind until it they were forced to make it an image in the real world.

And now for some cosplay. Three girls came to the Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis dressed in Edwardian finery, and proved their mettle. They stayed in their velvet smoking jackets (and one cold-weather aviator cap) even though it was barking hot in the store! Plus, they looked awesome.

Speaking of cosplay, don’t forget the Show Us Your Steampunk contest over on FaceBook. Enter to win the goggles and aviator cap from the Leviathan photo shoot, and signed books too!

I’ve noticed that on all my tour appearances since writing Leviathan, there are a few people in the audience who sketch while I talk. You know, artists making art as a way to concentrate. And at the end they hand me the finished works. Here’s a lovely example from Joliad/Jurodo:

And, hey look! I just found a finished version of this pose over at Jurodo’s DeviantArt page!

Wow, I always love the transition from sketch to full-blown artwork.

Here’s another cool bit of fan engineering: Ben in Austin created this wonderful remote control Leviathan model. It’s flying out over the audience assembling for my Austin Teen Book Festival keynote. Sorry about the darkness.

Watch it bigger over at YouTube.

Okay, that’s it for this FAF. But don’t forget: my final US event will be at Books of Wonder in NYC this Saturday. And even if you don’t live in NYC or even in the US, you can get a book signed and personalized by me through the store. Just order before Saturday, and I’ll make sure to sign it for you while I’m there. If you want a personal message (like, “To Airship Ninja!”) just say so in the comments field when you order. Books of Wonder will ship anywhere in the world.

Just click here to order one. You can also search my last name on that page for ANY of my books, signed and personalized.

Event details:

Saturday, October 22

18 West 18th Street.
New York, NY 10011

Also appearing: Maryrose Wood, Jeff Hirsch, Sarah Beth Durst, Jon Skovron, Elizabeth Levy, and Mordicai Gerstein.

Cosplay Contest!

So you may remember this post about the Leviathan series cover shoot. Well, all those aviator caps and goggles from the shoot have just been sitting around, and my publisher doesn’t need them anymore. So we decided to have a FaceBook contest and give them away, along with signed copies of my books!

Here’s what you can win in the Show Us Your Steampunk contest:

First Prize: Deryn’s flying goggles and hat featured on the cover of BEHEMOTH and GOLIATH, a signed set of the Leviathan trilogy, AND a full set of the UGLIES series!

Second Prize: Alek’s flying googles featured on the cover of LEVIATHAN and GOLIATH and a signed set of the Leviathan trilogy!

Third Prize: A signed set of the Leviathan trilogy!

So what do you have to do to enter? Just go here and upload a photo of your steampunk-costumed self, holding one of my books. That’s it!

You don’t have to be dressed like a character from Leviathan, any airship pirate or pith-helmeted adventurer will do. (You do have to have a FaceBook account, however.) You have until December 7, 2011 to enter!

And even if you don’t feel like dressing up, you can always check out the costumes and vote for your favorites. Here’s that link again.

In other news, I am back from tour and will be starting up Fan Art Friday again THIS VERY FRIDAY.

My tour does have one more US stop, of course, here in New York City.

Saturday, October 22

18 West 18th Street.
New York, NY 10011

I’ll be appearing with Maryrose Wood, Jeff Hirsch, Sarah Beth Durst, Jon Skovron, Elizabeth Levy, and Mordicai Gerstein.

You can also order a copy of Goliath from Books of Wonder and I’ll sign it for you on Saturday.

And to finish up, here’s a lovely Goliath fan-trailer made by Darklighter152.

Yo, Canada (and NYC too)

I’m on the last leg of my tour! w00t! Here’s the rest of the info!


Tuesday, October 11

West Point Grey United Church Sanctuary
4595 West 8th Avenue

This event is through Kidsbooks in Vancouver. Note that this is a ticketed event. “Due to the popularity of this event, every person must have a ticket to attend. Tickets are $5.00 each and are fully redeemable toward the price of any of Scott Westerfeld’s books on the evening of the event only. (Please note: if multiple tickets are being used to offset the purchase of the books, one ticket per book can be applied.) For more information call 604-738-5335 or email”


Thursday, October 13

150 East 86th Street
New York, NY 10028

This will be my last solo appearance in this tour, and thus my last time speaking extensively about the Leviathan series. This B&N also has great event facilities, with a big screen to show Keith’s pictures on. So if you’ve ever wanted to see my dog-and-pony steampunk show, you should do it here. It’ll be your last chance.

Store locator.

Friday, October 14

The Del Rey Spectra Steampunk Zombie Jamboree
with me, Naomi Novik, Peter Brett, and C.E. Murphy
New York Comic Con
Room: 1A23
Javits Center
New York City

You must be a con attendee to come to this panel. I’ll be signing right after this panel, at 2:30 at the Simon & Schuster Booth (# 2612, Level 3, peninsula).

Saturday, October 22

18 West 18th Street.
New York, NY 10011

Not only me, but Maryrose Wood, Jeff Hirsch, Sarah Beth Durst, Jon Skovron, Elizabeth Levy, and Mordicai Gerstein. Tons of authors!

That’s it, y’all. Thats my US tour. I’ll be headed to Australia soon, and then we’ll see what happens.

Headed up to Ecotopia

Yes, I’m still on tour. So. Very. Tired. Well, this is an auto-update. But I assume I’ll be tired by then. I mean now. Um, whatever.

Below are my next few events, in Washington, AC (the one Above California) and Oregon.


Friday, October 7

Not 5PM as previously advertised!
Central Library
1000 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

This is a Secret Garden Bookstore event, so you’ll be able to buy books.

Saturday, October 8

Seattle Center
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, WA 98109

In addition to the solo appearance at 2PM, I’ll be doing a YA panel with Nancy Holder, Cecil Castelluci, and Hope Larson at 12PM.

Only Geek Girl Con attendees can enter, but this looks like a really cool con, so you should check it out and maybe come.


Sunday, October 9

12000 SE 82nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97266

Your handy store locator.

Sunday, October 9

Oregon Convention Center
777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232

Wordstock Festival Site. Note that it’s $7 to get in, but it’s free for anyone 13 and under.

Check my Appearances page for all tour data.