Wednesday, October 31, 2012

KidLitCares Auction!

Cool things are happening! Courtesy of the organizational skills of my fellow author Kate Messner, a lot of people in the children's literature (or "Kid Lit") community are donating auction items to raise money for the Red Cross disaster relief fund.

I have an auction item up myself, directed primarily at teachers, librarians, or people in book clubs (so basically, groups that read!)-- I'm offering up a 20-minute (or thereabouts) Skype visit with your group, during which I can: chat about book things! Give writing advice! Show you how to make paper hats!-- whatever you want, really. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in and you want to/are able to donate to Red Cross, please check out my item page here:

If that's not exactly something you're interested in, but you want to look at the other auction items, you can do that here:

If you don't have the means to help out with these things, you can help anyway by spreading the word about the auction or by donating blood to the Red Cross, because I hear they need donations!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Box Set and Collector's Edition!

Some very cool things appeared on my doorstep the other day and I just wanted to share them with you. First of all, there was this:

Those, my friends, are the two faces of the Divergent Series Box Set, which is out on October 30th. (If you're interested in what exactly this set includes, there's more information on my publisher's website, here.) I think the case, which is half Divergent art and half Insurgent art, is pretty sweet. Those symbols are gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous, I also got this: 

That is the Insurgent Collector's Edition (also out October 30th), which does indeed feature copper letters, a ribbon bookmark, and a range of other things you can learn more about here, if you're curious. Also, something you can't see in that photo above but that I will attempt to show here...

It is SHINY! Man, I thought the regular Insurgent cover looked pretty good, but the metallic shiny-ness is sweet.

I know what I'm going to be giving people for Christmas now.

Okay, not really, because that would be just a tiny bit self-centered. But they are lovely nonetheless!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


So, I spent today responding to feedback about the recent movie news and indulging my excitement about how things are going-- which was good! I'm always glad to hear from readers and it's fun to celebrate the high points in this process.

But! I should really be in the depths of the writing cave, getting words on the page, so I'm going to be going on an Internet break as I charge toward the book-writing finish line.

I'll of course pop back on to share if any exciting news comes up. And I'll still be posting fun things on from my phone, because that tends to mysteriously help with my productivity. That said, I won't be responding to comments until I return, so as to limit my procrastination.

And I'll be back when I am FINISHED. Well, with one step. There are still many steps to go, and still about a year until the third book comes out. Yeah, I know.

Author out! *salute*


Friday, October 19, 2012

Movie News: Director and Casting Update!


I wasn't able to discuss this before because it wasn't official, but the Divergent movie adaptation has a director: Neil Burger!

Neil Burger directed The Illusionist and Limitless, both movies that I enjoyed immensely, both visually dynamic and interesting. Soon after the deal was closed I got the opportunity to speak with him on the phone. I was nervous beforehand-- handing over your work for someone else to interpret is always nerve-wracking, and I wasn't sure what to expect.

But by the time I hung up-- an hour and a half later!-- I felt very reassured. Neil knew the books remarkably well, and asked some amazing questions about the world and the story, and generally demonstrated tremendous respect for the books and for my answers.  I actually found myself wishing he had been around while I was writing, to help me think through the particularities of the world of Divergent! I'm sure I would have been more efficient if he had. Like I have before, I'm feeling like my work is in good good hands. (Cue the Allstate logo.)


Because I feel so reassured by my experience with Neil and his work, I've felt pretty calm about any and all casting news I've received, knowing that all the people who are working on this movie have a strong vision for it that is grounded in the books.

This leads me into our next piece of news: Shailene Woodley is in final negotiations to play Tris!

From the moment I heard that she was being considered, I have been nothing but enthusiastic.  My priority has always been, first and foremost, that the role of Tris be well-acted, and Shailene has proven how talented she is, as anyone who has seen The Descendants can attest. And physically, what's most important to me, far and away more important than other aspects of her appearance, is that Tris does not look like an action hero-- she looks like a slight person with youthful, delicate features, someone who shocks you with how strong and capable she becomes. To me, that is exactly the look Shailene has, exactly the look I've always had in my mind. From what I've seen, I'm confident she will be able to capture Tris's particular mixture of vulnerability and strength, and that surprising moment when a seemingly unremarkable girl from Abnegation transforms into a powerful yet flawed young woman.

I'm really excited to see what happens next! Can't believe this is actually becoming A Thing That Is Happening!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Occasional Crafter: Studded Glowing Pumpkin

Sometimes after a long day of writing, you have to do something to let loose or your brain will explode. Today, for me, that thing was creating a studded pumpkin.

I found the idea via a friend's Pinterest board (originally from Maicon Soares' Official Blog). It's been a long time since I carved a pumpkin, and I remember, as a kid, relishing that awful squishy feeling of pumpkin innards as you squeeze it between your fingers. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as an adult, I have to say. But I'm strangely proud of the end product.

Not sure what I was looking for, here.

Necessary items: pumpkin. Christmas lights. Drill. Ice cream scoop. Bowl for guts.

Avi was dressed for the occasion.

Actually, we match.

Because I don't trust myself to operate that drill without getting pumpkin goop in the mechanism.

Happy early Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

FAQs: Do You Have Any Advice for Young Writers?

Many have asked, and so I will answer.

First of all: I suspect some of you really mean to ask me for advice to writers generally, because a young writer is not some strange species of writer that can't benefit from general writing advice, and fortunately I keep a blog full of my thoughts for writers generally, with a small database of posts about various topics. I will copy that database at the end of this post so you can poke around my blog if you feel like it.

And if you want advice about how to get published, you'll have to frequently ask that question separately, my dears. (That is sort of a joke. You only have to ask once.)

Young writers! Guess what? I am one of you. Despite no longer being an adolescent, I am still 24, which is on the way low end of the writer age spectrum. I am not a source of great wisdom, because great wisdom develops over time, and quite frankly, I haven't had a whole lot of that. But I'll do my best.

When I was a teenager, I was in gifted/extended/whatever you want to call it English classes, which meant two things: 1. I had gotten external affirmation of my writing skills, so I was kind of arrogant, and 2. I was very defensive and insecure, because pretty much everyone in my classes was smarter than I was. (No, seriously.)

Maybe you are not like that, my young writer friends, but I know that at least some of you are, because I just do. It's okay, don't worry, I feel the utmost sympathy for your position! And I still like you. And in fact, it's my intimate knowledge of your position (well, our mutual position) that leads me to give you the following advice:

Cultivate humility, patience, and courage.

Oh look, three words. Let us see if they can form a list!

1. Cultivate Humility

Humility is a word that people are not sure how to define, I think, because for some it reminds them of the word "humiliation." When I say the word "humility," I am not talking about beating yourself up or convincing yourself that you suck. For our purposes, I am defining humility as "seeing yourself the way you truly are."

What I mean is: you are young. You have not had a lot of time to develop your skills. You may be advanced for your age, but that doesn't mean that your writing is well developed. I can say this because MY writing is not usually well developed! It's okay. It is okay to say that you are simultaneously talented and in need of help, because that's the truth of where you are, and it's the truth of where you always will be. You will never, ever get to a place where you don't need help or work or development as a writer, no matter how old you are.

So when your English teacher writes critiques all over your creative writing assignment or papers, don't spend your time after class bashing him or her and defending yourself against those critiques. Instead, hold these two ideas in tension in your mind: your work is not worthless. Your work could use improvement.

Become like a sponge that absorbs every piece of advice or teaching or criticism or praise that it can possibly hold. Realizing that you have a lot to learn is cultivating humility. The actual act of learning cultivates humility. When you hand your writing over to a friend or teacher to get their feedback, and you do it with the attitude of "here is my work. I love it, but I need your help to make it better," you are cultivating humility. And when you are proud of yourself for writing something you think is good, or happy when you get an A on an assignment, that is not NOT cultivating humility. It is embracing the truth of where you are, which is that you and your writing have succeeded in some way.

2. Cultivate patience

Sometimes young people are in a big hurry to do everything. You think, "If I don't get a book published at 17, I'm a failure!" Even if you know that's irrational, you might still feel it, and my advice to you is to ignore that feeling of urgency as much as possible. Basically, apply the brakes and give yourself some time.

I was always pretty good at patience, mostly because I was terrified of showing my writing to anyone. But I sometimes get messages from young writers saying "help! I can't finish a manuscript, what do I do?" or "how do you stay interested in a manuscript long enough to finish?"-- very perplexed people wondering what's wrong with them, that they can't stick it out until the end.

There is nothing wrong with you! I just went back and counted, and I have 48 unfinished manuscripts in my writing folder. 90% of them are from before I reached age 18. Some of them are two pages long and some are 150 pages long. Yes, that's right, it took me AT LEAST 48 tries to stick with an idea long enough to finish it, and I didn't worry about it, because I wasn't in a hurry.

Cultivating patience doesn't just mean that you're patient while you wait for query responses or critique partner feedback or what have you. It means that you are patient with yourself, and with your plan for your life. There are so many paths to take, and so many definitions of success, and so many second, third, fourth chances to get it right. Don't pressure yourself or badger yourself or other people to make things happen now now NOW. Go at a pace that feels comfortable, and that makes you love the process of writing-- because if you hurry so much to get to the finish line, you may not enjoy getting there, and that's where the writing IS.

In writing and publishing, you cannot usually control how fast things happen, or if they happen. What you can do is fall in love with writing, and that way, if the success doesn't come when you want it to, you still have something truly valuable, which is the time spent doing something you love.

3. Cultivate courage

The thing is, if you spend all your time trying to be humble and patient, you may never take any risks. And there must always be risks. All these things I'm telling you are like juggling balls-- it's a constant fight to keep them all in the air without dropping one. So seriously, don't drop courage. Courage will urge you to send your writing to people you trust to get their feedback. It will motivate you to send your writing in to contests. It will tell you to apply for tough schools or programs. It will make it possible for you to accept people's critique and still keep writing. It will help you to brave the bad critiques, the disparaging remarks, the raised eyebrows, and the internal doubts that tell you that you are not good enough and it's not even worth trying.

It is always worth trying-- and it's always worth failing! Courage will arm you against failure in a way that nothing else can. It is the little stirring inside you that says, "that person who hated my writing or told me it would never happen for me, or that bad grade, or that little voice in my head that thinks I suck, can all kiss my butt, because today I am going to try again." You need courage to face what's ahead of you, young writer, because it won't be easy. But if you love to write, and you love books, you can do it. So be brave and take risks.

So that's my advice for young writers. I can guarantee that even if you agree with it and want to take it, you won't follow it all the time. What I'm saying isn't, "Do this perfectly!" it's, "hey, here are some things that are worth trying to do." I hope it helps! Young writers, I salute you.


Here are the links I promised. They are also on my FAQ page on this blog:

Concrete Writing Advice
The Backpack, a.k.a Some of the Most Useful Writing Advice I've Ever Gotten
1st Person, and Why It's Not As Easy As It Sounds
Detachment From Your Writing
Trilogies Are Like Long-Term Relationships
Trilogies Are More Like Polygamy, Actually
Dialogue, and How Grey's Anatomy Isn't So Great At It
On Sequels
Advice for Young Writers
Rules: Friends of Creativity
Redundant Sentences
Advice I Haven't Taken
How I Revise (Insurgent Edition)
Writing and Not Making Decisions
Draft-Writing Advice: Don't Look Back
Reducing Word Count

Backstory and The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Basic Human Priorities and Story Momentum
Thoughts About Villains
Knowing Characters vs. Knowing About Characters
Insta!Love and Convincing Your Reader

Abstract Writing/Life Thoughts
Genre Shame is a Waste of Time
Writing and Courage
A Christian Take on Banning Speak
Writing the Ordinary
Sonnets and Failure
Writing and Anxiety
Grow Thinner Skin
The Gift of Upheaval 
About Notwriting
Freedom and Life in Stories 

The Writing Life (Querying, Beta Readers, Etc.)
Rejection and Hating the Book
Beta Readers
Reasons Why Your Non-Writer Friends Think You're Crazy
Patience Is A Habit, Not A Virtue
The Line Between Modesty and Self-Deprecation
Advice For New Writers (Who Want to Query)
Conference Tips
On College and Being Young

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

RTW: Writing Seasons

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. Check out the other responses here!

This Week's Topic is: How does your writing (place, time, inspiration) change with the seasons?

To answer this, I am going to quote George Eliot: "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

(source: blmiers2)
Ah, autumn: that special, brief time between the soul-crushing heat of summer and the onset of my mild winter-related seasonal affective disorder! It's when I wrote the rough draft of Divergent, it's when I did my most successful revision of Insurgent, and now, God willing, it will be the season in which I finish the rough draft of book 3, provided my hands don't crap out first.

(Seriously, my right hand is all throbby and upset right now. It's making life difficult, since I can barely grasp a cup in my left hand without dropping it. In other news, I am a whiner.)

Summer is the season of sunshine (or at least, the season in which we most celebrate sunshine), and I hate sunshine. And heat. (No, I am not a vampire.) Yes, yes, I recognize the necessity of sunshine in promoting life and in keeping me from going crazy, but I usually groan when I wake up and it's all bright and perky outside, because that means I don't get the instant cozy feeling of a rainy day that I so cherish. It's hard for me to write without that cozy feeling, for some reason, so summer is always the worst writing season for me.

However, Instant!Cozy is what autumn is all about. Hot beverages and crisp air and scarves and the crunch of fallen leaves when I walk to my "office," aka a coffee shop, and the thoughtful reflections that necessarily arise when the world is dying around me-- these are the things that put me in the writing mood. (Oh, look-- more morbidity! No wonder people die in my books.)

(source: Zara Tcherneva)
(source: katebartnik)
Winter is almost a tie, because while it is also cozy and I love snow and blankets and seeing my breaths and winter holidays and all those things-- I even love winters HERE, which tend to feature below zero temperatures and slush and salt stains-- my emotional state does tend to take a plunge when the days get shorter, so I have to whip out my light therapy lamp and think cheerful thoughts to compensate. Which eats away at writing time.

And spring in Chicago is very drippy and cold and bare and gross and lasts a maximum of two weeks, so whatever, spring. Whatever. 

For me, writing feels the best when I feel calm and cozy and thoughtful, and that's during autumn and winter, for me. It's also the time when the Midwest feels most like the Midwest, to me-- more about that fascination/obsession here.

What about you? Favorite season, go!


Related Posts with Thumbnails