777 Challenge!

I’ve just be tagged by Lindsay Ribar to do the 777 Challenge. The rules: post seven sentences of your work, start on page seven, seven lines down. The following is from my third YA, Look Both Ways!

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The 11 Stage of Drafting

The Magpie Phase

Deadlines loom on the horizon. You have so much work to do. But when that brand new idea pops up smack in the middle of your brain, how can you possibly ignore it? It’s JUST. SO. SHINY. You try to push it away, but it sits there in your peripheral vision all day, twinkling and sparkling like someone went at it with a Bedazzler, making it impossible to concentrate on anything else. Eventually, you have to snatch it up. You don’t want someone else to get it first, do you?

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My writing process: blog tour

Kayla1Thanks to my friend and agent-mate Kayla Olson for tagging me on this blog tour! Kayla is a delightful person, an excellent cheerleader, AND the writer of super-suspenseful mysterious things that she needs to finish up so I can read them already. (She also routinely sends me pictures of hilariously bad taxidermy.) To read about her writing process, click here! You can also follow her on Twitter @olsonkayla. 


My work in progress is the book I just sold to Delacorte, a contemporary YA called LOOK BOTH WAYS that takes place at a summer theater festival in upstate New York. I don’t think I’m allowed to say much about it yet, but in a broadest sense, it’s about trying to fit in with your family, what “talent” really means, and the fine line between romantic and platonic love. (It also involves a Macbeth/Bye Bye Birdie mash-up musical called “Bye Bye, Banquo.”) I spent the summers of 2003, 2004, and 2005 working at theater festivals as a lighting designer, and I’m thrilled that I finally get to write about some of the unbelievably weird stuff that goes on there. The story isn’t autobiographical in the least, but the setting absolutely is. 

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Falling is only the beginning

I’m about to say something that’ll make me sound like a horrible, blasphemous, cynical monster. Ready?

Often, my favorite YA romances aren’t the Happily Ever Afters—they’re the ones that run their course and end up falling apart.

I’m not talking about tragic love stories, where one of the characters dies or the two lovers are separated by obstacles beyond their control. I’m talking about the stories where two people get together, discover they’re not right for each other, and learn things from that failure. The Happily Ever After (or Happily for Now) absolutely has its place—those stories are really satisfying to read, and they give us lots of hope, which I think is important. But it bothers me that nearly every YA book I come across focuses on the beginnings of relationships without ever exploring the more difficult middles or ends, where most of the work takes place. So many people learn about relationships by reading, and I kind of feel like we’re dropping teens at the tops of beautiful, scenic overlooks and then bailing before we tell them how to climb down or get home. [Read more…]

Best reads of 2013!

It’s time for Alison’s Best Reads of the Year Awards!

The rules are as follows:

1) I must have read these books for the first time in 2013, though they don’t need to have been published in 2013.

2) Books I read as ARCs in 2012 do not count, even if they came out in 2013. (Unfortunately, this eliminates all my critique partners’ books from the running… but I’ll give them their own special section at the end.)

3) Books are listed in no particular order.

4) I am not allowed to choose more than five books per category, but I can choose fewer.

5) Books may receive more than one award.

Here we go! [Read more…]

2013 book-buying/reading stats!

We’re all friends here, so I can confess something really nerdy to you, right?

Okay. Here goes.

I keep track of every book I buy and every book I read in a spreadsheet.

A color-coded spreadsheet.

I have gotten a LOT of grief about this from my friends, but the spreadsheet serves many purposes. It makes it really easy to remember what I’ve read recently when people ask for recommendations. It allows me to see if my reading is really unbalanced—I don’t want to be that person who reads ONLY YA because that’s what I write. It ensures I don’t forget any candidates when I do my Favorite Books of the Year blog post at the end of December. And most of all, it gives me hard evidence with which to shame myself about my book-spending habits so I can be more frugal in the future. (Just kidding, that never works.) [Read more…]

UK RED giveaway!

All right, UK readers, it’s YOUR turn to win some free books! My wonderful UK publisher, Quercus, is giving away FIVE gorgeous British editions of RED, which hits shelves on January 2! The competition will run from the 16th of December to the 6th of January. Here’s the gorgeous cover and synopsis, in case you need some enticement:

Top student. Beauty queen. Girlfriend of the hottest football jock: Felicity’s got everything. And it’s all down to her red, red hair. Felicity lives in Scarletville, the world’s only redhead sanctuary, where red hair is celebrated, protected – and the key to success.

But Feliciuntitledty has a secret. A red hot secret. And if anyone finds out, she’s finished.

Because Felicity’s actually a natural blonde.
And in Scarletville, blondes need not apply.


Go ahead and enter: the competition is underway! (UK only, please.)

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Nine things I wish I’d known about publishing

Before I got my book deal, I spent a lot of time reading author blogs so I could be Prepared-with-a-Capital-P if I ever sold a book. I listened as writers waxed poetic over their agents, praised their editors’ wisdom, and wept with joy as they held their ARCs for the first time and saw their books on shelves. And when my turn came to do those things, I was 100% ready for how awesome they were going to be.

All those authors were right. Those experiences were pretty much the best. I have done my fair share of poetic waxing and joyful weeping. But I’ve also done my fair share of looking bewildered and wondering what on earth was happening, because there are a lot of things about the publishing industry that I was not prepared for at all. [Read more…]