The Stanton Effect: Take the Reader Somewhere Worthwhile

6a00d83451b64669e2017c3652fef8970b-250wiLyn Miller-Lachmann is no stranger to El Space. She’s been a welcome guest here many times, especially when she has a new young adult novel to discuss. Like here. She also has her own blog here. Today, I’m thrilled to present her guest post for the Stanton series. At the end of the post, I’ll announce the winner of Amy Rose Capetta’s book, Unmade. But first, let’s hear from Lyn.

Thank you to the awesome L. Marie for inviting me to be part of this series. When I listened to Andrew Stanton’s TED talk, the point that stuck with me was, “Give a promise that your story will take the reader somewhere worthwhile.”

One of the moments that inspired me to take writing seriously enough to seek publication occurred in my first year teaching in Brooklyn, New York. My school was in a historic building that over years of deferred maintenance had become quite dilapidated, to the point that the third floor teacher’s lounge was a glorified broom closet with mouse droppings between the floorboards and plaster flaking from the ceiling. I had brought a collection of short stories to read during my free period, and as I read a story by Joan Silber, I no longer sat in this grim teacher’s lounge but in a kudzu-filled garden somewhere in the Deep South—a place I had never physically been.

Silber

Most of us can’t pick up and go wherever we want, whenever we want. But stories can take us to those places and make us feel as if we are there. Whether it’s the desert in Lawrence of Arabia, a world long gone, or a world that has never existed, effective stories make us believe we are part of that world. Stories transport us from our ordinary lives into a grander and more beautiful place. Or into a more exciting and dangerous place where we would never choose to venture on our own because we have families and school and jobs and responsibilities.

The advice, “Give a promise that your story will take the reader somewhere worthwhile,” certainly informed my forthcoming novel, Surviving Santiago (Running Press Kids, debuting in June 2015). I traveled to Chile in 1990 to witness the transition from a brutal 17-year-dictatorship to a democratic government. I saw the excitement of people enjoying their hard-won freedom while nursing wounds that had not healed. At times I was scared; at times I was awestruck; at times I was humbled. I crossed into an unfamiliar culture and heard stories of struggle, sacrifice, and courage that would have pushed me beyond my own capacities had I lived through those times.

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Lyn in 1990 (left); the cover of her forthcoming novel

Stories are ideal for crossing borders of all kinds and opening up a world of people, places, and experiences. This is what I seek to do with my writing, most of which is historical fiction set in diverse countries and cultures. It’s a challenge to evoke a setting well enough that readers can see themselves within it and appreciate having made the journey with me. And if they book a flight to Chile after finishing Surviving Santiago, I know for sure I’ve convinced them that it’s worth the trip!

Thanks, again, Lyn, for a great addition to the series. The other posts in the series are here, here, here, and here.

And now to announce the winner of Amy Rose Capetta’s young adult novel, Unmade.

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The winner, thanks to the random number generator, is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Charles Yallowitz!

Congratulations, Charles. Please confirm below. Thanks again for commenting!

Check This Out: Unmade

Once again, I welcome to the blog the awesome Amy Rose Capetta. If you were around last year, you might remember that Amy Rose came on the blog to talk about her debut science fiction novel Entangled. Well, she’s here today to talk about the sequel—Unmade. Get ready to rock!

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El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Amy Rose: 1. I used to be a bookseller, a baker, and a teenage indie filmmaker.
2. I have lived on the East Coast, West Coast, in the South and the Midwest. What does that leave? The Southwest? I don’t think I could do that. Even thinking about it makes my skin feel dry.
3. My favorites are: sunshine, good books, learning things, almost any food, road trips. I’ve driven across the country four times.
4. I have a little tree in my writing room. I’m looking at him right now. He’s getting a little droopy. I hope he makes it through this winter. I hope we all do.

El Space: I hope we do too. In this second book of Cade’s story, what did you learn about yourself as you wrote Unmade? Was there anything you did differently than when you wrote Entangled?
Amy Rose: I learned that I am willing to do anything to make a book work, including abandoning a full draft on deadline, and starting from scratch with only a few months to go. It was the most terrifying writing experience of my life, and I wouldn’t have been anywhere near brave enough to do it without VCFA. But once I saw what I really wanted the story to be, I knew there was no other way.

El Space: How did you determine how much back story to include?
Amy Rose: I am one of those “only include as much as you need for the story” types. In fact, and this might be blasphemous to mention, but for Entangled and Unmade I came up with a lot of back story as I wrote, as I found the need for it. Because with making up a whole universe of planets and people and problems—you could spend ten years of your life coming up with back story only to cut most of it out. At some point you just have to start writing. And I like the surprise of finding things out as I bomb through rough drafts.

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El Space: What inspired you as you wrote this second adventure?
Amy Rose: The opportunity to get deeper into the characters. I think for me that love comes from a long history of series reading in fantasy and science fiction, but also a newer love of long and satisfying character arcs on TV shows, ones with lots of reversals and drama that drive the characters to new places. It’s probably not a coincidence that some of my favorites in this category are “genre” shows like Battlestar Galactica. But my secret favorite in this regard is Angel, the Buffy spinoff. If you see where some of those characters start their arcs, and where they end up, it’s wild. But you live it with them, one episode at a time, which is so emotionally engaging. And it feels believable to me. People can change so much, and at the same time we can see who they are through all of it, what stays intact. I wanted to write those sorts of character arcs.

battlestar-galactica-003David Boreanaz as Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer S03E06 Band Candy 4

El Space: Do you have a playlist for this book? If so, what songs would you include? What characters, if any, inspired you to think of these songs? I’m especially intrigued with what song Rennik might have inspired. 🙂
Amy Rose: Okay, so I absolutely cheated and wrote most of Unmade to the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack. But it was right there, and it was so perfect. The composer doesn’t just give us his idea of what futuristic space music sounds like; he takes little bits of instrumentation and melody from all of these different cultures, and weaves them together and then adds the big epic tense thing that makes it suit the story. The result is music that ties the character in space back to Earth and home and connection and culture and longing. Like I said: too perfect.

Playlist

As a fun thing, I had people make a playlist for Unmade for a giveaway, and tell me the one song they would bring to outer space. I got some really fun answers—everything from Deep Purple to David Bowie to Beethoven to Taylor Swift.

Rennik’s song would be something by the guitarist Kaki King, something intricate and instrumental. Also a bonus because a friend told me that Kaki King reminds her of Cade.

Kaki+King

El Space: What attracts you the most to science fiction?
Amy Rose: Creation. Adaptation. Looking at everything sideways or upside down or a thousand years in the future. It’s a great way to explore big questions, because it doesn’t tether you to this particular moment, this culture, this way of looking at things. It allows you to think a little bit bigger than that—which is beautiful and a bit addictive.

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El Space: I’m a long-standing advocate of duologies. What made you decide to tell Cade’s story as a duology rather than a trilogy?
Amy Rose: Haha. Well, that’s a long story. I did consider a trilogy, but in the end the two parts of the story really are bookends. I had enough material that I could have written three books, but that’s not really the question. The structure always made sense as two. There are two major things that change the trajectory of Cade’s life. There are two times that Xan changes everything. And most importantly, there are two endings. The small one that’s a waystation on the journey, and the big one that brings it to a close. I worship really good trilogies, but for that exact reason I don’t want to write one unless it’s the right shape for the story—unless that’s the only way to tell it.

El Space: What are you working on now?
Amy Rose: I am working on two very different things. One is a contemporary fantasy book, set in a theater. It has a central love story between two girls, which is something that won’t surprise readers of Unmade. I was always trying to get Lee and Ayumi more page time! The relationships were one of my favorite parts of these books, and I wanted something that put a love story at center stage, unabashedly. In reviews of YA genre books, we often hear a lot about “thank goodness there’s not too much romance in this!” which is funny to me, because I am ALWAYS looking for a good love story. Maybe not every reader is, but I think minimizing it is just a way that we distance ourselves from the idea of what girls like to read. I know I did that when I was a teenager. Well, now I am much too old to give any f***s. I love love stories. And I really wanted to tell an epic one.

The other story is contemporary, which is completely bizarre for me. I never thought I would write one. But it kept getting in my way, so I let myself write a draft. Then I put it away for a year because I couldn’t figure out how to revise it. But I have some ideas now. And I kind of love working on it. Like I said: bizarre.

Thanks, Amy Rose, for being my guest today!

Looking for Amy Rose? You can find her at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Unmade can be found here:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound
Great Lakes Book and Supply

One of you will win a copy of Unmade just by commenting. The winner will be announced on March 11.

Author photo by Cori McCarthy. Kaki King from elisarusso.com. Battlestar Galactica cast from thewallpapers.org. David Boreanaz as Angel from theangstreport.blogspot.com. Playlist image from femininoealem.com.br. Earth from whitegoldsilver.blogspot. Dr. Doofenshmirtz from phineasandferb.wikia.com.

I’m Entitled?

I’ve got two winners to announce, thanks to the Random Number Generator. (I love it so! I could just kiss it!)

1335816The winner of the $15 Amazon gift card to purchase Under the Mermaid Angel by Martha Moore is

Andy of City Jackdaw!

Andy, congratulations! I checked Amazon UK. The book is available! Your card will be in pounds.

NEWCOVER-199x300The winner of the $25 Amazon gift card to purchase Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta and The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy is

Beatthemtodeathwiththeirownshoes!

Congrats, beatthemtodeathwiththeirownshoes (John). Um, hopefully you can confirm with your email address and whether or not you require Amazon UK as well. (You mentioned having trouble commenting lately.) Please comment below or catch me at lmarie7b(at)gmail(dot)com.

On with the show. . . .

Why the post title? Well, let me start by taking you way back to fifth grade. My good friend Nathaniel had a habit of blurting out in class, “Somebody farted!” Everyone would giggle, while our teacher, Mrs. Nave, frowned and yelled for quiet.

Back then, we had the whoever-smelt-it-dealt-it rule. Meaning, if you called attention to it, you were the culprit. And that was generally true of Nathaniel. Since he was the class clown, he was quick to point the finger at someone else, even when he was the culprit.

The other day I read this post at Lisa Kramer’s blog. You have to read the post to know the issue. I was incensed at the demands some of her students made and even commented that the demands smacked of entitlement.

After that, I couldn’t help noticing my own entitlement issues. If I could readily judge someone else’s issue, I surely have a similar problem. Whoever smelt it, dealt it, right?

Right. Anger is the first sign that I have an attitude of entitlement. I’ve been Princess Pouty lately. (I can’t take credit for that appellation. If you’re a fan of the Avatar series, you know that Zuko was called Prince Pouty in an episode.) In fact, the cat in this photo reminds me of me—the stance and expression, rather than the caption.

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As embarrassing as it is to admit to my faults—my demand for an expected outcome in each situation—I need to own up to them, rather than pull a “Nathaniel” or act Pharisaical as I point the finger at someone else. So here they are in all of their dismal glory.

The blog. If I write a post, I am entitled to readers, especially readers who comment. I’m sighing and hanging my head at this one. It’s all part of the “If you write it, they will come” field of dreams. (Remember that movie?) Two weeks ago, I asked myself, If no one comments or follows this blog, will I still write blog posts? Am I writing them for comments or am I writing them because I want to write them? A good dose of reality was the key. There are so many blogs out there. The fact that anyone chooses to stop by my blog—well, that’s a tiny miracle. But no one owes me a comment, simply because I blather on.
The search for an agent. If I query a manuscript, I’m entitled to an agent’s acceptance or feedback as to why it was not accepted. After all, the world is waiting for this manuscript! Actually, the world is waiting for the next Hobbit movie or the new Plants vs. Zombies videogame. (I know I am!) Yet the anger I feel when I hear “no” or whenever I don’t hear back from an agent points to entitlement. I can hear some veterans of the querying process chuckling and whispering, “Naïve much?” Ha ha! Yeah. I read a comment by an agent at a blog post, which in short stated, “Get over it! Act professional. Learn from the rejection.” Wise words.
The job search. If I apply for a job, I’m entitled to it, especially if I’m qualified or more than qualified for it. Even I can’t help giggling at that attitude, even after growling at employers who passed up my applications.
The left lane. If I’m driving in the left lane, those who drive slower than me should automatically get over and let me go on my merry way. The road rage I frequently indulge in is always a sure sign of the attitude.
Prayer. Whatever I ask for, I should get, especially if I have a good reason for asking. Oh man do I have this bad.

The list goes on and on. Truth hurts sometimes. But the fact that this list took all of two seconds to compile shows that I needed to face the truth and put aside Princess Pouty.

Please don’t think for one minute that I am holding up a mirror for anyone else. The only mirror I’m holding up is compact size. In other words, I usually air my own dirty laundry.

Now, aren’t you glad you stopped by the blog today? Don’t worry. You’re under no obligation to leave a comment. (Well, John and Andy have to, in order to confirm.) I’m tearing up my “titles.” Ya get it? Entitlement? Titles? Guess I’d better add to the list above. (I’m entitled to laughter at my bad puns.)

Cat from LOL Cats.

Check This Out: Entangled

I love to connect people with great authors and books. So, I’m thrilled to death to have another great author, the amazing Amy Rose Capetta in the house.

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Amy Rose, who is represented by Sara Crowe, is here to talk about her upcoming young adult science fiction novel, Entangled, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It debuts October 1. Here’s a synopsis:

NEWCOVER-199x300Alone was the note Cade knew best. It was the root of all her chords.

Seventeen-year-old Cade is a fierce survivor, solo in the universe with her cherry-red guitar. Or so she thought. Her world shakes apart when a hologram named Mr. Niven tells her she was created in a lab in the year 3112, then entangled at a subatomic level with a boy named Xan.

Cade’s quest to locate Xan joins her with an array of outlaws—her first friends—on a galaxy-spanning adventure. And once Cade discovers the wild joy of real connection, there’s no turning back.

That sounds out of this world, right? Okay, I hear you groaning at that terrible pun, so let’s move on. I’ll tell you about today’s special givewaway later.

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Amy Rose: 1) Amy is my first name, Rose is my middle. I go by Amy Rose, due to liking the way it sounds and being born in a Time of Many Amys. I have to thank my mom and dad for the nice name whenever I get a chance! 2) I move a lot. At this exact second, I live in Michigan. 3) I went to VCFA. My heart lives in Montpelier. 4) I shaved my head when Entangled sold, as part of a celebration with my best friend and fellow YA sci-fi author Cori McCarthy.

El Space: If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll remember that Cori was here in May to talk about her awesome book, The Color of Rain. So, Amy Rose, how did you come to write Entangled?
Amy Rose: I had the main character and setting of Entangled in my head for at least two years before it collided with the premise and plot. My best friend Julia is a scientist, and for years I had been listening to the fascinating ideas she stumbled into every day and thinking “I need to write that,” and “that should be a novel!” But I think that impulse is a daily outing for a writer’s brain. It’s like taking a walk. When she told me about quantum entanglement, my synapses went into marathon mode.

El Space: What characteristics do you have in common with Cade? How are you different?
Amy Rose: I don’t know if I have as much in common with Cade now, but the sixteen-year-old version of me had the same sort of aggressive introversion. I had a hard time connecting with people—of course, I didn’t have a lifetime of isolation on a ruined planet to blame! I wanted to take that trait and blow it up, to explore the difficulties of human connection, both inherent and created.

One difference is that Cade takes her introversion to a bad-ass place, where I took mine more to a much more nerd-based one. She also has music as her main outlet, and reading and writing were mine.

14198426-e-guitar-semi-acoustics-cherry-redOne more thing: I’ve played music my whole life on a variety of instruments, for the most part badly. But I’m not the guitar player of the family. That’s my awesome little sister. She’s part of the inspiration for Cade, too!

El Space: Cool! If you could bioengineer someone, what qualities would be foremost? Why?
Amy Rose: I’m pretty sure that all science fiction warns us away from bioengineering people, but if we’re talking about desirable traits, I would love to find a noninvasive way to up the compassion factor, the empathy for other people. Of course, if we were all perfectly empathetic we might not need fiction, and fiction is beautiful in its imperfect, word-based, messy way of getting us inside other peoples’ experiences. So maybe I’d just give everyone decent eyesight, because I worry about what will happen if I get caught in a post-apocalyptic landscape with only a single pair of contacts. Sorry, optometrists of the world!

El Space: What did you find challenging/exhilarating about writing science fiction? How did your experience prepare you for the genre?
Amy Rose: I found that science fiction was more fun to write than I’d ever imagined. I had written two previous manuscripts with sci-fi elements, but this was my first trip off-planet, and I had way too much fun. I do think that being a big fan of the genre helped. It felt like my brain had gone swimming in SF and came back knowing how I wanted to describe water. It would have been a totally alien element if I hadn’t flailed around in it. Or maybe this is just the world’s most elaborate excuse for watching Battlestar Galactica and Firefly and TNG all the time.

El Space: Nothing wrong with that! What do you hope readers take away from Entangled?
Amy Rose: I hope readers find something to connect with. Whether it’s a character, a relationship, the music, anything. That spark of connection is what keeps me warm as a reader—and keeps me turning pages.

El Space: What authors inspire you?
169756Amy Rose: I am inspired by so many authors! Ray Bradbury and Madeleine L’Engle both put huge stamps on the way I think, read, and hope to write. Though their influences are less obvious: Italo Calvino and Jeanette Winterson. In YA, I think Libba Bray is brilliant in the most ambitious and genre-spanning way. Also, I spilled wine on her shoe once and she’s still nice to me. And when talking about YA sci-fi, I have to mention M.T. Anderson and Feed, which is the most incredible book.

El Space: What advice do you have for anyone who wishes to write science fiction for the young adult market?
Amy Rose: Aliens are hard. Don’t name more planets than you can remember. Make science magazines, science books, science blogs your stomping grounds. The universe is strange. Don’t be afraid to be strange along with it.

El Space: What are you working on now?
Amy Rose: Right now I’m finishing up revisions on the sequel to Entangled, which is called Unmade. The second book is also the end of the story, so soon I’ll be working on something new!

Give it up for Amy Rose, folks. Now put those hands to good use and comment, so you can be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon card. Why $25? So that you can purchase Amy Rose’s book AND Cori’s book. I didn’t get a chance to give away a copy of Cori’s book earlier. You must agree to get both. Winner to be announced on Friday.

For those of you who don’t win, you can still preorder Entangled at these fine establishments:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

Look for Cori’s book at the same places. If you preorder Entangled from Great Lakes Book & Supply, you can get a signed copy and a button while supplies last. Check out Amy Rose’s website for details. Or go here. Look for Amy Rose at her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Also check out the Nerdbait Guide vlog developed by Amy Rose and Cori.

Author’s photo by Cori McCarthy. Entangled cover from Amy Rose’s website. Other covers from Goodreads.