Tag Archives: Queen of Glass

Super-Awesome Announcement & LTWF Halloween Costumes!

1 Nov

Happy First Day of NaNoWriMo!!! For those of you who celebrated Halloween last night, we hope you had a wonderful time!!! Several of us dressed up, and we thought it’d be fun to share our costumes! Enjoy!

Vanessa DiGregorio (as Bo Peep…and her coworkers as the TOY STORY cast):

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Savannah Foley as a maenad:

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Jenn Fitzgerald as the Killer Rabbit from MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL:

Feel free to share YOUR costume pics in the comments below!!!

Onto the announcement….

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By Sarah J. Maas

 Okay, so I posted this on my personal blog, but I wanted to also make the announcement on LTWF, for those of you who missed it!

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So, I know I’ve been all uber-cryptic about all these Secret Projects I’ve been mentioning these past few months. And I know it’s been kindaaa annoying. Believe me—it’s been annoying for ME to have to keep quiet about it.But I (finally) got the go-ahead to make the announcement.And after so many months of having to keep my lips sealed, it’s actually really surreal (and a little nerve-wracking, to be honest) to tell you guys…

You won’t have to wait until Fall 2012 to read about Celaena Sardothien.

No, QUEEN OF GLASS isn’t coming out sooner. It’s still slated for a Fall 2012 release.

BUT…

Starting early next year, Bloomsbury will be releasing FOUR (4!!) QUEEN OF GLASS novellas, all set before the events of Book 1. They’ll be ebooks, and the first novella will release around January, with the other three novellas released every 1.5-2 months afterward, leading up to the Fall 2012 release of Book 1.

All of the novellas will be about Celaena, and are set in the 9 months leading up to her imprisonment (so about 2 years before the events of Book 1). While each of the novellas will stand on their own, the four novellas combined form the arc of events that explain how she went from being the world’s greatest assassin to getting captured and sent to the Salt Mines. And for my FictionPress fans—yes, Sam (formerly named Symeth) will be a major part of them, and YES, you will get to read about Celaena’s epic encounter with the Pirate Lord. 😉

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for these novellas. Celaena had SO many adventures and met so many people before Book 1—so many, actually, that earlier drafts of QOG were rampant with flashback sequences just because I was ACHING to tell that part of Celaena’s story. It kinda killed me to cut them all out, but I always hoped that I’d get to write a QOG/Celaena prequel someday, perhaps years and years down the road.

SO, thanks to my amazing agent and the incredible, daring, and lovely team at Bloomsbury Children’s, I get the chance to tell those stories NOW.

SO…Sorry for all the secrecy these past few months, but…I hope that you guys are as pumped as I am about these novellas!!!! 😀

And side note to my FictionPress fans: I know it’s been a long while since you’ve visited Celaena’s world. A long, long while, actually. It’s been just over three years since I took the rough draft of QOG off FP, and some of you have been with me since the very beginning back in 2002.

A lot of things have changed since then—both in the books themselves and in the real world outside of them—but I just wanted to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all of your support and enthusiasm. It’s nearly impossible for me to put what I feel into words both because of the impossible depth of my gratitude and because I just get too emotional whenever I try to convey it. But…thank you all SO much. I would never have gotten the chance to tell Celaena’s story if it wasn’t for you. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

And for all of my new readers and friends—those of you who haven’t yet had a chance to visit the world of Erilea and meet Celaena…I hope these novellas get you as excited as I am for the release of Book 1! It’s been such an honor and a pleasure to get to know you so far, and thank you SO much for wanting to read my book (and thank you to everyone who has added QOG on Goodreads! All 2,450 of you! Holy crap.). Knowing you want to read my book means more to me than I can ever say.

Hooray!!!

~~~
Sarah J. Maas has written several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA epic fantasy that will be published by Bloomsbury in Fall 2012. She is repped by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, and resides with her husband in Southern California. You can visit her website here, and follow her on twitter.
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I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends…

19 Oct

By Sarah J. Maas

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So, several months back, I posted a semi-tongue-in-cheek survival guide to revisions on my personal blog. Mostly, my must-have supplies included things like ten pounds of candy and sweatbands. And to be honest, I totally did need those things to get through revisions.

BUT having just sent in my final line edits for QUEEN OF GLASS (now onto copy edits!!!), I can look back at the trek through revisions and say that there is a LOT more to surviving it than twix, diet mountain dew, and neon-green sweatbands.

Some writers go through many, many rounds of revision. Personally, I went through two rounds, with a third, very small round of line edits. But each round taught me something new. From the small things (it’s “toward” not “towards”) to the larger-picture stuff, I feel like I’ve emerged from revisions knowing not just more about myself as a writer, but also more about my strengths as a person.

It’s different than working with your agent or your critique partner (though it’s similar in some ways). Mostly because with each round, you realize you’re getting closer to the final product—which you CANNOT change. There’s a sense of finality looming over the whole thing, and it pushes you to really, truly making sure you’re giving your all. It’s exciting to realize you are SO close to being published—it’s exhilarating, actually.

But there are the dark moments, too. The moments when you wonder if you’re just kidding yourself and your manuscript is a giant mess that you’ll never have enough time to fix, the moments when you think every word is garbage and you just want to go veg on the couch and pretend you don’t have a deadline to meet.

And those are the moments when you really need your #1 resource when surviving revisions: your writing friends. See, I spent years thinking that CPs and writer-friends were great for everything before the book deal—no one ever really told me how very important they are for the stuff after it.

They will talk you off ledges, they will reassure you that your work isn’t garbage, they will brainstorm with you for HOURS even though they have their own deadlines…They will hold your hand and never ask for anything in return, because they know exactly what you’re going through.

You’ll find yourself revealing your doubts and vulnerabilities—voicing the things that really terrify you, the dread so horrible it keeps you up at night. And you know what’s the most surprising thing you learn? You’re not alone in feeling that way. Because your friends either have faced or are facing the same fears and pressures and doubts.

Not to mention, when you get stuck during revisions, they know your work well enough to help you brainstorm your way out of it, or to just approve a semi-crazy idea that you have that miiight solve a plot problem. I cannot tell you how many times I emailed or IMed one of my CPs with a “What if I did THIS!?” question about QOG, or a “How do I fix THAT!?” complaint, and they helped me through it. Better than that—they made me EXCITED about those changes.

I’m a fairly independent person, and leaning on others doesn’t come naturally to me. But I realized, thanks to all of those emails and IMs and skype sessions, that revealing my vulnerabilities doesn’t make me weak, and voicing my fears doesn’t make me a coward. It makes me human—it allows people to get close to me and allows my relationships to grow.

I recently sent in the acknowledgments for QOG, and I honestly felt that I’d never have enough space to properly thank the people who helped me through this process—that WORDS don’t accurately convey the gratitude I feel. I don’t think I can ever fully convey that.

Revisions made me open myself up to others in ways I didn’t think I’d ever be comfortable doing—partially because I realized that no one EXCEPT my writer-friends would understand what I was going through. (Family and non-writer friends tend to give you “You’re amazing! It’ll be fine!” answers. Which are great, but not helpful.) I realized I NEEDED to have writing-friends who understood what I was going through–that I wouldn’t survive the process without them.

So, please, do me a favor: no matter where you are in the publishing journey–first drafting, querying, on submissions, already published–if you do one thing today, go tell your writing friends/CPs that you love them. Thank them for all they do for you. Because while writing a book might be a mostly solitary act, publishing one isn’t. And it shouldn’t be. 🙂

~~~

Sarah J. Maas has written several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA epic fantasy that will be published by Bloomsbury in Fall 2012. She is repped by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, and resides with her husband in Southern California. You can visit her website here, and follow her on twitter.

And she loves her writer-friends  & CPs very much. ❤

“I hear music…Mighty fine music…”

14 Apr

By Sarah J. Maas

~~~

I think the question I get asked most when I tell people that I’m a writer (or when I tell them what QUEEN OF GLASS is about) is: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Most of the time, it’s music.

QUEEN OF GLASS, as some of you might remember, was inspired by roughly 60 seconds of music from the score to Disney’s CINDERELLA. While listening to the track that plays while Cinderella flees the ball, I thought music was way too dark and intense to accompany the scene. The music fit much better when I imagined a thief—no, an assassin!—fleeing the palace. But who was she? Who had sent her to kill the prince? Who might the prince’s enemies be? A powerful, corrupt empire, perhaps? And thus Celaena Sardothien, the heroine of QUEEN OF GLASS, was born.

My other novels have arisen from similar origins. Sometimes, it’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time. Meaning, reading exactly the kind of book that inspires me to write in the first place, then randomly listening to a piece of music that triggers my creative juices, and then BAM: idea. Sometimes the ideas are stronger than others. While listening to this track, the idea for A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (my YA “Beauty and the Beast” retelling, in which “Beauty” is a huntress, and the “Beast” is a faerie lord with a mask permanently attached to his face) hit me like a brick to the face. I saw the opening scene to the novel with perfect clarity, heard Feyre’s voice as if it were my own…And then the whole novel spread before me.

Usually, music plays two roles after I get the initial idea: figuring out the opening and figuring out the ending. Without fail, those are the two things I need (personally) to sort out the rest of the novel. And sometimes, in order for me to figure it out, it means I need to sit in front of my computer and click through song after song. Sometimes it’ll strike me when I least expect it: driving in the car, zoning out on a plane, going for a walk—but with all of them, music is usually playing, shooting image after image into my mind, narrating the twists and turns of a scene, guiding my characters’ actions and voices.

When my creativity juices dry up, I’ll turn on my iTunes and just let it play through one of my playlists until the ideas start flowing again. I also have soundtracks that I turn to when I need inspiration—not for specific ideas, but just to feel something stirring under the surface of my conscience…simply to know that ideas are there, just waiting for the right bit of music to bring them out.

So, what have I been listening to lately? It’s been all over the place, to be honest (the new KARATE KID soundtrack, the TANGLED soundtrack, the PREDATORS soundtrack…).

Yesterday, I listened to this piece from the DRAG ME TO HELL soundtrack practically on repeat.

 

The original source of the music doesn’t indicate the kind of story I’m working on (so don’t expect any horror/demonic haunting novels out of me anytime soon), but it definitely speaks to the FEELING I’m trying to evoke. Dark, beautiful, terrifying—listening to the piece made me wonder where those feelings might fit into QUEEN OF GLASS, or ACOTAR…It also made me wonder what kind of NEW story might fit that music (again, not horror)—in what world would that music belong? What kind of character would that music embody? What sort of personal history would that character need to have in order for the music to fit their personality?

Someone really pretentious once said something along the lines of:  “My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.” And you know what? While it might be a pretentious as all hell, it’s also partially correct if you apply it to imagination (instead of intellect). I think there’s real creative magic in hearing the same piece of music over and over and finding something different it every time—in finding all of the different images and stories between the notes.

That’s just me, though. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone (I know people who are inspired by art, or movies, or nature, or the people around them). But maybe the next time you’re feeling a bit stuck with your writing, turn on iTunes, close your eyes, and listen. You never know what ideas might sing to you.

~

What about you guys? Does music play a huge role in influencing your creativity and/or stories? What particular pieces inspire you?

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in fall 2012. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

 

Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought: Sarah J. Maas

15 Mar

So, I’m going to kick off our Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought series, where each LTWF member will post about what REALLY happens in their day-to-day life. I actually wrote this post for a similar series when I was in the Elevensies—and  also did something similar on my blog about what it’s really like to revise/rewrite a manuscript…

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for other LTWF members’ posts! Next Wednesday, Sammy Bina will be posting about what her awesomely awesome life is REALLY like. Enjoy!

~

Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought:

Sarah J. Maas

I’m not going to pretend that my life is anything but average. In fact, I think that’s probably why I write epic fantasy. There definitely aren’t any dragons lurking around Los Angeles (though I hope I’m wrong!), and the closest I’ve ever come to meeting a Crown Prince is sitting next to Matt Damon in a restaurant (though he was really, really, distractingly hot).

So, while my heroine, Celaena, wakes up every morning in someplace that looks like this:

I wake up to this:

And while she’s keeping her assassinating skills at their prime by jogging for miles over terrain that looks like this:

I’m eating this:

And this:

Oh, and about three cups of this:

Once she’s gotten a workout and I’ve stuffed myself full of food and coffee, Celaena spends her days with some dudes who look a lot like this:

Whereas I spend my days with someone who looks like this:

Of course, we DO have some things in common. Like, we both spend our lunch hours doing this:

Or taking a few of these during the day:

But that’s about where the similarities end.

Because at night, she parties like it’s 1999 at one of these:


While I do this:

And while she’s fighting one of these in the dead of night:


I can be found doing this:


But at the end of the day, there’s nothing that either of us enjoys more than this:

~
Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in fall 2012. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

The Unspoken Rules of Publishing: Twitter

17 Feb

By Sarah J. Maas

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So, it’s been nearly a year since I found out QUEEN OF GLASS will be published, and a bit longer than that since I started this crazy journey towards publication. So I think it’s been long enough that I can look back and give some advice about the things I wish someone had told me when I was starting out…or even just at any point during this journey.

There are a lot of Unsaid Things in the industry. Rules that no one ever tells you, lines that you didn’t really know existed until some poor soul has the misfortune of crossing one of them, and everyone gossips about it, and you think “Holy crap, I almost did the same thing! That could have been ME they’re gossiping about!”

Don’t get me wrong—this is a wonderful, wonderful industry, and the YA community is absolutely fantastic. I wake up every morning and pinch myself. But there are some things that writers (regardless of what genre you work in) should be aware of. I actually started writing this post intending for it to be a list, but my first point warped into an entire article, so I think I might just do a series on this over the next few months…

So, without further ado…Twitter.

Sometimes, Twitter can feel a lot like high school. This was probably the most shocking thing for me to learn, because I didn’t really HAVE a typical high school experience. I never bothered to cozy up to the popular kids (in fact, I think I spent my time rolling my eyes at them), there weren’t really cliques to navigate, and I certainly didn’t give a crap about what people thought of me.

But Twitter sometimes feels like you’re in the middle of a giant high school cafeteria, looking for anyone you can sit with, wondering who will sneer at you if you dare approach their table, and contemplating if eating in the bathroom by yourself, or just skipping lunch all together, is the best option. When I first joined Twitter, I didn’t know who I was allowed to talk to, who would respond to me, who to even APPROACH. When I first joined, barely a blip on the radar, I kinda felt like I was standing in a field of landmines.

While the YA community is super-welcoming as a whole, there are definitely people who will not speak to you just because You Are A Nobody. Of course they won’t ever admit it, but there are people who won’t talk to you or follow you until you have an agent, or a book deal, or until you wind up on the NYTimes Bestseller list.

It took me a while to get used to that, to realize that some people do not consider all writers to be created equal—and truth be told, sometimes those distinctions are a good way to weed out the random spammers. But the best bit of advice I can give you is this: 1) If someone won’t acknowledge you because you aren’t agented/pubbed/a bestselling author, then perhaps they aren’t worth your effort, anyway and 2) it doesn’t reflect on YOU—it reflects on THEM. Don’t let it get to you.

There are cliques, too. I’m a fairly outgoing person in real life, but online, I sometimes feel like I come across as SUCH a creeper if I randomly say hi to someone, especially if they’re a part of a tight-knit group of besties who spend all their time on twitter just talking exclusively to each other. I used to be afraid of crossing into the BFFers-Only Zone—but at some point, perhaps after getting some confidence thanks to landing an agent and a book deal, I stopped caring if I dared breach clique lines. And you know that? I think a lot of my previous hesitation was all in my head. Most of the people (and groups) I’ve approached have been incredibly warm and kind.

Sometimes, people only talk to their friends just because they’re shy, and don’t really know how to branch out. It’s kinda intimidating to just say hi to a stranger and strike up a conversation, especially on a public forum like Twitter! But I always forget how great it feels to be approached by another writer—to know that another writer is interested in talking to ME! And you know what? I’ve made a bunch of fantastic friends thanks to Twitter—thanks to those random conversations where I bit the bullet and just replied to a tweet of theirs.

Despite that, Twitter isn’t for everyone. Every other week, there’s a study out that either says Twitter doesn’t sell books, or that Twitter is an invaluable marketing tool. Some authors HAVE had success thanks to Twitter, but some authors have had it without using Twitter at all (I’m looking at you, Suzanne Collins). Ultimately, I think you have to decide what you are the most comfortable with.

I know authors who have left Twitter because the (occasional) high school atmosphere got to them. They didn’t like the public ass kissing, or the cliques, or they got upset because some Big Author didn’t follow them back. I know authors who have never once felt like it was a high school cafeteria, and who think Twitter is the best thing ever. Twitter’s different for everyone.

I personally use it for making connections—for chatting with friends and readers, meeting new people, and just getting play-by-play updates on what’s happening in publishing. I do a little self-promotion, but not much, and I honestly get really turned off by authors who self-promote all the time and just RT every bit of praise they get.

Twitter is time-consuming, and definitely isn’t for the faint of heart (not that it’s a horrible, soul-crushing machine, but I think it definitely makes you get out of your shell, which is kinda good for us writers). And sometimes it can be frustrating. And, yes, if you get into a fight on twitter or start badmouthing someone, it WILL get around, and people WILL talk. Everyone loves to gossip, so don’t think you’re flying under the radar, even if you consider yourself to be a “nobody.”

Use your judgment when tweeting (Drunk tweeting? Not the best idea), because even if you have 12 followers or 1200, someone is probably watching. Things never disappear forever on the internet.

And, okay, this post has become way more intense and scary-sounding than I intended. Twitter is awesome—it really is, but I think the point of this post is that it is OKAY if you’re not comfortable joining, and don’t have a Twitter account. You won’t make or break your career with or without Twitter. Twitter really is what you make of it—and while it can feel like high school, it can also feel like you’re hanging out with the coolest people you’ll ever meet. But, if you’re still on the fence…get a Twitter account—be brave. You’ll never know unless you try.

And who knows? That clique of writers that you’re afraid to approach? That awesome author whose debut novel you absolutely adored? They might wind up becoming your best friends.

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in fall 2012. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Research, Research, Research!

18 Oct

By

Sarah J. Maas

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So, most of you know that I write fantasy. And while I have the luxury of inventing my own worlds and histories, it also involves a ton of research. But if I can make up my own rules, why bother to research anything?

The short answer: because it makes it believable.

The little details really make or break world-building. Learning how our world operates—how people in the past went about their daily lives, how clothes were made before the Industrial Revolution, how battles were won prior to the invention of gunpowder….all of that is immensely useful when world-building for a fantasy novel.

Don’t believe me? Let me show you. Writing QUEEN OF GLASS involved a crap-ton of research over the years. And in the average day of my heroine, Celaena, most of that research comes into play. I’m going to demonstrate just how much research goes on behind the scenes (lol), by providing you guys with a “Day In the Life” look at her schedule.

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6:30 AM: Go for a 4-mile jog. Research: How far can someone who is very out of shape (thanks to a year of malnutrition) run? How fast can they run? How long does it TAKE to run 4 miles?

6:45 AM: Pause jog to vomit all over the place. Research: Why do people vomit when they run? Do people vomit if they eat before running? Do people vomit if they DON’T eat before running? How long will it take for someone to get back into shape?

8:00 AM: Bath. Research: History of indoor plumbing. How can I bend the rules so that my semi-medieval castle has running, heated water? When were faucets invented? How did Roman baths work? When were shampoo and conditioner invented? When were towels invented/called ‘towels?’

8:30 AM: Breakfast. Research: What kind of fruits/juices would be available in their climate? Would imported fruits be a rarity? When was porridge invented?

9:00 AM: Get dressed. Research: History of corsets. How does it feel to wear a corset? How quickly can you walk/talk/eat with a corset on? How long did it take for dresses to be made? How costly would such a dress be? History of dresses; browse fashion websites for color/fabric/design ideas. How long does it TAKE to put on undergarments, corset, and then the dress?

9:30 AM: Make-up. Research: What did women use for concealer? Eyeliner? Mascara? Blush? Lipstick? Eye shadow? How costly were these items? What parts of the world did they come from? How did they pluck their eyebrows? History of beauty standards.

10:30 AM: Off to the library. Research: When were libraries invented? When did mankind start writing down its stories? When did mankind start producing bound books? When did the masses start being educated? Where did people usually discuss books? History of the French Salon.

12:00 PM: Lunch. Research: Was it called ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner?’

1:00 PM: Do Cool Assassin Things. Research: How long does it take for someone to die after you slit their throat? How much blood is there? Does it actually spray everywhere? How many inches is it from the chest/skin into the heart? History of weapons. History of ninjas. History of awesome fighting techniques.

7:00 PM: Dinner. Research: Is it ‘dinner’ or ‘supper?’ Research random food items. History of champagne/wine/alcohol.

11:00 PM: Bed. Research: When did people stop wearing ugly nightclothes and start wearing sexy things? Did men sleep in nightgowns? When were fluffy pillows invented? Were fireplaces lit all night?

3:00 AM: Fight some demons lurking in secret passageways. Research: History of demons—for visual ideas, mostly. If you break a bone and/or get a deep scratch/wound, how long does it take to recover? What were traditional herbal substitutes for anesthesia? For fighting against infection? For painkillers?

~~~

So, obviously, there is lots of research involved. Sometimes the research doesn’t make it into the actual scene, but the knowledge of it is there/in the background. Usually, I’ll research, learn a bit about the history of (insert topic here), then examine how it can fit into Erilea (the world in which QOG takes place), and how I can twist it to make it my own. Or completely ignore it.

QOG isn’t a fantasy set in one distinct time period that matches up with our own—which requires me to do some research into history to see HOW I can possibly combine different eras in a believable way. It’s really fun to make up my own world history (especially the fashion component), but it also requires a degree of authenticity—which only comes from research.

That’s not to say that you need to research for months and years before writing—in fact, I’ll usually write a scene, then go back and google things like: “History of mascara” to add into the scene later on. And sometimes I don’t find what I’m looking for, in which case I’ll just invent stuff completely.

But when you’re establishing your world, I’d definitely recommend some research (at a minimum, clicking through Wikipedia, lol)—you’d be surprised by how much you’ll learn! And how much of a difference it makes.

~~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

LTWF Anniversary…What A Year It’s Been!

7 Oct

By

 

Sarah J. Maas

 

~

Looking back to last year, it’s hard to believe how far this blog has come in just twelve months.

When I got the idea for Let The Words Flow, I had very few writing friends—fewer still from FictionPress. The FP friends I did have didn’t know each other—didn’t know that there were others out there, struggling to make the leap between FP and publication.

The only proof I had that you could make the jump was embodied in Mandy Hubbard, our resident rock star, who supported this group from Day 1. I knew that if Mandy was on board, we’d have a degree of credibility—Mandy, with her multiple book deals and oodles of success, was our poster child for all that we could accomplish.

But there had to be more of us out there—there had to be other FP people with book deals, or agents, or querying agents. So I looked. I looked and looked, browsing through the profiles of other FictionPress “Greats.” And I found a few—enough to start a blog, if they would only join Mandy and me.

I still remember the terror and anticipation of sending out those initial emails to potential contributors—I remember praying that any of them would respond to me.

After all, very few of us were friends—in fact, most of us had been fierce rivals on FictionPress. We never talked, and if we ever came across each other, it was in fan-run contests that did nothing but increase the tension between us. We were all islands surrounded by a sea of adoring fans.

You can’t imagine my surprise when all of them not only replied to me—but they all accepted my offer to join LTWF.

The biggest surprise came from Savannah J. Foley not only accepting the offer, but being absolutely thrilled to join the group. She’d been one of my biggest rivals on FP—QUEEN OF GLASS and WOMAN’S WORLD were always matched up against each other in contests. But it was our similarities, not our past differences, that bonded us: we both had agents, and had both started submissions to editors. Though she had a ton of potential, I had no idea—none—that she would become not only a close friend, but also the solid foundation upon which LTWF would be built.

I will admit, initially, I was swamped. I managed a lot of features on the site, and would often bolt upright in the middle of the night to realize something needed fixing. We only posted three days a week, but it was enough to keep us all busy. We survived the initial few months, and our readership grew more and more every day—we actually had readers! We had people who were interested in our journeys, people who were having journeys of their own—people who were interesting and brilliant and oh so lovely.

One of those people was Biljana Likic. A long-time friend of mine from FP, Billy is a bit of a child prodigy—though she was only 17 at the time, her writing was  (and is!) incredible. At the risk of sounding like an old person, Billy showed a tremendous amount of potential. She’s also wonderful person—funny, kind, and clever, and she brought a much-needed burst of humor and fun to the group dynamic when she joined in January of 2010.

With Billy on board, we had enough members—and enough readers—to start posting more frequently. We dared ourselves to start posting five days a week. I fretted over that (when am I NOT worrying?), wondering if we could possibly keep it up, and how we could keep our readers interested. I also wondered if we had enough diversity in the group—there were plenty of aspiring writers in LTWF, but what about the other side of the desk? What about aspiring agents and editors?

That answer came in early March, in the form of Vanessa Di Gregorio, an aspiring writer attending a publishing course, but also an intern at a literary agency with dreams of working in publishing. The other side of the desk didn’t look so empty anymore. Of course, we had no idea that being on the other side of the desk would later be the way we got hooked up with prizes for all of our giveaways, or that she’d become the Grand Dame of our Saturday Grab Bag posts and book reviews. Or that she’d be the one to revamp our site and become the ghost behind our twitter account, taking it from 50 or so followers to over 450 followers (and counting)!

By that point, it seemed only natural to add Jenn Fitzgerald to our ranks in late March. Another aspiring author, Jenn spends her days living out one of everyone’s childhood dreams: working as an archaeologist. Her adorable MG novel brought a bit of a change from our usual YA fare, and her determination to keep querying and writing, despite digging all day long, made her an inspiration.

At this point, we found new members left and right. We had people applying to be in the group. That absolutely blew my mind.

In the group itself, the number of emails back and forth skyrocketed. Communicating with my contributors was no longer a daily thing, but an hourly one. Girls who I had once seen as my enemies were my confidantes and cheerleaders. I’ll never forget the joy of sending an email to them, announcing my book deal with Bloomsbury—and I’ll never forget crying in my car as their replies showed up on my blackberry. Sharing that moment with them was one of the best moments of my publishing journey thus far.

In the wake of getting a book deal, one of the congratulatory wishes I received was from a FP writer named Julie Eshbaugh—who sent me a message to say that LTWF had inspired her to keep querying, and that she now had an agent. She was so passionate about the group (and had received multiple offers of representation!) that we knew she had to join us. So, in early April of 2010, she did. And she meshed perfectly.

With so many members, we no longer had to worry about filling out the calendar. In fact, we were all so eager to post that we added another day of posting, and in May, we kicked off our Saturday posts.

Swamped with pre-wedding preparations, I had to step back a bit from my LTWF duties. I wondered if this group—which I had once managed all on my own—could function without me for a few weeks. Well, to my delight, it could—and it did. The site that I had struggled to maintain months ago was suddenly a well-oiled machine—people had assumed responsibilities without even my asking. Realizing that it had become a community-run blog was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had.

One of the members who would later become a huge help was Kat Zhang. She submitted an application that blew us all away—not only was she querying agents with a wonderful manuscript, but she was also an amazingly talented spoken word poet. We had tentatively discussed not taking on any more un-agented new members, but Kat’s humor, kindness, and brilliance won us over. We knew it was only a matter of time before she landed an agent. And this September, she did. Kat claims she didn’t cry the day she got the call, but I think a few of us cried enough on her behalf to compensate.

After Kat joined, we had a dilemma: did we have too many members? Were our readers getting detached from the warm, cozy atmosphere of the site? It would take a truly incredible member to get us to change our mind. We found two.

Sammy Bina originally joined us as a month-long guest contributor, though by the end of week 1, it was pretty apparent that we had to have her forever. An intern at a literary agency, Sammy brought invaluable advice to our readers regarding all aspects of the querying process—and as an aspiring, querying writer, she was also a contributor our readers could connect with. More than that, Sammy was also a part of the wildly-popular Plagiarism Haven group, and many of her readers became LTWF regulars. If you attended our latest livechat, you’ll know that she’s a firecracker, and provides us with endless hours of entertainment (which is obviously the most important thing she could do!).

The last member to join our ranks was Vahini Naidoo—who came to us just days after accepting an offer of representation from an agent (after receiving multiple offers)! Not to mention, she’s still in high school (way to make us all feel bad, Vee!). Hailing from Australia, Vee took LTWF from a North American group to a truly international one, and her dry sense of humor melded beautifully with our group dynamic.

Had you asked me a year ago if I knew that the group would become so large, and so diverse, I would have laughed. When I started the blog, I had high hopes, but I never thought farther down the road than a few months. Now we think in years.

One of the exciting new features that we’ll be adding is our free online creative writing course, which will begin in February of 2011 (details soon to come)! We’re also planning tons of livechats (next month: querying!), adding some new members, and we have a few more surprises up our collective sleeve.

But we wanted to do one more thing—just to say thank you to the readers who have helped make this blog such a success.

In honor of our one-year anniversary, we’re going to be giving away nine gift baskets customized by each LTWF member! On Saturday, we’ll post the official contest announcement/sign-up, but gift baskets will include contributors’ favorite books, moleskine notebooks, and much, much more!

Because we owe it all to YOU. We never could have added new members—we never would have met each other—if we didn’t have readers coming back every day, asking us QOTWs, entering our contests, and turning this blog from a dream into a reality.

A year ago, that’s all this blog was—a dream. A dream that we weren’t the only FictionPress people trying to get published. And if there’s any moral to this post—to this blog in all its entirety—it’s that you are not alone.

I think that’s what took us all by surprise: despite years of rivalry on FictionPress, we are more similar than any of us realized. We are not alone. We are no longer islands.

Thank you all for proving that.

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

25 Aug

Today’s Dose Of Reality is Provided By:

Sarah J. Maas

~~~

Like most writers out there, when I daydreamed of my first book deal, I dreamed BIG. Ferraris, a mansion in Maui and a villa in Tuscany, a live-in chef to make me gourmet mac and cheese whenever I wanted. No joke. I fantasized about making enough money off my books that I could write full-time and never have to work again.

Well, let me tell you two things:

1. Writing IS work, so even if you’re writing full-time, it’s not like taking a permanent vacation.

2. For most writers (myself included), even if we get a pretty awesome book deal, it’s not enough to permanently quit our day jobs.

Yeah, it sucks. But it’s a reality we have to face. I thought I’d get out of college and never have to work. HA. Funny.

See, unless you get a ginormous deal that will make you financially set for LIFE (which is extremely unlikely, I hate to say), you’ve got to be able to support yourself. While that initial advance might last you for a few years, what if you never sell another book again? Until you can say—without a doubt—that your writing provides enough income for you to live comfortably (no ramen diets, please), don’t quit your day job.

There are other reasons, of course, not to quit your day job. Like…being social. Not just from a writing perspective (because real life experiences translate into real good books), but also from an emotional one. Meeting people and getting out there is healthy. Believe me, I’m a bit of a hermit by nature, and I still have to force myself to go outside—and you know what? It’s good for me.

Also, there’s the emotional strain of not having a steady paycheck. The money you make off your books doesn’t come every two weeks. I got my book deal back in March, and I have yet to see the first installment of my advance. If I didn’t have the income of my day job to fall back on, I’d be freaking out. My husband would be freaking out. My DOG would be freaking out (no more treats and toys for her! Boo.). My house would not be a happy place to live.

But, Sarah—if I have a job, won’t it interfere with my writing?

No. You will be tired, and you will be stretched thin, but you can do it. Don’t whine, and don’t make excuses. If being published is truly your dream, then a 9-5 won’t kill it. Maybe it’ll be a lesson in discipline—which you are going to NEED if you someday want to write-full time (you wouldn’t believe how tempting daytime TV is). And everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story—think of how cool it will sound when you tell Oprah that you slaved in a corporate prison for years before you had your breakout book!

But my writing is really, really good! I’m sure I’ll get an agent/book deal really quickly!

Don’t count on it. No matter how awesome your writing is, you could easily spend months, if not years, querying, and then even longer on submissions. And again, even if you sell your book right away, you might not see any money for months.

But…but…but…

No buts. You are not the exception to the rule. Unless you’ve got a fantastically wealthy family or spouse to provide for you (and if they don’t MIND providing for you, which is also key), you need a day job. Not necessarily a career (unless you want one), but a day job. Something to keep the electricity running.

It sounds harsh, I know. Honestly, I was the Queen of Buts (…maybe I should re-title QUEEN OF GLASS…). And in the 18 months after college—during which I was unemployed, but writing full-time—it WAS an emotional burden not to have a job. Even if I wrote….6 books in those 18 months, there was always that pressure. It’s not fun.

So, be patient. Serve your time. You’re in good company. Most of the successful authors you see on shelves had to work multiple jobs before they could write full-time. Finish college, get a job (however miserable), and keep your eyes on the prize. You CAN get there someday—but until then, just don’t quit your day job.

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

The Writing Community’s Kryptonite…AKA Jealousy

27 Jul

By

Sarah J. Maas

~~~

Okay, I’m just gonna say it: Jealousy is rampant in publishing. Like, out-of-control rampant. It’s hard not to be jealous when you see an author get a seven-figure deal for a book that sounds just like yours, or jealous when you’ve been querying for 16 months and your friend lands an agent within days of querying. I’ve seen authors get jealous about money, book covers, press—pretty much everything. And I’ve seen firsthand how jealousy can eat away at writers—how it turns them into monsters.

Yeah, it sounds dramatic. But it’s true. I had a friendship fall apart as a result of jealousy. When I met this aspiring writer, she was sweet, and funny, and optimistic. I’d just signed with my agent, and I was more than happy to help her out with her own path to publication—I did everything from critiquing her manuscript to helping with her query letter to researching agents for her. But as the months wore on, and she didn’t get any closer to landing an agent, while I moved closer to getting a book deal, jealousy set in.

It came to a head when she told me she couldn’t be friends with me anymore—that I’d essentially become a colossus casting a shadow over her and stomping on her dreams. I felt blindsided. I felt guilty about my own successes. Had I done those things? Had I stomped on her dreams by talking about how awesome my agent is, or what editors were interested in QUEEN OF GLASS? Was I casting a shadow over her because my blog had more followers? Um, no. Far from it. But I ultimately realized that it wasn’t an issue about ME. It was about HER. Her insecurities and fears poisoned her.

That’s what jealousy is, really. A poison. It clouds your judgment, it turns friends into enemies. It makes you into something you are not. It turned this girl, who was a friend I loved and valued, into someone I didn’t recognize. By the end, she claimed all sorts of horrible things about me. The worst, though, was when she claimed that I never cared about her at all. I don’t think I ever told her this, but I had her number on speed dial. I have five people on my speed dial. And she was one of them.

Our friendship ended. And even though we left things on rocky terms, I wish her the best—I really do. Because I understand how it feels to be jealous of someone, how it makes you physically ill, and I know there will always be someone to be jealous of. But you can’t let it get to you. You can’t let it eat up everything inside of you, because you lose so much as a result.

But it’s hard to let go of jealousy. Really, truly hard. I have to actively tell myself to STFU every time I get jealous. So, here’s some quick and dirty advice when you feel that miserable rush.

1. Don’t panic. So someone sold a book for a hell of a lot more money than you received. So someone got an agent that you really wanted. So what. Do these things affect your daily life in any way? Does that one person getting an agent imply that you won’t ever land an agent? Take a deep breath. Put things into perspective.

2. Sometimes good things happen to undeserving people. Again, so what? Just because an insipid author was featured on the front page of the NYTimes Book Review doesn’t mean you won’t ever be. Look inside yourself—what is prompting your negative reaction? Why are you so upset about it? Once you understand the source of your jealousy, it’s a lot easier to confront it—and let go of it.

3. Someone else’s success doesn’t make you a loser. I don’t think I need to explain this one.

4. Sometimes, we have to work harder than the average person to achieve our dreams. But everything happens for a reason. Maybe we need that harder journey—maybe that journey will make us into better people. Don’t be afraid of taking the longer path. It might lead to some interesting places.

How do you guys combat jealousy? Any tales of woe and misery to share?

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Get Over Yourself

12 Jul

By

Sarah J. Maas

~~~

I’m going to confess something. Back when I started writing QUEEN OF GLASS (like, years and years ago), I was arrogant. And I knew it. I embraced it. I thought my book was the greatest thing ever written, and that everything I wrote was perfect. I sneered at my classmates in my creative writing courses—I scoffed at my teachers (one of whom deserved to be scoffed at, though, so I’m sorta justified). I thought I would never, ever, EVER have to change a word of QUEEN OF GLASS.

Well, I was a dumbass back then. Eight years and about five major rewrites later, I could seriously beat the crap out of my sixteen year-old self for thinking what I wrote was untouchable.

Nothing you write—especially a first draft—is perfect. And even when you’ve revised and polished until your eyes cross (which, believe me, they will), odds are, you could still revise and polish a little more. Sometimes, doing that billionth rewrite means the difference between publication and…more submissions. Deciding to do a rewrite—even after years of revising—means accepting that your work is not perfect, that you are not perfect. It means getting over yourself.

With QUEEN OF GLASS, I’ve had to get over myself a lot. But somewhere down the road (I’m pretty sure it was when I was about to query with a 240k word manuscript, and Mandy Hubbard was like: “Um, NO.”), I realized that I was the only thing standing between myself and publication.

I realized that cutting out 100k words wouldn’t kill QUEEN OF GLASS, nor would cutting out another 20k words, nor would another massive rewrite that required the removal of a major plotline and some beloved characters. I realized that I had to let go—I had to stop being narrow-minded about my vision for my book, and I had to consider whether keeping that one character or plotline was worth the cost of not being published.

And one day, I realized that all those changes had made the book stronger. Better. Something that I could actually be proud of—an awesomeness that I wasn’t entitled to, but rather something that I’d earned.

A lot of aspiring writers wonder if they’re selling out or sacrificing their artistic vision by doing extensive revisions to please an agent or editor. You’re not. Listen to your gut, but use your head: are you clinging to that character because he/she is necessary to the story, or just because you like them because of that one cute scene? No one in their right mind would have published that first draft of QUEEN OF GLASS. Or it’s 240k word version. And I’m glad. Because those drafts weren’t the best possible book I could have written.

But in order to learn that, I had to start looking at my book from an objective perspective—I had to let go of my sentimentality and arrogance. I had to let go of my fear.

Don’t be afraid of rewriting your manuscript, even if it means deleting 90% of it. Don’t be afraid of failure, or of ‘running out of time’ to get published.

But do be afraid of becoming a writer who refuses to change a word. Be afraid of becoming a writer who doesn’t listen to others when they offer great critiques. Be afraid of becoming an arrogant writer, who thinks they’re above rewriting.

Because the writers who rewrite, and who listen, and who polish until their eyes cross? Those are the writers who make it. Those are the ones you see on a shelf. Those are the ones who got over themselves.*

*Well, to some degree. 😉

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.