Friday, April 29, 2011

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's anti-hero to the money-driven rescue!

Sometimes if we spend long enough on a manuscript, the characters become like family to us. And in every good family, there has to be that one black sheep, right? I'm not talking about the villain (he's more of a creepy uncle, maybe)...I'm talking about the ANTI-HERO.

Mmm. Pardon my drool, but I LOVE anti-heroes. The Malcolm Reynolds, the Han Solos, the scruffy-looking, selfish, money-grubbing nerfherders who end up reluctantly saving the day because it's just what they gotta do. Who doesn't love a good anti-hero?

In his book CHARACTERS AND VIEWPOINT (part of the ELEMENTS OF FICTION WRITING series...amazingly indispensable craft books, guys) Orson Scott Card purports that most anti-heroes that we see in fiction are really just characters with prominent unsympathetic character traits that distract us from the fact that "the author is using three dozen OTHER techniques to create sympathy for the 'unsympathetic' hero." In addition, the TRUE anti-hero, the guy who is COMPLETELY unlikable and unsympathetic but still saves the day is
"rare in fiction" and most anti-heroes that we see are "heroes who need, metaphorically speaking, a bath." (76)

But these dirty heroes have their place, too! Gone are the days where we put our female characters by a well and have them sing "Someday My Prince Will Come" ad nauseum. We love Mal, the captain of Serenity with a itchy trigger finger, a sharp tongue and a heart of gold (episode 13!) perhaps because he ISN'T the perfect, bird/plane/bespectacled reporter type hero. We like our characters (male and female alike) to be rough and tumbly, active and prone to a mistake or two. We like them like that because that's who WE as readers are. Even though we often read to escape the world, we also read to draw strength and hope from fiction's world into ours.

But that said, there's so much more to be said about anti-heroes. Please share! What's your take on the hero that needs a bath? Like 'em, hate 'em? Or would you just rather have your heroes tall dark and evil? OH MY GOSH ARE YOU SIDING WITH THE VILLAIN? Bow before your dark lord, little ones.

And check out Card's book HERE. Totally worth the...wait, $2.34? DUDE! Friday score!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Winners of My Giveaway

All right everyone, so I announced last week that I was giving away a bunch of prizes. Unfortunately, I must not have promoted it well enough or something. Well, I also forgot to give a defined endpoint so there is that.

To that end, I'm glad to announce that EVERYONE who left a comment on my contest post is declared a winner. So! Leave a comment here in this post saying which one of the prizes you want and I will get them to you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

MONDAY, MONDAY, MONDAY!!! .... Part Deux. Or, as I like to call it, THE WINNERS and an interview with FURY OF THE PHOENIX author, Cindy Pon!

Hi folks! So glad to see so many new faces around this here blog. Wow! I'm floored by how many people entered my contest, and excited to pick a winner.

But first...

Two of the books that are up for grabs are SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX by the amazing Cindy Pon, who is a local author that I have had the joy of meeting several times. Cindy is a sweet, wonderful person and her books are AMAZING. They are set in the fantastical land of Xia, and incorporate some really awesome Asian fantasy elements that just grabbed me from page one. (Click the book titles above to go to the Amazon page for each novel and learn more about them).

I asked Cindy if she would be kind enough to answer a few questions for me to post here at the Archives, and she happily obliged-- and quickly, too, considering I only got this idea on Friday! I asked Cindy the questions that I wanted to know the answers to, and I'm hoping you'll find her responses just as interesting as I did.

And here we go!

Me: What inspired you to write SILVER PHOENIX? Was there an "Oh!" moment, or did it come to you gradually? How long did it take you to write each book?

Cindy: I began writing after a decade hiatus in my 20s because I had my
children back to back! I really needed something to call my own again and remembered my first
love--creative writing. So I went to several classes at UCSD extensions for creative writing
and decided to try and write a novel after taking the novel writing class. I didn't know much about my novel but I did know that I wanted it to be a fantasy inspired by ancient China. All in all, I think Silver Phoenix took at least 6 months to draft and then I revised it at least six times over the course of a year.

Fury of the Phoenix was very different to write, as it was the contracted sequel. I wrote and
revised once in four months time and gave it (horrified as I was as the draft was a mess) to my
editor. Then we spent probably another 3 - 4 months revising it entirely three times. It was a very eye opening and intense process. I was literally terrified before receiving each editorial letter-- because I was afraid I couldn't do what needed to be done. In the end, I love Fury and am very very proud of it.

Me: One of the things that I love the most about the SILVER PHOENIX series is how accessible it makes Asian mythology, which I think has been really under-represented in fiction. Were there any other authors or stories that inspired your writing?

Cindy: Thank you, L.T. I agree, there is a real dearth of Asian Inspired or Asian fantasies in both the adult and YA markets. Ursula Le Guin is a favorite fantasy author and I really love her quiet and beautiful prose, and very intelligent storytelling. The Wizard of Earthsea is a favorite series of mine. Stories that really struck a chord when I was a teen were Anne Rice's vampire books. I was a little obsessed with them. I also loved the Incarnations of
Immortality series by Piers Anthony and Stephen King's novels.

American Gods and the Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman wowed me as an adult reader and I also very recently enjoyed Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. For me, the best stories are about escapism, where the author can take you by the hand and you're
immersed wonderfully in that world until the very last page.

Me: I love the INCARNATIONS OF IMMORTALITY series too! Piers Anthony has been a huge influence on me. And I think your books are the perfect escape!

Okay, next question: How much of Ai Ling's love for food comes from you? What would be Ai Ling's ideal meal?

Cindy: Um. All of it. haha! It's very easy to draw from your own characteristics for your protagonists. Ai Ling is a brush artist as I am, and yes, she loves food. I think she'd love most of anything to eat, but she does enjoy dumplings, chow mien, and tofu dishes in particular.

Me: Tell us a little about your Diversity in YA tour!

Malinda Lo and I spearheaded it and are so excited to be on tour in less than two weeks!
We've invited awesome authors to join us along the way such as Gene Yang (American
Born Chinese), Dia Reeves (Slice of Cherry), Nnedi Okorafor (Akata Witch), Sarah Rees
Brennan (The Demon's Lexicon trilogy) and Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer).
Malinda and I both had Asian inspired fantasies releasing near the same time (Huntress and
Fury of the Phoenix) and felt it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate diversity in children's
and young adult novels!

We'll be stopping in San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Boston and New York City in May along
with a signing her in San Diego the week of World Fantasy Con (Halloween weekend).
We're so excited! Please check link for details and we'd love to see you:

Me: What are you most excited about in the upcoming year? Any plans for next books that you can talk about?

Cindy: I'm excited to go out and promote Fury of the Phoenix and meet readers and fans! Besides the diversity tour, I'll be attending Comic-Con here in San Diego, stopping by SCBWI nationals in Los Angeles as well as doing World Fantasy Con the end of October. I'll also be starting my picture book soon which will feature my Chinese brush art. And I hope to start on another YA Xia fantasy (unsold) after the tour as well!

Thanks so much for doing the giveaway and having me, L.T.!! Getting to know
readers like you is truly the best part of being a published author! Good luck in your own writing endeavors!!

Thank YOU, Cindy, for writing the amazing books you do and being so accessible to your readers. You are an inspiration to us all.

Go check out her amazing books!

Okay, so-- you're all reading this post for another reason. And that reasons is to find out WHO will get to pick two of SIX BOOKS that I'm giving away. To refresh your memories, the list is as follows:

-An ARC of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
-A copy of SILVER PHOENIX by Cindy Pon
-A copy of FURY OF THE PHOENIX by Cindy Pon
-A copy of THE PERICLES COMMISSION by Gary Corby
-A copy of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
-A copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis

And the first winner, picked by from everyone who promoted the contest for extra points, and therefore the person that gets first choice of the books above, is:


Congratulations!!! Email me at wickedmoon921 (at) gmail (dot) com ASAP with which two books you'd like.

And the second winner, picked by from everyone who left a comment on the contest post, is:


Congratulations!!! Email me at wickedmoon921 (at) gmail (dot) com ASAP so I have your contact info and I will reply as soon as I've heard from the first contest winner with which four books are left to choose from. (I really hope this hasn't been too confusing).

Thanks so much for playing and following, everyone! I am looking forward to getting to know all of you, and getting to know some of you even better. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blame all my typos on spotty cruise internet

Hi all!

Just a quick, prescheduled note from yours truly, hailing from a faraway, mostly internetless land: one of the most important things that I can do to improve my writing is just going out and experiencing the world. By land, sea and air! (Or by whatever method allows you to take the most notes.) So go out and do it! Go sail the high seas or have a backyard staycation! Let your mind ruminate on the thousand of ideas out there, ripe for the picking! Does that make sense? Oh, I'm probably too sunburned by now to care. Writing, ha HA!

Have you ever had a WIP idea come to you while on vacation? You know you have. Spill the pinto beans!

Remember to enter all the lovely contests down below! Books are for the reading and sharing and we love to do both here. Mmm...time for another pina colada.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yet More Giveaway

Y'all must think we're crazy by now with all the stuff we've got to give away. Unfortunately, I don't have the same plethora of print ARCs lying around as my fine West Coast collaborators (stupid ALA being in California and not Massachusetts *grumble grumble*). So my prizes might include some e-ARCs as well as some new (-ish) books and maybe the offer to pre-order the book of your choice or something. Or you can just tell me what you want as your prize and we go from there.

First off, we've got the e-ARCs (some of them might not be suitable for all ages):

SteamPowered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories -- edited by Miss JoSelle Vanderhooft
Haywired by Alex Keller -- you can't this YA book in the States, as it's so far only been published in the U.K.
The Innocent's Progress short story collection, by Peter Tupper -- this one is Steampunk erotica, so be forewarned

And now here are the print books:
If you're still interested ... here are the rules (cribbed from L.T.'s post because they, well, make sense):

1.) FOLLOW US. Yeah. DO that.

2.) Leave a comment. will pick one winner.

3.) For EXTRA chances, talk about this contest on Twitter or Facebook or your blog or something. Leave what you did in the comments for one point each. Each tweet, facebooking, or blog counts as a point, so if you tweet multiple times, give yourself one point for each tweet, etc.

4.) From those extra entries, will pick a second winner. This winner will get to pick their books first, and the other winner will pick from what's left. Theoretically, the same person COULD win twice and get to pick FOUR books. But I'm hoping to spread the love a little.

Oh, and go back and enter L.T. and Marie's giveaways too!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Hi folks! I have my brain back (mostly) this week, and thought I'd, I don't know, jump on this contest bandwagon and give some stuff away!

I'm cutting to the chase. James Franco's birthday is tomorrow and we DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME. So here's what's going down:

I have the following:

-An ARC of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
-A copy of SILVER PHOENIX by Cindy Pon
-A copy of FURY OF THE PHOENIX by Cindy Pon
-A copy of THE PERICLES COMMISSION by Gary Corby
-A copy of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
-A copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis

And: TWO winners will get to choose TWO of these books to claim for their very own!

So here's how to play:

1.) FOLLOW US. Yeah. DO that.

2.) Leave a comment. will pick one winner.

3.) For EXTRA chances, talk about this contest on Twitter or Facebook or your blog or something. Leave what you did in the comments for one point each. Each tweet, facebooking, or blog counts as a point, so if you tweet multiple times, give yourself one point for each tweet, etc.

4.) From those extra entries, will pick a second winner. This winner will get to pick their books first, and the other winner will pick from what's left. Theoretically, the same person COULD win twice and get to pick FOUR books. But I'm hoping to spread the love a little.

So yeah! Spread the word! Set your eye on some books and get contestin'!

EDIT: Whoopsie. I got SO EXCITED, I forgot to say when the contest ends. It ends at 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 24th, 2011.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Alliterati Giveaway Extravaganza!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of the desire to write must be a reader. Not necessarily a reader of Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice for sure, but we have to be readers nonetheless, right?

So instead of chatting about writing this week, I'm indulging in one of my favorite things in the world: GIVING AWAY BOOKS! Anyone who comes over to my house knows that they will often walk away with a book whether they like it or not. Heck, I bought three copies of Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN the other day just because I knew I'd be having 12 year old nephews visiting soon. I'm prepared, people!

And because the people in the blogosphere which I inhabit are some of the greatest people I know, I'm giving away some of my favorite reads this year. Are you ready for this wad of awesomeness, people?

In a fit of YA dystopian love, I'm giving away tasty ARCs of:

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
POSSESSION by Elana Johnson
DROUGHT by Pam Bachorz
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

(click on the titles for Amazon page)

I KNOW, RIGHT? How much cooler could this list get??

So if you're hankering for a great YA dystopian read this spring, leave a comment on this post (with your email or twitter address, please! Tracking down winners iz HAWD) and I'll pick a winner on Saturday, April 24th.

However, I'm going to be out of country and away from internet for the next week, so I can't promote the contest. That's where you come in! Want to win TWO books? Three? Holy crap, all FOUR?! (Although to be honest, if you win all four, I'll assume you're making illegal sacrifices to the Random Number gods and you will be questioned.)

You know the drill, people!

+1 entry for a comment!
+1 for following the blog! (either new or old, no matter)
+1 for a tweet!
+3 for a blog mention!
+5 for taking a picture of yourself outside on a street corner with a giant sandwich board that says "Read ALLITERATIARCHIVES.BLOGSPOT.COM" (+5 extra for "THE END IS NEAR" on the back.)

Add up your points (I'm down with the honor system, no need to prove it. Except the sandwich board. I want pictures) and leave your name, email and number of entries in a comment below. YA dystopian love awaits you!

You guys rock. Happy Contesting! Happy Reading! Happy Spring! Happy Kitten Season! Happy Birthday James Franco (April 19th)!


The Random Number Gods have spoken! Congratulations to:

Gem, J, JJ and AprilX!
(Yes, J...your sandwich board totally paid off!)

I'll be emailing you guys for your book preference...hopefully you can all get either your first or second choices. Thank you all for participating, reading the blog and following. Hopefully we'll see you again soon!


Monday, April 11, 2011

On The Lack Of Brains

RARHSHSHGH. Raslkjdfjls lskjdf qoiub. IOROOIRIlsslls slkjf weiou qoivnai wibhwn wiibiwnw wibiwnwng iwiwng vnzhur. Iwkvlnw slkjbul wleiriwor biwund mchvsio vhwign wjnvlslk wblskdib wmdkiw kbiuiskw, ooiiwnwn lskbu wbiwiwj xbiktu sjxbubuw slxblbl?

Pppoillz, slkbjoiwj blklsloro blslsibin blslzovof wlwjq qlqnbjsi slzlbbuw zlblkisi. Oyulsk blkstlk. Oyulsk!

Lkljsdf obius wlikenw albkhs bhshslb smens brains sllkdfl. Islkjdf cx , slkdf swibia.

*This blog post brought to you by school and work and Matt Delman.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Circles, a million tiny circles!

Sometimes I just can't get enough of school. Okay, maybe not school per say, but I do love taking classes on subjects I love. Yesterday I had my first class on Illustrating Books for Children. Now I've had classes on Illustration and classes on Children's Literature, but never specifically Illustration for Children's Books. Woot! Needless to say, I'm pencil gnawingly excited.

Last night, our teacher said something that made me think: Picturebooks often work as circles. The first page, many times, is the same as the last page but maybe from a different point of view. Sometime it's the same setting but with a different character...or vice versa. In WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Max is sent to his room without supper. When it ends, he's back in his room but now with (still hot!) supper. In MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, the ducks just travel from one end of Boston to the other, all together in the beginning and all together in the end, but just in different settings. (I'd go into my daughter's room for more examples, but she's still asleep.)

Even though picturebooks are often not as complicated story wise as adult, YA or MG novels, I think this circular start to finish can be successful no matter the genre. Heck, one of the major goals of our stories is to find a way to CHANGE our characters from shy to brave, weak to strong, or bad to good (and sometimes the other way around. Hello, Dr. Horrible!) Sometimes good closure is found when our characters go on journeys, change, and then find themselves in the same situation as before. This doesn't ALWAYS work, of course, but rarely will we find hard and fast rules in the world of writing. (Except "don't be an awful person.")

It's the hero's journey all over again. Oh man, EVERYTHING is the hero's journey, isn't it? Caaaaaammmpbelll!!! (shaky fist)

Graph courtesy of the lovely Nancy J. Parra. And Joseph Campbell, of course.

So, fabulous readers, think of your WIP's first and last scene. Does your story move in a circle, putting the hero right back where they started, if not emotionally, then physically? Or does your hero find him/herself in a completely different world than s/he started in?

Spoilers from your WIPs not necessary but, as always, I'm interested in what you guys think!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Worldbuilding Considerations Part One -- Setting

I've been thinking about the world a lot lately.

Wait, you thought I meant our world? Oh no no no -- see I've been thinking about the fictional world that I helped birth as part of the Steampunk Round Robin story that I posted about the other day. Thinking about the culture of that world, and their history, and their technology, and their language. See, one of the things that always thrills me about writing speculative fiction is the fact that I can craft entire worlds out of my mind's eye and populate them with unusual people and animals.

I'm loathe of course to say that one way of building a fictional world is any better than another, so this won't be a huge pedantic lecture where I tell you "This is the right way and this is the wrong way." (I'm such a huge believer in guidelines over rules anyway that it would be supremely hypocritical of me to do so.) That said, this series will deal with a few things that I consider when building a fictional world. The first thing of course is:


Where is your story set? In a city? In the countryside? Some other place?

This consideration is important because the setting of your story will determine how much worldbuilding you may or may not do. It'll also determine how much detail you go into. Consider my as-yet-unfinished novel CALLARION AT NIGHT. That story is set in and around the city of Callarion. Because of this setting, limited to one specific city, I went into a whole lot of detail about the streets, buildings, districts, etc -- about to the level that you'd expect from a heavily detailed map of the Upper West Side of New York City.

On the other hand, if I only spend a chapter in Callarion and then moved to a different city or country entirely, I wouldn't need to spend the same amount of time on the city.

In the other story I reference all the time, SON OF MAGIC, the characters visit essentially every part of their world at some point or another. So, because they go all over an entire planet, I needed to determine how many continents there were, what geographies they had, land forms, oceans and other bodies of water, so on and so forth. It may seem to involve more detail, but this is surface stuff rather than hardcore mapping.

Building a full-on world also involves delineating the boundaries of nations, city-states, and placing mountain ranges and lakes depending on your chosen geography. If, however, your story takes place inside a city then you might not have to center on the physical geography of the natural landscape unless your setting has a park of a significant size.

So you can sort of see here that the smaller, or larger, your setting gets the less or more detail you comparatively have to deal with. Set your story inside a house and you only have to build the house. Set it as a world- or galaxy-spanning tale and you have to build a whole heck of a lot more.

What other worldbuilding considerations do you think your setting requires?

NOTE: View a video of this same blog here: The Archives template appears to hate videos as much as it does pictures.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Love, Romance, and Sex in YA Novels

Teens are full of passion (and hormones). And we know teens have sex in real life. But is there a responsibility as a YA writer to show the harsh realities, or to show that true love doesn't need sex right away?

I'm torn on this subject. On one hand, I know there are teens out there dealing with these issues who might find some comfort in reading about them. On the other, I would be a tad weirded out as a parent if my kid picked up a YA book with explicit sex in it.

What do you think? I'd especially love to hear from parents, but I'm curious what everyone has to say!

Friday, April 1, 2011

On writing dialogue and showering (at the SAME TIME)

Oh man. Google has the best April Fools Day jokes ever, doesn't it?

I can't wait to see the beautiful dance of the re: memos.

Anyways, I hope most of you woke up super refreshed and remembered that it WAS April Fools Day and were not subsequently fooled by the bajillion weird things to hit you while doing your morning surfing. Really, boingboing? I'm going to have to pay for the bananas you make me look at? But I digress. Hope that you were sharper than me, which--at 7 in the morning--isn't saying too much. Hee!

Yesterday while showering (TMI? I feel like this isn't a TMI thing among writers. Isn't that were we do our best thinking? So I was showering. It's like two CEOs saying to each other, "So I was brainstorming about this new merger." Anyways. I was showering.) I was practicing some conversations.

Sidebar: when I was a kid I practiced conversations all the time. I wasn't the most outgoing teen and boys scared the crap out of me so I had to practice some of the more crucial conversations that I imagined that I might have that day. Despite my hard work, I did not give the perfect comeback to any tormentors, nor did I ever kiss a boy using the exact same dialogue between Han and Leia in Empire Strikes Back. (There it is, there's the TMI.) End sidebar.

So anyways, I was showering and I was practicing witty retorts just in case a guard at the Navy base stopped me for wearing a "Pete's UK Fish and Chips" shirt. And I thought to myself, "This is exactly how I write dialogue, isn't it?" Most every line of dialogue in my manuscripts is spoken aloud for authenticity's sake, just to make sure it flows naturally like conversations often do. Of course, in revising, I have to take out a lot of "of course"s and "well"s and "I guess"s...but that's why revising is our friend. Our horrible, mean friend.

Well, I guess where I'm going with this is: how do you write dialogue? Do you keep a journal of phrases you hear from everyday life? Do you write in silence or speak everything out loud? And, most tangentially, are you showering while you do so?

(On second thought, don't answer that last one.)