Tag Archive: teamTEENauthor

catching up

Wow, I haven’t blogged here for more than a month.  Sorry about that. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog–a lot has been going on, and I have things to talk about (like Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel, not to mention some recent controversies on the internet…). However, one of my struggles as a writer has been learning not to take on too much. I have a day job and a family and some semblance of a social life, and several other commitments on the side, like writing Star Trek reviews at The Viewscreen, and editing newsletters and magazines, and so on. I have to fit writing fiction in there somewhere, and for the last month or so, I made the decision to focus on that. The good news is, I just finished a major revision on a novel, so I consider my time away well spent. But now I have a ton of e-mails to catch up on and a backlog of things to blog about…

Since it’s been an egregiously long time since I blogged here, here’s a quick update on some very important and mostly wonderful things:


Photo by Sam Morgan

  • Last month, Fair Coin received the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book! I was completely stunned and honored, particularly since every one of the nominated books could just as easily have received it. It was an incredible experience just to be in San Jose, CA for the Nebula Award Weekend, which is where the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) organization gives out their awards, let alone take home the shiny award. (For photos from the weekend, visit Richard Man Photo, and click here for a list of all the Nebula award recipients and nominees.)
  • I am a finalist for the 2013 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer (aka the Sydney J. Bounds Award), for Fair Coin. Wow. Nominees were voted on by members of the British Fantasy Society and winners will be selected by a jury and announced at the World Fantasy Convention in November. I’m particularly surprised and pleased to get this recognition because my books have not yet been published in the UK!
  • Last month I visited my old high school in Yonkers, NY for career day. (Fun fact: Fair Coin is set in the fictional city of Summerside, which is basically Yonkers.) Many of the vendors there were in the medical profession, and I thought it might be weird for me as a former pre-med student there to be hanging out as a writer. But it was amazing to be back there and meet so many students and faculty who are excited about books and writing, and it was wonderful to reconnect with an old teacher of mine, Dr. Clarice Morris. Shout outs to some of the great teachers and teens I talked to: Joshua, Samantha, Melanie (pictured with me), Charisma, Shyana, Marco, Dean, and Josue. And thanks to Jim Riley, the school’s media specialist, who brought me there.
  • Oh yeah, I just turned 35. Not bad.

20130523_112615Some recent blog posts of mine elsewhere:

Finally, here are some recent, noteworthy reviews and interviews:

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but that’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully blogging will pick up a little more here now that I am not stuck in the revision cave!

links to the past

Apologies for the lack of my Alternate Wednesday posts of late; oddly enough, it’s a matter of not having enough time for them. I thought the biweekly schedule would be manageable, but with a novel to revise and multiple deadlines for various projects (including several other blogs I contribute to–see below), it has been the easiest thing to put aside. But I enjoy writing them, and I hope some of you enjoy reading them, so they will continue–but perhaps on a sporadic basis for the moment.

"Yesterday's Enterprise"That said, I’m double-dipping this week. It’s no surprise that many of my favorite episodes of Star Trek (in all its incarnations) involve time travel and/or alternate realities. So last week I was happy to cover one of the very best of these in the ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch at The Viewscreen: “Yesterday’s Enterprise“. Here’s an excerpt:

But I tell you, this episode is exciting, not least because it fills in some of the time between Kirk’s era and the TNG years, with the introduction of the Enterprise-C. (It hits some of the same buttons for me that “Babylon Squared” on Babylon 5 does, my favorite episode of the first season in which the Babylon 4 station reappears due to a temporal anomaly…) And I love this vessel, a beautiful melding of the best features of the Constitution-class and Galaxy-class designs. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” also has high stakes, gruesome deaths, and it looks and sounds more cinematic than anything on the show previously. I’m also a sucker for stories in which one ship or one person makes a huge impact for others–even in failure; we always root for the Enterprise to survive, but the idea that one crew’s sacrifice could still be a victory of sorts is gratifying.

Pop over there to see my episode recap and read reviews by me, Torie Atkinson, and our fine commenters.

I also had two other guest blog posts this week, if you haven’t had enough of me:

And finally, here’s a link to download a free PDF of Sybil’s Garage No. 7, which among many fantastic pieces includes one of my favorite short stories that I’ve written, “My Father’s Eyes”. It’s even kind of YA-ish, though with a slightly older main character, a photographer named Ambrose. And here’s the editor talking about the issue, Anne Frank, Justin Bieber, and the band Neutral Milk Hotel.

broken up but not broken

Every month, members of teamTEENauthor write a blog post for teens on a specific topic. December’s topic is Breakups. For links to more posts on this topic, scroll to the bottom.

She left me for God.

At least, that’s how I like to tell it. In truth, religion was a big part of our breakup, but it wasn’t the sole reason for it. It’s a cliché, but two people in a relationship really can drift apart. We’d started dating in our sophomore year of college, and six years later we were different people with our lives and interests taking us along different paths. In some ways, we were perhaps always too different to last, but we made it work until those difference no longer complemented each other. These things happen. No one was at fault, and the friendship survived.

It’s easy to look back on a breakup when you’re happily married to someone you can’t imagine being without and life is pretty good–and that’s a lesson in itself. In the aftermath of our mostly-mutual breakup, my ex and I were both miserable. We tried to think of ways that we could get back together, but intellectually, we knew it was the right decision. People told me I would be all right one day, I would even be happy, but at that moment, I couldn’t believe it. It hurt too much.

It turns out that love and breakups are full of clichés, but for good reasons; though everyone’s experience is unique, there’s a general flow that these things take before you can move on with your life. I think they’re commonly called the five stages of grief, because you really are mourning a kind of death, not of a person (unless you take it really badly) but of the relationship and the person you were when you were together. That person, that half of a couple, the way you define yourself as so-and-so’s boyfriend or so-and-so’s girlfriend, simply doesn’t exist anymore. Poof! Gone. It kind of sucks when you realize that.

I think of breakups as three stages though, because a dear friend of mine gave me three mix-CDs of music to help me cope with All the Feelings, presciently labeled “Breakup: Sad,” “Breakup: Rage,” and “Breakup: Fun.” I did work my way through tracks at the appropriate times, listening to them over and over again, and I’ve passed them on to other friends in their times of need.

Just after a breakup it’s also hard to see it as a positive thing, as just a “break”, but it can be. After six years together, I wasn’t sure who I was on my own anymore, and I used those months to spend time with friends, get back into shape, buy some new clothes (yup, more clichés), and write. Eventually I began dating again. (That part is terrifying and I wouldn’t recommend it.) Eventually I met a great woman who seemed perfect for me, and fortunately she seemed to think so too, and this month we celebrated eight years together. We’re different people now than we were when we met, but we’ve grown with each other, and that’s important.

It’s also important to realize that whether you’ve broken up after six days, six weeks, or six years, none of that time together has been wasted. I firmly believe–and maybe I’ve stolen this from Quantum Leap–that everyone enters our lives for a reason. Every life we touch touches others, and those still others, and so on… I would not be the person I am today without the friendships and relationships I’ve been in.

My ex taught me to appreciate art museums and theater and Jewish literature and foreign films, and how to talk to people who aren’t geeks, which is a vital skill because mundanes are kind of weird to interact with, don’t you think? I taught her to enjoy Star Trek, so you know, that’s a fair trade. I also met some of my best friends through her, and in some ways, she helped me become a better person and boyfriend for someone else, which obviously worked out nicely in the end.

So yeah, breaking up is hard to do, but it’s also an opportunity to figure out who you are and what you really want, meet new people, make new friends, and experience one of the best parts of dating all over again: getting to know someone else and exploring the possibility that you might want to spend the rest of your lives together. That part is awesome.

Read more writing advice from teamTEENauthor participants (more to come):

Hilary Weisman Graham

Elizabeth Amisu

Janci Patterson

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

teamTEENauthor DARE DAY, Part II

It’s that time again, and the members of teamTEENauthor were given the following dares:

1) Cover your face with peanut butter and take a picture.
2) Write your most embarrassing moment from your teen years Shakespearean style.
3) Post pictures and other links all about your celebrity teen heartthrob crush from middle school/high school. Your own Justin Beiber so to speak.

Well. I love peanut butter too much to waste it. (Also, ew.) And my poetry is almost as bad as my dancing. So that left me with number 3. The only problem was, of course I didn’t have any such thing as a celebrity crush when I was a teen.

Oh, except… Um.

Teri Hatcher.