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.

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 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, you go.


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!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The I-Got-These-Books-At-BEA-And-Loved-Them Giveaway!

THANK YOU so much for entering, everybody!! The winner, by random draw, is....


Congratulations, Kristie!! I'll email you today.


It's been a busy couple of months! With vacation, and launching the Fearless Fifteeners, and crazy Sparkle Girl after-school activities...whew.

But writing-wise, it's been a little slow. I'm still waiting on feedback for two different books, so I took some time off to read. (And while I've started writing a new book now, I'm taking it slowly, so still reading too.)

And lo and behold, I had this pile of ARCs from BEA to occupy me!


I've now read a good chunk of these--and you guys, they were ALL SO GOOD. I loved them, in different ways!! I want to share the fabulousness with you. 

But I am NOT giving you my signed ARCs, sorry. I love you, but not that much.

Instead, I am going to *buy* one of you lovelies a copy of one of these books, which are all out now. Hardcover and everything. All you have to do is reply to this post and tell me which one you would want! (and an email address or way to get ahold of you, used only for contacting you if you're a winner) I'll do a random draw and the winner will get the book of their choice.

Here are your choices, in alphabetical order:

ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA by Diana Peterfreund

 From GoodreadsCenturies after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel
, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

It's THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, reimagined. So very well done--I devoured it.

ANTI-GODDESS by Kendare Blake

From Goodreads: Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

I absolutely loved ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, and this first book in a new series lived up to it. The characterization is amazing.

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

From GoodreadsFrom the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

For something completely different...not fantasy, not alternative universe, not thriller. A thoughtful, wonderfully drawn contemporary that I related to tremendously, even though I never wrote fan fiction.

ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein

From Goodreads: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

 Yes, it's as good and wrenching as CODE NAME VERITY. That's all I knew going in, and that's all I'm going to say.

VICIOUS by Victoria Schwab

Note: this isn't a YA book, it's an adult book. Though I'm not sure ROSE UNDER FIRE is a YA book either.

From GoodreadsA masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

It's tremendously different, and darkly delicious. You'll be surprised who you find yourself rooting for.

Okay, that's it! Five books to choose from. This is a fast giveaway, so you only have until tomorrow at 5 pm Mountain Time to enter. Spread the word far and wide, please!!*

--You must comment on this post with which book you choose (only one!) and your email address, or other way to contact you if you win.
--North American entries only. Sorry!
--Entries must be received by 5 pm Mountain Time October 30th. I'll do a random drawing after that, and contact the winner to mail the prize.
--If the winner doesn't contact me back by Friday, I'll draw again.

*Hidden super-secret extra: if I get more than 50 entries, I'll draw TWO winners. Tell your friends!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Fearless Fifteeners are LIVE!


The Fearless Fifteeners, the inclusive group for 2015 debut MG and YA authors, is OPEN for applications!

I am so, so thrilled about this. We have a fantastic group of admins, all handling various aspect of the group, such as Twitter, Facebook, ARC tours, interviews of the name it. We've all been working hard together to make sure everything is ready for new members to hang out together, commiserate, support each other, and promote each other.

So what can you do?

Follow our wordpress site, here:
     There's a blog there, where we will be doing all sorts of things, including interviews and special features.

Follow us on Twitter, here:

Like us on Facebook, here:

And, if you are a debut author with a book coming out in 2015, check out our membership requirements and apply HERE:
   And then JOIN US!

If you're an editor or an agent, please send your 2015 YA and MG debuts our way. We promise to be a great source of support behind the scenes, in the community, and to readers!

Be Fearless.

Friday, October 04, 2013

How Writing is like Candy Crush

Like probably a few of you, I've become addicted to a certain game on my phone, Candy Crush. I tried to resist it, but the call was too strong. It's not unhealthy. Really.

No, really. I lunge for the phone a couple minutes after the lives come back. I only dream about it a few times a week.


Anyway, I realized this morning that my current favorite game has a lot in common with my other favorite pastime career obsession, writing. Here are a few ways, in no particular order:


--There are always more levels.*
No matter how far you get--having an agent, getting a book contract, getting a starred review--there are ALWAYS MORE LEVELS. You can pound on one of those levels for weeks in Candy Crush (hello, level 65) or years in writing, and then you finally, finally get it! You dance and pound your fist! And then you hit "Next." It's never over, and you're never satisfied with your progress for long. Who gets level 65 and stops?
Especially if you're like me. I get a level, woot, and immediately move to the next one before I even take a break. Yes, I do this in writing too.
*There probably is an actual limit to Candy Crush levels. I wouldn't know. I'm on 108.

--The obstacles change, and get harder as you go.
When I hit chocolate, I was like WTH IS THIS I WILL NEVER GET PAST THIS, and kind of despaired. Just like when I got all those piled-up agent rejections, long ago. But I figured it out, and got past that part. And then I hit the bombs. (Leaving my past agent, I guess, would count as the bombs...or when I quit temporarily.) I figured that out too, eventually. With a lot of swearing and wanting to cry. (argh bombs!) Now I am juggling bombs and chocolate and licorice on one screen and still getting past. Now I have a book deal, and keep reaching for more, keep writing more, keep improving. I have no idea what the next obstacles are, in Candy Crush or writing. But I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to get past them. So are you.

--It requires both skill and luck to get past the tough levels.
Yes, that's right. I'm saying sometimes you need to have all the striped candies and round ball thingies (what are those called?) fall in the right places to win. Sometimes you need to land in someone's inbox at the right time, be on the right edge of a trend, talk to the right person. Sometimes you need luck too. Oh, and sometimes you need help. I have looked at those cheat sites, on occasion, for tips. I have certainly asked fellow writers what to do next. A lot.

--Candy and chocolate are involved.
C'mon, you get this one. We're WRITERS. Sugar is fuel for the brain.

--There are forced waiting periods.
One thing I find soooo frustrating about Candy Crush is the life expiry...and even more, the forced 24-hour breaks for quest levels. I don't like waiting. I want to keep moving forward.
Writing has forced waiting periods too. LOTS. Once you get into the publishing part, more forced waiting periods than you could have imagined. I still don't like them. But I understand them. I have to wait until it's my turn again.

--Despite how difficult it is, and frustrating, it's also fun. And you just keep going back.
This. Exactly, mostly, this. I can't stop. I can't quit. I have to push, and try, and hit Next. Even knowing there is no "end".* I will make it past level 108, eventually. I will make it to the next level of writing. And the next.

Now if you'll excuse me, for just a couple minutes. My lives just came back.

Friday, September 13, 2013

15 is a good number

It has been an interesting couple of days.

I have not-great news. And good news! And the not-great news makes the good news possible, so it all works out.

Not-great news: the release date for TUNNEL VISION has been moved a few months, to early 2015. I think this is actually a good thing for the book, but you will have to WAIT a little longer. Sorry!

But because the few months' bump put me into 2015, I am no longer really part of the OneFourKidLit group I've been hanging out in. And I found out there wasn't a new group already there for 2015.

So, being me, I'm creating one!

All I know so far is the name: Fearless Fifteeners.

This group will be for YA and MG authors, traditionally published, not previously published or self-published, and debuting in 2015.

If you fit these categories and would like to be an admin/help organize the group, please let me know ASAP (

If you fit these categories and would like to join the group as a member, please hold off for a bit, but watch this space/my social media. It'll hopefully be soon!

Because we are FEARLESS. :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Next Big Thing Blog Hop: NUTCRACKED

So has anyone been a little bit curious about this mysterious middle-grade I've been working on? :) 

ANSWERS ARE HERE. Today I'm participating in the Next Big Thing blog hop. The blog hop is a series of questions for authors to talk about what they have in the works. I was tagged by Robin Constantine!

1. What is the working title of your next book?

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
NUTCRACKED is about a girl who gets to play Clara in the Nutcracker. I was fortunate enough to get to be Clara myself when I was 13, and I knew someday I'd want to write about that experience. Of course I didn't have magical adventures like Georgie does (unfortunately).

3. In what genre does your book fall?
Middle grade, magical realism.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in the movie rendition?
Oh! I have no idea, sorry. I've never been good at that. But the little girl in this picture looks like my main character, Georgie, to me.

(photo by Tracie Taylor,

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Two sentences. This is my first stab at it, so I cheated a little.

Twelve-year-old Georgie gets her dreamed-for role of Clara in the Nutcracker ballet, but her best friend doesn't…and then Georgie manages to lose her director's heirloom Nutcracker, triggering long-buried magic. Can she solve the magical clues to get the Nutcracker back, save her show, and hang on to her friendship, while rehearsing ten hours a week?

6. Who is publishing your book?
This one is going out on submission in the next month or two! Wish me luck! (Um…and if you're an editor, please let me or Kate know if you want to be on the sub list. J)

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 3 months. Though there have been several drafts since then! It's changed tremendously.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I've been really going for the classic, old-school middle grade feel, like BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild, or the magic in A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
 Molly O'Neill, formerly at Harper Collins, told me on Twitter to go ahead and write it when I said I wanted to write a Nutcracker book someday. Quote: "Write it. Write it NOW." J

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

I couldn't jam it into the synopsis, but another major piece of the book is the development of Georgie's friendship with a boy named Noah, who ends up becoming her partner in the magical adventures. Georgie's dad is a high school football coach, so there's also a touch of football, and the rest of her big family. And cats!

So what do you think? It really couldn't be more different from TUNNEL VISION, but I am so, so excited about it. They're both completely me, in different ways.

And now on to the next two writers!! I've tagged two fellow One Four Kid Lit authors to participate:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Importance of Writing Heroes

I was recently asked for a list of my favorite authors. If you're a voracious reader, much less a writer, that's an almost impossible task, right? Like what movies I like best or which kind of dessert is my favorite. ALL OF THEM, SILLY. (It's even worse because I have so many author friends. I feel horrible leaving anyone off.)

So I redefined the question in my head, and it snapped clear. Who are my writing heroes? Yes, there are SO MANY authors whose books I love to read. But there are only a few who somehow, for indefinable reasons, got under my skin. Most of them are authors I read early on (surprise surprise, kidlit author here), but a couple I didn't meet until high school or college. Still, they're on the list. I read everything (or almost everything) they wrote. I read their books over and over. I memorized pieces of their books, bought collections, moved Every Single Book from home to dorm room to apartment to other apartments to house. I've read their books with my daughter, or I will. I fangirl them. They are, each of them, part of the reason I write, part of the reason I thought it was possible to write. I even type their names with a touch of reverence.

Madeleine L'Engle
L.M. Montgomery
Susan Cooper
Mary Stewart
Douglas Adams
(and yes, Jane Austen)

Sadly, I missed the chance to meet most of them, or write to them, to express in some way how very much their books meant to me. Only two on that list are still living.

I'd rather thought of all of them as unreachable...not instantly accessible, certainly, in the way authors are now. But a couple years ago, when I was at my very lowest writing point--I'd quit writing, and was thinking of leaving my agent, and was despairing a fair bit--I discovered that a good friend of mine (Vicki Pettersson) shared an editor with Mary Stewart. And more amazingly, I could write a letter to Mary Stewart (who was in her 90s), and the editor would pass it on for me. (Thanks, Diana Gill!)

I wrote one. I poured out how much I'd loved her books, how they'd gotten me through all sorts of much she'd touched me with her stories. I told her I wanted to be a writer, but I was struggling, but she was still an example for me. I sent it off, glad I'd told her at least.

I was absolutely floored when she wrote back.

It's probably hard to read, but that last line, there? Says "Good luck with your writing!"

It's a simple note, but I cried as I read it, it meant so much. Just that I'd made contact with one of my heroes, and that she'd reached back. I keep the letter, still, in my jewelry box as one of my treasures. And I wrote another book, left my agent, got another one, and eventually sold the book. I can't say it was all due to her letter--the book dragged me back in, really--but it helped, that encouragement.

So when I saw that Susan Cooper was going to be at Book Expo America this June in New York City, I booked my ticket. I went to BEA for other reasons too, meeting my editor and agent, meeting up with friends, networking, all that good stuff. But I really went, underneath, to MEET SUSAN COOPER.

I was first in line, an hour before. I held the sign for her line. And then this happened:

If I look a little giddy, I WAS. But I managed to be coherent enough to tell her that her books are part of the reason I became a writer. She replied, graciously, "That's the best thing a writer can hear from another writer." I grinned, I'm sure.

I think maybe it's important to have writing heroes, people you admire and respect and whose work you devour, who aren't quite on the same level as you, on Twitter every day and instantly accessible. Or maybe it doesn't really matter HOW readers connect with those heroes, just that somehow, sometimes, it happens, and the authors reach back. As an author, I never expect to be anybody's hero. But I do plan to reach back if anybody reaches out to me.

Who are your writing heroes? Who would you love to meet, or who were you lucky enough to meet or contact (and squee over?)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A little more TUNNEL news


I can't believe I haven't actually posted since the sale announcement. It's just--well, things change after a sale.  Quickly, sometimes! I went to New York for BEA (I swear I will post pictures of that), and it was amazing, but one of the best parts was getting to meet with my agent and my editor (in the Flatiron Building!) and talk about all things book-related. Of course, I came out of that meeting with revisions to do, and a deadline. So that's what I've been up to, basically. You can catch me on Twitter still, but the blog may be light until revisions are turned in. The great thing is working on THE TUNNEL again is making me absolutely giddy. I'd forgotten quite how much I really love these characters, so it's a joy to be able to be there with Jake again. fabulous TUNNEL team is growing!! I am so happy to announce that film/tv rights for THE TUNNEL are now represented by Jon Cassir, of Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood.

And yes, this does all get very surreal occasionally, thank you for asking. And yet ALL GOOD.

Hope you all are well and having a great summer. If you'll excuse me, I have some revisions to get to...

Monday, May 13, 2013



*tries to act cool and relaxed and...*


I can't do it. I can't act cool and relaxed anymore!!

So about a year ago, Nova Ren Suma very kindly hosted my Turning Point story on her blog--about how I quit writing out of sheer frustration (10 years of trying and banging my head against a wall), but a story saved me and brought me back. The full post is here, on Nova's blog.

THE TUNNEL is a book of my heart, a story I kept in my head and told only to myself for two months, until it finally poured out of me. It's a thriller, and a spy story, but it's also about family and love and self-sacrifice, with gaming and chases and secrets thrown in. Jake, the main character, lives in my head to a startling degree. I said in the end of that Turning Points post that I hoped you'd be able to read the book someday too.


I am so, so over-the-moon thrilled to announce that THE TUNNEL is going to be published by Brendan Deneen at Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press), in 2014!! Here's the announcement from today's Publisher's Weekly:

In a second deal coming out of St. Martin’s Press this week, Brendan Deneen bought world English rights to Susan Adrian’s debut, The Tunnel. The YA thriller, which Kate Schafer Testerman at kt literary sold, is set for a summer 2014 release. In the novel, a teenage boy who has a power he calls tunneling—he can decipher where anyone in the world is (and what they’re doing) by holding something they own—is brought to the attention of the U.S. government. Adrian, a former ballerina, lives in Montana.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (there are not enough exclamation points)

Traditionally, we do the Snoopy Dance on this blog for good news:
But today I went one step further. In honor of Sparky, Thomas Dunne's mascot and colophon, I give you the Sparky Dance:

I am also like THIS:

HUGE thank yous to both Brendan, for believing in the book, and my unstoppable agent, Kate Schafer Testerman, for NEVER giving up. Also to Team Sparkle, who have been there at my back forever, and the Sub Club for handling all the daily angst. And, you know, my family for living with the crazy.

I am ecstatic to be working with Brendan on this. He absolutely GETS the book, and Jake, and he fought hard for the book already. I can't wait to dive back into this world again with him!

A friend told me recently that success would be all the sweeter for how long and rough the journey has been. Guys, I've been writing fiction off and on since 2000. I've been seriously writing with a goal of publication since 2003. That's 10 years of trying, and writing different books, and trying again, and watching this happen for so many other dear friends (I LOVE YOU GUYS), and writing and quitting and writing again. It finally happened. I finally got to write this post. IT IS SWEETER. IT IS AWESOME.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~! I hope you guys all join me on this journey!

Monday, May 06, 2013


Sometimes I picture blog readers tilting their heads and saying WHY SO QUIET, SUSAN?

But then I realize it's not exactly like blog readers are pounding on my door waiting for a post--there are Plenty of Things to Read on the Internet--so I don't worry about it too much. Besides, I'm on Twitter and Facebook all over the place! And Tumblr, though I still don't know what I'm doing over there.

Anyway. The lull is over, and I'm back at work on one of my books. I'm doing a half re-write, half re-do from scratch, so it is INTERESTING. And hard. And scary. And fun, all at the same time. All of you know what I mean.

Yesterday it finally got warm again, so all of Montana is tentatively excited about the possibility of us maybe having a bit of Spring. At least for a few days. Perhaps tonight I will even take my laptop out into the yard and write outside for a bit! *big plans*

I'm reading only classic middle-grade books at the moment to keep my head in the right place, which is (a) awesome and (b) sad for all the fabulous YA books I bought and can only stare at. But BALLET SHOES: still crazy perfect.

Oh, and I'm going to be at BEA in New York in a few weeks. Anyone else going?

/end of random update

Love! Wishing you Spring and good books, whether you're writing or reading them!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Haunted at 17

Today is the release of my good friend Nova Ren Suma's new book, 17 & Gone! Look at the gorgeousness!

I've been waiting to read this one for a LONG time. Nova's books always touch me deeply. To celebrate her release, she's been running a series of posts from fellow authors called "Haunted at 17". I've been reading them with great interest, and debating for a couple days, but in the end I couldn't help but join in. For Nova. :)


At 17, I was haunted by change.

I read a website somewhere that lists major causes of life stress--divorce, marriage, moving houses, major job or life change. I hit most of them within a few months when I was 17.

Susan at 17
I've been fascinated, reading all these other posts, at how others documented their experiences, in journals, online. Not surprising, I guess--we are all writers. But I didn't document anything then. I'd had something pretty horrible happen when I was 13, that broke me for a while. (I'm so glad this is not Haunted at 13! I wouldn't be able to do it!) After that I didn't write things down, not for a long time. I kept things in. I kept myself in, private, hidden. Or I let myself out in ways that were still "safe": ballet first, then acting. I didn't want to keep a record of any of it.

But the funny thing is, time helps. By the time I was 17 I was starting to come out of the horribleness. I made real, strong friends in that year, finally, friends I could be open with. My mom was happy again. At the end of my senior year (I was always a grade ahead, so I graduated at 17), I went on a trip to Europe with those friends, and had a great time. My mom and her fiancee moved houses while I was gone, so when I came back it was to a totally different house.

I still have dreams about my childhood house. I wonder sometimes if it's because I didn't say goodbye to it properly.

Anyway. That summer my mom got married again, to a man who's been a better father to me than mine ever was. I was a bridesmaid in their wedding. I started college in the fall, at a good, huge school.

So what was wrong? The change. 

I'd spent all that time coming back. Getting my feet under me, trying to realize that it was okay, that *I* was okay. That my life probably wasn't going to reverse in an instant again like that. I'd built friendships and helped my mom rebuild herself, and managed to get through high school. And now I had to start ALL over. Be an adult, stand on my own.

I had no belief that I could do it. I didn't have a lot of self-confidence, and what I did was fragile, and false.

I didn't know that college would turn out all right, in the end. It did, of course, after a couple years of floundering.

I didn't know that I'd have trouble finding a job after, but it'd be okay.

I didn't know that I'd meet my husband 5 years later, move in with him in 3 months, get engaged 3 months after that, we were so SURE. Or that we'd still be married 20 years later, with a beautiful, smart 11-year-old daughter.

I didn't know I'd be a writer.

I didn't know any of that, because that's the point of being 17. It's all uncertainty, and fear, and hope, and dreams. And change.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Books of Awesomeness


*waves dramatically*

So...I am now in a lull. My life, both writing and non-writing, always goes like this. I have a massive pile of Things, Reports and Books and such, and I work frantically trying to juggle it all and get it all done and turned in and check things off, and I make or come close to making those deadlines, and then...

It all falls off, for a week or two. In both work and writing I've turned everything over to others, and I'm waiting for them to be able to read/proof/evaluate and hand it back to me.

*looks out window*
*taps pencil*
*clears throat*
*looks out window again*

Can I admit I'm much better at juggling lots of things than not having enough to do? The first couple days are all YEAH I'M FREE LET'S READ ALL THE BOOKS AND WATCH ALL THE TV and then about a week in I'm good with having free time and ready to work hard again.

However, let's pick up that "read all the books" part, because in the week and a half or so I've managed to read THREE amazing books, amazing in totally different ways, so I thought I should take the (vast quantities of) time I have at the moment and post about them! Yes! Let's go! In the order in which I read them:


I am listening to Pandora as I type this, and it's gone from COMPANY to ANYTHING GOES to SOUND OF MUSIC, which is just about perfect, I think. THE REECE MALCOLM LIST is a wonderful exploration of a girl's search for her place in life--through her relationship with her unknown mother, but also in school and with boys--but it also has great references to musicals and show people that my nerdy musical-loving teenager (and adult) self loved. The voice is spot-on, all at once funny and self-deprecating and yearning. I highly recommend.


I'm a Maureen Johnson fan. I honestly don't know how any YA author could NOT be a Maureen Johnson fan. She's such an advocate for teens, kidlit writers, and the industry, plus she's ridiculously funny. I've read most of Maureen's books, and I've enjoyed them. But these last two books, the Shades of London series, have hit an absolute sweet spot with me. The writing is impeccable, the voice clear and engaging, and the subject...private British school, ghost hunting, entwined with Jack the Ripper? Yeah. I've sucked them both up with passion. This book is the rare second book that is as good as the first one...and I will NOT spoil, but she killed me with the end. In a good way...mostly. Read THE NAME OF THE STAR first, but have this one handy for the second you're done.

THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab You guys. Victoria's a longtime friend and all, so I was really hoping I'd love this, but OMG I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. The concept...I don't even want to spoil it for you! Let's say it involves a totally new concept of the afterlife, with new jobs and dangers and mythology, that I was completely entranced by. Victoria's writing is breathtaking, and the characters are still in my head several days later. I want more of them and the world, ASAP. There can't be a much stronger recommendation than that.

Here's where I'd usually give one of them away, but honestly I can't bear to part with any of these. I am SORRY. But please BUY THEM FOR YOURSELF AND LOVE THEM TOO.

Next on my to-read list: Laini Taylor's DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. Hopefully I'll be able to add it to the books of awesome list too!

Friday, February 15, 2013



Thanks, you guys!! The winner is:


Congratulations, Ashley! You'll get an email from me so I can get your fabulous prize on the way. Hope everyone else checks this book out when it comes out April 2!


You know what I haven't done in a while?


I think it's time I fix that, right now. And I have the perfect book for it. Take a look at this awesome cover:

I KNOW, RIGHT? Ghosts and historical and creepy-awesome-looking girl with a touch of steampunk. Yesssss.

But what's better is what's inside. Here's the official description:
In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book--it doesn't come out until April 2--and I *devoured* it. Disclaimer: I've known Cat years? More? We worked together long before we both ended up writing YA. She hosted my baby shower. So honestly I was a bit afraid to read it...because what if I didn't like it? How would I deal with it?

NOT A PROBLEM. You guys, it is so very good. Exquisitely written, spooky (almost more because of the influenza than the ghosts), and so, so atmospheric. The voice grabbed me and threw me into 1918 San Diego, and I was fascinated from there.

So, who wants to have my SIGNED copy? It also includes a bookmark signed by Cat. You do, right?

Here's how you enter:

1. For TWO entries in the drawing: comment below with (1) your name, (2) your email address, and (3) a fact about 1918. Any fact! Google happily!

2. For an additional entry, tweet about the contest with a link (@ me (@susan_adrian) so I know)

3. For another additional entry, post about the contest on Facebook! (I am, shockingly, Susan Adrian)

We're trying to spread the word about this fabulous book, so when it releases April 2 everyone will KNOW how much they want it. And one of you will already have it in your hands!

Since it's a 3-day weekend, contest will close Tuesday morning at 8 am MST, and I'll draw a random winner. North American entries only, sorry!

Good luck!

Thursday, January 31, 2013


HELLO, my pretties!!

Still here, working away in my own corner of the world. Hope you're doing the same in yours!

Since we last talked I have:

--Been ripping apart my current manuscript and making something new out of it. This is a Good Thing. I got some excellent, deep feedback in November/December (THANK YOU FOREVER, lovely CPs!), and realized I needed to completely rejigger the structure. Rejigger is too light of a word. Rip apart is closer. And the characterization too! I think at least half of it will be completely new material. And this is the third draft. Anyway, I probably will be fairly head-down for a bit until I get this done.

--Auditioned for and got accepted into the university choir. This is my first time singing ANYTHING other than in my shower, and I don't read music (yet--I'm trying to learn it quickly), so it was pretty much a miracle they let me in (Alto 1). I'm floundering a bit so far. But I'm very excited to be part of it and about the songs we're singing (including Oh Shenandoah, All Things Bright and Beautiful, Earth Song, and a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah). Wish me luck!

--Went to Vegas for the first time, last weekend. I gave my husband this trip as his Christmas present, and we had a blast. We saw a Cirque du Soleil show, and Rod Stewart live, and did fun things like ride the New York New York rollercoaster and sample sodas from around the world at the Coke store. And we did the Pawn Stars tour, because we could. :)

--I also read some great books, including one I'm going to give away soon, once things settle down enough for me to get to it (IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters). And I bought some new exciting ones, like THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab, DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor, and THE REECE MALCOLM LIST by rockin' agent-sister Amy Spalding. Yay new books! I'm also reading HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE for the first time with my daughter, and we're really enjoying that.

We are on the eve of February, which has long been one of my favorite months as it has my birthday *and* my daughter's birthday. If we can just skip over that icky Valentine's Day part.

Oh! And tonight after work I have to go buy a ballgown. Because next week we've been invited to the Governor's black-tie ball...

Yep, life is always interesting. Tell me what you're up to!!