Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ArmadilloCon 33

And now for the daunting task of condensing a truly epic weekend into a few simple paragraphs.

This was my third year at ArmadilloCon. I really debated about whether to go this year. With the plane tickets and not sharing the hotel room this time, the cost was a bit high. But I really didn't want to pass up the opportunity. And I'm so glad I chose to go, because this may have been the best year yet.

The awesomeness of ArmadilloCon comes down to two things: the workshop and the people.

ArmadilloCon consistently attracts some very high quality authors to the workshop. This year the guest of honor was Paolo Bacigalupi, and he participated in the workshop as well. Turns out he's that brilliant sort of person we all wish we could be who is not only a compelling writer but who is also incredibly well-spoken.

Now I personally didn't have him in my workshop group, but that was alright since I had some other pretty high-powered instructors. Scott Lynch was one of them, and not only was he truly funny, but he gave me some really cool ideas to think about for my book. Martin Wagner, who writes reviews over at, and Stina Leight, whose first novel just came out this past year, were my other instructors, and I learned quite a lot from them as well. And the other students in my group made me feel really good about my work.

So my workshop experience this year was as positive as it's been the past two years. But what made this ArmadilloCon better than the last two was that my relationships with the people have evolved over time.

And honestly, as much as I feel dragged down by the weight of social media sometimes, I think I can attribute a lot of that evolution to the ability to stay connected even from a distance. It means the difference between interacting with people as once-a-year acquaintances and feeling like I both know people and am known.

In particular I want to thank Rosemary Clement-Moore, Patrice Sarath and Marshall Maresca for all their encouragement. I admire all of them, and I really appreciate the individual attention they've given me.

And finally, one of the best parts of ArmadilloCon was, as always, seeing some of the people in my critique group. You guys are so much fun. I'm really excited about the potential new members we picked up this year as well. Long live the Pirates of Moo!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Texas, Here I Come

My head is already in Texas at ArmadilloCon, so I don't have much to blog about this week. I'm really excited about my workshop group and about seeing some of my critique partners and people I've met the past two years. I'll be back next week with recaps and maybe some pictures!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Neeeeeeew Yoooooork!!!

That's where I went last week!

I'd never been before. London, Rome, Beijing... yep! I'd seen all those places. But this was my first trip to NYC.

I went with a small group of students as one of their chaperons. We managed to see quite a lot: the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Chinatown, the Empire State Building and Times Square in particular. Also, I got some really good gelato—not quite as good as Italy's but definitely worth the money.

I had an amazing time on the trip. It was great to see all of these places I'd only heard of before. The Statue of Liberty was beautiful. Times Square was a lot bigger than I realized. I didn't feel queasy at the top of the Empire State Building like I thought I would.

And I appreciated seeing Ground Zero and remembering my experiences of September 11th. I was just starting my freshman year of college. My world had already undergone a drastic change... little did I know just how much more it could change. Seeing the spot ten years later was sobering.

But we had a lot of laughs on the trip as well. The whole group was great about posing for pictures, and I got a lot of shots that I really loved. And though we didn't go on a spending spree, we made some fun purchases.

So all in all I'm really glad I went. And I'm grateful to all of the people who made it such a great experience!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting Ready for ArmadilloCon 33!

My ArmadilloCon workshop placement came last week!!!

I'm so very excited about my group. I'm with three instructors this year: Stina Leicht, Scott Lynch and Thomas (Martin) Wagner. All three are excellent. Couldn't ask for better. This year is going to be really great.

There are three other students in my group as well. Normally by this time I would already have read and critiqued their submissions, but I was out of town most of last week and didn't get a chance. I'm really looking forward to digging into the submissions, though, and hopefully I'll be able to get started on that tomorrow.

The panels also look like they'll be fun. Plus I'm pretty stoked to see all the people I've met the past two years. I can hardly wait!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Research Book Recommendation

I'm very behind on my YA reading since most of what I've been reading lately is for research, so unfortunately yet again I don't have a YA book recommendation.

But I will recommend one of the research books I'm in the middle of for anyone who is at all interested in naval history. It's called The War for all the Oceans by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins. It's the story of the British naval battles that took place between 1798 and 1812, and it's so exciting that it reads almost like a fiction book. If you enjoy that kind of book, check it out—it's a good one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Off Day

Today is sort of an off day for me. (Well, this whole summer has been a little off-kilter, but in a lot of good ways.) My head is in about a hundred different places, so I'm just going to pick a couple random things to talk about and that'll be that.


I went swimming with whales once when I was in Tonga in the south pacific. Awesome experience, and now it's something I can check off as a “been there, done that, got the t shirt” (and the video) kind of thing. But more than that, it was a moment when I really saw just how incredible some of the things in nature can be. The whole trip to Tonga was a good experience for me, because it was basically my first time out of the country, and the only person I had with me was a friend from school. So I look back on that trip and see it as one of my first major “growth spurts” in going from young adult to adult.

High Ropes

Speaking of growth, I had another growing experience of sorts at camp the other week. I'm very afraid of heights, and one of the activities was climbing around on a high ropes course. I was pretty nervous, but I ended up not being quite as afraid as I thought I would be. I felt safe. The biggest problem was knowing that if I slipped I would have a hard time pulling myself back up just because the course required a lot of arm strength. It was a challenge, and I'm really glad I did it.

And that's about all my brain can process right now. I hope you're all having a great week!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ten-Year Reunion

This past weekend I went to my ten-year high school reunion.

I wasn't really sure what to expect. I was that kid in high school who always had all the right answers but never knew the right thing to say to people. So going in I was curious about how it would go—would they think I was still that person? Would they be right... would I revert to acting that way?

But the night turned out to be a lot of fun. I talked to most of the people there, and while I tended to have the same conversation each time, I really had a good time learning what everyone else was doing in life.

And one girl completely surprised me! She's a very creative type herself now, and she told me she's been keeping up with what I'm doing on Facebook because she loves to read and really hopes I publish my book. That comment made my night!

The really interesting thing for me, though, was seeing what has changed in ten years and what hasn't. Half of the people look exactly the same as they did in high school. The other half I would have passed on the street and not recognized. Most of the personalities haven't changed much. And yet the way we relate to each other has... at least in the interactions I was part of. Ten years ago I didn't feel very well-liked, and I didn't have a whole lot of regard for most of the people around me, but Saturday night I came away from the reunion thinking, “If we lived closer, I wouldn't mind knowing you better.” And that was a good feeling.

Friday, August 5, 2011

If I Were an Agent

I saw a fun “if I were an agent” post the other week and thought I'd give my own take.

If I were an agent looking to build my client list, these are the kinds of books I'd really want to see right now:

Historical fantasy set in an unexpected time and place.

Urban fantasy that deals with real-world issues (think Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler).

Classical fantasy with a unique twist I haven't seen before (like Graceling or The Shifter or The False Princess... though since those are all strong female leads I'd love to see an unexpected male lead).

Any book, fantasy or not, that isn't preachy but has a positive view of people of faith.

Any book (not necessarily sci fi) that plays with psychology and manipulation the way a book like Ender's Game or Dune does.

What would be on your list?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Update

Some not-totally-huge-but-not-insignificant things have happened over the last few months with my writing, so I figured I'd do a short update today on what I'm working on.

With regards to Olympus Gate: I've gotten some really helpful feedback from a couple of agents on the manuscript. I really appreciated what they had to say and agreed with the comments, so I'm going to go through another pass at editing the book and then try sending it out again.

With regards to Unmade: To be honest, I'm struggling with this book. It's been a bigger challenge than I ever expected. The biggest surprise was that writing a story set in the real world in the present day is more complicated than I thought, especially when it comes to pacing. My frustrations with the book and the way it keeps changing scope on me have led to difficulty making progress. So I think I need to put the story away for a while, and when I decide to come back to it I'll change my approach.

With regards to the yet-unnamed book: I'm really looking forward to working on it. I still have to find the voice, which is going to be tricky, but I've already started playing around with the first chapter and I'm absolutely loving it so far. After I finish my Olympus Gate edits I'll probably dive in and get to work on it.

And that's pretty much everything there is to tell. What's going on with you?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Random Tuesday Links

I saw these articles today while catching up on my Google Reader. I chuckled and said, "Yes, this," to each of them.

The Solution to Every Writing Problem

Love Triangles

The Eye of Incarceron

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back from Camp

So last week I didn't post at all because I was away all week at a youth camp. It was an incredible experience in a lot of ways, but specifically with regards to writing it was a strong confirmation that I'm doing exactly what I should be: writing books for teens.

I met a lot of really incredible high schoolers who inspired me, challenged me and gave me enthusiasm to come back and continue fighting to make progress as a writer. I heard a lot of stories about how complex and difficult and sometimes messy teens' lives can be, and I want to write books that reinforce that they don't have to go through those years alone.

I guess I won't really go into a lot of depth about that since I'm still processing the week (and catching up on sleep!), but these thoughts really hit me while I was there, so I thought I'd put them down as a reminder to myself and encouragement to anyone else out there writing YA. Books can make a big difference to a lot of people.