Monday, April 30, 2012

Release Day Twitter Party + NYC Signing + Other Things

I am tired and tomorrow is RELEASE DAY so I need to get to bed, but there are some things happening so I'm going to tell you about them in slightly delirious from the tireds but relatively short fashion.

A. TOMORROW, TUESDAY MAY 1, IS INSURGENT RELEASE DAY. 

B. I know I totally failed on the faction outfits for Erudite Day, Candor Day, and Abnegation Day. I got caught up in a bunch of other responsibilities, book-related and otherwise, and didn't get the photos uploaded. But I'm going to post them anyway, just not until I get back from my travels. Still, I'm sorry to the remaining factions! I didn't mean to overlook you.

C. Tomorrow I will be signing at the Barnes and Noble in Tribeca, New York, at 7PM. Please come if you are in the area! I would love to see you.

D. This morning I was on the local ABC show Windy City Live. I had a great time with the Windy City staff and the 8th graders from Saint Clements who were in the audience. (They asked such great questions!) If you want to see the interview, you can watch it here:


http://windycitylive.com/episodes/New-York-Times-best-selling-author-of-Divergent-Veronica-Roth/8641622

Full credit goes to the WCL make-up artist for making my hair look so nice even though I am in need of a haircut.

And last,

E. Tomorrow at 4PM Eastern time (3PM central. Other zones must figure it out from there.), I will be having a release party for Insurgent on Twitter. This is an attempt to help you share in the release day mayhem even if you don't live in NYC. Tune in to your favorite twittery program with the hashtag #insurgentday, or just watch my twitter feed.

F. Oh, and also: this LA Times interview.




Friday, April 27, 2012

Five Factions Five Days, Day Two: Amity

Welcome to day two of the Five Factions Five Days event, in which one faction TAKES OVER ALL THE INTERNET, especially the Divergent facebook page: www.facebook.com/divergentseries. Today is AMITY DAY, and if you call that faction your own, feel free to post stories of Amity-style triumph, pictures of Amity-style things (or your personal Amity style), or, because Amity is (more than any other) the faction of artists and poets, your Amity-style art of any kind. You can also post them here. Or on Twitter, while tagging @harperteen.

I had a bit of trouble with this one, guys. I own maybe four items of clothing in either red or yellow. I had exactly two potential outfits. I chose the one I did because it was more flouncy, which seemed appropriate. I don't generally advocate wearing two warm colors together (my own personal fashion rules), but I think it turned out all right this time.

Now, the Amity don't play a big role in Divergent, but let's see what I can come up with for "textual evidence":

A group of Amity girls in yellow and red sit in a circle on the cafeteria floor, playing some kind of hand-slapping game involving a rhyming song. (page 9)

There are some other lines, but they mostly just mention an Amity person wearing yellow and/or red. In my mind, though, Amity girls usually wear dresses and skirts, and they're all less strict about wearing clothing associated with other factions (so an Erudite transfer would be able to wear his blue jeans without causing a ruckus. THERE ARE NO RUCKUSES IN AMITY).

Without further ado: 50% of my red and yellow clothing!


An orange: because the Amity are all about fruit. And trees in the background, because the Amity are all about trees (but it's cold out today so I stayed inside).


Playing with puppies seems to me like a very Amitylike activity, so there's little Avi.

Four days until Insurgent!

Be kind.

Author out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Five Factions, Five Days: Day One, DAUNTLESS

My publisher had the very cool idea of assigning factions to fifty book bloggers (ten for each faction), and distributing Insurgent ARCs to those bloggers only. Each faction of bloggers has been competing to get the most page views, and at the end, the winning faction will get a prize. They've also been recruiting anyone who feels they belong to their particular faction. It's been really fun to watch for the past few weeks, and I even got a Dauntless button and an Amity bracelet out of it (so cool!).

Since we're counting down the last five days until Insurgent comes out, for the next five days, each faction will be taking over the Divergent facebook page and sharing faction party tips, fashion tips, and other fun things. Today is DAUNTLESS DAY.

To celebrate, I am wearing a faction-inspired outfit every day until May 1st. Since most of my closet is full of black clothes, this day was the easiest.

Want to dress like a Dauntless? First let's see what they wear:

My father calls the Dauntless "hellions." They are pierced, tattooed, and black-clothed. (Page 7)

They still look strange to me--a mother with a pierced eyebrow, a father with a tattooed arm, an initiate with purple hair, a wholesome family unit. (Page 177)

Well, I already had the hair:


So all I had to do was put on a pretty normal outfit, for me:


And of course, I wouldn't be Dauntless if I didn't have guns and a tattoo:


(Yeah, that tattoo is fake. Shh.)

For more fun Dauntless faction stuff, check out the tumblr here. (There's a "how to throw a Dauntless party" guide that I find amusing.) And if you, too, want to don your black clothes and bare your sweet tattoos/piercings/unnatural hair colors, or tell your Dauntless stories, TAKE TO THE STREETS. Or rather, the facebook page. Or Twitter! Or here in the blog comments! (tag @harperteen or use #DivergentNation)

And now I guess I should do something Dauntless, like...light firecrackers, or take the El, or fearlessly change a lightbulb WITHOUT TURNING OFF THE SWITCH. Damn. I am a rebel.

Be brave.

Author out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"But I Read Divergent a YEAR Ago!": Your Guide to Remembering Stuff Before You Read Insurgent

I made an "artistic decision" in Insurgent not to do a lot of recapping (that device used in sequels to remind readers of what happened in the first book). Recapping is not a bad thing-- it is very useful, and often necessary--but I felt that it would bog down Tris's narrative and would sound unnatural in her voice.

As with any "artistic decision," there will be consequences, which is that not everyone has a superhuman memory and/or the time to reread Divergent before reading Insurgent. Early readers of Insurgent have understandably had some trouble recalling all the necessary information to really be situated in the world of Insurgent. In order to help with this horrible thing I have done to you, I wrote this GIANT post to remind you of all the characters in Divergent, how you know them, and what happened at the end of Divergent.  

WARNING: THIS POST IS ALMOST ENTIRELY COMPRISED OF...


DIVERGENT SPOILERS! 

If you read it, it will spoil everything. EVERYTHING. About Divergent. You have been warned.

Now click this, and we can get started: 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Four is Free!

Yesterday (ish-- I'm not sure exactly when) we reached 35,000 Insurgent pre-orders! (I think my reaction was "...holy bananas!" which is one of those expressions that just popped out of my mouth once and then I started using it all the time, much to the annoyance of the people around me.) This is fantastic. When I first heard the official goal, there was a large part of me that was like "pssh. That will NEVER happen." And then suddenly, it did.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but this is because of readers. No marketing campaign or publicity stunt or book tour can possibly match the power of the reader. (Not that those things aren't great, or that they are useless, but I'm just saying, readers are the key.) I hear it all the time: "My friend forced me to read this even though I wasn't sure about it." "My teacher told our class to read this." "My librarian recommended this to me." "My mom played the audiobook in the car." So many stories about readers sharing their enthusiasm. So I know that we're at this number mostly because of you, and I'm so freaking grateful.

I wrote this "Free Four" scene for you, my darling book pushers. It was hard for me to pick just the right one. I thought about the Ferris wheel scene, and I thought about the fear landscape scene, and both of those would have been good options. But I really wanted to choose something that would change our (I say "our" because it changed mine, too) perceptions about the story, and show how limited Tris's perspective really is, though she is a reliable and observant narrator. And the knife-throwing scene was perfect for that--once I started writing, I discovered all kinds of things about Four that I didn't know, and I knew this scene was The One.

You can read it here

Yes, it's on Facebook, but I tried logging out of my facebook account to see if I could access it anyway, and I could, so I don't think you need to be on facebook to read it. It does not contain any Insurgent spoilers, but it does spoil some Divergent things, so if you haven't read Divergent you may want to hold off until you're done.

I've been getting a few questions about it, and I'm going to go ahead and answer them here:

Is the scene going to be available for download? No, I don't think so. Bummer, I know, but it's there online for you to read whenever you'd like. I think that link above works for mobile devices, too.

Are you going to write more? Here's the thing: I took about a week out of writing book 3 to get this scene done. Right now I MUST finish book 3, and I can't spare another week. Some authors are superhuman/mutants and can write two things at once, but I am just a lame-o regular human being and I have to do one thing at a time.

Yeah, I get that, but what about in the future? I can't see the future, so I try not to rule anything out. The best I can do is tell you that right now, I don't have any plans to keep writing Four!Divergent (Fourvergent? Difourgent?).

 I can't read it! It's not working! Try turning off your pop-up blocker or browser security temporarily. If it still doesn't work, try a different browser. If you're on your phone, try accessing it from your computer. If none of those things help, you have reached the limit of my technological knowhow and will have to seek help elsewhere. Alas. I am a nerd but not that kind.

I think that's all for now. I really hope you guys enjoy the scene-- you earned it.

<3,

V

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Giveaway of Many 4s: WINNERS

Oh hi.

So, after much deliberation--

Okay, that's a lie. There was zero deliberation. These winners were chosen completely at random.

First of all: thank you to everyone for your entries. I was completely stunned by your response and kept checking the blog/GR/tumblr/etc., letting my jaw drop, closing the window, and then checking again. I think you guys broke blogger, and I am seriously impressed. There were about 3,000 entries, all told. Holy crap. Seriously.

Just to reassure you, I was aware of all entries on blogger, Goodreads, Tumblr, Twitter, and even some pleading people from Facebook and e-mail who couldn't get their comments to work. So, just because no one was selected from a particular platform, that's just the luck of the draw, not because I forgot about you.

I loved hearing about your chosen factions versus the factions you grew up in. There is often a discrepancy, isn't there? I would have been born in Candor, probably, but would have chosen Dauntless. Or Abnegation. Oh, who knows, we're probably all Divergent.

I'm going to post the name + the entry so that you know who it is.

WITHOUT FURTHER COMMENTARY, THE WINNERS ARE:

Vicky C
OmG! Omg! Omg!!! I N-E-E-D to read Insurgent.
I would've probably been born into ERUDITE because my family is big on committing yourself to studying and the importance of knowledge, so that's how I was raised.
I would choose to transfer to AMITY because I believe in kindness, forgiveness and that it is important for people to try to leave in peace with each other.
Thanks so much for the international giveaway!! (I'm from Argentina)

Lexi
I think I'd be born into Amity. And I'd like to think that I could be in Dauntless, but truthfully, I'd probably die in initiation soooo...I'd either stick with Amity or switch over to Erudite. Can't get enough of them books! P.S. I love Divergent and everything about it, by the way. I would probably cry if i won this. Tears of joy, of course :) Thanks for the giveaway!

SillyJillyy
I would have been born into Candor. But I wouldn't be able to stay because lying is to easy for me. I would like to think I could be tough enough to go into Dauntless but I know I wouldn't. And I'm not smart by any means so no Erudite. And I could never be truly selfless, so that cancels out Abnegation. And pigs will fly the day I'm truly happy and can't argue with anyone. Amity wouldn't work for me. I guess I'm a bit Divergent :)
Divergent was my obsession for weeks. I can't wait to freak out over Insurgent :)

My entry for the Insurgent ARC giveaway- I would have been born an Erudite because my folks are really smart but I would probably have switched to either Dauntless (because I am always rebelling against my parents) or Candor ( because lying my pet peeve) :) Thanks for running this giveaway x 

.
.
.
.

Congrats, guys!

WINNERS, please e-mail me at veronicarothbooks[at]gmail[dot]com with "The Giveaway of Many 4s" in your subject line so that I can find you. I'll get your mailing address from you there. 

TO THE REST OF YOU, please do not despair. There are only three weeks left until the book comes out. (In the US and the UK, that is. Which means: international ordering, if you're desperate and don't live in the US or the UK!) And thank you so much for entering.

Free Four! (Insurgent Pre-Order Campaign)

Many of you might already know this, but when I sat down with the idea that would later become Divergent, my freshman year of college, I wrote it from the point of view of a character named Tobias. Since I admitted that the first time, a lot of people have asked if I would ever consider writing from his perspective again.

Recently I've given vague answers to this question and then cackled madly to myself at my computer, because I already HAD written from his perspective again, in the form of one scene, for this pre-order campaign that was launched yesterday. You can see the widget on the right sidebar of this blog, in fact, and you can get it here: http://harperteen.com/feature/widgets/Insurgent-FreeFour.html

Basically, here's the deal: I wrote a Divergent scene from Four's perspective. After we reach 35,000 Insurgent pre-orders, my publisher will release the scene to you, the readers. 

If you have already pre-ordered Insurgent, you have contributed to this goal without knowing it-- yay! Your work here is done.

If you have not pre-ordered yet, and you want to, you can do so from your local independent bookstore, or any retailer of your choosing. If you're feeling particularly enthusiastic, you can encourage other people to pre-order Insurgent, too (especially if you know they were going to buy it anyway!).

For me this whole bonanza was less about hitting a particular goal and more about giving something back to readers who have been supportive for a long time, since you are the ones paying attention to stuff like this. Sometimes it's hard to be an early reader-- you don't get a paperback, no one knows what you're talking about, you have to wait the longest for the sequel, when your friends discover it you feel like you've lost your indie cred-- but now you get to read something extra. I feel pretty good about this plan.

I had a lot of fun doing this. I thought it would be difficult, because part of what makes Four interesting as a character, to me, is this wall he puts up between himself and other people, and writing from his perspective meant taking down that wall to see what was really behind it. Strangely, it wasn't. I think I spent a lot more time in Four's head than I realized, though I was always writing from Tris's perspective. I sort of knew how he sounded and what he thought about things. (Obviously it still took a lot of work, but I wasn't STUCK like I thought I might be.)

The biggest challenge was actually choosing the right scene, one that could give the most interesting insights into his character and his relationships. I went through the whole book with sticky notes, searching for my best options, and vacillated between two options for about a day before landing on the right one.

This was really good for me, because it gave me a fuller understanding of his character and of what he was going through while Tris was an initiate. I'm confident that some things in the scene will surprise you, because they definitely surprised me.

Now that I am talking about this I have realized that I AM SO ANTSY FOR YOU ALL TO READ THIS AHHHH.

I mean...insert something more dignified here. Ahem.

(P.S. Because some of you have asked, I'll be announcing Insurgent giveaway winners later today, probably in the late afternoon or evening.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Insurgent Hardcover Sneak Peek (Also: "Author Gets a Little Emotional")

I got a package today. As is always the case when my editor sends me packages, I stumbled downstairs without shoes on, in my pajamas, with my hair piled on one side of my head, and gave the UPS guy a don't say a word about my pajama pants look. Is this because I just woke up? No. I woke up two hours ago. Does that mean I am dressed and ready to go? Absolutely not. Who do you think you're talking to, a responsible adult?

I saw the box, and I knew. I KNEW that it contained an Insurgent hardcover. (Before you ask: I only get the book early because I wrote it. IT'S ONLY FAIR.) And I thought, okay, NBD, I'll just rip open the box now. This proved to be more difficult than you might think, because that box had an impenetrable layer of packing tape around the outside. It was like the box was dystopian Chicago and the tape was a giant fence around it. That sounds familiar...

I finally conquered the tape with my apartment keys, and ripped open the box, and this is what I found:

!!!

Little Avi was excited, too, but probably for different reasons:


And then there they were: the hardcover and the International paperback:


If you're wondering when the whole "bestselling author" thing actually sank in, I can tell you it was at about...this moment:

  

And this is the title page where I will be signing your copies:



There are two books!:



Okay. Now I'm going to try to reward you for your patience with my teasing you incessantly. Here are a few things that you haven't seen yet. The back cover copy:


The naked book:


And the epigraph (quote that comes before the book starts):


(That's a little blurry, so let me tell you what it says:


Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged. 

-- From the Candor faction manifesto.

)

And now the boring stuff, aka my thoughts.

It was quite a remarkable thing, to hold my first book in my hands last year, and to know that years of idle dreaming had in fact become a reality. Sometimes people ask me what it's like to be published at a young age, and I always sort of frown at the floor and say something like "It feels...awesome," because I don't know how to explain it. When incredible things happen to you, they become a part of your normal life, and they themselves start to feel normal. That's just how human beings are-- we adapt. It's how we survive.

And I never react the way I'm supposed to, in big moments. Big moments are always stressful in some way, and I don't mean "stressful" in the "OMG I HAVE TO FINISH THIS PAPER BEFORE MIDNIGHT" way, I mean it in the neutral way-- big moments are spikes in the otherwise relatively flat line of life, even if they are positive, and as such, they are a form of stress. And the way I react during stress, whether good or bad, is with calm.

Story time: when I was upside down in my mom's car on the road outside my parents' neighborhood at the age of sixteen, I very calmly turned the car off and fumbled in my purse-- which was next to my head-- for my cell phone. Then I called my mom and said, "Hi Mom. I'm upside down in a car on Miller Road. Can you come get me?" in a perfectly normal tone of voice. (Her response was: "WHAT?!")

I'm not telling you this because I think I'm awesome. I'm just saying, you can't control the way you react to big moments. And yeah, I am Chronically Cool-Under-Pressure. But because of this, it's also damn near impossible to get me excited about anything, so you know, there's a dark side to every good quality.

So this is why I constantly weird out my agent and my editor when they call me with Big, Good News, and I'm like "Wow, that's great!" like they just told me that it's unseasonably warm outside, or that they got me a coupon to DSW or something. What they don't know is that at other times, like when I'm writing the acknowledgments, or looking at the ISBN number, I just break down into happy tears at my desk. Or when I see the book in a Romanian grocery store when I just went in to buy some cheese and paper towels, I freak the hell out and take a picture with my phone camera.

These are the moments when my brain decides to say, "Oh hi. This is not, contrary to what I have persuaded you to believe, normal."

One of those moments was this morning, not as I was looking at the cover or the back or the naked book, but when I saw the page that says: Also by Veronica Roth: Divergent.


Writing one book can feel sort of like an accident, like you just got lucky and it might not happen again. But if you've written two, suddenly an author is what you are. Seeing this meant realizing that throughout my life, I will be writing books, and sometimes, if they are good enough, someone will want to publish them. I am, as I've said before, blessed beyond comprehension that this is my normal, my job.

I reread my acknowledgments this morning, and I think writing those is by far my favorite part of this process. Because flaky and scatterbrained and neurotic and moody as I can sometimes be, particularly in stressful times, I would not have been able to get to this place by myself. There is a huge array of people who have carried me when I couldn't carry myself-- I'm not just talking about the book writing process here-- and when I think about all of them, I can't help but get emotional. I'm so grateful for the people who carry me. And sometimes, lovely readers, you are those people.

Anyway, this has been a really freaking awesome morning. Just three weeks until you guys can all hold this book, too.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Release Week Appearances

I promised that I would tell you guys whenever I get official updates about my appearances, so, here we go!

Here are the places I will be during Insurgent's release week:

Tuesday, May 1st 2012 – NEW YORK, NY 
Barnes & Noble Tribeca @ 7PM
97 Warren St. New York, NY 10007

Wednesday, May 2nd – CINCINNATI, OH
Joseph-Beth Booksellers @ 7PM
2692 Madison Road # M Cincinnati, OH 45208

Friday, May 4th – CHICAGO, IL 
Anderson’s Bookshop @ 7PM
123 West Jefferson Naperville, IL 60540

I'm so excited. It's going to be awesome.

These are not the only places I will go after Insurgent comes out, but those locations and dates and times are not official yet. I'll post them and also update my calendar page when they are.

I look forward to seeing you New Yorkers, Buckeyes, and fellow Chicagoans soon!


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Mistakes Writers Make

(Warning: Divergent spoilers in this post. Also, discussing sexual assault, which may be a sensitive topic.)

Here is the thing about getting a book published: there will always be things you regret. If you're lucky, those will be things that you just didn't catch in copyediting, the wrong word or the wrong character name here and there, or some things you didn't research well enough (like how easy/hard it is to pull a trigger, for example...). If you're not lucky, those will be things you wish you hadn't included at all. Or that you didn't know you were saying until people started reading and reacting.

What do you do, when you start to see these things? Well, I tried to justify them in my mind. I talked them out with friends. I tried to let them go and resolve to do better in the future. All these responses are okay, I think. But at the end of the day, it just doesn't sit well with me to pretend that I haven't made mistakes. I believe that confession helps us to move past shame and regret and into determination for the future. Confession also sucks to have to do, but here we go.

This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And in the past year, I've seen a lot of blog posts from very smart people about a new and problematic trend in YA: the "throwaway" sexual assault trope. This trope is included to artificially raise the stakes in a plot or situation, or to further establish how bad a villain is, but it doesn't actually affect the character all that much moving forward. It is problematic to include a sensitive issue in your work as a plot device only, without making it important for the character. Not just on a moral level, but on a storymaking level, too.

I have felt deeply convicted by these posts. In Divergent, there is a scene in which Tris is attacked by three of her fellow initiates, and in the process one of them grabs her chest and makes a snide remark about her physical appearance. Yet after the fact, while the attack does bother her and make her scared, it doesn't really factor into her character development.

Now, here's the thing: some people who have been through sexual assault really do push it down inside and try to stop thinking about it, or even don't realize how bad the situation was at the time, until a few years later when they take gender studies classes or something and they find out that some things are Really Not Okay-- sometimes they don't realize it at all. And there is an argument to be made for how Tris's fear of intimacy partly results from this incident she suffered through. But as I was saying to someone earlier, if her reaction is realistic, it is completely by accident, and that's what bothers me. That is the big mistake.

I was not intentional about what I wrote and how I wrote it. If I could go back and do it again, I might take that part of the attack out completely. Or I might change the way Tris reacts to it. I might make sure that it surges inside her every so often, no matter how hard she tries to shove it back down. Maybe it wouldn't be a huge plot point-- given everything else that's going on, she probably wouldn't focus on it-- but it would still be there, as a part of her.

It's hard to write about sensitive issues, especially in sci-fi/fantasy where those issues will rarely be the big focus of the books. But that doesn't mean we should shy away from them. It means that we should realize that they are real things that happen to real people. We should make sure that they have a real impact on our characters. Four, for example, has a sensitive issue in his past, but it affects him every day, and in really significant ways, the way it would in real life. It doesn't define him, in the same way that victims of sexual assault are not solely defined by what has happened to them. But it does really, deeply affect him.

To my fellow writers, I'm learning this lesson alongside you, and it is: be intentional about what you write. That doesn't mean we should avoid the hard stuff, or the dark stuff. It means we should take it seriously, do the research, do the thinking, do the feeling. We don't have to be preachy or spit out platitudes or make sure that it all turns out okay, like an after school special, but every writer (I think, anyway) has a responsibility to tell the truth with his or her work and part of that is being careful (as opposed to careless) about what we write and how we handle it. And for me, part of it is honoring the real people who have suffered these real things by telling stories like theirs as well as I can.

It's hard to see your own mistakes, especially when there's no way you can fix them, especially when they are out there for the world to pick up and read. But I've tried getting defensive, and I've tried ignoring things, and you know, it just doesn't work for me. I'm committed to learning to be a better writer and human being, and to opening my eyes to parts of the world I never had to see, and this is a big part of that process.

This is all to say, quite simply, that I wish I had done better, especially for those of my readers who have gone through hard things like these. I am learning, and I will do better in the future.

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