Truth or Dare with Beth Revis, Ruler of Space



Hi everyone, it's me, Captain America. Loki forced the job of truth or dare into my hands this week, and while I'm not one to force a dare on anyone, I generously offered a choice between truth or dare to one of my favorite authors of all time (yes, that's all the NINETY years I've been alive, frozen or not): Beth Revis.

For those of you who haven't been following since the first Truth or Dare - this is a feature we have on various Friday's, where we ask authors and publishing industry professionals to choose between Truth or Dare and answer the prompt.

Beth Revis, as you all should know, is the author of the famed ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy - the third book, SHADES OF EARTH, released in January and was celebrated by launching a copy of the book into space. Yes, into space. I didn't even know things could be sent into space - human or otherwise. But as Thor mentioned to me, space is simply extra space filled with sparkly stars and pathways to other 'realms'. Yeah, I believe you *snort*.

Before I hand over the post to Beth Revis, here's a little bit about the author-extraordinaire herself.


Beth Revis is the author of the NY Times Bestselling Across the Universe series, published by Razorbill/Penguin in the US and available in 17 countries. The first book in the trilogy, Across the Universe, is a “cunningly executed thriller” according to Booklist, and the second book, A Million Suns, was hailed by the LA Times as “a fast-paced, action-packed follow-up.” The final book of the trilogy, Shades of Earth, will be released in early 2013.

A former teacher, Beth lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dog. Her goals include travelling around the world in 80 days, exploring the moon, and finding Narnia.

Beth is represented by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House.

Find Beth: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog | League of Extraordinary Writers | Amazon

So, Truth or Dare, I asked Beth, to which she humbly answered: Truth.

The Moment of Truth:
Tell us, Miss Revis, which is the most embarrassing book you've ever been obsessed with.


Growing up, my chief source of books was my local library. And while I loved it and appreciated it, it was sadly lacking in good books for anyone older than a picture book level and younger than boring literary fiction. The teen section was one (very small) wall in the back. There were a handful of good books.

And dozens of Sweet Valley High.

I'm not saying that there was high quality stuff--I remember there being a large representation of Babysitter's Club, too--but even as a kid, I knew that SVH was about the fluffiest thing I could possibly read. And I couldn't help it at all. That shizz was addictive!

And I read them *all*. It's like they were meant for me. There was a girl named Elizabeth (like me!) and she was a nerd (like me!) and blonde (like me!) and hot and rich and with lots of boyfriends and super popular (and not at all like me, but still). I still remember that time Jessica joined a band and named it NRG (for "energy," get it? GET IT?). And the Jeep Wrangler? And the KISSING?

But here's the thing. Even as a kid--and up through my teen years--I was pretty much Hermione Granger. I was the nerdy girl who prided herself on being smart. (I was also incredibly annoying.) And therefore, I had a reputation to uphold.

I hid my SVH books behind textbooks.

I was that much of a nerd.


Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2) Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)

*sits back*

Now that wasn't so hard. I think I was sweating about this more than she was. Like I said, I'm not a fan of forcing a question upon anyone, but for once, I'm a little glad Loki made me takeover this week's Truth or Dare post. And who on Earth is Hermione Granger? I have to look that name up on that searching website, what's it called again? Oh yeah, Google.

Who's next?

Obsession: Why Writers Have It and Still Need It


I recently read an article on some human blog about the difference between the writers who finish manuscripts and the ones who don't--if people are predisposed to be novelists. You can check out that article here if you'd like. I, however, will be talking about why writers already have this trait and why they need more of it.

Motivation

There are many factors of motivation. I'm going to outline them in terms of, of course, world domination.

To Achieve: I aspire (and will) to rule this planet. 
For the Sake of Doing It: I love stepping on people in the process of my rise to power.
You Cannot Not Do It: World domination is as vital to me as eating and sleeping (literally, not figuratively).
Not Doing it Would Result in Something Unpleasant: Thor would have a kingdom, and I would not.

Obsession

Certain definitions of obsession could fall into any of those categories. But I'm going to talk about the obsession writers have and need, which are very specific to the first two categories: achievement and enjoyment.

 The Origin of Obsession

Where do we initially get the idea that we want to be writers? If you're like my alter ego, you may not actually remember your (probably lunatic) decision to begin writing. But the answer is still obvious: Books.

The Obsession Writers Already Have: Stories

It takes a lot of desire to sit down and say you're going to write a novel. It takes a lot of desire to say you're going to write anything at all. Because, as most of us have figured out by now (especially me with this world domination books. *rubs temples*), writing is not easy. It takes months of dedication and effort and heartache.

Of those three, heartache is the most important. Not necessarily the pain more than the willingness to put your heart on the line.

There are avid readers out there full of dedication and effort that are just as obsessed with stories as we are. Look at fandoms like HARRY POTTER, THE HUNGER GAMES, DOCTOR WHO, STARS WARS, etc. These are stories with huge amounts of fans who know every detail, who dress their toddlers as the characters for Halloween, who laugh and cry and angst over the books/show/movie all the time. So why aren't they writers?

As Obsession Grows...

So we have a lover of stories with plenty of dedication and effort. They have just made it over the first big checkpoint of developing and idea and sitting down to write it. 

But they stop. Why?

1. They didn't have the ENJOYMENT.

Plain old didn't like writing. Maybe it's too much work. Maybe they're too critical of themselves. It doesn't matter. They've stopped. Dead end.

2. The didn't have a desire for ACHIEVEMENT.

So they like it, but that doesn't mean they want to do it again, all the time, or work to improve it. I, for instance, enjoy making and eating omelets. That doesn't mean I want to eat one for every meal of the day, every day of the week, and constantly read articles about and learn as much as I can about omelets. Though perhaps, at some point, I will make myself an omelet again.

The ones who stick around...

The ones who stick around are more likely to actually finish the novel. They enjoy writing and they have high hopes for it. They think their idea is good and they really like this whole "writing" thing.

They might not finish it either.

The Obsession Writers Need

We have the obsession with stories and motivation to write. What's left?

The last bits of obsession that take both of those already key traits to a whole new level. Maybe we can go ahead and call this passion. Just manic enough of a word to imply an obsession, but it also implies drive, ability, and work.

Passion for your story

My alter ego once wrote (actually, several times) first drafts of novels that she saw to the end but couldn't bring herself to go back and edit. Even more times, started novels that never progressed past chapters 1, 4, or 28. The idea lost its spark.

It's hard to know exactly if your love of your idea will fizzle out. In my experience (as I've had many attempts writing this world domination novel), you start out with interest and, if you develop a passion for it, your interest grows even more so as you write.

It is important to note, however, that even passions will slump. Writing is both work and a hobby. No one ever said you need to absolutely adore your novel 100% of the time you spend working on it. If you're drafting, sometimes pushing through that difficult part is all you need. If you're in revisions, taking a step back for a while and then reopening your manuscript may be all you need to be head over heels again.

Passion for writing

Querying that first manuscript does not always work out the first time. After all that work and emotional involvement, you can hit a dead end. It takes a lot of passion for writing to begin the process all over again. Not everyone has abs of steel, but all writers have hearts of steel. 

Takeaways: 

Writing, just like any other pursuit out there, isn't for everyone. It would take someone very obsessed with stories to want to put in the effort to make one of their own. It would take someone very motivated  to achieve and by their love of writing to see it through. And it takes passion to invest as much sweat, blood, and tears as a writer does in his/her manuscript.

Most of the writers I've met through blogs and Twitter already have passion. As a CP of my alter ego has said, entering those agent contests will give you heart palpitations, even on manuscript #2 and contest #bajillion. The feeling never gets old.


Congrats on being a wonderful, obsessed, motivated, passionate nutcase called a writer.



Books Thor Thinks Everyone Should Read



Behind every good writer is a good book that spurred him to write (I use the pronoun "he" because I am a male, but of course I also mean female writers). I don't know about you, but I have about a hundred books in my home, crammed into bookshelves. I wish I had space for a whole library, but alas, I live in no Asgardian palace during my stay here on Earth.

Earlier today I skimmed through my selection and thought it might be interesting for me to pull out my favorites and share them with you lot. These are books everyone should read at least once, in my opinion (I myself have read most of these about a dozen times). Perhaps you've already read them, but even if you have, I encourage you to pick them up again.

May they inspire greatness in you.


  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • Over hill and under hill, this is the adventure of a little (quite adorable, if I may say so) person called a hobbit, a company of dwarves, and their fight against a dragon.
Adorable, yes? I want to kiss hug him.
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
    • This is the story of a girl who lives in a parallel universe where human souls dwell in the form of animals, and children are hunted.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
    • This is the account of four children and their delightful romp through a wardrobe, into a world cursed with never-ending winter by an evil queen.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
    • This is the story of Todd Hewitt, the last boy in a town where men can hear each other's thoughts in an endless stream of Noise. Todd has the cutest dog I've ever read about -- that alone is reason enough to devour this novel.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
    • This is the tale of an orphan boy who discovers he's a famous wizard and transfers to a school where magical (and terrible) things happen. Based on this musical.
Dear readers (human and otherwise), I would love for you to share your favorite reads with me below. Since I'm so busy saving the world, I haven't had a chance to read through an entire library yet. What books should I look for next time I go?

Introducing THE FURY AWARDS - A Convo with the man himself




NICK FURY
: I'm sure you all are wondering why I asked you to assemble. I have a proposal to make.


LOKI: What proposal is so important that you dragged me into the same room as them?

THOR: I'm listening, Captain.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I'm the Captain, Thor. What is it, Fury?

NICK FURY: I've noticed the young adult genre is being bogged down by books. We need a way to feature the great ones. Spotlight them. Give them a place worth envying. For that, I suggest THE FURY AWARDS.

LOKI: I'm all for envy and such human idiocity, but I do believe THE LOKI AWARDS would be a better title. I AM the future ruler of this planet.

IRON MAN: Spotlight my hair instead. It's looking wonderful today.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Shut up, Loki. You too, Stark.

NICK FURY: Why do you all have to act like 5 year olds?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *looks sheepish* I like the sound of THE FURY AWARDS. What about you, Thor?

THOR: It sounds very interesting, as long as we don't call them The Loki Awards.

LOKI: *scowls* *schemes*

NICK FURY: Then it's settled - Loki sit down - THE FURY AWARDS it is.

THOR: So what will the awards entail, exactly?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Yeah, what-

IRON MAN: Wait, what's the point of spotlighting Young Adult books? Such a waste. Kids can find them on their own. My good looks deserve the spotlight.

*sigh*

There's no justice in this world.


CAPTAIN AMERICA: Really, Stark? If I hear one more comment about your hair. I swear I'll-

IRON MAN: HAIR HAIR HAIR HAIR
GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS


CAPTAIN AMERICA: *rages* I told you-

THOR: Be silent, both of you. Stop being so petty.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Where's the Hulk when I need him? You stay out of this, Thor. You still have my backspace key.

NICK FURY: QUIET. These awards will spotlight soon-to-be-published young adult books. We will feature both the novels and their authors prior to publication, then, after our spotlights, we will look back at all the young adult books published in that time, including the ones we featured. It will create hype for debuts before they are released.

IRON MAN: Whatever. As long as my forthcoming Young Adult novel, HOW TO ANNOY A LOKI IN THREE EASY STEPS, is featured.

LOKI: I am not A Loki. I am THE Loki.

IRON MAN: Did anyone say you can talk? NO.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: We will only feature books we want to feature - and those our readers want us to feature. And I hope there's only THE Loki. I can't handle more than one.

NICK FURY: We will start as soon as possible. Each of you will be in charge of researching books, gathering authors, and organizing the posts. Do you think you can stop bickering enough to manage that?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *laughs* Did you just say bickering? Too much time with Thor, my man.

NICK FURY: *rubs temples*

THOR: Are you insulting me, Captain?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: No. I'm only saying Nick Fury is becoming like you, Thor. *catches Thor's glare* *quickly changes subject* So, uh, when will THE FURY AWARDS start again?

NICK FURY: I fail to see the similarities between Thor and myself. Anyway, the awards will begin in mid-April, with our first smaller round-up event at the end of August.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Sounds good to me.

NICK FURY: There is one other thing.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Which is...?

NICK FURY: You might not be able to accomplish all of this between the four of you (I understand your alter-egos are quite busy as well). Don't have a breakdown, but I suggest adding a few more members to the group.

-------------SILENCE FALLS--------------





CAPTAIN AMERICA: *takes deep breath* Well... We could get the Hulk to come back? Iron Man could get him. They're all buddy-buddy.

And really, Fury, I don't mind.


NICK FURY: *nods* Hulk can come back. Maybe Black Widow or Hawk Eye would care for an invite.

IRON MAN: The Hulk is the only one of you who appreciates my beauty. I say we add him.

LOKI: You mean, Iron Man, you only look good when standing next to the Hulk

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *snorts* Actually, Loki, he looks even shorter next to the Hulk.

LOKI: *High fives Captain America* *Moves hand away at last second*

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *Stares blankly at Loki*

NICK FURY: We will not extend this invitation to Spiderman.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I agree. I'm not a fan of spiders, sadly. But I'm all for extending invites to those three.

THOR: I am terrified of spiders. Yes to the others, however.

NICK FURY: *sits back* Then it's settled. You will begin preparation for The Fury Awards and searching for new Avengers.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Will do, sir. I'll get everything organized and assign tasks to the others.

IRON MAN: Sorry, who named you group leader?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I am the Captain. And we need the best man for the job.

LOKI: Well, you’re certainly not the brightest.

NICK FURY: *Drags hand across face* I don’t care who leads, as long as you get the job done. I look forward to meeting the other Avengers and seeing the first Fury Awards posts. Best of luck, team.

THOR: Same to you, sir.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FURY AWARDS will be a hit.

IRON MAN: Well, duh. I’m helping run them.




TAKEAWAYS (From Loki)


  • The YAvengers will be hosting an event called THE FURY AWARDS (Though I still think we should call it the Loki Awards), in which we will feature upcoming debut YA authors and their books.
  • Our first feature posts will begin in mid-April.
  • We will have our first wrap-up post at the end of August, looking back at all the books we’ve featured that will appear in summer & fall 2013 (so some of the books will have released, and some won’t--only because it’s our first wrap-up)
  • That fall, our posts will feature Winter 2013/14 books, so by the end of fall for that wrap-up, none of our featured books will have released (Does that make sense, humans?).
  • Expect ARC/stuff/critique giveaways, funny author interviews, an exclusive Shawarma Joint Book Club, all sorts of polls, Twitter parties, etc.
  • WE WILL SOON BE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR UP TO 3 NEW AVENGERS to help us manage the workload and bring more voices to the group. We will release the application and that info soon, but we are very excited about a possible Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawk Eye.
    • The reason we are using applications is not to gauge who is “best” or anything of the sort, but to discover who we feel will be really dedicated to the blog, who will have the time to commit to this, and who will fit in well with our group.
    • Another reason is that, rather than just asking people we know, there are so many awesome writers/readers/bloggers out there whom we don’t know that would be wonderful to work with, and applications allow us to give them a chance, as well.
    • Please note: All ages are accepted. We realize the four Avengers are all pretty young writers, but this blog’s focus is about YA books and writers, not actual teenaged writers. Basically, ANYONE OF ANY AGE IS MORE THAN WELCOME TO APPLY. (Psst... bonus points if you say Loki is your favorite)
  • Questions? Post in the comments! We hope you enjoy this! We’re really excited! And we’re planning even MORE with these Fury Awards that we haven’t even posted yet. So be prepared for ALL the awesome.
  • And of course, prepare for world domination, by myself - Loki.


It's Time to Take a Break, a post by Captain America

Sometimes, writing just doesn't cut it. It could be the love of your life (have you heard of the saying, do what you love? It's relatively new, I think), but there will be a time when you just can't.

Me, tired.
And that's when you know it's time for a break.

It could be writer's block. It could be the plain ol 'I'm sick of it'. Whatever it is, don't feel bad to step away.

That's the key. If you stress out and worry about the words you've left idling in Microsoft Word (it's a type of writing software, I've been told), your break wouldn't be a break at all. And when get back from said fake break, you'll suffer.

So take a break. Do something else. Fight off Loki's attempts to control you. Protect the world from mayhem. Avenge mankind. There are countless things you can do. And while you're doing those these? Inspiration will hit when you least expect it. A flow of words you never would have thought of while sitting at your computer will trickle into your mind when you're throwing that final punch into that villain's gut.

No villains to punch? Try these easy steps. Inspiration will punch you in the gut.

Browse. I used to like strolling down the streets of Boston back when I was... little, shall we say. Now, the world is at your fingertips. I frankly don't like the internet, but I've found that Pinterest is safe for eyes like mine. No disgusting inappropriate images pop up when I've searched for something else entirely.

Read. Pick up a book - possibly one outside your subgenre but in the same age group. So if you write YA fantasy, pick up a YA contemporary. Or if you can handle it, pick up a fantasy or three. You'll be surprised at how many ideas will spring from reading so many books at once.

Bake. This works for Thor and no one else.

Party. Only Stark, apparently, finds inspiration at parties. The rest of us find headaches.

Write. Now you're saying - didn't you just say take a break? I did. But if you've got a bad case of writer's block, maybe it's time to set that story aside and start something else. I guarantee that while you're working on that something else, inspiration will hit.

Relax. Drop everything and relax. Sit outside and watch the cars go by. Or the trees wave. Or go for a walk. There's too much in your head, I think.

This post does not mean I need a break, nor that I'm facing writer's block... or maybe it does. Does it matter? And yes, I'm still missing that backspace key, why do you ask?

-Captain America

In Which Iron Man Tells You To "Be Yourself"




In one way or another, all of us are marketing ourselves. Authors are marketing themselves to sell books, book bloggers are marketing themselves to bring traffic to their blogs, writers are marketing themselves to befriend other writers (as well as, in a way, to get editor/agent interest on their books), and I am marketing myself for my gorgeous hair… but let’s face it, with my good looks, this hair markets itself. 

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you some secret to marketing yourself—yes, there is such a secret and yes, I’m the only one on this planet who knows it. (I taunted Loki with it once. He screamed at me when I didn’t tell him and I just pointed and laughed. It was extremely entertaining.) But I will say that while there are tons of great methods to self-marketing, there’s one powerful tool in particular that anyone can take advantage of. What is it?

…drumroll please…

…factoring in time for me to glance at my flawless face in the mirror…

Personality.

Yep. I said it. Personality.

As a blogger/writer/author/whatever you are, you want to interest people. You want them to care about you and what you have to say, and you want to reach them with your words. Having an online presence helps you do that, but beyond just having a web presence you want people to see your tweets or Tumblr posts in their timeline/feed and get excited to read it. You want them to like hearing from you. (Just like all of you get excited when you lay eyes on me. Because, I mean, really.) How do you do that? By showing off your personality. By being yourself. Let me tell you, you all, provided you aren’t a serial killer, have something interesting to say and people who will want to listen. So don't be afraid show it.

Sure, your personality and how you market yourself does not greatly affect how many blog views you get or how many books you sell, but I think a lot of people, beyond just how their “product” does, want to genuinely interest people. You want them to follow what you have to say and even if they don’t always agree with you, they can still respect your opinions. You want to make friends, meet great people, and enjoy yourself.

I promise that almost everyone, as long as they aren’t Loki or Captain America (because gosh is that man boring…), has a unique and interesting personality that will draw people in. It seems, however, a lot of people are afraid to show their personality, and instead they tweet only links or talk only about their books and how writing is going. Unless those people are already famous and well-liked from another source (me, for example), no one is going to click their links, and no one is going to listen to them. So then what’s the point of even being online?

But even if you aren’t the following-20k-people-with-20k-followers-link-tweeters, you can still give a sense of your personality online. I mean, all I do is talk about cake and procrastination and people seem to get the gist of who I am, even if I’m sure most of the people who follow me are like “What is that guy even talking about.” (But then they look at my gorgeous self and remember.) 

I’m not asking you to reveal your deepest darkest secrets; all I’m saying is don’t be afraid to be yourself when tweeting/Tumbling/whatever you’re doing, because your personality is a tool that will help you reach more people, meet others as awesome as you are (but not as awesome, of course, as I am—those are rare qualities), and most importantly, it will give you a space online where you can have fun, even though the internet tends to be fickle when it comes to your emotions. 

Also, it’s important not to think of social media as purely for marketing yourself. Yeah, I know a lot of people join Twitter to market themselves, but the best kind of marketing isn’t tweeting links—it’s being your insane, weird, funny self. Embrace your strangeness and show the internet who you are. Talk to people. Tweet less links than you do interesting content tweets. And most importantly, enjoy it! 

(Note: this is different than marketing your product, whatever that product may be. Content is what sells/attracts attention to products, BUT marketing yourself also helps your product. If people think you’re interesting online, they’ll most certainly check out your product. I buy most of my books purely because I like the author.)

(Yeah, I know. Iron Man has just joined the ranks of annoying people who tell you to “be yourself.” Sigh. Talk about off-days.)

-Iron Man

Truth or Dare with Author Chelsea Pitcher


Hello again, humans. I know you were missing your future ruler although I just posted on Wednesday, but fear not, petty creatures, I am back, and I am providing you with our second Truth or Dare post. For those who need to catch up, we do these every other week with authors and industry professionals. All to expose their most embarrassing sides for your reading pleasure.

Today's human tribute:

Chelsea Pitcher!



Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving  into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light. You can find her online at any of these links:
Website || Facebook || Twitter || Blog || Goodreads || Amazon

I let her pick between truth or dare (I was in a good mood that day), and she picked dare!

The dare: Write yourself as a character into a scene from one of your favorite YA novels.


Hey everybody! The YAvengers, in their infinite wisdom, have dared me (yes! I chose dare!) to write myself into a scene from one of my favorite YA novels. The scene I chose is from Holly Black’s TITHE, where Kaye and Corny sneak into the Unseelie Court through an entrance in the cemetery. Sounds like some harmless fun, right? Let’s see how I fare…

(Note: since the story is YA, the me I have injected into the story is teen-me.)


MY DARE:

I watched them in the darkness: the boy with the gangly limbs and the girl who wasn’t quite a girl—her skin tinged eerily green and her shoulders hunched up like something was just waiting to unfurl out of them. They skittered across the graveyard beneath a bulbous moon, whispering quietly. When the girl lifted a patch of grass and slipped inside the hill, the boy scampering after her like a rabbit, I played the part of Alice and followed.

Down we went. But it wasn’t like a Disney movie—I didn’t fall for miles while curious objects passed me by. I fell for maybe five seconds and hit the ground with a smack. That’s the thing about reality; there’s a lot more ass bruising. I staggered to my feet, stifling a groan, and looked around at my surroundings.

Holy crap.

No, wait. Unholy, I corrected, eyes widening to take in the sight of the decorated hall. This place was clearly home to a host of Unseelie Faeries. Who else would dance happily in puddles of blood one minute and lift their pinkies to drink tea the next? To me, it looked a lot like chaos, but there must’ve been some kind of order to it. I wanted to understand their mentality.

I wanted it so badly I could taste it.

But there were other things to taste. Goblets, overflowing with ambrosia, sat perched on the edges of tables, too easy to snatch. Succulent fruits melted in my mouth and in my hands. Beautiful boys and girls danced all around me, their berry-stained lips dark and inviting. After a round of dancing, I went in search of the Queen.

She sat in a throne at the end of the hall. Really, she was the only one not engaging in debauchery. Her body sat rigid, unmoving as a statue, while meanwhile, that scarlet hair climbed over her shoulders like flames. Licking at alabaster skin. Alive and waiting to burn me.

I approached. 

“My Lady.” I knelt before the throne.

Her Royal Wickedness regarded me with the sick fascination of a human examining a carcass. Equal parts disgust and curiosity. “How did you come here, little mouse?” she asked.

“I walked.”

“What fun!” She clapped gleefully. “The mouse has a tongue on her.” The Queen leaned in, and then I was swimming in the pools of her eyes. Drowning. No lifeboat in sight. “And what did you seek to gain bywalking into my Court uninvited?”

“An alternative to mediocrity.”

“Meaning?” she pressed.

“I want to stay and play. I’ve grown tired of the mortal world.”

“You and I, both.” The Queen regarded me more closely. There was a rustling in the fabric of her dress, indicating creatures scuttling beneath her skirts, but I didn’t dwell too deeply on it. If I was going to stay here, I’d have to get used to this kind of strangeness.

“So what do I have to do?” I asked. “I’ve already eaten the food, and I don’t feel any different.” My eyes flicked to the table laden with treats. There, the mortal boy swayed dangerously, while the girl-turned-pixie tried to talk some sense into him. Good luck, I thought, returning my gaze to the Queen. I didn’t want to alert her to their presence if they were trying to be stealthy.

“Well?” I asked.

“You could offer me your name,” the Queen said, her face an unflinching mask. But her eyes flashed hungrily, betraying her desire.

“I don’t remember it,” I lied.

“A drop of blood, then.”

“To drink? Like a vampire?”

The Queen snorted. “Do I look like a vampire to you, mouse?”

Do I look like a mouse? I wanted to ask. Instead I studied her, that crimson hair falling in waves over ghost-pale skin. Those piercing blue eyes. She kind of did look like a vampire. “If you think about it, Unseelie royalty and vampires aren’t so physically different. They both have pale skin and sharp teeth. And now that vampires have gone all sparkly—”

“Enough!” the Queen bellowed, and the hall went silent. All around me, courtiers shrank into themselves, eyes widened with terror and excitement. They feared their Queen completely, but they also wanted to see her rip me to shreds.

Better I lose one drop of blood than gallons.

I offered my wrist. The Queen took it, nails piercing my skin. My eyes fluttered closed, and when they opened again, three drops of blood sat, perfectly still, on my wrist. Red on white. Blood on snow.

My stomach clenched.

“That’s a good little mouseling,” the Queen said, dropping my wrist. A courtier with a porcupine face sidled up to her, lifting a tiny vial. She slid the drops in. “The deed is done. Now you are mine.”

“Now you can’t get rid of me,” I countered. I was in! 

When the Queen smiled, her teeth cut into her lips. Three drops of blood sprang forth. Red on red. “There’s more than one way to get rid of a human,” she said, stroking my cheek with those sharp nails. Her fingers trickled down to my neck.

Crap.

As her grip tightened around me, I thought: Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. Then my world darkened to black.

- - - - - - 

Thanks again for having me. This was so much fun! :)

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.


Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible

- - - - - - 

Fun's over, humans! Unless, of course, you'd like to follow Chelsea around the web and add her book on Goodreads. Was this post to your liking, future minions?

Show, Don't--Don't Tell Me You're Saying That Again!

Show, Don't Tell

A.K.A. that expression that makes you want to curl into a ball and die

That makes me smile.



Greetings


Hello, pathetic humans. Heard that phrase before? I bet you have, either from an old English teacher squinting her eyes and jabbing her finger at your less than stellar writing assignment back in fourth grade, or in the colorful bubbles on Microsoft Word with your CPs' comments on your latest piece.

Some people hate hearing this phrase. Maybe that's why I like it. But aside from tormenting others, I don't think this phrase has gone out of style.

Definition


Telling: When you tell your readers the emotions of your character (It might not be for emotions, but that is generally where I see the most telling in human manuscripts). 

Showing: Using body language and other descriptions to convey the emotions of your character, without explicitly stating what those emotions are.

Dissection (My favorite)


This is a telling phrase. I will list the reasons why below.
"Are you ready to go yet? My stomach's more shriveled than a prune," Tom grumbled impatiently.
Reason #1: Impatiently

As a rule of thumb, adverbs are generally HUGE BLINKY LIGHTS (to use Amanda's middle school language arts teacher's phrase) of telling. An easy way to flush out telling is to scrap your adverbs.

Reason #2: Grumbled

Not in all cases, but in this one (I wrote that particular example to illustrate this case), but grumbled is telling. Why? Well, you're telling your reader that Tom grumbled. I know what you're thinking, human. You're thinking Well, he is grumbling, and it's a perfectly great instance to use grumbled!

Think again. Start with looking at the dialogue, the strongest part of any scene. By the words Tom uses, the reader won't think he's giggling or screaming. The dialogue conveyed his emotion. Sure, perhaps without the grumbled, the reader might think he's sighing, whining, etc. But from 1) the reader's knowledge of this character, and 2) the rest of the scene, his tone will be conveyed without the telling. Use said. Always try for said.

This is an article I found, for further reference. Click the Pic.

How to Show, Not Tell

Option #1: Convey the emotion through the words of the dialogue.

Personally (and as your future supreme ruler, I'm infallible), this is your best option, assuming your scene does have dialogue. Think about it: when you read, your eyes are drawn to those quotation marks. Dialogue is what keeps the scene moving. It instigates. It conflicts. It forces characters to go from point A to point B in a conversation. 

How to Do It: Go through the dialogue and ask yourself whether the words are conveying the emotion. Is it obvious how the character is speaking or feels by what he/she's saying? If not, and you find yourself relying on telling, change his/her words.

Option #2: Body Language

My creative writing professor loves to tell us that human communication is mostly body language, tone, and, at the very minimum, the words you (I'm not human. Don't lump me in your petty species.) say. 

How to Do It
  • Facial expressions are good. Smiling, smirking, scowling. Raising eyebrows. Narrowing eyes. Pursing lips. Remember not to overdo them, though. I know writers (including me), have a particular few facial expression they use as crutches. 
  • Body language (I know it's the overall category, but I can't think of a more specific term) is also great. A girl twirling her hair. Crossing her arms. Always looking at the boy's lips, who sits across from her at the diner, slumped and staring at his mug of decaffeinated coffee. 
  • Props: This is often overlooked, but props are GREAT for conveying emotion. Let's move that girl and boy to a fancy restaurant. The girl swirls her index finger around the rim of her wine glass and barely touches her lemon-and-garlic-smeared salmon. The boy stabs his steak with his fork and drops his utensils on his plate after each bite so they clatter. 
Option #3: Descriptive Details

The other place that I looked over is telling in general narrative, though that is often super common. Here is an example of descriptive telling:
"The party was loud and out of control."

How to Do It:

Well, here's an example of conveying that telling phrase above:

"She squinted her eyes into the strobe light and squirmed her way through the crowd of sweaty bodies. Their B.O. made her crinkle her nose. The dubstep music pounded in her chest. Boom. Boom. Boom. The beats echoed in her ribs, overpowering the beats of her heart. She scampered out of the crowd. Stood next to the amp. Shivered despite the heat. The boy next to her clutched a red solo cup filled to the brim with something dark and fizzy, which he then spilled all over her white tank top when he tripped on the amp's cords snaking around their feet. He mumbled something. She couldn't hear."
Note: That was written in a hurry, and even for me, Loki, consider that a first draft version of showing. Please don't push your glasses up her nose, sniffle, and critique my writing. (I don't, but sometimes Amanda gets all insecure about such things.)


- - - 

And there you go, humans. That is what people mean when they say show, don't tell. Hopefully I've given some reasonable tips about how to avoid this common human error. If you have suggestions/questions/glorified praise/other comments, feel welcome to post them below!

- Loki


Thor's Life After the Book Deal


When I fell to Earth from Asgard, the idea of publishing a novel was quite literally the farthest thing from my mind. But one thing led to another, and all these years later I have, indeed, secured a book deal. It's very exciting. It's also not what I expected -- mostly because I didn't know what to expect. Before my all-powerful (and lovely) human agent secured the deal, I tried using that “google” tool Stark directed me to in order to discover what a writer could expect after a book deal. I didn't find much of anything. The whole process seemed very hush-hush.

Therefore, I thought it might be helpful for me to divulge my experience of the process for any aspiring writers (or curious literature fanatics) out there. Hopefully someday someone will use the google search engine like I did and find this post on the first page of the search results. (I was too lazy to look past page one, and I have no doubt you humans are even lazier.)

Everyone's journey is different, but this is mine. Here is a timeline of events beginning with the day I received an offer of publication:

Day One: My human agent talked with me over a device called a telephone. The heavens rained down their good grace. I wanted to run through the streets rejoicing at the top of my lungs, but did not want to—what is the term—jinx it? So instead I consumed copious amounts of mead. (My human alter ego would like you to know she did not actually consume alcohol, as she is not yet allowed to under the petty laws of government.)

Days Two-Seven: I continued my internal rejoicing and feasted in order to distract myself from sharing the news prematurely over that thing called twitter, which is very addicting. It was hard to stay quiet.

Day Eight: I received the news from my human agent that my offer of publication was announced over the prestigious platform known as “Publisher's Marketplace.” I logged into my twitter account to find that the “Publisher's Marketplace” announcement had been seen by many already. Many offered congratulations. I drank many tankers of mead and smiled a lot.

Month One-Month Two: I spoke with the female human who offered me publication -- she's called an "editor" -- for the first time. I worked on a new writing project. I told the other Avengers I was spending Christmas Vacation in Asgard, but in reality I went to a secluded island and enjoyed long walks on the beach.

Mostly, I waited for the letter I was expecting from my editor, which would help me make my novel better. (I thought it was already perfect, but of course I was wrong.) I learned fast that there is lots and lots of waiting in the publishing business.

Late in month two I received said letter and began working on the revision process right away. It is currently Month Three and I have completed said revision and turned it into my editor. Now I am back in the waiting period. I spend lots of time working out and tweeting with wonderful people. I also discovered something in the great black hole of the internet called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries -- have you heard of it? It has a dashing male lead. It's helped my weeks move faster.

That's all for now. I'll continue to update you about my life after the book deal as my life progresses. See all you ladies on the beach.


Loki's Journey to Finding an Agent - Part Two

IRON MAN: Let’s get one thing straight: I’ve helped people before. With my vast knowledge and intellect and overall perfection, I am a quite popular mentor. Brad Pitt, for example, looked physically like a train wreck before I started working with him. Stephen King did not know how to write more than a sentence without me. And poor James Cameron knew nothing about filming until I came along and saved the day. 

But Loki? Well, let’s just say Loki is the stupidest, most idiotic and useless mentee I have ever encountered. Seriously. After three rounds of revisions on his query, it has progressively gone from terrible to somehow even worse. For example, the query is not even a query anymore. It’s just a passive-aggressive opening sentence without so much of a “Dear [Agent Name]” (the sentence being, “Not representing this book will be the greatest mistake of your soon-to-be short life.”) and then an overly-long bio about all of Loki’s past successes as well as a marketing strategy of how he is going to force all of the “pathetic humans” to read his book, making it a guaranteed bestseller. Then, he breaks the submission guidelines of every agent in history and attaches his full manuscript.

Insert major facepalm here.

See, I consider myself to be quite perfect, and I’m sure you do too. (I mean, seriously. Have you seen me? I’m practically the definition of perfection. Actually, I bet I am.) But when it comes to helping Loki’s writing, my flawless hair and I are just about ready to give up. At least I have his equally stupid brother Thor to help translate my stellar advice to their shared language of “idiot” so Loki can understand. Plus, his hammer comes in handy.


THOR: Stark exaggerates a bit, but yes, my adopted brother does need help. Lots of help. Luckily I have the experience (more than Stark, ahem).

 This morning our gang went to visit Loki. I brought several "publishing help" books from the library -- who knew humans could build a single facility that would contain so much valuable information? -- in order to supplement my knowledge. After Stark gave up, I sat down with Loki and read through his query letter with a red pen handy. There was only about 5% workable material in there, so I set the letter aside and decided to help Loki start from scratch.

The first advice I give him is that he needs a hook -- something to capture an agent's attention and make him/her finish reading the query.

Loki grabs the pen and whips out an opening:

Dear [Insert Agent Name]:

If you do not read this letter, I will murder you.

I shake my head and rip the paper into shreds. "Not that," I say. "You can't use a threat."

He nearly flips the table over in his rage. "How else can I convince them to finish reading?" he yells in my face.

Just then, Captain America comes over, shining red, white, and blue. Loki rolls his eyes.

Captain AmericaCAPTAIN AMERICA: "What are you guys doing?" I asks. Apparently, Asgardians like to fight over shredded paper. The brothers looks at me, Thor with his hammer in hand.

"Loki does not understand that humans do not take threats lightly." Thor bellows.
I raise one eyebrow. I was pretty sure they didn't take threats lightly on Asgard either, but I wasn't ready for more of Thor's bellowing.

"Are we still attempting that query?" I ask.
"What do you think, idiot?" Loki asks coldly.

I narrow my eyes, barely containing my rage, and grab the paper off the table. A clean sheet. So the shredded paper was a query once. Or a threat.

"Why don't I write it for you?" I ask, sitting down. The brothers drop into the chairs beside me.

Dear Agent, I start. "Depending on who you're sending the query to, you need to replace "Agent" with the agent's actual name."

"Such as Dear Sara the Agent?" Thor asks.

I look at the stack of books Thor got from the library in disgust. What did he learn?

"No, Thor," I say like he's dumb. Which he... is. "You say, Dear Ms. Agent. If agent was her last time, or surname I should say."

"Ahh, I like that."

"Shut up, Thor, and then what?" Loki asks, turning to me. I will never get used to his stare.

"Then drop a hook. But some agents prefer to be introduced to you first and then you're work. Either way, you need a hook." I say.

"Do I look like I stepped out of Peter Pan? Am I Captain Hook?" Loki seethes.

"Who is Peter the Pan?" Thor asks, twirling his hammer. Sheets of paper scatter in the room.

I groan. I'm not sure who is more annoying. "Why don't you think about what I said? Figure out your hook and get a list of agents you want to query, making sure to note down which ones prefer a hook or an introduction in the beginning. Then we can talk about Peter Pan."

I get up and leave. Anymore time with the two fools and I'll go crazy.


LokiLOKI: I grimace. Honestly, I thought the threat of ending their puny little lives was hooking enough. What more could I need?

I turn to Thor and Iron Man, now that Captain Grandpa stormed out of the room, his long johns all in knots. "What exactly makes a good hook?" I ask.

Thor furrows his eyebrows. Which means he's thinking. Which, given his brain capacity, shouldn't take more than a few moments. "I'd name the character, maybe. Or introduce the conflict or concept."

"But spice it up," Iron Man says. "It needs to be as heart stopping as me when I take off my shirt."

My brother and I roll our eyes at the same time.

"Murder is heart stopping," I mutter.

So a hook. Hooks make me think of sharp things. Like knives. Weapons. Murder. MURDER!

No. Something non-threatening. At least, not for the agent reading my query. Perhaps... perhaps I could move the threat to later in the query letter. Below the 'Thank you for your time.' I could add: 'If you do not respond with a desire to read more, this will be the end of your time.'

I snatch the crumbled paper and pen and scribble, Sixteen-year-old Isaac Clark had been diagraming his plans for world domination since his classmates were chewing Play-Dough.

I shove my non-murderous 'hook' in Thor's face. "Read, brother."

Thor reads it. Iron Man peers over his shoulder.

"This..." Thor looks up. "This is not bad, brother." 


Iron Man squints. "I'm impressed, Loki. Clearly, the time you've spent with me has done you good." He points to my line. "You've got your character. Good. And of conflict and concept, you picked concept. Though... I am disturbed by this character of yours."

"What is Play-Dough?" Thor says. "Is it... of good taste?"

I ignore my ignorant brother. "But evil mastermind character. Is he hooking?"

Iron Man shrugs. "I'd keep reading."

Step one in my quest for publication and subsequent world domination. Complete.


Genres and Missing Backspace Keys

Hey everyone, Iron Man here. My hair's looking as fabulous as ever--

I swear, Stark. If you touch my posts again, you'll be sorry you were born.

Today's Wednesday, my post day. Captain America's post day. Thor the idiot stole my backspace key and I can't remove Stark the jerk's intro up there. I thought the DEL key stood for 'delete', but Stark says it will call the deli downstairs. Frankly, I don't need his waitresses swarming around me.

Thor is using my backspace key in a game of Scrabble. He thinks using that as one tile will give him the score of the entire word. It's times like these that I actually feel sorry for Loki.

Anyway. I'm going to attempt this post without any errors. Because my backspace key is gone.

Today I'm going to talk about subgenres, the fancy word for categorizing. YA, young adult, is a genormous genre. And to help categorize YA or any age-group of fiction for that matter - like MG (middle grade) and adult - we subcategorize by subgenre.

Believe it or not, there was one time when I had no idea what genre of YA my manuscript fell in. I had no idea how a novel set in space was categorized as dystopian - I didn't even know what dystopian meant.

There has to be people like me out there. Or, people who don't know what each subgenre of YA entails, like I did, once upon a time. So I've got this list I wrote down the other day, let me type it here (this could take a while).

And to make things easy, I'm going to explain each genre in one to three words.

Fantasy: Unicorns. Magic.
Urban Fantasy: City Magic.
Dystopian: Rebels Fighting Society.
Sci-Fi: All Bizarre Truths.
Contemporary: It Could Happen.
Paranormal: Almost Normal Fantasy.
Historical Fiction: Set in History.
Steampunk: Like it Sounds.
Horror: Watch Thor Hide.

There you have it.

WHAT? LOKI! You changed my list. I didn't write that! How did you erase my stuff without a backspace key?

Till next time,
-Captain America

If Iron Man Were A Literary Agent...




In case you are wondering (because I know you are) my hair is looking as great today as it was during my last post and, for that matter, every other day ever.

And yes, I'm fashionably late to making this post. It's part of the Iron Man Charm.

But, so I thought, what do you pitiful readers like to hear about? I mean, you guys are here for publishing and books and YA or whatever, while I only use this blog to admire my gorgeous bio pic (but I mean really, LOOK AT IT. I am flawless), so what to talk about? And then it hit me: ME. You want to her about me. I can’t blame you, of course, because I want to hear about me too. But not just me. You want to hear about me as a bookish person, because I guess that's what this blog is "technically" about. So I’m going to tell you about what would happen if I were a literary agent. (Besides the part where I make a million sales and savor writers’ tears as I sit on my throne of dollar bills and cackle at the world...)

I, of course, will be one of those charismatic literary agents who goes to literary cocktail parties and charms all of the surrounding editors, while also getting into passive-aggressive fights with other agents. (Literary cocktail parties aren't a thing, you say? SO YOU THINK.)

Being the superior human I am, my response times will range from three years to one century, as I will be too busy admiring myself in the mirror to focus on anyone else's needs. My form rejections will be very tender and thoughtful, though, like “Due to my massive popularity, I must reject all of you inferior queriers. I hope another agent is not unfortunate enough to land you as a client.” A great way to cushion the blow, I know. If, however, I request your manuscript, I will read it through my mirror. That way, I can work while also staring at my own perfect face. Plus, if the manuscript is awful, I’ll have something positive to distract myself with.

When I offer rep, I do it in style. I fly to the writer's house in the middle of the night, go down their chimney (because I'm basically a Literary Santa), stand over their beds while they sleep, then tacklehug them and tell them I'm offering rep and they have five seconds to accept it before I leave. They usually scream a bit first, hit me with a fire extinguisher, but when they realize what is happening they get on their knees and cry over how amazing and kind and beautiful I am, etc. etc. You know. The usual.

On the client side, when I send books on submission, I put on my suit and fly across NYC, dodging other Avengers and literary agents while also beating up Loki when needed as I deliver manuscripts safely to hungry editors. I don’t, however, edit manuscripts before I send them out. When I’m your agent, your manuscripts edit themselves. (Yes, I'm that good.)

And when an editor loves one of my client’s books? We don’t go to acquisitions. Acquisition comes to us. 

I am also very skillful when it comes to contract negotiation. I always negotiate in person so the editor can be distracted by my great hair and drop-dead good looks. That way, I always get what I want.

That's all for now. Be on the lookout for my first client book, HOW TO ANNOY LOKI WHILE ALSO SHOWING OFF YOUR GREAT HAIR IN THREE EASY STEPS. It's a guaranteed #1 NYT bestseller, I just know it.

-Iron Man