Giveaway: The Lives We Lost

Hi everyone!  Today I'm giving away an advanced reader's copy of THE LIVES WE LOST, the sequel to THE WAY WE FALL.  This book doesn't come out until February 2013, so this is your chance to read it earlier.

Here's the cover copy:

 First, the virus took Kaelyn’s friends. Then, her family. Now it’s taken away her home.

But she can't look back—the life she once had is gone forever.
A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father's abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race?

Megan Crewe's second volume in the Fallen World trilogy is an action-packed journey that explores the resilience of friendship, the ache of lost love, and Kaelyn’s enduring hope in the face of the sacrifices she must make to stay alive

Big thanks to Disney-Hyperion for the ARC I grabbed at ALA earlier this week.

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What Author Would You Want to Meet?

Stephen King, Scott Turlow, Dave Barry

In the hopes of crossing off a dream goal from my bucket list, I went to a special “meet and greet” of the authors that make up The Rock Bottom Remainders band. This was to be an hour-long reception preceding the concert at the El Rey Theatre. I wanted to meet several of the talented authors, but of course the holy grail for most of us was to meet Stephen King, (author of dystopian novels, among others) who rarely makes appearances anywhere, especially on the west coast. There was no description of how this was going to be set up, but I imagined we might be sipping drinks and chatting, however briefly, with the authors. I figured it was clear this was not a signing, so I didn’t want to be gauche and bring a book. No, this was a “meeting,” and I would be thrilled just to meet him, even for a few seconds.

Or at least, I thought, they’d let us get a photo with him, even if we don’t get to talk. If I could just get a photo, or get to meet him, I’d go away happy.

When we went inside the theater, he was nowhere in sight. Someone said they had seen him duck through a stage door, going backstage. Wrong way, Stephen! Because they let us in late, this was already 15-20 minutes into our meet and greet hour. A few authors were visible, you couldn’t miss the rocked-out Amy Tan, who walked up to a nearby balcony level that was only a few steps higher than the floor. But no one wanted to leave their coveted position in a haphazard line that snaked to the narrow path that led to the stage entrance. We were waiting for The King.

Matt Groening came out and was placed at a table across the way where an orderly line could be formed to see him. People flew out of our line to join that one, allowing us in the King line to move forward. But still we waited.

A reporter with a TV crew went through the stage door and later emerged. Shortly after, the bright light of the camera illuminated Stephen King as he appeared from that door. He had one assistant who had the difficult task of trying to maintain control. Immediately people started thrusting books in Stephen’s face and just as fast, he signed them. Oh, so this was a signing, after all. He had no time to talk, let alone look at anyone. He just signed books from whoever was around him in a 360 radius, including those who suddenly appeared from the balcony. There was no organization or forethought to this madness. The crowd was not rude, they just needed a better setup.

Because all took place in such a narrow area, there was no easy way for people to leave. I snapped a few photos of King while I waited.

I saw I wasn’t going to get my “meet” and somewhat begrudgingly pulled out the only paper item I had in my tiny concert-going purse – a STARTERS bookmark. I handed it to him and without looking at me, while someone else was shouting at him, he scribbled his signature.

The whole time he was there was less than five minutes before his handler wisely chose to take him away, so I am grateful that I got photos (even if they weren’t of the two of us) and the autograph (even though it wasn’t in a book). What I really missed was not getting to meet him.

I did get to meet other authors though, because they stayed out on the floor for the full hour. Dave Barry (Peter and the Starcatchers, one of his YA books) and his family were a special treat – what a wonderful writer.

Also gracious was Greg Iles, another smart author whose books I’ve loved. And in those cases, it was what I expected, we actually shook hands and got to chat briefly, and it was a true “meet.”

The concert that followed was fun. Yes, they messed up (Wild Thing). Yes, Stephen really cannot sing, but he tries with such earnestness. Besides, it is Stephen freakin’ King so you’re just thrilled to see him do anything up there.

Matt Groening (obscured), Amy Tan in wig, Stephen, Roger McGuinn,
Greg Iles, Ridley Pearson.

Amy Tan was fun doing her number "These Boots are Made For Walkin'." They had a truly talented musician in Greg Iles on guitar who used to be a touring musician. Many of the others were pretty good, and they had a special guest, Roger McGuinn of Byrds fame, whose guitar sounded like melted gold poured over chocolate. When they all sang together with him, it was magical.

The real guest of honor was the late Kathi Goldmark who founded the band and whose leopard-skin guitar sat on the stage in her memory. This weekend was their final tour, the end of the band. The wonderfully warm Dave Barry said, “We sort of felt this would be a good time to end it because it just isn’t going to be the same without Kathi.”

Somehow seeing all these authors on stage made it seem like the revenge of the nerds, that even writers could be a rockstars, at least for a night. It felt good.

What author would be on your bucket list to meet someday? Stephen King is still on mine.

Books I'm dying to read

Today, in a moment of sudden clarity after hours, days (weeks?) of revision haze, I realized that it's almost July. That means the first half of the year is almost over. Wow. I was shocked (that happens when you're revising two books at once), but then slowly excitement set in because there are so many books hitting shelves in the second half of the year that I'm dying to read.
Since my entire wish list would be far too long, I decided to give you my six most anticipated YA dystopian books.

November 13, 2012 by Dutton

I loved Matched and really enjoyed Crossed, so I can't wait for the last installment in the Matched Trilogy!

July 10, 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books
The summary mentions words like "superhuman war machine" and "virtual reality warrior." I'm sold. I need to have this book!

September 18, 2012 (Harper Collins)
Two souls sharing one body - that's all I needed to hear!

November 13, 2012 (Putnam/Penguin)
This part of the goodreads summary has me drooling: "In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable--they fall in love."

October 2, 2012 (Greenwillow)
The moment I saw this cover I knew I had to have the book, and the last sentence of the summary might have helped a little too: "And as they (3 teens) walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

August 7, 2012 (St. Martin's Press)
A few weeks ago, I got my hands on an ARC and loved it. Zoe lives in a society without emotions and everyone is linked to the Link network that controls their thoughts. I can't wait for the next book!

What are the books you're looking forward to?
(Formatting this post has been a pain in the a.... Thanks blogger!)

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My First Library Card and Other Library Stories

Yesterday, Morgan at Scholastic blogged about how getting your first library card can be a defining moment in your life and many shared their own first library card stories under the twitter hashtag #firstlibrarycard

Inspiring right? Well, I have a confession to make ... I don't remember my first library card.  I remember checking out tons of books from libraries - usually during summer vacations - but when did I first have my own personal library card? I'm not sure.

If I had to guess, I'd say I probably got my first library card around the age of 13 when we moved to Ohio, and the card was for the WPAFB libraries.  One summer I read all the paranormals in the teen section I could find (think Christopher Pike and Lois Duncan) and then hit pay dirt when the library had a huge sale where I bought 300+ paperbacks for $10.

I used the library a ton in college.  I even took trips to visit other university libraries and liberally took advantage of inter-library loans.

I spent my last year of college as an exchange student in Japan. The library at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka was spectacular, with floors and floors of English books.  Sadly, most of the library was off limits to the majority of students, including me. One of my professors took us on a tour of the forbidden areas (which is how I knew about them in the first place) and encouraged us to sneak in. When I did, I was caught and the librarians drew a red circle around my picture on the Exchange Student poster in the library foyer. Fortunately, another professor was able to get me a tiny sticker to put on my student ID which finally gave me full access.

One of the first things I did when I moved to Germany was seek out the library. The small branch near my apartment didn't have many books in English, but I took this as an opportunity to catch up on some classics such as BRAVE NEW WORLD, ANIMAL FARM, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER. Eventually I discovered the main branch library and immersed myself in their extensive thriller and literary fiction collection.

One last funny story: When I was in Wichita before my wedding, my father's internet went out and the only place that offered public internet access was the library. Since I had long since misplaced my Wichita library card, I had to apply for a replacement. When librarian told me I needed my parents signatures to get a card, I looked at her in utter confusion. She explained it was the requirement for teens under 18. I just laughed and showed her my driver's license to prove that I was over a decade older. Guess wearing sunscreen every day since I was 13 has paid off ....

Pretend the above graphic gives a release date of January 15, 2013 for LEVEL 2 until I can get it changed :)

The Cost of Cutting School Librarians

I'm blogging from the breakfast room at Courtyard by Marriott in Anaheim. I've spent the weekend at the American Library Association conference (ALA). It's a fabulous show, full of people who love books and authors and aren't shy about showing it.

But, being a novelist, I have an ear for conflict. And the dark undercurrent at the show is budget cuts. I can't count the number of librarians I've spoken to who are either 1) losing their jobs completely, 2) narrowly escaped losing their jobs recently, or 3) being forced to take teaching jobs. The problem seems to be equally severe among school and public librarians, but let me focus on the school librarians.

These cuts, frankly, are bat-poop crazy. Eliminating school librarians while trying to increase student performance is like cutting half the foundation while trying to build a skyscraper. There are more than 60 studies conducted in 22 states directly linking student performance on standardized tests with the presence of a qualified librarian in students' schools. If we want to improve student test scores, then we need to more than double the number of librarians employed in public education--to ensure that each and every student is served by a fully qualified school librarian.

Since we're cutting librarians instead of hiring more, I have to question the sincerity of the politicians screaming for "school reform." I hesitate to use the phrase "school reform" even with quotes, because to the extent that we allow the issue to be framed as "reform," we lose the debate. And reform isn't an accurate description of what's happening. If we were serious about reforming our schools, we'd add school days to the calendar, hours to the school day, and librarians to every school lacking one--all things that have a proven, positive effect on student achievement on standardized tests. Merit pay for teachers would be a non-issue, since we know it doesn't work. So the agenda clearly isn't about "school reform"--it's about keeping our tax rates for the wealthiest Americans at their historically low levels, or perhaps dropping them even further.

So let's start calling the "school reform" movement what it really is: a school privatization movement. It's already reducing kids' access to books and librarians. We already have a two-tier system--anyone who's visited an inner city school and a wealthy private school knows exactly what I'm talking about. Continued budget cutting is only exacerbating this divide. We have a fundamental choice to make as a country--should America be the land of opportunity, where every student has a chance to work hard and succeed--has access to great teachers, librarians, and libraries; or do we want to be a land of low taxes? I vote for the former.

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Who's Seen Prometheus?

I'm always happy when a new science fiction movie comes out, because they're few and far between. Prometheus has been a long time in the making, the first origins began in the early 2000s. After many incarnations, it finally came out recently, made at an estimated cost of $120-130 million (Director Ridley Scott had asked for $250 million).

My friend the movie critic Leonard Maltin, who would be the first to admit that science fiction is not his favorite genre, liked and recommended the film saying it was “big, impressive… well-cast.” He did have issues with the ending. See his review here. On the Rotten Tomatoes Site, it's pulling a 74% “liked it,” from both critics and audiences.

Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

I love Ridley Scott, one of the greatest living directors (Alien, Gladiator Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise to name a few of his best). And the visuals are amazing. There is one scene that I guarantee no one will be able to forget, involving the main character, the lead scientist played by Noomi Rapace. I did have questions about the script. These are not the thoughtful questions that make you wonder about the universe, but much more in the shattering of the “suspension of disbelief” category. Sometimes these involved motive, possibly the result of unforeseen edits and group decisions, but they are still troublesome. The ones that really bother me are the too-easy stupid crew moments such as why take off your helmet when you're in an alien environment full of flesh-burning slime?

But I'm willing to forgive this in lieu of wonderful elements such as the Keir Dullea quality of Fassbinder, the robot. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Most critics note how Fassbinder’s robot, named David, is modeled after Lawrence of Arabia, as stated in the film. But Dullea is much more reminiscent of David, the main character on the ship in 2001, A Space Odyssey, his wiry body, bony face, handsome but also creepy, and his icy, detached demeanor, stripped of messy emotions. It’s an homage, I suspect, to the classic science fiction film and the brilliance of Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke.



A sequel is most certainly on its way, assuming the high box office numbers continue. Scott has said he would need two sequels to link up to the Alien film, so maybe we’ll get lucky.

What did you think of Prometheus? Like? Hate? Or…?

When in doubt, blow things up

Yesterday Mike posted about gaming, so I'm going to continue on that theme. I've never really been into video games, unless you count my former obsessions with Tetris (remember the Nintendo version with the puzzles and the ancient civilizations? I rocked that game!) and Spider Solitaire. But if I need to de-stress or just let my mind shut off for awhile, I sometimes turn to Bejeweled.  There's just something about watching jewels blow up that enthralls me.

I'm the same way with books and writing.  In my reading, I gravitate towards novels where situations are volatile - where characters are forced to grow because everything's blowing up around them. Hence my love of the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genre.  In my writing, I've developed the mantra "when in doubt, blow things up" (both literally and figuratively) to remind me never to let my characters get too complacent and boring.

Does this mean I can count my hours playing Bejeweled as work? Do say yes!

(Pretend the above graphic says "coming January 15, 2013" until I can get it fixed!)

Quality, Copy-Editing, and Computer Games

My guilty pleasure is computer games. Lately I've been playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Civilization V. And yes, that stuff at the beginning of my debut novel, ASHFALL, about World of Warcraft is from, ahem, personal research. I played a shadow priest to level 80 (pre-Cataclysm), before I realized I was getting far too addicted and put massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) away forever. The advantage single player games have is that I can abandon them anytime without guilt. The people your meet in an MMO are real (even the "bots" are usually real people doing incredibly repetitive tasks for a miniscule amount of money), and I didn't always treat them as well as I'd like when my offline life intervened. I can gleefully be a total feces-head to the computer opponents in Skyrim and Civ 5.

Anyway, playing these games has given me a renewed appreciation of the book publishing industry. I know it's become fashionable to deride book publishers (J.A. Konrath routinely throws the Big Six under a bus, backs it up over them, and lights the mangled corpses on fire), but after spending some time with Skyrim and Civ 5, I'm newly amazed at the quality of the product book publishers put out year after year. If you can't find a grammatical error or typo in the first three screens you see in either of these games, you aren't looking very hard. In the multimillion dollar budget for these games, their developers couldn't find the meager funds required to hire a copy-editor? Seriously? And both games have been out for months and been through numerous patches--the "we didn't have time" excuse doesn't cut it any more.

If my admittedly tenuous grasp on reality ever snaps completely, you'll probably find me at Firaxis Games delivering a lecture on the proper use of the possessive at gunpoint. Or at Bethesda Game Studios teaching basic English.

But the real point I want to make is this: the book publishing industry does an amazing job putting out a quality product, year in and year out. I read a lot--become my friend on Goodreads if you want proof, 171 books last year--and it's rare enough to find an error in a traditionally published book that when you do, it sticks out. Grammatical errors in computer games are so common that only truly anal-retentive types (I'm guilty!) notice.

Yes, errors do creep in, even into well-published books. There were four in the first printing of ASHFALL. Given the 2,500+ errors that the copy-editor caught and the 101,000+ words of text, I think that's pretty good. And if you buy a copy of ASHFALL today, you'll get the fourth printing, which is, as far as I know, completely error free.

The book publishing industry could teach game companies a lot about quality. Maybe they could arrange a trade? Game publishers would learn about copy-editing, and book publishers would learn about marketing. But that's a rant for another day.

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Dystopian Classic: Metropolis

The other night my husband put Metropolis on Netflix.  It had been at least 10 years since either of us have seen it, but it was incredible to watch given the last few preoccupation with dystopian literature.  While Metropolis isn't the first dystopian films, it is one of the earlier ones.

In case you aren't familiar with the film, here's the description from IMDb:

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

And here are some stills from the film:

During this particular scene the adults have forgotten their children, dooming them to drown.  I couldn't help but make a wisecrack that nowadays, we'd tell this story from the perspective of the kids about how dumb/clueless their parents are.

As you can see Metropolis has machines and working drudges, robots and skyscrapers; it's truly a classic dystopian sci-fi film, and if you haven't seen it, you should.  It's one of the most influential films of this genre and the cinematography is stunning (and bonus: it's on Netflix!)

Klindt’s Bookstore YA Event in The Dalles

I didn’t head to BEA this year. Last year my publisher brought me out and made a special giveaway of truffles with “SuperTruffles” written on the foil box, along with “STARTERS” info. This year, I was supposed to be home writing ENDERS but an amazing bookseller reached out to me, asking me to be part of their YA summer reading event at their historic bookstore, open since 1870. Because my best beta reader lives in Oregon, this sounded like a good chance to get her input on the ENDERS rewrite.

Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood), Lissa Price (Starters), and Brodi Ashton (Everneath).

I discovered Klindt's is much more than a bookstore. It’s become an intellectual center for this entire town in Oregon, called The Dalles. Teens there told me if they weren’t into sports, they felt like outcasts until they discovered the bookstore.

It’s the people. The booksellers are what make the indie bookstores great. They don’t just work there, they are the heart and soul of the place. They love reading and they know their customers. And the customers trust them.

And if they are the center of the bookstore, the librarian who took me to the school visits was the anchor for the readers in the schools. I saw students hi-fiving him in the hallway – the librarian! Later, all of us were treated to a special winery visit that was featured on Shark Tank followed by dinner in an historic restaurant. Everyone, including their friends and families, sat outdoors on a balmy night, viewed a rainbow and enjoyed a blues band in the background.

Saturday, the event started at 11 and went until 3. Twelve YA authors signed books (for a list, see the link below). A free bbq lunch was served to everyone and musical groups played in the parking lot while the flow of teens and parents never stopped. I believe over 650 people attended. It was a huge success and a very special experience, a glimpse of small-town life in a town that values reading.

Klindt's Books = More than a bookstore

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Switching Genres

As an author you're always told to build a platform and a readership, and some will tell you that you need to write in the same genre (as your first book) to do that. My debut The Other Life and its sequel The Life Beyond are, of course, dystopian or I wouldn't be part of this wonderful blog, and I absolutely love dystopian literature but I have many ideas for books in other genres.
Today my new book deal was announced in Publishers Marketplace:

Susanne Winnacker's IMPOSTOR, the story of a girl who uses her shape-shifting ability to assume the identity of a teenage murder victim and solve the mystery of a small-town serial killer, pitched as X-Men meets The Zodiac Killer, to Caroline Donofrio at Razorbill, in a two-book deal, by Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management (World English).
And as you might have guessed: it isn't dystopian or post-apocalyptic. It's a YA thriller. When I started writing it several months ago, I wondered briefly if I was making the wrong choice to work on something that's so different from my debut but I never considered giving up on the book because I loved the main character Tessa and needed to get her story down on paper (well, in my word doc). It's important to write the book you're passionate about, the book that speaks to you and keeps you awake at night. Of course I'm aware of the hard realities of this industry. If you write a vampire-werewolf dystopian book right now, you might have a harder time finding an agent or a publisher. Because if you pay attention to agents/editor tweets and blogs, paranormal and dystopian seem to be a hard sell at the moment. And yet books in those genres still get deals. I assume it's because their writers didn't give up and just wrote the book they needed to write (a bit of luck might be involved too). I think a book you love and want to write will always be better than a book you're forcing yourself to write.
That's all for today. I hope this post makes sense.
Btw, I'm having a celebration giveaway on my blog if you want to win books!
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Level 2 at Book Expo America

There's been a lot of excitement on the LEVEL 2 front, what with the spectacular cover reveal and all.  But maybe the most surreal moment so far was actually holding the LEVEL Advance Reader Copy in my hands at the Simon & Schuster Blogger Preview last week.  Behold the awesome (photo taken by Sarah Pitre of Forever Young Adult):

How much more excited am I going to be to hold the finished copy in my hands come release date in January 2013?

My Favorite Moment at Book Expo America

I had a blast last week at Book Expo America. I fanboyed my favorite authors. (Please, please, please don't follow through on your threat to take out a restraining order against me, Kristin Cashore. I swear I was stalking you in a nice way.) I taught a little taekwondo in the show aisles, making attendees earn an ASHEN WINTER advanced reading copy by breaking a board. Don't believe me? Here's author Jennifer Armentrout learning hammerfist:

And I attended a dizzying series of parties, the best of which was easily the Publisher's Group West bash.

But my favorite moment of the show happened after it was over. Twenty minutes before my train was due to leave Penn Station on Friday (I'm in the Boston area today for a school visit), I rushed into the post office to mail a box of books to myself. Unfortunately, I had no tape. Neither, as it turned out, did the post office. They were out--both in their supplies shop and behind the counter. The oh-so-helpful postal clerk told me to go to the drugstore on the corner. Instead, I accosted a group of young women sitting who were sitting on the floor packing boxes, and asked them if I could buy a strip of tape.

"Are you...Mike Mullin?" one of them asked.

"Yes, any chance I could buy a strip of tape?" I replied.

Instead, she whipped out an advance reading copy of ASHEN WINTER, and I traded an autograph for a strip of tape. WIN!

So, a huge thank you to Marie and her tape for making Book Expo America a week I'll never forget.
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Thank You for a Great Launch of SURRENDER!

Wow, this week has been full of amazing stuff. Posts about covers--which blew me away. And food you can make while you read. And amazing reviews, and interviews, and silly stuff with The Hoff and Adam Lambert.

Some heart-wrenching truths about being published, and videos where I talk about books and writing...and blowing big bubbles.

Friends who set up giveaways for me. And the most amazing character art you'll ever see. Thanks to Christine, Dustin, Jamie, and Ali.

What an amazing launch week for SURRENDER. I'm so grateful. Thank you, thank you.

I'm running a Spectacular Seconds contest, where you can win an amazing signed sophomore novel by Beth Revis (Across the Universe), Kristi Cook (Mirage), Kim Harrington (Perception), Ally Condie (Crossed), and Veronica Roth (Insurgent). All the details, including the Rafflecopter entry widget, is HERE. Contest ends Saturday at midnight.

Not only that, but there are more fun things going on next week, Particularly at my blog, where I'm hosting another week of blog tours as well as the NEVER SURRENDER blogfest. You can find all the details and sign up here.

You can enter to win a signed hardcover of SURRENDER right here on the League by tweeting or liking us on Facebook or following our blog. And commenting! This contest ends tonight (Friday) at midnight, and I'll announce winners over the weekend.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's a little video of launch day for you. I got my hair done. Went to breakfast--with BACON. Had fries and frosties. Launch party. It was fabulous!

Have you had a chance to get your copy of SURRENDER? I hope you will!


To continue the celebration of original League member Elana Johnson’s launch week of her new book, SURRENDER, she’s graciously agreed to give us an exclusive interview. ONLY here will you find out what it is that she hates to do. And also discover the most disgusting thing she saw on reality TV.

What did you love the most about writing SURRENDER?

Writing SURRENDER was liking writing a new book. Since it’s a companion and not really a sequel, I got to explore a new city and new characters. And I loved doing that! Plus, the world-building was already done, so it felt like a lot less work with just as many rewards!

Who came up with the title of SURRENDER?

My publisher and I brainstormed a list of titles, and this is the one we both liked. I had originally named the drafts FUGITIVE. Totally different, yeah?

How did you feel when you saw the cover to SURRENDER?

I love the iconic images on my covers. I think I probably should’ve prepared myself a little better for the cover of SURRENDER though. Because POSSESSION is so perfect, I should’ve known nothing could compare to it. So I’ll admit to a bit of wailing, and then I got happy about it. It is still wonderful and beautiful and appropriate, so I can’t complain.

If a fairy granted you a bonus year and said you can write anything, just not another YA dystopian novel, what genre would it be?

I am a huge lover of what I call “light” fantasy (think GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, but not THE WHEEL OF TIME), and I’ve been working on something in that genre. I also love YA contemporary (like Jessi Kirby’s MOONGLASS and Jessica Martinez’s VIRTUOSITY), and I want to write those kinds of novels.

What’s your favorite reality TV show? What’s the worst one you’ve ever watched an episode of?

I love reality TV! Survivor is my favorite, but I also love The Amazing Race, So You Think You Can Dance, Chopped, and Cupcake Wars. I think the worst episode I’ve watched was in Survivor when they had to drink cow’s blood. I am just so not into that kind of stuff.

You were so generous with your time and advice to me just before my book came out. Do you have any tricks for time management? You have a family and a busy life, but you manage to do so much.

Tricks for time management? Um, don’t sleep? Get a job where you can open gmail in the morning and see every email that comes in when it comes in? Ha!

I try hard to squeeze things in whenever I can. If I have 15 minutes, I’m doing something with it. Sometimes that’s email, or writing, or editing, or playing Words With Friends.

What is something about you or your writing that you’ve never revealed before in an interview?

This is much harder than people might think! I’ve done a lot of interviews, and I tweet my brains out most days. I think most people know I’m a pantser. They know I can vomit up novels in just a few days. They know I love bacon…

So how about: I hate shopping. Everything about it. Shocking for a woman, I know. Not even shoes excite me.

Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?

Just a big thank you to all who’ve read POSSESSION and are looking forward to SURRENDER! Your emails and tweets always make me smile—and they motivate me to keep writing. So thank you!


BIO: Elana's work including POSSESSION, REGRET, and SURRENDER is available from Simon & Schuster wherever books are sold. She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query, which can be downloaded for free on her website. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and is a member of SCBWI, ANWA and LDStorymakers.

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

About SURRENDER: Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.

Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….


Review of SURRENDER + giveaway!

Today is day three of our SURRENDER launch week here on the League blog!

Summary “SURRENDER”:
Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….

A few days ago, before I started reading SURRENDER, I couldn’t help but worry that I would be lost because I haven’t read POSSESSION yet, though it’s been on my to-read list forever. But I shouldn’t have worried; Elana does a fantastic job re-establishing the world and its rules and characters. And now that I’ve finished SURRENDER, I’m even more desperate to read POSSESSION. So if you’re hesitating to buy SURRENDER because you haven’t gotten the chance to read the first book yet, I’m telling you: no need to worry.

Though SURRENDER is a companion novel and not a sequel to POSSESSION, the main characters of the first book like Vi, Zenn and Jag play a big role. But the book is told from the perspective of Raine and Gunn. And let me tell you, Raine is a strong heroine and has great chemistry with Gunn, the boy her father wants because of his powerful talent. So if you’re a fan of forbidden love, you’ll be a very happy reader.

But there isn’t only romance, the book is packed with action and yet still doesn’t neglect emotional moments between characters, especially the father-daughter face-offs between Raine and Van Hightower sent shivers down my back. He’s one creepy guy and a fantastic antagonist.

And you know what’s best? The world Elana created. I loved the gadgets, like guard spiders, e-comms, wrist-ports, hovercopters and especially the hoverboards! Who doesn't love hoverboards?

My verdict: SURRENDER is a fantastic second book and you shouldn’t miss it!

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Never Surrender Party

Today is the day that we demand your total SURRENDER!

Wait, no.  Today is the day we celebrate SURRENDER by the talented Elana Johnson.  A few days ago I got a lovely invite to Elana's launch party at the King's English.  Sadly, I'll be in New York, but that doesn't mean I can't celebrate.  And even if you can't be there for her launch you can have your own amazing SURRENDER celebration with these fun decoration and food ideas!


Jagged Ham

You can get the recipe from Elana's blog, or you can buy the Book Blogger's Cookbook for more literary recipes.

Make any drink spectacular with Possession style ice cubes.  I love the roses, but I bet you could find flowers that look like butterflies.


Ice cube shuffle.  Click on the picture to get the full rules, but basically two teams push ice cubes with their noses.  Looks like lots of fun and perfect for a summer Surrender party!


A simple but magical decoration idea that involves glow sticks and glitter will bring SURRENDER-style to your event.


Can you believe there is no shampoo in existence called Brain Wash?  How are shampoo companies missing the boat on that one?  How about slapping a label like this on some travel-size shampoo bottles for awesome favors?

Launch week for SURRENDER: Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

I'm going to do something a little different to help kick off the celebratory week of Elana's launch for her second novel, SURRENDER.

I'm going to talk about the covers.

Now, I do this rarely because, a lot of times, a cover doesn't really represent what's in the book. And, also, there's the fact that a book's cover is not something the author has much (if any) influence on. But I love the covers for Elana's work specifically because I think they are perfect symbols for the story inside them.

Take Elana's debut, POSSESSION. While the cover did get a bit of color between the hardback and paperback, the thing I love is the iconic image of a butterfly frozen in ice.

The story itself isn't about frozen butterflies. There's excitement and danger, a quick moving plot as Jag and Vi try to escape an oppressive dystopian society.

My favorite thing about the first book is the tough decisions that Vi faces. She is forced to confront issues (and people!) that seem almost impossible. She is constantly forced into Catch-22 scenarios where there is NO one right choice.

The butterfly-in-ice symbol works perfectly for Vi, therefore. She wants to be free (as would any butterfly), but she's trapped by her society and the people around her.

But I have to admit--while I thought the cover was pretty, I didn't really get the full impact of the butterfly in ice image until I read the last chapter of the book. Very few books leave me with a WTF JUST HAPPENED reaction, but the last chapter of POSSESSION definitely did. And it was the last chapter of the book that made me realize just how perfect the image on the cover is for the story.

Which brings us to SURRENDER which debuts this week! When I first saw this cover, I gasped in joy--I cannot imagine a better companion image to the butterfly in ice.

SURRENDER tells the story of Raine, Vi's roommate (another plus for the trapped hummingbird image here--because it's not another butterfly, it is so apropos to get a different caged creature to represent the story). Raine quickly becomes entangled in the world Elana introduced us to in SURRENDER, and as she discovers more about the dystopian world--and about whatever secrets Vi might be hiding--she realizes she's going to have to make some of those tough decisions Vi faced in the first book.

Here's the thing I love about the books: both Vi and Raine are trapped by their oppressive worlds, but the decisions they are forced to face similarly cage them.

And this is why the images on Elana's covers so perfectly fit with what the books are really about. Strip away the dystopian world, the dynamic characters, the hot romances, and what you're left with is a philosophical commentary on how we all have to break free from the cages not just our world erects around us, but that we put around ourselves.

I think my favorite thing about the SURRENDER cover is the fact that there's no lid on the jar. The hummingbird could, potentially, fly up and away. As long as she finds the courage to do so.

A good book cover exposes the heart of the novel to the reader before they even start the first page. SURRENDER wears its heart on its sleeve.

Discover the world of POSSESSION and SURRENDER yourself! All this week, we're featuring Elana's books--and wrapping it up with a giveaway! So stick around--and make sure you snag a copy of it for yourself!

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