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My twenty-city, three-country, back-breaking tour for Afterworlds is done! Now I can go back to that other job I have. Which is, um . . . writing. Yeah, that’s it.
A few notable things:
The New York Times gave me a great review, which contained this marketing-department-happy-making pull-quote:
“‘Afterworlds’ is a wonderful book for any young person with an interest in growing up to be a writer.”
Though I would add the words or who is already a writer. Because it’s November, and real writings are underway.
Of course, we can forgive the paternal tone here. We all know that YA reviews in the NY Times aren’t targeted at actual teenagers. (I mean, the review also compares Darcy Patel to Mary Tyler Moore and Cary Bradshaw, as opposed to any characters created in, say, the current century.) And trust me, I fully comprehend that it’s churlish to take issue with one’s positive coverage in the New York-frickin’-Times. So I’m not so much complaining as thinking aloud about who the imagined audience for this review is—not teenagers, pretty clearly—and what that says about the overall relevance of the Paper of Record to the greater project of YA lit.
But please, all you Times-reading adults with credit cards, go order my book for the writerly young people in your life! They’re the ones with dark circles under their eyes muttering “word count, word count” at the breakfast table this month.
They aren’t just growing up to be writers; they are writers right now.
My first flight in the second leg of the tour was delayed, which left me in DFW airport at almost exactly midnight. If you’ve read Afterworlds, you know that this is pretty hilarious.
In Dallas, a model-making fan named Jon-Luc showed me his diorama of the death of the Goeben, which was pretty amazing:
The kind students of Alvin, TX gave me this amazing gift basket:
And at the Texas Teen Book Festival, I learned that there is a tortoise named Deryn.
Had a lovely time at Changing Hands, as always. And at Hicklebee’s Books in San Jose, CA, where visiting authors sign the walls, doors, and columns, I did something naughty:
Had a great time at the NaNoWriMo fund-raiser at Books Inc. in San Francisco. Even though we were up against the Giants in the World Series, we pulled a big crowd. Way to put books before sportsball, SF!
Boston Book Festival was the bomb, as was Toronto last week. And the tour finally wrapped up at the amazing YALLfest in Charleston, SC, where I met the very smart and terribly poised 16-year-old author of Popular, Maya van Wagenen:
And then, with Varian Johnson, I conspired to photobomb the crap out of noted rappers V-Roth, S-Dess, E-Hop, G-4, and D-Paige.*
All in all, it was too much fun.
To all who came to my events, thank you! I hope it was as fun for you as it was for me. For those of you who missed me, I’m sorry we didn’t connect. Maybe next year.
Yes, I will be touring again next year, though for an entirely new series. (TOP SECRET!)
*Veronica Roth, Sarah Dessen, Ellen Hopkind, Gayle Forman, and Danielle Page. Duh.
As you guys know, I’ve been matching donations to NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Today, Tuesday June 17, is the best time to donate, because folks who donate between noon and 1PM US Eastern (9AM-10AM Pacific) will be automatically entered to win one of five signed copies of Afterworlds.
That’s right, you get to read it NOW.
The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.
I AM BACK. Yes, it’s been a while. But I’ve been writing, and a week ago I finished the first draft of my NEXT NOVEL. It is 135,000 words long, almost as long as Uglies and Pretties put together!
At the moment, this draft is with my agent and editor, and various novelist friends of mine. They’ll all have a gander and get back to me with comments and suggestions, and then there will be rewrites, copyedits, page proofs, sales meetings, cover designs, advanced reader copies, etc. Getting through all these stages means that Afterworlds will come out on October 28, 2014.
Yep. A year from now.
As always when I finish a book, I made a word cloud of Afterworlds. Word clouds take the most commonly occurring words in the text (omitting obvious ones like “the” and “was”) and size them by how often they appear.
I make these clouds partly to amuse and titillate you guys, and partly to make sure that there aren’t any overused words stinking up the joint. Check it out:
Okay, so what do we have here?
Darcy is the main character, so she’s the biggest word, naturally. Imogen is also key, as are Yamaraj and Lizzie. (Lizzie looks small to me, but her sections are in first person, so her name doesn’t appear as much!) Mindy, Kiralee, and Nisha are the other characters to appear, and they all seem about the right size. And yes, there is an important character that shows up as “mother”/”mom”.
Of the Dreaded Overused Words I look for, most aren’t there. No “eyebrows” or “frowned,” thank heavens. No “smiled” or “laughed.” But I will probably take a look at “looked” and “stared” when I do the rewrites. Looking ain’t a verb you need too much of.
What I mostly notice from this is how plain the words are. There’s very little sign of the genre of book I’ve written. To see what I mean, check out the word cloud of my last novel, Goliath:
Along with all the character names, his cloud has lots of words from the Leviathan milieu: “airship,” “Clanker,” “captain,” “cargo,” and “engines.” But you don’t have any of those in my new cloud. This is partly because Afterworlds is contemporary, and half of the book has no fantastic elements at all.
Indeed, this is a story told in relatively simple words. Notice “bad” and “little” in there, which make perfect sense. (Gotta read it to see why.) This makes sense, now that I see it revealed in the cloud. Must contemplate what it means, though. Certainly there’s a bit less world-building in Afterworlds than there was in the Leviathan series, but that makes sense for a stand-alone novel.
For more on the story of the book, check out this podcast with Sarah Wendell of SBTB. It’s her interviewing me and Justine in Brisbane, and we discuss both our next-year books. Click here, then go to the bottom of that page and click the player controls to listen. Lots of me talking about the plot, which some might find a bit spoilery!
It’s a set of e-books (or video games) that are sold together to raise money for charity and for the creators of the books.
Here’s why it’s cool:
1) It’s super cheap. In fact, you pay whatever price you want. The only limit is, if you pay less than the average of all previous purchases, you only get four of the books. But if you pay the current average or more, you get the two “locked” books as well (one of which is Uglies). The average payment currently stands at US $10.87. Not too bad for six books! And if you pay $15 or more, you also get an audio version Cory Doctorow’s Homeland.
But wait! There’s more! A set of mystery books will appear soon, and you’ll get those books too if you pay the average or more. So many books for a bit over ten bucks.
A slightly helpful infographic:
2) Humble Bundles support charity. In fact, you can choose how much of your payment goes to charity and how much to the creators (and you also can tip Humble Bundle for providing the infrastructure). The charities for this bundle are WorldReader, a global literacy charity, and the SFWA emergency fund, which helps science fiction writers who find themselves bankrupted by medical bills.
3) All the e-books are DRM-free. You can use them on any device and make as many copies for personal use as you desire. (We are trusting you not to be pirates. Please do not be pirates.)
4) The books are good: The Best Days of Our Lives by Wil Wheaton Tithe by Holly Black Jumper by Stephen Gould Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier Mogworld by Yahtzee Crowshaw Uglies by me Homeland (exclusive audio version) by Cory Doctorow
Plus bonus mystery books by mystery authors! (I am fancy and already know what they are and they are great! Note: Not actually mysteries in the genre sense. More like YA.)
In other words, a combination of classic and new YA, and some nonfiction to boot. Plus secret bonus books, which is fun.
As I write this, 12,950 bundles have sold, raising $136,889.60!
Anyway, to buy the bundle simply go to humblebundle.com and cough up some bucks. Do this within 12 days!
So why am I participating in this process?
1) I will get some money out of it. That’s cool.
2) Money will be raised for two fine charities. Global literacy means more readers in the world, which is good for me and for civilization, and emergency medical funds for sf writers are often needed. (I live in the socialist hellscape of Australia, so my medical bills are guaranteed for life. But I have lots of friends who might need this one day.)
3) People will read Uglies for this almost free price and then go buy other books by me for real money. (An old trick.)
4) People who come to buy Uglies will get exposed to the other books on the list, which will be good for those lovely authors! (The reverse is also true, but covered under 1 and 3.)
5) It seemed like the cool kids were doing this. And it’s fun to watch the counter go up and more money appear.
Still not sold? Because, like, all you guys already have Uglies? Surely this video will change your mind:
More Uglies TV show news here soon! (But not instantly, because Hollywood.)
As a little kid, I understood by doing. I rarely listened to music without picking up an instrument, or watched TV without twitching along with the scenes, like those old guys whose shoulders dip and fists clench whenever a boxing match is on. More important to the ultimate course of my life, I couldn’t read without writing.
The word “fanfic” had barely been invented in those pre-internet days, but I spent thousands of pages cloning Tolkien, wrote many proto-novels channeling Joanna Russ, and still commit the occasional Raymond Chandler-esque simile.
Writing has always been a part of my reading. I think it’s a part of any writer’s reading. We understand books by making them.
But I’m here today to raise money. This year, the NaNoWriMo Associate Board is focusing on the Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.
This is all great stuff. If you love novels and writers, you should help out. And as a bonus, if you donate in the next month through this website, I’ll match the first ten grand of your donations.
Seriously. We all want to see the novel flourish in the future, right? We want young people to understand the form, to embrace its history and its future, and to continue the mad practice of creating these absurdly long, imperfect strings of text.
To all you folks coming to Book Expo America in NYC, I’ll be signing copies of Afterworlds and otherwise entertaining you! For you non-BEA attenders, I’ll also be at the 92nd St Y for the launch of Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire. And there’s also a surprise on Friday. (Scroll down.)
Here’s the whole week:
Book Launch for The City of Heavenly Fire
With me, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Holly Black.
Lexington Avenue at 92nd St
Kaufmann Concert Hall
Monday, May 26
Talent Show and Silent Auction
River Pavilion, Javits Convention Center
Wednesday, May 28
Join the ABC Children’s Group and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) in supporting and protecting the free speech rights of young readers. More than 100 pieces of art from well-known children’s illustrators will be auctioned. Proceeds from the auction support ABFFE, the Kids’ Right to Read Project, and Banned Books Week.
The Craft of Writing Panel
Me with Brandon Mull, Kiera Cass, and Amy Ewing.
Uptown Stage, Javits Center
Friday, May 30
11:00 – 11:30AM
S&S booth #2638-9, Level 3 (not the cattle yard)
Friday, May 30
3:45 – 4:45PM
Afterworlds Trailer Revealed
Friday, May 30
Stay tuned for details on this. But here’s a behind-the-scenes picture from making the trailer:
Pretty cool, huh? More still coming in the next week.
And finally, I’m still matching any and all contributions to the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.
Donate in the next month through this website, and Justine and I will match the first ten grand of your donations.
Tonight (Thursday, December 8th) at 7PM EST in the US (4PM in California and 11AM on Friday morning in Sydney), I’m doing a chat about high-stakes testing and how schools teach writing. Are those five-paragraph essays going to turn you all into novelists? And how about those syllogisms on the SAT?
To prepare for this, Lauren and I took the essay section of the SAT, and had ourselves scored by a professional examiner. You can read our essays and see what grades we got here at the Huffington Post. (Note that we had exactly 25 minutes to write those essays! Just like you guys did/will!)
Click here for more about Scored, which is out now. It’s set in a dystopian world where every kid gets a Score when they turn 18, determining their prospects for the rest of their life.
Hope to see you all tonight! (Tomorrow morning for me.)
Just finished my forward for an anthology called Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance. As you can tell from the subtitle, it’s a set of stories about people young people flouting Victorian-era convention in various ways. There are a few girls-dressed-as-boys tales in the bunch, which is perhaps why I got the chance to read it early and write a forward.
Here’s the rather awesome cover:
And the cover copy:
The Season has finally arrived, filled with the magnificent balls, scandalous gossip, and clandestine romances that every lord and lady in good society has come to expect. But far within the walls of lavish estates and in the dark corners of the city lies a world that the aristocracy dares not touch, with rules and risks that glamour cannot overpower. Yet true love has no boundaries, and heiresses and street thieves alike must use their savvy and strength to create new beginnings and happily-ever-afters. Sometimes luck is enough, but every once in a while, a touch of magic may be needed.
Deliciously alluring, these thirteen historical romances from a talented array of YA authors will make even the most cynical heart swoon.
How can you resist it?
Edited by Ekaterina Sedia, Willful Impropriety comes out September 4, 2012.
Oh, and here’s the full roster of writers:
AT WILL by Leanna Renee Hieber
THE UNLADYLIKE EDUCATION OF AGATHA TREMAIN by Stephanie Burgis
NUSSBAUM’S GOLDEN FORTUNE by M. K. Hobson
THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER by Barbara Roden
MERCURY RETROGRADE by Mary Robinette Kowal
FALSE COLOURS by Marie Brennan
MRS BEETON’S BOOK OF MAGICKAL MANAGEMENT by Karen Healey
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Caroline Stevermer
THE DANCING MASTER by Genevieve Valentine
THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND by Sandra McDonald
RESURRECTION by Tiffany Trent
OUTSIDE THE ABSOLUTE by Seth Cadin
STEEPED IN DEBT TO THE CHIMNEY POTS by Steve Berman
Here’s a round up of fan art from the last two weeks, mostly in a black and white mode, with some BONUS NEWS at the end.
Let’s start with the art that was handed to me at my Free Comic Book Day event at Kinokuniya in Sydney. Thanks again to everyone who came and said nice things to me on my birthday, and especially to those who handed me art and cake.
First there was some Midnighters art from (appropriately) Melissa:
Yes, that’s Rex looking pretty cool, and I like how Melissa seems a bit annoyed at having to pose for the drawing.
And from Christina, a triptych of Tallys:
The hot air balloons are a cool touch, as are the necklace, interface cuff, and knife for each Tallyversion.
And finally, from Meshell, I got Alek and Deryn as lovebirds:
It’s cool that I got fan art from every trilogy at that event. You’re all doing a good job of coordinating! Plus: OBLIGATORY LORIS WITH MUSTACHE.
And now return to the regular mode of art delivery, these were all sent to me via the internets.
Here from Laura is a bit of Darwinist fashion design!
One of the coolest thing about Keith’s art is how it hints that there would be a whole different Darwinist culture out there, with clothes, furniture, and whatnot all influenced by the Victorian biotechnology at the base of Darwinist society. This hat is a great example of what all that might look like, complete with bee and nautilus-shell motifs.
And here’s a very a spunky-looking Deryn from Lilly.
I like her haircut, and the way she’s leaning forward, ready to go.
And briefly leaving the monochrome, here’s some Deryn cosplay from Alexa, showing before and after:
Pretty amazing difference. According to Alexa, this transformation required “two rolls of athletic tape, half a can of hairspray, and many uncountable bobby pins.” Just remember that the next time you’re cross-dressing: Never say die!
And finally, here’s a lovely still life in the stack-of-books mode, which for some reason I have lost all attribution to except the letter “g”:
A Neverending Story: Fantasy Worlds
Sunday, May 20
Scott Westerfeld, Isobelle Carmody, Justine Larbalestier, and Joy Lawn (facilitator)
Sydney Dance 4, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
From steampunk to the supernatural, from urban fantasies to dystopian futures, our love affair with speculative fiction is all-consuming.
Three authors who create imagined worlds explore our enduring fascination with fantasy and unpick the complexities of the genre. Isobelle Carmody, Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier talk to Joy Lawn.
A Neverending Story: Fantasy Worlds
Sunday, May 20
Scott Westerfeld, Isobelle Carmody, Justine Larbalestier, and Joy Lawn (facilitator)
Sydney Dance 4, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
I have three events in San Diego, two singings and a panel. The panel isn’t official yet, but will be soon, so check back here or on my Appearances page. But I do know when the signings are:
Thursday July 12
Mysterious Galaxy Booth
I’ll be signing and chatting to anyone who drops by. Mysterious Galaxy will have plenty of my books for sale.
Sunday July 15th
Autograph area AA09 in the Sails Pavilion
Signing with me will be Nathan Bransford (Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe), and featuring Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), James Dashner (Maze Runner), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Tahereh Mafi (Unravel Me), Melina Marchetta (Froi of the Exiles), Lish McBride (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer), Myra McEntire (Hourglass).
I won’t be touring this year, but I hope I get to see some of you in the next month, either online or at SDCC.
The full-color, slightly larger format, all-singing and all-dancing art book to the Leviathan series, also known as The Manual of Aeronautics, is OUT NOW. Actually, several people have found them on store shelves over the weekend, but today is the official release date. (Well, tomorrow morning in the United States. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN . . . )
UPDATE: Oh yeah, the paperback of Goliath also came out today!
One of my favorite features of the Leviathan series is that each of the books has a splendid color endpapers by Keith, and the Manual is no exception. Which means I get to follow my tradition of revealing the endpapers on publication day.
As a wrap up of the series, Keith and I wanted to do something that encapsulated the whole series, with pretty much all of the characters in it. Also there was a certain piece of fan art about Deryn and Alek posing for the cover photo on Goliath. So we thought it would be cool for Keith to create the photo shoot for the Clanker/Darwninist Co-Existence Treaty signing!
Most likely, the image below wouldn’t really happen in the world of the Leviathan. I mean, all these characters wouldn’t all get credit for what they did to end the Great War (and all of those machines and beasties in the background would be a bit of a mess). But think of this as a visual confection, a collage that reveals the themes of the book (not unlike the frontispiece of that OTHER Leviathan).
So this is what we went with, and from this humble idea Keith created this awesome image:
Feel free to comment on the Manual in this comment thread, given that there aren’t really spoilers for an art book. (Or are there? Hmm.)
So I guess this is KIND OF THE END. You know? I mean, I’ll certainly post about the Leviathan series again, and people will go on talking about it and cosplaying it, and as new people are born and taught to read, they’ll discover it for the first time. Also, it’s completely possible that someone will make graphic novels or movies or interpretive dances of it, or that I will do more work in that universe someday.
But that doesn’t change the fact that with the Manual finally out, the Leviathan series is kind of . . . over now, at least in its original flavor version. *MAKES SAD FACE WITH TINY TEAR*
It’s been a great five years of working with the awesome Keith Thompson, who really threw his genius into this project, making it much better and bigger and realer than I could ever have hoped it would be. (I’m pretty sure I’ll be working with him again. Steampunk card game!)
It’s also been great having so many voluble, passionate, opinionated, and ridiculously creative fans. Thank you for coming along for the ride, and especially for all the amazing fan art. You are the best.
MONDAY MARCH 4, 5PM
EAST STAGE Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden Highways to a War: A Reading
War stories are among our oldest narratives and this session of readings will explore some of our more recent wars. Christopher Koch has taken us to Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Peter Robb has introduced us to the mean streets of Italy and Brazil. Tom Keneally has chronicled both the World Wars. Scott Westerfeld explores an alternative First World War and Ross McMullin chronicles the letters home.
It looks like I’ll be doing a reading for this second one, and with Tom Keneally! (AKA the guy who wrote Schindler’s Ark.) Click here for more.
And here’s a slightly spoilery review of Behemoth at Boing Boing.
I AM ALL OVER THE INTERNETS.
But I’m also on tour, so if you live in . . .
Houston, Allen (near Dallas), or Austin, TX
New Orleans, LA
Alpharetta or Decatur, GA
Ft. Thomas, KY
Novi or Ann Arbor, MI
Nantes or Paris, France
or Vancouver, Canada . . .
Then please check out my Appearances page for when I’ll be near you.
Right now, there are exactly a hundred comments on the Behemoth spoiler thread. Maybe we should keep going there for book discussion, and use this thread to talk about the interviews or whatever.
And now, because I missed Fan Art Friday, here are some fan art images from the tour!
First, a great life-size version of Alek, which greeted me at River Dell Middle School.
And here’s Deryn, me, and the artists! (Sorry I forgot your names!)
And the drawing on the left was given to me at a signing in Pennsylvania by Patrick. It’s modeled on a real WWI propaganda poster, but changed to show Clanker sensibilities!
Justine and I are finally back home from touring, and want to say thanks to all the teachers, librarians, booksellers, students, and fans who made our trip so much fun, and for helping to make Behemoth a success. I’ll be posting some cool pictures from the trip here soon. But in the meantime, here’s something for those of you who didn’t get a chance to see me live.
Tomorrow at 6PM US Eastern time, I’ll be doing a live video chat for everyone and anyone who wants to come. Please click the banner below to RSVP, so that we can set up the bandwidth for the right number of participants.
Unlike a text-only chat, you’ll get to see and hear me. I’ll start by giving some of my usual appearance talk, and then will answer your questions. You can send them in via Facebook, AIM, and MySpace through Ustream’s social stream. On Twitter, I’ll also be monitoring the hashtag #ChatSS. (For details, click the banner above to go to Ustream’s site.)
I hope you can make it.
Here’s the rest of the tour:
New York City
Wednesday, November 3
Reading at NYPL, Jefferson Market Branch
425 Sixth Ave. at 10th St.
With Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, Sarah Beth Durst, Barry Lyga, Lena Roy, and Kieran Scott.
Nantes, France, Utopiales Festival
Many things. See the festival schedule.
Centre commercial des Quatre Temps
92 La Défense
Métro: Grande Arche de la Défense
Miami Book Festival
No details yet
West Point Grey United Church Sanctuary
4595 West 8th Ave
Vancouver BC Those dressed in Victorian/Steampunk costumes are eligible to win a signed framed print from Leviathan by illustrator Keith Thompson!
Tickets: $5.00 (can be used towards the purchase of a book at the event) Click here for tickets.
Just got back from France last night, and have TONS of cool photos and videos to share. But I must get them organized first! Give me a day or two.
In the meantime, there are exactly TWO more events in the not-quite-endless Behemoth tour:
Miami Book Festival
w/Darren Shan and Ellen Hopkins
November 20 1:30PM
(Building 1, 1st Floor, Room 1101)
November 24 7:00 PM
West Point Grey United Church Sanctuary
4595 West 8th Ave Come dressed in a Victorian/Steampunk costume to be eligible to win a signed framed print from Leviathan by illustrator Keith Thompson!
Tickets: $5.00 (goes towards the purchase of a book at the event) Click here for tickets.
Alas, Justine won’t be at either of these events. But she says hi.
And check out this awesome trailer from the Portuguese publisher of Uglies, Vogais & Companhia:
The postings have been slim here. Justine and I have done our bisummeral relocation to Sydney, where the weather is rather better than it is in New York.
I haz proof:
Yes, this is the view from where I work. Neener-neener.
Check this out. It is TOTALLY FAKE, but cool.
JarredSpekter of Deviant Art.
And it comes with this awesome FAKE poster, also by Jarred:
I quite like the fake movie trailer/poster art form.
But yes, this is me just being lazy, posting random stuff. I GET TO BE LAZY. I’ve been traveling all over the world the last few months, after all. And I’ve spent the last week working on a s3krit project, which I can’t even tell you about. (Yes, so why tell you that I can’t tell you? I dunno. Just to sound cool, I guess.)
Oh, also! Those of you who are e-book readers (or who know one) here’s a cool new thing:
If you came to this blog for the Leviathan fan art, maybe you should skip this post. But if you have a few minutes to kill, you’ll see what goes on inside the heads of writers when they deal with media kerfuffles about their books.
But first a little background . . .
Last week (decades ago in internet time) an organization called BitchMedia made a list of 100 YA Novels for the Feminist Reader. There was great celebration on the YA interweebz, because the list included many fine novels. Moreover, certain writers of a certain vintage always liked Bitch Magazine when it was an edgy west coast zine in the late 1990s, and being listed by it provided validation to our aging souls.
But then bad things happened. A handful of commenters on the blog questioned three of the titles: Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red, Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels, and Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl. A weekend later, BitchMedia decided to yank them. A few hours after that some of us authors on the list (Maureen Johnson, Justine Larbalestier, Diana Peterfreund, E. Lockhart, Ellen Klages, and possibly more) commented to express our disappointment and request that our own books be removed from the list.
If you go to that post now, you’ll find several hundred comments of varying degrees of relevance, vitriol, and snark. I have waded in a few places, but it’s a red hot mess over there. So to better address all the questions directed at me (or not to me) in one place, allow me to share with you this dialog, in which I mercilessly decimate a straw man.
In other words, here’s all the stuff that goes through us writers’ heads while we are reacting to examples of not-quite-censorship:
Q: Why are you so crazy angry about this?
A: I’m more disappointed than angry. Particularly saddening was these words from the staffers at BitchMedia about one of the challenged titles: “This book came as a recommendation to us from a few feminists, and while we knew that some of the content was difficult, we weren’t tuned into what you’ve just brought up. A couple of us at the office have decided to spend the rest of our weekend re-considering this choice by reading the book.”
Hmm, by “reading the book.” A good place to start, and yet . . .
Just put your mind in this staffer’s place. You go out into the YA world and ask for recommendations for a 100-long list of books. You don’t read them all, of course, because you are an un- or little-paid staffer at a blog, not the frickin’ Printz Committee. When your list is posted, suddenly someone is accusing three of these books of being morally bankrupt and evil. So you hunker down and read 1000 pages over two days, with these comments lingering uppermost in your mind. You may not have a firm grip on why your original sources recommended the book, because you haven’t asked them specifically to respond to the disparaging comments. And you don’t have time to think about the issues raised here in comparison to those raised in the other books on the list, because you also haven’t read all of those either. So you cave into the tiny group of protesters, because that seems easier, especially having just read the books with those commenters’ objections in mind.
In other words, this whole process unfolded in much the same way that school library challenges do. A small group of people complain, and then people who haven’t really read these books before hearing awful things about them (and who, more important, haven’t immersed themselves in the entire set of books involved, challenged and unchallenged) have to make a snap decision.
This is what has disappointed me and many others, because we’d thought better
In my last post, I answered questions about my recently finished Goliath rewrites. But one answer got rather long and has become its own blog post.
Which would be this blog post here. So, take it away, Gaia:
Now that you’ve turned in the [second draft], what sort of sausage-maker does Goliath get churned through between now and September? What are the steps that take it from “writer submits finished product” to “ravenous fans purchase and devour”?
This is a process with a lot of steps, which is why it takes from now till September, and oftentimes more than a year to complete. Here’s a rough guide to everything that’s going on. (Note that I know more about authorly stuff than the rest. Publishing industry folks, feel free to correct me—though every house differs in the details.)
My editor reads this new draft, casting aside the fact that she read the first draft many times already, and is unlikely to be surprised by the plot twists or find the jokes terribly funny anymore. This is an editor superpower that I do not have.
She may request more rewrites (hopefully much less extensive), but if the draft seems to be basically sound she sends it to a copyeditor.
(Let’s get something straight: editor and copyeditor are VERY different positions. My editor is the person I’ve worked with at S&S for many years. She commissioned the series ages ago, and has been part of its creation from even before I wrote a word. Bu the copyeditor is someone who I might never meet in person, and who’s probably a freelancer. So the copyeditor is taking a fresh look at the work, unencumbered by previous knowledge and expectations and unbedazzled by my personal charms.)
The copyeditor reads the whole book and does these things:
1) Corrects grammar, punctuation, and spelling, of course.
2) Verifies spelling consistency with the first two books. For example, in 1914 “Zeppelin” was capitalized, but these days it’s not. We decided to go with modern usage. It’s the CE’s job to make sure I didn’t forget any of these series-level decisions.
3) Makes a timeline for the events of the book, which assures that characters don’t go to bed on Monday night and wake up on Thursday morning. (Or whatever.) I already have a timeline of my own (because I am a good author!), but the CE is making their timeline only using the evidence in the book. So this should reveal if I’ve made any mistakes.
4) Checks historical facts and stuff.
5) Does other things I’ve forgotten, because I am an ungrateful author.
My editor looks at these copyedits first, to shield my delicate eyes from umbrage. (For example, the copyeditor of Leviathan tried to change the spelling of “aeroplane” to “airplane,” which I would not have survived.) Then the copyedited manuscript is sent to me, and I go through them for about two weeks. In each case, I either accept the changes, defy them completely, or make a different change, solving the CE’s problem a different way. Defying a CE is called “stetting,” because you write “STET” next to it. “Stet” is Latin for “let it stand,” because we publishing types are a CLASSY PEOPLE.
This heavily marked up masterpiece goes to Production at S&S, where they lay out pages along with the art. (Note that Keith is still working on the art as I type. He should be done by the end of this month.) This creates “page proofs,” a version of the book that looks like it will when it’s done, with the same font and such, but is not bound. However, wrongness and typos will exist, so it goes to a “proofreader.”
The proofreader does these things:
1) Also corrects grammar, punctuation, spelling.
2) Gets rid of “widows”
Word clouds (made easy by the lovely and clever people at Wordle) are graphic representations of which words appear, and how often, in your novel, blog, or whatever. The words are sized, of course, in relation to how many times they pop up.
Word clouds great for spotting words that a writer uses too often, like my terrible habit of people frowning before they say something, or my once-rampant obsession with the word “effulgent.”
They’re also kind of fun for creating quasi-spoilery anticipation. And with that goal in mind, I offer you the Goliath word cloud five months before the book comes out!
Click here to see the full-size version. You know you want to.
Your sharp young eyes will no doubt note that I had to remove one word from the results. It was just too spoilerizing, and rather big as you can see. But the rest remains unaltered.
Of course, certain words that are missing (or quite small) can be just as spoilery as the ones that are there. So don’t look too close unless you want to suffer from S3krit Knowledge You Cannot Forgetz.
For my own purposes, I’m glad to see that “frowned” is very wee, and “effulgent” nowhere to be found. Sadly, “barking” is smaller than I thought it would be, and “perspicacious” totally missing! (But don’t worry, “Bovril” is happily medium sized.)
Best of all, the dreaded “just” is either not there or too tiny to see, so that’s another bad habit of mine expunged. Yay.
Before I get to Fan Art Friday, there’s a bunch of STUFF I should mention.
1) My New York Public Library event for Book Expo America has been moved to a bigger venue. If you tried to book tickets and were denied due to overflow, you can try again. Here are the deets:
NY Book Week Science Fiction/Fantasy Evening
NYPL Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd and 5th
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
6:00 – 7:45PM
Contact: Chris Shoemaker, [Christopher_Shoemaker@nypl.org], 212.340.0958
Authors: MC: Gavin Grant (Small Beer Press)
Music: Brian Slattery
Lev Grossman, John Scalzi, Catherynne M. Valente, Scott Westerfeld
Sponsored by: BEA, NYPL, KGB Fantastic Fiction Series, NYRSF Reading Series
Each author will be reading for about twenty minutes, accompanied by original improvisational music courtesy of the excellent Brian Slattery. Then: Q&A.
I’ll also be at the BookRageous Bash later that night, at 8:30. Google it!
Writing for Teens Today : Authors Speak Join some of today’s hottest YA authors as they discuss writing for teens in today’s market. From developing authentic voices to keeping the reader hooked, from plot twists and turns to keeping the slang right, find out their tips and tricks to staying in style.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Mulberry Street Library
10 Jersey St.
New York, NY
Ally Condie – Matched
James Dashner – The Scorch Trials
Ellen Hopkins – Fallout
Maureen Johnson – The Last Little Blue Envelope
Lauren Kate – Torment
Scott Westerfeld – Behemoth
Bring your copy from home or buy a fresh edition on site and collect autographs! Fully accessible to wheelchairs. Ages 12-18. (Does this mean adults can’t come? I doubt it, but maybe we’re only signing for teens. Who knows?)
There are many other things going on around BEA, of course. Here’s a list of all the other events that are open to the public.
Yes, having missed fifty percent of the last few Fan Art Fridays, I hereby declare Fan Art Friday to be Fan Art Fortnightly. (It’s not easy being a lazy blogger, okay?)
This part 2 of the Non-Drawn Fan Art trilogy, guaranteed to have zero paintings or drawings, but with lashing of tattoos, cosplay, and photography. (Fan fic will be the concluding edition, in two weeks.)
First up we have tattoos, which are the most flattering/disturbing medium of fan art, because they’re, like, PERMANENT. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it: Do not get fan tattoos without serious consideration!
And yet, kind of awesome.
For all you Midnighters fans, here’s an awesome mindcaster tattoo on a fan I met in Florida. I have forgotten his name! (Sorry, dude. But I follow you on Twitter.)
And showing even more commitment, here’s an unknown rockstar in Russia who is obviously a huge fan of Keith’s!
Note that this isn’t from Leviathan, and is Westerfeldian in no way. But as you all love Keith as much as I do, I thought you’d want to see it.
Finally, here are a couple of non-real facial tattoos. (Non-real being the way to go with facial tattoos, I’d say.) The first is from Rachel, and is a mix of Special Tally and the cover of my (very) adult book, Evolution’s Darling:
And here’s another (fake) Special tattoo, spotted on the Behemoth tour last October:
By the way, if you want to read an academic paper on tattoos and body modification in the Uglies series, click here.
And now for some cosplay! Here’s Saiyuki-15, playing multiple roles:
Yes, that’s some awesome costuming AND jewelry making.
Yesterday at 2PM, me and a hundred-ish fans from the WesterForum hung out for about an hour and a half, and I answered many questions. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, I’ have compiled them into this blog post, typos and all! (So. Many. Typos.)
“What kind of juice do you like?”
There are many juices I love. Mango! Pear! (Especially pear cider.) Apple!
“So Scott there’s been a rivalry going on (on the forum obviously) , based on the question : If the crew of the Leviathan got in a fight with Special Circumstances who would win? What’s your opinion?”
I think in a close-quarters fight the Specials would win, because they’re too quick. But in a proper battle, the Leviathan could mess them up with strafing hawks or bat-poo without ever being in danger.
“WHATS GOING ON WITH CROY?! CAN YOU GIVE US ANY INFO ON HIM?! ”
That info will be released at Leaky Con and Comic Con. THAT’S ONLY A FEW WEEKS. But I can’t tell you anything now, except maybe . . . you will SEE HIM.
“Did you use the same models on the cover of Goliath that you used on Leviathan and Behemoth?”
Yes. Same models, same photo shoot on the same day. Sometime I’ll show you guys the unaltered photos.
“At any point in Behemoth, does Dr. Barlow know that Deyrn is a girl? It has been a topic of great debate.”
Hah! Not saying now, but you WILL learn the answer to that in Goliath.
“Have you ever met someone in real life who reminds you of your characters?
Or vice versa.”
Hmm, not really. Although sometimes I see someone and say, ‘Whoa, he/she’s a total pretty!’
“Nice to meet you, btw. (and tell hi to Justine (Mrs. Larbaleister (sp?)) for me, please!)”
It’s Dr. Larbalestier, in fact.
“Can Justine cook?”
She’s a great cook of Thai food, and she wants me to add that she’s a good boxer too. (She’s been taking lessons.)
“What TV shows do you watch?”
Game of Thrones, Treme, just finished Vampire Diaries,
“This isn’t really a question, just a comment. I thought you’d like to know that I used to like history, and Leviathan made me love it again. I might even try writing something historical-ish myself. ”
“Is Lilit lesbian/bi? (Please say yes.)”
They didn’t really have those categories for women back then, but she would be if she was alive today. (Strange but true fact: Male homosexuality was illegal in England back then, but female homosexuality wasn’t because lawmakers REFUSED TO BELIEVE IT EXISTED.)
“In Uglies, there are many messages, some obvious, some not so much. What messages/lessons do you want readers to take away from Leviathan?”
Hmm. I think that the big theme is about how different sides of a conflict (war or just ideological/technological) see each other, and how that can change when people are forced to work together.
“What kind of music do you like? (Do you like Florence+and the machine?)”
I like minimalism and trip-hop, and I don’t know of this Florence person.
“What is your opinion on the Hunger Games? (Will you see the movie?)”
Want to see the movie. Liked the first book, but didn’t read the others.
“When will you go on tour?”
September 17. DON’T KNOW WHERE YET! NOT MY CHOICE WHERE.
“Would you like to join my band of Ninjas?”
I have already infiltrated your band of ninjas!
“Do you like writing about diseases? Peeps was about parasites, Innoculata had to do with a virus and in So Yesterday the main characters dad is a Epidimiologist (I think).”
I love all kinds of biology, like beasties too. Studied philosophy o
I am not here to argue against fact-free trend pieces, however. Maureen and the internet have already done that and done it well. And, you know, haters gonna hate, and shoddy journalists gonna shod. There’s no way to stop that. Here’s the problem I would like to address instead:
When these issues arise, we writers, librarians, booksellers, teachers, and editors know that the media is overblown and out of touch. We know that the huge boom in YA is helping young readers, because we see it in our in-boxes, our libraries, our stores, and our twitter feeds every day.
Sure, some books aren’t right for some kids. But it’s not like that challenge has recently grown insurmountable. In fact, connecting the right book with the right reader has never been easier. There are more specialist teen librarians than ever before, teenage readers are relentlessly networked, and book reviews from all perspectives are more plentiful than at any other time in human history. (Thank you, the internet.)
But someone has to think of the parents. Especially those who randomly turn on the radio or read the WSJ and are exposed to this alarmism. They may not know how to check out all those amazing stories tweeted on #YASaves. They probably don’t follow comment threads on blogs like this one, where bookish teens prove hourly how smart, supportive, and savvy they are. Many parents don’t know what “DFTBA” means, and thus may not realize how awesome their kids are not forgetting to be.
And the other side in this debate sounds perfectly reasonable. “We just want a conversation! We just want parents to be aware!” And they couch everything in that scary questioning tone: “These books MAY be turning your kids into cutters.” Like when local news promos ask, “Are your cleaning fluids making you hate America? Story at eleven!”
Here’s my problem with this brand of “reasonableness”: Conversations have contexts, and awareness is always flavored by its catalyst. Let’s take two examples . . .
A parent goes into a teenager’s room and says, “I just heard from the wise people at the Wall Street Journal that the books you kids read these days are mostly dark and horrible and will make you cut yourself and take drugs. Let me check your books so I can make sure this is not true!”
Seriously. How do you think that conversation’s going to go?
Eyes will be rolled, tempers will rise, and more than likely this parent will be made to feel dreadfully foolish. (Teenagers are good at this last bit.) Frankly, being easily manipulated by alarmists in the media is not a good look for anyone.
But let’s say a parent goes into that same kid’s room and says . . .
“Hey, I just heard that young adult lit sales have grown by double digits every year for the last decade. You teens read so much that it’s the only profitable part of publishing! And now Hollywood wants to make everything you read into movies, and more adults than ever before are reading YA! And I heard that huge crowds show up at bookstores and rented venues when popular YA writers are in town! And that many YA writers have tens of thousands of followers on the Twitter machine, if not hundreds of thousands! And that every November countless teenagers support each other in WRITING THEIR OWN NOVELS! Holy crap, we didn’t do that in m