Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Star Wars Celebration Recap!

I am still reeling from my glorious time at Star Wars Celebration! It was honestly unlike any convention I've ever been to before; not just because it was focused on one topic, but because the people were among the very best. Despite the lines and inevitable congestion any large con has, despite being in overflow areas when panels were full, despite any of the countless foibles of con life, every single person I saw had a smile on their faces. It was a joyous experience, to be sure!

Check out my Instagram for pictures of my favorite souvenirs from Celebration--and stick around to enter the giveaways I've got going on all week there!

When I first arrived, I'll confess that I was not certain at first where to go. The convention hall is huge and I started wandering, hoping I was heading in the right direction.

Then I saw this guy:


And I knew I was in the right area.

Soon after, I saw what was to be my favorite cosplay of the whole weekend, but I was still in awe of everything and neglected to get a better picture!


Han Solo and his Lil Kylo, complete with a glowing lightsaber right through the feels. 

Of course, there was tons of amazing cosplay at this con.

I snagged a pic with the first Jyn I saw:


And I was hoping to see some stormtroopers on holiday
(doesn't Scariff remind you of an ideal holiday experience?)
and I wasn't disappointed:


Some of my favorite cosplay, though, is the kind that blends together different fandoms. The DC world was well represented with this Wonder Woman and Superman:


As well as this too-cute Joker and Batman combo:


But by far, my faves were these guys:


THE LIGHTSABERS MATCH THEIR HOGWARTS HOUSES OMGGGGGGGGG

Beyond the cosplay, one of the best experiences was being on the main floor when the trailer for The Last Jedi came out. I didn't get to be in the main panel (which: burning envy for everyone who got those cool red posters), but I was on the main floor, watching the giant screens over the livestream area. 

It was such an amazing experience. I was with my publicist, walking around the main floor, exploring the con, and it's like, as one, everyone stopped. The group knew. Every face turned to the screen to watch the panel. It was a huge, shared experience with all these fans, and that made it so much better. I loved as the new character Rose was revealed, as Mark Hamill called Daisy and John his children, as the director talked about taking pictures of the set, as they all spoke of filming with Carrie Fisher. 

But what I loved the most was watching it with several hundred of my Star Wars friends. 


This photo doesn't look like much, I know. It's a crowd of people with the trailer screen up top. But honestly, I wish you could have been there. That trailer was epic, and the crowd made it more so. Everyone gasped in all the right places. Whispers of "I knew it!" or "Oh no!" or "Yesssss," pinged around the area. No one was mobbing or pushing or shoving--we were all just staring up, watching this thing, filling with ideas and hope for the new story. Together. 


And the atmosphere was very apropos. 


I wish I'd had more times for pictures! And also that they'd let me drive a walker!

After doing some businessy stuff (yay, interviews!), I got to actually go backstage of the area where I saw the trailer. The Star Wars Show Livestream was set up there, and (eep!) I was going to be on it!


There was a moment there, while I was waiting to go on stage, where I just sort of stared at it all in awe that this was real life. 


And then I got on stage, and there were teleprompters, and they had my name on them.


And they put a microphone in my hand and it was real and totally not a figment of my imagination and whaaaaat.


And then Andi Gutierrez interviewed me and I have no idea what I said, like zero concept, because my brain had ascended to a totally different plane of existence and I was dead by this point. 

Oh wait, I know what I said, because there's a film record of it:


If you fast-forward to around the 5:40 mark, you'll catch my interview.

If I look like an idiot on screen, keep in mind that internally, my brain was doing this:


So here's hoping I don't look too dumb...

Anyway! After that, it was time for Super Intimidating Thing #2, namely, the Lucasfilm Publishing panel! Before that, however, I hung out backstage (because my feet hurt and I was done walking forever) where I bumped into OH YOU KNOW JUST TIMOTHY FREAKING ZAHN,


And guys, he is a delight. Just a wonderful human being. I was super trying not to throw up from nerves, and here is Timothy Zahn being charming and kind and friendly and just wonderful. 

Which helped because that panel? It was huge:


But also brilliant.

It was honestly such an honor to be on stage with these fantastic people, from my editors at Lucasfilm Publishing to my fellow authors and Star Wars nerds. We got to geek out together. 

And they gave away an early copy of Rebel Rising to a girl dressed as Jyn and my little black heart beat with happiness. 

My favorite moment is probably when they asked one of the last questions: if we could write anything in the Star Wars universe, what would it be? I knew my answer: I would love to write a YA Princess Leia story. 

And then they announced upcoming books for next year:


Oh, the irony! But to be 100% honest, if I can't write it, I'm so glad that Claudia Gray is. She wrote my favorite Star Wars book to date, Bloodline, which is all about Princess Leia as an adult. She knows Leia, and I'm just excited that I'll get to read this book and experience the story as a fan!

Other books were announced at the panel, including Delilah Dawson's upcoming Phasma novel! Another character I'm excited to learn more about--I can't want to see what she's like under the silver helmet. 


Bonus pic of me awkwardly crouching next to Chopper. 


If you've not seen Star Wars Rebels, Chopper is the main droid on that show. And he's the best. He rivals even my beloved K2SO. 


HEY PS: DON'T FORGET THAT IF YOU ORDER REBEL RISING FROM MALAPROPS, YOU GET A FREE GIFT!

Details below; order here.




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reviewer Campaign for A WORLD WITHOUT YOU!

The hardcover!
One of the most important things a book needs to survive in the competitive market of publishing today is reviews. Most readers will check out a book's reviews before deciding whether or not to take the plunge on the book, and even if sales are doing well for a book, they do better with more reviews, specifically at powerhouse Amazon, where people tend to check reviews regardless of whether or not they buy the book.

A World Without You is coming out in paperback in June, and before that happens, I'd love for it to have 50 reviews. Why 50? Because at fifty reviews, Amazon gives the algorithms a little boost, making sure the book shows up higher on people's searches.

I need your help. If you've read the book and can spare a few minutes to give it a review, that will help immensely. And to encourage people who've not read the book yet to give a review, I'm holding a giveaway below. 

I'm giving away FIVE signed, hardcover copies of A World Without You. There are several ways to earn additional entries, but to enter, you need to:

  1. Enter your mailing address
  2. Promise to review the book on Amazon as soon as you can. NOTE: It does not have to be a positive review, just an honest one. 
  3. Give the book to a friend and ask them to review it. 
The new paperback cover!
Of course, in case you want to keep the signed hardcover for yourself, I'm also including a signed bookplate and extra swag for both you and your friend--may I suggest gifting your friend a copy of the paperback, which is on sale for just $5 right now

In addition to sending out five books to random winners, I am also going to mail a swag pack of two signed bookplates (one for you, and one for a friend) and a few extra goodies to 25 additional readers. So 30 people are going to have prizes shipped right to them! 

Have you already reviewed the book on Amazon? Thank you! You can still enter as normal by promising to ask a friend to review it as well. 

And yes, this is open internationally! Entries close April 7th, prizes will be mailed by mid-April. 




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For those who love writing...

Valentine's Day is all about love, but when you love books and writing more than as much as some people, let's celebrate them instead!

In my recent newsletter, I talked about some of the books that I've been in love with lately, but today I want to talk about the other side of the books--writing them!

There's a reason why I named my writing and publishing advice books "Paper Hearts"--because writing is so close to our hearts, and it's something you have to love in order to create. So to celebrate that love, I'm going to give 100 aspiring writers a prize--a swag pack with tips on writing advice, resources, and more--and I'll be sending on random winner a signed copy of all three Paper Hearts books.


To enter, all you have to do is fill out the form below. That's it. No hoops to jump through, no strict requirements. I've got a program that will randomize the entries and print 101 labels for me, and I'll slap them on the envelopes of the swag packs and the box of signed books.

While it's not a requirement to enter, please consider sharing with the other writers in your life!

This giveaway is open throughout the month of February and prizes will be mailed out in early March.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Upcoming Events

If you're in the Chicago area, come see me as guest of honor at the Capricon sci fi and fantasy convention! This fantastic convention has a long roster of amazing panels and events, and is perfect for anyone who likes fiction.

You can find out more information here, and I highly recommend you check them out!!

Where: Chicago area, Westin Chicago North Shore
When: Feb 16-19
Who: Me and tons of over authors and experts on sff!

I'll also be visiting a local school in the area, and I should have some extra special swag to share, so make sure you stop by and say hello!

***

If you're in the Greenville, SC area, come see me in Six Wakes, and all things weird and wonderful. All the details are here.
conversation with author Mur Lafferty at the beautiful MJudson Bookshop in downtown Greenville. We'll be talking about Mur's latest book,

Where: MJudson Books, downtown Greenville, SC
When: February 21
Who: Me and Mur Lafferty
***

Nashville, TN area people should absolutely check out the SE-YA book festival! Now in it's second year, this book festival promises to bring together all the best readers and authors in one epic event. Personally, I'm bringing an extra suitcase for all the books I'll be buying. More info!

Where: MTSU Campus in Murfeesboro, TN
When: March 10-11
Who: Um, a ton of authors, seriously, it's a lot

***

There's a ton of stuff to do in Orlando, FL, but the cool kids will all be at this year's Apollycon! The book convention has a ton of your favorite authors getting together for an amazing series of parties and signings and panels and more! This one also features a virtual signing, so if you need to buy books but can't make it to the event, you still can! Info here!

Where: Doubletree Hilton Hotel at the entrance at Universal Orlando
When: March 24-25
Who: Like, seriously a bunch of authors


Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Greatest Lesson I Learned in Writing This Year

In terms of writing, this year has been one of change and challenge for me. 

I published my first contemporary novel, a twisty story that was dark and hit close to home. It was a challenge to write, and it was a challenge to share with the world, and I'm still not entirely comfortable with it. 

I wrote a novel for Star Wars that will come out May 2nd of next year. It's a novelization set around the story of Rogue One, which is now my favorite Star Wars movie. If you've not seen it, go. You won't regret it. Bring tissues. 

But writing my Rogue One novel was a different sort of challenge. I was telling a story that required a lot of cooks in the kitchen, a lot of strings to tie up and not get tangled in. It was difficult, not the least because of the time constraints, but I reveled in that difficulty and loved the challenge before me. 

In between these projects, I've also been working on a fantasy novel that should come out in 2018 from Penguin/Razorbill. And this book has been the very definition of challenge to me. I've solidly written about a half million words just to find the right path for this book. 

I love the idea of it. It's about loss and love and moving on. Set in a fantasy world where people can raise the dead. 

It was the execution that tried to kill me. (Pun not intended, but so hilarious that I'm leaving it.)

First, I wrote it in first person present tense, from the boy's point of view. A key scene happened at the end of chapter three. That didn't work--too much had happened prior to that, so I needed to retell the story. And the voice was off. So I rewrote it with flashback chapters alternating scenes to fill in the past but keep the momentum of the present. It ended up being a confusing mess with little cohesion--I could see the strings tying the story together, but it was impossible for anyone else to. 

So I took a deep breath and rewrote it again. This time in third person, alternating chapters between the boy and girl POV. That worked well for Across the Universe; I tried to replicate it. It flopped. That was the wrong way to tell this story, and it felt heartless. 

Then I rewrote it again. And keep in mind--all these edits are before I've even turned the book in to my publisher! This is all stuff I'm stumbling through on my own, because I know it's not working yet and I can't turn it in until it's at least operable. 

In this rewrite, I went back--way back. All those flashback scenes were now written in the moment. Something that took a paragraph for a character to describe that had happened in the past was now about a quarter of the book, unfolding on the page. 

For lack of a better way to say it, I really went there. I didn't hold back. I challenged myself to write the scenes that I'd clearly been avoiding. I dug my fingers into the wounds. Any time I felt myself shying away from how I said something, I forced myself to rewrite it with as much graphic detail as possible. 

I had just finished this fourth draft when I had to put it away and start work on the Rogue One novel again. And during that interim, I realized that one final thing was wrong about my book--I had written in a subplot on race that wasn't my story to tell and I hadn't done it in an authentic way. Knowing this hung like a cloud over my head as I worked on the SW novel, and it lingered for months as I turned it over and over again in my brain on what to do, how to fix that subplot. The solution was to excise it, so as soon as I got the Rogue One novel turned in, I turned back to this book--this book I'd already written four times--and started again from page one, carefully plucking out the subplot that didn't work and stitching the story back together again. 

I'm nearing the end--I hope. In the new year, I turn this book in to my editor, and I start really getting to work on it. But as I read through it one last time, I know that the biggest lesson I've learned in writing--from all three of the projects I've worked on this year--has been simple this:

Challenge yourself.

Don't hold back. Whatever your best idea is, put it on the page now. Don't wait. If you're hesitant to write something because you're not sure you can, write it. Write it now and without reserve. Constantly challenge yourself to something newer, something bigger, something better. And then rise to meet that challenge.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Holiday Surprise--a New Cover for A WORLD WITHOUT YOU!

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you've already seen this! And if you don't subscribe, click here to remedy that :) 

As many of you know, the original, hardback cover of A World Without You looks like this:


And I love it! The strings are perfect for Bo, who believes he can travel through time using something similar to strings. (I particularly love the bright red string, which is the one he believes connects him to Sofía, the girl he loves.)

However, there's something new coming at you...

A new cover for the book.
A new face, if you will.
For the book about Bo.
A new face of Bo, am I right Whovians?! 


I'll see myself out.

Anyway!

New cover, exclusively for the upcoming paperback release!


*sigh*

Isn't it dreamy?

I love that there's still an element of the timestream with the swirly lines.

And I love that the person isn't clear. It could be Sofía reaching out for Bo. Or it could be Bo reaching out for you.

I love the simplicity of it.

I love the slightly creepy edge--because this book is slightly creepy.

I hope you guys love it too! You'll be able to get this cover from all major retailers soon, when the paperback releases next year.

Let me know what you think in the comments!