Yay! Winners! Prizes! :D

I was going to all delay everything and draw it out, but why not just get straight to the winnings?


Winner of the Prize Pack from Elana (chocolate and POSSESSION swag) is...

J. Lea Lopez!

Winner of the Prize Pack from Angie (charm bracelet at MEMENTO NORA swag) is...

Elie Nice @ Ellz Readz

Winner of the Survival Pack from Jeff in relation to THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE is...

Julia @ That Hapa Chick

Winner of the Prize Pack from Julia (horse charm and XVI related stuff) is...

Riv Re

Winner of the Prize Pack from Beth (star related swag and an AtU watch) is...

And, finally, the winner of ALL FIVE BOOKS (preordered) is...

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff! Cover coming soon!

Yup, the winner of all that awesome above is....

Jessica B!

Winners, you'll be contacted soon if you've not been contacted yet. Meanwhile, we hope everyone has a great holiday season, and we'll see you next year!!!

All I Want for Christmas...Possession Style

Okay, so there's quite a bit of tech in my upcoming novel Possession. Everything from iris recognizers (which are in development today) to barcode implants (no, thank you) to teleportation.

And that's what I want. There's nothing worse (to me) than wasting time in a car, driving the boy kidlet to school or the girl to dance or the boy to basketball or piano or scouts or... yeah. I swear I spend hours of my day in the car. And the best Christmas present EVER would be to say to the kidlets: "Hurry! Get to the teleport pad!" and then watch them blink away to their destination.


So I wrote that into my book. It's by far the best tech (to me) in Possession. Of course, tech comes with rules. Here's an excerpt from Possession detailing how the teleporters work:

I moved across the room and stood in front of terminal seven. Now for the sticky part. The password. Laboratory. Ranger. Zenn. Ty. Schoenfeld. Thane. What would it take to get into the lab?

I knew I’d only get one chance. Tech doesn’t accept mistakes. “What’s the password for laboratory four?”

No answer. They were personalized. Just great.

Several minutes passed, my heart thumping more wildly with each one. I made a decision, took a deep breath, and stepped into the teleporter.

So yeah. Insta-travel by blitzing into a million+one particles and then reassembling at your destination. I wantz it.

What about you? Is teleportation a little too Galaxy Quest for you? (Have you seen that? I mean, that pig gets reassembled inside out...) Or is this a futuristic wave you could ride?

Click to visit Elana's website

All I Want for Christmas ... from Memento Nora

Ok. We’re supposed to talk about what cool thing or idea from our own book that we’d like for Christmas.

I’m a little stumped.  I don’t know that I’d actually want the glossy things from Memento Nora.

For instance, there’s the little TFC (Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic) shop on every corner that dispenses Amelioral, the forgetting pill. You tell the man (or woman) in the white coat your darkest memory, pop a pill, and go on like nothing ever happened. You even earn Frequent Forgetting points every time you go.

Granted, this would be outstanding for true sufferers of Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome.  I even based the pill (and how it works) on current research in PTSD.  So, if you do have PTSD, that’s my Christmas wish for you: to be able to forget and get on with your life. 

For me, though, not so much.

I’d probably like to have Winter’s Garden in my backyard. Fourteen-year-old Winter Nomura builds a Rube Goldberg-ish kinetic sculpture garden behind her grandfather’s converted warehouse home.  It’s how she deals. She throws her considerable energy and talent into transforming junk in something weirdly marvelous.

Here’s Nora’s description of one of the pieces, the Shopping Bag Crab:

“Watch this,” Micah whispered, pointing to the next thing in the garden. It looked like a metal shopping bag lying on its side.

The water started to lap up onto the sand by the bag. Two slender black pieces of metal peeked out of the bag and felt their way to the ground. The feelers or legs crab walked themselves partially out of the bag, and the creature started to pull itself, bag and all, up the sloped walk. Its frenzied back-and-forth motion reminded me of something.

“Are those windshield wipers?” I asked, thoroughly impressed—and unnerved.

He nodded, a big grin on his face.

Something about the jerky, almost desperate crawl of the wipers dragging the shopping bag shell behind them made me uneasy. Then as the whole thing reached the top of its little hill, it stopped crawling, collapsed back into its shell, and slid back down to where it had started. It was like it couldn’t get anywhere with that bag on its back. 

I don’t have drawings (that look good, that is) of all of the pieces, but here are a couple of the inspirations for her sculptures.

This is Tinguely Fountain in Basel, Switzerland. The artist, Jean Tinguely, created this series of sculptures in 1971.

And, yes, this is a Honda Accord ad. For it, Honda put together a Rube Goldberg assembly of parts working together to start the car. (The windshield wiper part inspired the Shopping Bag Crab.)

The dog might not agree, but I think a kinetic sculpture garden would look great on my patio. Now I just need someone with the talent and energy to build it. (And that ain't me.)

Cool art work aside, my question for you guys is would you take a forgetting pill that only erased selective memories? Or, if that's too deep for the holidays, what kind of secret garden would you create if you could build or grow anything?

Angie Smibert
Memento Nora
Marshall Cavendish, April 2011


You can find me at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Class of 2K11

What I Want for Christmas from The Eleventh Plague

Wow. That's probably one of the weirder titles I've written here. The fact is my book doesn't really contain anything I or anyone else would want to have. No cool gizmos. No hi-tech wonders.

In my book, society completely collapsed around 2024. The story itself takes place about sixteen years later, once the population has stabilized at about a quarter of what it is now. There's no government. No utilities. No infrastructure whatever. There's just scattered pockets of barely functioning micro-civilizations woven together with scavengers, slave traders and loonies. It's a rough world.

Of course if you're the type that looks on the bright side, there's also no traffic, advertising, ringing cell phones, or smog. There are no politicians, no reality TV shows, no Dane Cook movies. No internet time sucks. No one sits in an office all day long doing a job of dubious usefulness.

So, in an inversion of this week's theme, if I had to choose something that's gone in my book to magically disappear in real life, I'd choose... TV. Yeah, I'd miss Community and 30 Rock and Project Runway, but I think it would balance my life greatly if I at least had to leave the house to be entertained. I think I'd spend alot more time reading, writing, chatting with friends and playing with cats. I think my life would be a bit quieter and a lot more productive.

How about you? If you could wish one piece of our day to day technology out of existence, what would it be? TV? Internet? Cell phones? Something else?

Jeff Hirsch
The Eleventh Plague
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011

Find me at and @jeff_hirsch

All I want for Christmas is...

In the world of XVI, there are a whole lot of things I don't want! Goverment surveillance, mandatory identification tattoos, marketing emphasis sexualizing teen and pre-teen girls, a tier system of haves and have-nots, dehumanization of homeless people... oh - that list goes on and on. Methinks Santa will NOT be visiting the powers that be in XVI's world.

But... there are some very cool things, too!

Personal Audio Video receivers (with tiny earpieces that can be used independently of the receiver)
Grocery store delivery systems where you type in what you want and it's picked & bagged & comes to you on a conveyor, ready to go.
Cook centers that you fill with ingredients and then touch a button on a pre-programmed recipe & ta-da! Your meal is cooked!

What I most want, however, is a personal transit (aka a fancy new vehicle for getting from here to there!)

They don't have wheels - they hover about a foot off the ground. Tractor beams keep them stable. Here's a description of one:

"...sliding into the seat, which immediately conformed to every curve of my body.
"Comfort Style," I murmured. I'd heard about the features of Comfort Style in verts, but never imagined I'd get to sit in a tran that had it.
... Inside there were individual entertainment devices, a dashboard chiller, and separate light diffusers in each window."

I've always loved cars. When I was growing up, cars were part of a person's identity - particularly the guys. I have to admit, loved the guys with the cool cars! Particularly ones like this...

Yep - there's a story that goes with a very similar car (and a very hot boy!)  However... for this Christmas - I'd like the cool future personal transit!

Or, as someone commented yesterday - a transporter!

How about you? What futuristic thing would you like under the tree? Or wrapped with a pretty bow in the driveway? :)

All I Want for Christmas...from Across the Universe

Here at the League, all of our books are set in the future. Some are near-future, some are far-off, but either way, it's the future...and the future, as we all know, is filled with cool stuff like jet packs and flying cars.

Or not.

We are talking dystopian lit here. Even so, there are some cool things we've featured in our books, and all this week, we're going to tell you about one of the things we made up in our books that we wish was real.

My book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, is a sci-fi set on a space ship. And while I think interstellar space travel would be cool, the thing I really want is...


Yup! I want floppies! Floppies are these cool, paper-thin, touch-screen computer-like things that everyone on the ship uses. They have all the digital information from the ship stored, and are as plentiful as notepads are here on Earth. 

Here's how I describe them for the first time in the book:

“There are things you should know,” he says. He picks up a floppy—a digital membrane screen nicknamed for its, er, floppiness—from the table and runs his finger over it, turning it on. When the screen lights up, he scans his thumb over the ID box.
“Eldest/Elder access granted,” the floppy chirps. Eldest taps something onto the screen, then slides the floppy over to me. I can almost see the wood grain through the thin membrane, but then I grow distracted by what Eldest is showing me.

Wouldn't that be cool to have?! It's basically a computer that's as thin as a piece of paper--and practically as disposable as one. The people on the ship treat the floppies as casually as we treat paper--they're plentiful and lie around on tables all over the place.

I got the idea for floppies in part because at the time I was writing the story, the husband had gotten me an iPad Touch. The ease of the touchscreen (and swiping across the screen to manipulate it and such) was something I could definitely see being used in the future.

I'm not the only person who's written about such things in the future. My all-time-love-it-hardcore sci fi show, FIREFLY, used something similar, too, but the more famous example is from CAPRICA.

(PS: I'm in the midst of watching BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA right now, and dudes! All y'all who told me to go see it: you were RIGHT!)

Also--and this is so exciting--but it looks like floppies and things like them aren't that far into the future. As this article points out:

It’s pretty easy to look at tablet computers and flexible thin video screens and realize that it won’t take long to combine these two technologies into a single product that will work just like the science fiction we see in Caprica.

Who needs a jetpack with stuff like this?!

Holy Possession Prizes!

Okay, so we've been giving away book-related swag all week. Up today, some sweet (I think) stuff to go along with my YA dystopian, POSSESSION, coming out next June.

In the book, Vi doesn't want anyone telling her what to do. But she's caged, trapped, inside her society and all their rules.

Thus, the iconic butterfly frozen in ice cover image. So today, I'm giving away a keychain made by the lovely Christina Lee, complete with butterfly charm and icy blue bead. In addition to that, you'll get a couple of temporary tattoos that say "TAGGED," another nod toward the book, when Vi gets tagged with a barcode around her wrist. (I ordered them; they're not quite here yet. But click here and you can see what I mean. Yours will say TAGGED underneath.)

On top of that, I'll throw in some signed and watercolored bookmarks, and a bag of my favorite: Dove dark. (Okay, this has nothing to do with my book, but doesn't everyone need love chocolate?)

You must leave a comment on this post to win all this Possession-related stuff.

But that's not all, my feathered friends. All of us here at The League are also giving away a prize package of our books! To enter the grand prize drawing for all five books, fill out the form below, including a link to your post. You only need to fill out the form once this week (chances are, you've already done this) for the drawing. Winner will be announced on December 20th.

Mementos from Nora

This week we're each giving away a prize pack based on our own books.  For Memento Nora, in addition to a few shiny bookmarks and postcards, I'm offering up a few things the main character, Nora, might think are glossy (her favorite word):  a pearly pink iPod cover, some mobile minutes, and a charm bracelet.

The last one needs a little 'splaining, so let me give you a little synopsis and snippet from the book.

In the not-so-distant future, Nora James, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic to do just that, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting.  (No spoilers!)

That evening, Nora’s father gives her a present—a memento—to “commemorate” her first TFC trip:

Dad pulled something out of his pocket. A small, green¬ish blue box that I instantly recognized as being from the best jewelry store, the Tiffany’s downtown next to his office. Inside was a silver bracelet with one charm on it. A purse. It was, I had to admit, very glossy.

He fastened it onto my wrist. I couldn’t help smiling.
“No little girl of mine should have to see what you saw,” he said, full of seriousness. “But the world isn’t a safe place anymore, and I can’t always be there to protect you. So every time you need to forget something bad like you did today, I’m going to buy you a new charm to remind you that you’re still my little girl.”
I know this sounds sweet, but it’s not really, considering what she didn’t forget and what she finds out is going on.

Nora comments later:

Apparently my milestone was an explosive shopping trip. Dad was more right than he knew.

So the prize I’m offering—to save you any such shopping trips this Christmas season—is a charm bracelet full of purses.

Not exactly Tiffanys, I know, but still very glossy.

To be entered in a drawing for today's prize pack, leave a comment in this post. One winner will be randomly selected.

To enter the grand prize drawing for all five books, fill out the form below, including a link to your post. You only need to fill out the form once this week for the drawing. Winner will be announced on December 20th.

This Giveaway May Save your Life (No, Seriously)

So the world of my book has pretty much fallen apart. No industry. No government. No running water. No electricity. Just pockets of micro-civilizations interwoven with scavengers, nomads and chaos. The smart post-apocalyptic survivor knows the only way to stay alive is to Always. Be. Prepared!

So to help you all along with that I'm offering as my giveaway.....

Stephen, the intrepid main character of The Eleventh Plague would have killed for something like this. And it's yours for free! 

Included are all of your survival and necessities, including:

Rescue Howler- This new, ultra-light whistle is extremely loud. Exceeds SOLAS and U.S. Coast Guard specifications, triple-frequency with lanyard hole. 

Rescue Flash- Signal Mirror
Developed by Adventure® Medical Kits exclusively for the Pocket

Survival Pak- Visible over 20 miles, durable LEXAN® polycarbonate mirror with mil-spec retro-reflective aiming aid for one-handed use.

20mm Survival Compass-
 Accurate, liquid damped, fast acting needle, with groove to accept an improvised lanyard ring.

Spark-Lite Firestarter-  a waterproof official military firestarter, useable one-handed and tested for over 1,000 sparks. 

Tinder-Quik™ is waterproof and burns for 2-3 minutes giving you plenty of time to light a fire.

Waterproof Survival Instructions- Includes detailed, easy to understand, practical information on: setting a plan of action; building shelter; starting fires; obtaining water and food; distress signaling; travel; and how to use the items in this kit to save your life. Includes 33 illustrations!

But Wait! There's more! Also includes: Duct Tape, Scalpel Blade, Stainless Steel Utility Wire, Fresnel Lens Magnifier, Braided Nylon Cord, Fish Hooks, Sinkers and Snap Swivel,  Heavy Duty Sewing Needle, Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil, Safety Pins, Pencil and Waterproof Note Paper

To be entered in a drawing for today's prize pack, leave a comment in this post. One winner will be randomly selected.

To enter the grand prize drawing for all five books, fill out the form below, including a link to your post. You only need to fill out the form once this week for the drawing. Winner will be announced on December 20th.

Goodies from a not-so-good future...

Nina's a low tier in the society of XVI. Her mom works a tier two cashier job and brings home just enough credits to pay for the necessities. Nina's pretty content with her family and her friends, she really doesn't want much more. The little things are what's important... sharing a 70% cocoa Wolf bar with her friends, the smell of Pops's candied ginger, and her most prized possession, a charms necklace.

So, my swag today is a sterling silver necklace with a horse charm (you'll have to read XVI for the significance), a tin of candied ginger, a dark chocolate "wolf" bar and a couple of signed XVI cards. 

To be entered in a drawing for today's prize pack, leave a comment in this post. One winner will be randomly selected.

To enter the grand prize drawing for all five books, fill out the form below, including a link to your post. You only need to fill out the form once this week for the drawing. Winner will be announced on December 20th.

A Week of Prizes!

We here at the League want to thank you all for reading, sharing in the conversation, and making us cool by association :)

In order to thank you, we're going to do a week of prizes! Every day this week, we're featuring a prize that relates to our book in a significant way. Swag, neat extras, and more!

Yes: you heard that right! 
Five prizes announced all this week!

There will be five different winners--one prize announced each day. And the prizes? They're way cool. That's all I'm saying.

Now, it's not enough for us to just offer you a daily prize, is it? :) We're offering one grand prize, too! What's the grand prize?

Pre-Ordered Copies of all Five of our Books:
Across the Universe
Memento Nora
The Eleventh Plague

If you want to win the grand prize of all five of our books--and of course you do!--all you have to do is tell someone about this contest online! Put up a blog post or tweet about this contest and the League, and you're entered into the drawing for the majorly huge big grandprize.

So--would you like to know what today's daily prize is? Well, my novel, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, is a science fiction, and the stars feature prominently throughout it. So, my prize is a collection of star-related items (and some stuff specific to the book):

A set of all three pin buttons in both the large and small sizes
Signed bookmark and bookplate
Official release sticker
A set of goodies I plan on using at the launch party:
Star mints, a star sucker, gummy stars, and star bands
An official limited edition Across the Universe watch!

All wrapped up in a star gift-bag:

What are you waiting for? Enter today--spread the word about the contest and enter for the grand prize--and come back every day this week to find out what the rest of the awesome prizes are!

To be entered in a drawing for today's prize pack, leave a comment in this post. One winner will be randomly selected.

To enter the grand prize drawing for all five books, fill out the form below, including a link to your post. You only need to fill out the form once this week for the drawing. Winner will be announced on December 20th.

Worldbuilding With Music

Okay, so I’ve been hard at work on my second novel. It’s another dystopian-type novel, and I decided to include a song that would have an impact on my MC as the story progresses.

But see, my society is a brainwashing society, and well, music doesn’t really fit into that very well. Which, of course, got me thinking about music and the impact it can have on a culture.

And after a lot of thought and struggling to figure out how to include this song in my book, I realized something else. I was worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding includes so much more than just city names and setting. It takes the little things, like music and food and dress and cultural things, and brings them to life so that your readers can really feel established in a world not that different—but completely different—from their own.

And so I took a few minutes (okay, hours) to really think about music and it’s role in my invented culture. I think the book will be better for it.

What do you think? Can you think of any examples where the “little things” have added another dimension to a book? For me, I’m thinking of MATCHED by Ally Condie, simply because it’s the last one I read and I really liked what she did with the Hundred Poems and the Hundred Songs and such.

And what do you think our music of today says about our culture?

Plot Holes

Plot holes. They’re those pesky gaps or inconsistencies in the logical flow of a story.  I must confess I’ve been guilty of them. I want a story to go a certain way. I plot it all out to my satisfaction, and then someone—agent, editor, reader—asks why didn’t they just do X?  Or, if they did Y, why didn’t Z happen?

Grumble. Grumble. “Because it doesn’t work that way,” I say.

In reality, I just didn’t want it to work that way---or I didn’t have a convenient 5-year-old to read the story and point out the obvious lapses in my story logic. (Note to self: add new reader to staff.)

So I console myself with these two lists from Cracked magazine:

•    8 Classic Movies that Got Away with Gaping Plot Holes.

•    5 Gaping Plot Holes Hollywood Knows You Won’t Notice.

One of my favorite holes from the first list is the entire premise to Citizen Kane, which is arguably one of the best movies ever made.  The reporters are trying to figure out the significance of Charles Foster Kane’s final words: Rosebud.  However, no one ever heard them.  He was alone in the room when he died.  The nurse gets there after his last gasp. So how does anyone know what he uttered?

But, if your story is entertaining enough, you can get away with some astonishing lapses in story logic  (though it’s probably not a good idea to try. )

What are some of your favorite plot holes from books, movies, or TV? 

Finding Inspiration Anywhere you Can

So I returned to my theatre roots last night when I joined a friend for a talk between Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Homebody/Kabul) and Stephen Sondheim (Like every classic musical ever) at the Public Theater here in New York. It was a great time and it got me thinking alot about influences and how often some of your strongest ones come from areas outside your own artistic practice.

Like for me, even though I'm now writing books for teens, most of my foundational artistic experiences were in theatres. It all started back when my high school did a production of Equus. I had never seen anything like that before. I think I sat there for two solid hours with my jaw hanging open. Next thing you know I was up on the stage myself acting for the first time ever in Arthur Kopit's Indians. Soon I discovered the work of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill and after that the more contemporary theatre of writers like Jose Rivera, Erik Ehn, Caryl Churchill and Mac Wellman and theatre companies like Pig Iron.

All of this feels relevant even today when my dealings with theater are purely as an audience member. Getting immersed in theatre gave my writing a tendency towards the dramatic (ok, maybe too much of one sometimes) and a love for the interplay of characters and bold language. It also informed my interest in writing about change and transformation.

I figure it's a good idea to look for creative fuel anywhere you can find. Who cares if you write books but draw your inspiration from music or paintings or film? Whatever works, right? And maybe bringing influences in from outside your own genre can help keep your work fresh and distinct.

So I'm curious to hear from you guys, where do you all find artistic inspiration outside of books?  Does a particular painter do it for you? A poet or musician or film director? Something else? How did they change what you do?

Jeff Hirsch
The Eleventh Plague
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011

Find me at and @jeff_hirsch