Friday, December 31, 2010

Fond farewell to 2010, Hopes for 2011

Here we are on the last day of 2010 . . . sigh, how I'm going to miss it. 2010 will be remembered as the year I pitched a brand of my own to real media professionals for the first time, the year I finally returned to being a vegetarian after missing three years (oops :) ), the year Boyfriend and I accidentally locked our chihuahua out of the house for an hour and then rushing out to find him only to realize he'd been sitting obediently on our porch steps the whole time, the year I lost seven pounds (and then gained three back after the holidays), the year Boyfriend and I finally got off our lazy butts and changed the tires on our little Yaris, and the year we nearly drowned in Los Angeles' December rains. But most of all, I'll remember 2010 as the year I finally got a book deal (something that's been on my resolutions list for a very lot of years). And that makes 2010 a fond memory to mark down in my (invisible) book.

Now I've got my sights set on 2011 and all the things I want to accomplish. I'd like to lose those three holiday pounds, for a starter, and maybe even five more. I want to get a change of scenery, maybe travel with Boyfriend a little more than I usually do. I want to start sketching again at least once a week, something I've been procrastinating on as more and more other things fill my time. I want to cook more often and exercise at least three times a week (this one's going to be tricky to stick to). I want to finish Legend 3 before the end of the year. I want to read more outside of the genres I've grown comfortable with. And lastly (but probably mostly), I want to make Legend 2 a better book than Legend 1. I'll have to see how that one goes, though. :)

Any New Year's Resolutions from you guys?

Have a fun, safe, and festive New Year's Eve, and Happy 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy holidays, themes, and rain

Yes, it's been nonstop rain in California for the past few days and it'll keep on going until Wednesday. My condolences to anyone who is visiting Los Angeles as a tourist for the first time this week. I promise it's usually sunnier than this. :)

As I continue trekking through Legend 2, I realize (and am usually surprised) that a lot of my values and opinions about the state of the world tend to creep into the text, even though I'm not consciously trying to put them in. And when I take a step back to look at the Legend series as a whole, I realize that the entire story's premise is chock full of the themes and morals that matter to me in real life. I shouldn't find this weird, I know--I mean, it's only natural for writers' work to reflect their opinions. But it's still interesting to see it happen right before my eyes when I'm not aware of it at all.

Anyway, I'm heading home to Houston for the next two weeks. I've finally managed to convince my boyfriend to get on a plane (he's terrified of flying), and this is our first "real" trip in four years. A success! Next year, we'll graduate to a longer flight. Maybe even beyond the borders of the U.S., mwahaha. Happy holidays, everyone! Hope you all get to eat delicious foods and visit your favorite people. See you in 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Got my copyedits for Legend!

What a lovely, colorful mashup of thousands of letters and arrows and strikes! I am awed, impressed, and intimidated. I luff it. :D

I think the copyeditors know more about my book than I do.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Still chugging

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. :) Mine was great, full of food and other delectable things, although my word count didn't grow as fast as I wanted.

But so far I've been good in December. I'm at 41,118 words on Legend 2. I can tell this book is going to be longer than Legend 1, but that's ok--that seems to be the general trend among sequels. (I mean, look at the size difference between Hunger Games and Catching Fire) The middle part of L2 is probably the most complicated part of the whole thing in terms of plot, so it's taking me extra time to get the details accurate and the plot points right. Once I get over this hurdle, the second half of the book should come pretty fast. Yargh. I can't wait to write the two ending chapters, which I already know are going to be my favorite part of this whole book. I want to torture my characters!! But that'll have to wait until I sort this dang middle out. I guess I'll use those ending chapters as candy bait. :)

Anyway, that's all that's going on for me here. There are some other exciting things happening but I can't talk about them yet. But hopefully I will soon!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday/Thanksgiving :)

Hope you all had a great one! Mine involved a great influx of socializing, vegetarian food, shopping (and more shopping throughout today), sleeping in, lazily browsing the interwebz, and even a little bit of writing. Woot. :)

What race is your character, and do they "act like it"?

This insults me, and probably not for the reason most people think. I side with the plastic surgeon, who explains that many of his Asian patients who opt for double eyelid surgery (i.e. Chinese/Koreans/etc who make their eyes look larger by getting a crease artificially made in their eyelid) are not trying to look Cauasian, but just better. And it insults me near the end when the white news reporter makes it sound like we get this surgery because we somehow shun our race or are trying to lose our "cultural identity". Why do Cauasians get tans? Because they want to look black or Hispanic? I don't think so--they just want to look like other Cauasians who have naturally darker skin. And while I'm sure some Asians get eyelid surgery to look more white, just as many get eyelid surgery because they want to look like Asians who have naturally large eyes.

That's right. Asians with naturally large eyes. Contrary to popular media in the States, we do not all have narrow slanted eyes and flat noses. What about Thai, Vietnamese, or Philippinos? Why can't we get eyelid surgery because, I dunno, maybe we want to look more like Zhou Xun:

Or Zhao Wei:

or Bea Alonzo (Philippino)?:

Why can't Asian girls get eyelid surgery without people claiming that she wants to look like this?:

Did you know being Asian also could mean being Mongolian, which means you might be born with Chinese features but Russian-esque blue eyes and blonde hair? (Btw, this is Day's race in Legend, a Mongolian/Russian mix):

Or that African children can also be born with blue eyes?

And what about hapas?

I'll speak a little for Asians. Asians can live in London and speak with a British accent. We can also draw (even if it's not anime!), recite 80's hits, suck at math, not be in the Triads or Yakuza mafia, rock at electric guitar, hate Chinese food, flunk out of school, have no interest in martial arts, be Muslim, or be born with naturally wavy hair. (I don't hate Chinese food, btw--my mom can attest to that. :) But I do have naturally wavy brown hair, just like my Manchurian/Mongolian grandmother.) We don't all want to look white just because of European influences throughout history. And we don't even all have last names with one syllable. My official last name might be Lu, but through my mother's side, my last name would be Aisin-Gioro. Manchurian. Thai people have some of the longest last names I've heard, and Philippinos have Spanish last names.)

Just because you're Hispanic doesn't mean you can't speak English well. Just because you're African doesn't mean you have black or brown eyes. Just because you're Native American doesn't mean you wear feathers, speak like a philosopher of nature, and have "savage beauty". These things may occur in a race, but they do not define a race. When including minorities in fiction, I think writers should try to expend more effort in researching the race in question. Add something unique that's not typified in today's media. Do some digging. It'll pay off with richer characterization and less blatant stereotyping, even if that stereotyping was done innocuously, with good intentions.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When your characters take your story hostage

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Blog lapse recently is due to the fact that I'm camped out in Houston for the week (I live in Los Angeles), visiting my stepdad and mum (and her awesomesauce cooking). :) Houston is where I grew up and went to grade/middle/high school, and I still think of it as my hometown. All mosquitoes aside, it's not half bad.

In book news, I've finished my revisions on Legend, and am back at work on Legend 2--although it always takes me a few days to get back into the groove. Currently L2 wordcount is at 32,085. I think my writing goals might be sporadic at best throughout Thanksgiving week, but we'll see how it goes.

In writing L2, I've started learning a few things about my writing habits. Writers usually fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of writing obsessively to a detailed outline, or writing freestyle where you just let every chapter take you wherever the story might go with no cohesive novel plan. I am no different. With L2, I started out with a general chapter-by-chapter outline but quickly realized about 7 chapters in that it was starting to veer off my planned path. Which is no surprise, seeing as Legend did the same thing. It's because as I write, my characters develop in ways that I don't expect, and their surprising motivations and actions start to change the mold of where the story's supposed to go. If I originally planned for everyone to meet in some bordertown, for instance, one of the characters will mutiny halfway there and strike out on their own. Or some other character might deceive another out of jealousy and/or spite. This stuff all happens out of nowhere, and when they come up, I'm always blindsided by it. And then I can do nothing but listen to the characters, even though they usually leave my neatly plotted outline in an apocalyptic wreck.

This used to freak me out a bit, as it does not help me plan out an accurate schedule for when I can finish the book in question. But lately I've learned that this is simply my brain's process, that in the end all of the pieces will connect (sometimes with duct tape and string), and that the characters will still arrive at the basic ending I have chosen for them. That's one thing that hasn't changed so far--the beginnings and the ends of my stories. No matter what twists and turns my characters decide to take for me in the middles, the endings always come out the same. It's like they try to avoid their fates, in vain. Mwahaha.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Paranormal activity?

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

There have been some strange occurrences in my home lately.

Two days ago, I was feeding the dogs. I keep all their kibble in this big plastic jug, so I unscrewed the jug's plastic cap and put it face up on the counter. Then I turned away to pour the kibble into their bowls, and put it on the ground. When I went back to the counter, there was a chapstick sitting inside the face-up plastic cap. How could that possibly happen naturally? I mean, the cap has sides--it's not like a chapstick could just roll in there. And there was no one around who could've done that. Weird.

Then, yesterday night, I walked into my bathroom and there was a pair of my fake eyelashes sitting on the sink counter, out in plain sight. Now, I haven't used fake lashes in, like, 6 months. They are stored away under the sink cabinet.

Now I'm keeping a wary eye on things in the house....I'm sure there's a logical explanation for all this. Like a ghost. :) (Who, apparently, is into girly things.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Switching gears

Stopping NanoLite for at least the next week to work on a round of Book 1 revisions. :) It's fun revisiting my first manuscript and seeing it in a new light after suggestions from Editor Jen. Of course, this also means parts of Book 2 are also going to change--so I've gone back to scribbling notes on both and re-planning my strategy for some characters.

In other news, I've started coding a standalone social game site for Legend. Woot! Right now it's chock full of bugs, but eventually when I iron it out, it'll be like Fuzz Academy. Sort of like a cleaner, more accessible version of the Legend Facebook app. :)

Back to revisionizing!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Still hanging on

I'm hanging on to NanoLite (i.e. my lite version of NaNoWriMo = at least 1,000 words a day in November, as opposed to NanoFat, which is the full 1,600-1,700 words a day). Barely. I missed it on one day, but my day of 2,000 words managed to make up for that one. Today I just squeaked by with 1,075 words, although I'm pretty sure that last paragraph I wrote is crap that will need to be deleted first thing in the morning. So my total word count for Legend 2 is 30,271. I finally crossed the 100-page/30k mark! Woot.

I think I'm finally hitting my groove for this book, and am still excited by a revelation I had last night about the plot. Currently I'm knee-deep in a fun chapter narrated by June. I always like writing her chapters because I get to do research on all sorts of random facts. Like how many square feet a railway car's floor is. Or how far a XM-25, the supposed deadliest U.S. military rifle, can shoot. (Answer = 700 m) Stuff that's pretty useless to know for everyday life, but fun for novel-writing. :) Also, if the U.S. government actually does keep track of what its citizens search for on the net, they probably have a surveillance camera on me due to the bizarre searches I do. (Russian fighter jets, spy planes, deadly biological weapons, and whether it's possible to make a bomb out of twigs and chewing gum? Not average civilian searches....)

Questions about writing/publishing industry

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Legend 2 progress: Finally had some decent writing yesterday and today after about a week of false starts and crappy chapters. I'm officially at 27,759 words. Hoping to get in at least 1,000 today, without having to go back and delete all of it like I've been doing. :) Day just got whacked in the face by someone. Poor boy.


A commenter on my last entry suggested I should post some of the questions and my answers about writing/publishing in a new journal entry to make it easier to follow, so here I go!

Q: How did you go about deciding on what you wanted your story to accomplish, and figure out your basic plotline? Do you have any kind of suggestions about how to actually get through a first draft?

A: Plotting is extremely hard, much harder than I thought it would be before I started writing. I still have trouble coming up with good "what happens next?" plot points as I'm working on Legend 2. I think it helps to start with a catalyst event. What happens to set off a chain reaction of events in your story? That's the beginning. For example, in Legend, I came up with the characters first and I knew that I wanted it to be Day-the-boy-criminal vs. June-the-girl-detective. Then I thought about how I would get the two of them to cross paths. And from there, I created an event where Day would commit a crime that would force June into investigating it and hunting him down. What does one character want that another character doesn't want them to have? It helps to look into the relationships (and especially conflicts) between your main characters, and use that conflict between them to think of physical events that have to set off your story in motion.

Q: Do you think marketability is something that aspiring authors should keep in mind for their first novels; whether or not it will be easy to get onto the market?

A: It does help to keep a story's marketability in mind, to a certain extent. You still need to love the story you're writing. For example, I don't read a lot of vampire/paranormal novels (although I occasionally dabble). Even though they're really hot right now, I don't think I could write a good vampire novel because I'm just not as interested in it. And that will show.

The manuscript I wrote before Legend was a quieter historical novel about Mozart and his sister when they were children. I loved the story, but I also knew that it just wasn't a topic/genre that would spark heavy interest in the industry, and that even if it did sell, it probably wouldn't sell for a lot. It was purely a labor of love. With Legend, which was also a labor of love starring characters I'd had for years (any story of mine starring my character Day is a labor of love :) ), I remember thinking to myself, "Ok, this should also be considered commercial. If THIS one doesn't get published, then it's never going to happen for me. This is as good of a story as I can write, and I don't think I can make anything else better."

Q: How would you recommend going through the drafting process? For example, do you pause to proof-read as you go or just keep going to the end then look back?

A: Ah, I do actually have a very set opinion on this! I always pause to proof-read before I continue, even in a novel's first draft. I know a lot of writers who don't do this and can continue on just fine, but it never works for me. I have to proof-read. I tried not proofreading once, and by the time I finished the first draft there were so many problems with the story that I just got discouraged and gave up on it. I think it helps to jump backward and edit so that the next chapters can go smoothly, because details you change early on can have a big effect on later plot points. I think it's best to get that down when the things you want to change are fresh in your mind.

If I'm having a really hard time with one particular chapter, though, sometimes I do just skip ahead to the next chapter. (I just did this last week, actually) I'll make a note to myself of what's supposed to be happening in the chapter that I skip, so that I don't forget. Then I go back later when I'm not so brain dead, and fill it in.

Q: How does the process of getting an agent work? Do you send your manuscript to them and then they decide whether or not they want to represent you? Does this part come before or after contacting publishers or does the agent like, help you with that? And maybe the most importantly, how much does it cost to do all this?

A: FIRST AND FOREMOST. None of this should cost you anything except your time (and occasionally stamps, if you have to snail mail query letters/manuscripts). If an agent wants you to pay them for representing you, RUN. That is a scam agent. Legit agents only take a 15% commission from the actual sale of your book to a publisher, and never before. Also, real publishers pay YOU, not the other way around. Any publisher that says you need to pay to have your book published is a vanity publisher, not a real publisher. (And in this day and age of e-books, you really shouldn't need to go to them....just head over to Amazon if you want to self-publish. :) )

Remember, you are selling your work to a company. Not buying. So they pay you.


Hope this is helpful!

More good news about Legend :)

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

I just got permission from my editor to post this good news about Legend (my dystopian novel about my boy criminal Day coming out from Penguin in December 2011). This is for my international deviantArt watchers!

It's now official--Legend will be published in Germany (by the amazing publisher Loewe) and the UK (from Penguin UK)! For my UK/Australia/New Zealand folks, it will be released at the same time it's being released in the U.S. (Dec. 2011). For any German folks, it will be released in Fall 2012. So you'll be able to find it on bookshelves there! Woot! :)

More news about international deals to follow....

In other news, I'm currently working on Legend 2 (er, I have no idea what its title is going to be). For the Legend app, I'm working on a standalone site for you guys similar to the Fuzz Academy site, but one that's hopefully going to be run better from the start so it doesn't fall apart under heavy traffic. There will be more hairstyles, more clothes, and so on to choose from. I'm hoping to open that site to beta starting in January 2011. (I'm also trying to figure out a good way to connect it to the app so that previous app users can transfer all their goodies over to the standalone version) And lastly, I'm planning on writing a series of short stories set in the Legend world to post online for everyone, starring Day before the events in Legend.

I'm almost 30,000 words into Legend 2. Gah. Tough sloggin', especially now that I'm hitting the dreaded middle. Writing a sequel is much, much harder than I thought--and a completely different experience from writing Book 1. But I think (I hope!) it'll turn out well.

And lastly, I noticed in the last post about Legend that a lot of you are also writers! Wootness. Do you have any questions about writing/publishing you'd like me to answer? Feel free to post any if you have them and I'll do my best.

Off to eat some chocolate....

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Made it (for now)

2,003 words today. Whew! I'm still (sort of) on track for NanoWrimo. This year I decided that I'd participate loosely in Nano, but that I won't beat myself up if I don't get my 1,700+ daily word count. So far I've been doing well for the last 3 days, but that'll change once Thanksgiving week rolls around. I made a deal with myself that my required daily words are 1,000, but that if I can, I'll shoot for more. Let's see how long I can go like this.

Anyway, tonight's chapter starred my boy criminal protag Day and his young friend Tess. Poor Tess. I make her go through so much crap. :) Also, I realized after working on a bit of exposition that I had left an entire state out of the Republic (in other words, the dystopic western U.S. in LEGEND): Wyoming. Whatever happened to Wyoming? It's like Nevada and South Dakota just swallowed it up in my brain and I completely forgot about it. Sorry, Wyoming-ans out there. You're back in. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reading list

Still chewing my way through Book 2. This will probably be my status for a while. :)

In the meantime, I thought I'd post a list of the books I'm currently reading. I used to read one book at a time, finishing it completely before moving on to another--but lately I find that I tend to have several going at once, and hop between them depending on whatever mood I'm in for the day. So here's my list as of now:

1. The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: Well yeah. It's Cassie Clare. I used to read her fanfic way back in high school....and now, to read her stories set in her own original worlds, I'm filled with ridiculous glee. I luff Jem. I alternate between love and hate for Will. And Cassie's worldbuilding puts me to shame. I bet she knows things about 19th century London that 19th century Londoners didn't even know.

2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Sequel to The Maze Runner): I always feel giddy whenever I fall for a series before it hits the bestseller lists--that feeling you get when you really like a small indie band, and then they hit the big times and you get to be smug with your friends like you're the one who first discovered them. :) I kinda felt that way when I fell in love with The Hunger Games before it became popular. In the same vein, I picked up The Maze Runner long before it hit the NYT List just because I thought the title sounded interesting and I liked the cover. I devoured it. And now that Scorch Trials has hit the NYT in its opening week, I like to sit back and think happily, "I was an original fan!"

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Ok, so this is an oldie. But I had a craving for some Dorian Gray and am reading back over it. Even though it's written back in like, caveman days, it still has all the hallmarks of a great story. Tension in the very first chapter. Building up intrigue about our main character (Dorian) before introducing him, something I love seeing in books. And a main character who has a truly epic character development arc--going from naive boy with no idea how beautiful he is, to a monster taking advantage of everyone for his own pleasure, to a bitter and remorseful man. Aaagh love. <3

4. Ash by Malinda Lo: Just got this. I've been wanting to read this one for a while--I'm always up for a fairy tale retelling, especially one with writing that has some of Jacqueline Carey's loveliness in it. :) I read the first paragraph and just about melted into the beauty of it. It's like reading Patricia McKillip. Like jewels wet with rain. Gah. I wish I could write like this.

I'm also in dire need of some books that aren't out yet--namely, Matched (by Ally Condie), and Across the Universe (by Beth Revis). Lots of dystopians. I need my dystopian fix. How do so many people get their hands on ARCs of these amazing books?? I am not special enough to get them early, I guess. Sadness. :(

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adventures of Book 2

I'm about a third of the way into Book 2 (about 30,000 words), and I'm discovering all sorts of interesting things about characters I thought I knew but have darker sides than I realized. This is one of my favorite and most nervewracking parts of the writing process. Even when I make a plot outline to follow, I find myself constantly straying from it because halfway through a chapter, something will happen and one of my characters will go "Hold on, I'm not going to say that. That's not who I am. I'm going to do THIS instead." And he/she will go off and do something that completely shocks me. Today is full of this sort of craziness. One of my characters has mutinied against me, and become something I didn't realize he/she could be. Weird. O_o

It solved a few plot problems I was having, but added new ones in the process. So I stopped writing for now, and for the next few days I'm going to do some plotting again to see if I can find my way back to something that makes sense. :) Hopefully in time for NanoWriMo. I highly doubt I'll be able to finish Nano, but I'd really really like to finish my first draft of Book 2 by the end of this year so I have some leeway to knock it into something presentable by the time my due date (April-ish of next year) rolls around!

In other news, Boyfriend and I were driving around this afternoon when he saw a big "Meg 2010" (i.e. Meg Whitman) campaign poster in a store window:

Boyfriend: Look. Meg 2010.
Me: MiG 2010? Ooooh, is that a new model? Where?
Boyfriend: ... No. MEG WHITMAN 2010.
Me: *utter disappointment* Oh. Not a new Russian fighter jet?
Boyfriend: Sometimes I wonder about you.

I ended up watching videos all afternoon of Russian fighter jets and listening to the Top Gun anthem. Then I ate a lot of pistachios. And that rounds out my writing day. :) (If my boss is reading this, I also did all of my day job work. Diligently. Scout's honor.)

And of course I leave you with one of the best anthems evar:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Just one of those days

Today is such a writer's block day. It's so heavily a writer's block day that it's not even funny. I wrote 600 words, then trashed them in exasperation. Then I skipped ahead a chapter and wrote another couple hundred words, and trashed them too. Finally managed to squeeze out about 400 halfway decent words, but I may very well read them tomorrow morning and find that they also suck, and throw them into the raging inferno as well.

Closed Word in a cranky huff. Then went online and bought two pairs of ankle boots.

It's just one of those days....

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Clearing up a misconception

With every announcement, there will inevitably be some misconceptions and rumors that arise. For me, most of the things about my book deal for LEGEND are true, but there is one misconception that I keep seeing, and I thought I should probably set the record straight on it before it keeps going! :)

Honest Misconception: LEGEND was sold because of its accompanying Facebook app, i.e. LEGEND the Facebook App came before LEGEND the Book.

What actually happened: LEGEND was a book before it became anything else. I wrote it between April - October 2009. Then, while my agent worked with me on revisions for it and we prepared it for submission, I used my free time to create a Facebook app for the book. It helped me stay in the world of the novel, while also letting me take a break from writing. It did manage to accumulate a few users (although, to be quite honest, 13,000 registered app users for any Facebook app is a fairly modest number), but when Agent Kristin and I started making the submission rounds and we talked on the phone with interested editors, none of them cared about the Facebook app--which is the way it should be. The book had to interest them first and foremost. If the editors didn't like the book, no Facebook app would make them want to buy it (unless, perhaps, it had 100 gazillion users like FarmVille). Only after the book sale happened did Putnam (my awesome publisher!) have interest in the Facebook app and how it could help promote the book. Which, again, is the way it should be. Anything LEGEND-related is subordinate to the book, and exists only to help promote the book itself.


Anyway, I just wanted to make sure I posted that up for the interwebz. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Speak loudly against censorship

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Okay, this is going to be a rant entry, because I am pissed. Some cussing appears. You have been warned.

Laurie Halse Anderson's entry

For those of you who have not heard of the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the equally powerful Wintergirls), it is a disturbing and heart-wrenching portrayal of one girl's choice not to speak out about her rape, and how she eventually manages to find her voice.

It's a beautiful book.

And contrary to what this Scroggins guy thinks, it is NOT SOFT-CORE PORN. (For crying out loud, he even thinks Slaughterhouse Five should be banned. I don't think he got the book's message.)

Speak should not be banned from school districts because this guy apparently finds rape to be equivalent to sexual arousal.

I like to think that I'm a fairly even-tempered, reasonable, average person. But few things make me angrier than censorship. When people like Scroggins call for the banning of books because they unveil real teen issues like rape, or when parents try to blame the failings of their children on the things their children are reading, you know what they're really saying? That they are lazy-ass parents. "If my child messes up, it must be because they read something bad, not because I'm a shitty parent." They would rather censor these forms of art altogether than take parental responsibility to talk to their children about the content and the message. They are TOO LAZY to communicate with their kids. So they choose instead to try to make certain books unavailable to ALL kids.

If seeing your child read Speak makes you uncomfortable, fine. That's your perogative. But don't enforce your own Puritan beliefs on the rest of your school district's children. Do not publicly compare rape to soft-core porn.

These are the same people who think gays should not have the right to marry because they don't want to explain it to their kids. "I don't like explaining things to my children. So stop your whole lifestyle, because I don't like talking to my kids about it." (Louis CK does a great skit on this topic.)

Scroggins, you're ignorant and you're a dick.

Ms. Laurie Halse Anderson, sing it.

And for everyone else against banning books that talk about the horrors of rape, SPEAK LOUDLY. This needs to be heard.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book 2

I've gotten about 1/4 of the way into writing Legend 2. I've definitely had fits and starts, and all those rumors about how hard it is to write the sophomore novel are true...but today it at least flowed well. Halfway through my daily words, when Day and June are having a hissy fit, I realized that there was a nice little plot twist staring me in the face and it wanted badly to go into the book. So I stopped to jot that one down in my notes, and now I am a happy squirrel.

I swear, writing Legend 2 is like being bipolar. One day, I'm all "this is going to be great. This is going to be better than Book 1 and everyone's going to love me and give me cupcakes." And then the next day, I'm all "this is horrible. This is crap. How can I call myself a writer? This is the worst drivel I've ever written and my fledgling career is over."

But today, thankfully, is a cupcake day. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dreams and Nightmares of Space

I found this breathtaking jewel of a site today.

I just had to share it somewhere. Of all the things in the world, nothing fascinates me quite so much as the glittering art of the universe beyond Earth. I'll look up every night at what few stars I can see in Los Angeles, find Cassiopeia and Orion, and hunt for Jupiter and the North Star. Every time I do this, I get completely lost in the fact that we are at this very instant rotating around a star which is rotating around a massive, massive galaxy held together by a nightmare of a black hole.

Check out that site. :) The art boggles the mind.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thoughts on Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown

I was watching an interview with Stephenie Meyer on YouTube today, and also simultaneously reading a blog entry from another writer that essentially labeled Ms. Meyer as a, to paraphrase, poor writer who wrote a horrible book. With no further explanation on why he/she thought this was so.

I see comments all the time about Twilight along those lines, and it frustrates me more and more each time I see them. I can understand if readers are simply posting their thoughts about the book, and legitimate reasons why they didn't like it or weren't drawn into it. After all, readers are the customers. They have the right to dislike things and blow them off. But it's somehow irritating when professional writers simply flip their hand at Stephenie Meyer and brush off her success as somehow being just luck, or that she has absolutely no talent, or that her writing is 'horrible' without even giving a thought to what they find so horrible about it.

I'm not saying that Twilight is on par with, I don't know, Shakespeare, or whatever is considered literary genius. Then again, maybe it is. Who's to say. But clearly Meyer did something right with Twilight, because there have been plenty of other books that publishers have thrown tons of money behind and have just sunken like rocks to the bottom of the industry pool. You can't have the sort of success Twilight has seen without having the support of millions of readers. And those readers are not buying her books and telling their friends to buy her books because they think she's a horrible writer. Something has clicked with them inside those pages, and naysaying writers would do themselves a great service if they would just admit this and try to study how Meyer managed to capture her readers' imaginations. It may not be your cup of tea, but obviously it's the cup of tea for a lot of others, and if the tea is really that popular there must be something delicious in it.

I'll admit that I'm not a huge paranormal reader. But I do read it, especially the ones that garner critical acclaim or popularity with the public, because I want to see how they did it. For Twilight, imho, Meyer hooks you in the first 50 pages because she introduces Edward and Bella and their attraction to each other, and then withholds Edward from Bella for an agonizing amount of time. Bella's fascinated by this guy, and then he disappears for days, leaving her to ponder in growing anxiety. When will she see him again? the reader wonders. And why does he react to her in the way that he does? Even though Bella might think he hates her, we obviously know better by the subtle things he does, how he takes notice of her in an understated way (at least in the beginning). That's what kept me reading when I picked up Twilight. Meyer uses this device again in New Moon--separating the star-crossed lovers for agonizing lengths of time. And although there are parts of the books that didn't resonate with me (i.e. my connection to Bella as a character went up and down, and I am much more attracted to Jacob's earnestness than to Edward's emo-ness), I do see and respect the parts of it that have hooked so many others.

The same goes for Dan Brown. Writers, especially writers-who-want-to-make-it, don't diss Dan Brown. Look at what he did right. The man is a genius at creating fascinating conspiracy theories (possible alien microbes in Antarctica, or government secret? did Jesus have offspring? did Da Vinci really hide secrets in his paintings? etcetc) as well as chapters overloaded with active conflict. That's his strength and the drawing power of his novels. If you're a thriller writer, look at his weaknesses (i.e. oversimplified, weak characters, imho) with a thoughtful eye, then write a thriller with an equally fascinating premise and make your own characters deeper and more fully fleshed out. Draw on his strengths. Avoid his weaknesses. Don't diss him.

Yes, luck did play a role in the wild success of some of these writers. But they couldn't have gotten there from writing horrible books. Meyer and Brown write highly commercial novels. Their books are full of the things that big blockbusters have--forbidden love, conspiracy, plots that are not too hard to follow (for the most part), and conflict conflict conflict. If you're a writer who only wants to write glittering prose full of well-turned phrases, all the more power to you. But if you want to be commercially successful, don't sit there taking cheap shots at more successful writers that you secretly wish you could be standing on their podiums with. We're all writers trying to create the best entertainment we can for our readers. What's to hate?

Anyway, just wanted to get that off my chest. :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Penguin/Putnam Children's is publishing my novel! A 3-book deal!

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

I've been sitting on pins and needles for a full month waiting for the green light to announce this news publicly. And today, I finally got the thumbs up from my literary agent (the amazing Kristin Nelson) that I can make it official.

My young adult novel, LEGEND, is going to be published by Penguin Group (imprint Putnam Children's) as part one of a trilogy!!!!! A three-book deal! And not only that--LEGEND is going to be Putnam Children's Lead Title for Fall 2011!! I'm going to be a published author with a major publisher. OMG OMG.

Here's the official news from Publisher's Marketplace:


Flash media and online game artist Marie Lu's debut LEGEND trilogy, set in the flooded Republic of Los Angeles 2130 A.D., about a boy who is the Republic's most wanted criminal and a girl who is the Republic's most beloved government prodigy whose paths cross when her brother is murdered and she is hired to hunt down the boy responsible -- but the truth they uncover will become legend, to Jen Besser at Putnam Children's [Penguin Group], in a major deal, at auction, for fall 2011 publication, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World).
UK & Foreign:


And from Publisher's Weekly:


Putnam Kids Invests in Facebook Game Designer
Jennifer Besser at G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers [Penguin Group] bought world rights, in a three-book deal, to the debut dystopian novel by Marie Lu, Legend. Lu works as an art director for a Los Angeles video game company (note: actually the company is in Austin but that's ok :) ), and the book is built around the world she created for a Facebook game, also called Legend, that currently has over 13,000 subscribers. The book is set in 2130 in a Los Angeles that has been submerged by flooding. A girl who is a prodigy being groomed for government work meets a boy who is one of the state's most-wanted criminals. The main characters' love story—she's tasked with finding his brother's killer—is based loosely on Les Misérables. Legend, which is scheduled for December 2011, is the first book in a planned trilogy; Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary brokered the deal, and Kassie Evashevski at UTA is handling film rights.


This is how it happened. After two rewrites where Agent Kristin and I hammered LEGEND into a presentable form, we sent it out on submission on July 9 (two days before I turned 26). Now, I've been on submission before. Twice. Having that experience, I was ready for the LONG haul, the 6 month wait for rejections and "I loved it, but" letters from kind-but-professional editors.

One week passed. I spent my birthday in a nervous wreck.

Then I heard from Kristin that there were two editors who had read and loved LEGEND. One of these editors was someone I'd heard a great deal about, and when Kristin said her name, I almost fainted in front of my laptop (good thing I didn't, or else I'd probably have QWERTY embedded permanently on my forehead). The other editor was the editor for one of my favorite YA books. Can we say faint x 2?

However, as aforementioned, I've been on submission before. I've been down the road of "Editors are liking it" and then "Editors decided ultimately to say no". So I toughened up as much as I could, and got ready for the inevitable rejections from both of these incredible editors.

Another week passed. Then Kristin told me she was going to be setting up an auction. 6 publishers were interested. At first I laughed at the email. Oh Kristin. Sometimes you are such a joker. Then I read it again, got tingly feelings in my fingers and toes, and ran around my apartment until I collapsed in exhaustion. Still, STILL, I felt like everything could fall through. That was what I'd gotten used to, anyway. Auction day would come and no one would show up. They've all decided that they'd rather not buy LEGEND. Back to the drawing board.

But that didn't happen. Instead, I got to talk to each of these editors on the phone. This may have been the most exciting part of the process (ok, the 2nd most exciting part). To hear industry professionals rave about your manuscript is as amazing as a cheesecake made of double rainbows. I was smiling so hard that my boyfriend thought I'd gone off the deep end.

So auction day came. I alternated every few minutes between absolute JOY and sheer abject TERROR. They all want the book! I haven't heard from Kristin in 6 minutes--something must've gone terribly wrong and everyone dropped out! They all want the book! I haven't heard from Kristin in 14 minutes--something must've gone terribly wrong and everyone dropped out! And repeat.

Several times throughout this day, Kristin would call me with updates that made me lose all feeling in my brain. (This is an extremely surreal feeling. I've never had a numb brain before.... well, not that numb.) Then, as the auction's final round started, I spent 3 hours doing nothing but rocking back and forth manically on my couch while my boyfriend tried in vain to soothe me. I stared at my phone without pause, willing it to ring. My trigger finger hovered over the "refresh" button in my email inbox. (Even though it refreshes automatically by itself.)

Silence. 3 hours of it!

Terror set in. All the editors dropped out. They must have. Kristin just doesn't want to tell me yet--she must not want to break my heart. NOTHING ELSE CAN EXPLAIN THIS SILENCE!!!

Finally, late in the afternoon, I got a call from Kristin. The Call. This is how it went down....sort of:

Kristin: You have a very hard choice to make. Are you ready for this?

Marie: Am I going to faint?

Kristin: Yes, I think you might faint.

Marie: [sits down on couch to keep from falling too hard, then listens in quiet stupor]

Kristin: *lists out the final offers*

Marie: *NUMB. This is the only word appropriate for the feeling in my entire body. NUM NUM NUMMY NUMMY NUMB.*

Kristin: Still there? Are you listening to me?

Marie: I didn't understand a word of what you said. Each deal sounds like it's made out of red velvet cupcakes.

Kristin: (thinking) Oh Marie. Thank god you're not doing this by yourself or we might all be in the papers tomorrow--and not in a good way.

Marie: *still numb*

Kristin: Do you need the night to think it over?

Marie: *babbles incoherently in a squeaky voice*

Kristin: Ok, yeah, I think you need the night. Let me know what you decide in the morning!

Marie: Okay!

[Phone call ends]

Several moments of silence. Several moments of unbridled joyful shrieking with boyfriend.

And then .... I burst into tears. I just cracked. I don't think I've ever really felt true joy in my life up until then. Sure, I've felt happiness plenty of times. There are so many things I'm happy about. But joy is different from happiness. Joy makes you cry. Joy is about achieving something you have worked so hard and so long to get. It unleashes emotions of relief, pain, rage, passion, ecstasy, fear, excitement, and fulfillment in one giant ball of glory that completely overwhelms the boundaries of your mind. It is rare. (Unless you're high on shrooms or something, I guess.) It is the most amazing feeling in the world.

And when I burst into tears after The Call with Kristin, I felt joy like I've never felt before. I have been trying to get published since I was 14. I have been rejected hundreds of times. I've written 4 unpublished manuscripts, 2 of which made it all the way to the agent+submission level only to slowly fade away into oblivion at the end of the submission cycle. I'd started to think it might never happen.

But now it's happening, really happening. Penguin is releasing the first book of my trilogy in December 2011, and my editor is none other than Jen Besser, the editor of the (drumroll) PERCY JACKSON BOOKS. (I even have a film agent now, Kassie Evashevski!) The characters living inside my head are actually going to meet the reading public.

A dream come true, after 12 years of struggling.


I am so unbelievably thankful for my agent Kristin Nelson, who stuck by my side through the good times and the bad (if you're a writer and wondering whether or not you need an agent, I am telling you right now that YES YOU DO); for the amazing and wonderful editors that each gave me a chance to fulfill my dream; and for the people in my life that always believed I could do it and that I wasn't wasting my time.

Anyway, that's the big news! My characters will actually be in a bookstore near you next fall! Boyfriend and I are celebrating with some delectable veggie food and fancy wine (although honestly, I can't tell the difference between good and bad wine....they all seem the same). And now, there are only 2 thoughts I have the strength to comprehend in my incoherent brain:

1) I really hope people buy the book when it comes out
2) Damn, I better get crackin on LEGEND 2

Friday, September 03, 2010

Printed books still trump e-books

On March 31, 2009, I conducted an unscientific poll on my deviantArt page asking whether people preferred reading printed books or e-books.

See the poll

2,529 people participated in this poll. At the time, I thought that since the dA community is relatively young, we should see a small but decent sampling in favor of e-books. After all, the younger generation should be more receptive to e-books than the generations used to printed books, right?

Nope. A whopping 90% of respondents still chose printed books. And after another poll I did asking about the ages of people on dA (in which 1,727 people participated), I found out that 82% of them are under the age of 24.

I personally have grown fond of e-books and read a lot of books on my iPhone now. However, it looks like even the younger generations still prefer printed books, so all the reports we are seeing of the "death of traditional publishing" probably still have a ways to go. This is further backed up in an article by the author of the Four Hour Work Week.

Not sure what that says in terms of whether it's good or bad, but it's just interesting for me to see in (semi) solid numbers. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010


I've been reading some blog posts that discuss things in YA novels that are dealbreakers for the blog posters. You know, things like weak heroines and cliches and whatnot. :) I thought I'd do a flip post and talk about things in entertainment-in-general that are my deal makers. In other words, if I hear that a book/movie/whatever has one of these in it, I'm almost CERTAIN to read/watch/rock it.

The end is here, or the end hath already come and gone.

Also known as post-apocalypse, dystopias, or zombies. If any of those 3 words (or all) appear in an advertisement, I will detour straight to it while happily knocking down any old ladies in my path. Although I don't end up liking everything I read/watch in those genres, the ratio of win:fail is significantly higher in these genres than the ratio of win:fail for things in general.

Conspiracy theories, or jiggly-camera mysteries.

Cloverfield. Paranormal Activity. Da Vinci Code. Quarantine. Who killed JFK. Bigfoot. Area 51. Some of these are ridiculous, true, but I don't care. Let me live in my bubble!!

Fighter jets.

I think I've watched at least 50% of the videos on YouTube that feature fighter jets in any capacity, especially ones with the F-22, F-15 (my fav), F-35, any jet with thrust vectoring or vertical take-off capabilities, and the Sukhoi-47. I just read Fighter Pilot, the memoir of famous ace Robin Olds. Two of my favorite shows are Great Planes and Dogfights. *salivates* Can you tell I was a Top Gun fangirl when I was little? Tom Cruise, even if you might be a little on the crazy side, I forgive you of everything and anything because you are forever Maverick in my brain.

Johnny Depp.

Since we're on the topic of celebrities.

Child prodigies.

This is a relatively new one for me to realize, but I think I always unconsciously gravitated toward stories about child prodigies (in any form). I will read any novel or non-fiction biography about Mozart (and I almost never read biographies), or his sister Nannerl, regardless of its quality. I looooooooooove Ender's Shadow and Ender's Game. Ender and Bean, you boys are my eternal heroes.

Now all I need to find is a post-apocalypse story about a child prodigy fighter pilot who uncovers a conspiracy theory while shooting home webcam footage of his/her antics in the sky. With a character somewhere in it that Johnny Depp can play. Oooh. I think I've found my next novel premise, muhahahaha.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Harry Potter and the Goobelty Goosh

(Reposted from my blog on deviantArt)

Boyfriend: Hey, did all the Harry Potter movies come out yet?
Me: No, they split the last one up into two movies. They're not out yet.
Boyfriend: Oh right. Harry Potter and something about Death.
Me: And the Deathly Hallows.
Boyfriend: What was the one before that? Half-Blood Prince?
Me: Yeah.
Boyfriend: And then something about Giblets?
Me: No it was Order of the Phoenix.
Boyfriend: And then the Giblets?
Me: You mean Goblet of Fire?
Boyfriend: Right, that. And then Prisoner of Azkaban, and then Chambers of Darkness--
Me: Chamber of Secrets. SECRETS.
Boyfriend: And the first one? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Sorcerers?
Me: *froths at mouth* AND THE SORCERER'S STONE! THE SORCERER'S STONE! THE SORCERER'S STONE! WHY DON'T YOU KNOW THIS!!! *frothfroth--* Oh, wait. You're making fun of me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mockingjay review (no spoilers)

(Reposted from my blog on deviantArt)

So I picked up and finished Mockingjay yesterday (Hunger Games 3 for those who don't know .... and again, why don't you know!!!! Even Obama's daughters are reading this series!). Let me just say that it did NOT disappoint.

As a whole I was absolutely thrilled with the way Collins tied everything together and wrapped it up. It's extremely dark, easily the darkest of the three, and probably the darkest book I've read in a very long time. This book has a very strong anti-war message. And if anyone thought that the love triangle in Hunger Games was somehow the main plot/conflict of the trilogy, you are sorely mistaken! Collins makes it very clear that the main issues we should be grappling with are not who ends up with whom, but just how devastating war can be and how much of your humanity you're willing to sacrifice in order to achieve victory. That's the theme of the books. Love in a very different light.

One of my favorite things about Mockingjay was the intense character development happening throughout the book. Dude. I have not seen such deep character dev in a long, long time! There are some painfully eloquent "monologues" where Katniss ponders the dark issues of war and morality, and both Gale and Peeta's characters are explored thoroughly. Even many of the minor characters are very fully fleshed out. This is one of Collins's greatest strengths and most enviable talents, I think, and what makes her series so popular. She is dynamite at character development. They go beyond 3-dimensional. This is one of the few series I've read where the love triangle's angsty romance isn't there just for the sake of being emo and angsty, but is angsty for very very good reasons. The relationships are real. The angst is justified. It makes all other love triangles look like trivial and frivolous walks in the park.

And finally, the last line of the book in the epilogue gave me goosebumps. Rest assured that when you close the book, you will feel pretty satisfied. Thank you, Suzanne Collins! Seriously, she is one of the greatest YA writers ever. I hope to one day have even a smidge of her talents. <3

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mockingjay, Gale, and Peeta

(Reposted from my more updated blog on deviantArt)

Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3 for those who don't know .... why don't you know!!) comes out next week. SQUEE. I am going to die from anticipation.

I was reading some forum posts online and although there are fans for both Gale and Peeta, I have to say everyone seems very heavily leaning Peeta. Which makes me sad and borderline defensive because I like both boys equally. Why must I choose! It's not really a fair argument because Peeta got SO much book time in Catching Fire (and Hunger Games, for that matter), while Gale only had a couple of chapters devoted to his character. I know, I know....Peeta is noble, lovable, sensible, logical, understanding of Katniss's many sides and weaknesses, etcetc. But he also never seems to really react to anything. He never really gets angry, or sad, or happy, or whatever. (Edit: except for that one part in Catching Fire, as one commenter pointed out, where he does go off on Haymitch and Katniss. Ok, I'll give him credit for that one bit. :) ) When I think of Peeta, I think of someone very "level-headed". Which is a good trait, to be sure. Maybe Katniss needs more of that in her life, given her impulsive ways of handling situations. Sometimes, though, I want to slap Peeta upside the head and tell him, "REACT, dammit! Are you at all angry? Shout it to the heavens! More moments like that one in Catching Fire!"

But Gale. There's something about Gale. First of all, as aforementioned, it's not fair pitting him against Peeta because he just hasn't had the chance to be developed as much. I think we'll see much more of him in Mockingjay due to the circumstances of Catching Fire's ending (no spoilers in this blog, although I can't promise the same in the comments, so be careful if you haven't read both books). And when Suzanne Collins gets that chance to develop him more thoroughly, I think we'll see more people on Gale's side. Yes, he's rash and impulsive, and sometimes quick to anger, but I like to think of those things as things that make him interesting and admirable. He's flawed. He's stubborn. He's hot-tempered when appropriate and he can show a wide range of personality traits that range everywhere from nobility to selfishness. I like his selfish moments, when he just wants to leave everything behind and run away with Katniss. He's extremely human, and I find that aspect of him quite appealing. Anyone in his situation would feel that way at times. Granted, that might not be the best match for Katniss. They're both hotheaded and relationships with two hotheads tend to end in flames (or at least, a lot of angry sparks). Still, chapters with Gale hold my attention with a vice-like grip. Peeta is more like lukewarm water....very comforting and soothing, but no Bellagio fountain. :)

Anyway, that's my assessment. I figure Katniss can't really go wrong with either one. And on August 24, I will be in line at the local Vroman's bookstore, clutching my copy of Mockingjay to my chest with a feverish light in my eyes. Muhahaha. My precioussss! *faint*

Sunday, July 18, 2010

For a more updated blog....

....I frequent deviantArt much more than I do this blog. :) Check out the following:

My deviantArt blog/site

There you'll find a more updated blog, info about me, all of my random stuff (artwork, etc), and....I don't know. Other assorted doohickies. :) Thanks!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Marie Lu imposters!!

Well, not intentionally....

Every now and then I google myself (shamelessly) and see what interesting things come up. For anyone who is doing research on me to make sure I'm a normal, relatively friendly person to hire or work with or whatnot, please note! I am Marie Lu the artist/writer, and am Asian, and also the person behind Fuzz Academy.

I am not Marie Lu the plus-size lingerie company, Marie Lu the cookie, Marie Lu the energy bar, or Marie Lu the digestive snack. :) I also did not upload inappropriate videos to Mega Upload, or work as a professor in a foreign country. (Apparently my name is quite popularly used for packaged snack foods, as evidenced by a Google Image search below....)

Hey, at least I'm digestive. :)