Tag Archives: Sarah J. Maas

QOTW: 2012 Debut Author Challenge!

11 Nov

Hi, everyone! (And Happy 11/11/11!)

In case you haven’t seen it yet, The Story Siren just launched her 2012 Debut Author Challenge!

A few of us have participated in previous years, but we are ESPECIALLY excited this year because LTWF has FOUR (4!!!) members with debut novels!  Susan Dennard (SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, out 7/24/11), Sarah J. Maas (QUEEN OF GLASS, Fall 2012), Vahini Naidoo (FALL TO PIECES, Fall 2012), and Kat Zhang (WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, Fall 2012)! Hooray!!!

You can find out more information about the 2012 Debut Author Challenge on The Story Siren’s website, and you can also see (and vote on!) the list of debuts here on Goodreads!

So, in honor of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, we thought we’d share the debuts WE are most excited about!

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 If I had to pick a debut that I’m desperate to get my hands on, it’d have to be CINDER by Marissa Myer. The hype around the book, the cover, the sheer coolness of the story–I WANTS IT. Like STAT.

Susan Dennard

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 I’m really looking forward to Jodi Meadows’s debut, INCARNATE, (who can see that gorgeous cover and not want to open the book?) as well as TEMPEST by Julie Cross, because I’m a sucker for time travel stories. LOVE AND LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay also looks like something I’d like to read!

Julie Eshbaugh

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 A few of the books I’m super excited for have been named already, so I won’t go through them again. One that hasn’t been mentioned that I’m really intrigued by is THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass. The cover is gorgeous, and I admit it…I’m a sucker for books where girls get dressed up in ridiculously fancy dresses, hahaha. I’m also looking forward to CRACKED by K.M. Walton, because it seems like it’ll be an interesting and edgy contemp.

Kat Zhang

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 Ditto on INCARNATE and CINDER! They look absolutely incredible. I’m also reallllly pumped for SHADOW & BONE by Leigh Bardugo–I had the privilege of reading an early draft and it was SO stunning. I can’t wait to read it again–and to hear what other people think! And UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood, SCARLET by A. C. Gaughen, and STORM by Brigid Kemmerer look fabulous, too!

Sarah J. Maas

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What about YOU GUYS? How many of you are participating in the challenge? And what 2012 debuts are YOU most excited for? Inquiring minds want to know!

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.

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. ❤

Coauthoring A Novel: Part Two

7 Sep

by Susan Dennard (and Sarah J. Maas!)

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As Sarah said Monday, the casual idea of coauthoring a book didn’t become a REAL idea for months. And then the actual world-building and novel-writing happened in a matter of weeks.

We were pushing out two to three scenes a day and letting go of our egos (because how else can you let someone read your first draft? It’s scary!). And as we wrote, a new thought weaseled in: What if this is actually good enough to publish? What if…what if…we could show this to our agents?

It was like tossing a grenade into the fray. Suddenly, we weren’t on fire for our own enjoyment—we were infernos of writing madness. There’s something about imagining your book as a REAL, published novel that motivates like no other.

But, all the excitement and dreaming big aside, here’s where you have to remember the fourth rule of coauthoring: writing is a business. Never forget that deciding to SELL a book adds a new dimension to your project—and it also puts more emphasis on being 100% transparent with each other. Why? Because now Sarah and I were talking money. We were talking about the path of our careers. Now we were looking at our writing schedule as a business plan.

And now, we had to bring in our agents.

So we notified our knights-in-shining-armor, Sara Kendall and Joanna Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary and Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency. We told them we were coauthoring a book, we were really excited about it, and gave them the rough pitch.

Insert Awesome Agents Stage Left.

Without even waiting to see if we could produce something good, our agents were SUPER enthusiastic about the project, and moved right on to the next step: meeting each other. For an actual coauthored novel to sell, both sets of agents need to be involved constantly.  Everyone is CC’ed on emails, phone calls go out at the same time, and the entire process is completely open and honest.

(Also, it is super exciting. I get to work with a new agent (albeit temporarily). Now there are three possible names in my inbox that make my heart go KAPOW.)

Sarah Chimes In: Getting our agents on board was one of the most harrowing and exciting moments for us. Sooz and I were absolutely honored—and thrilled!—that they trusted us (and our work) enough to move ahead so quickly! And, as Sooz said, it’s SO awesome to closely work with another agent! I’ve admired Sara and Jo for so long that working with them still feels a bit surreal.

We wrote up a detailed synopsis of the entire book and we sent it to our agents before their first lunch date. Funnily enough, the agents instantly recognized—from the synopsis alone—which author (me or Sarah) wrote which character. Even in the synopsis, our voices and unique approaches to storytelling were obvious!

So now that we had our agents in the loop and doing their thing, Sarah and I set to revise our shiny new novel. But I was nervous. Now I was telling Sarah something was wrong with her scenes. Gone were the days of gushing praise—we had to sharpen our claws and get honest.

And so what is the fifth rule of coauthoring? Don’t take it personally. This is one of those obvious lessons we all KNOW we should feel with our novels. We all say our skins are thick from years of criticism, but if anyone out there can say they honestly don’t feel the slightest sting the when someone points out their mistakes, then raise your hand (I want to meet you because you’re clearly not human).

Sarah Chimes In: This is definitely a moment where trust comes into play, too. We had to trust each other to see the things we couldn’t, trust that the other person wouldn’t get upset if we pointed out something that needed fixing, and trust that our friendship could survive through it all. You’re not on opposing sides—you are a TEAM. What happens to one person affects the other. And whatever gets thrown your way, you face it together.

So I had to not fret over hurting Sarah’s feelings, and I had to not wince when she let me know if something I’d written just wasn’t working. I read the entire MS, wrote up a master list of all the problems we had—plot holes, character inconsistencies, etc., and sent it to Sarah. We talked in depth about the issues, and then…

BAM. The hurricane was back. No feelings were hurt at ALL—in fact, seeing the problems somehow drove us to want to fix them. We were determined to reach the book we’d initially set out to write. We’d revise two, three, or more scenes a day and swap. And within a week, we had a new book to show for it.

Now Sarah took charge. With the big problems fixed, there were still all the little issues to fret over. Line edits, pacing, infodumps, etc.  She read the whole novel and with track-changes pointed out everything that needed fixing…

And then we were done.  Well, scratch that. We were done enough for a critique partner.  Sarah and I both firmly believe that sending your agent an un-critiqued manuscript is unprofessional. We had read the book so many times by then, it was all blurring together—we couldn’t see the mistakes any more. An external set of eyes was the only way to spot the remaining problems (and to verify that this book we thought was the Greatest Novel Ever Written was actually any good at all).

Once we got the feedback from our CP, we incorporated her ideas, sent the book through one more strenuous wringer of line edits, and then…we held our breaths, crossed our fingers, and sent the darn thing to our agents.

Insert montage of Susan banging her head against the desk and groaning, Sarah frantically picking all the polish off her fingernails, and both girls writing panicked emails saying “WHAT IF THEY HATE IT?”

Sarah Chimes In: Way to expose my nervous habit, Sooz!!! 😉 Seriously, though—while we waited to hear what our agents thought about the ms, we were pretty pathetic. It felt kinda like the moment of truth—what if all our hard work was for nothing? What if we had to go back to Square 1?

The sixth rule of coauthoring is to be available when your buddy is freaking out because you will certainly have your own fair share of freaking out.

Fortunately, our agents didn’t hate the book—they actually loved it! And fortunately, they were all in agreement on what needed changing and twisting and fixing.

Flash forward a month and a half (oh my gosh, it’s only been a month and a half?), and Sarah and I are just finishing what we hope will be our last big picture revisions before the Submissions Fairy deems us okay for editorial eyes. Every new round of revisions is like that initial grenade, and we work furiously for a few days, send the newest draft to our agents, and then conk out for a week of recovery (just kidding. Sort of.).

Sarah Chimes In: Not gonna lie: It’s like a writing hangover.

Every time there’s some new excuse to work on this book, my heart does a little dance because this means I get to skype with Sarah for 3+ hours and babble about our fantasy world (much to the chagrin of our husbands). I love to talk about my writing—like LOVE it—and being able to talk about my writing with a writer…and with a writer who is writing the same thing?? BLISS!

So, hopefully one day in the not too distant future, this novel will make its way to some publishing inboxes and pique some acquisitions editors’ eyes, and you can promise that when that Big Deal Day comes, we will let everyone know—because the third rule of coauthoring is to have fun, and the seventh rule is to share that fun with the world!

~~~

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.

~

Sarah J. Maas has written several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella 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 blog here, and follow her on twitter.

Coauthoring A Novel: Part One

5 Sep

By Sarah J. Maas (and Susan Dennard!)

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Seven months ago, if you had asked me about whether or not I’d ever coauthor a book, I probably would have just scratched my head. It was something that SOUNDED cool, but seemed really, really hard to do well—not just the writing aspect, but also the emotional and business sides of it. Though I was fairly certain that if the right person came around, and if the right idea struck us, it could be a fun thing to do.

Enter Susan Dennard.

We’d swapped novels before—I had read Susan’s stunning debut, SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY, and she’d read both QUEEN OF GLASS and A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (my “Beauty and the Beast” retelling). We both loved each other’s work, and had an instant friendship back when Sooz joined LTWF in October 2010, and had jokingly talked about one day writing a book together. The problem was that we didn’t have any idea WHAT to write.

Sooz Chimes In: If you think about it, it’s pretty daunting to come up with an idea two writers agree on. We’re all used to being 100% in control of our stories, our characters, and our worlds. Not to mention Sarah’s books are very different from mine—at least in terms of world or genre…

Then, one fateful day—February 8th, 2010—inspiration struck. We can’t yet explain WHY that date is so important, but let’s just say that a simple: “What if?” question turned into a “Holy crap…that’s an idea for a NOVEL!”

The thing is, neither Susan nor I had ever co-written a novel—and didn’t really know the first thing about it. We knew almost right away that the novel would be dual POV about two sisters. Which meant we each would be writing half a novel, essentially (though this actually doesn’t mean there’s any less work involved). But things like coming up with our world, plot, and characters—things like outlining and writing a synopsis…we had to figure out how to do all those things TOGETHER.

First rule about coauthoring a novel? Be flexible. Be open with your ideas, be open to suggestions, be open to learning how someone else’s creative process works, and what inspires THEM. And be crystal-clear when communicating.

Once we had a basic idea of our book (and by basic, I mean it was still “What if we wrote X?”), we began brainstorming. Every day. For a few weeks. We’d talk on skype, on gchat, over email. Most of the brainstorming went like this:

Sarah: So what if we did THIS?

Sooz: Ooh!!! That sounds so cool! But what if we did THIS?

Sarah: OMG. YES. And what if we added THIS?

Sooz: And then that could tie into THIS!

Sarah: Or we could go THIS route…

Sooz: Or THIS route!

Sarah: You are a genius because then we could tie it in with THIS.

Sooz: I know. And OMG—YES.

We even roughly outlined the first six chapters, but after weeks of brainstorming, we ran into a slight speed bump: when would this novel be set? We had originally envisioned steampunk, but given Sooz’s debut has steampunk elements, we were hesitant to also make ours a steampunk book. We both knew from the start that if this was gonna work, we’d have to be clear about what we wanted—about what was working for us and what wasn’t.

Sooz Chimes In: Like Sarah said, because SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY is an alternate history with gadgets and because I’m not allowed to write a new book that would compete with it, it seemed like our original envisioning of this coauthoring project wasn’t gonna fly. So I straight up told her, “My no-compete clause limits me. Would you be willing to look at different settings?”

And though it was frustrating to realize that our steampunk setting might not work, it was also a great sign that we were getting this communication thing down—we both felt that the decision to avoid the steampunk route was the right one. Without being brave enough to voice our opinions—and open enough to hear them—the project could have fallen apart right there. But then things like edit letters and revisions and other projects came along, and before we knew it, our little project got set on the back burner.

Weeks went by, and to be honest, we didn’t think of our little project all that often. But then one day out of the blue, one of us said: “So, I’ve been thinking about our little project…What if we set it in THIS setting/era?” And the other one said: “…Well, maybe not THEN, but what about a few years before…?”

What followed then was explosion of creativity that I don’t quite have words to describe. We had our setting, and our two heroines, and a villain—for the next few weeks, we built the world. The thing about co-writing a book is that you BOTH need to agree on EVERYTHING. In a hurricane of brainstorming, we built a world from the ground up—a world that we absolutely adored. One book became a trilogy.

Maybe we had it easy. Sooz and I come from the same geekdoms. STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, various anime…we loved the same novels. We knew, inside and out, the kind of sources we were drawing from, and knew our target audience. And because we were so familiar with the same things, it made getting on the same page way easier (example: I mentioned wanting a “That’s no moon…It’s a space station.” kinda shout-out moment, and Sooz knew exactly what I was talking about.).

But there comes a point when you can’t do any more brainstorming—when you have to bite the bullet and start writing.

Doing that—deciding to put words onto paper—was perhaps the hardest part so far. We decided to each take a character and write their POV in alternating chapters. After we’d write a chapter, we’d swap those chapters and read through them so we’d be on the same page about pacing and plot development. Initially, it felt like a game of chicken: who would be the first one to write their chapter? Worse: who would be the first one to SEND their chapter to the other?

Confession: Sooz is way braver than me and sent her first chapter before I sent mine. And it was so good that I looked back at the first chapter I had written and CRINGED. And then worried that Sooz would find my first chapter so freaking horrible that she’d realize working with me was a terrible mistake and suggest we not do it.

Sooz Chimes In: Sarah is being ridiculous. When she sent me her first chapter, I got chills…and then freaked out because I had already sent her mine and in comparison, hers was SO much better. I told her what I thought, and she laughed and told me how she felt—next thing you know, we were both feeling pretty confident about our scenes and chomping at the bit to get out more!

Second rule of coauthoring a novel? Embrace your belief that your co-author is writing better stuff than you—and writing faster and more of it. It becomes a powerful motivator.

Seeing Sooz produce such stellar stuff made me push myself. It kept me on my toes. It challenged me to write the very best that I could—it made me demand excellence from myself.

Sooz, like me, is a fast worker. We can both write well over 5k words in a day if we’re focused. Seeing Sooz churn out chapters made me not want to let her down—I wanted to match the quality and quantity of work she was producing. Best of all, these weren’t negative feelings—it was liberating. Inspiring. It was an adrenaline rush and a sugar high and like going 0 to 60 in 7 seconds. I woke up every morning eager to get to work, and went to bed every night dreaming of the next day’s scenes.

We finished our rough draft in two weeks. And then began the process of revision—which is a process that Sooz will talk about in our next article on co-authoring.

Third rule of coauthoring a novel? Have fun.

I keep telling people that this summer has been one of the busiest of my life, and it has. But it’s also been one of the most fun I can remember. Every day, I got to wake up and work (via skype, email, etc) with my best friend. We got to giggle about the guys in our book, or go on wild tangents about Boba Fett or my obsession with Ancient Aliens or the alien-raccoon-demon hybrid dwelling in my attic. Or one of our dogs would bark, and the other would bark in response, and we’d have to stop working for 5 minutes to allow our pups to have a doggie skype session.

We started off just writing this book for the hell of it. Just to have a grand time and write about some of the things we love and wish we could do. But it didn’t take long after we began writing before we asked another question….

“…What if we tried to get this book published?”

~~~

Sarah J. Maas has written several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella 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 blog here, and follow her on twitter.

~

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.

Announcement! FREE online YA Writing Workshop!

27 Jun

Hey guys!

Susan and Sarah here!

In case you missed the announcement on our blogs, we just wanted to write a quick post to let you know that we’re hosting a FREE online YA writing workshop from July 5th-10th! You can check out the official announcements on either Susan or Sarah’s blogs!

Applications open TODAY (Monday, June 27th) at 5 PM EDT (2PM Pacific Time), and we will be providing links on our blogs to fill out the application form! We are only taking SIX students, so applications are done on a first come, first serve basis!

Here’s some more information about the workshop:

Writing For Young Adults Workshop

taught by Susan Dennard and Sarah J. Maas

with a special focus on Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Paranormal YA

Cost

Nada. It’s 100% FREE. Yeah, you read that right.

Dates

Monday, June 27th — Submissions for applications will open 5 PM Eastern Time (2 PM Pacific Time). It is FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE.
Tuesday, June 28th — Accepted students will receive notification via email
July 5th – July 15th — Workshop runs
July 18th — Final Assignment Due

General Information

The workshop will be conducted via Google Groups (in a forum style), so all Q&A will take place there as well as homework submissions. There will be “homework” assigned (it is, of course, optional), and additionally, you will be applying each lesson to your first 10 pages as the workshop progresses.

The first 10 pages of your novel will be due on the Monday following the workshop (July 18th).

There will be two Live Chats to discuss everything we’ve learned. The first will be Sunday, July 10th, and the second will be Friday, July 15th.

We will post lectures at midnight Eastern Time, and a day of discussion will be allowed until midnight Pacific Time the following night. In other words, each lesson (excluding the Introduction) will be allotted 2 full days of focus.

If you are an accepted student, you’ll receive a detailed syllabus upon acceptance.

Requirements

You MUST have at least 50 pages written of a manuscript, and your manuscript MUST BE YA. Though your novel may fall into any genre, keep in mind we will be emphasizing fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal genres because these are what we write.

We ask that you be familiar and comfortable with Google Groups. Because the workshop is brief, we won’t have time to deal with “technical difficulties.”

As stated, this is FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE. We are really sorry, but if you are not within the first 6 submissions, you will have to wait until the next workshop.

Lecture Topics

Lesson 1: Introduction to Young Adult Fiction (Tuesday, July 5th)

Lesson 2: World-building in YA (Wednesday, July 6th)

Lesson 3: Characters in YA and the Importance of Voice (Friday, July 8th)

Lesson 4: Pacing in Modern YA (Monday, July 11th)

Lesson 5: The Publishing Industry and Career Writing (Wednesday, July 13th)

Applying to the Workshop

On June 27th at 5 PM Eastern Time, a special post will open on our blogs. There will be a link that will take you to a submission form. You will fill out the form and hit send. We will wait until we have 6 suitable applicants, and then we will close submissions. (By suitable, we mean the author has a YA manuscript and has properly filled out the submission form.)

In case you want to prepare your answers ahead of time, the questions will be:

-Name?

-Email?

-Location (so we can coordinate time zones! Example: La Quinta, California, USA)?

-Length and status of your YA manuscript? (example: 30k written, incomplete manuscript; or 90k completed manuscript)

-Brief (a few sentences) summary of your YA novel?

-How/Where did you hear about this workshop?

And that’s it! Pretty easy, right?

~~

If you have any questions, you can email us:

Sarah: SarahJMaas AT (@) gmail DOT (.) com

Susan: Susan AT (@) SusanDennard DOT (.) com

OR you can send an email to our workshop email account: Nautilus DOT (.) Writing AT (@) gmail DOT (.) com!!

We are SO unbelievably excited about the workshop, and think it’ll be an absolutely amazing experience for everyone involved.

Thanks!

~~

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.

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.

“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.

 

Crits for Water

4 Apr

Today we have the great pleasure of sharing a charitable cause with you!

Crits for Water is fundraiser headed by Kat Brauer in which writers can donate money in exchange for manuscript-critiques.  Several LTWF ladies have donated critiques–in fact, this week you could win a crit from our very own Vahini Naidoo!

Kat, who is both the coordinator and primary critiquer, currently lives in Japan, teaches schoolchildren English, and writes amazing (we can vouch for the amazing!) YA novels.  We were lucky enough to snag a few minutes of her very valuable time to pester her with a few questions about this whole shebang.

So Awesome Kat, why don’t you tell us what exactly Crits for Water is…

It’s a fundraiser for charity: water. The general idea is that in return for donations that provide folks in developing nations clean water, writers get their work critiqued by published/agented authors, agents, or editors. Kat-Crits (er, crits by yours truly) are available at any time throughout the campaigns duration–where $1 = 250 words.

What inspired you to set up this enormous (but amazing!) fundraiser?

Two things. First, I love charity: water. An estimated one billion people don’t have access to clean, safe water. Many people actually walk hours upon hours each day to get water that will give them hepatitis, e-coli, and other water-borne diseases. That’s ridiculous and really flabbergasting to me, when my (safe!) water source is about ten feet from me at all times.

charity: water is committed to providing that water. They also look at the water issue as a whole. They provide sanitation classes, create community boards that must include women to help teach those classes and maintain the clean-water projects. And all public donations, 100 percent, go straight to the field. They’re very transparent about costs, and that pleases me immensely.

Second, I want to help writers. It’s an opportunity to improve one’s writing and network while saving lives. Also, I really wanted to make these opportunities available to writers whose pockets aren’t so deep as a lot of the auctions for charities often go–which is why I’m doing “random drawings” as well.

You are the primary “critter” in this fundraiser. What’s your critique style?

Generally speaking, I read for characterization and pacing issues first, as those are what pop out in smaller, chapter-like excerpts. As I’m reading, I tend to do pretty intense line-edits if I feel that’s necessary. Sometimes I’ll read excerpts twice. Once for more broad, plot, characterization, pacing type issues, and another time for line edits.

Once I do the readings, I set the excerpts aside for about an hour and ponder whether my initial comments were justified. Then I sit down and type up notes. If there are specific, broader issues, I try to come up with ways to fix it. Even if my ideas won’t work for the writer’s vision of the book, I figure it’ll help them brainstorm other ideas to address the issues.

Finally, I’m all about BALANCE. One of my most common addendums to my comments is “Don’t go crazy with this!” Yes, we should try to avoid passive voice, adverbs, and filter words where necessary, but that doesn’t mean avoiding them completely! Working too hard to avoid such writerly pitfalls will probably make your work more awkward than including them sparingly.

What industry professionals are contributing critiques?

Well, you can view the whole list on my blog. But aside from the fabulous group of YA/MG and romance authors, so far nine agents and two editors are also contributing critiques (sometimes more than one!). They’re all rockstars. Folks like Jim McCarthy, Joanna Volpe, Laurie McLean, Sara Megibow, Chris Richman, and Editorial Anonymous. Many of them are also providing random drawings for their crits in addition to auctions, which I’m very happy with.

The list is constantly growing, too, which just astounds me. People are so generous with their time, and I’m honored that such a large group of people have agreed to help with this project.

Now, these “Super Sekrit” giveaways…can you give us a hint as to what kind of swag they include?

A hint? But the point is that they’re SEKRIT. But okay. The current one running has a Japanese theme–I live in Japan, and I know a lot of us have Japan on our thoughts at the moment. Part of it is also CUSTOMIZABLE, which I think is rocking.

I’ll also do some of books and like writerly things, and one will be water-related. All are awesome, and all are worth $50+. There will be four giveaways total.

Finally, any last words or Sage Writerly Advice to impart?

Is it corny to end with a quote? Well, I’m gonna anyway.

One of my favorite authors, Natsume Soseki, wrote in his fab book Kokoro (The Heart of Things), “Words are not meant to stir the air only. They are capable of moving greater things.”Authors are artists. Our work is commentary on the human condition, what humanity implies, even if we don’t mean it that way. I love the way that the online writing community has come together time and time again to prove that our words can move greater things–be it Brenda Novak’s charity auction, Write Hope, or the romance community’s Operation Auction. I’m deeply humbled that so many people have reached out to help me with this effort–though I think I’ll give most of the credit to charity: water for being fantabulous. 😄

So yeah. You guys are great. That’s all.

~~~

So there you have it!  What are you waiting for?  Get thee to the Crits for Water page and start donating–surely you can spare a single dollar, right? 🙂  And be on the look out for guest critiques from our members: Sarah J. Maas, Kat Zhang, Susan Dennard, and Vahini Naidoo!

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

~~

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.