Whoa, I almost forgot the Wednesday post!

This whole moving-and-not-having-a-set-schedule thing is playing havoc with my memory.

Oddly, I find myself without much to blog about today. After all the stuff that's gone on the last few weeks, the packing, the moving, the cover reveal, etc, I'm in sort of a weird decompress state where I don't quite know what to do with myself. It's a little like that after-Christmas feeling, where everything kind of pauses and resets itself.

The only thing that's keeping me from spending all my time reading, napping or wandering through endless Cracked.com articles is the fact that I have to turn in a decent draft of my next book by the end of the summer, and I have another 50-60k words before the story is even done.

found at the Keep Calm shop on etsy


So here's a round-up of some awesome cover-y things from this past week.

1. Shannon Messenger revealed the cover for her YA debut, Let the Sky Fall and it is DELICIOUS. 
2. Elsie Chapman, a fellow 2013 debut author revealed the cover of her book Dueled around the same time I unveiled the cover for City of a Thousand Dolls, and hers is fantastic. The summary sounds intriguing  and I can't wait to get my hands on it.  
3. I got the first couple of entries for my cover reveal contest, and guys, they are AMAZING. As soon as I get a few more (hint, hint) I'll post them up on the Facebook page so you all can see the awesome. 

Now I have to put in another few hundred words on this project and go to sleep. Thank you all so much for your support and your wonderful comments and for being just generally a badass group of awesome people. Here's some pictures of a baby sea lion to express my gratitude.




pictures from zooborns.com



Observations on ebooks and Phil Tippett

First off, sorry for not blogging this weekend. Between recovering the Move From Hades (not only did the truck break down but the new one turned out to have only one seatbelt and we had to spend another night in Lewiston) and Memorial Day weekend, my brain was mushier than cheap cornflakes in milk.

Anyway.

Yesterday I was on Tumblr browsing and giggling (as you do) and I came across this:



Click here to see gif.

Long time readers might remember that I have a mild dinosaur/Jurassic Park obsession. Not only do I own all three movies, I've actually watched The Making of Jurassic Park documentary more than once. So aside from making me giggle uncontrollably, this gif made me think. Because I know who Phil Tippett is.

(Some of you are asking yourselves how this relates to ebooks. Don't worry, I'll get there. Maybe. *grin*)

First let me tell you about Phil Tippett. Back in the late 70's and early 80's, Tippett was one of the best special effects people around. He not only worked at Industrial Light and Magic, he won an Academy Award for his work on the movie Dragonslayer and an Oscar for Return of the Jedi. His specialty was a technique called go motion.

Like stop-motion animation, go-motion uses models and puppets, but go motion is smoother and much more awesome. The original AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back were animated with go motion.



In 1984, Tippett left ILM to start his own studio, where he worked on such things as the Robo-Cop movies, and oddly enough, a CBS animated special called Dinosaur! for which he received an Emmy. In other words, Phil Tippett was a master at his craft and at the top of his field.

UNTIL.

*ominous music*

In 1991, Steven Spielberg hired Tippett to create go motion dinosaurs for Jurassic Park, and he came up with some amazing animation. But the movement was still jerkier than Spielberg wanted. Then Dennis Muren from the Industrial Light and Magic studio, who was also working on the film said "Hey, maybe we can make a computer generated dinosaur."

It had never been done before. No one had ever made a convincing computer animation of a living creature. But not only did ILM do it, they managed to do it so well that Spielberg was blown away.

And just like that, the industry Tippett had spent so many years in changed forever.

Tippett's reaction? "I think I'm extinct."

As I was remembering this story, my mind went to ebooks. (Told you I'd get there.)

I think a lot of writers feel like Phil Tippett right now, and with some good reasons. With the rapid growth of ebooks and ereaders, things have changed and they aren't changing back. The increasing dominance of Amazon, the demand for cheaper and cheaper books, the big publishers tightening their budgets and the flood of self-published books, all those things can combine to make a long-time professional writer feel like they're going extinct.

But you're not. There is still a demand for good stories. There is still a market for awesome. It might be harder than it used to be in some ways and easier in others, but our core job hasn't changed. We still need to tell great stories and tell them well. We just also have to be flexible and willing to evolve.

Like Phil Tippett did.

See, the story doesn't end with Tippett packing up his studio and trudging off into the sunset never to be heard from again. Watch the first two minutes of this video if you don't believe me.



As Wikipedia puts it (emphasis mine):

Far from being extinct, Tippett evolved as stop motion animation gave way to Computer-generated imagery or CGI, and because of Phil's background and understanding of animal movement and behavior, Spielberg kept Tippett on to supervise the animation on 50 dinosaur shots for Jurassic Park. Phil supervised both the Tippett Studio and ILM animators, resulting in realistic digital dinosaurs that breathe, flex, twitch and react. His effort earned him a second Oscar. Work done on Jurassic Park resulted in the development by Tippett Studio's Craig Hayes of the DID (Digital Input Device) which was pivotal in the transition from stop motion to computer generated animation in bringing creatures to life.

There was a place for Phil Tippett, go motion animator. He became Phil Tippett, dinosaur supervisor. And there is a place for writers and storytellers in this new (and still evolving) publishing world.  We can survive.

Tell great stories.

Tell them well.

And Happy Memorial Day.


So we moved today...







It did not go...QUITE as expected.

Long story short, we left about 4 hours later than we wanted and drove 45 minutes, making it into the next town right before the moving van died and left all our earthly possessions stranded on the side of the road.

So now we're stuck in Lewiston, Idaho for tonight and tomorrow morning. And I'm super tired.

See you Saturday!


What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you during a move?

COVER REVEAL!!!!!! (and a contest!)

Today's the day!

Today I finally get to show you the super-amazing, totally-epic, wonderfully-beautiful cover for City of a Thousand Dolls!
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(And none of you actually read that sentence because you're totally scrolling down to see it.)
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(I see how you are.)
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 TA DA!!!!!



Isn't it FABULOUS?

I'll just let you savor the awesome for a second.
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*pets pretty cover*
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*waits*
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Okay, on to the contest!

This one's a bit different. You don't have to like anything or comment on anything or follow anything. You do, however, get to be creative.



The Contest: 

Here's what I want you to do.


Recreate the cover.

That's it.

Any way you want, any medium you choose. Recreate the cover (or do some sort of homage to it) and either email me a picture/video of it or post it to my Facebook wall. You have a month.

EDIT: Woops, forgot to tell you my email: miriamforsterauthor (at) gmail (dot) com 

After the contest closes, I and my panel of specially chosen, arty-type people will pick the top five entries. From those entries we will randomly select one grand prize winner, a first and second runner up and two honorable mentions.

Grand Prize:

Remember when I went to see Lois Lowry talk? And came back with a secret thing I wouldn't tell you about? That secret thing was this:



A set of signed books! The grand prize winner will receive signed copies of The Giver, Gathering Blue and The Messenger, plus a pre-order of Lois Lowry's new book Son out in October.

This prize also includes a journal for writerly scribblings, and (this is my favorite part) an ARC of City of a Thousand Dolls! 


First Runner Up:

ALSO gets an ARC of City of a Thousand Dolls, and a journal, along with a signed set of Alane Ferguson's Forensic Mysteries. (If you like CSI, you will LOVE these books.)



Second Runner Up:

A signed copy of the Edgar-award-winning book Icefall, by Matthew Kirby, (Such a good book!)


AND an ARC of City of a Thousand Dolls.


Honorable Mentions will both get a fifteen-dollar gift card to the online bookseller of their choice.


The contest closes at midnight, PST on June 21st June 30th. International entries are welcome. Please email me if you have any questions.

Go forth and create!


PS. The jacket art was created by the amazingly talented Colin Anderson.  Feel free to sing his praises in the comment section.  I'll just be over here swooning.

*pets cover again*

*swoons*

Why editing is like moving, part 2 (with a few reminders thrown in)

It's time for another installment of Why Editing is Like Moving. (Otherwise known as "Miriam wants to blog about editing but can only think about moving, so here is an analogy.")

Both editing and moving go through similar stages.

Stage 1: Optimism. 
It's not so bad! I have plenty of time and the house is already pretty clean. I have a plan, I'm organized, I'm ready. Just let me get started and things will be done in no time!

Stage 2: Confusion: 
Why do we own fifteen pairs of mittens? Do we really need this? Or this? Wait, this goes in a box I've already taped up! How could we run out of boxes? Where were we keeping all this stuff? But if we pack all the towels, how will we take baths? WHY CAN'T I FIND THE ONE THING I NEED THAT WOULD MAKE THIS WORK? 

Stage 3: Despair:
This is too much work. It'll never get done. The house is a shambles, everything's pulled apart and there's no way in hell I can ever put it back together. I'm running out of time and my back hurts and I'm tired and it's all impossible anyway. I should just lay down here and hope a pile of boxes falls and mercifully crushes me. Goodbye, cruel world! 

Stage 4. Determination:
Well, I suppose I can't actually lay down and give up. I mean, this has to get done, we made an agreement with the landlord, and he's already rented the house out to someone else. So I guess I'll get up. Put this in a box, put that in a box. Clean this shelf, pack this drawer. Just keep moving, doing what needs to be done, because sometimes that's just what you have to do. 

Stage 5: Tiredness
I can't feel my hands anymore, and my brain is an endless gray blanket of fuzz. I haven't showered in days. I forgot to eat lunch, and I'm incapable of any conversation other that "uh." Time has stretched out to one long slog. All I know is dirt and boxes and the smells of cardboard and cleaning solution. But I'm not stopping, no way. Just gotta keep trudging...

Stage 6: Arrival
Wait, I'm done? Like really done?  Like nothing else to do? The truck is packed, the last bit of dust has been wiped from the closet, everything is clean and bare and ready for the next family. I'm done. It's over.  We did it. Time to celebrate!

Stage 7: Collapse.
I'll celebrate after I sleep. *thunk*

Right now I'm in stage four, but I'm sure I'll be in stage five by Tuesday. And I went through this exact emotional process with both my line edits and my copyedits as well.  It's all perfectly normal, though it's no fun at the time.

*sigh*

In other, happier news, the City of a Thousand Dolls cover reveal is tomorrow!



And to whet your appetite, here's the link to my City of a Thousand Dolls Pinterest board, so you can see stuff that reminded me (and my editor) of the book.

Yeah, I'm on Pinterest. I caved.



AND there will be a contest unlike anything I've ever done before on the blog. Here's a hint:


It all goes down tomorrow, so don't miss it!

If YOU had to compare editing to something, what would it be?

Wow what a week!

This has been a REALLY intense few days.

I had my last day at Starbucks on the Thursday the 10th...
...then I drove for a couple hours up north to see my younger sister get her Associates on Friday...
...then back down to Moscow that night so that I could see my husband get his Bachelors in math on Saturday...
...then a very long day helping out with my church on Sunday...
...then the ROAK blitz on Monday...
...and Victoria Schwab's paperback release on Tuesday...
...and in the middle of all of that, we've started frantically packing because we're moving down to Boise on the 23rd.

Whew!



If you haven't yet, I encourage you to check out Victoria's new short story and the ROAK blitz, which will be going on all week. I'm still working my way through the blogs on the blitz list, and let me tell you there are some amazing people out there doing some wonderful and generous things. If you need your faith in humanity lifted (and who doesn't these days?) you should take a look.

In the meantime, the blitz brought some awesome new followers to our little corner of the Internet. Hi new followers!



Since we have some new friends, I'm opening up the comments for random questions. Ask me anything you like, whether your a new follower or an old one. I'll be popping in randomly today and tomorrow to answer.

Happy Wednesday!

THE ASH-BORN BOY, a short story from Victoria Schwab.

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking. "Isn't this Tuesday?"

It is. I'm blogging on a Tuesday, but I think you'll agree this is a good reason.

See, today is the day that THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab come out in paperback. And to celebrate its release, Victoria made you all a present.

Click here.

 It's a short story called "The Ash-Born Boy." Victoria wrote it as a thank-you to her fans, and she wrote it to answer one question: "Who was Cole before he came to Near?"

The best part about the story (other than the fact that it's free) is that it's for everyone.

(I take that back. The best part is Victoria's writing, which is amazing and had me hooked and filled with delightful word-envy from the first page of the story. But the second best part is that it's for everyone.)

If you've already read THE NEAR WITCH, "The Ash-Born Boy" is guaranteed to change the way you see Cole. And if you haven't read THE NEAR WITCH yet, don't worry, "The Ash-Born Boy" won't spoil anything! So basically, either way, you should go read Cole's story ;)

Also the back of the paperback itself, (WHICH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY READ) you'll find the first chapter of Victoria's new book, THE ARCHIVED, which doesn't come out until January!



So there you go. An extra blog post AND a free short story. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.


Kindness ROCKS!


To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think kindness is contagious, I'm participating too!

In fact, I've got TWO special shout-outs I'd like to give.

Shout-out #1 goes to P.J. Hoover over at Roots in Myth. Not only is P.J. a wonderful writer and hugely interactive in the writing community, but she was one of the very first people to regularly comment on my blog when I started. We quickly found we share an affection for Star Trek, tortoises and myths of all kinds, and we've been friends ever since.

As a new blogger and hopeful author, it was so fun for me to get to know someone on the "inside" and P.J. has been incredibly encouraging and supportive. The world of kidlit is full of amazing and warm-hearted authors, but P.J. in particular continues to inspire me with her generosity and general fabulousness.

(Plus she recently sold TWO BOOKS TO TOR!!! *happy dance*)

P.J, you rock and as my RAOK gift to you, I'm sending you the delightful ARCs, Of Poseidon and Monstrous Beauty, two very different takes on the mermaid myth!

Shout-out #2 goes to Charley R. at The Leaning Tower of Plot. Here are three things you need to know about Charley.

1. She is hilarious. Truly. Her blog makes me giggle every time.

2. She's commented on pretty much every blog post I've put up since we became friends. Those of you who blog, you know how much regular commenters mean. Often it's very easy to just read a post and move on without commenting. (I am terrible at comments myself.) Charley makes that extra effort. Someday I hope to be as good an online friend as she is.

3. She's British AND goes to boarding school, which not only makes her 67% cooler than me, it also means she's 83% more likely to get sucked into a fantastic, magical world someday.

Charley, if that ever happens, come back and tell me, okay? And as my RAOK gift to you, I'm sending you a signed copy of the The Near Witch, because it has moors in it. *grin* (along with the book you won a few weeks ago, which I've been holding so I could send everything at once.)

If you have a minute, please stop in to say hi to P.J. and Charley and tell them how awesome they are. And if you have someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge, don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. 

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for YOU as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Testing the new comment system with ANGRY BEARS.

Hi everyone!

Just a quick heads up to let you know I've switched to Disqus for comments. My previous comment system was losing comments and having issues with Blogger, so I hope this will work better.

I still haven't been able to figure out what's going on with the formatting on the old comments, but I'm working on it. And new comments are working great!

As a test run, I invite you to caption the following photo of angry bear cubs.

via zooborns.com

Thanks for your help! And be sure and come back on Monday for something AMAZING.

PSA

Holy crap, all. I was in the middle of switching comment systems and my internet went down. But I do have all the comments and they should be back later today. Until then, please don't comment, I might not be able to import new ones.

ETA: Okay, so the Internet is back up. Apparently some road crew up north hacked through a core line and shut down the main cable/Internet provider for most of North Idaho. So that was fun.

The comment importing went fine but there were a wonky formatting issues on past comments (&#;039 instead of ')  that I'm going to try to fix tomorrow. If I can't figure it out, I'll probably put up the new system anyway, since some fun stuff is going down Mon/Tues that I don't want you to miss.  :)


Blog is on hold for the weekend....

While I mess with the comment system and get my husband graduated.

Come back for something AMAZING on Monday!

Also, here's a grumpy kitty.

Let's play connect the dots! (er...links...)

Every morning I get up and click through Twitter to see what's been happening while I was asleep. Since most of the people I follow are full of awesome, there are usually one or two links to interesting articles for me to read as well. 

This morning the articles I read were both inspiring and strangely connected. (Sadly, I have lost my morning place in the twitterstream and can't remember who I got these from. So thanks to anyone who linked to these articles. Next time I'll take better notes.)


I clicked on this mainly because watching people pretend to be the Incredible Hulk amuses me to no end. Because I haven't seen the movie, I was expecting some entertainment and not much else.

What I got was a startling, on-point essay (in all caps) about the difference between real and assumed empathy and the need for dramatic and contradictory characters in storytelling. Awesome stuff.

And speaking of The Avengers....

Joss Wedon's open letter of thanks to his fans. 

Which was very interesting indeed in the light of this article about the power and importance of fandom.


Whatever JW's faults are--and there are seem to be things he could have done differently--I think it's safe to say that he's someone who respects his fans. And they have repaid him by building one of the most loyal and fanatical fandoms in TV/movie history.

All in all, my morning's reading gave me lots of food for thought. It also made me hope that if you guys ever see me disregarding or disrespecting my readers and followers, that you give me a slap upside the head. Because you--you wonderful, fanatical story-lovers--are important. And I appreciate you.

Have you read anything lately that made you think? Please share in the comments! 

What's going on in May (including my upcoming cover reveal!)

Happy Monday! I thought I'd give you guys a quick update on all the awesomeness that's happening this month!

1. Cover reveal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barring fire, famine or flood, the cover of City of a Thousand Dolls is scheduled to go live on May 21st, right here on ye old blog. It's beautiful guys, seriously. Gorgeous and epic and amazing. I'm so excited to share it with you. And there will be a contest! A SUPER FUN CREATIVE contest with amazing prizes.

(Needs more exclamation points!)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Fun mid-month surprises! 

These aren't my surprises, so I can't really give you any hints. But I'm joining a lot of other people to bring you a couple of really fun things around the middle of the month.

3. Editing posts! 

There are one or two more line edit posts I want to do and possibly a copyedit post. They'll be scattered over the month because of work, moving and the aforementioned fun things, but they are still in the schedule. So if you have any unanswered questions about edits, it's a good time to leave them in the comment thread.

Also, I have THREE MORE DAYS at the old dayjob. So far my feelings can be summed up thusly.


Hope your Monday went well!

A busy weekend and some giggles

Holy crap, that was a long couple of days. It was graduation weekend at WSU, which is up the hill from where I work. It's one of the busiest weekends of the year and I probably spoke to almost a thousand people over Friday and Saturday.

found at cuteoverload.com

So instead of a blog post, you get a fun link:

The Mary Sue looks at Sherlock/Smaug fan art! 

And a Maru video:




I have four more days at this job, than my husband graduates, then it's a week and a half of packing and craziness and we're off to Boise!

*cheers*

*collapses*

Adventures in line edits, part 2: Learning to own my book

So... in case you didn't know, I'm a bit of a people-pleaser, especially when it comes to authority figures. I hate disappointing people, and I HATE upsetting my boss. And for a while there, in my head, the equation went like this.

Editor = Boss.

Which meant I wanted to do everything in my power to make my editor happy. There were a list of things I knew I was willing to fight for (and we'd already discussed them) but everything else was negotiable and I put enormous pressure on myself to do it right.

So when the second round of line edits showed up and there were things that I had tried to fix that still needed tweaking, and my editor started making small suggestions I wasn't comfortable with or didn't know what to do with, I had a meltdown.

found at izit.org
OMG I'M A FAILURE AND I CAN'T DO IT AND MY EDITOR IS ASKING THE IMPOSSIBLE AND EVERYTHING IS HORRID AAAHHHHHHH!

It had nothing to do with my editor, of course. She was very clear that her suggestions were only suggestions and she was always happy to discuss things we both felt strongly about. (She's much better at this communication thing than I am) No, this was all about me and my own over-pressured brain.

So when I absolutely couldn't take it anymore, I called my agent, who told me something I had never really considered.
"This is your book. No one can make you do anything, and everyone already loves it. You're not going to ruin it."
I needed to hear that. It took the pressure off. And it gave me enough confidence to engage with my editor on things I wasn't sure I agreed with her about. I still ended up taking most of her suggestions because she's super-smart, but it helped so much to know that if I really wanted to, I could say no.

found at icanhascheezburger.com


There's a lot of talk going around about how editors "make you change your book" and authors worrying about their creative vision being stomped on.

But the reality is that it's ultimately YOUR book. The editor has a perspective that you may not have, and they want the same thing you want--to make the best book possible--but at the end, no one is going to make you change anything you don't want to change.  You're collaborators and partners, not employer/employee.

In the end, it was still my book. And I had to learn to own it.

Do you ever put unnecessary pressure on yourself?
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.