Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Query Series post

Would you like to see what my original query for TUNNEL VISION looked like? And (more interesting to me), what my agent thought when she read it?

Hop on over to YA Highway, where you can read our Query Series post!

http://www.yahighway.com/2014/07/query-series-author-susan-adrian-and.html

Monday, June 23, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour: My Turn!

I may be a bit late to the party, but I've been tagged inthe Writing Process Blog Tour! The inestimable Cindy Rodriguez posted her responses last week, and threw it my way. Thanks, Cindy! First, here's some info on her:
Cindy L. Rodriguez is the the author of When Reason Breaks, a young adult novel that will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA  on Febuary 10, 2015. Yes, she's not only a fellow Fifteener, but her book comes out only a couple weeks after mine!! I know Cindy as an admin for the Fearless Fifteener group, and an all-around impressive person. She teaches middle-school reading and college-level composition too, AND is a mom!
When Reason Breaks is available for preorder now!

To the questions:

What am I working on?
This week I’m working on my first-ever set of copyedits, for my YA thriller TUNNEL VISION, which is coming out January 20th from St. Martin's Press! As a copyeditor myself, this is actually fun.

I'm also working on several other projects: revisons on a middle grade book called NUTCRACKED I'm SO excited about. It's magical realism, about a 12-year-old dancer named Georgie who gets chosen to be Clara in the Nutcracker, the role of her dreams, but also discovers the secret, dark world of the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King that exists just beneath the world she knows. She also has to deal with the splintering of one relationship when her best friend doesn't get the part too, and the start of an interesting new friendship with a boy named Noah.

I'm tinkering with a sequel to TUNNEL VISION, and plotting out the beginnings of a new YA thriller I can barely keep to myself.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My books always have a strong, driving plot—TUNNEL VISION is a thriller about a teen psychic spy, after all—but there's also always a very strong element of family. Several readers have confessed that Jake's little sister Myka is one of their favorite characters, and his grandfather (Dedushka) plays a huge part as well. Georgie has a huge, tumbled family with a full life, and her parents and siblings are a critical piece of who she is too. The new YA book is about sisters. I guess to me the background, making sure the character is a whole, real person, and their family and friends are too, is just as important as making sure you want to turn those pages.

Why do I write what I do?
Because I can't help it? TUNNEL VISION is the story I told to myself before I ever decided to write it down and try to get it to readers. It's the book I wanted to read. NUTCRACKED was inspired because I was lucky enough to dance the part of Clara when I was 13 (though I didn't have a magical Nutcracker, sadly enough). The new book started from an image I couldn't get out of my head, and has been hounding me ever since.

How does my writing process work?
When I’m rough-drafting, I generally start at the beginning and work my way through to the end, with a few occasional circles through the text. I hardly ever know where it's going to go when I start—I work from a character in a situation, and see what happens. This results in VERY messy first drafts, which have to be revised many times before anyone sees them. During revisions I do pull out the colored charts and outlines when necessary to keep myself straight and make sure I'm following a thread evenly all the way through. I also always write very sparely at first, and add descriptions and more original language later on.

Basically, you don't want to see my first drafts. J

I am very methodical, too, in that I now write nearly every day, at 5:30 in the morning on weekdays and 6:30 on weekends. I don't write much in a day—my goal is usually somewhere between 600 and 800 words—but at that speed I can write a draft in a few months, and revise pretty quickly. In the tortoise and the hare race I'm definitely the tortoise, but I get it done. I live for those moments when I get so involved in a book that I think about it all day long, and when I'm going to sleep, and I can't wait to get back to it in the morning!

****
Next up is  Jessica Spengler. She is currently in the process of writing her first full-length novel, a fantasy adventure called The World Where Geese Reign.  Since 2010 she's run the website http://drink-matron.com, a blog dedicated to cocktail recipes, the history of alcohol, and other drinking facts.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Help Isabella come home to her family!

I have a very dear writer friend who I've never met--which isn't unusual, in the online world I navigate in--but love and respect regardless. C.J. Redwine is a fantastic writer, but more is a friend, supporter, cheerleader, and great mom, to her kids both biological and adopted.

Right now, C.J. and her family need OUR help. They adopted a little girl from China already, and now they are hoping to adopt a second one, a little girl who needs extra help.

From C.J.:
Isabella Grace Xiaofang was abandoned beneath a highway overpass when she was four months old. She had severe pneumonia, along with her heart disease and cleft palate, which were both causing her medical difficulty. That says to me that her parents loved her, and they tried for four months to care for her in secret, either to avoid paying the second child penalty fee, which is prohibitive for poorer families, or because they couldn’t afford her medical care, and when they realized she was going to die without care, they put her where she would be quickly found. Highways in China, especially in cities, are much different than ours. They are choked with pedestrians and bicyclists. She was sure to be found quickly. 
A month after she was found, she had heart surgery to repair four different defects in her heart. She was in and out of the ICU for recurring pneumonia during her first year. In her second year, she had two surgeries to repair her lip and palate and to remove her extra thumb. At two years old, she’s still tiny (wearing 9 month clothing size), she’s not walking on her own yet, and she doesn’t have many words yet. Her delayed development is a result, I feel certain, of her constant surgeries and hospital stays. 
The orphanage reports that Isabella is quiet, shy, and loves to smile and grab onto the nannies and play with them. I can’t wait to bring her home! Her brothers and sister are very excited to meet her and love her as well! 
This is where you come in. Because this process is moving so much faster than we anticipated, we need to run a fundraiser to raise Isabella’s orphanage fee of 5k and the 10k we need to travel to China and to stay there for the two and a half weeks it takes to finalize her adoption. When we brought Johanna home, we did an online fundraiser I called Skip a Starbucks day in which I asked my friends to post about it on their blogs/Tumblr/FB and to tweet about it throughout the day. The idea is that if people will skip Starbucks and donate that money toward Isabella’s adoption fund instead, we can raise the money.
Today is a Skip a Starbucks day for Isabella. If you can, please consider skipping a Starbucks (or, in my case, that snack I probably shouldn't have anyway) and donate to C.J.'s family to help bring Isabella home.

You can donate here: http://cjredwine.blogspot.com

Thanks!! And please spread the word!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Bright Before Sunrise: One Night that Changed My Life



"One night can change how you see the world.
One night can change how you see yourself."


In celebration of Tiffany Schmidt's fabulous new book BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE, I was asked to contribute a story of one night that changed my life. Most of my stories take place in the day--it's easy to think of a DAY that changed my life. But night? My memory popped straight back to this one.
You can see all the One Night stories on the BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE Tumblr.

***
As a teen, and through into college, I didn't have a lot of confidence. Probably many of you can relate to that. I was bullied in grammar school and high school, and had a messy family life, and it carried over. I kept to myself—it was safer. Way less painful to never let anybody in than to try and then get slammed down. So I lived in a bubble of my own, drifting through the world, but not really happy with myself.
I still can't quite believe I had enough confidence to apply for a year-long study abroad program in England, much less get through all the interviews and meetings, but I did. My junior year of college I set off for the University of Sussex, to see how I would do in the wider world. The first six months were tough. Living abroad requires a certain amount of sociability, the courage to step outside your comfort zone. At first I didn't do that. I hung out with other Californians, in a very small group, for the most part. I had fun, but I didn't change. I was still in the safe bubble, just a little farther away from home.
Then one night, I met J.J.…still an American, but from New Hampshire. And her friends, who were actually British and Scottish. We sat on the ground at a party, drinking Newkie Brown ale, and talked. 

And clicked. I talked about myself. I let someone in, for the first time in ages, let someone see a glimpse of the real me.

And then we did a road trip east, all of us piled into a little creaky car. I don't even remember what we did at first—all I remember is the feeling, the miraculous feeling of connecting to people and being accepted. Laughing with the jokes. Being part of the group.

We ended up at the seawall, at Eastbourne, sometime in the wee hours. I don't know why. J.J. and I climbed over the wall, onto the round English rocks. The waves crashed at our feet, the spray washing over us, the roar deafening. We shouted, together, into the waves. I shouted all my frustrations, my loneliness, my happiness right at that moment.

And something snapped in me, let go. Nothing dramatic changed, outwardly. I had a wider group of friends from then on, I involved myself more, and when it came time to go home I really wanted to stay. But inside, I was different. From that night I had a renewed confidence in myself, and in friendships, in people. That there were people like me out there—I just had to find them. That I could be myself. That I could shout myself into the ocean, into the world.


BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE description:
Jonah and Brighton are about to have the most awkwardly awful night of their lives. For Jonah, every aspect of his new life reminds him of what he has had to give up. All he wants is to be left alone. Brighton is popular, pretty, and always there to help anyone . . . but has no idea of what she wants for herself. Her seemingly perfect life is marred only by Jonah, the one person who won't give her the time of day, but also makes her feel, well, something. So when they are repeatedly thrown together over the course of one night, anything can—and does—happen. Told in alternating chapters, this poignant, beautiful novel's energy and tension, amidst the humor and romance, builds to a new beginning of self-acceptance and hope.

About Tiffany Schmidt:
TIFFANY SCHMIDT lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. And while she thinks sunrises are quite beautiful, she'd rather sleep through them. Send Me a Sign was her debut novel. Find out more about Tiffany and her books by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt or visiting www.TiffanySchmidt.com.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Susan update

HELLO.

It's been a while since I posted anything HERE. Don't worry, I've still been all over the internet--mostly on Twitter  and over at the Fearless Fifteeners blog, and even occasionally on Tumblr. Poor blog, you kind of get the short end of the stick.

Anyway. I thought it time for a quick bloggish update on what's going on over here.

--I got my edits on TUNNEL VISION. And they were totally doable, so I revised and turned them back in!

--All sorts of exciting craziness has been happening in my inbox since. Cover talk, blurb talk, other authors reading my book talk, Real Actual Book Coming out Next Year talk. I have to keep from bouncing constantly, pretty much. Or chair dancing.


That's most of my excitement at the moment. But in addition to that, let's see:

  • The Fearless Fifteeners group is coming along great--I think we're up to 72 members, and going strong. 
  • I'm going to NY for BEA! Woot! Also London for a family vacation late this summer. Planning them both is making me slightly dizzy.
  • I'm back in choir, this time singing a mix of Austrian composers (Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn) and songs from The Sound of Music. Guess which set I like better?
  • Sparkle Girl is in a crazy period too, with a robotics competition this weekend, Future Problem Solvers, clarinet, and a part in Disney Jr. Cinderella. AND she's writing a short story for an American Girl magazine competition, which I'm trying not to be too Mom-writer about.
  • I'm plotting out Book 2. Jake is in my head again, yay!
Yeah, that's probably enough. Please comment...what's going on with you?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Interview with the Amazing Amy Spalding: INK IS THICKER THAN WATER


And the winner is...Krista Van Dolzer! Congratulations, Krista!

Today, I am SO excited to be hosting the Amazing Amy Spalding. (yes, that should be her title, if it isn't officially) Her second book, INK IS THICKER THAN WATER, comes out tomorrow!! YOU have a chance to win a *signed* copy for free. Details at the bottom...but first, a somewhat wacky interview with Amy.

INK IS THICKER THAN WATER is a contemporary YA, already getting major praise for its real-life portrayal of family and relationships. From Goodreads:
For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.
But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.
It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.
INTERVIEW:

Everything I've seen about INK talks about how authentic the teen voice is, how it truly feels like it was written by a 16-year-old girl. How do you go back to that place to write a teen so authentically? Are you secretly a teenager? *eyebrow*
I always have conflicted feelings about hearing how authentic my teen voice is. Obviously compliments are wonderful, but also that's just sort of the voice that comes out of me when I write? I never think of going back; it just sort of...happens. Hopefully this means my subconscious is just really gifted and not that I'm emotionally stunted.
 Once when I was telling my life story to an editor, she thought it funny how with my messed-up childhood I choose to write positive, supportive (if complex) families. That seems like exactly the type of family you're writing about here…and *cough* if some tweets are true, your history may not have been all peaches and cream either. Why do YOU choose to write a functional, if unusual, family instead of the dysfunctional ones more typically seen in YA?
Because, honestly, my family was more functional than not, or at least it felt that way. And it seemed to me pretty common among my friends as well. Sure, we fought with our parents, and sure, some people had divorced parents or other drama, but in general it felt like most of us were loved and supported, even if things weren't always easy-breezy.
I also knew I wanted to explore the dynamic of Kellie watching her sister Sara reconnect with Sara's biological mother (Sara was adopted as a baby), and to me that would be more interesting if Kellie's family maybe once looked like The Perfect Family, and now looked like something completely different. After all, families can look like a lot of different things and still be filled with so much love and respect and support.
 In the book I just wrote, my character has a best friend named Kaitlyn who is drifting away due to differing interests. Your book has that too. DID YOU STEAL THAT FROM MY BRAIN? (more seriously, tell me about Kaitlyn and Kellie, and how their friendship changes)
I have been accused before of stealing things from people's brains, and, trust me, if I had that ability, I would get A LOT more done!
As for Kellie and Kaitlyn, I think a lot of us at MULTIPLE points in life go through periods where all of our relationships seem to be shifting. I know in high school there were a couple times where it felt like my friendships were out of my control and people were pulling away from me. Of course in retrospect, a lot of that was just that we all had to figure ourselves out and couldn't always worry so much about each other, but at the time it feels like the greatest betrayal.
When I was Kellie's age, I definitely felt like my best friend was way too cool for me, which is hilarious in retrospect because we were both dorks, just in different ways.
 Let's talk about Oliver. He turns out to be not quite what Kellie thought he was, right? Kelly on Stacked even referred to him as "clingy". Is it true—and if so, are you messing around with gender stereotypes there?
I actually wrote Oliver kind of as a reaction to a lot of the YA I was reading back in 2008 when I wrote INK's first draft. There were so many romances where very quickly a boy would fall for a girl, and it would be intense and world-shattering...and the girls would always be soooo into it. And all I kept thinking was, "Whoa. This would REALLY stress me out!"
So my goal was really to write about a consuming romance kind of in a "real world" setting, and how that would actually go, and maybe what that would stem from. But, also, absolutely to gender stereotypes! Girls are often written as the ones who go overboard with romance, but from my personal experience, I saw just as many if not MORE guys fall for someone in that all-encompassing way. I know guys and girls sometimes act pretty differently, but I think deep down they're more alike than not.
 I understand Kellie writes humor columns for her school newspaper. Can you give us an example of the type of things she writes? 
Here's a little preview of Kellie's first column:
The grounds of Ticknor Day School boast native Missouri plant life immaculately maintained by a hardworking grounds crew. Surrounding our students in such an environment is just one way we at Ticknor strive to not only provide a quality education, but the best setting possible for academic growth. 
So begins the “Campus Grounds” section in the Ticknor Day School promotional brochure, a paragraph those who spend each weekday at T.D.S. might find difficult to take seriously. After all, is the word “immaculate” synonymous with “poop-smelling”? Is “the best setting possible an area that smells like the elephant pen at the zoo?

Amy Spalding grew up outside of St. Louis. She now lives in Los Angeles with two cats and a dog. She works in marketing and does a lot of improv. She has more tattoos than she can count.

Amy would love for you to visit her online at www.theamyspalding.com or on Twitter @theames.

NOW, how do you enter to win a SIGNED copy??

Because it's the holidays and we all have a lot to do, I'm going to make it REAL easy for you. Enter by commenting to this post! If you want an extra entry, tweet about the contest and @ me (@susan_adrian). That's it!! The contest will close at 5 pm MST tomorrow, December 3rd, which is Launch Day for INK!


Thanks so much, Amy!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The scoop on Tunnel Vision

Hi all!!

Since I've gotten a couple requests for more information on TUNNEL VISION, I thought it might be good to put the info in one place. Easily accessible and complete.

Weird concept, I know. But sometimes I get these crazy brain flashes, and...here you go.

TUNNEL VISION FACTOIDS:

The Story, short version: 
A teenage boy who has a power he calls tunneling—he can sense where anyone in the world is (and what they’re seeing) by holding something they own—comes under the uncomfortable attention of the U.S. government, and suddenly has to balance normal life with psychic-spy life.

The Story, long version: 
Jake Lukin just turned 18. He's decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. He's also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there's a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom.

His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to "tunnel" into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It's an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

If he doesn't agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly Jake's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he's doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel's help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

Who's Publishing It:
Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press. My editor is the fantastic and super-cool Brendan Deneen.

When's It Coming Already?
Currently scheduled for early 2015! I'm part of the Fearless Fifteeners debut author group. Yes, we are (mostly) fearless. Especially about deadlines and juggling books.

Who's the Audience?
Um, ANYONE WHO LIKES TO READ. It's listed as a YA thriller, but I'm going with that. It's got spy stuff and car chases and guns in a cemetery and video games, but also Rachel-who-will-not-be-left-out, and Jake's disturbingly smart little sister Myka, and Liesel Miller, who frankly kind of scares me.

Who Is Your Agent?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present the amazingly patient and persistent Kate Schafer Testerman of ktliterary. TUNNEL VISION is also represented for film/tv rights by Jon Cassir of Creative Artists Agency. 

What else would you like to know? Let me know in the comments if I left out any burning questions!