Monthly Archive: November 2012

YA Scavenger Hunt (winter edition)

Welcome to the Winter 2012 YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way for readers to get exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors… and a chance to win some awesome prizes! In this hunt, you not only have access to exclusive content from each author, you also get clues at each stop for the scavenger hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive signed books from authors on the hunt in my team! But play fast: This contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or both! I am a part of the RED TEAM–but there is also a Blue Team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, including links to all the participating authors and a full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.



once and future things

Apologies for failing to follow up sooner on my swag giveaway during the YAmazing Race at the beginning of this month. I was distracted with writing other blog posts, like Alternate Wednesday (new post next week!), trying to make progress in my ever growing to-do list, and adopting a wonderful new dog. :)

In any case, I did tally up all the entries and run them through to randomly select a winner: Marie-Michel Pagé! Congratulations to Marie-Michel–your prize is in the mail!–and thank you all for participating.

Good news if you’d like another shot at winning fabulous prizes: Tomorrow the Winter 2012 YA Scavenger Hunt will begin at noon Pacific time and run for the next three days, offering the opportunity for you to win a massive number of free books, including a signed copy of Quantum Coin. I’ll be hosting another small giveaway of my own here on my blog, so you’ll have an extra chance to win. So stop by tomorrow at 3:00pm (EST)  to find out all about it!

alternate wednesday: Sliders Re-Watch: “Pilot”

I’ve been kicking around the idea of blogging more about some of my favorite stories about parallel universes and time travel in books, film, comics, and television, but it’s been hard to set aside time to do it, and I didn’t want to write posts randomly based on whenever I get around to them. So I’ve finally hit on a blog series I’m calling Alternate Wednesday: Every other Wednesday I (and/or a guest blogger) will highlight a different take on multiple worlds, time travel, and related topics—movies like Back to the Future, shows like Quantum Leap, and so on.

Given the rich history of science fiction and fantasy, I don’t anticipate ever running out of things to cover for as long as this series continues. I’ve decided on a bi-monthly schedule to hold me accountable while also ensuring I still have time to write other things, like fiction; I’m timing this series so that I can update this blog on the alternating weeks when I’m not writing a Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch post over at The Viewscreen. If this somehow gets popular or I have a lot of extra content for it, I may just have two different tracks of posts alternating every Wednesday. Who knows? Anything is possible.

To start things off, I decided to follow through on another ill-conceived plan I had a while back, to rewatch Sliders. (You remember Sliders, don’t you?) I’m flattered that my editor at Pyr, Lou Anders, describes my book Fair Coin as “Sliders if it were good.” I’ve wanted to defend the show as at least occasionally good, but I couldn’t back that up since I hadn’t seen it in such a long time; knowing the obvious similarities, I consciously tried to make my novels as little like Sliders as I could, with mixed results.

But I recently picked up seasons 1 through 4 on DVD on the cheap, and I’ve never even seen the last two seasons (along with most other people), so I figured I would give this a shot. I don’t know how often I’ll post recaps and reviews of subsequent episodes, but I do intend to watch them all eventually, in the originally intended order. It all depends on if anyone cares–and hey, if another blog wants to pay me to do more of these, that would be all the justification I need! (Hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink.) At the very least, you can expect sporadic Sliders Re-watch posts here until I or my readers lose interest. Posts will loosely follow the Recap/Analysis format Torie and I established for our Star Trek Re-Watch.

That’s enough exposition for now. Let’s enter the wormhole…


so you want to be a writer

Every month, members of teamTEENauthor write a blog post for teens on a specific topic. November’s topic is So You Want to Be a Writer. For links to more posts on this topic, scroll to the bottom.

From "Whisper of the Heart," Studio Ghibli

I hear it all the time when I meet teens at events or tell people that I write: “I’m trying to be a writer.” There are some variations: “I’m an aspiring writer.” “I want to write.” And so on. I used to say these things too, so I know where they’re coming from; until you’ve sold a story, you hardly feel qualified to consider yourself a “real” writer–maybe not even until you’ve sold two stories, in case the first one was a fluke. Before I went to the Clarion West Writers Workshop, thereby receiving some form of validation of my ability, I thought of myself as a wannabe. I was embarrassed to tell published writers that I wrote, as if it was insulting to put my feeble efforts on the same level as their work, work I admired. After all, at the readings I attended in New York City, chances were most of the other people in the room were also trying to get published.

But it turns out that all of those fears of being seen as a poseur, or of other writers looking at my humble goals with contempt, were unfounded. (At least, I think they were.) The writing community is very welcoming and supportive of new writers. We all had to start somewhere. And it’s actually very easy to become a writer, if you really want it. I’m going to tell you how. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Write.

There, you’re done! Congratulations, you are a writer.

It might seem like I’m being facetious, but I’m totally sincere. All you have to do to become a writer is write. Talking about writing, thinking about writing, promising yourself that one day you’re going to write something will not make it happen for you. Sitting down with a laptop, a notebook, or a typewriter if you’re into that and putting words on the page is all it takes to call yourself a writer. Forget about the “aspiring” part–you’re doing it. Yoda was right: “Do or do not, there is no try.” Don’t try to write, just write.

I get it: If you don’t try, it means you won’t fail, but it also means that no one will ever read your work and you won’t ever improve your skills. Stop making excuses and write, whether it’s a 500-word vignette, a short story, a sketch for a novel, a ten-volume epic fantasy, or a blog post. It all counts as writing. Savvy?

What most people probably mean when they say they want to write is that they want to be published, maybe they even want to be paid for their writing. You might even want to quit that day job and commit yourself solely to your art. But underlying all those desires is a much more basic goal, for me anyway: I want to be read. Some people say that they have to write, that they couldn’t stop if they tried, but I actually do have other things I could be doing with my time. I have shelves full of books, video games, and DVDs doing their best to distract me. However, I do feel driven to write, to tell stories, but only because I want to share them with other people. Because I want to entertain, make people think, leave some mark on the world, and have an impact on young readers the way books did for me as a kid. And yeah, this is probably the only thing I’m really good at, where I can say something that no one else can. So that’s something.

There are some other steps involved to being a writer, or if you’re being picky, to being an “author”:

1. Write.
2. Profit.

Sorry, little joke there. Here’s the real list of the top ten things you should do to become a writer:

1. Write.
2. Write some more.
3. No, really. Write a lot.
4. Done writing? Revise.
5. Revise some more.
6. Submit your work.
7. Learn to take criticism and rejection.
8. Submit your work.
9. Keep writing.
10. Be persistent.

Here’s the secret… Pay attention, I’m giving you the secret of writing! Even published writers, “authors” if you will,  are trying to get published. Weird, right? I have two novels out, but I’m revising a new book that is totally different from the duology, and I have no idea if it will sell. So when you get down to it, I’m still an aspiring writer hoping that people will be able to read my work one day.

Just like you.

Read more writing advice from teamTEENauthor participants:

Julie Cross

Pip Harry

Janci Patterson

Mindee Arnett

Suzanne Lazear

Elizabeth Amisu

Erica O’Rourke

my neighbor totoro toronto

At the beginning of November, I went to Canada for a couple of events in Toronto, Ontario. The original reason for my trip was to attend the World Fantasy Convention, which supposedly was in Toronto but was really in Richmond Hills, inconveniently located “near” Toronto Pearson International Airport and various downtown restaurants. False advertising, much?

But I actually skipped most of the first two days of the con, as I also wanted to spend time with close friends in the area, who showed me interesting sites like the National Air Force Museum of Canada and made sure I sampled as much of the local cuisine as possible. No complaints!

Photo by Al Bogdan

World Fantasy is one of my favorite conventions, though I don’t get to attend every year; once I got there, it was great to catch up with many authors, editors, and friends in the SFF community, though there’s never enough time to see everyone. Two highlights of World Fantasy for me were the mass autographing session on Friday night—where some people actually turned up to talk to me and get their copies of Fair Coin and Quantum Coin signed!—and a panel on diversity in young adult fiction, my one official program for the con.

Photo by Al Bogdan

I’m still a little nervous on panels, even though all I’m doing is expressing my opinion on various topics (which I often do without any prompting), but it went really well, thanks to my fellow panelists (Cindy Williams Chima, Cheryl Rainfield, Megan Crewe, and Kathleen Sullivan), as well as a terrific audience–the intelligent, well-read, and passionate audience you hope for at events like this. Everyone contributed to a lively and respectful discussion of the importance of representing protagonists of different cultures, abilities, genders, and sexual orientations in young adult fiction. Cheryl wrote a detailed summary of the panel along with some book recommendations collected from panelists and readers in the audience. So yeah, I think I did all right on this one, and some people were kind enough to tell me so afterward.

Some Altered Fluid: (Clockwise) Mercurio D. Rivera, Rajan Khanna, E.C. Myers, K. Tempest Bradford, Matthew Kressel, Alaya Dawn Johnson. (Photo by Chris Cevasco)

Of course, there were many other memorable moments at WFC: an impromptu fiction reading by members of my writing group, Altered Fluid, in the soda room of the con suite (really); breakfast dim sum; a 3am expedition to get hot pot and tea; hallway conversations about Sleep No More; hanging out at the hotel bar with friends from Clarion West; the Clarion West party (featuring the class of 2012’s anthem, “Ready to Launch”); and every stolen moment with folks in the dealer room, halls, parties, and hotel rooms. And as always, it was great to meet online friends in person for the first time and make a lot of new friends at the con.

Photo by Joanne Levy

However, one of my favorite moments in Toronto didn’t occur at the con at all: a reading and signing at !ndigo Yorkdale. This event was as amazing as the circumstances that brought it about; Ross Armstrong, one of the booksellers at Yorkdale, decided to participate in the company’s “CEO 100” challenge by handselling 100 copies of Fair Coin. And he succeeded!

What. (Photo by Jessie Cammack)

When I found out about it, I was flattered, impressed, and grateful, so I knew I had to visit the store while I was in town to thank the staff in person. I was honored to be invited there for an event–especially considering the guests they usually attract, authors like James Dashner, Cassandra Clare, and Libba Bray–and fortunately everyone’s schedules worked out to make it happen on relatively short notice. One of the best parts of being a published author is meeting teens who enjoyed Fair Coin, not to mention adult readers, parents, and booksellers. It was the perfect note to end my “book tour” on!

So if you happen to be in or around Toronto, Ontario, you can pick up signed copies of Fair Coin and Quantum Coin at !ndigo Yorkdale–the only book store offering them in all of Canada, which is a pretty big country. If you do stop by, say hi to Ross for me.

Ross and me. (Photo by Jessie Cammack)