I ran across this article the other day and thought about how much some of the images remind me of aliens in sci-fi movies.

This guy (a maggot head) kind of reminds me of
this guy     

And this guy

definitely makes me think of this guy...

There are so many things in this world that are so foreign to most of us. I'm guessing the majority of us don't do macro photography or spend time looking at maggots or ants or dust mites under microscopes. But, sometimes it's close attention that sparks the imagination. Like... what if these things were super-sized? Lots of cheesy (and some good) horror movies have been spawned by ants and spiders and other creatures.  And, lots of fictional alien species probably have their imaginary DNA firmly rooted in critters that we barely pay attention to... but, someone did. Someone with a wild imagination and wilder ideas... 

Why don't you check out the pics in the Daily Telegraph slide show & imagine what these creatures might be or do if they really were bigger than life. Care to share your thoughts? :)

Surround Yourself with Your World

So I was recently cruising the intarwebs and stumbled across the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, "Bespoke and Everyday Items for the Living, Dead, and Undead" (via The Daily What)

This is the awesomest thing evar.

Dude, check it. The shelves are lined with giant wrenches called "neck bolt tighteners," the payment sign states it won't take beans (magic or otherwise) for payment, and there's every kind of canned fear imaginable, from tinned "escalating panic" to "a vague sense of unease."

This store is perfect to every last detail. Personally, my favorite is the jars of "Organ Marmalade" (*snerk* Get it? Get it?)

But the very very best part of all this? The Monster Supply store actually houses a writing center for kids. Behind the awesome displays is a cleverly hidden classroom station:

Because, while you can certainly grab a jar of "Thickest Human Snot" on your way in, this building isn't actually a Monster Supply Store: it's the British Ministry of Stories, an area created specifically to help young authors grow in their craft.

The Ministry of Stories was designed in collaboration with We Made This, and according to their site:

The Ministry has already hosted a series of workshops with local children, all of whom seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And the press, including BBC NewsThe Today Programme, and The Guardian, have naturally enough, taken a fair interest.

You can also visit the official site of the MoS here.

All of this got me thinking about space and inspiration. I fully believe what we surround ourselves with influences what and how we write. I recently posted on my own blog about how, despite the fact that I was working on a huge deadline, I had to clean the entire house. Once I had my house in order, I could order my brain and get my ideas on paper.

But, of course, it's more than that. All my life I've been fascinated with stars and astronomy. Moons and stars decorate my sheets and towels. When I was in high school, I created an astronomically correct mural of the constellations on my ceiling using glow-in-the-dark stars. I have more star related jewelry than anything else. I use a planetarium as a nightlight. It's not that far of a stretch that I write a science fiction novel where I can make my characters fly through the stars.

You can look at the Ministry of Stories and know immediately what kind of awesome adventures some of those kids will be writing about. Take a look at my star charts and you can see what kind of stories I write.

So look around yourself: What does your space say about your writing? 

League Break!

Hi guys! The League's taking the week off for Thanksgiving holidays. Go eat some Turkey--and if you'd like, tell us here what you're thankful for. :)

What's In Your Pantry?

Okay, so this week we've been discussing foods in dystopian and science fiction novels. Let me just get this out there: I'm not much of a cook. Sure, spaghetti and stuff like that, but that hardly counts as "cooking."

So I thought of the YA dystopian novels I've read the past little while and what the people eat. HOW I LIVE NOW is brilliantly done, what with the way the chocolate becomes so important. But I decided on LIFE AS WE KNEW IT and THE SCORCH TRIALS.

In those two novels, food primarily comes from a can. So today, I give you a food storage recipe, one you supposedly can make with what you already have in your pantry. So if the apocalypse gets triggered tonight, tomorrow you can have Mexican casserole! Ole!

1 family size package Kraft macaroni and cheese
1 can (12 3/4 oz) canned chicken
1 T. dehydrated onion flakes
1 can chili with beans
1 can tomato soup
1 T. chili powder
1 can corn
Cheddar cheese, cubed (optional--and you could use powdered cheese if you'd like.)
Fritos (optional--I mean, obviously. But who doesn't have like 50 bags of Fritos stored up??)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Cook Kraft dinner according to directions in large pot. Meanwhile, heat chicken with onion flakes. Add to Kraft dinner with remaining ingredients. Heat through. Pour into casserole dish and top with fritos. Cover and bake 30 minutes.

Of course, this is assuming life in post-apocalyptic wherever-you-live still allows you to heat up your oven. Yeah, maybe you better get a cord of wood chopped and stored in the backyard, just in case.

And that concludes food week dystopian style! Hope you found at least something to set your mind at ease about the impending demise of the universe. Ha ha!

What would you eat post-apocalypse? What food do you want to try from your favorite dystopian or science fiction novel?

Spirits of the Apocalypse

This week, in honor of Thanksgiving, we're talking about food and drink--two very necessary things in any world, but especially in dystopias.  Food--as in running out or controlling the supply--is a recurrent theme in many dark visions of the future.  The denizens of dystopia may be scraping by on canned food or worse (Soylent Green anyone?), but, they usually find a good stiff drink can make that dreary future a little easier to swallow.

In the Battlestar Galactica universe, Ambrosia, a popular green liquor, is just that drink. Ellen and Saul Tighe toast with it when they’re reunited. Gaeta imbibes a little green courage to get a tattoo. Amanda Graystone and Sister Clarice share a taste for particular variety of it (on Caprica).

Ambrosia is to Galactica as Scotch is to Mad Men.

In the auction of BSG props last year, the  large Ambrosia bottle below went for over $400.  The label says that Ambrosia is  distilled in the Bliffe sector by prisoners who "are treated as well as could be expected considering the hostile planetary conditions."  In the original series, I think the Galactica liberated the prisoners--and a fair number of cases of Ambrosia--as the rag-tag fugitive fleet made it's way out of Dodge.

Since Ambrosia is green, some sci-fi aficionados think it’s absinthe or some kind wine. But the Geeky Chef  put a little more thought into his recipe for it:

6 oz Midori
4 oz Blue Curacao
2 oz lime juice

Geeky Chef’s recipe directions say to mix in a Margaritaville Frozen Concoction maker, but I bet you can use a blender. Or not.

Can you think of any other drinks inspired by science fiction, fantasy, or dystopian lit?Anyone have a good recipe for a Pan-galactic Gargleblaster? Or Klah? (Bonus points if you know where those are from.)  Or make one up! What drink would you be thankful to down during the days of dystopia?

(Oh, if you do try one of these, please drink responsibly. The world's not coming to an end ... yet.)

Weight Watchers Cancelled Due to Apocalypse

Ok, so let's say you find out end of the world is coming tomorrow, are you really going to keep worrying about calories? I think not. So if you really want to go out in style I suggest making  this Snickers Bar inspired Caramel, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pie as one final glorious indulgence.

Trust me here, it only seems complicated. I made it for Halloween and it turned out great. If you I can do it so can you. And hey, if it really is the last pie you'll ever make, you might as well shoot for the moon right?

Thanks to Martha Stewart for the recipe! My comments are in bold.


    1 box (9 ounces) chocolate wafer cookies, finely ground (2 1/3 cups)
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    1/4 cup water
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/3 cup creme fraiche (I couldn't find Creme Fraiche and imagine most people won't either. Plain sour cream works perfectly)
    1 cup roasted salted peanuts
    8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup heavy cream
    7 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably 56 percent cacao), chopped
    1 cup heavy cream


    1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the chocolate crust: Combine cookie crumbs, granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press mixture into bottom and 2 1/2 inches up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Bake until dry and firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

    2.    Make the caramel sauce: Heat granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming (I was not able to prevent sugar crystals from forming and it did not seem to matter)  until medium amber, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully add heavy cream (mixture will bubble and steam). Return to heat, and bring to a boil, making sure caramel that seized up when cream was added melts. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in creme fraiche. Refrigerate until cool but still pourable, about 45 minutes. Fold in peanuts.

    3.    Meanwhile, make the peanut butter mousse: Beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add peanut butter and vanilla, and beat until combined. Whisk heavy cream in a separate bowl until medium-stiff peaks form. (It seems like it'd be easier to use store bought whipped cream, but I'd refrain as it would be too sweet. And besides, making your own whipped cream feels like magic!) Fold one-third of the whipped cream into peanut butter mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream in 2 additions. (If you've never folded it's kind of like a very delicate stir. Here's a great video on how to do it.)

    4.    Assemble the tart: Pour caramel sauce into cooled chocolate crust. (Then let cool in fridge or freezer until caramel is nearly solid. I found that if the caramel is at all liquid the mousse will push it out of the way and your won't get two nice layers)  Gently spread peanut butter mousse over caramel in an even layer, making sure they don't blend together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    5.    Make the chocolate ganache: Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk to combine. (Use immediately.)

    6.    Remove tart from refrigerator, and pour in ganache to cover surface. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

So there you have it. Dig in without remorse! If by some chance you make this and the apocalypse does not come the next day, fear not, this freezes very well.

Oh, and for all of you non peanut butter lovers out there, a variation that occurred to me would be to axe the peanut butter mousse entirely and substitute your favorite ice cream for that layer. Just let the ice cream thaw until it's spreadable, spread over the caramel and then freeze until it's hard enough to top with ganache.

Let me know how it goes if you all make this. Or just tell us about what you make when calories don't matter!

Jeff Hirsch
The Eleventh Plague
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011

Find me at and @jeff_hirsch

Would you like tofu with that?

In keeping with Foodie Week... I really am not going to share a vegetarian (vegan even) recipe with y'all. But, first, a little story...

I've been a vegetarian for a long time, but several years ago I went through a vegan period. I was having such fun making old recipes into vegetarian/vegan ones that I decided to do a cooking show. I partnered with our local cable TV station (BCat) and wrote, produced, edited and starred in four (or it might have been 5 - I don't remember) episodes of my own vegan cooking show. Of course, I am sure you can guess the title... Cooking with the Other Julia!  It was a local hit! lol!

In my novel, XVI, the society is vegetarian. Eating meat is illegal - mainly because there are very few animals left in the world. So... there's lots of seitan burgers, tofu fries and other vegetarian/vegan delights in the book. But, because the League's readership may not be ready for tofu cheezecake... I offer up my award-winning (non-vegan) chocolate cake recipe.

Three layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing.

cream together
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1-3/4 cup sugar
1 T. vanilla

3 eggs - beat well

sift together
1 cup cocoa
2-1/4 cups regular flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Add to butter mixture alternately with 1-3/4 cups milk.

Divide between 3 greased/cocoa-ed (rather than floured) 9" baking pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in 350 degree oven.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes
Remove from pans & continue to cool
Fill & spread with Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp vanilla
4 to 5 T. milk

Mix all & beat until smooth. Spread between layers and on top of cooled chocolate cake.


I apologize for lack of pictures... *licks beaters* Maybe next week.

Foodie Week! Turkish Delight

Hi Leaguers! Well, next week is Thanksgiving, and we here at the League are thankful for two things: food and time off. So we're taking next week off, and this week we're celebrating our favorite food from books!

I know we're supposed to be all about dystopian and sci fi and all...but guys? Sci fi food sometimes grosses me out, and they don't eat good stuff at the end of the world. So I'm going to dip my toe in fantasy and today I'll be showing you how to make my favorite fantasy treat: Turkish Delight.

My favorite books of all time are the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. They influenced my life in ways I can't even describe. As such, I've always been a little jealous of this guy:

NOT because he gets tempted by the witch, betrays his whole family, MISSES PRESENTS FROM SANTA CLAUS, and is basically responsible for every bad thing in the first book--but all because he gets this:

This, my friends, is a massive amount of sugar-filled Turkish Delight.

So, first things first: I needed a recipe. I tried to make Turkish Delight once before failed miserably. Y'all, I had to throw out the pan.

But...Turkish Delight is hard to make. There's ingredients from, I dunno, Turkey or something, and I don't know how to make or get Rose Water. I briefly considered dunking roses in water, but then I found this recipe from that uses gelatin instead of Rose Water and other exotic ingredients.

First things first: I gathered ingredients:
You'll note that I have vanilla and a candy thermometer in the pic--
I was going to try a more complicated recipe before I said, "screw that" and took the easier route.

Then I started following the recipe. I'll just go ahead here and say that if you decide to follow my footsteps and use this recipe...don't. Or at least re-translate it into easier to read directions. The ingredients list requires separating several ingredients and argh.

So: Step One--soften three packs of unflavored gelatin in some apple juice.

Unflavored gelatine apparently has no flavor...but it does kinda stink. Yuck.

Next step: boil apple juice and sugar. Things are going swimmingly at this point. I didn't take a picture of that--it's just boiling juice. While the juice and sugar boiled, I mixed lemon juice, lime juice, and cornstarch.

This is the beginning of the end. You can't tell from that innocent picture above, but guys--that cornstarch turned rock-hard with the juice. Eventually--miraculously?--it sort of liquified, but this was a sign of things to come, I fear.

Meanwhile, the gelatin was "softening." Which I guess is fancy cook speak for "turning into a crumbly smelly mess":

Next step: mix the boiling juice-sugar mixture with the "softened" gelatine and the cornstarch mess.

Can you tell what's in the pan? Somehow, once I mixed everything all sort of lumpy-fied. There's chunks of gelatin and long thin slivers of cornstarch mix. I stirred as fast as I could, then upgraded to a whisk, but I never could get all those lumps out. I actually think it would have gone better if I'd softened the gelatin for a lot less time, and if I shook the cornstarch into the mix slowly (like how you make gravy) instead of dumping it in as a thick liquid.

Next, the recipe called for a 9x12 pan that had been dipped in cold water. Well, having once tried this many times before (remember the pan I had to throw away?) I decided instead to dust the pan with powdered sugar.

Then I poured the chunky-gloopy mess inside:

Can you see the chunks?

On the bright side, the bits around the chunks seem to be very candy-like. My plan: eat around the chunks. Or feed the chunks to my husband and/or dog.

The recipe calls for it to be refrigerated for 12 hours, then cut, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten. I put the pan in the fridge when it was cool enough to go, but it's not quite set yet. At least, I hope it's not quite set yet. It's still pretty gooey. It's not something I could exactly cut so much as spoon.

I'm going to hide it in the fridge for awhile longer.

Maybe the husband won't notice.

I hope I don't have to throw away the pan...

So! My advice for making Turkish Delight? Just buy it!

The Backstory

So this is a dystopian/science fiction blog for young adults. We talk about writing, the genre, philosophies, books, etc. I've been reading a lot of dystopian novels lately (and for a while). Sometimes when I go to star them on Goodreads, I'll get sucked into the reviews.

And something I've seen recently is readers commenting on the lack of backstory. Yeah, you read that right. The lack of backstory. They want to know at some point how the world evolved from our present state to the storyworld that exists in the book.

I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I think it's something the author knows--they have to know--and requires careful placement in the novel so readers can find out in an authentic way. But how to do it?

Here's my loose guide:
1. Drop us into the world in the first chapter, but make sure to slip in one-sentence explanations in the narrative. I think the best way to do this is to allow the MC have an opinion on the society. Or be in a heightened emotional state about the society. That can allow the reader to get a feel for the world quickly.

2. In the next several chapters, the MC could either conform to the laws of the new world, or defy them. Either way, the author has the opportunity to establish what goes in this society and what doesn't. Along the way, the author can slip in a sentence or two about the society that contributes to the transition, but without really divulging the whole story.

3. Later, when the MC is realizing things they didn't know about their society, carefully insert how the world we know evolved into the one in the book. Not pages and pages, because the reader already knows the laws and intricacies. They've been living it for hundreds of pages. Just a taste, a few sentences or paragraphs maybe, that give more detail of the journey from now to then.

What do you think? In the dystopian/futuristic books you've read, have you been satisfied with the amount of backstory? Have you found yourself wishing you knew more about the transition from this world to the storyworld?


Scott Westerfeld’s BEHEMOTH saved my sanity a few weekends ago. I was stuck in traffic on I-66. Need I say more? Listening to Alan Cumming narrate a great book can make inching forward at a mile an hour almost bearable.

Even if I’d been listening to the book in my normal reading venue—the gym—I would loved BEHEMOTH as much as I did LEVIATHAN. The latter is the first book in Westerfeld’s Steampunk series. I won’t give any plot spoilers, but the setting for both books should intrigue you enough to run out and get them.

It’s the outbreak of World War I. The world, however, is alternate one. Technology and genetic engineering developed early in the Victorian era. The British and other Darwinists have based their technology (and society) on biological “machines” (aka, fabricated beasties). The Germans and the other Clankers base their technology on steam power and mechanical creatures.

This fabulous trailer for LEVIATHAN should give you a good taste for the novels:

Westerfeld alternates between the viewpoints of Dylan / Deryn —a British girl masquerading as boy so she can serve in the navy/air service—and Alec, the son of the assassinated Archduke. The pace is fast. The worlds of both Darwinist and Clanker are fascinating to say the least. And the voice—particularly of Dylan—is fresh and engaging.

I think LEVIATHAN and BEHEMOTH would appeal to both boys and girls. And adults. Barking spiders! It’s a genuinely fun series to read and/or listen to. (Did I mention the great use of language? Westerfeld invented a clean vernacular for the airmen to use.) I can’t wait for the next one.

So do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them? (If you didn't get this, you didn't watch the trailer, did you?) What other middle grade or young adult Steampunk (or sci fi / adventure stories) have you read and loved? Do they have both strong female and male characters?

btw, have you taken a peak at the Class of 2K11's brand spanking new website? Fellow Leaguer Julia Karr and I are members, and we are kicking off our year with a big thank you to the Class of 2K10.  Drop by and enter to win a whole slew of books.

Your Writing Tics

Hi all,

Just hit a new stage of the publishing process that I thought some of you might find interesting: line edits.

For those of you that don't know, line edits come after all the major editing work has been done. The story has been hammered into shape, the character arcs are working, all that big stuff. Lines edits are changes that live down on the word, sentence and paragraph level and they're where you start learning alot about your personal tics as a writer. And let me tell ya, it can be scary.

What have I learned? Well apparently...
  • I don't know when to use toward instead of towards.
  • I don't know the difference between farther and further. 
  • I think it's okay to spell okay, OK.
  • I love to compare things to ghosts, stars, birds and boulders. Seriously, I can't stop myself.
  • I sometimes go a bit metaphor crazy and should just let my verb choice do the work for me.
  • I have my characters use the words "a bit" way more than any real human uses them.
  • I have the ability to use the same verb 5 times in one paragraph without realizing it.
Trust me, I could go on and on and I want to thank the kick ass editorial team of David Levithan and Cassandra Pelham for setting me straight on things. It's amazing, if occasionally mortifying, to have a couple pros go over your work with such a find toothed comb. I'll definitely be keeping these kinds of writing tics in mind from now on. 

How about you all? When you look back of your own writing do you notice any little tics? Words or phrases you use over and over? Common grammar misunderstandings?

Jeff Hirsch
The Long Walk Home
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011

Find me at and @jeff_hirsch

Let's Par-Tay!

I saw a tweet about a dinner party blog post from a friend of mine. I haven’t read the entry yet, but the first thing I thought was it must be about who, from the pages of a book or the scenes on a screen, you would invite to a dinner party. Then, I thought about some pairings at a fictional dystopian/sci fi dinner party and wondered what the conversation might be between certain characters. Here are a few I imagined:
Katniss (The Hunger Games) and Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451)
O’Brien (1984) and Violet (Feed)
Jenna Fox (The Adoration of Jenna Fox) and Thomas (The Maze Runner)
Petta (The Hunger Games) and Mitsuki (Battle Royale)
And, people I would just like to have there:
Gale (The Hunger Games)
Han Solo (Star Wars)
Alex (A Clockwork Orange)
How about your dinner party? Who would you invite?

The Westerfeld Report

Okay, so I don't think it's a secret that I adore like Scott Westerfeld. He only wrote the dystopian novel that inspired me to write one. And the best YA contemporary I've read, well, probably ever.

So when I found out he was coming to my neck of the woods, I jumped on that airship pretty darn fast. He spoke for an hour, and said some really cool stuff about writing and just life.

At the end, he took questions. One teen asked him why his books (and Stephenie Meyers'--ha!) were so popular while some don't get that attention.

I looked at my writing pal, and could tell that we were both thinking the same thing: Riddle me that, Westerfeld.

Because it's such a great question. Why do some books get the buzz and others don't?

Westerfeld's answer (this isn't word for word): If a book can get people talking about it, then it will be more successful. Because when we like a book, we tell all our friends to read it so we can then talk about it.

I thought that was a great answer. There's nothing I love more than to talk about books. So I ask you: Why do some books get more buzz than others? And what books have you read lately that are worth talking about?

How to be (or Write) a Villain

We’ve all seen it. The villain has the good guy or gal in his clutches, and then he pauses to gloat or spill his plans for world domination, giving the hero just enough time to get free and ruin his plans.  Curses, foiled again!

A few years ago, a sci fi fan[1] took the top 100 mistakes villains inevitably make in fiction and flipped them on their head. The Evil Overlord List was the result.

So, if you decide to take over the world—or write a villain—here are a few pearls of wisdom from the Evil Overlord:

  • Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
  • The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.
  • After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.
  • I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
  • I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.
  • I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
  • The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

You get the idea. Can you think of any more cliches? What about dumb things the hero or heroine does  that inevitably land him or her in the villains clutches?

[1] The Evil Overlord List is Copyright 1996-1997 by Peter Anspach.

A Series of Questions about a Series of Books

Hi all,

This'll be a pretty simple post. Mostly I could just use a bit of the collected wisdom of the blogosphere.

My first book is a one shot deal, but I'm considering following it up with something that could turn into a series, but I've never done this before and the idea is a bit daunting.

So this is where you guys come in.

Have people out there written a series before or are you writing one now? Do you particularly like reading them? If yes to either of these, what draws you to a series? What do you think are the hallmarks of good series? The hallmarks of a bad series? What do you see as the particular challenges of a series? Are there common pitfalls I should try my best to avoid? Can you talk about some of your favorite series and why you think they work so well as a series?

See, I've got nothing but questions. I'd love to hear what you all think!

(Oh, and if you have no particular opinions on this issue, just tell us how your Halloween was. Mine was great. I made this complicated but delicious pie and watched Rosemary's Baby with the lovely wife. It seriously freaked her out. Good times!)

Mimic Octopus - Wow!

This is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

Can you imagine what must be going on in this creature's head? Is it aware what it's doing? I think it absolutely must.

Isn't this incredible?

Building the World All Over Again

So, many of you know I'm currently working on Book 2 of Across the Universe. And one thing that I'm finding is that I have to work at reminding readers of the world while not inundating them with things they already know.

Personally, the video "Replay" by Iyaz reminds me of what it's like to edit.

iyaz - replay [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
Uploaded by SN1PSH0T. - See the latest featured music videos.

Readers of my blog will no doubt remember some of my Music Monday features, where I talk about how a song or music video teaches me something about writing. I'm a nerd that way. Please bear with me.

When I first heard Iyaz's "Replay" on the radio, the thing that struck me was the line "girl, I could write you a symphony," which is underscored by actual symphonic music (it starts at around 2:17 if you'd like to hear what I'm talking about).

Here's the thing--this is what it means to "show not tell" (or in this case, "hear not tell"). One could argue that the whole point of the chorus is to "replay" and literally "show" the replay, though back-tracked snatches of the song. (For example, in the line "Like my iPod's stuck on replay--replay" the "replay" is literally replayed.)

OK let's bring this away from dancing bikini-clad girls and back to writing. I've discovered that the key to re-describing the setting and characters in Book 2 has been to show, and not tell. Instead of saying (again) that Godspeed, the setting of my books, is a spaceship, I show a character running her hand across the wall. Instead of talking about a fight between two of the characters that happened in Book 1, I show them being awkward and still unforgiving in Book 2.

I'm trying to let you hear the symphony.

This happens in the best sequels. Remember Gale and Katniss's awkward relationship in Catching Fire? Harry seeing the magic in Hogwarts in subsequent books? Ender's guilt after the Game?

Which sequels have you read that "showed" so well you could hear the symphony?