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What I wrote in 2013

In my last post, I discussed what I read in 2013. In this post, I’m going to talk about my writing!

My biggest accomplishment, of course, was publishing my first novel, The Sight Seer, in June. That was both exciting and scary, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I have always, always wanted to be a published writer, and to finally hold a book of my own in my hands? It’s amazing.

I thought that was going to be it for me this year, in terms of books being published, but then the fates aligned and An Autumn Dream came out in November! I don’t know how it works for others, but when I write something, I hope it’ll be published, but I’m realistic and know that it’s never guaranteed. I felt that way with The Sight Seer, and I felt it even more with the novella. It was just a few little stories that I wrote for myself because it was hard for me to let the characters. So to have this one out there as well? It’s even more meaningful.

In terms of writing, I wrote the sequel to The Sight Seer over the summer, from June 8th to August 12th. The first draft was 78,442 words, and the current draft is 79,416 words. After I finished the sequel, I wrote the third short story for the novella. And then, starting November 11th and still going strong, I began writing the third book in the Silver Moon Saga. It’s currently 58,374 words, and I have a ways to go. I had been hoping to finish it before the year ended, but I quickly learned that writing during the holidays is a very bad idea. At least now I know for next year!

In 2014 I hope to completely finish that series before venturing into something new. I’ve had an idea for a fairy tale since May that I’m itching to write, along with an idea for a contemporary. There’s always something, but never enough time to write it all. I’m excited to see what I come up with in the new year!

Have a wonderful 2014!

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My Favorite Reads of 2013

2013 is coming to an end! It was a great year for me, both in terms of reading AND writing. Not only did I read the most books I’ve ever read in one year, but I also published a novel and a novella! So this definitely was the year of accomplishments.

When I started 2013, I had, like many other YA readers, a case of series-fatigue. Following the example of others, I decided to try contemporary, a genre I’ve always avoided for no reason whatsoever, and I discovered I absolutely loved it. I didn’t read as much of it as I wanted to, but I hope to read more in 2014! Also this year I went to three days of Book Expo, and I think I’ve read maybe 1/3 of the ARCs I received? So another goal in 2014 is to read all of those books! We’ll see how well that goes. I also want to keep up with my series (especially any that are ending in 2014), so I may alternate between ARCs and new books.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite reads from the year:

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A Much Needed Update.

Oh no, I’ve been neglecting this poor blog! But I think you guys know by now that when I’m not writing on here, that means I’m writing somewhere else. And it’s true! I’m working on the third Silver Moon Saga book! I started the first draft November 3rd (not for NaNoWriMo, I just decided to write when everyone else was writing in hopes that it would inspire me!), and I’m about 35,000 words into it so far. So, not even close to being done. It’s going to be a long one, you guys. I do love writing first drafts, but part of me wishes I was done with it already. This is a bad time of year to write; normally I like to write every single day, but because I’m so busy doing other things, I’ve been skipping days more and more. But as long as I don’t neglect it for days at a time, it’s okay. And seriously, even if I only write hundreds of words a day, I’m okay with that. Eventually, I’ll get to the end, right?

What else… Oh, the paperback version of An Autumn Dream is now available! I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy. Once it comes, I’ll share some photos with you! I can’t wait to hold both that and The Sight Seer in my hands, and have them side by side on my bookshelf!

I think that’s it for now. I’ll try not to let so much time pass between updates! But like I said, once I start a first draft, I tend to disappear from the world.

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New York Comic Con 2013

On Friday, October 11th, I attended New York Comic Con! Comic Con is always a crazy, fun time, and this year was no exception. Actually, this was the best organized year yet, so maybe it was slightly less crazy than other years? For example, this year they placed microchips in the badges, and you had to tap your badges before entering the venue. When I first heard about this, I groaned and said, “It’s going to take even longer to get into the exhibit hall now!” But they actually set everything up outside of the Javits Center, where there is much more room. Better yet, there were no crazy long lines as everyone waited their turn to tap their badges. Once through, I waited my turn to enter the building, and then it was on to the exhibit hall!

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My first stop was, of course, to the booths run by publishing companies! This area wasn’t too crowded, so I was able to take my time and look at everything. Everyone there was super nice, too. For example, when I stopped in front of the Penguin booth, they asked me what I liked to read, and then went out of their way to open up a box of books so I could get an ARC of Rebel Springs. They were also giving away giant tote bags, which I grabbed and used for the rest of the day. When I passed Disney’s booth, I saw Victoria Schwab was doing a signing in a few minutes. I actually missed seeing her at BEA (her line was so long they ran out of books!), so it was nice to finally meet her and get a signed copy of The Archived.

014 (Medium)Free swag

After that, I wandered the floor some more, looking at merchandise for sale and all the different cosplayers, before heading down to the conference rooms. I don’t know whose idea it was to have two literary panels back to back in the same room, but I want to shake their hands and thank them. For two hours I got to sit down, put my heavy bags on the floor, and listen to authors speak.

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The first panel was “Once Upon a Time in Fantasy Lit…” featuring authors Bennett Madison, C. Robert Cargill, Catherynne M. Valente, Soman Chainani, Emily Croy Barker, and Gitty Daneshvari. They introduced themselves and their books, and then went on to discuss everything from Disney animated movies to what fantasy creature they wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alleyway. As a lover of fantasy, I had a great time and wished the panel had been longer, because the authors were both interesting and informative. I’m definitely going to pick up their books in the near future!

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After a fifteen minute intermission, the next panel, “Kill or Be Killed: Crafting a Powerful Female Protagonist” started, featuring authors Amelia Kahaney, Kendare Blake, Danielle Paige, Lauren Oliver, and Lindsay Ribar. Once again, each author was introduced and talked a little bit about their books, before discussing their awesome female protagonists in their current and upcoming novels. In particular, I was very excited to hear about Lauren Oliver’s forthcoming Panic, and Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die. Both sound excellent. Ironically, they also discussed Disney animated movies. In fact, The Little Mermaid was mentioned in both panels (both favorably and unfavorably) by the authors!

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Once the second panel finished, I headed back to the exhibit hall. There was a book giveaway going on at the Harper Collins booth (spin the wheel, win a book), and I won an ARC of Cruel Beauty, a Beauty and the Beast retelling I can’t wait to start reading! I spent a little bit more time at the con (visited the Artist Alley to see all the beautiful artwork) before heading home, thoroughly exhausted. But I had a great time, and I’ll definitely go again next year!

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On the eve of Comic Con 2013

Tomorrow I’m going to New York Comic Con! I’m hoping to have a good time, although the weather doesn’t look very promising. Bad weather aside, I’m excited to attend two book panels, see some authors, and pick up free swag. It should be fun, and I’ll do a write-up once I get home.

Right now I’m mentally preparing myself for tomorrow’s craziness. So many people, so many things to see and do!

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Books of 2013: October

Here are the October books I’m excited for! (Once again, these are not all the October releases I’m interested in, but I removed the ones that I already read and/or own. Love my ARCs!)

October

1st-Perfect Ruin-Lauren DeStefano

8th-Desert Tales-Melissa Marr

15th-(Never) Again-Theresa Paolo

22nd-Allegiant-Veronica Roth

Do you see what’s on there? (Never) Again by Theresa Paolo, one of my agency sisters! I’m super excited for this book, you guys, and you all definitely need to check it out on the 15th!

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Fantastic Teen Reads 9/22/2013

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know Amy, my beta reader and best friend, came to New York last week! She comes once a year, and each year I try to think of new things we can do in Manhattan. This year, after hearing me gush about Books of Wonders and all their great events, she asked if they were having a signing while she was in town. Turns out, they were! So on Sunday, September 22nd, we attended the “Fantastic Teen Reads” event.

004 (Medium)(From left to right: Gene Luen Yang, Patrick Ness, Robin Wasserman and Alex London)

006 (Medium)(Another shot, so you can actually see Alex!)

This was, hands down, the funniest event I’ve been to yet. The authors filled us in on their horrible high school days (complete with stories on how they faked back injuries just to get out of gym class!), how they trained themselves to write (Robin Wasserman would reward herself with a brownie at 2 in the afternoon, every single day!), and why they’re not sorry for doing horrible things to their characters. I found it especially interesting that Patrick Ness needs to know the final line of the story before he can start writing. For my last two manuscripts, I’ve figured out the final line as I was writing the first draft, but never before! All of their books sounded amazing, and I definitely added them to my to-read shelf!

I was worried Amy and her boyfriend, who doesn’t read YA at all, would be bored during the event, but they had a great time. You can read about Amy’s experience here, and see all the signed books she ended up getting!

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How I Edit

Well, hello there. I think it’s time I gave you guys a proper post, don’t you agree? I’m sorry for the silence, but silence means I’m working on things. Lots and lots of things that I think you will enjoy. Mainly, I wrote the sequel to The Sight Seer! Yep, from June 8th to August 12th, I was hard at work on the first draft. It took me longer to write than Seer did, and I had my moments of, “THIS IS SO BAD WHAT AM I DOING?!” but that always happens. To every writer. You just can’t let it get to you. In the end, I kept plugging along, and I’m pleased with the results.

So what happens after I finish a first draft? Revisions! Lots and lots of revisions! Every author is different, of course, but I thought I could share my process with all of you. The first thing I do after finishing a first draft is take a break! Writing takes its toll on me; I have trouble sleeping (I have lots of crazy, vivid dreams), and sometimes it’s difficult for me to form coherent sentences. My brain obviously needs some time off, so that’s exactly what I do. Watch some TV. Read a book or two. Relax. Don’t even think about the manuscript that’s sitting on my computer, ready to be revised. This time around, I had something else to work on, so I finished that first, and then started on my edits. For the first time ever, I loaded my first draft on my Kindle, and read it off of there. And what a difference it makes! I do not enjoy staring at a computer screen for hours on end, so when I edit, I can only do a few chapters at a time. Plus, you know, there’s tons of things to distract me (Twitter, email, Facebook etc.). My Kindle has no distractions, and the screen does not hurt my eyes at all, so I can easily edit a huge chunk at a time. And I think it’s easier for me to find typos (missing/incorrect words, especially). Because my computer is full of distractions, I end up writing any changes I want to make in a notebook. I’m probably doing double work here, because then, later, I have to open the document and find the spot I want to change, rather than change it the moment I see it, but like I said, DISTRACTIONS. This way, I’m avoiding them altogether. Searching the document for the changes isn’t that horrible, in all honestly. I’m going to continue using my notebook (I even took advantage of a great back-to-school sale and bought a new one!), because that method works the best for me.

So I do this for the entire manuscript. What’s next? Sending it off to my beta. She reads it, fixes any typos, and tells me what does and doesn’t work. After she finishes, we discuss what doesn’t work in detail, and I will rewrite whole scenes if I have to. I send her those newly written scenes, and we hammer them out until we both agree they finally work. In a perfect world, I would just send her the manuscript and she would read it and say, “Everything is great, no changes are necessary!” But of course that would never happen. Sometimes, I can’t get a scene the way I want it until I discuss it with her. I’m very thankful to her and all her helpful input!

After I receive all of her edits, I then go back to my manuscript and start making changes (I should mention that these are all saved on my computer as different files. The first draft is the raw, unedited version. The second draft is the one I make corrections to. The third draft is the one I make corrections to using her suggestions. I like looking at the different drafts; sometimes there will be something in the first draft that I deleted for the second one, but decided to put back in the third draft. You don’t want to lose this stuff forever, because you never know when you might need it again!). This doesn’t take as long, and doesn’t require my Kindle. However, once those changes are in place, I will reread it one more time (with my trusty notebook by my side)! It’s only after that do I start passing it on to other people.

It’s a long process, as you can see. I’ve been asked about the sequel, and I wish I had a date, but as of right now, I do not have one. The story needs to be edited and approved and all that fun stuff before I’m given a date. As soon as I know it, I’ll let you guys know. Until then, it’s back to work! And hopefully I’ll remember to post more often.

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Books of 2013: August

August

27th-The Bitter Kingdom-Rae Carson

27th-Descendant-Lesley Livingston

Once again, not too many books this month! I’ve got plenty of fall ARCs to keep me busy, although I will drop everything for The Bitter Kingdom. I cannot wait to find out how that series ends!

In other news, head on over to River’s blog and enter to win some contemporary books! It’s a fabulous contest and you definitely don’t want to miss out!

 

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The paperback.

My copy of the paperback version of The Sight Seer arrived yesterday, hooray! It’s so incredibly surreal, holding a book that you wrote in your hands. Wow. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

Because I love the cover and still can’t stop staring at it, how about some pictures?

011 (Medium)Cover!

012 (Medium)The back!

013 (Medium)First page!

Pretty, isn’t it?

I also signed a copy for the first time ever on Saturday for a friend. First of many, I hope!