Writer at Work: The Writer vs. Technology

Two things about me: I can be independent to a fault, and tech and I do not generally get along.

I know a lot of people who would be surprised by the second fact. I’ve been putting together my own websites for years; I am the go-to person for all things computer-y among the 2K9ers; I have excellent Google-fu. But all of that mostly has to do with the first fact.

My dad’s really into computers, so I grew up with them. And when you grow up with something, it’s hard not to pick up the basics. But all the other stuff has mostly been a matter of me wanting to do something, and not wanting to have to ask anyone for help. I wanted a website? I’d darn well figure out how to make one myself. I wanted to look something up? I’d keep plugging in key words until I found the ones that worked best. So all the things I want to do a lot, I’ve gotten reasonably competent at. Practice–it does wonders!

Nevertheless, my mind is still not fond of abstracts, and math beyond the basic plus/minus/times/divide gives me hives, and most tech seems to be filled with abstractions and numbers. Which is why, when I go to figure out how something works for myself and then don’t practice, there may as well be a big hole in my brain that all that info drains out of.

Case in point: A couple months ago I was working on a book trailer for GIVE UP THE GHOST. (Why not get someone else to do it? I did mention that independence thing, didn’t I?) So I sat down with Flash and fiddled and got Chris (who programs in Flash) to show me a few things, and once I got going I set it up with few hitches along the way.

And then I got caught up in other things, and left it sitting for a couple months before I finally came back for some tweaking. And stared at the file on my screen. And realized I had so little clue I couldn’t even hope to google the answer, so I called Chris over for a conversation that went like this:

Me: What’s the command to get one of those dot thingies to come up? I’m sure there was some button I pressed or something…
Chris: Dot thingies?
Me: You know. Those! *points at screen*
Chris: Oh, a keyframe, you just right-click and select “Insert Keyframe”.
Me: Right, of course, keyframes, ha ha ha ha… *headdesk*

(Keyframes being only the most basic part in the whole thing. Kind of like forgetting what that “dot thingie” called a period is.)

Lesson learned: If I’m going on insist on learning new tech, best to get all the work done in one shot, or I’m going to end up having to teach myself all over again.

For the book bloggers: ARCs, interviews, etc.

I’ve gotten e-mails from many awesome book bloggers, so I figured it might be helpful to make a post just for you.

If you are excited about my books, well, I am super excited about you being excited, so it works out well for both of us! Here are some ways you can potentially get involved:

1. Reviews. Now that Give Up the Ghost and all three books in the Fallen World trilogy are out in stores, review copies are no longer available. Sorry! If you pick up a copy on your own, I’m still grateful if you take the time to share your thoughts.

Earth & Sky e-galleys will be available from NetGalley starting in September. Canadian book reviewers can grab a print ARC of the book during my appearance at Toronto’s 2014 Word on the Street, or by requesting on from Razorbill Canada (subject to availability and publisher approval). I will also have some author copies on offer in late September or early October, if you want to make a request (though I can’t promise anything, as they’ll be limited).

2. Interviews and guest blogs. Want me to come by your blog to answer a few questions or talk about a particular topic? I’ve love to! All you’ve got to do is e-mail me and ask.

3. Contests. I’ve heard from a few people interested in hosting contests related to my books. Wonderful! I’m always happy to donate swag like bookmarks, magnets, and stickers. If you’ve got a really great idea for one, let me know and I may be able to throw in a signed copy of the book as well.

4. Bookmarks. I am currently offering Earth & Sky, Fallen World trilogy, and Ghost bookmarks to librarians, bookstore staff, reviewers, bloggers, and other bookish folks, anywhere in the world. I order them in big batches, so there’s always lots to go around! Email me if interested, letting me know how many you’d like and what you’d use them for.

5. Foreign editions and publishers. I am so excited that Ghost, the Fallen World trilogy, and the Earth & Sky trilogy are starting to be picked up by publishers in other countries. Unfortunately, I have very little control over where they will appear. But publishers do listen to readers! If you’d love to see my books in your country, write to your favorite publishers and let them know.

And if you’re wondering about anything I haven’t mentioned here, just get in touch. I don’t bite, promise! You love books–I already like you. 😀

Contest reminder–and another chance to win GHOST

Just a quick reminder that the Great Ghost Giveaway will be closed to entries tonight at midnight. Thanks to everyone who’s entered and spread the word!

And if you want another shot at grabbing an early copy of GIVE UP THE GHOST, plus a whole bunch of other awesome books, check out this amazing contest the 2009 Debutantes (of which I am one) are holding! It’s open until June 22, so you still have lots of time. 🙂

Flashbacks: The Cast

For those looking for some continuity, I have used the same letter when referring to most people who appear more than once in the flashbacks. This letter may or may not have anything to do with their actual name. I’ve avoided using “A” and “I” since those get used on their own in other contexts.

B — crush from end of grade 9 through end of grade 10, with occasional relapses in grade 11
C — friend throughout high school
D — first real-person crush; lasted from end of grade 6 through most of junior high
E — one of the few people I didn’t get along with in high school
F — crush in grade 11
G — my younger brother
J — brief crush around end of grade 11
K — crush at beginning of grade 12; became first boyfriend shortly thereafter
L — close friend throughout high school
N — close friend throughout school years
O — sort of friend in high school
P — crush from the end of grade 10
R — close friend from grade 11 on
S — crush at end of junior high/beginning of high school
T — close friend in grade 8; moved away early in high school years
W — close friend in grade 8; grew apart in high school

X, Y, and Z are assigned to random people; they will refer to the same person within one entry but are likely to be different people from entry to entry.

Flashbacks: An Introduction

I was never a very good journal writer. (And always aware of that fact — my very first entry in my very first diary begins, I won’t write every day. I’m not good at that.) And I haven’t kept a journal in years. But during my teens I periodically turned to journals as a way of getting out all the things I wanted to express but couldn’t quite seem to with my parents and friends; a way of analyzing the behavior of my peers (particularly boys); and a way of recording the things that had happened right after they did, so that I could look back later and find out what really happened, not just what my memory had come up with (and actually, reading over these journals I’ve sometimes discovered that what I wrote at the time was quite different from what I remembered later. So they have served that purpose).

And now, they’re a way of offering you all a glimpse inside the head of this YA writer, as a teen.

Every week or so, I’ll be posting a flashback — an entry from one of my preteen or teenaged journals — along with some supplementary commentary on issues I didn’t end up writing about. All entries will be unedited (other than occasional spelling mistakes I may fix). Names will be substituted with letters so as not to intrude on anyone else’s privacy — the reoccurring letters can be found in The Cast post.

I hope you enjoy spending time with my young adult self!

Writer at Work: Voices

There are a whole lot of activities that make up a writer’s life that involve little or no writing. For example:

A few days ago my WIP decided that possibly it wanted to be 1st person after insisting for two and a half drafts that it really must be 3rd. (Gee thanks, muse!) But hey, I am always game. What story wants, story gets. And I knew it might solve a few narrative issues I’d been having difficulty with.

Unfortunately, switching POV is not as simple as changing all the “he”s to “I”s. I’d need to have a strong sense of my main character’s voice. And in this particular case my main character is a teenage boy living many centuries ago (to the extent that the events in the story could theoretically be in our reality) in Scandinavia. Though, for fictional purposes, speaking English.

So what writerly task did I find myself engaged in that evening? Looking up interviews and other videos on YouTube with native Scandinavians speaking in English. Preferably young-ish and male. Which, okay, is not the most accurate representation, but it’s about as close as I’m going to get to developing a sense of rhythm and sentence structure and anything else that might be useful.

All in a day’s work!

Want to smell like a ghost?

I mentioned in the Great Ghost Giveaway post that there’d be a little something extra along with the books. Now I’m going to tell you what that is. 🙂

I wanted to have some sort of fun item to tie in with GIVE UP THE GHOST, for giveaways and handing out at signings and that sort of thing, an extra for people who enjoyed the book. And I’d been a fan of unique scents like those Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab creates for years. So in my brainstorming, I had one of those light bulb moments–hey! All of my ghosts have a specific smell. Maybe people would like to smell like a ghost!

Thanks to the BPAL forums, I was able to get in touch with the owner of independent soap and scent company Super Bad Soap (check out her current products at her Etsy shop and other stores online). We chatted back and forth about what I was thinking, and this is the end result:

These are just samples, of course. The scents will be officially released later this summer. But in the meantime, you’ll have a chance to sniff them early via this blog! The winner of the Great Ghost Giveaway will receive a sample of each of the five scents along with the books.

These are the ghosts, and their scents:

Paige — Paige drifted over, her hand grazing my head with a faint tingle. The smell of candied apples and cinnamon wisped from her fingers.

Norris — Under it all, I caught a whiff of something only I could smell: old-fashioned hair oil. It got stronger as the crowd thinned by the hall’s dead end, just past the math office, where my locker was.

Mrs. Reed — As I breathed, I caught the scent, light and sweet like powdered sugar.

Bitzy — She lifted her arms over her head and tiptoed the last few steps, adding a wobbly twirl at the end, the scent of lemon-polished wood drifting with her.

Chester — The faint smell of tea that had always hung in the air, even when he wasn’t by the tree–that was gone, too. I hadn’t seen him since.

Looking forward to sharing them with you!

Let the Great Ghost Giveaway begin!

Please note that the Great Ghost Giveaway is now over. For another chance to win an ARC of GIVE UP THE GHOST, check out the latest giveaway here!

I am pleased to announce my first official author giveaway! 😀 What am I giving away? Well, naturally, first there is this:

One advance copy of GIVE UP THE GHOST, signed by yours truly.

And also, so my little book doesn’t get lonely, I’m including a couple other awesome ghost books to go along with it. Both are poignant and atmospheric and full of characters who’ll stick with you long after you’ve finished reading; one spooky and suspenseful, one sweet and romantic:

SHADOWED SUMMER by Saundra Mitchell, and I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder

And on top of all that ghostly goodness, there will also be a little extra thrown in… A set of five ghost scents!

For this first giveaway, I’m making entering super-easy. All you have to do is comment on this post (WordPress or LiveJournal, either’s fine)! Please leave your e-mail address if you’re commenting anonymously. The giveaway is open to anyone in the world.

I’ll also give an extra entry to anyone who’s been kind enough to link to my website or one of my blogs in their site’s link list/blog roll/etc.–just mention it in your comment, and you’ll be entered twice.

The giveaway will be open for one week, until midnight EST on Friday June 12th. I’ll announce the winner Monday June 15th.

Good luck!

Here we go!

Because my LiveJournal is so writer-centric, I’m starting a new WordPress blog through my website, that will be focused on topics more of interest (hopefully) to readers.  Since most of my LiveJournal friends are readers as well, I’ll be crossposting my entries here to LJ. And I’ll be responding to comments in both places.

So those of you who already follow my LJ blog, you don’t need to change anything.  Anyone who’d find it easier to follow a WP blog, and doesn’t mind missing some of the more detailed craft/publishing related posts at LJ, come on over here and hang out with me there. 🙂

Either way, stay tuned–the first GIVE UP THE GHOST giveaway is starting tomorrow!