Sci-Fi

Happy Pub Day to PITCH DARK!

A huge high five to Courtney Alameda– today her sophomore novel PITCH DARK hits shelves! If you like sci-fi, horror, adventure…and maybe want something a little different from the usual big beefy white guy hero in a jump suit, I highly suggest you check out this incredibly tense and gorgeously imagined thriller:

PitchDark Cover

From Courtney Alameda, the author of Shutter, this thrilling, sci-fi horror and space adventure will be sure to stay with readers long after the last pages.

Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide—literally—the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir . . . and the whole human race.

 

Praise for Courtney Alameda

“Alameda excels at creating hideous creatures that are the stuff of nightmares. The rapid pacing, advanced technology, and limitless weapons just add appeal for readers seeking a supernatural thriller.” ―Booklist on Shutter

“Alameda makes a strong debut with this fast-paced urban fantasy/horror novel. Alameda’s worldbuilding is strong . . . and her characters evoke shows like Buffy and Supernatural.” ―Publishers Weekly on Shutter

Visit Courtney’s website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook. You can also check out PITCH DARK on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.

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Cover Reveal Day! Christian McKay Heidicker’s THROW YOUR ARM ACROSS YOUR EYES AND SCREAM!

Today we bring you another pink-and-purple inflected cover, this time for the (fabulously titled) new YA by Christian McKay Heidicker coming this September from Simon & Schuster: THROW YOUR ARM ACROSS YOUR EYES AND SCREAM!

As  die-hard 50s Sci-Fi schlock fan, I just love this book so much. As with his debut, CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE, Christian manages to take a stock trope from pop culture and turn it completely on its head. Oh, and it’s also funny as hell.

Without further ado, here is the cover…

Throw-Your-Arm-Across-Your-Eyes-and-Scream-by-Christian-McKay-Heidcker.jpg

Phoebe Darrow is a lightning rod for monsters.

She and her mom are forced to flee flesh-eating plants, blobs from outer space, and radioactive ants. They survive thanks to Phoebe’s dad—an invisible titan, whose giant eyes warn them where the next monster attack will take place.

All Phoebe wants is to stop running from motel to motel and start living a monster-free life in New York or Paris. But when her mom

mysteriously vanishes, Phoebe is left to fend for herself in small-town Pennybrooke.
 
That’s when Phoebe starts to transform . . .

Christian McKay Heidicker returns with a book unlike any other, challenging perceived notions of beauty, identity, and what it means to be a monster.
Check out THROW YOUR ARM ACROSS YOUR EYES AND SCREAM on Goodreads, and preorder today!

You can find Christian online at http://www.cmheidicker.com/and https://twitter.com/cmheidicker, and get his debut CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

“A plugged-in young adult comedy about the pain of unplugging… perfect for teen gamers and readers who are fans of Jesse Andrews and John Green.” (School Library Journal)

“Heidicker’s debut crackles with twitchy energy… this is a fun, absurdist romp through gaming culture, populated by zany characters and a quest narrative worthy of its own game.” (Booklist)

Congrats Christian!

Congrats to Christian McKay Heidicker on his latest deal with Simon & Schuster! From Publishers Weekly:

unnamed.jpgChristian Trimmer at Simon & Schuster has acquired Christian McKay Heidicker‘s YA novel Throw Your Arm Across Your Eyes and Scream. Pitched as Pleasantville meets Cloverfield, the novel follows 15-year-old Phoebe, daughter of the woman who was carried to the top of the Empire State Building by King Kong, in a world where the horrors of 1940s and 50s sci-fi movies are everyday occurrences. Publication is planned for summer 2018; John M. Cusick of Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management brokered the deal for world rights.

You can find Christian online at http://www.cmheidicker.com/ and https://twitter.com/cmheidicker 

Get his debut CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound, and check it out on Goodreads.

“A plugged-in young adult comedy about the pain of unplugging… perfect for teen gamers and readers who are fans of Jesse Andrews and John Green.” (School Library Journal)

“Heidicker’s debut crackles with twitchy energy… this is a fun, absurdist romp through gaming culture, populated by zany characters and a quest narrative worthy of its own game.” (Booklist)

Interview with Rahul Kanakia

RahulKanakiaRahul Kanakia and I started working together last year. In April his debut y.a. novel, ENTER TITLE HERE, sold to Disney-Hyperion, and will pub next fall. Pitched as Gossip Girl meets House of Cards (I KNOW RIGHT), the novel takes the form of an unpublished manuscript written by over-achiever Reshma Kapoor as she launches a Machiavellian campaign to reclaim her valedictorian status after being caught plagiarizing.

I’ve blabbed before about how awesome Rahul’s blog is, but today one of my fav writer/thinkers treats us to his insights on writing, sociability, and finding an agent:

When and how did you start writing?

Rahul: I started when I was a senior in high school. I’d always harbored a vague ambition to write stories (ever since I discovered, by reading the submissions guidelines for the official D&D magazine, DRAGON, that it was actually possible to sell a story for money to a publication), but I’d never gotten around to actually do it. I can’t say why I decided to start writing one, but I know that I finished my first story on or around December 20th, 2003, and promptly submitted it to the highest-paying science fiction magazine that I could find (where it promptly earned me the first of what are, at last count, approximately 1,240 short story rejections).

Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?

I’d say that it was probably Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. My mom gave it to me, saying that she’d read and enjoyed it when she was a girl my age, living in India. That novel led me to read all kinds of science fiction writers. I loved Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Mike Resnick, Mercedes Lackey, and all kinds of other writers. In terms of children’s books, I really enjoyed British boarding school books (again, this is the influence of my mom) like the works of Enid Blyton. Oh, and, of course, I enjoyed Astrid Lindgren.

Can you talk us through the writing of your first book? What were the key moments?

I got the idea while I was reading this Michael Lewis’ compendium of financial reportage surrounding the 2007-8 financial panic and collapse. And during one of the stories, the journalist writes about protests in Korea by students who feel like they’re being forced to study too much. During the protests, they marched down main thoroughfares, chanting “We are not study machines!”

Something about that phrase was really evocative for me, and I thought “study machines, study machines…there has to be something I can do with that.” And I started developing this sleek dystopian story involving people being forced to study really hard.

But then, as I was thinking about it, I was like, “What? This doesn’t need to be dystopian at all. This is real life. Here in this world, in our country, there are kids who feel compelled, by society, to study allll the time. So I decided to write about one of them.

The actual writing took place over 31 days, from the end of December to the end of January. I wrote most of it while I was on a family vacation in India. A significant chunk, maybe a third, was written while we were at a rented villa in Sri Lanka that had its own beach and private chef. Now that’s a writing retreat.

Was it hard to get an agent ? Can you talk us through the process?

I wrote ETH in January of 2013. At that point, I had another novel that I’d submitted to a contest for YA novels by people of color. I lost that contest, but I did become a finalist. And the winner of the contest, Valynne Maetani, knew John (she was about to sign with him) and offered, out of the blue, to put me in touch with him. I think it’s the most thoughtful writing-related thing that anything has offered to do for me. Anyway, he liked that book and wanted to sell it. I revised it throughout summer of 2013 and it went on submission to five editors in October/November of 2014, and was rejected by all of them. At that point, John had read ETH and both he and I were more excited about that, so we revised it and it sold in May of 2014.

Getting an agent was definitely happenstance. I’d previously queried 93 agents with that first book. I’m still surprised that John saw something in it that 93 other agents didn’t.

Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?

In general, I think writers really overstate how much time they actually spend writing. I was recently talking to a group of YA writers and one of them brought up her brother, who’s a restaranteur and works sixteen hours a day, and someone else said, “Yeah, but that’s how it is in creative professions, right?”

And I was like, “Alright. Come on. Let’s level. None of us work sixteen hours a day? It’s more like two, right?”

Then everyone looked at me like I was crazy and someone stepped in to change the subject. But I am still firm in my belief that most writers either really exaggerate how much time they spend writing, or their writing time also involves a lot of internet-browsing and Twitter time.

Each Thursday, I decide how many hours of writing I want to do on each of the coming seven days. Then I keep track of whether or not I actually do that many hours and how many days in a row I’ve managed to meet my goal. In terms of actual goals, I usually try to go for 15 hours in a week, though sometimes I hit 18 or 20. When I write, I use the Freedom app to turn off my internet, and I wedge my phone into the folds of the could cushion, so I can’t see it or easily extract it.

Inspiration is tricky. I’m not sure about that. Often I’m inspired by garish stories that I read in the Lifestyles section of the newspaper. Other times I’m inspired by books that I’ve read.

Can you tell us about your next book?

Nope. I have no idea what it’ll be.

Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?

Yes. Write hard. Read good. Keep trying. All of that is good advice.

I’d also say that it’s not a bad idea to try to meet other writers. Now, this is not necessary. I didn’t know that many other writers before I started publishing, and writing is one of the few creative professions where it’s possible to get really far even if you have zero connections. In fact, most writers get their agents through blind querying.

But if you go out and meet other writers and befriend them, either in person or on twitter, they can be of help to you. First of all, you’ll often find that if you stay friends with aspiring writers for a few years, then some will break out, find agents, get book deals, etc. And the ones who move ahead can help the ones who’re still struggling to make it. Also, the more contacts you have in the book / publishing world, the more anticipation there’ll be for your book when it actually releases. It’s hard to overstate how many books there are. And most of them are just a name, a title, and a blurb. If, on the other hand, even a few people look at that name and say, “Hey, I know that person,” then that helps.

Now I know that someone out there will read what I wrote and get super-depressed because many writers are anxious and depressive and introverted. Please don’t. I’m not saying that you need to be the coolest and most popular person in the YA world. You don’t. I’m saying to take baby steps. Get on Twitter. Follow other YA writers. Tweet at them once in awhile. I think you’ll be surprised by how little time it takes before you start to get somewhat friendly with them.

Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you’ve developed as an author?

Write in scene. It took me years to learn this. Narrative summary can be bold and have a good voice and be interesting, but it’s rarely surprising. It doesn’t include those chance side-characters and little bits of setting and gesture that take the book in surprising directions. If you write in scene, you’re giving yourself a chance for something to happen.

Choosing what tense to write in has become an extremely maddening problem. People will tell you to write in past tense like it’s extremely simple, but I find it maddening. If I’m writing in past tense (particularly in the first person), then when is the narration situated? Why is the narration proceeding chronologically? Why isn’t the narrator living up things with bits of future knowledge? Also, how can there be any character change: the person telling the tale is, throughout, the person who’s already changed.

On the other hand, present tense isn’t more satisfying. It’s too artificial and too constricting. It feels like it limits you too much to a given moment. It doesn’t allow you to break out of the moment and float more freely through the character’s psyche and their life.

Finally, I have a continued problem with description. Things are important. Objects are important. They’re an important part of life: our choice of objects and surroundings tremendously influences our mood. And they’re also intrinsically interesting. No one wants to just be with heads and words all the time. What I like about novels is that they affirm the importance of the physical world. They affirm the importance of tiny details and little gestures. They’re about what it’s like to be living life in a particular body in a particular place at a particular time. However, I’m terrible at describing things. I just don’t see them in my mind’s eye very well. It’s something I’m working on

Which favorite authors would you invite to a dinner party? What fictional character do you wish you’d invented?

I’d invite Ayn Rand to a dinner party, because I read Old School, which describes a dinner meeting with Ayn Rand, and it seems magnificent. She just so totally believed in her own philosophy. How could that fail to be endearing?

I’d also invite Tolstoy, because, judging by his essays, he always had something interesting to say. I don’t know whether I’d invite bearded old prophet Tolstoy or younger more literary Tolstoy, though. Maybe I’d invite them both.

ENTER TITLE HERE (Disney-Hyperion, Fall 2015) on Goodreads.

Read some of Rahul’s short fiction at Clarkesworld and Birkensnake.

Link Roundup: Words and Music

Cool stuff from some Class of 2015 clients last week:

Rahul Kanakia, whose amazing debut ENTER TITLE HERE is coming from Hyperion in Fall 2015 (think House of Cards meets Gossip Girl. Yeah.) has two new short stories. You can read one right now at the sci-fi and fantasy magazine ClarkesworldSeeking boarder for rm w/ attached bathroom, must be willing to live with ghosts ($500 / Berkeley)

(And if you aren’t following his blog, Blotter-Paper, you should.)

Then check out Tommy Wallach performing “Madeline“, a song from the upcoming “We All Looked Up” album, to accompany his novel of the same name. Both the book and the album come out on March 31, 2015. Subscribe to his channel to see more!

In other news: it’s fall! Hooray!

WE ALL LOOKED UP on Goodreads. Pre-order now at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Indiebound.

ENTER TITLE HERE on Goodreads

Webinar on Writing and Selling SciFi & Fantasy for Kids and Teens

Writing and Selling Sci-Fi & Fantasy for Kids and Teens

LIVE!!!! IN COLOR!!! ON THE INTERNET!!!

AUGUST 9th! 1pm EST! Sign up NOW!!!

Well, this is a humdinger. I’m so psyched to be doing a webinar with Writer’s Digest, and on a topic very near and dear to my heart.

I personally guarantee this webinar, and the personal query-letter critique that comes with it, will utterly melt your face and blow your mind.

Seriously.

Your brain is Alderaan and this webinar is the Death Star.

A visual representation of the planet-shattering awesomeness of this webinar.

ABOUT THE WEBINAR:

Young adult and middle grade are two of the fastest growing and most robust fiction genres in publishing. These juvenile categories have a tradition of fantasy and sci-fi narratives that continues today with wizards, vampires, and clockwork princesses. The young adult and middle grade markets are rich with imaginative and fantastical stories, worlds, and characters.

What makes some stories stand out, and others unsuccessful, cliché, or—worst of all—left buried in the slush pile? How can you refine your craft to create novels at once lasting and fresh? How does writing for kids and teens differ from writing for adults? How can you capture the attention of an agent in this rich and extremely competitive market? In other words, how can you give your story the best chance to get published?

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • How to write for young people—capturing the voice, narration, story, and style
  • How to use tropes, myths, and archetypal story structures to create striking, unforgettable fantasy & sci-fi tales
  • How to craft detailed, unique, engrossing worlds, full of history and depth
  • How to bring to life layered and compelling heroes, anti-heroes, villains, and antagonists
  • How to avoid cliché and trend-chasing, and create wholly fresh, standout novels
  • How to win the interest of an agent in this competitive market.

Only a few days remain to sign up, so check it out and spread the word. Your face will thank me.