In June, NPR's Backseat Book Club will read Katherine Applegate's tale of Ivan, a gorilla who lives in a shopping mall. Ivan enjoys watching TV and painting, but a newcomer to the mall — a baby elephant — forces Ivan to face his own past.
I've talked about this before, my terribleness. I have even posted some of my terribleness on the internet. By the time I went to college, I had over thirty manuscripts in various stages of finishedness laying around my house and ancient computers and word processors.
I wrote novels about talking dogs, missing unicorns, IRA men with hearts of gold, enchanters with hearts of gold, missing dogs, missing IRA men, kids in suburbia who were secretly kings and queens, fairies who were secretly kids in suburbia, missing kids and fairies in suburbia . . .
Terrible. They were all terrible.
But like I said. I've talked about all of this before. I wrote a lot of terrible books. Today, however, in honor of Entertainment Weekly sharing the prologue of The Dream Thieves, I am going to share with you a very particular terrible book from my teens.
The Dream Thieves.
Well, it wasn't called that, back then. It was called The Llewellyn Society. And Gansey was an old man. And Ronan was named Sean. And Noah was named Adam. But it was the same. Mostly. Sort of. Except that I wrote this version longhand. Oh, and it was terrible.
Here are some more terrible bits that sort of stayed the same in the real version, only I made them less terrible.
And a typed version from a few months later:
And like I said. Here is the prologue of the real version, and an interview, over at Entertainment Weekly.
I hope you find it not terrible.
(And as a reminder, you can pre-order a signed and painted in version of it over at Fountain Bookstore)
(and here is what I am painting in each of them:
- Current Music:"Better Off Dead" - ZZ Ward
Emilia Plater is returning to YA Highway after a 6-month hiatus (and is officially no longer a teen! *sob*). Emilia's currently a Sociology major at Vassar College. Her favorite things include baby animals, cheese, backpacking to random places, and planning for her future life as a crazy cat lady. Plus writing, but that's kind of repetitive, isn't it?
She's represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.
Keep an eye out for Emilia & Debra's YA Highway posts -- both these girls are HILARIOUS!
Registration is now open at the Dakotas SCBWI website for a full Novel Writing Workshop with me, October 4-6 in Custer, South Dakota. This workshop will involve my Plot Master Class on Saturday and my intensive talks on Character and Voice on Sunday, and it's the only conference appearance I'm making the rest of this year, due to my upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Other than this, I do not plan to offer said Master Class again (online or in person) until next spring, so here's your chance if you want to catch it in 2013.
I will also be at LeakyCon in Portland June 27-30, participating in general shenanigans.
Finally, I will admit to using my blog as commonplace book and diary as much as means of transmitting information, and as such, I've made a habit of recording my running times here to track my progress through the years. Now I have a nice new personal best to note: The Brooklyn Half-Marathon, May 18, 2013, 1:59:28 -- with a personal best 10K in there too, at 56:39. Woo! I never get over the pleasurable strangeness of me, a longtime Enemy of All Things Exercise and In Particular Running, being able to do multiple miles in a single bound. (Or many bounds, really. You get the idea.)
Image: Karl Mannheim by Ludilo Zezanje
I have been reading the Gawker Unemployment Stories, and my heart breaks every time. People telling their stories of despair and anxiety, the instability of trying to find regular employment in today's environment. But what struck me were the comments, and how people find comfort in other people's experiences, because they know it's not them, it's the whole fucked up, crumbling system. As Karl Mannheim wrote, "It is important to remember that our society is faced, not with brief unrest, but with a radical change of structure."
For man, however, the catastrophe [of unemployment] lies not merely in the disappearance of external opportunities for work but also in the fact that his elaborate emotional system, intricately connected as it is with the smooth working of social institutions, now loses its object-fixation. The aims towards which almost all his strivings are directed suddenly disappear, and, not merely does he now lack a place to work, a daily task, and an opportunity for using the integrated labor attitudes formed through long training, but his habitual desires and impulses remain ungratified. Even if the immediate needs of life are satisfied, by means of unemployment relief, the whole life-organization and the family hopes and expectations are annihilated.
The panic reaches its height when the individual comes to realize that his insecurity is not simply a personal one, but is common to masses of his fellows, and it becomes clear to him that there is no longer any social authority to set unquestioned standards and determine his behavior. Herein lies the difference between individual unemployment and general insecurity.
Because while there's the relief of knowing it's not a personal defect that has caused your individual situation, there's the anxiety of realizing that this is not going away any time soon. And it won't be fixed, only temporarily relieved, with a new job. This is a time of "radical change of structure," and it's everyone's duty to figure out how to fix our broken economy and how we work and why, and what the definition of success is. There is no clinging to old paradigms when it's the entire floor that is giving way.
Also: Amazon to begin publishing fan fiction; Paul Ryan and Elizabeth Warren are writing books; Keith Richards' exorbitant library fines.
A poor father sells his daughter to a wealthy, childless couple, dividing her from her beloved brother and setting a chain of stories in motion in Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed. Moving and morally complex, this is the most ambitious book yet from the author of The Kite Runner.
Laurie Boyle Crompton is the first-time author of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) (Sourcebooks, 2013) and looks forward to the release of Adrenaline (FSG/Macmillian, 2014) and The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High (Sourcebooks, 2014).
From the promotional copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains):
When comic-obsessed Blaze stands up to her evil ex, he posts a racy picture of her online and a battle of epic proportions ensues.
Before she knows it, Zap! Thwack! Pow! Blaze becomes the target of intense bullying.
She must learn to channel her inner-superhero if she hopes to gain the ultimate victory; rescuing herself.
Read an excerpt of Blaze.
How do you psyche yourself up to write, to keep writing, and to do the revision necessary to bring your manuscript to a competitive level? What, for you, are the special challenges in achieving this goal? What techniques have worked best and why?
As a debut author I’m in a unique (and extremely blessed!) position of having three books under contract with two different publishers so I have pressing deadlines all over the place.
It works well that I’ve always been able to convince myself that my own deadlines are ‘real’ which is probably helped by the fact that I’m a little bit gullible.
When I find motivation lagging I try to tune in to the inspiration that drove me to write the story in the first place. That initial spark is something that should continue to burn throughout the process.
I also try not to think about the book going public. When you write edgy YA, imagining your mother or grandmother reading your work can tend to stifle creativity. Of course, this game of pretending nobody will ever read the book grows harder as the process draws closer to publication day.
The writer’s worst enemy in the late stages is a little thing called perfectionism. The final read-through can be brutal since it’s the last time for making changes. It’s difficult to let go and release your book into the world, but there comes a point where you just need to decide on the word you have changed back and forth with each draft and accept the fact that you won’t be able to tinker with this story anymore. Then the best thing is to turn focus to the next project.
How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?
I love talking about my wonderful agent! The day I signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency was the day things turned around for my writing career.
Mind you, I still had a long path before getting that first publisher yes (and six months later the second one!). But I’m constantly telling writers they need the right agent, not necessarily the right now agent.
I learned this lesson the hard way. After working on my craft for a number of years I got my first offer from a reputable children’s agent and I was thrilled. Finally, here was someone who would get my book in front of editors! I was on my way! But on my way to where? It turns out I was in for three years of heartbreak and insecurity.
That agent happens to be great for some people and we split on the best of terms, but looking back it should’ve happened much sooner. I do not in any way blame that first wrong agent for those early manuscripts not selling, no agent sells every manuscript they take out on submission. But there were many signs along the way that we were not a good fit.
We parted ways. Within two months I had an offer from a new agent at an established agency on Blaze (then titled "Fangirl"). She seemed very nice and said all the right things, but I didn’t quite feel that love that I’d heard other authors talk about. I let the offering agent know that I had a few other partials out and here is the other piece of advice I try to tell any writer who will listen: in addition to contacting those agents with partials, I also wrote to all those with queries who I hadn’t heard back from, letting them know of the offer.
This actually turned into a few full requests, including one from my absolute top choice; Ammi-Joan Paquette. It turned out, she hadn’t received my original query but she was intrigued by my book and asked to see more. As things progressed towards her offer of representation, I came to understand that agent love that other writers talk about. And I certainly feel it still.
So authors, when you get an offer take the time to contact those agents you’ve queried! At the worst it will save busy agents time reading a query for a book that’s already spoken for. And at best, well, you just never know.
Visit Laurie's LiveJournal.
Enter to win a signed copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sourcebooks, 2013) from Cynsations at Blogger. Author sponsored. Eligibility: North America, U.K. and Australia. Enter here.
by Cecil Castellucci
illustrated by Sara Varon
:01 First Second, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher
Theodora believes that she will never be friends with her new neighbor, Chad. They are too different in too many ways. When winter comes and neither flies south, they discover that they both love star gazing and also that "...even though they were very different, they felt the same way about most things."
Then one day, they are walking in the town, and they hear someone say, "Look at that odd duck!" They each try to console the other for being called odd, then, realizing that the other thinks they are odd, have a complete falling out...which ends when they admit to themselves, and then to each other, that perhaps they are each a bit odd.
But, "It's not so bad to be odd," Theodora thought, "not when you have an odd friend."
If you dial back balance-a-tea-cup-on-your-head-while-you-s