Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Non-Writing Related Note

Some of you may have noticed that Halloween is coming up.

If you've read BREAK, you know it takes place over Halloween. The climax takes place with two of the main characters in costume. And making out, but that's a different story.

You also know that one of the main characters in BREAK, Jesse, has multiple life-threatening food allergies.

So Jesse isn't real--I know, SHOCKING--but there are tons of real kids out there with real food allergies who deserve the safe Halloween Jesse never got to have. Food allergies are becoming increasingly more prevalent--chances are, whether or not you know it, there is at least one child with food allergies in your area or who may come to your house on Halloween.

If you are supplying candy for trick or treaters this year, please consider making it peanut free. Please consider having the bags available for children and parents to check ingredients. If you're going to have peanut candy, keep it separate from the peanut-free! I hope BREAK taught you something about cross-contamination...

And hey, you could always give out stickers or's not like they're not getting enough candy, y'know?

Everyone deserves a safe and happy Halloween. Hope yours is spectacular.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oh Yeah...

I'm on Twitter, did I mention? Go ahead and follow me, it makes me feel loved.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on the Word Count Myth

So I hinted a few posts ago that word count isn't nearly as big a deal as a lot of writers would like to believe. I thought I'd elaborate on that, so you know that [this time] I'm not talking out of my ass.

BREAK is 272 pages. This would make you believe that it's a reasonably average sized novel, yeah? 272 pages, that sounds about normal for a YA book. It's not huge--huge is like over 400, right? And small is like 150 or under, yeah? So BREAK probably hits what a lot of people site as the YA word count sweet spot--60,000 to 80,000 words.

Yeah, no.

BREAK is roughly 42,000 words. It was about 44,000 when I handed it over to my editor. She cut that extra 2K because the story didn't need them.

Dozens of writers saw my query letter and told me that my book would never get me representation, let alone an editor, if I didn't beef up the word count. I was in Nathan's "Agent For a Day" contest, and a ton of the people who rejected me said they did so because the word count was too low.

And I got a ton of rejections for agents. And I got my fair share of rejections from editors, too.

Not a single. One. Mentioned the word count.

My next book, INVINCIBLE SUMMER? About 42K. God knows if my editor will chop any of that off. I'm sure any writer would tell you an editor would have to be insane to make a 42K book shorter.

But the only think that matters with words is this: does the story need them?

Here is your ideal word count: Exactly how many the story needs and not a single one more.

Don't freak out. Write a good book and no one will give a shit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Thanks. Me too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Massive Playlist for the WIP

Working on something new. You'll get a query teaser later, but first you get the huge playlist...

Monster Hospital--Metric
All That's Known--Spring Awakening
How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns--Paul Simon
Octopus's Garden--The Beatles
Bleed Like Me--Garbage
I'm Just a Kid--Simple Plan
Never Be Ready--Mat Kearney
This is Why--Say Anything
Where I Belong--Motion City Soundtrack
Life Support--Rent
Walk Away--Kelly Clarkson
This Is Not an Exit--Saves The Day
Quiet As a Mouse--Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
Tic--Loch Lomond
Can't Break Her Fall--Mat Kearney
An Insult To The Dead--Say Anything
Talking in Code--Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
Waiting On The World to Change--John Mayer
Sons and Daughters--The Decemberists
Everyone I Know--Mat Kearney
Falling Awake--Gary Jules
Walter Reed--Michael Penn
Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and Be Loved)--Bright Eyes
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away--The Beatles
Virgin Mountain--Loch Lomond
I Don't Want to Die (In the Hospital)--Conor Oberst
For No One--The Beatles
Say What You Will--Damhnait Doyle
See The World--Gomez
Same Old Stuff--The Feeling
Train Under Water--Bright Eyes

Listening to this now, trying to figure out WTF actually happens in this book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

College and Writing

Still trying to figure out if the two coexist.

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently in my freshman year at certain University (6,000 undergrad, its name can also be an adjective used to describe cows, belts, and suspicious stains, it's right there on the sidebar if you need help <---) and It's been a little rough so far. One of the main sources of difficulty, I think, is I've been basically unable to write since I got here.

I've written some--maybe 2,000 words total? But there are a few things keeping me from being productive:

--other things I have to do. This one's pretty major. I'm in class a lot. When I'm not in class, I'm doing homework (something I didn't really do in high school, so there you go). When I'm not doing homework, I'm usually staring at my TV trying not to think about homework.

--lack of time to think about anything. Let's face it, if I could just daydream through my classes the way I did in high school, I'd have a million ideas of what to write about by now. But my classes here are hard, damn it! So I don't have that luxury anymore.

--the assumption that if you're just sitting in your room by yourself, you're doing something wrong.

That's the major one.

So this post is really an open letter to all the people in my life who think I'm unhappy when I'd rather be by myself. Maybe you can use it for people in your life, too.


It's okay.

Sometimes I need to get shit done, and sometimes that shit is something you don't understand, and that's okay, but it means you shouldn't make me try to explain it to you.

It's not that I don't love you, it's that sometimes the people in my head really are more interesting. (They're also more likely to make me money than you are. Sorry. Go buy me a sandwich).

Sometimes I really don't care about my Human Development homework because I'm trying to care about something that isn't real.

Sometimes I can't read the beautiful literature you assign me because it makes me too goddamn intimidated to write anything down.

Sometimes I just want to go home and go back to my real writing spot--in my basement, under a blanket, cat on my lap, watching Project Runway reruns.

That's how I roll. So far, this really isn't.