Check This Out: Charlotte Cuts It Out

Yes, today is the day that I reveal the winners of The Lost Celt. (Click here, if you’re totally confused by that sentence.) But first, please help me greet the still fabulous Kelly Barson, who is back on the blog to talk about her latest contemporary young adult novel, Charlotte Cuts It Out. This book was published by Viking this past April. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you might remember Kelly from this interview a few years ago when her first novel debuted.

25787386  393a7594b3cd1b1163943a019bcb82fa

Kelly is represented by Sara Crowe. Click here to read a synopsis of Charlotte Cuts It Out. We’ll wait till you return. You’re back? Just in time to hear some good news. One of you will win a copy of this book. Now, let’s talk to Kelly.

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Kelly: 1. I’m a grandmother.
2. I—well, my family really—collect antique steam tractors.
3. I’m left-handed and can write in mirror image, like Leonardo Da Vinci.

8115460212_7cef0a8c5b_z
4. I’m an INFJ who married an ESTP six months and one day after our first date.

El Space: I don’t think I’ve seen a book recently where a teen pursues a vocation. Very refreshing! So, what inspired you to write Charlotte Cuts It Out? I couldn’t help thinking of someone I know who participated in the cosmetology program of her high school. She’s out of high school now and working at a salon in my area.
Kelly: My daughter was a high school cos student. She’s now working as a stylist. Out of my four kids, only one went to college. The other three work in the trades, and each of them got their training while still in high school. Trades are viable career options, and they’re often misrepresented, if presented at all.

cosmetologist-student

El Space: What were the challenges and joys of creating a character like Charlotte, who really seems to know her own mind?
Kelly: Charlotte was both fun and challenging to write. Her sass was fun to write, but the annoying parts of her often mirror my own nature, so that was weird/interesting. The hard part was allowing her to be herself while still trying to present her as somewhat likeable, so readers care. Was I successful? That depends on the reader, I guess. My critical thesis at VCFA was on unlikeable protagonists, but that didn’t make writing one any easier.

El Space: If Charlotte had to create a style palate for Michelle Obama, what would she do first and why?
Kelly: This is hard because Michelle Obama doesn’t really need style help. She is already fierce and awesome. Charlotte (and I) would love to see her hair in its natural curl. She typically has it straightened with a flat iron, and it always looks fabulous, but she could mix it up a bit by going natural now and then. As for colors, she looks amazing in bright jewel tones. She and Barack are a stunning couple who can light up a room. No need to hide that. Her makeup is usually understated and accentuates her beautiful features, which is perfect for her. Oh, man, I’m going to miss her in the White House!

Michelle-Obama

El Space: If you had a chance to name a nail polish color, what name would you choose?
Kelly: This is easy. I did this in Charlotte: Iridescent Iris!

iridescent-iris  a8d8cf8269644e7b1a531b8e7f4d2722

El Space: What’s the best writing tip you’ve heard recently?
Kelly: This tip is from the prolific Cori McCarthy (AKA Cori McAwesome): Plot, but then don’t be beholden to it. Cori plots out her books, but isn’t afraid to let the story evolve how it needs to and change the outline as needed. She is fearless.

El Space: What are you working on next?
Kelly: I have several works-in-progress. One is another YA project about a girl and her sister who live with their hoarding grandmother. Another is a dual-POV story that takes place in 1976 and explores affirmative action. I worked on this at VCFA with Rita [Williams-Garcia]. I’m also working on a MG Christmas story. Then there are the stories that are still marinating in my brain space.

Good to have you as my guest, Kelly!

You can find Kelly at her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Charlotte Cuts It Out can be found here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound

Do you know someone who pursued a trade, rather than attending a liberal arts college? Comment below to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Charlotte Cuts It Out. (Please comment, even if you don’t know someone.)

Now let’s get to the winners of The Lost Celt by A. E. Conran.

AmandaConran-3editCrop    26071554

Those winners are

Andy of City Jackdaw

and . . .

and . . .

and . . .

Penny of Life on the Cutoff!

Congrats to the winners. Please comment below to confirm. The winner of Charlotte Cuts It Out will be announced on June 13.

Author photo by Hal Folk. Book covers from Goodreads. Michelle Obama photo from africancelebs.com. Iris image from clisawrite.files.wordpress.com. Nail polish photo from Pinterest. Da Vinci mirror writing image from imgarcade.com. Cosmetology student photo from sites.google.com.

Advertisements

The Stanton Effect: Drama Is Anticipation Mixed with Uncertainty

6a00d83451b64669e2017c3652fef8970b-250wiI’d like to welcome back to the blog Laurie Morrison, who is an awesome teacher, young adult novelist extraordinaire, and a great friend from VCFA. You probably know her from her blog, which you can get to by clicking here. Laurie’s guest post is for the series, The Stanton Effect: Inspiration from a TED Talk. You can find Andrew Stanton’s TED Talk here.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

After reading Laurie’s post, please stick around for a special announcement. And now, I’ll turn the blog over to Laurie.

Last weekend, I went to the Writing Novels for Young People Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I got some very helpful feedback on the contemporary young adult novel I’m working on. Four other writers read the beginning of my work in progress, asked some great questions, and offered some wise suggestions.

“Try to avoid a mean girl as an antagonist because it’s predictable,” one told me. “There isn’t going to be a love triangle, is there?” another writer asked. “That guy doesn’t end up being the right one for the main character, does he?” someone else said. “And I hope her mom gets redeemed a little.”

I haven’t finished drafting this new novel yet, and these other writers’ thoughts helped me crystallize my sense of where the story is going. They confirmed what I had planned for some parts of the plot and encouraged me to reconsider others so that the story will be satisfying but not predictable.

As I watched the Andrew Stanton TED talk that L. Marie shared, the insight that stood out to me was the idea that drama equals anticipation mixed with uncertainty. I take this point to mean that readers should have an idea of what they hope will happen at the end of a story. If there’s a romance element, as there is in my work in progress, that romance becomes more compelling if the reader is rooting for a certain outcome. However, the reader should also feel some genuine uncertainty about how (and maybe if) that outcome will happen.

anticipation posteruncertainty-785849

With some kinds of stories, readers come in with expectations about the kind of ending that’s in store for them. If a book has a fairly light, humorous tone, as my stories tend to have, readers anticipate a happy ending of sorts. But the challenge, as Stanton suggests, is to balance that anticipation with enough uncertainty so that the conclusion of the story won’t feel too easy. The ending should feel inevitable but not obvious.

I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately, including Sarah Tomp’s My Best Everything, which came out recently, and Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You, which comes out at the end of this month. Both of these books are contemporary realistic YA. Both are well written. And both manage to balance anticipation with uncertainty. But the two books have very different tones, and therefore they handle the anticipation-uncertainty balance very differently.

20783745 22429350

In Sarah Tomp’s My Best Everything, I never took for granted that there would be a happy ending. The book has some lighthearted moments, but an ominous feeling pervades the narrative. The main character, Lulu, makes moonshine to earn the money she needs to pay her college tuition, and even though Lulu doesn’t always realize just how dangerous the moonshine business can be, Tomp makes its perils very clear to the reader. The ending has an inevitable feeling, since it capitalizes on elements that are raised throughout the story, but it definitely isn’t predictable. I wanted to get to the end of the book precisely because there was so much uncertainty: about whether or not Lulu gets to go to college, about what happens to her relationship with the boy she’s falling for, and even about whether or not that boy survives.

In Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You, the characters deal with plenty of heavy stuff, but based on the tone and the way the book is packaged, I was expecting a happy ending. There’s a love story at the center of the novel, and I would have been very disappointed if Paige, the main character, hadn’t ended up with the guy I wanted her to end up with. Even though I anticipated something pretty specific from the ending, the novel has enough uncertainty to be very compelling. There are some believable obstacles that keep Paige from getting together with the right guy too soon, and Paige’s love story isn’t the only part of her journey—she has a lot of other important, satisfying relationships and goes through a lot of other growth. I wanted to keep reading to find out how close to the end Paige and her guy would get together and whether I would be satisfied with the way it all happened, and I also wanted to see how the other elements of her journey would turn out.

My work in progress is more similar in tone to The Start of Me and You than My Best Everything, so my challenge will be to make readers root for an outcome they’re pretty sure will happen while incorporating enough obstacles and surprises to earn a happy ending. As I keep writing and revising, I’ll definitely keep thinking about maintaining an effective mix of anticipation and uncertainty, as Andrew Stanton suggests.

Thanks, Laurie, for a great post! Other posts in the series can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Speaking of good books, I’m delighted to announce the winner of Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy.

CM Headshot2BSky Cover Final

Drum roll, please. . . .

giphy

The winner is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Laura Sibson!

Laura, congratulations! Please comment below to confirm.

Book covers from Goodreads. Anticipation poster from redvinesandredwine.blogspot.com. Uncertainty sign from abouthydrology.blogspot.com. Drum roll gif from giphy.com.

Check This Out: Breaking Sky

Break out your flight suits, kids! Today on the blog, we’re going up, up, and away, with the totally awesome Cori McCarthy. She’s here to talk about her new young adult novel, Breaking Sky, published by Sourcebooks on March 10. Perhaps you’ll recall that Cori was here in 2013 to talk about her first book, The Color of Rain.

CM Headshot2

BSky Cover FinalCori is represented by Sarah Davies. Here is the synopsis for Breaking Sky:

In this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled thriller, America’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy.

Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx,” is one of only two pilots chosen to fly the experimental “Streaker” jets at the junior Air Force Academy in the year 2048. She’s tough and impulsive with lightning-fast reactions, but few know the pain and loneliness of her past or the dark secret about her father. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker jet, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn’t play well with others, but to save her country she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

Exciting, huh? Stay put after the interview for a giveaway announcement.

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Cori: (1) I am restlessly creative. (2) I do not like sweets, desserts, or chocolates, but if you place a bowl of pasta in front of me, beware of losing your fingers. (3) My goal for retirement is to live in the New England woods, writing full time without access to the internet. (4) My two big brothers are my heroes—well, tied with Walt Whitman.

Walt_Whitman_1872

El Space: Tell us about Breaking Sky. What was the inspiration behind it?
Cori: The inspiration was about ten different elements coming together. I wanted to write about an unlikeable character. I wanted to write about fighter jets and militarized youth. And perhaps most importantly, I wanted to write something fun.

Front CoverEl Space: You’re known for your strong characters. How is Chase different from Rain in The Color of Rain? What aspect of your interior life did you give to Chase? Why?
Cori: Rain is all survivor’s heart, and Chase? Chase is a bit of a jerk. I have, at many points in my life, been a bit of a jerk as well. The problem is that I sometimes become obsessed with my creative ambitions, and I don’t always notice when I’ve hurt someone’s feelings or neglect them. Chase feels as badly about mistreating the people around her as I do, and she is constantly trying to rise above it. But as I have learned over and over again, it’s not easy to change who you are. Harder still to apologize for it in a way that doesn’t sound like an excuse.

El Space: Congrats on the movie rights to your novel being sold to Sony Pictures. How do you wrap your mind around that? What scares or excites you about the thought of being “the next big thing”?
Cori: Thank you! The movie news was as unexpected and as it was exciting, and I’m not sure that I have wrapped my mind around it. There’s an element of Hollywood that just can’t be predicted. Will the movie happen? Yes, no, maybe! I’m along for the ride. As far as the title “the next big thing,” I know less about processing that than I do about Hollywood!

NextBigThing-300x292

El Space: You’re also a screenwriter. How did that training enhance your writing of Breaking Sky?
Cori: Screenwriting taught me how to plot. Hands down. If you’re a writer who is having trouble plotting, I highly, highly, highly suggest taking a class or reading a book on writing screenplays.

El Space: Do you or someone you know have a military background? How much research did you have to do to write Breaking Sky?
Cori: I chose the Air Force because my grandfather and father served in the Air Force, and my big brother is currently a Master Sergeant in the Air Force. They inspired me, and then from there I did copious amounts of research. I read firsthand accounts of fighter pilots stretching all the way back to World War I. At the same time, I created a fictional jet and academy so that while I could use my research, I could also set my own rules. I mean, I don’t think anyone could write a book about West Point without having attended West Point, so I made up the United Star Academy and the streaker jets.

050707-F-3961R-002.jpg

Air Force bombers

Blank TShirtEl Space: I read an article online where a female recruit discussed her participation in basic training in the Air Force. She mentioned:

Around your 5 WOT [week of training], your flight can start designing a flight t-shirt. . . . . Let your shirts’ design represent the essence of your flight.

I love that idea. As an author, you’ve gone through a “basic training” of sorts now that your debut period is over and you have written multiple books. What would you put on a T-shirt to show where you are today—the “essence” of your career?
Cori: What a cool question. I think my t-shirt would say: CHASE RAIN. Beyond being my characters’ names, that’s pretty much what I do every time I sit down to write a book. I pull things out of the air and try to make sense of them. For every book that I’ve sold, there are two more that aren’t going anywhere outside of my computer. Some days writing feels Sisyphean. Some days it’s poetic. Most days? It’s the best job on the planet.

480px-torture-_level_sisyphus_large

El Space: What genre do you plan to tackle next?
Cori: For some crazy reason I’ve decided to write a contemporary story told from five different points of view! It’ll be out March 2016 and is called, You Were Here. I’m excited about it but also terrified because there are no flashy speculative fiction tricks. No distracting jets or heartbreaking prostitutes. This is a story that will allow every single person who reads it to peer directly into my soul. Will anyone like it? I have no idea. . . .

I’m betting we will, Cori. Thanks for being my guest.

If you’re looking for Cori, you can find her at the usual places: her website, her author page on Facebook, and Twitter.

Breaking Sky is available here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Indiebound
Great Lakes Book and Supply

One of you will win a copy of Breaking Sky just by commenting below. The winner will be announced on Thursday, March 26.

Author photo and book cover courtesy of Cori McCarthy. Walt Whitman photo from Wikipedia. Blank t-shirt from youthedesigner.com. U.S. Air Force bombers from osd.dtic.mil. Sisyphus from arrowinflight.wordpress.com.

Cover Reveal: Surviving Santiago

You’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a village to produce a good book—a literary “child.” And that’s true of Surviving Santiago, a literary child by the awesome Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Feast your eyes on the cover.

9780762456338

You might know Lyn from her blog and from her visits here.

Lyn_photo

A good book needs a place to call home. Surviving Santiago, a young adult novel, found a home at Running Press. It is a companion book to Gringolandia (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press, 2009) and debuts June 2, 2015. Here’s the synopsis:

To sixteen-year-old Tina Aguilar, love is the center of her world with its warmth and ability to make a place into a home. Thus Tina is less than thrilled to return to her birthplace of Santiago, Chile, for the first time in eight years to visit her father, the man who betrayed her and her mother’s love through his political obsession and alcoholism. Tina is not surprised to find Papá physically disabled from his time as a political prisoner, but she is disappointed and confused by his constant avoidance of her company. So when Frankie, a mysterious, crush-worthy boy, shows interest in her, Tina does not hesitate to embrace his affection.

However, Frankie’s reason for being in Tina’s neighborhood is far from incidental or innocent, and the web of deception surrounding Tina begins to spin out of control. Tina’s heart is already in turmoil, but adding her and her family’s survival into the mix brings her to the edge of truth and discovery.

Romance and intrigue intertwine in Lyn Miller-Lachmann’s coming-of-age story set amidst the tense anticipation at the end of the Pinochet regime in 1989. Fans of Gringolandia will recognize the Aguilar family as they continue their story of survival and redemption.

You know you want this book. I can tell.

A good book needs champions at a publishing house. One of Surviving Santiago‘s champions is the editor, Lisa Cheng, who also edited The Color of Rain by the ever wonderful Cori McCarthy, who was interviewed on this blog. Another champion is the publicist, Val Howlett, who helps spread the word about Lyn’s book.

Last, but not least, a good book needs a good cover. (That’s your cue to take a second look at the cover above.) Surviving Santiago‘s cover was designed T. L. Bonaddio. Click here for her website.

Wondering what Lyn thinks about the cover? Wonder no more:

My reading of Latin American detective fiction influenced Surviving Santiago, which blends history, romance, and suspense. One of my favorite authors for adults is the genre-crossing Chilean-Mexican-Spanish writer Roberto Bolaño. Surviving Santiago’s cover references his Distant Star, a novel that explores truth and revenge at the end of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Distant-Star

Looking for a good book? You can preorder Surviving Santiago here:

Indiebound
Amazon

Curious about Gringolandia (another good book)? Click here.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the author of Gringolandia (a 2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults) and Rogue. She has an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin. She is the former editor of MultiCultural Review and has taught English, social studies, and Jewish studies. She is the assistant host of Vientos del Pueblo, a bilingual radio show featuring Latin American and Spanish music, poetry, and history. She grew up in Houston and currently lives in New York with her family. You can visit her online at http://www.lynmillerlachmann.com/

Lyn is represented by Ellen Geiger at Frances Goldin Literary Agency.

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.

lolcatsdotcomn0mwqghk87j03hfw

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.

1003540_10100931055174828_2146688123_n

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.

Check This Out: The Color of Rain

In my continuing quest to point you to quality entertainment, I would like to give a shout-out to a book by one of my fellow VCFA alums, the awesome Cori McCarthy.

CoriMcCarthyAuthorShot2

On May 14, 2013, the world will witness the debut of The Color of Rain, Cori’s young adult science fiction novel, published by Running Press Teens/The Perseus Books Group.

Front Cover

Don’t you just love that cover? Here’s the synopsis:

     If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is “Touched,” and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her “willingness.”
     The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny’s ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny’s girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain’s quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.
     With intergalactic twists and turns, Cori McCarthy’s debut space thriller exists in an orbit of its own.

I don’t know about you, but that synopsis gives me chills. And Cori’s in the house, so please behave while I ask her a few questions.

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Cori: I was born on Guam. I have a J.R.R. Tolkien drawing as a tattoo. I lived in Dublin, Ireland for a year. I have a son named Maverick who definitely lives up to his name.

El Space: Love the name Maverick. And I’d love to get to Dublin someday. Also, let me just say that a Tolkien tattoo is awesome. Now, could you tell us who or what inspired you to write this book?
Cori: I got the idea to write a “prostitute in space” book in the middle of the night, but I thought it was a crazy idea. I wouldn’t have started writing it if weren’t for a dare on Facebook to write something for my graduating workshop semester at VCFA that might “frighten the incoming students.” Turns out that they weren’t frightened at all, and I ended up with a high-concept story idea out of the experience.

El Space: Your graduate reading was so powerful, I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since. What excites you most about the genre?
Cori: I love the fact that the young adult audience alters the sci-fi genre. My agent (Sarah Davies at The Greenhouse Literary Agency) encouraged me to embrace the fiction in science fiction, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the adult genre, like too much technology or scientific explanation. There are few gadgets in the novel and some starships, but I didn’t have to explain how humans withstand space travel or manufacture gravity—thank goodness.

El Space: You’re packing for a trip into space. What would you bring?
Cori: My favorite pair of boots: Dr. Martens Triumph 1914 Boots. I’m pretty sure I could take on every alien civilization out there if I were wearing ’em.

El Space: I’m pretty sure you could! Inquiring minds also want to know: what are you working on now?
Cori: I’m working on another YA novel—very different from Rain. It’s near-futuristic, another high-concept book. Beyond that, I’ve been advised to keep the pitch a secret!

El Space: Awww! Well, we’ll look forward to it! Now, any advice you have for aspiring writers?
Cori: Don’t be afraid to rewrite from scratch. If I didn’t rewrite this novel three times, well, I wouldn’t have a novel!

Thanks so much, Cori! Give it up for her, folks. (You can stop clapping anytime.)

You can find Cori at her website: http://www.corimccarthy.com/ or her Facebook author page.

The Color of Rain is available for preorder at these fine establishments:
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Powell’s Books
Anderson’s Bookshops

Check out the book trailer for The Color of Rain at Cori’s website or at The Compulsive Reader.