Friday, December 21, 2012

Erin Bowman takes the truth

Today, I'll be tackling a truth submitted by Alyssa S:

Today, especially with the ebook market, readers want authors to write faster. One a year is suddenly too long. While I have no problem waiting one year or four (Hello! Bitterblue!), what is your stance on this? As an author, what kind of pressure does this put you under?

This is such a great question. I have certainly noticed an increase in "extra content" being released between books (novellas, alternate/deleted scenes, etc) to hold readers over between installments in series. And I know how painful it is to wait between books as a reader (Bitterblue, indeed!).



As a writer, I can't imagine a case where I would want less than the standard year between contracted books.

Why, you ask? Let's take a look at my process:

My sweet spot for drafting a novel (and I'm talking the "shitty first draft" version as coined by Anne Lamott, not the "critique partner ready" version) is about 2-3 months. For TAKEN2, the first book I wrote under contract, I had five months to write and submit the draft to my editor. This worked out perfectly for me. I wrote my "shitty first draft" in about three months. I revised on my own for a month, then send to my crit partner. Revised again and sent it to my agent two weeks before the deadline. Revised one last time, and turned it in.

What follows that first draft is 6-9 months of revisions, line edits, and copy edits. (And I'm not actively "writing" for all that time. There are periods where my editor has to read, digest, compile feedback, etc). Then the book gets typeset. I'll see pass pages. ARCs will be made. (etc, know the rest.) In short, the book is often worked on behind-the-scenes for longer than a year, but because of how schedules sync up, the reader usually only has a twelve month wait.

Knowing how much time my story spends on my editor's desk as much as mine, I can confidently say that if release dates were tighter between books, my stories would suffer. Greatly.

Writing is a weird thing. Some days the words flow and I can't type fast enough. Others my muse decides to go out sight-seeing while I sit at the computer, struggling and lost without her. The unproductive days are stressful but they are still work. I'm picking away at my to-do list. I'm getting closer to The End Goal, and so I'm doing the right thing.

But I think that less time between book releases (read: tighter deadlines) would only add more stress and worry to the already emotionally draining process of writing under contract. Not to mention the fact that it is layer upon layer of revision that allows me to turn out a polished, strong manuscript. And those layers take time.

Look at Bitterblue, which Alyssa mentioned in her original question! A prime example of a book that the author had to write and scrap and rewrite (and revise and revise and revise) before it became The Story. (Kristin Cashore's post about this is fascinating if you haven't seen it.) I, for one, am so glad she took the time to write the story as it needed to be written. The wait was worth it. If she'd plowed ahead, blinding sticking to that year standard, I might have been disappointed with BITTERBLUE. Instead I was impressed beyond measure.

Particularly for last books-in-a-series, it seems that authors often step back and ask for a bit more time. (Veronica Roth and the final DIVERGENT book, for example.) It's hard work to conclude an epic tale, to wrap up all those loose ends. Authors want to put the strongest, best version of the work in front of their readers. A few extra months to polish and fine-tune can make all the difference.

So yes, the standard year wait can seem long. Painfully long. We writers feel bad making readers wait, but we know it's worth it. We can only hope, that when you finally get your hands on the end product, you agree.


Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her debut novel, TAKEN, comes out from HarperTeen in April 16, 2013. You can visit her blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Elsie Chapman Commissions Some Cover Art

Even though I'm up for a Truth or Dare this week, I decided to do something a little bit different. Because it's my last post before 2013 and our debut year (!!!), I thought it would be interesting to do a year-end wrap up post of some sort. Cue a preteen desperate to work for extra clothes money my daughter who's always loved drawing and the idea of having her artwork officially commissioned and then put on display.

I think Gillian did a fantastic job! Each cover is clickable for a closer look. Comments are awesome and will be passed on to her. And while it would have been fantastic if she could have drawn all thirteen Thirteener covers, we'll just have to suffer along with the rest of you and wait for them to be revealed!

Up next week is Erin, so please feel free to send her some truths or dares!
Elsie grew up in Prince George, BC, before graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BA in English Literature. She currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and two kids, where she writes to either movies on a loop or music turned up way too loud (and sometimes both at the same time). She's repped by The Chudney Agency, and her debut novel, DUALED, will be published by Random House in February, 2013. A sequel, DIVIDED, will be published February, 2014. Find her online at at her Website, her author Tumblr at, or on Twitter!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kelsey Sutton Takes the Truth

We'd like to welcome to the blog today our guest, Kelsey Sutton. Her book, Some Quiet Place, comes out  in the Summer of 2013. It's summary is below and it sounds amazing (Plus, I adore the cover). But first, check out Kelsey taking on a truth about talking to a crush. This story made me laugh. It almost felt like it could've been taken straight from the pages of a YA novel. I loved it. Thanks for the fun real life experience, Kelsey. We can't wait to read your book.

Elizabeth Caldwell has perfected the art of pretending to feel emotion, but it’s always a lie. After a near-fatal car accident when she was a small child, Elizabeth lost the ability to feel any emotion, but along with that loss she gained bizarre abilities: she can see the personified Emotions she cannot feel. Fury, Resentment, Longing—they’ve all given up on her, because she doesn't succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one. Fear. He’s consumed by the mystery of Elizabeth’s past, consumed by her.

And then there are Elizabeth's cryptic, recurring dreams, in which there’s always love, and there’s always death. Haunted by these dreams, Elizabeth paints them, knowing that they somehow hold the key to the mystery of her past.

 But a shadowy menace is stalking Elizabeth. Her survival depends on uncovering the truth about herself. And when it matters most, she won’t be able to rely on Fear to save her.


Kelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her full-time college classes and her writing, though she can also sometimes be found pounding out horrible renditions of Beethoven on the piano and trying bizarre drinks at her local coffee shop. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark. Visit her on her blog at

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ellen Has a Moment of Truth

It is hard to believe that we are near the end of 2012 and that in less than one month, my book will be coming out. January 2nd, 2013. The countdown widget on my blog tells me that it is only 25 days away.  And yet I don't think it really felt real until yesterday. Why yesterday? Because I got a box of something incredibly special in the mail. I got a box of my very first book - in hardcover.

The excitement that you feel when you get your ARCs can't be compared to the moment that you see the real deal. The final product. The book that you spent years working on. That is the moment that it hits you. "I am a published author. I have a book that a person can walk into a store and buy. People are going to read my book." And after you regain consciousness from fainting in fright, you pick up the first of your books and you open it with slightly trembling fingers and you immediately turn to the dedication page and the acknowledgements. You run your finger over the glossy cover and flip through the chapters. Some tears might be shed. Some piggy like squealing might be heard. And you say:

"My book! My book!"

That was the tweet I sent out with a copy of the picture shown above. I couldn't really do anything more. It's been a crazy time lately and I've hardly had a moment to myself, but this stopped me dead in my tracks. This made me sit and think about all I've gone through to realize a life long dream. I know that there are so many other things an author has to worry about - bad reviews, sales, returns, recoupment, next books, etc. But I'm not going to think about any of those things right now. I'm going to savor this moment. I'm going to cherish this moment. No matter what comes,  no matter what happens, no one can take away this precious moment. The moment that I first laid eyes on my book and felt my heart swell with pride and happiness.

The moment I became a published author.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Robin Talley takes a Dare!

We are so pleased to introduce Robin Talley, who's amazing book, Lies We Tell Ourselves, comes out Spring 2014! Congratulations Robin! We are all so happy for you! And Robin is an extremely talented writer, as you will see when you read her dare - Write a letter to your middle-school crush. So let's give the blog over to Robin today!
Bio: Robin Talley’s first novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, set in 1959 Virginia at the height of the school desegregation movement, will be released in Spring 2014 by Harlequin Teen. Robin lives with her girlfriend and cat in Washington, D.C., and spends her days working for a progressive nonprofit organization. She then spends her nights and weekends writing, obsessing about writing, and reading. Unfortunately this doesn’t leave much time for the aforementioned girlfriend and cat, but they’re both good sports that way. (Well, not so much the cat, actually.) You can reach Robin on Twitter at @robin_talley or on her blog at 

It’s Not You, It’s Your Penis: A Letter to My Middle-School Crush

Dear Danny,

First of all, let’s be honest. We both know your name isn’t really Danny. I’m not going to use your real name in this, or any real names, for that matter. After all, you and I are still friends on Facebook. I just hit “like” on the picture of your wife and new baby being all adorable in the hospital. So I’m going to keep this letter generic, for all our sakes.

As you are well aware, I had a fervent crush on you for most of middle school. Except for some weeks, when I’d decide to have a crush on your friend James instead. And also there were days when I had a crush on Oliver, the other guy in our advanced math class, who had been home-schooled for years and came out of it with an eerily strong grip on the principles of Algebra II. Also, there were Sundays, when I’d go to church and remember that there were other boys at other schools who had kind-of-cute smiles too, and I’d develop a crush on one of the boys in my Sunday School class. Those would last until I got back to school on Monday morning and remembered that there were way more boys my age there.

But most of the time, it was you, Danny. I’m still not sure exactly why. Was it your still-developing-but-already-pretty-impressive sense of snark? Your Geometry prowess? Your early forays into ‘90s grunge fashion?

Honestly, I think it’s that you were smart, and funny, and, well, you seemed non-threatening. You were in all the nerdy advanced classes with me, and you had a disarmingly abashed smile, which was usually directed down into your notebook rather than toward me. You were probably terrified of me, as you had every right to be, given just how scary a 13-year-old girl with a crush can be.

Our math teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, had been teaching middle school for decades and was always keenly aware of all the crushes in her midst. And you once told me, many years after all this was over, that you were pretty sure Mrs. Wilkinson had been kind of unhealthily obsessed with the idea of you and me making babies someday. I never actually picked up on this at the time, but now I suspect you were right. Regardless, though, I think Mrs. Wilkinson would be really pretty happy with the way we both turned out.

You and I both know the irony of all this, of course ― my rotating series of boy fixations, Mrs. Wilkinson’s hopes and dreams, those painfully awkward math classes ― which is that a few short years after the fervency of my crush on you had faded, I got it into my head that it was actually maybe OK to have a crush on a girl every now and then. And once that idea had gotten hold of me, it held on hard.

That’s why, since we’re being honest here, I never understand it when someone (and usually it’s men who do this) tells me they’ve “always known” they were gay. I don’t doubt that that’s true for plenty of people. But even though I nod and accept such statements without question, deep down I can’t help thinking, “Really? You never had a Danny? An opposite-sex crush that came about partly out of a sense of obligation but also maybe because there was a kid who had a nice smile and a talent for Geometry and an appealing sense of comic timing, and you didn’t know any better yet?”

Because, yes. Part of the reason I had crushes on boys (and later a couple of actual, honest-to-God boyfriends, none of whom were you, Danny, although do you remember that time junior year when you made out with my best friend Jonie in the parking lot across the street from the movie theater and I pestered you with questions about it for months afterward? Good times, good times) was that I thought I was supposed to. Having crushes on boys was what you did, if you were a girl.

But that wasn’t all there was to it. There were also all those cute smiles I kept seeing on the boys around me. Because being 14 is confusing, and hormones are confusing, and it’s hard to know who you actually like, like, when the truth is, you kind of don’t like anyone. Because most 14-year-olds are kind of annoying and immature, so what’s to like, really? So you find yourself desperately grasping for some kind of meaningful human connection because you’re just so dang lonely sitting over here having all these Feelings all by yourself.

You and I haven’t talked about this part, Danny, but even after I figured all that stuff out, about the having crushes on girls ― and I’m talking BIG crushes, way bigger than the one I’d had on you (please don’t take offense; as we now know, it wasn’t you, it was your penis) ― it still took me a couple of years to actually admit to myself that I didn’t particularly like boys. And part of that was because I was trying to reconcile all those Feelings I was having about girls with the part of myself that had crushed on you so hard. You, and James, and Oliver, and the various boys from Sunday School, and that one guy at camp, and the boy with the corduroy pants at the 9th grade St. Patrick’s Day Dance. And all the other places where I’d put all my focus onto the people around me, and on trying to get those boys to like me. I know now that really, I was trying to make sense of myself, and I thought the way to do that was through other people. But as it turned out, the only way to make sense of myself was to spend a lot of time ― like, years ― talking stuff through in my head. The truth is, Danny, if you’d ever given me any indication that you liked me back ― which, to your credit, you never did ― it probably only would’ve confused me further.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I’m sorry for being scary in 8th grade, and I’m sorry for harping on you for so long about that time you made out with Jonie (though looking back on it I think we probably agree that that whole episode was pretty funny).

Also, I’m sorry I didn’t clarify the lesbian thing sooner. I’m not sure when you found out about that, but I strongly suspect that when you did, you breathed a big sigh of relief. Though you were too classy to tell me about that. Again, to your credit.

Congratulations on the start of your new family. You all look really happy, and I’m sure you’re going to be an awesome dad.

Just please don’t make your kid take Advanced Geometry in 8th grade. That stuff is a killer.

Hugs, Robin