A peek inside the revision cave

Sketch 2015-04-30 14_05_35
The first draft of my latest book is due to my editor next week, so for the past few days I’ve turned into the elusive Revision Hermit, a creature that flinches at the light of day and makes elaborate sculptures out of paper clips and repeatedly mutters the cryptic words, “cut paste copy find replace cut paste copy find replace…CAPS? Strike….through…”

So I’d like to take a moment to rip back the curtain. The writer’s life ain’t a glamorous one, folks. It is hair-pulling and screen-staring. It is coffee by the Olympic-sized-swimming-poolful. Here is a list of things that I have done in the past week that I don’t normally do in my daily life:

  • plot the murder of my leaf-blowing, lawn-mowing neighbors
  • eat a lot of canned soup
  • go on a desperate field trip to a flagship store for research/stalling purposes (more on that in a future post)
  • try to draw a map of a location in the book but instead end up with something that looks like Grimace:
    IMG_20150428_101948
  • spend a couple of hours wondering what Grimace is
  • surreptitiously feed the cat Cheez-Its because EVEN IF THIS BOOK TURNS OUT TO BE SHIT, YOU STILL LOVE ME RIGHT CAT
  • write things on my big dry erase board
  • erase things off the dry erase board
  • ram head against the dry erase board
  • forego bathing
  • ignore every email that comes into my inbox
  • ignore all social media
  • ignore everything that’s happening in the world
  • check in on what’s happening in the world
  • despair for the state of the world
  • return to work and try to remember that books matter, especially in this state of the world
  • blog
  • try to convince self that blogging is not stalling
  • see through the ruse
  • blog anyway
  • go back to work for real, kicking and screaming and hurling dry erase markers everywhere

I’m going to back to work now. Send Cheez-Its!

 

Posted in Writing | Tagged | 4 Comments

It’s YA Scavenger Hunt time!

YASH-circle-background-2

The YA Scavenger Hunt is now over. Thanks for hunting!

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors, and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM–but there a whole bunch of other teams, for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

Team-Gold-2

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


SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up.

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


I have the honor of hosting Cecil Castellucci. Let’s all learn some more about her, shall we?

cecil-castellucci-2014-web_res-9382THE AUTHOR

Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star and Odd Duck. Her picture book, Grandma’s Gloves, won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN, Tor.com, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2. She is the Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow.

For more information, check out her website , and buy her books here!


28ff9-stone2bin2bthe2bskyTHE BOOK

Years ago, Tula Bane was beaten and left for dead on a remote space station far from Earth, her home planet. She started with nothing and had no one, but over time, she found a home, a family, and even love. When it’s discovered that the abandoned planet beneath the station is abundant with a rare and valuable resource, aliens from across the galaxy race over to strike it rich. With them comes trouble, like the man who nearly killed Tula years ago—the man she has dreamed of destroying ever since.


THE TRAILER


THE BONUS CONTENT

One thing that I do for every novel I write is make a playlist to listen to while I’m writing. It’s a way to get myself into the mood of the character so even when I don’t want to write, I can. It’s like the soul of the book. Here is the playlist that I made while writing Stone in the Sky. These songs are the very heart beat of Tula Bane as she struggles to survive the events that have forced her to flee the space station that she’s called her home for the past few years. These songs are her fuel.

Another Year – Amanda Palmer
Leaving Home – Anna Waronker
Game Is Over – Yael Naïm
Shark In the Water (Acoustic) – V V Brown
Moonshiner  – Uncle Tupelo
Say So  – Uh Huh Her
Sorry for Laughing  – Nouvelle Vague
Meet Me On The Darkside – Melissa Auf der Maur
With Legs – The Loom
Pancakes And Sauce – Fragile Gang
Bird Song – Florence + The Machine
Catastrophe and the Cure – Explosions In The Sky
Know thy Door – Eric Erlandson
Fondu au noir – Cœur de pirate
Noah’s Ark – Coco Rosie
You Came Along – Joel Plaskett Emergency
Organeum – Girls in Hawaii
The Fog – Girls in Hawaii
Blues for Uncle Gib – Broken Social Scene

Well worth a listen: http://8tracks.com/cecilseaskull/stone-in-the-sky


THE NUMBER

Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by Cecil, me, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 28. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the gold team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


9780544307100_hresOOH A GIVEAWAY

In addition to all of the fabulous prizes you can win throughout the hunt, I am giving away an extra super HELLHOLE prize pack – including a signed copy, a free audio download, and swag! To enter, fill out the form below – and get as many bonus entries as you can by following me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, or by leaving a comment telling me your favorite snack food. Good luck!

Giveaway closed. 


OOH ANOTHER GIVEAWAY

It just so happens that I am in the midst of running an audiobook giveaway as well, so while you’re here, might as well enter that one too.


CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, head over to the website of the next author: Erica O’Rourke!

Posted in Contests/Giveaways | Tagged , , , | 97 Comments

Interview with MacLeod Andrews, narrator of the HELLHOLE audiobook – plus a giveaway!!

I’ll be honest with you – I am weirded out by listening to my own books read aloud. When the voices that up until now have existed solely in my head are suddenly thrust out into the real world and adopt actual tones and cadences, it generally makes me want to squish myself up into a ball and camp out for several days in a Tent Of Awkwardness™.

I have, however, been blessed with very good narrators who make all of the icky dissipate real quick. The narrator of HELLHOLE, MacLeod Andrews, did such an amazing job that I just had to pester him with all of my questions about how he made the magic happen.


mc4How did you get into audiobook narration?

I was living in NYC doing theater and while catching up with a classmate from college learned she was recording audiobooks at Brilliance Audio. I asked if she would put me in touch and I was sent an audition for a children’s/young-adult title by Joseph Helgerson called Crows and Cards. Really fun book. From there I continued to narrate more and more titles and began working for more and more publishers.

Do you do anything else besides voice work?

Yes, I also work in theater and film. Currently I’m in a new play by Charlotte Miller called Thieves. It runs March 18-April 4 in Los Angeles at the El Portal Theater.

I also recently starred in and co-produced a feature film They Look Like People which is touring the festival circuit at the moment.

Your reading of Burg is so deliciously evil. How did you develop his voice?

I didn’t have to go much farther than your writing. He seemed so clear to me from your hilarious scenes. I heard him as part Beetlejuice, part Satan from South Park, but at times more genuinely sinister than either.

Your Max sounds different from the Max I had in my head when I was writing him – but in a great way. I always thought of him of being a little nerdier-sounding, but in your reading he’s more cool-but-awkward, and you make him sound so heartbreaking when things start to go terribly wrong. What I’m getting at is that I love your Max. What was your thought process in approaching his character?

Thank you. I think I wanted to keep him in a slightly lower register for a couple reasons. I think I have a tendency to forget that teens (at least older teens) often have dropped into their voice for the most part. I also didn’t see him as a typical nerd or poindexter; he’s a funny, awkward, sensitive kid who’s growing up in a really difficult circumstance. I felt like a more archetypal “nerd voice” might have limited his presence. As our protagonist, I think it was important to keep him as earnest as possible and leave room for a wide range of expressiveness. It also leaves room for smaller characters to pop a bit more, and fill more specific roles, like Paul.

Speaking of Paul, you totally nailed his geekiness, plus Lore’s deadpan-ness, Audie’s perkiness, and Wall’s bro-ness. I threw a lot of teenage characters at you here, and you made each one sound very distinctive – and all them still set apart from your narrator voice. How do you juggle all those multiple personalities?

Yeah, distinction is always tough. My nightmare in the booth is a scene with any more than one 14-year-old girl. There are a couple of tools to go to. Dialect, pitch, volume, rhythm, mic placement, voice placement, attitude. I think Lloyd/Burg/John Cusack gave me the most trouble. He’s an every-man but so is my narrator and Max to a certain degree.

It’s kind of obnoxious for an author to laugh at their own writing, but listening to the audiobook I busted a gut over and over again because of the way you read a line – either your inflection or emphasis was new to my ears, or the timing was perfect – and there were also many times I had a mini-celebration when you nailed a punchline perfectly. Do you approach comic writing differently than other genres? How do you adjust your narration and tone to incorporate humor?

Don’t worry, I was laughing my way through the entire Hamlet/Hot Pocket scene. When it’s funny, it’s funny. I just try to make sure I’m having as much fun as I can when I get a comic title. And sometimes you do just have to go back and nail the rhythm of a joke. Humor can be very technical at times.

Who was your favorite character to voice, and why?

Burg…He exists for nothing but his own pleasure. Utterly unsympathetic and capable of just about anything. I almost couldn’t go too far with him. He was just perfectly written.

Aw. Thanks.

MacLeod Andrews is an award winning audiobook narrator. He is a company member of Rising Phoenix Rep Theater Company with whom he has performed in many shows premiering Off-Broadway and in LA, including Slipping by Daniel Talbott and Thieves by Charlotte Miller (March 2015 LA). He has starred in and been featured in a number of independent films including They Look Like People (which he also co-produced), Split, andFound In Time. He is a “lunatic” at Lunacy Unlimited Productions (kind of like a company member, but for film and web) where he makes fun sketches with writer/director Stu Pollard. He was born and raised in Louisville, KY and has a BA from Middlebury College.

Find MacLeod around the web on Twitter, Instagram, and on his website. Buy the HELLHOLE audiobook on Audible. Want to hear how fabulous he is first? Listen to a sample of the HELLHOLE audiobook right here:


Oh wait THERE IS MORE. I’m giving away free audiobooks to five lucky listeners out there! To enter, simply fill out the form below. Good luck!

Giveaway closed.

Posted in Interviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

WAX cover fan art

About a month ago I had the honor of speaking at the Louisiana Teenage Library Association Annual Conference (wearing the clothes that I flew in with, because the airline lost my luggage). In addition to meeting scores of fabulous teens and librarians, and apologizing to everyone for looking like such a scrub, I got to be a part of one of the awards given at the conference – the one for the drawing contest. The subject of that drawing contest? WAX covers! Entrants were asked to create a fantasy cover for my next book, and the results were nothing less than amazing. Enjoy!

IMG_3218 IMG_3219 IMG_3220 IMG_3222 IMG_3224 IMG_3225

Thanks to everyone at LTLA! I had a blast!

Posted in Events, Fan Art | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reader mail/FAQ: What’s the deal with Norwood and Heloise?

20150303_094737

Be warned: this post is FULL of spoilers, so if you haven’t read the entire trilogy yet, stay away.

Norwood and Heloise. Did they really love each other? I could never get a good read on how Heloise felt, and Norwood… you’d think a husband would have a little more grief knowing that their wife was suddenly suffering eternal torment. How old are they? Were they partners? After ROGUE, what happens to Norwood?        — Carly E.

Norwood and Heloise are in their late forties/early fifties, they were partners before becoming Etcetera directors, and yes, they really did love each other. As Norwood mentions in Rogue, they even wanted children at one point, but ultimately chose to stick with their careers instead (since Grims can’t have kids while they’re in the Grimsphere). So of course Norwood is devastated by what happens to Heloise, but I think he’s the kind of guy that funnels most of his emotions into rage — rage that he takes out on Lex, Uncle Mort, and the rest of the gang, and uses it to fuel whatever he can do to control the destruction of the Grimsphere. Because, remember: from Norwood’s perspective, Uncle Mort is an alarmist crackpot who’s been wrong about things before, and Norwood is the voice of reason who’s trying to help. The Grimsphere is his entire way of life, everything he’s ever worked for. Of course he doesn’t want to see it destroyed; none of the Grims do! But he doesn’t know the extent of the problem like Uncle Mort does, and while, yes, Norwood should have listened when Uncle Mort was trying to convince him, he was still acting in what he thought was the Grimsphere’s best interest.

Having said that, he goes about it in a variety of deplorable ways: secretly bombing Croak in order to get people to vote for him as mayor, throwing everyone in jail, sentencing Lex and the gang to the Hole, etc. It’s not like he’s this misunderstood hero who was just erred on the wrong side of history; he is, in many ways, a very cruel man. So what happens to him after Rogue? Well, it’s probably not what you want to hear, but I think he’d probably just lick his wounds and move on with his life. Sure, he deserves some sort of punishment, but to him, being stripped of his Grimhood is the worst possible thing that could have happened, and continuing to live on in this world that’s just a shadow of his former life would likely be a daily torture. Still, he’s a smart, ambitious, ruthless guy, and he should have no problem jumping back into the modern world. I bet he’d fit right in on Wall Street.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming March appearances

By which I mean events that are taking place in the month of March, not events that are themselves marches. I don’t march. I’m too short and I look like a child having a tantrum.

YA Q&A Panel
Join me, Cara Bertrand, Kim Harrington, A.C. Gaughen, and Anne Cardi as we discuss books, writing, and probably the bookstore’s adorable bunny logo.

Saturday, March 14
4:00pm
Blue Bunny Books & Toys
577 High Street – Dedham Square
Dedham, MA 02026


NYC Teen Author Festival
This runs from March 15-22 (check out their website for the full schedule) but I will only be there from Friday to Sunday. Free and open to the public!

• YA Explains it All 
This is billed as the “Ultimate Q&A”, and promises to be a really funny panel!
Friday, March 20
2:50pm-3:45pm
42nd St. New York Public Library, Berger Forum

•No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder
Wherein I and a billion other authors will sign copies of books for you.
Sunday, March 22
1:30pm-2:00pm
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th St.

Hope to see you soooon!

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment