Monday, December 22, 2014

TUNNEL VISION soundtrack

It's kind of a thing for authors to release a playlist for YA books, something they listened to while they wrote, or that inspired them.

I went a step further with TUNNEL VISION: I call it a soundtrack.

Each chapter of TUNNEL VISION lists a song as the chapter heading. The songs and genres vary wildly, from The Clash to Dave Matthews to Blues Traveler to Ray Charles. Each song is closely tied to the chapter in some way, relating to the action, the dialogue, or most often the emotion.

I started the soundtrack early on, when I realized how visual this book is, and wanted "background music" to go with a scene. I started putting it together as I wrote, listening to it over and over to put me in the mood, adding new titles as I wrote new chapters. I only chose music I thought Jake would choose himself. Some of it is very specific to him (and not me), like the soundtrack "Revenge" from Call of Duty: Black Ops.

To celebrate that TUNNEL VISION releases on January 20th, just under a month, I made a playlist of the TUNNEL VISION soundtrack on Spotify. You can get a taste of Jake's story now, and see how each song relates to the chapter when it comes out!


Hope you enjoy, and share!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Terrible Alternate Titles to TUNNEL VISION

This is fun. My fabulous fellow Fearless Fifteener debut Aisha Saeed (WRITTEN IN THE STARS, March 24, 2015) tagged me in the "Terrible Titles" blog hop! 

The rule is simple: Scroll through your manuscript and stop on random place. Whatever you land on becomes one of eight terrible titles. 

So here we go! This made me LAUGH. Eight terrible titles that could have been the title of TUNNEL VISION, pulled at random—I picked the first short sentence I saw when I stopped scrolling:

1. And Still Not a Video Game
2. How Much Did She See?
3. I Sure as Hell Want To
4. And Whatever Comes After That
5. That Surprises Him
6. It's Simple
7. I Think It's Time for an Afternoon Nap
8. Crazy, I Guess

I gotta say, a couple of those are fabulous. Can't you see some of them as titles?

I tag five more Fifteener debuts, the first ones I saw on Twitter:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reviews and Tours, Oh My!

So apparently this book thing is actually going to HAPPEN!!

Reviews for TUNNEL VISION have been pouring in the past couple of weeks! So far, so good! In fact, really good. I'm so excited! Check them out:
"An exciting plot paired with a sympathetic protagonist makes for a roller-coaster adventure that asks some big moral questions: Is it ethical to tunnel into another person’s mind, even to do good? Which is more important, the individual or the country? The action moves at a quick pace that fans of adventure fiction will appreciate while still leaving room for deeper contemplation. Danger, intrigue, a dash of romance, and a good, hard look at ethical dilemmas—a pretty complete package. —Kirkus Reviews (full review)
 "Debut author Adrian offers a refreshing spin on the suspenseful spy novel with brisk scenes, adrenaline-fueled cliffhangers, and a sympathetic protagonist. There is much to savor in this thriller.” —Publisher’s Weekly 
"Jake Lukin has a secret talent: if he holds an object that belongs to a person, he can instantaneously "tunnel" to that person—envisioning them physically, pinpointing their location, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel. After Jake reveals his skill at a high school party, he quickly finds himself on the run from government agents who would harness his talents for their own purposes. This YA novel is a heart-racing thriller set at full throttle from the opening page, and it never decelerates. Fans of Cory Doctorow and Anthony Horowitz will consume this title with a passion and will excitedly anticipate a sequel."—Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL, School Library Journal 
"Adrian has crafted a tension-packed spy novel about a likable teen with a special power and his equally likable family and friends. Twists of plot, kids outsmarting the bad guys, and a relatively low-tech but fascinating superpower ratchet up the action to a bizarre conclusion that begs a sequel. With a grandfather that would make Richard Peck or Joan Bauer proud, and government goons, male and female, who morph between good and evil with a single look or comment, this is a must-read." —Booklist
ALSO, I just posted the first batch of events for...THE TUNNEL TOUR! I'm joining with fantastic YA authors all over! So far: Butte, Seattle, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego, with more to come! Keep up on my events page here:

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!

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, 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:

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.

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Susan update


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?