Books

I finally made it to the Tucson Festival of Books! And it was awesome.

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For years I’ve heard my friends rave about the Tucson Festival of Books, but always had something else booked (ha) for the weekend.

Until this year. I finally made it. And all I can say is, wow.

Much like San Diego Comic-con, my friends had warned me how big an event it was; but until I got there and saw it with my own eyes, I really had no idea.

It was huge.

And they brought in a whole bunch of incredible authors to talk about books, writing, publishing, promoting…all kinds of good stuff.

While there I met a ton of awesome authors. Chuck Wendig. Anne Perry. Cornelia Funke. Lois Lowry. Nicole McInnes. Page Morgan. Matt de la Peña. Suzanne Young. Sam Sykes. Kevin Hearne. Kristen Lamb.

I also got to meet fellow Class of 2k14 member Christine Kohler. How cool is that?!

Don’t even ask how much money I spent on books.

One of my favorite moments was getting to hear  Rebecca Eaton talk about producing Masterpiece. Let me start by saying: Rebecca Eaton is a class act. So knowledgeable, well-spoken and gracious. The audience was full of Downtown Abbey fans. When she mentioned Sherlock, I was the only one who clapped. Okay, it was actually more of a squeal. *cringe* I couldn’t help it–it’s like a reflex. The audience laughed when I squealed, and then laughed again when Rebecca pointed at me and said, “Oh! A Cumberbunny!” She then told everyone what Benedict Cumberbatch fans call themselves (if you don’t know, google it) which, of course, led to more laughter.

Still, I think I did the Cumber Collective proud when, during the Q&A portion, I thanked her for bringing Sherlock to the US and for shortening the time between the UK and US airing dates. I then asked her if she could talk about how that timing works and if she had any information about Sherlock season 4.

She said there’s a lot of thought and planning behind when the seasons air. If they go with a September air date in the US, they get trounced by the network shows starting up at the same time. This is why there’s been that long delay in the past: they were trying to find the right spot for Sherlock (and Downton) to get good attention here in the states. She said she thinks they’ve found the sweet spot with the January airings, with Sherlock following Downton. She agreed it is frustrating and that she’s aware of the piracy problems, adding that piracy always gives lousy quality. Finally, she said she’d love to tell me when series 4 would start but that she doesn’t know yet. It will depend on Benedict’s schedule, as well as Steven Moffat’s.

At the end I shook her hand and thanked her. It was one of the best sessions I went to during the festival. Her book, Making Masterpiece, looks really interesting.

Here are some pics from the festival. If you ever have the chance to attend, go! It is an incredible event. Best of all, it’s free.

The Next Big Thing

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the-next-big-thingI was invited to join a blog hop! Ready for some fun?

Here’s how it works: I answer some questions about my current project, and then pass the baton on to five talented writers whose work I want to highlight. Then they’ll do a similar post and highlight five writers they admire, and so on and so forth. Pretty cool, right?

Before we get any further, I need to tell you about my writer-friend Dex Raven, who invited me along on this blog hop journey. He’s not only an incredibly talented writer, he’s also a cool guy. Here’s a little more about him:

Dex Raven writes primarily dark fantasy and horror, when his muse, Violet, cooperates. When she doesn’t, he still attempts to write with varying results. He has a thing for classic monster legends, Egyptian and Nordic mythology, coffee, sarcasm and words that end in “esque”. He is currently working on two books: a fiction/non-fiction mash-up and his first novel. You can find his fiction as well as his thoughts on the writing process here.

Blog (fiction & writing) – ravenspeak.wordpress.com
Blog (life & ramblings) – livelikeagrownup.wordpress.com
Facebook – facebook.com/dexravenpage
Twitter – twitter.com/dexraven


Now, according to the blog hop format, I tell you a bit about myself and what I’m working on.

What is the working title of your next book?

Another Here, Another Now

(It’s not the working title, it’s the officially official title title.)

Where did the idea for your book come from?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…it started as a short story with a completely different central idea. That story sucked, but I liked the characters so much I wrote them into a new story with a different plot and it took off from there.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult Science Fiction/Thriller

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

What a fun question!! Here’s what I came up with for the major players in AHAN:

  • Eevee: Isabelle Fuhrman (perfect mix of brains and beauty)
  • Danny: This one’s too hard! I’d say Josh Hutcherson, but he’ll always be known as Peeta. How about we use a TARDIS to go get slightly younger versions of either Zac Efron or Jared Leto? (long hair included, please)
  • Warren: Tom Holland (put a pair of goggles on him and he’s good to go)
  • Mac: Simon Pegg or John Simm (über smart, slightly dangerous)
  • Judy: Sadie Frost (beautiful, driven, looks like she’s weathered some disappointments in life)
  • Sid: Bruce Greenwood (or someone equally as strict and foreboding)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is what we used for the announcement in Publisher’s Weekly:

Katherine Harrison at Knopf has acquired a YA thriller by Amy NicholsAnother Here, Another Now, told from the alternating perspectives of street-smart graffiti artist Danny, who is thrown into a parallel world, and brainiac Eevee, the girl he kissed once in his world and falls for in this one. Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary did the two-book deal for North American rights.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in Fall of 2014!

I am represented by the amazing Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took about eight months. It’s been through numerous revisions and drafts since. If you held the first draft and the current one side by side, they wouldn’t look at all related. Like, not even distant cousins, thrice removed.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmmm… Maybe The Time Traveler’s Wife? My editor, Katherine Harrison, said it kind of reminded her of Every Day by David Levithan.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write about two people who fall in love fast, but then the whole universe (literally) works against them, trying to force them apart. I also wanted to explore the idea that in a multiverse there could be numerous iterations of ourselves that may or may not be anything like us, and then ask the question: can we  ever really know who we are?

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

You mean, aside from a story that will grip you by the heart and not let go?  Well, there’s an intense scene involving scissors, an EMP detonation, and a twist toward the end that I don’t think anyone will see coming.

Also, ANOTHER HERE, ANOTHER NOW is the first of two books that will mirror each other in a truly unique way. I think readers will find the two-book combo un-put-down-able.


OK. Now I get to tell you about some amazing authors you need to know about, if you don’t already!

Kimberly Sabatini

Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for three and four year olds. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel. (Simon Pulse – Simon & Schuster, October 30, 2012)

Blog | Twitter

Jodi Moore

Jodi Moore is author of the award winning WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN (Flashlight Press, 2011) and GOOD NEWS NELSON (Story Pie Press, 2012). She writes both picture books and young adult novels, hoping to challenge, nourish and inspire her readers by opening up new worlds and encouraging unique ways of thinking. Jodi is the proud and (admittedly) neurotic mother of two incredibly talented young adults and never ceases to be amazed at how far the umbilical cord will stretch. She lives in Boalsburg with her best friend/husband, Larry, two doves and an ever-changing bunch of characters in her head. You can find her at: www.writerjodimoore.com

Blog | Twitter

Amy Sundberg

Amy Sundberg is a SF/F and YA writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Buzzy Magazine, among others. She lives in California, and when not writing, she’s either buried in a good book, singing musical theater songs, or trying to add more pins to locations visited on her world map. She is an avid blogger at practicalfreespirit.com and can be found on Twitter as @amysundberg.

S. C. Green

A full-time worker, full-time father and full-time husband with dreams of becoming a full-time author without coming off as being full of it. Currently he is in the midst of revising his first novel in hopes of shopping for an agent this fall. From week-to-week he shares his experiences in writing at The Parking Lot Confessional for all to gape at, point and giggle, or hopefully, commiserate. For all other random ramblings and musing, you can find him sullying the web atThe Shadowed Quill.

Blog  |  Twitter

Amy McLane

As Amy Beth Forbes, her work has appeared in divers locations, such as Flytrap, Kiss Machine, Realms of Fantasy, andLCRW. Her short story A is For Apple was reprinted in The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, a collection available at your finer booktuaries nationwide. She is currently slaving away at a multi-book epic fantasy, and often forgets to post at personal blog Smoldering Ink. Elusive and quixotic, she likes pie, but wouldn’t say no to cake.

Blog | Twitter

Touching the Surface: A book with heart

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One of the things I love most about being a writer is meeting other writers, because sometimes when I meet other writers, I’m actually making a new friend.

A few years ago during a whirlwind trip to New York, I met Kimberly J. Sabatini. Kim has a heart big enough to hug the whole world. We became fast friends, laughing together and sharing our stories while searching out geocaches in a frozen city at midnight.

Kim is one of those friends you can just pick up with right where you left off, regardless of how much time has gone by since you last met. She’s one of those friends who’ll drop everything to help someone in need and who offers her shoulder when you need a good cry.

One of the fun things about having a blog is helping spread the word when a friend accomplishes something great. So, here I am today helping spread the word about Kim. Today is the book birthday for her debut YA novel, TOUCHING THE SURFACE.

From Amazon:

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.

When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

TOUCHING THE SURFACE is a rich, thought-provoking read, crafted by a very talented author. And I’m not just saying that because she’s a friend. Kim has written her heart in the pages of this book.

Also, there’s a pretty sweet contest over at the Class of 2k12 to celebrate the book launch you should check out.

Congratulations, Kim, on the release of TOUCHING THE SURFACE! I’m certain this is just the first of many books to come. Wishing you much success, my friend.

Should Children’s Books Have A Rating System?

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Last weekend’s Wall Street Journal article, Darkness Too Visible, sparked a discussion with a friend of mine. She’s a writer, too. Our discussion ended with us contemplating whether or not children’s books — or any book, really — would benefit from a rating system, such as the one used for movies, television, or video games.

My initial reaction to this idea was no, of course books don’t need a rating system.

Then, while at a store looking at Wii games for my children, I found myself choosing between games…based on the rating system…and it got me thinking.

As a mother and a writer of children’s stories, I find it difficult to take an unbiased stance on this topic. I love books. I read a lot of books. I read wide and deep and am not easily offended by “dark” subjects in books. I read books with my kids. I make informed choices of which books they would enjoy and which books would scare the snot out of them. (Here’s a post I wrote at The Parking Lot Confessional on this topic: What I learned from reading Harry Potter with my daughter.)

But this isn’t possible for all parents. Times are hard and some parents are maxed out. Others don’t recognize the importance of reading to and with their kids. Still others don’t realize there’s a wealth of resources online and at libraries to help them make informed decisions about the books their kids read.

Not being informed, I think, leads to situations like the one mentioned in the WSJ article: a mom walking into a store completely clueless which books would be a good fit for her daughter.

Kind of like me, with the Wii games.

I’m not convinced ratings are the way to go. Or that any changes need to be made, other than readers making informed choices. But the idea has me wondering what others out there think.

So I ask you:

  • Would a rating system be helpful for books?
  • What effect would a rating system have on books and publishing?
  • Are books different from other forms of media that do have a rating system?

NOTE: I am not advocating banning books. I am absolutely 100% against banning books. Let me state that again: I AM ABSOLUTELY 100% AGAINST BANNING BOOKS. You don’t want to read a book, don’t read it. Banning is never the answer.

Under the Influence

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This week over at The Parking Lot Confessional, we’re talking about the authors who influence us. Due to my being a doofus, I double-booked our guest authors this week, and rather than try to reschedule either (especially since they both worked so hard writing awesome guests posts), we decided to go ahead and run both of them.

Did I mention I’m a doofus?

Anyway, my mistake ended up having kind of a cool twist. See, today is the day I normally blog at The PLC, but instead, today Tom Leveen’s guest post is up. And it’s awesome. So go read it if you haven’t. The cool-ironic-twisty part is, Tom’s novel, PARTY, has influenced the stuff I’m working on right now.

You need to go read it, too, if you haven’t.

Most authors tackle one narrative voice in their novels. Some tackle two or three. Tom took on eleven. Let’s say that again together: eleven.

Eleven chapters written from eleven different points of view. I know, you’re dubious. But you have to trust me when I say: it works.

Not only that, but Tom’s characters are so real that when I finished the book, I thought, “Man, I wish I could just hang out with them.” (Beckett, especially.)

He nailed the voice of each and every character in that book.

Now, if you’re like me, you know that getting character voice right can be a bit like trying to hold onto a wet cat. Or an octopus. Or a slippery fish. Anyway, it’s hard. Character voices sometimes wiggle and wobble and squirm when you try to pin them down.

Well, Tom makes it look easy. Which goes to show just how important the revision work he discusses in his guest post is. And how much it pays off.

The other thing that really blew me away with Party was how Tom took on all of the “issues” in the book. You know, the issues: peer pressure, underage drinking, sex, swearing, death, racial tension, relationships, annoying parents, God. Tom doesn’t back away from any of those hot potatoes. Which I think, both as a writer and a reader, is pretty brave. He created real characters dealing with real problems. It’s all of those issues that carry the plot of the book, marching each of the characters to their pivotal moment where they face the consequences of their actions. It’s kind of brilliant how all of the stories come together and then disperse. Like…people at a party… (Whoa.)

As a writer, I want to create characters that my readers want to hang with after the book is done. And I want to write stories that don’t shy away from the uglier parts of life. Party has helped me see how it’s possible to do both of those things, and do them well.

Great book.