Friday, November 30, 2012

14 New YALit in Stores 12/1-12/7 Plus 3-Book Giveaway

Are you getting ready for Christmas? Be sure to stop by for tomorrow's HUGE giveaway of stocking stuffers for book lovers! We'll have lots of great stuff for you.

Also, tomorrow we'll accept five entries for December's First Five Pages Workshop with guest mentor J. Anderson Coats. Stop by our new site: for all the details.


The Assault (Recon Team Angel)
by Brian Falkner

It's 2030, and humanity is losing the war against alien invaders. A Band of Brothers meets Ender's Game in this sci-fi military thriller.

A team of six has been chosen . . .

. . . to infiltrate the enemy's headquarters in the heart of the Australian Outback. The six teens have been modified to look like aliens. They have spent years mastering alien culture so that they can talk, act—even think—like their enemies. But from the start, the recon mission goes terribly wrong. It's only when they are close to discovering the shocking truth of the aliens' plans that the team is forced to ask:

Who among them is a traitor?

Brian Falkner, author of The Project, Brain Jack, and The Tomorrow Code, delivers a page-turning military thriller with his signature heart-pounding action and unique sci-fi twists.

Hand this to teens who love playing Call of Duty and Halo!

"Falkner supplies a tight story that features a strong plot and believable characters. . . . [He] effectively employs the tropes of both survival and war stories to great effect. While an entirely satisfying read on its own, readers can only hope there is a second installment in the works."—Kirkus Reviews

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Assault (Recon Team Angel)?

My favourite thing about The Assault is the beginning, when the team of teenage soldiers drop out of the sky into the Australian desert, landing on self-inflating airbags.
This was an idea I had about ten years ago, that I used in an unpublished story.
I remembered the idea when I started writing "The Assault" and changed it a little, so that one of the airbags fails.
To me this was the perfect way to open an action-packed novel, full of danger and excitement from the get-go.

Order The Assault (Recon Team Angel) on Amazon

View The Assault (Recon Team Angel) on Goodreads

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Romeo Redeemed
by Stacey Jay

Seductive companion to the popular Juliet Immortal, in which former lovers—Romeo and Juliet—meet, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.

Cursed to live out eternity in his rotted corpse, Romeo, known for his ruthless, cutthroat ways, is given the chance to redeem himself by traveling back in time to save the life of Ariel Dragland. Unbeknownst to her, Ariel is important to both the evil Mercenaries and the love-promoting Ambassadors and holds the fate of the world in her hands. Romeo must win her heart and make her believe in love, turning her away from her darker potential before his work is discovered by the Mercenaries. While his seduction begins as yet another lie, it soon becomes his only truth. Romeo vows to protect Ariel from harm, and do whatever it takes to win her heart and soul. But when Ariel is led to believe his love is a deception, she becomes vulnerable to Mercenary manipulation, and her own inner darkness may ultimately rip them apart.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Romeo Redeemed?

I love seeing a villain become someone the reader can root for. In "Juliet Immortal" Romeo was a boy I loved to hate, but in "Romeo Redeemed" he became a boy I was so happy to see get his happy ending. I hope my readers feel the same way!

* * * *

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright)

by Gabrielle Zevin

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”- Michael Corleone, The Godfather

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.


Inheritance (Deluxe Edition)

by Christopher Paolini


This deluxe edition of the spellbinding conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle includes:

A glimpse at life in Alagaësia after the final scene of the series
Never-before-seen art by the author
A new scene within the story
A note to readers from the author
An exclusive full-color foldout poster by award-winning artist John Jude Palencar

Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.
The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king Galbatorix and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost?


The Almost Truth

by Eileen Cook

From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.
Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.
     But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

     With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose....

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Almost Truth?

I loved doing the research for this book. It's about a teen con artist named Sadie. This gave me the excuse to do a bunch of research on pulling cons. If this writing thing doesn't work out I feel like I have the information needed to turn to a life of crime. While writing the book I feel in love with the characters. In particular, Sadie and Brendan. They both are from the "wrong side of the tracks" and have some flexible morality, but they are so loyal to friends. I always admire people who are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals.

* * * *


by Molly Cochran

Arthurian legend mixes with modern-day witchcraft in this haunting sequel to Legacy, which Publishers Weekly said “should please the legions of paranormal fans looking for a sophisticated supernatural thriller.”
After the riveting—and romantic—events of Legacy, Katy has won Peter’s heart and is now claiming her place in the magical world. Though half the students at her boarding school come from witching lines, the use of magic is expressly forbidden at Ainsworth, so as to keep the witching world hidden from the blue-blooded preppies, aka Muffies, who also walk the halls.

     But the Muffies have at least a notion of magic, because Katy catches them staging a made-up ritual—and to her astonishment, the girls collapse at Katy’s feet and fall into comas. When Katy is blamed, she becomes desperate to clear her name and finds herself battling all odds to harness her growing magical powers in order to save the Muffies and dispel the Darkness once more.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Poison?

What I liked best about writing POISON was that I was able to revisit King Arthur's Camelot, which has been my favorite fantasy locale since THE FOREVER KING, an early book of mine about the reincarnation of Arthur as a 10-year-old boy in Chicago. Although POISON is a contemporary book, its supernatural elements allowed me to create a character who had been trapped in amber for 1600 years -- since she fell afoul of some powerful Fifth Century witches. Through flashbacks to that time, I was able to incorporate that story into a current one about loyalty, betrayal, and the dark side of friendship.


The Believing Game

by Eireann Corrigan

A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.

But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.

* * * *

Breaking Point (Bluford High)

by Karyn Langhorne Folan and Paul Langan
Paperback Original

Bluford High: It's not just school--it's real life.

Vicky Fallon can't take it. Her father lost his job, her parents are constantly fighting, and her little brother is out of control. Once an honor student, Vicky is quickly falling behind in her classes at Bluford High. Now her teachers, friends, and boyfriend, Martin Luna, want answers. Pressured from all sides, Vicky knows something is about to snap. But the explosion that hits her home is worse than anything she could have imagined.

* * * *

Burned (Pretty Little Liars)

by Sara Shepard

It's spring break, and the pretty little liars are trading in Rosewood for a cruise vacation. They want nothing more than to sail into the tropical sunset and leave their troubles behind for one blissful week. But where Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna go, A goes, too. From scuba diving to tanning on the upper deck, A is there, soaking up all their new secrets.
Emily is smooching a stowaway. Aria's treasure-hunting partner is a little too interested in her booty. Spencer's going overboard trying to land a new boy. And a blast—or rather, a crash—from Hanna's past could mean rough waters ahead for everyone.
The liars better tighten their life jackets. A perfect storm is brewing, and if they aren't careful, A will bury them at sea. . . .

* * * *

The Friday Society

by Adrienne Kress

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns–and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

8 WOW Wednesday: Lydia Sharp on Writing the Book You Want to Read

Today's WOW guest, Lydia Sharp, is a novelist and short fiction author who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. Then she got tired of finding sand in her clothes so she moved further inland, but she'll always call Ohio home. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.

For Lydia's published and upcoming fiction, click HERE.

She is also a regular contributor of wonderful articles for the Write It Sideways blog and the award-winning Writer Unboxed blog. Of course, you can also catch her on her blog or on Twitter as @Lydia_Sharp.
Write the Book You Want to Read and Maybe Someday It Will Be Published

by Lydia Sharp

During a writers' chat a few years ago, someone said, “In the end it's just you and your manuscript. You have to be okay with whatever has your name on it.” I can't remember who said it, but ever since I read that advice, thought about it, and agreed with it, my writing has become much more selfish. And at the same time, less selfish.

I started focusing more on writing stories that I want to read, rather than focusing on trying to please a market that is continually in a state of flux. For a while this gave me no career benefit, other than feeling satisfied with my own work. But then things changed, as they do. Things that were completely out of my control.

In late 2010 the “It Gets Better” videos went viral, and suddenly it was vogue to be outwardly LGBTQ-friendly. To be fair, I truly believe the majority of people who showed public support of this campaign, especially those in the publishing arena, were not doing so to jump on a trend.

Earlier that same year I had made a personal decision to start focusing on LGBTQ fiction, and usually, specifically, the B (although I do write the others, too). I made this choice knowing that it would possibly hinder my chances of getting any such stories published. But in the end it was just me and my manuscripts, and I had to be okay with whatever had my name on it.

I started looking for YA fiction with bisexual characters. Main characters, not side characters. And kept looking… and kept looking… and kept not finding much of it. Lesbian and gay characters were more prevalent, but still rare. There was (and I think, still is) a big hole that needed to be filled.

Why shouldn't I try to fill it?

Especially since LGBTQ-friendliness was gradually becoming more acceptable (although we still have a long, long way to go). I had a better chance of sharing these stories with the world through publication, which would hopefully get them to the people who needed them most--bisexual teenagers who wanted to read about characters similar to themselves.

This is the type of story I would have liked to read when I was teenager, but couldn't find them. This is also the type of story I like to read now.

When I wrote Twin Sense it was kind of my way of saying, “You all can take your common misconceptions about bisexuality and shove it.” The notion that a bisexual teenager is "just confused" isn't always true. It also affects the way people treat you, for instance, thinking they have to set you straight (or set you gay, as the case may be).

So what did I do?

I wrote a bi teen character who is… confused. heh. But it isn't her bisexuality that she is confused about. She is more indecisive, I would say, than confused. She is unsure of who she should be with, because both people vying for her affection seem wonderful. In fiction it's called a love triangle. In real life it's called a hot mess.

For this character, the love triangle just happens to be between a boy and a girl, but for the bisexual this can realistically happen between a boy and another boy, or a girl and another girl. And it's the same conflict. People just tend to view it differently when one of the options the character can choose is a same-sex romance.

Not all of my bi characters are indecisive like Layna in Twin Sense. But for this story I liked the idea of using a romantic comedy to show readers that it's okay to laugh at their own problems from time to time. This is the kind of story I want to read.

But was it publishable? That's something else entirely.

As I mentioned above, things in publishing were trending, and continue to trend, more towards LGBTQ acceptance. More recently, contemporary YA is also on the upswing. I actually had two e-publishers show great interest in Twin Sense, and soon realized that it wasn’t a question of “Is this going to be published?” It was more a question of “Where is this going to be published?”

A few years ago this would have played out much differently, both because of story content and because e-publishers were not as big then as they are now. So the point of all my ramblings is this:

Publishing trends mean nothing to the career writer. Write the story you want to read now. And believe that someone, someday, will want to read it as much as you do. They might even pay you for it.

Happy writing,


* * *


by Lydia Sharp

two boys + two girls = one big mess 

As girlfriends of the Taylor twins, Layna and Sherri have only been friends by association. But when Sherri breaks up with Keith (for real this time), and Kevin gives Layna a promise ring (whoa, what?), Layna's whole world spins off balance. She avoids Kevin's unwelcome pressure to commit by spending more time with Sherri.

Without the twins around, Layna and Sherri are tempted to go beyond friendship status. Then Keith tries to win Sherri back, and Kevin apologizes for rushing Layna. Now she's stuck inside a double-trouble love quadrangle that has her reaching for the consolation cheesecake. The only way to sort out this mess is to make an impossible choice—between the one she wants and the other one she wants—or she might end up with no one.

Buy Twin Sense

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

5 Craft Post Hiatus

I am going to let myself go dark on craft posts until mid or late January. 'Tis the season, right?

Hope everyone is writing up a storm and getting things ready to go for the holidays!

I am also going to focus more on guest posts for craft in the New Year, so if you have ideas you'd like to share, please let me know!

Happy writing,


Friday, November 23, 2012

8 New YALit in Stores 11/24-11/30 Plus Giveaway of Christopher Paolini's INHERITANCE Deluxe Ed

Happy Black Friday! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I am extremely thankful for all of you, and for all the readers and writers who make the world of young adult literature an amazing place.

Happy reading,




Inheritance (Deluxe Edition)
by Christopher Paolini

This deluxe edition of the spellbinding conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle includes:

A glimpse at life in Alagaësia after the final scene of the series
Never-before-seen art by the author
A new scene within the story
A note to readers from the author
An exclusive full-color foldout poster by award-winning artist John Jude Palencar

Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.
The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king Galbatorix and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost?

Order Inheritance (Deluxe Edition) on Amazon

View Inheritance (Deluxe Edition) on Goodreads


by Antony John
Signed Hardcover


A mysterious and powerful fantasy adventure from a Schneider Award winner

In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.

Fast action, strategy, and mystery churn together into a bold and fresh fantasy from an award-winning author.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Elemental?

More than any book I've written, ELEMENTAL is the novel I want to give to teen me. Until time travel happens, I guess that's not really feasible, which is a shame. Teen me had a short concentration span and was scared of long books. Teen me craved adventure and a healthy dose of suspense. Teen me wasn't terribly special in most of the ways that teen boys wish they were special. And it's exactly these ingredients that I threw into the mix of ELEMENTAL: a main character who is an outsider faces a dangerous situation and must work out what's going on, even though it seems he is the least suited to do so. And all of this is packaged in a book that is fast-moving and suspenseful. What I love about this is that even though I won't get to enjoy ELEMENTAL as a teen, I know plenty of teen boys who are the same as I used to be. This is my book for them.

Order Elemental on Amazon

View Elemental on Goodreads



The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things)
by Anna Godbersen

In 1929, the Bright Young Things escape Manhattan's heat for the lush lawns and sparkling bays of White Cove, looking for leisure, love, and luck.
New York City's latest It Girl, Cordelia Grey, is flying high with celebrity pilot Max Darby. But Max is a private person with a reputation to uphold—and a secret to hide. A public romance with a bootlegger's daughter could cost him more than just his good name. . . .
Aspiring triple threat Letty Larkspur has finally gotten her big break, but will her talent—and special bond with the married silver-screen star Valentine O'Dell—make her a target in the cutthroat world of Hollywood? Perhaps the ingenue knows how to play the leading lady after all.
Newly married to her longtime sweetheart, socialite Astrid Donal finds herself spending more time with one of her husband's henchmen than with him. With so many secrets between man and wife, is the honeymoon already coming to an end?
As summer reaches its hottest peak, these sun-kissed girls will find out if their luck can last . . . or if dark surprises are on the horizon.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the riveting conclusion to the one summer these Bright Young Things will never forget.

Order The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things) on Amazon

View The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things) on Goodreads

Thursday, November 22, 2012

5 Character Bucket List: Adele Griffin and Theadora Parrott from ALL YOU NEVER WANTED w/ Giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving!

Name: Theadora Parrott 
Age: 17 years, 2 months, 5 days old.
Sign: Pieces
favorite color: red
favorite flower: peony
favorite saying: “Well that’s your opinion, isn’t it? And I’m not about to waste my time trying to change it.” ~Lady Gaga

I can’t believe that the day before Thanksgiving we have to write some asinine English in-class essay about what we should be grateful for. Could this be any more eighth grade?

Considering that I
a: do not care about this assignment and
b: am totally regretting that I didn’t just call in sick today (like I should have) I am opting not to do this at all. Right now I could be eating the last pack of Twinkies, catching up on Season 2 of American Horror Story, and texting Joshua. Oh well.

Instead I’m going to make a Bucket List, aka all the things I’m gonna do before I kick it, although by the time I get old, science will have probably found a way for super-rich people to stay alive forever.

Also, considering I have limitless access to anything, I will probably take care of most of this list by the time I’m 21 lol.

Till then here is:

My Bucket List by Theadora Parrott
10. go on tour with Gaga as her personal dresser, give interviews, take credit.
9. buy a Gray Lurie parrot, name him Parrott, and teach him to say dirty words.
8. rent a killer house in Rio for the 2016 Olympics, invite everyone.
7. commission a temporary full body tattoo made of Swarovski crystals.
6. charter this yacht.
5. eat a deadly torafugu in Japan.
4. own something by Jeff Koons:
3. try this on:
2. get married in Bali:
and my number #1? I want to do is . . . this:

About Adele Griffin

Adele Griffin the critically acclaimed author of numerous novels for young adults, including the Vampire Island and Witch Twins series. Her novels Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be were both National Book Award Finalists. All You Never Wanted, Griffin's newest novel, was published October 2012. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York. Her website is Follow her on Twitter @adelegriffin and Facebook.

* * * *

All You Never Wantedby Adele Griffin

With my eyes closed and Alex's core friends all around me, it was like I'd become my big sister, or something just as good. And so who cared if they were calling it Alex's party? One thing I knew: it would be remembered as mine.

Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she's stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.

Told in the alternating voices of Alex and Thea, Adele Griffin's mesmerizing new novel is the story of a sibling rivalry on speed.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about All You Never Wanted?

5. the thematic spin is about how money can't buy happiness-- or anything meaningful
4. it's got a pretty hot romance, which is new for me, and was so thrilling and fun to write.
3. one of my favorite jackets ever. (it's amazing, right?)
2. it was blurbed-- beautifully-- by Sara Zarr
1. I dedicated the book to my mother.

Order All You Never Wanted on Amazon

View All You Never Wanted on Goodreads

To win an ARC of ALL YOU NEVER WANTED, please complete the form below by 6:00 PM November 28, 2012. The winner will be announced on November 29th.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

3 WOW Wednesday: Nick James on Writing as Hobby vs. Business

Today's WOW guest is Nick James, the author of the fabulous Skyship Academy series.

When he was kid, Nick’s collection of battle-scarred action figures became the characters in epic storylines with cliffhangers, double crosses and an unending supply of imaginary explosions. Not much has changed. The toys are gone (most of them), but the love of fast-paced storytelling remains. Working in schools from Washington State to England, Nick has met thousands of diverse students since graduating from Western Washington University and braving the most dangerous job in the world: substitute teaching. Luckily, being dubbed the “rock star teacher” has granted him some immunity. He currently lives and teaches in Bellingham, Washington. You can find him on his website,, or on twitter at @nickajames.

Writing: Hobby vs. Business

by Nick James

When asked to give advice to writers who want to become published authors, there are a million things that I could say. I could harp on the “know your craft” type of thing, which is really just something that develops the more and more you write. I could talk about persistence, and how it only takes one agent/editor to love your work, so it’s important not to give up. I could talk about the value of knowing your audience and focusing every project towards whatever group you’re working for. And I could definitely talk about the importance of a good query letter (hint: they’re very important).

But instead, I’d like to jump over the hoop of actually getting the agent/publication/book deal and talk a little about what it’s like when writing changes from being a hobby to a profession. This isn’t something I see discussed all that often, but I think it’s an important reality. There are some writers who fully support themselves with their writing, and that’s something every author is working towards. Most of us, though, write books in addition to a second (or even primary) job, especially at the beginning of our careers. At this point in my career, I’m definitely in that latter group. I work as a substitute teacher in my local school district, an all but full-time position, and one that (as I’m sure you can imagine) has its fair share of exhausting days.

Sure, I wrote in my spare time while working hours like this before I was published. I’ve written as a hobby for many years. But when writing becomes a profession, certain things change. You’re not just writing for yourself anymore. You’re writing for an audience, as well as a publisher, with all the expectations and deadlines (I repeat, deadlines) that go along with that. You’re promoting your work, engaging with readers, attending conferences, reading reviews and constantly thinking about how you can elevate your career with your next project--many of this during evenings and weekends.

Now, for the advice part. And really, it’s as simple as this: Enjoy what you do. Writing should be fun, and if you’re working towards publication, I’d bet you already enjoy the craft of it. I first started writing because I loved telling stories. I didn’t seek publication until years into my hobby. I was entertaining myself, and sometimes even now I have to remind myself about those days. Of course, there are so many unbelievable aspects to being a published author, and I’m continually grateful that this is the path that I’m on, but if I didn’t enjoy what I do, things would be very different. If you’ve got that passion going in, you’re gonna be golden--whether you’ve just signed for a five/six-figure advance or you’re juggling multiple jobs while you build your career.

Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy) by Nick James

The best-selling sci-fi series continues

Following their dramatic showdown in Seattle, Jesse Fisher and Cassius Stevenson find their world's been turned inside out. The faculty at Skyship Academy is keeping Jesse a prisoner in his own home, fearful of his influence over Pearls. And Cassius, once a loyal Pearlhound for the Unified Party, has been pushed into hiding, fearful of his government's retaliation.

When Jesse smuggles a mysterious red Pearl onboard the Academy, he sets loose a destructive chain of events, which lead him to a reunion with Cassius and a confrontation with Theo -- a bloodthirsty Pearlhound with a dangerous secret.

But a larger threat looms in the stars. An enemy is gathering, with plans to exterminate the entire human race. And Jesse and Cassius might just be the lynch pins that trigger mankind's destruction.

Order Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy)

View on Goodreads


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Using the Ticking Clock to Add Suspense

I'm hunkering down on a project and family is starting to arrive, so today's craft post is a repost from the archives.  I imagine everyone else is getting crazy, too? Hope you are getting into the holiday mood!

Happy Tuesday,


* * *

Jill Corcoran blogged about ways to activate your story a while back, using Gayle Forman's gorgeous novel, If I Stay, as an example of a great beginning. She wrote:

Gayle does not start the book at the moment of the car crash. We first see the family together, we actually fall in love with the main character and her family so when the car crash happens, we are devastated along with the main character. Gayle starts the first line of the book with an intriguing sentence….a sentence that activates us to pay attention to this first meeting with the main character’s family. That foreshadows the doom and gloom to come:
Everyone thinks it is because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.
But the reason that sentence works, really works, is a tiny little piece left out of the quote. Here's how the novel really starts:
7:09 A.M.
Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.

Do you see it? It's there in big bold letters. The ticking clock.

Because that clock is there, we know to combine "it" with a timeline. We know something is going to happen soon. We know "it" is bad, because why bother with a clock that precise if it isn't a countdown of sorts. And we know it has to do with the snow. Sort of. So now, we're hooked. We have to know what "it" is, and why it wasn't completely to do with the snow. And we have an implied promise that it isn't going to take the author long to get there.

As readers, we haven't thought through any of this. It's simply there, in the back kitchen of our consciousness, if I may borrow the phrase from Kipling. And once it's there, it has a hold on us.

Even a reader who wouldn't normally read a book about bow-tie-wearing dads, or little brothers who let out war whoops, or mothers who work in travel agent's offices--who cares about all that stuff at the beginning of a book, right?--is going to be curious enough to read a little further. Sure enough, Forman delivers on the promise. At 8:17 a.m., a dad who isn't great at driving gets behind the wheel of a rusting buick and.... Well, we know we only have a few more pages.

Even after the accident, the clock doesn't stop. It continues until 7:16 the next morning, because Mia is trying to make her decision, and all along, all through the twists and turns and intricately woven scraps of memory and medical magic, that clock keeps us focused on the fact that something life-changing is going to happen. Soon. Soon. So you can't stop reading.

Building Suspense with a Ticking Clock

Having an actual Jack Bauer 24-style ticking clock only works if something momentous is going to happen:
  • An event, accident, or necessary meeting
  • A deadline given to prevent consequences
  • An opportunity that can, but shouldn't, be missed
  • Elapsed time from a precipitating event
The Clock

The clock is mainly a metaphor. You can use any structural device that forces the protagonist to compress events. It can be the time before a bomb explodes or the air runs out for a kidnapped girl, but it can also be driven by an opponent after the same goal: only one child can survive the Hunger Games, supplies are running out in the City of Ember....

Only three things are required to make a ticking clock device work in a novel:
  • Clear stakes (hopefully escalating
  • Increasing obstacles or demand for higher thresholds of competence
  • Diminishing time in which to achieve the goal
Whether your clock is an actual countdown to a date or time of day, or some other method of event compression, it creates tension. It limits the time your characters have to think and act, forces them into decisions--perhaps rash ones--and, used skillfully, reinforces the consequences of failure. All of this creates urgency for your characters, and urges the reader to turn the pages.

A ticking clock doesn't make sense for every novel. But whatever novel you are writing now, consider whether your stakes could be further dramatized by adding a time limitation of some sort.

What books have you read that contain an interesting ticking clock? How many examples can we come up with?

Happy ticking,


Monday, November 19, 2012

14 Five Thoughts on Inspired Openings and Five Brilliant Recent Opening Pages

Defining a great opening is a bit like defining pornography. The elements are hard to pinpoint, but we know one when we read it. Unfortunately, translating that into a formula of how to write one is nearly impossible.

I've been thinking about this recently though. Okay, I think about it every time I sit down to write, or whenever I read a book, or when I consider any of our First Five Pages Workshop entries.

Here are my thoughts for today:

  1. Great is subjective and varies based on genre and taste. A quiet story shouldn't open with high-action, and a thriller probably shouldn't open with a moment of quiet reflection or a long lead-in about the weather. Gimmicks or high-impact, dramatic sentences may get the attention of some readers, but they are just as likely to turn some readers off. The most important criteria for an opening is that it needs to work for that particular book. The tone and the mood and the pace all have to be appropriate.
  2. Great opening doesn't necessarily mean great for the book overall. A great opening is a set-up, the first step in a series of stepping-stones that leads the reader through the book. The stones have to be set up in the right sequence, and in the right placement, so that the reader can't wander off the path or give up altogether. Writers who mislead the reader by creating a great first scene that has little to do with the main story question will inevitably lose the reader, or at least the reader's enthusiasm. Great openings may get the book read, but unless we, as writers, follow through on the promise of the opening, we are actually doing ourselves, and our readers, a disservice.
  3. Great openings set-up the type of book and the main story question.  Yes, we want to hook the reader. But even more than that, we want to set the reader up with an overview of what they will be getting when they buy the book. What is the book about? Is it going to be dark? Light? Funny? Fast-paced? Slow-paced? Mainly about character? Mainly about plot? Is it paranormal? Is it fantasy? Is it contemporary? Where is it set? What's the POINT of the book? What's the problem the main character faces and why? All that is in the opening, at least hints of it should be.
  4. A great opening will usually start with the main character. In fact, with few exceptions, great books usually have the main character be the first thing that moves on the page, or at least offer the main character's reactions to the first thing that moves on the page.  
  5. Great openings showcase a unique perspective. What makes this book different from any other? What about the world, the people, the story, hasn't been done before? There's bound to be something. None of us start off writing the exact same story as someone else. So how do we get the unique up front and center? That, perhaps, is our most important tasks as writers.
Voice is one of those terms that is thrown around the literary world. We writers use it, agents use it, editors use it. But readers don't read an opening and think, Wow, I love the voice here. Hopefully, they think, Hey, I want to read more of this. And hopefully, when they are done with the book, they also think, Man, I want to read more from this writer.

If you've seen the television show The Voice, you know the starting premise. The judges don't see the people auditioning until after they decide whether or not they want to work with that singer. Like everyone who listens to the song, they have to decide based on the voice whether they want to hear more, whether they want to invest their time with that person, whether that singer is going to have something unique to offer.

Our Mission, Should We Choose to Accept It

Our job when we craft an opening to a manuscript is to convince the reader we have something unique and interesting to share. We must show the reader a hint of our wares, lure them onto a stepping stone, and invite them to move on with us as we take them on a journey. This applies equally to the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page, and through every sentence, paragraph, and page thereafter. As writers, we lead through temptation, and we hope we do it well enough that our readers want to follow.

A Few of My Recent Favorite Openings

I WAKE WITH his name in my mouth.


Before I open my eyes, I watch him crumple to the pavement again. Dead.

My doing.

Tobias crouches in front of me, his hand on my left shoulder. The train car bumps over the rails, and Marcus, Peter, and Caleb stand by the doorway. I take a deep breath and hold it in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure that is building in my chest.

Veronica Roth, Insurgent

Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching. Satellites had even been tasked to surveil the Charles Bridge, in case the . . . visitors . . . returned. Strange things had happened in this city before, but not this strange. At least, not since video tape existed to prove it. Or to milk it.

Laini Taylor, Days of Blood and Starlight

The young girl cringed when they buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her. It felt grotesque and unnecessary, but she didn't object. It was the procedure. She knew that. One of the other vessels had described it to her at lunch a month before.

Lois Lowry, Son 

The air at the upermost reaches of Haven is  hot and thick with the  stench of rat droppings. Small price to pay for free food.  Normal girls run screaming when this close to rats, but I can't afford luxuries like fear.

Deviants (The Dust Chronicles) Maureen McGowan

"The loss of oxygen, however temporary, however minimal in the grand scheme of things, is taking its toll." Dr. Chen spoke in low tones, but she knew I was listening.

"What was the length of this episode?" Dad asked. Present-day Dad. Distant Dad. Emotionless Dad.

I turned toward the window then and tuned them out. This episode had been long. The loop had been long, and I knew it.

Flutter, Gina Linko

What do these five openings tell you about the books? Do they speak to you? Do they make you want to read? 

Happy Writing,


Friday, November 16, 2012

15 New YALit in Stores 11/17-11/23 Plus Giveaway of ELEMENTAL by Antony John

Note: Because I am an idiot, I didn't realize I didn't put in the form on Friday. If you have left a comment before 11/20/12, I will manually enter you in the giveaway. After 11/20, please complete the form. Thanks so much and my apologies!



by Antony John
Signed Hardcover

A mysterious and powerful fantasy adventure from a Schneider Award winner.

In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.

Fast action, strategy, and mystery churn together into a bold and fresh fantasy from an award-winning author.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Elemental?

More than any book I've written, ELEMENTAL is the novel I want to give to teen me. Until time travel happens, I guess that's not really feasible, which is a shame. Teen me had a short concentration span and was scared of long books. Teen me craved adventure and a healthy dose of suspense. Teen me wasn't terribly special in most of the ways that teen boys wish they were special. And it's exactly these ingredients that I threw into the mix of ELEMENTAL: a main character who is an outsider faces a dangerous situation and must work out what's going on, even though it seems he is the least suited to do so. And all of this is packaged in a book that is fast-moving and suspenseful. What I love about this is that even though I won't get to enjoy ELEMENTAL as a teen, I know plenty of teen boys who are the same as I used to be. This is my book for them.

Order Elemental on Amazon

View Elemental on Goodreads


Middle Ground
by Katie Kacvinsky

In this provocative cautionary tale for teens, the sequel to Awaken, seventeen-year-old Maddie’s rebellion against the digital-only life grows dangerous. Maddie is in Los Angeles, trying to stay out of trouble. But one night, a seemingly small act of defiance lands her in the place she fears the most: a detention center. Here, patients are reprogrammed to accept a digital existence. Maddie is now fighting for her mind, her soul, and her very life. Once again, Katie Kacvinsky paints a disturbing picture of our increasingly technology-based society.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Middle Ground?

My favorite thing about Middle Ground is probably the psychological aspects of the story. Maddie spends time in a detention center, where scientists are trying to scare students into accepting the digital life by downloading "memories" into their brains. I think the brain and psychology are fascinating, so it was really fun to do research and incorporate these things in my novel.

Order Middle Ground on Amazon

View Middle Ground on Goodreads



by L. B. Schulman


This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

Praise for League of Strays

"A group of misfits is drawn together by a charismatic, sinister boy for friendship and revenge."

Kirkus Reviews

 Buy LEAGUE OF STRAYS Now on Amazon

View LEAGUE OF STRAYS on Goodreads

* * *

Lovely, Dark and Deep
by Amy McNamara
Signed Hardcover

WINNER: Stephanie27

A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somehwere she can be alone.
Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Lovely, Dark and Deep?

My favorite thing about Lovely, Dark and Deep might be the setting. I've imagined that house or variations on it since I was about thirteen or so. And the wild, powerful landscape around it - the dark and crazy verticality of the pines and the counterbalanced weighty geometry of a black-rock coastline. Not to mention the area around it, populated with all types of people, including people who make art a central and essential part of their lives. If I had the means, I'd try to start something like Mercy House. As a writer, it's a dream to imagine a place both isolated and populated with kindred spirits.

Order Lovely, Dark and Deep on Amazon

View Lovely, Dark and Deep on Goodreads

* * * *

My Beautiful Failure
by Janet Ruth Young
Signed Hardcover

WINNER: Lori M. Lee

A haunting account of a teen boy who volunteers at a suicide hotline and falls for a troubled caller.
Billy is a sophomore in high school, and twice a week, he volunteers at Listeners, a suicide hotline.
     Jenney is an “incoming,” a caller, a girl on the brink.
     As her life spirals out of control, Jenney’s calls become more desperate, more frequent. Billy, struggling with the deteriorating relationship with his depressed father, is the only one who understands. Through her pain, he sees hope. Through her tears, he feels her heart. And through her despair, he finds love. But is that enough?
     Acclaimed author Janet Ruth Young has written a stunning and powerful story with no easy answers; it is about pain and heartbreak, reality and illusion, and finding redemption and the strength to forgive in the darkest of times.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about My Beautiful Failure?

My favorite thing about My Beautiful Failure is that it lays out the rules for working at a suicide hotline and then my main character breaks nearly all of them one by one. I can just picture my readers cringing as they watch him rationalize his decisions to form a personal relationship with one of the callers. He thinks he has justification for crossing the hotline's boundaries but his motivation is a selfish and romantic one.

Order My Beautiful Failure on Amazon

View My Beautiful Failure on Goodreads

* * * *

Execution: Escape from Furnace 5
by Alexander Gordon Smith
Signed Hardcover


Alex Sawyer has escaped his underground nightmare to discover the whole world has become a prison, and Alfred Furnace is its master. Monsters rule the streets, leaving nothing but murder in their wake. Those who do not die become slaves to Furnace’s reign of cruelty. Alex is a monster too. He is the only one who can stop Furnace but in doing so he could destroy everything. Is he the executed or the executioner? Who will die? All Alex knows is that one way or another, it all ends now.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Execution: Escape from Furnace 5?

My favourite thing about Execution: Escape From Furnace 5... I think it has to be the fact that everything leads up to this book. It has been a roller coaster of a ride over the first four books – discovering the horrors of the prison, the nightmares that go on inside Furnace, the desperate battle to break free and stay free. It's non-stop action and horror, and it all reaches an unbelievable, unforgettable climax in Execution. There are so many mysteries across the series, but they are all answered right here. We finally get to meet Alfred Furnace, and learn the truth about his plans for humankind. Writing these books was an incredible journey, I really felt like I lived every chase, every punch, every horror, every moment of laughter and relief. I experienced this story alongside Alex and his friends, and I was just happy to reach the end with them. Some characters made it, some didn't, but we got there together. It was our story, and this is how it ends. I really hope you enjoy it! :-)

Order Execution: Escape from Furnace 5 on Amazon

View Execution: Escape from Furnace 5 on Goodreads

* * * *

Miss Fortune Cookie
by Lauren Bjorkman
Signed Hardcover


Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.
It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.
What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Miss Fortune Cookie?

After spending years learning Mandarin at UC Berkeley and Davis, I rarely use it except for the occasional conversation at a Chinese restaurant. In the book, I get to show off my dwindling knowledge of the language. I also loved sifting through my vast fortune cookie fortune collection for ideas. But my favorite part is this. In the story, Erin blossoms from someone who hides from life to someone takes risks to pursue her dreams, much like I did at her age.

Order Miss Fortune Cookie on Amazon

View Miss Fortune Cookie on Goodreads

Thursday, November 15, 2012

0 A Suicide's Bucket List: Carolee Dean and Ally Cassell from FORGET ME NOT

A Suicide's Bucket List

by Ally Cassell (via Carolee Dean)

What happens to
your Bucket List
if you're a suicide?

What if you botch
the job and get
a second
chance at life?

Do you get the
to follow
your desires.

Or should you
just be glad
that you've

My name is Ally Cassell and that's the kind of weird stuff I've been writing in my journal ever since I got trapped on the H hall of Raven Valley High School.

My body's in a coma down at County General but my spirit is stuck here on the hallway with the ghosts of four other suicides, Rotceo, Julie Ann, Little Sister, and the Hangman who loves to torment us all with word games.

If you try to buy a vowel, there's no telling what it will cost you.

I have two choices now. I can stay here in the "safety" of the hallway, watching out the window, day after day, observing the other students who still have lives, or I can back to my old life and walk through the pain I couldn't face before.

That's a tough decision when compromising photos of me are still circulating around the school. Nobody's asking who the two guys are in the pictures. All people care about is how much of me they can see.

"It's a nasty double standard." That's what Darla told me. I thought she and Davis had broken up. That's what started all the trouble.

I'd die if my father
ever saw those texts.
He'd have a heart attack.
Then again,
I'm half dead now.
As for my mother,
she left
when I was twelve
and never once
looked back.

The other girls warned me not to cross Darla and challenge her for the lead in My Fair Lady. She got the part of Eliza, of course. She's a senior and I'm a lowly freshman, but she never forgets when someone tries to take what rightfully belongs to her.

"You'll have lots of other opportunities,"
the drama teacher told me.
She had no idea
I might be dead by sixteen.
Pushed to the edge
by the homecoming queen.

I guess there were some things I wanted to do before I checked out. I never used to think about things like a bucket list, but now thinking is all I can do.

The list wouldn't be long.

It would have been nice to land the lead in the high school musical at least once, and I would have liked to have had a chance to go to homecoming with a boy I actually liked.

It was Darla who suggested Will take me. Everyone knows he's a disgusting brute, but I wanted to make Davis jealous. That's not quite the way it turned out.

Darla had other
plans for the night.
Number one on her list
was destroying my life.

Has Elijah seen the pictures? I wonder if he's heard. Even if he has, I know he wouldn't say a word.

Elijah was the first boy I ever kissed. We kind of lost touch after his brother died. He went off the deep end, took a bottle of sleeping pills, spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, then came back speaking in iambic pentameter for a month.

If I actually get a second chance at life, the first thing on my list will be thanking Elijah for trying to show me a way out of here. He spent some time on this hallway. He says I have to go back up on the roof of Brady Theater where it all went down and face my demons, but I'm not sure I can do that. He thinks I can, but I'm not convinced.

COULD I? (from page 328-329 of Forget Me Not)

Could I really
go up there again?

Could I face my pain,
then click my
heels like Dorothy,
say, "There's no
place like home,"
and wake up
from this nightmare?

Could I
just slip back in
as quickly as I
slipped out?
What would it take?

Could I
close my eyes,
open them again, and find
myself back in the hospital room?
What if I never walk again
or talk again?

It would be a long road back.
So many things broken.
Elijah would help me.
And Oscar. And Nana.
And Dad.

Maybe Elijah is right.
Maybe just one or two
people are enough
to help you make it
through the darkness.

Could I

really believe that?

* * * *

Carolee Dean is a speech-language pathologist as well as a young adult author.  She has been a featured speaker at several national and local conferences for educators. 

In her novel Take Me There, she examines the death penalty from the point of view of a teenage boy who journeys to Texas to find his estranged father. In Forget Me Not she examines cyber-bullying and suicide. For more information about Carolee and her books, visit her blog at caroleedeanbooks.blogspot 

She has a monthly newsletter focused on helping educators build lifelong readers. Past issues may be found at spellbindersbooksnews.blogspot.  Follow her on Twitter @CaroleeJDean

Forget Me Not

by Carolee Dean

From the author of Take Me There, a fast-paced novel in verse about a girl caught between life and death—and the boy who will do anything to save her.
Ally is devastated when a scandalous photo of her is texted around school. With her reputation in shambles and her life essentially over, she hides out in a back hallway, trying to figure out where everything went wrong.      Elijah has spent time in that hallway too. He landed there after taking a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Now he can see ghosts, and he knows what Ally has yet to suspect—that she’s already half dead, and one choice away from never coming back. Elijah has loved Ally for years and would do anything to save her from the in-between place. But if she’s going to live, Ally must face her inner demons and find the will to save herself.     Told in interwoven verse narratives, this crushingly honest and poetic exploration of pain and redemption will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Forget Me Not?

This story is very close to my heart. It was inspired by a tragedy that happened when I was in the seventh grade. One of my classmates hung himself. Ever since then there has been a question that has haunted me. "What happens to the soul after suicide?" Often when I write a book I start out with a question like this. The scary part is that I don't usually know the answer when I begin writing. It is the writing process that helps me tackle difficult questions. The answers I come up with are very personal to me, so I'm thrilled when I do find something that makes sense to me. That is my favorite thing about this book, and about writing in general. Also, I'm happy that in spite of the very deep subject matter, I was able to have a lot of fun with this story. That also helped the healing process. I based the set up of the Raven Valley High School on Dante's Inferno, I have allusions to many famous authors and poets, and I did a lot of exploring of raven mythology. All these things helped making the book much more than just a problem novel exploring a very difficult issue. I must add that there is a happy ending... but not for everyone.
Order Forget Me Not on Amazon View Forget Me Not on Goodreads

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

4 WOW Wednesday: Sean Beaudoin on Surviving the Road to Pub

Today's WOW Guest, Sean Beaudoin, just released his latest novel, the rude zombie opus The Infects. His stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including: The Onion, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Spirit, the inflight magazine of Southwest Airlines. His next book, Wise Young Fool, will be out August 2013. He frequently ends his bio with an ironic or self-deprecating personal comment.

Catch him on his website:
His Blog:
Or on Twitter: @SeanBeaudoin

Let Yourself Be Terrible - Tips to Surviving the Road to Publication
By Sean Beaudoin

My advice to aspiring authors is always the same, because I genuinely believe it to be true: your success can be measured by the length of time you are willing to be terrible at writing without giving up. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t write numerous lousy manuscripts before selling their first good one. I wrote literally dozens of horrible short stories, hundreds of execrable poems, and innumerable first chapters of novels that no sane person should ever be forced to read. You can’t just pick up a saxophone for the first time, book a gig, and start busting out funky chops. You have to be willing to be way out of tune for a while. The amount of time depends on the person, but the number of highly accomplished contemporary authors in their twenties can be counted on two thumbs. So, I would say to any aspiring writer: either give up now and save yourself a whole lot of anguish, or be willing to hang on tight through the long, dreary, atonal bits.

The thing about writing is, all the authors I know have to do it. It’s not a choice. It’s just too easy not to write, so the people who hang in on the ropes and absorb all the body blows are the ones that really want to be there. Whether it’s because they’re dying to be famous, or they have something important to say, or the muse sings sweetly to them all night long, or they dream of the lottery blockbuster, or they’re simply exorcising demons, it’s an obsession as much as a vocation.

Writing is mentally taxing, emotionally exhausting, and requires a rare and unusual skill set: namely the ability to keep doing it long after all your friends and family have stopped believing in you and spend the majority of every Christmas vacation asking when you’re going to get a real job. It’s hard to land an agent, hard to get published, hard to get reviewed, hard to garner renown, and hard to live with the mental image of every book that goes unsold, let alone remaindered and pulped. Further, it’s almost impossible to make a significant living through writing. There’s probably 200 people in the United States who do. Everyone else is working a third job, teaching, hotel clerking, waitressing, or living in collegiate-style poverty

I don’t say all this to dissuade anyone. I say it because it’s true, and anyone who’s considering doing it full time should know what you’re getting into. I was either incredibly naïve or just plain dumb when I first got involved with the publishing industry, and there are many rude and dire things that I wish that someone had taken the time to  tell me.

Finally, I guess that writing--which I used to think was about wearing a cool shirt and shaking hands and going to the right parties--is really all about personal discipline. Sure, it requires inspiration and talent and The Muse and all that low-falutin’ stuff as well. But writing over the long term means conquering self-doubt, as well as the inherent tendency to shirk what doesn’t come easily. Gaining a level of creative self-control is exhilarating, in a way I imagine other people reach through ballet or yoga or meditation. Sitting down and focusing unreservedly for many hours at a stretch, and then having a few quality pages to show for it at the end of the day, is the best possible intoxicant. When the words are coming, and they feel right, and you’re not really even trying because it’s all just coming out like rich creamery butter, is one of the best feelings in the world.

I don’t have any advice because I’m not qualified to give any. But I do have a warning: Make sure you really, really love it.