Land of 1000 Blog Posts–and a New Facebook Page!

Sometimes I hear writers talk about blogging (and social media in general) like it’s a big chore, and how overwhelming it is, and how it’s a giant time suck. I feel really fortunate in that I genuinely enjoy blogging. I look at it as a fun and easy way to share cool things I find online with lots of people who may find them cool, too. And apparently I’ve come across a lot of cool things to share, because this is my 1000th post. Thank you to all my followers and readers for helping me get to this point. I know at least some of you aren’t spam-bots, and I’ve really appreciated your likes and comments. You guys are the best!

To celebrate reaching 1000 posts, I’m launching my brand-new author Facebook page. Because one good social media turn deserves another! Follow along for more fun links, photos, live Q&As, and (hopefully) hilarity. Right now I have up a few new author photos–that’s right, I am a human being and not just one profile picture!

Thanks again to my wonderful readers and followers. You keep me going, and I’m psyched to share another 1000 posts with you.

Same Annie, New Look

This weekend I finally got around to updating my site, and I’m really digging it so far. A few changes:

  • An updated About section, including links to interviews and more general info about me. (Do I like nail polish? Secrets revealed!)
  • A Books page, aka your one stop-shop for info on The Chance You Won’t Return.
  • The Blog is its own page now, which I think makes things a little cleaner.

Hope you enjoy all the new content! Let me know if things look weird or if links aren’t working. And don’t worry–even though the site has a shiny new look, you can still expect all the same fun bookish content you know and (hopefully) enjoy.

You’ve Got Questions, I’ve Got Answers

One reason I like blogging is that it’s an easy way to share all the awesome things you find online. Stumble across a cool article? Blog about it! Interesting infographic? Blog about it! Adorable hedgehog video? Oh you better blog about it!

But that means I don’t tend to post a lot about myself, and when I do it’s usually in relation to whatever article/infographic/video I’m posting about. I’ve also been wanting to get in on the world of vlogging, so I figured I’d combine the two issues into a first-ever, brand-new Q&A vlog post!

Which means I need your questions! Specifically, your questions that I might be able to answer. They can be writing-related, reading-related, life-related; they can be serious or silly; they can be easy or hard. A few examples to get you started:

  • What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
  • What’s on your summer reading list?
  • If you could have a superpower, which would it be?
  • What’s your writing process like?

Feel free to post your questions in the comments and I’ll answer as many as possible–which could really vary, depending on how the first video-creation experience goes. And if you don’t have any questions, I’ll have to talk about my favorite kind of cookie. (Who am I kidding? I’m just going to make a video about cookies.)

The Next Big Thing

Something you might not know about me: I really like surveys. I’ll fill out restaurant surveys, take quizzes in magazines, fill out online questionnaires  etc. If it means I get to answer questions or fill in bubbles, I’m in. So when Jennifer K. Basile invited me to take part in the Next Big Thing blog tour, I jumped at the chance.

The idea is to share a little about your current writing project.

1) What is the working title of your book?

Queen of the Air. I know these things can change, but so far that one’s holding pretty solid.

Amelia Earhart and Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020 c. 1937

2) Where did the idea come from for your book?

I was walking around one day and the line “My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart” came to me out of nowhere. I was really intrigued by what that situation might be like and started to write a short story to that effect. Soon I realized this story was going to take much longer to tell and it grew into Queen of the Air.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s pretty firmly in contemporary YA. I love wild stories of magic and historical epics and all sorts of genre, but I tend to write stories about real teens dealing with real life issues.

4) Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

Man, that’s a tough one. But I love playing casting director, so here we go:

  • My main character, Alex, is tall and sporty and has a lot going on emotionally that she hides from most people around her. There’s no one who really jumps out at me in Hollywood, but I think brunette Jennifer Lawrence is about as close as I can come.
  • I can’t remember how I came across a picture of Kyle Riabko, but when I did I thought “Oh my lord, that’s [love interest] Jim Wiley.” I know nothing about Kyle as an actor, but something about his look really struck me.
  • Not quite a right match, but I loved Elizabeth Mitchell’s acting on Lost. Her facial expressions are so subtle but so evocative. I think she’d be great as Alex’s mom.
  • Alex’s dad is a little harder because I had a pretty clear picture of him going into things, and no actor quite matches. Is it possible to get a middle-aged, bearded, less cut Ryan Gosling? (I know, it’s hard for me to say those words too.)

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

From PW: “QUEEN OF THE AIR, [is] about a teenage girl struggling to balance high school, passing Drivers Ed, and a new relationship while trying to keep her mother’s progressing mental illness — delusions that she is Amelia Earhart — secret.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m going the traditional publishing route, and so far the experience has been great. I really appreciate all the hard work my agent and editor have put into this project, and I know it’s a stronger book for it.

Ar2cfVGCAAAYf4V7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft came together pretty quickly. I wrote Queen of the Air as my MFA thesis, so it was roughly a five month process. But there have been many drafts after that. One reason I hate seeing movies about writers–usually it takes them a couple months to get from blank page to published novel. That’s so not how it usually works.

8) What other books would you compare this story to?

Trying to draw comparisons to books on the market feels a little like saying “A lot of people tell me I look like these beautiful movie stars.” But I hope that Queen of the Air has a similar vibe to other contemporary YA books like Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life, or Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower for how these books balance life with friends/at school with trauma at home.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants–wait, that’s The Princess Bride. My book has Drivers Ed, Amelia Earhart (or at least people who think they’re Amelia), graffiti art, soccer, and, of course, secrets. At its core, Queen of the Air is about the secrets we keep and the daily burdens we bear. I think most people can relate to that.

Thanks to Jennifer for letting me join in on the Next Big Thing fun! Once I figure out who I’m tagging, I’ll post links here.


800px-R_Staines_Malvolio_Shakespeare_Twelfth_NightShakespeare meets social media with these tweet versions of the Bard’s famous works by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Best use of hashtag goes to:

Scoundrel talks Moor into believing his wife’s a slut. Dude, it was only a handkerchief. Did you have to KILL her? #facepalm.

My favorite Shakespeare play is Twelfth Night. My tweet version would have to be:

Shipwrecks lead to cross-dressing and missed love connections. At least we can all make fun of Malvolio.#cakesandale

Share your Shakespearean tweets!

(image: Wikipedia)

I’m on a Reblogging Spree

From Hank Green, a musical video about how great/crazy Tumblr is:

So…I still want to say it “gif” with a hard g. As in “reblog.”

At the January SCBWI conference, lots of people asked what Tumblr was and if they needed to be on there for their writerly platform. I don’t think you need to use any social media platform you don’t feel comfortable using, but I will argue that Tumblr is filled with Doctor Who and kittens and coffee and pretty pictures–aka, it’s a good time.

Feel free to scope out my Tumblr too!

Cell Phones, Blogs, and Writing YA

When I was in high school, cell phones were pretty new. We emailed and IMed, but we didn’ tweet or reblog things. Sometimes I’m really glad that Facebook didn’t exist when I was a teen.

For better or for worse, technology and social media are a huge part of teens’ lives today. So if you’re writing contemporary YA or  MG, you need to deal with these issues at least a little–how does your main character keep in touch with friends? Does he have to pay for his own cell account? Does she have a vlog?

If you’re wondering how your main character might actually use social media and gadgets, check out this study on how teens view their digital lives. There’s even a neat infographic with some summary. One point I found interesting is that almost half of teens would prefer to talk to their friends in person. It’s not like everyone is hiding at their computers. They want interaction, but texting and Facebooking can also help teens keep in touch when they’re not together.

It’s not like you have to make you main character attached to his cell phone, but it’s good to recognize and these things have some kind of impact on teens lives.


What You Can and Can’t Get From Blogging

There’s a lot of pressure now for writers to have an active social media life. You need to blog, tweet, pin, reblog, and “like” things. It’s necessary for your career as a writer, people say. You need to have an online presence.

Okay, maybe that’s true. You don’t want people to Google you and come up with nothing. You want people to be able to find information on your writing, maybe how to contact you, etc. But what does that mean for how much work you should be doing on your social media platform?

Roni Loren has a great post up about if blogging is worth the time/effort and what you can expect to get out of it. In very short, blogging generally won’t make you sell a gazillion books, but it’s a wonderful way to connect with other writers and/or readers who already like your work. One part I liked in particular:

“Having a blog just to have one is worse than not having one at all. If you’re not somewhat focused in your content and you aren’t giving the reader a takeaway, no one is going to stick around except your mom and a handful of others who are writing about Random Randomness…Do it because you enjoy connecting with people, don’t do it because you think it’s going to vault you up the bestseller list.”

Blogging is work. It requires upkeep and, even if you’re not blogging every day, you want to set up some kind of schedule for yourself. I hate seeing people’s blogs that only list a post every couple of months. And maybe part of that problem is not knowing who you’re trying to reach. Writing for a void can be disheartening.

If this isn’t your first time at my blog, you’re probably aware that I blog a lot. (If this is your first time, here, howdy!) Mostly it’s because I find things online that I like to share. It’s way easier than emailing each person I think might be interested in whatever I’ve found, and it has the potential to connect me with other people who like the same kind of things. I rarely post about my life because I don’t think that would be as interesting. It would end up feeling more like a chore.

So even if you need to have some kind of blog, don’t think that it has to be any one way. Find what works for you, and remember to keep it fun. If it’s not fun, it’s just something else to stress about that won’t necessarily get people to like your fiction. Blogging is its own thing, and can be really fun. Just don’t think of it as a make or break for your career.

(image: JISC)

Links Galore

Ending the week on lots of great links:

  • Now that LCD Soundsystem is no more, James Murphy is working on a novel. I like him as a musician, so I’m curious to see his fiction.
  • Are YA covers that different from teen magazines in terms of what kind of messages we’re sending to readers about body image?
  • How long is too long for your novel? Author Maggie Stiefvater to the rescue!
  • Rule #1 of getting people to follow you: be cool, not desperate.
  • Mallory looks back at The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, aka one of the coolest MG novels in the history of ever.
  • Although this list isn’t strictly YA, it still makes me think “I need to immediately reread all of these books.” Love these girl characters!
  • An arresting article about The Hunger Games, sexual assault, and finding strength in survival.