Monday, November 28, 2011

Legend is finally here. An emotional day.

(posting a few hours early :) )

Today is November 29, 2011. It is the day my first novel, Legend, releases in bookstores.

I’m sitting in the little living room of the bungalow I share with my boyfriend, buried under a pile of dogs (I have three—two corgis and a Chihuahua), and attempting to not hyperventilate into a paper bag. Playing the ‘Finding Nemo’ theme song on repeat is probably not helping, either. (Could there BE a more depressing theme? I want to bawl every time I hear it. Oh, Nemo! You adorable little gimpy-finned fish egg! Anyway. I digress.) Is it really The Day? How do I articulate the avalanche of emotions going through my head? How do I even begin to communicate this? Today, my twelve-year journey of trying to get published officially comes to an end, and I will have stepped through the looking glass to the other side.

Sorry, I may get a little metaphorical and cheesy, but come on! You only get a debut novel release date once in your life. (Well, once in your country, anyway…) Cut me some slack, yeah? Besides, I like cheese. It’s very delicious.

For some reason, the only thing I can picture in my head is my fourteen-year old self, back when I first started trying to get published. I remember setting my alarm for 2 AM every night, then writing by lamplight for two hours with a robe stuffed under my door so that no one would know I was awake. Out of all my writing memories, this is the one I see the most clearly. I remember everything about those late-night writing sessions. How quietly I tried to type on that old IBM computer. How annoyingly hot the lamp would get. How chilly the nights in winter were, and how stuffy the summers felt (this was taking place in Houston, by the way). How sometimes I’d pass out in front of the computer from sheer exhaustion, then wake up after half an hour and keep going. I’m fairly convinced that I might have gotten a few more A’s in school if I’d gotten more full nights of sleep. But I can’t say that I regret it. For any of my high school teachers who might be reading this, now you know why I occasionally looked glassy-eyed in your class. I promise I still loved learning! I just…lacked sleep…

I was incredibly na├»ve at fourteen, so blissfully unaware of how long the journey would really take. In fact, I think I had less fears back then than I do now. It’s the day Legend launches and I am scared, so very scared. Eat-a-pint-of-ice-cream-by-myself scared. There are a thousand expectations I’ve created for myself, and so far to fall. Am I any good? Will readers be disappointed? Will they like the story? Will they like the characters? Will they egg my door? Should I change my address? Move to the Alps and hide in obscurity and shame? The closer I got to seeing Legend on the shelves, the more I understood why a lot of writers are a little wonky in the head. I feel the wonk quite strongly now.

But just when I think the pressure and terror might swallow me whole, I remember that I’m walking a well-trodden path. There are hundreds of thousands, millions, of writers who have taken this road before, and I’m just one traveler in a group of many, many others. I’m not alone. I remind myself that a lot of people held my hand through the bumps in the road. I remember that I have so much more to learn. I think of all the kind words and support people have given me during the time leading up to today, and those words help quell the fears.

It’s no secret that there has been a lot of upheaval in the book industry lately. A lot of bad blood, a lot of fear, a lot of anger thrown back and forth between all the cogs of the profession about contracts and technology and change, about money and percentages and formats and royalties. But in the midst of that, there are books—little bundles of words built on heart and soul that we tentatively push out to the public and then cross our fingers for. This has never changed. (Okay, except for Snooki. Maybe.) It reminds me that in spite of all our bickering, we all love books, we all love words, and we wait for these little moments, the quiet connection between our world and our readers’ world. This unites us, no matter what.

So… Thank you booksellers, thank you writers, thank you bloggers, thank you reviewers, thank you Penguin, thank you NLA and UTA, thank you CBS Films/Temple Hill, thank you family and friends, and thank you readers. Thank you, readers.

Thank you for giving me today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Legend's launch party!

Specifically, if you happen to be in or around the Los Angeles area on Dec. 1st at 7:30 pm. Because Legend's official launch party is happening at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach, CA at that time!

Legend Launch Party Info

Where: Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, 2810 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, California 90278

When: Dec. 1st, 2011 from 7:30 - 8:30 pm

What: Legend's official launch event, which will include signing, possibly some talking, and a lot of books

(If you'd like to say "Attend" on Facebook, the event page for this is here: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=257493287633334 )

Open to: Everyone who can make it! In other words, I have a terrible fear of sitting by myself in a bookstore with a stack of Legend books....so, please feel free to bring as many friends as you can! I would be so extremely grateful and so thrilled to see you there. :heart:

I also wanted to say, thank you all so very much for your support, kind words, and encouragement. Can't believe the release is finally around the corner. You guys are the best! :heart:

We are now less than two weeks away from Legend's release (Nov. 29)!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A very special, free copy of Legend

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Update: The winner of the limited edition ARC of Legend is........

~drosana! (from deviantArt)

---
~drosana's entry: "I'd go by Puck. It's the name of the impish character featured in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (hehe, Even Robin Hood has taken his name from this character! Puck is also called Robin Goodfellow. Robin Hood's mother even called him Robin-Puck!)

Like him, I like to joke around and act a bit silly, even more so, I love to be mischievous and sneaky. I am good at lying and misleading, leaving most to believe they know me well, when in fact, they're more acquainted with one of my facades. I am a master of disguise without the need of a mask (or fake mustache, thought it cannot be said that I haven't tried it anyway!) Despite all of this, I'm a laugh and a rather good natured person. I try to keep to my manners and with my boyish appearance, most call me a gentleman! I have a flair for the dramatic and fun. So that's my entry! *tips hat and jumps off*"
---

Congrats on winning the limited edition version of Legend! I'll Note you with details. :)

We had well over 150+ entries combining all deviantArt, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads entries. Man, you guys are GOOD at coming up with rebel names. I love these! I may do another contest in the near future where the prize is to feature your rebel name in Legend 2 as a side character. Thank you all for participating!

The winner was chosen by a random number generator and a list of all the entries. While the winner was randomly chosen, I also wanted to give a shout out to my 3 favorite entries from you guys:

1) (from deviantArt's ~Star-Bunny): "I'd be Pancakes... cause pancakes are awesome. They are unassumingly delicious and its hard to be upset with someone named pancakes."

This just made me laugh out loud.

2) (from Twitter's BookWormLove): "@Marie_Lu My streetname would be Gadget (It was my nickname in girl scouts for years because I'm all about technological stuff) :) #Legend"

Gadget from Rescue Rangers was one of my favorite childhood characters. LOVE girls with techie know-how!

3) (from Facebook's Jeni Hackett): "Assuming astronomy is roughly the same (or at least the names of the stars), I'd go by Polaris after the North Star. It's a good name for a 'guiding' rebel, which is what I'd likely aim to be; less of a hell-raiser, and more of a care-taker, guardian sort. Maybe I'd run a safehouse, where the North Star parallel ties in as Polaris has always been a star associated with pointing towards home and safety."

I love astronomy. Yay Polaris!

Again, thank you so much to all who entered! I had a ton of fun, and I hope you did too. :) Stay tuned for further contests!

----

Legend's official Facebook page has now reached 502 "Likes", thanks to you guys!

I said before that once it passed 500, I would give away a very special, limited edition version of Legend. So here we go, as promised!

The Prize: I have exactly ONE of these. Here's what it looks like.

This is a limited edition version of the advance copies of Legend (which doesn't go on public sale until Nov. 29 this year). Penguin, my publisher, made a very small number of these. They probably won't make any more. Unlike the regular advance copies, these are packaged in a gorgeous box that opens up into a limited edition magnet, profile info of Day and June, and etc. (And, of course, it also includes a softcover advance copy of Legend.) The one that I have is still in its plastic wrap and brand new.

How long this giveaway contest runs: From today (9/27) until midnight Pacific Standard Time on next Tuesday (10/4).

Open to: Everyone, both in the U.S. and internationally.

What you have to do: (You can enter by posting a comment to this journal entry right here. OR, you can also enter by commenting on the same journal entry at my deviantArt blog , my Facebook page , or send me a tweet.)

At any of the aforementioned places, answer the following in your comment:

All rebels in the Republic, the dystopian future version of America in Legend, have a street name. (For example, "Day" is the street name of Legend's boy protagonist. He has his reasons for nicknaming himself that.) If you were a rebel in the Republic, what would your street name be, and why?

On next Wednesday (10/5), I will read through all the entries and pick a random winner.

Have fun! Looking forward to hearing your street names, rebels. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

(that's a Jobs quote, btw)

Steve Jobs resigned as Apple CEO today, possibly because of his health. Taken from his official resignation letter, he says, "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."

This, coupled with a few emails I've gotten from readers and aspiring writers over the last few days, has made me really pensive. So I'm going to quote Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford commencement address below:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

You only have one life. Don't spend your precious days working at a job to please your parents, or at a job you hate in exchange for some financial security. Believe me, I understand--I still regret not majoring in art and I almost went for a career I would have hated. I know the urgency of a roof over my head and food on the table, but my life's work should never be something I don't want to do. Do what you have to do to survive, but never lose sight of your real goals. Never get lost in the maze of Security. As Steve Jobs says, you have got, you have GOT, to find what you love. Life is just far too short to be spent otherwise. It stuns me every time I stop to think about how much Jobs has achieved in only 55 years of life. I hope that I'm able to achieve even a sliver of that.

If you know that you'll regret pursuing an accounting degree instead of a creative writing degree, pursue the creative writing degree. If you want to be an artist instead of a doctor, then be an artist. Be brave. Have faith. Do it. You only get one shot at life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Trend Labels kill organic instinct

Once I'm told about a trend, I can't ever go back to "unknowing" that it is a trend. And that is extremely frustrating. Why?

Because when I'm writing BEFORE I know about All The Trends, the reasons why I choose to do certain things is organic and instinctive. I can guarantee that to myself. I wrote Legend as a YA before I knew I was writing it as YA. I wrote Legend as a dystopia before I knew that dystopias were The Thing. I wrote Legend with a male 1st person POV before I was told that a 1st person POV is a trend in YA and a male POV is not a trend in YA. So when I'm told that dystopia is a trend, I feel like I've sold out. When I'm told that male POV is NOT a trend, I feel good because I think I'm going against the grain. And then I feel frustrated.

Every time I find out about a trend, I feel something taken away from me.

Because AFTER I know of a trend, I feel like future writing decisions I make are forever influenced by that trend, regardless of which side of the trend I fall on. For example, if I now choose to write something purely from a female's POV, I will always think to myself: am I writing female because it is a trend? Or am I choosing it because that's what I want to write? Am I adding romance between my characters because it is a trend, or because I genuinely see the romance between those characters? Am I writing YA now because it is a trend? My brain becomes this feverish list of trends, no matter how hard I try to "unknow" them.

Male POV = not trend
Female POV = trend
Romance = trend
Ethnic main characters = not trend
1st person POV = trend
3rd person POV = not trend
Present tense = trend
Past tense = not trend
Dystopia = trend
Historical fiction = not trend
Paranormal = trend

This is a bad, bad way for me to think. I want to write an ethnic main character without thinking that I'm choosing it because I want to buck a trend. Once, I could be sure that I chose these things strictly because I wanted to write that way; now I can never be sure. Am I subconsciously influenced forever by knowing of these trends? I greatly dislike that feeling, because it takes away my Organic Instinct.

I want my Organic Instinct back.

I want to be able to write a paranormal story from the 1st person point of view of a gay Chinese girl without hearing all these whispers in my head that say, "You're following a trend! You're breaking a trend! You're following a trend! You're breaking a trend!". I like writing boy POVs. I like writing 1st person POVs. I want to pick what to write without feeling guilt (following trend) or pride (not following trend). I want to pick what to write simply because I want to write it.

So if there's a new trend going around, please don't tell me! I don't want to know that it exists.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Legend is in the Wall Street Journal today

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

There are 2 different articles about Legend in the Wall Street Journal today! The first is in their print edition and also online under their subscriber content, and the 2nd is online at their Speakeasy section. There's some extra information about the inspirations behind the book as well as other tidbits:

Online article: ‘Twilight’ Producers, Penguin Are Betting on ‘Legend’

Print/Subscription article: Penguin Puts Marketing Muscle Behind 'Legend,' a Dystopian Debut

I wanted to say major thanks to reporter Barbara Chai, who was such a delight to talk to. You are amazing!

-----

Also, Legend has now sold foreign rights for Complex Chinese and Dutch! My family members in China can now have an edition they can read, which makes me all kinds of happy.

In other news, I've been writing the beginning of Legend 3 and am discovering all sorts of new things about what it's like to write the final book in a trilogy. Legend 2 (which is still undergoing revisions) was way, way, WAY harder to draft than Legend 1 was. In fact, I'd say the first book of any series must be the easiest one to write....and the second one is the hardest. I'm still afraid of Book 2. Man, it pwned me so much. It's STILL pwning me.

Legend 3, though, is an interesting beast. Writing it is, again, completely different from writing the previous two. Book 2 is a lot of character fleshing-out, digging deeper into the personalities and motivations of the characters that were introduced in #1. #3 is so far all about Tying The Loose Ends. Getting everything that's been wandering about in #1 and #2 back together and tied together into one thick string is a much bigger challenge than I guessed. I suppose it's sort of like writing #1 in reverse--where #1 is about starting off with one thick string and then branching it all off into multiple little strings. Much of the challenge I'm hitting is being able to think of the right plot scenes to match the tying of loose ends. What scene can be used to start tightening up two or three individual strings? That's pretty much all I've been mumbling to myself lately. I take notes at the gym, at restaurants, at the laundromat, everywhere. And then I toss them out and write new ones. I'm so glad no one sees me working at home. People would probably think I'm nuts, walking around in my PJs, mumbling to myself and running my hands through my messy hair until it looks absolutely incomprehensible.

I've never ever tried writing a book 2 or 3 before in my life. I've had practice writing book ONES of stories....I mean, all the unpublished manuscripts I wrote before Legend were all book ones of stories. But this is the first time I've gone farther than the first one. And man, it is a serious learning experience.

Also, still pinching myself. Most days, I still can't believe everything that is happening. Today is definitely one of those days. <3

Friday, July 29, 2011

To all bloggers and reviewers

As the date for Legend's launch inches closer, I find myself feeling more and more afraid. Back when I was unpublished and still searching for the right story, I always fantasized about what it would be like if I knew that something I'd written was going to be launched. (I had written four unpublished manuscripts before Legend, so I had plenty of time to fantasize!) I thought I'd know how it would feel. But honestly, I didn't know a thing--because the mix of emotions I feel these days (anxiety, happiness, terror, excitement, fearfearfeaaaar) is NOT what I had imagined. I guess I couldn't have known. It's just one of those things I needed to experience to understand.

But in addition to the aforementioned emotions and all the whirlwind of activities leading up to Nov. 29 (i.e. Launch Day), I also feel one more emotion. Gratefulness. Specifically, I feel grateful for all the YA bloggers, reviewers, and general readers that have taken the time to read and review the advance copies of Legend. It's such a thrill and privilege for me. I'm so thankful for your reviews (both the good and the bad), because it means you took the time to read and then analyze Legend for better or worse. So, thank you! I know you have a lot of books to choose from. Picking up mine, well....nothing makes me happier than that.

(If you are a book blogger, reviewer, or would just like an ARC of Legend, please send an email to yrmarketing -at- us.penguingroup.com with your name, email, blog URL, and mailing address. It doesn't guarantee a copy but as far as I've seen, Penguin's been pretty good about it so hopefully you'll get a copy!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Legend's UK/AU cover is revealed

I'm so giddy with excitement that I get to share the UK/AU cover of Legend with you guys now. Check out this piece of epic awesomeness!



gah, I love it. Strong stance, gorgeous landscape and colors. *SQUEE*

(Also, Comic-con was AWESOME. Photos here!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comic-con Schedule

Hi guys! I will be at San Diego Comic-con this week, from Thursday through Sunday. If you're also attending, please stop by the following if you can! Love to see you there.

-----
"No Damsels in Distress" Panel, Room 25ABC, Thursday at 4:00 PM

I'll be speaking on this panel about Legend and its characters. I will be in the amazing company of the following panelists:

Chloe Neill – Chicagoland Vampires series
Jeanine Frost – Night Huntress series
Jeanne Stein – The Anna Strong Chronicles
Jocelynn Drake – Dark Days series
Carrie Vaughn – Kitty Norville series
Seanan McGuire – The October Daye series
Sherrilyn Kenyon– Dark Hunter novels

There will be a signing session after this panel in the autographing area!
-----

-----
Penguin Booth Autographing Session, Friday at 10:00 AM, Penguin Group Booth #2913R

I'll be signing advance copies of Legend from 10 AM to 11 AM on Friday.
-----

Comic-con is always such a good time, and this year I'm as excited as ever. Costumes, panels, people, woot! Love it. See you there! <3

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

LEGEND is in USA Today!

Have been looking forward to this article's release and am excited to finally share it! USA Today is running an article about Legend right in time for Comic-con, where I will be on a panel this Thursday at 4:00 pm (Room 25ABC) to talk about Legend (panel is called "No Damsels in Distress"). Brian Truitt (the interviewer) is way past awesome.

Plus, see the official Legend trailer from Penguin, as well as read the first 3 chapters, at the article link! For those who read the first chapter and saw Day's point of view, now you'll get to see June's point of view too. Hope you guys all enjoy!

USA Today: Lu's dystopian novel is a 'Legend' in the making: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2011-07-18-marie-lu-legend-dystopia_n.htm

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tweaked titles

My boyfriend has a really quirky habit of not remembering the names of movies/books properly. Instead, he'll say what he THINKS is the name of something, but it is often hilariously off. Case in point:

Real title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Boyfriend's memory: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Sorcerers

Real title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Boyfriend's memory: Jason Jones and the Argonauts

Real title: The Golden Compass
Boyfriend's memory: Curse of the Golden Compass

Real title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Boyfriend's memory: Snow Flower and the Seven Dwarves

Now I mention book and movie names just to see what he'll twist it into later on. :heart:

Happy Friday, guys! May you go forth and watch some HP this weekend! Or at least eat something scrumptious. :)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Legend fan art, Comic-con, and food poisoning

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Had a rough bout of food poisoning early last weekend, one bad enough to actually give me a minor stomach ulcer. WUT. O___o Not the most comfortable feeling in the world. Anyway, when I went to my local urgent care to get it checked out (to make sure I wasn't dying or something), the male nurse led me to one of their back rooms:

Nurse: "Wait here. The doctor will be in to see you shortly."
Me: "Okay."
Nurse: (hands me a thick wad of that hospital butcher paper) "I'll need you to take off your pants."
Me: "Excuse me?"
Nurse: "You'll need to remove your pants. Wrap this around you when you're done."
(nurse leaves)

In hindsight, I found this hilarious because I'd just recently rewatched that Family Guy episode which makes fun of this, i.e. no matter what you go in for, you have to take off your pants. Turns out they just wanted to poke my stomach without, like, belts in the way or something. But I swear the doctor could tell I was giving him the EVIL EYE the entire time, my hands ready to go into ninja battle chop mode.

Anyway. TMI? Yeah, probably. Whatever. I'll delete this story later.

:)

In other news, I will be on a panel at Comic-con! On Thursday at 4pm, I'll be on the "No Damsels in Distress Here" panel in room 25ABC, talking about Legend. If you're attending, please come by! Other panelists presenting with me include the amazing Kathy Reichs, creator of Bones (the TV series). Here are the panel details:

4:00-5:00 No Damsels in Distress Here— Female voices in sci-fi and fantasy create kick-ass heroines. Danger just might be these girls’ middle name. But no amount of bad guys can keep these ladies from doing what’s right. Whether standing up for friends and family, or just plain kicking some ass, these girls don’t shy away from a fight. Damsels on the panel include Marie Lu (Legend), Kathy Reichs (Bones & Virals series), Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires series), Jeanne Stein (The Anna Strong Chronicles), Merrie deStefano (Feast: Harvest of Dreams), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville series), Seanan McGuire (The October Daye series), and Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter novels). Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 25ABC

And in other very awesome news, check out this BEAUTIFUL fan art of Day, by Dianne Garcia!!!! This is the first official fan art of Day from Legend, and I am so incredibly psyched. Look at all those watercolor details! And the hair! The smug expression! The vest, the background! The posture! I love everything about this. The attitude screams Day. LOVE IT!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I think I'm an awkward person

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Or, at least, I have this unbreakable tendency to try to say something polite/complimentary and then have it come out as insulting. O__o I shall give you two recent examples below:

Scenario #1: Boyfriend and I step into our local diner.

Hostess: "Hi! How are you?"
Us: "Great, thanks! How are you?"
Hostess: "Oh, doing fine, thanks."
Boyfriend: "Busy day?"
Hostess: "No, not really."
Me: "Oh, that's good."
*awkward silence*

What I meant: Oh, that's good, because I'm glad that you didn't have a stressful day dealing with huge crowds of people.
What it sounds like: Oh, that's good, cuz your restaurant's gonna TANK.

----

Scenario #2: Twitter. I am watching a video of Harry Shum Jr.'s mad dancing skills (you know, that Glee guy), and a Conan the Barbarian trailer pops up.

What I wanted to say on Twitter: You know, even though buff guys like Conan the Barbarian are supposed to be the ones I'm attracted to, I still like lean guys like Harry Shum Jr., because they are also handsome and attractive and appealing even though they do not have big bulging muscles. Yay for those of us who are not alpha perfect!

What I actually say on Twitter:

Muscles are so overrated.
*suddenly remembers that there are some muscular, friendly ppl on her followers list*
I mean, abdominal muscles are nice. But I still like lean+mean over muscular guys.
I mean, some muscle is good. But I mean muscular like, The Rock. Not hot.
*remembers The Rock is actually a nice person in interviews*
I mean, @redcrest is right, I probably like lean guys because I like bishonen boys in anime.
*@redcrest comes to my aid, gently suggesting that muscular guys are also great, they are the evolutionary instinct*
I mean, my preference for lean guys over muscular guys gives me a distinct evolutionary disadvantage.
I mean, not that muscular guys are unattractive. I just like lean guys better.
I mean, not that lean guys are evolutionary disadvantages.
*awkward silence*
Ok, now that I have thoroughly insulted both muscular and lean guys, I'm going to shut up now and go back into my box.

----

Hmm........I really need to work on my delivery.....

Monday, June 06, 2011

Mafia birthdays, & CBS Films' Legend ARC giveaway

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

So Boyfriend and I were talking in the car the other day:

Boyfriend: I have a cool surprise trip planned for your birthday.

Me: Oooooh. What is it?

Boyfriend: It's a SURPRISE.

Me: Can I ask you yes/no questions to try and guess it?

Boyfriend: Okay fine.

Me: Is the trip in California?

Boyfriend: Yes.

Me: Is the trip to Palm Springs?

Boyfriend: No.

Me: Santa Barbara?

Boyfriend: No.

Me: Catalina?

Boyfriend: No.

Me: Does it involve extreme sports or public humiliation? Please say no.

Boyfriend: I'm almost positive it doesn't.

Me: ...

Boyfriend: Helpful hint, it might relate a little to your book idea.

Me: We're going to be vigilantes for a day and take out the government??

Boyfriend: No, not LEGEND. Your other book idea.

Me: WE'RE GOING TO JOIN THE MAFIA?! :D :D :D

Boyfriend: .....okay, that hint was a poor choice....

(and no, I still don't know what it is)

---
In other book-related news, CBS Films is doing one of the larger Legend giveaways I've seen online! They're giving away 20 Legend ARCs tomorrow morning at 10am PST sharp. Check their Legend page for the details (U.S./Canada only; all you need is a Facebook account). Super easy to enter!

Legend book signing, NYC, & hot military boys

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Things have finally quieted down enough over here for me to post this blog entry that I've been meaning to do for a while. In summary, last week I went to BookExpo America in New York City, which is the largest publishing industry event in the country (and sort of like E3 for video games....but for book stuff). It was kind of awesome. :heart: First of all, Penguin booked me on Virgin America, which is the best airline ever because the lights in the plane are neon fuchsia and every VA pilot I've ever had is sarcastic and witty. Also, they have a lot of very cute male flight attendants. And NYC had an unusual number of extremely attractive soldier boys wandering around the city (in all colors of uniform, including the all white head-to-toe, which I have no idea where it belongs but I think belongs in the Navy somewhere, and the dark navy uniforms, and the navy tops + tan bottoms uniforms, etc). Can't help ogling our military boys. ;) I'm getting off topic...where was I?....

So I met a ton of very cool authors, got lost several times on the BEA expo floor, hunted down whatever person was dressed up in an Olivia suit so that I could take a picture, and got to do my very first book signing for Legend! Some photos can be see here.

The signing itself was all a blur; I was relatively nervous and I have a feeling I might have written the wrong thing on a few of the books I signed. ACK. o_O Then there was a lot of delicious food, and awesome lunches/dinners with my agent, Penguin, and cool authors like Laurie Halse Anderson (SPEAK) and Ally Condie (MATCHED) and Sarah Rees Brennan (THE DEMON's LEXICON). And me getting lost in New York. I got lost a lot in general while I was there, but it's all good. It amazed me just how MANY books are also coming out in November of this year. I mean, I shouldn't be surprised by this, but to see it is a whole other thing. I felt so extremely privileged to be there with all the enthusiastic folks from Penguin, and at the same time I also felt very small against a tidal wave of books. Just have to keep my fingers crossed that people will remember Legend by the time November 29 rolls around!

Then I got back from BEA, and the first thing I see is an article in the Hollywood Reporter that CBS Films has chosen the screenwriters for Legend: "CBS Films Taps Writers to Adapt 'Legend' Novel". I also get an amazing review of Legend from book blogger Precious, and Kirkus Reviews selects Legend as one of the Top 26 Books at BEA. WHOA....WHAT!

I still can't quite believe that this all might actually be a possibility, and some days (like today) I wake up and expect it all to be explained away with some explanation (i.e. You were dreaming for a really LONG time, actually we think you may have been comatose for about 9 months). But it's still here, and I'm starting to think Legend might actually be real. Or something. Sort of. <3

Friday, May 13, 2011

China, breaking into house, and Legend's director!

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

This post is all over the place. I really should try to blog more often....

Finally back in the States after ten days in China! I loved China, but man, it feels good to be free of their "great firewall". No access to Facebook/Twitter and limited access to Gmail just....is kind of a bummer. I did see a lot of yaks, though, so it all balanced out. Plus, FOOD! I had so much amazing food it was to the point of ridiculousness. I wish I had a good way of smuggling egg pancakes past Customs. Now I'm majorly jetlagged, and passed out twice today (and yesterday). I have all these sleep indents on my face from my laptop keys. It's very attractive. :)

In other news, last night I met with Katie from Bookyurt.com [link] and we had a hilariously random adventure. I'd forgotten to bring her an ARC of Legend, so she dropped us off at my dinky bungalow so we could grab one. Unfortunately I didn't have my keys (I wasn't expecting to be back so soon), and Boyfriend was out for practice. So we tried in vain to break in. Apparently this dinky bungalow is still rather secure.....but long story short, we borrowed a plastic pink tong from my perplexed neighbor and managed to barely grab an ARC. We looked absolutely ridiculous in the process. Then we went to get giant mugs of coffee. I don't think we'll ever make it as thieves, but we know a good cup of joe.

And in other OTHER news, the news is official today--CBS Films has attached director Jonathan Levine to Legend! So very excited!

"Twilight Producers Find a Director for Their Next Trilogy"

I think that's everything that's happened since my last post. Oh, and I think I also gained several pounds. Thanks China. <3

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pansy Love Scene

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

I've thought about this on and off for a while, and although I know the topic's been covered to death before, I felt idle enough today to organize it into a blog post. Or maybe this post isn't so organized. Anyway. I'm not sure if this is a touchy subject or not, so please don't throw tomatoes at me. Just my ramblings!

It's no secret that the U.S. has a bit of a 'warrior nation' syndrome. Do our hackles rise at excessive violence in our books and media? Meh, sometimes...although you'd never know it, what with all those SAW sequels. We may grumble under our breath now and then about gratuitous violence, but by and large we accept it as a necessity for entertainment.

Do our hackles rise at sex? Much more so than violence. Even the most violent Young Adult novels (think The Hunger Games) will succumb to making their love scenes fade to black. Now, I understand that because the books are written for a younger demographic, there are obviously certain scenes that just aren't appropriate to put in. But blowing up legs, mangling flesh, etc? A few lashes get batted at that, but not much more. When sex is mentioned in books, it's usually accompanied by the character very very blatantly pulling out condoms ("Teens, practice safe sex!"), or having the two characters who have sex get married first or never break up EVER and get married down the line and have pretty children ("Teens, if you have sex with someone, that better be the person you'll marry later on"). Pansy Love Scenes, as I've come to call them. :) When violence is mentioned in books (which is almost every book, including mine), there's no expectation that the author needs to put in some sort of afternoon school special warning on it. Characters punch, kick, and kill each other with reckless abandon. Few of those violent acts have very serious repercussions.

Now, having said that, I used to do the exact same thing. I did this in the very first draft of LEGEND, up until my agent Kristin called me out on it. Why is your main character killing people with reckless abandon? she'd said. He's moral. He's the good guy. He would think twice about killing anyone, even a person who works for the dark side. And she was completely right. After this, I started seeing my story in a new light. When there's violence, I hope I show a very good reason for it. When a character is attacked or dies, it's not gratuitous. And later on, if there's sex, I hope I do it justice. Because sex is no worse than violence. On the contrary, I'd say sex is way way WAY better than violence, right? Make love, not war?

This is not to say sex scenes should be gratuitous. Nothing should be gratuitous, neither sex nor violence, and if they're in a story, they better have a good reason for being there. There are a few YA novels I've read where I think the love scenes were done nicely, balancing tasteful writing with the bravery to describe more than Pansy Love. One good example I can think of: Simone Elkeles PERFECT CHEMISTRY. Yes, the love scene does involve condoms and true love, but who cares--there is no fading to black, it's a fantastic, tastefully done scene, neither vague nor gratuitous. It's super romantic. And makes perfect sense in the plot.

I don't mean that I don't like YA novels with excess violence and pansy love scenes. Many of them are my all-time favorites. This isn't a commentary on the authors and their books, but on the peculiar American culture that I understand we all have to cater to. If a book has a particularly violent scene, parents don't usually worry about it. If there's a sex scene, parents jump on it. Case in point: Kody Keplinger's debut THE DUFF. A book offering a candid, non-preachy plot with teen sex (and written by a teen, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate). When reading reviews on it, I see the huge amount of inevitable "too much sex, inappropriate". Granted, people also criticize The Hunger Games for having too much violence, but the uproar raised over that is half-hearted at best.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but for me it really just comes down to: I'd like to read less Pansy Love Scenes in YA and more tasteful, honest love scenes. If the story is better with that love scene, do it justice.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Currently read and/or reading

It's been a while since I've done a "currently reading" list. Time to plug a few authors and their scrumptious books. (Btw, I have a confession to make, and it's an embarrassing one. *deep breath* I'm not a fast reader. In fact, I'm really slow. I've always been a little ashamed of this, and now that I talk to more writers, I feel it much more acutely. I'm only capable of really absorbing ....I'd say, 20-25 novels a year. A paltry number compared to most people I know. I'm trying to improve this number, but so far it's been very gradual. I do feel the pain of any young teens or kids out there who feel like they have trouble with reading. You have to find the books that draw you in and read what you love. Once you find the right books, it becomes so much easier.)

I tell this mini-story because I'm trying to emphasize that when I do latch onto a book, it means a great deal to me. So the books in the following list (and ANY list I make of currently reading/have-read books) are books I genuinely loved or am loving. Because I'm a slow reader, I have to carefully pick what I'm reading because I'm going to be reading it for a while. So these recommendations are not given lightly.

:)

Anyway, here we go...

Currently reading:


Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi: I started this one recently and am loving it so far. It's a very original dystopian concept, about a boy named Nailer whose job is to strip copper wire from shipwrecked old oil tankers on the U.S. coast. Pretty eerie setting, mainly because it seems very plausible. Anyway, Nailer happens upon a really luxurious ship one day that can be worth a lot of money to scavenge (if they do it right). They also find a girl on this ship, though, who may or may not be trustworthy. Nailer is a completely endearing main character who I found myself rooting for from page 1. Love the details about scavenging the oil tankers, too!


Huntress
by Malinda Lo: If you loved Lo's Ash, or authors like Patricia McKillip, you'll love this. I just started this one and it has all the beauty, lyricism, and magic of her first novel. In Huntress, the world is fading...failing crops, sunless skies. To save it, two girls are chosen to go on a journey to the city of the Fairy Queen, and in the process they come to rely on and love each other. I smile every time I read Lo's writing. It's SO beautiful. Check it out. :)

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon: Sequel to Silver Phoenix, which is about a girl named Ai Ling who sets off to find her father when he doesn't return from the Imperial Palace. Nothing like a book about a girl who can kick ass like Ai Ling, as well as a book full of fantasy, adventure, romance, and AMAZING descriptions of mouthwatering food.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare: Book 4 in her Mortal Instruments series. I've liked Cassie Clare's writing for a long time, and started TMI after reading book 1 in her other (related) trilogy, The Clockwork Angel (see below). :) You've probably heard of this series, unless you live under a rock.

Recently finished:


The Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare: Recently finished this, then immediately bought it for a friend too. Few people can conjure up amazing male protagonists like Cassie can. And obviously, by the appearance of my own male protagonist (Day), you know I have a thing for white/silver-haired half-Asian boys like her character Jem. :) Dark, funny, steampunk-y, romantic, and full of goodness!

The Child Thief by Brom: I've always loved Peter Pan in every iteration he's ever been in. But man, Peter in THIS story is at his darkest. This is not for teens under 14. Very dark, violent, and with sexual references. But it is so good. Peter! I loved him for his conflicted nature and sense of duty. And, of course, his ever-present mischievous spirit.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver: My friend Julie had recommended Before I Fall (Oliver's first novel) to me a while back, and it was one of the best recs I've gotten. Now I'm a permanent fan of her breathtaking prose. Delirium is dystopian (so, obvious love points here) and a love story, but it takes place in a future U.S. that sees love as a disease that must be eradicated. 17-yr old Lena is going to get a procedure that "cures" her of love, but before she does, she falls in love with a free-spirited boy named Alex. Great read. First of a trilogy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Abused Protagonists

Was sketching this today, after rereading a LEGEND scene where I make Day get hurt. a LOT. There really ought to be an international support group for writers' poor abused protagonists, eh?

Friday, March 18, 2011

June and Metias

So I was thinking about how to talk about LEGEND without giving away the plot....and my solution is to draw little sketch mini-scenes from the book. :) Today's vignette: June (LEGEND's main girl protagonist) is bugging her older brother Metias. Metias is not amused. I'll be posting more of these!



See it on deviantArt

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts for Japan

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

And all Pacific islands/coastlines affected by the earthquake and tsunami today. Red Cross donation link here.

And CNN link for those tuning in.

For any of you living in an affected area, my thoughts are with you and your families. <3

Friday, February 25, 2011

Interview and more foreign deals

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Just a few Legend updates!

I recently did an interview (with the lovely Christine Donatello) for ScienceFiction.com about Legend. Now it's live! You can check it out at the link below:

Interview with ScienceFiction.com

Also, Penguin's foreign rights team has now brought the total of Legend's foreign rights deals up to 6! We recently sold Italian, Greek, and Hebrew rights. This means Legend has sold rights for:

- UK
- Australia/New Zealand
- Italy
- Spain/Catalan
- France
- Germany
- Hebrew

I think those are all the ones, although I might be forgetting one.....

Anyway, have a great weekend, guys!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Squeeing in Times Square

Okay, I've been wondering whether or not I should post this on my blog--because it's just so bizarre and out-there (in a wonderful way) that I almost wanted to keep it to myself for a while. But Agent Kristin has blogged about it already, so I'm giddy to share it here too!

Film Agent Kassie let me know last Friday that news about LEGEND's movie deal hit Times Square! I think it was rotating in the square on last Friday, although I can't be sure. (I'm also not entirely sure who took the photo, but to Ms. PhotoTaker--I send you much love!) It's jarring and shriek-inducing to think that my head was three stories tall in NYC....I hope I wasn't too pixelated. :)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Big news! LEGEND's movie rights have sold!

There are some things that I always dreamt about, like finally being able to get a book deal. THEN there are the things that are so crazy I didn't even know to dream about them:

CBS Films has bought the movie rights to Legend, with Temple Hill's Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen (Twilight Saga, Nativity Story, Dear John) to produce! My amazing book and film agents, Kristin Nelson (NLA) and Kassie Evashevski (UTA) brokered the deal. I love them with the intensity of a thousand suns!!

Deadline's news article about it: "CBS Films Makes Franchise Play With Marie Lu Novel 'Legend'"

And here's CBS Films' press release about it:

---
CBS FILMS ACQUIRES MARIE LU’S FORTHCOMING NOVEL
LEGEND

TEMPLE HILL’S MARTY BOWEN AND WYCK GODFREY TO PRODUCE


LOS ANGELES – February 4, 2011 – CBS Films today announced that the company has secured exclusive rights to Marie Lu’s futuristic thriller Legend. Penguin Group has set the first novel in the series for publication in November 2011. Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey (The Twilight Saga, Dear John) will develop and produce.

In a dark future, North America has split into two warring nations. The story follows Day, a young Robin Hood, and June, the teen prodigy hired to hunt him down; together they uncover an impossible truth about their totalitarian leaders. The adventure that follows will become Legend.

“The character of Day, a roguish teen outlaw on the run, has been in my head since high school. One night, I was watching an old time detective movie on TV when the idea of Day vs. the gifted teen June came to me,” said Lu. “I'm beyond thrilled about CBS Films' support for Legend, and the instant I spoke with Temple Hill I could tell that they really got the characters and the story. It couldn't be in better hands. I can't wait to see what they have in store."

Lu has planned the series as a trilogy and will be involved on the scripting phase as an Executive Producer. Temple Hill exec Isaac Klausner brought Legend to the attention of Godfrey and Bowen. Godfrey said, "Marie's book struck me first as a Dickens story by way of Ray Bradbury. It's both gothic epic romance and vivid science fiction. It will make a stunning movie."

“I have known Marty and Wyck for years, and have been eager to bring them to CBS Films. They have proven to have a great instinct for intellectual properties that have both emotional resonance and commercial potential,” commented CBS Films President and CEO, Amy Baer.

“In Legend, Lu has created an expansive world with franchise potential,” added CBS Films COO, Wolfgang Hammer who, in his first deal, moved quickly to pre-empt the book. He continued, “This project is a perfect example of theatrical content with dynamic digital possibilities that CBS Films is now focusing on.”

Senior Vice President of Production Maria Faillace and Creative Executive Ryan Conroy will oversee the project for CBS Films. CBS Films has rights to the entire trilogy as well as any sequels and spinoffs. Lu, Bowen and Godfrey are represented by UTA.

---

I'm over the moon with excitement. The Temple Hill guys are incredibly nice and very excited, and I'm beyond thrilled with CBS Films's support. Of course, now I'm just surfing the net giddily looking for photos of actors that could play Day or June. Not my most productive morning....but I'm ok with that. :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Legend 2 is done (well, sort of)

Clocking in at just over 81,500 words, Legend 2 is finally done. Well, almost. What I've finished is a first draft, and I already know that there are going to be oodles of rewrites ahead. But I managed to at least finish my first sequel to something--however bad it might currently be. I'll take that as a win. :) Now it's time to clear my brain of LEGEND-ish stuff for a bit, read some other books (DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver came out yesterday, so that's the first one I'm tackling) and soak in some sights other than the white canvas of Word. Woot!

I have some other exciting news to share too, but that will have to wait for the next day or three.... :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Congrats to Across The Universe!

MATCHED is still on the NYT list (#8), and now I just noticed that ACROSS THE UNIVERSE has made it too (#7)! Hugely excited to see dystopian books on the bestseller lists, and many congrats to Penguin family Beth Revis and Ally Condie. Both are just fantastic novels. Pick them up if you haven't had a chance to!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Great Pizza Debacle

This actually happened over a year ago, but it's quite literally the world's greatest accidental pizza ordering prank. I do not recommend repeating this, unless you want your local pizza delivery spot to hate you forever. Still, I wanted to record this somewhere, and thought it might make a nice 2011 entry!

(Scene. Boyfriend, me, 3 of boyfriend's cousins, numbered as Cousin #1, 2, and 3. Living room of our apartment. Cousins have been to our apartment several times before. UFC is on in a few minutes.)

Boyfriend and me: What does everyone want to order?
Cousins: Pizza.
Boyfriend and me: Well, you guys can go ahead and order. We're going to pick up a sandwich instead--but we'll be back soon. You guys want Pizza Hut or Round Table Pizza?
Cousin #1: Probably Pizza Hut. I'll look up where they are.
Me: Okay. (shuffling around in bedroom, changing, getting ready, going in and out of room)
Cousin #1: Hey, what's the address?
Me: Lemme look it up. (looks up Pizza Hut address in bedroom) 777 South Arroyo Parkway.
Cousin #1: K thanks. (several minutes later) Phone number?
Me: (looks up Pizza Hut number) (area code)-792-2800.
Cousin #1: K thanks.

(Boyfriend and I leave to get our sandwiches, secure in the knowledge that Cousins are happily ordering their favorite pizzas. Boyfriend and I return with our sandwiches. UFC starts.)

Boyfriend and I: (munch munch munch. Cousins watch UFC, occasionally looking over at our sandwiches with envy.)

(An hour and a half passes since they ordered)

Boyfriend: Hey, is your pizza coming anytime soon?
Me: Yeah, it's been like an hour and a half.
Cousin #2: I'll call them and check.

(While Cousin #2 is on the phone)

Me: Did you give them our address?
Cousin #1: Yeah. 777 South Arroyo Parkway.
Me: Heh? That's not our address. That's Pizza Hut's address.
Cousin #1: What?
Me: That's Pizza Hut's address. I thought you were asking me so you could go pick it up if you wanted.

(at this point, Cousin #3 falls over laughing. He has caught on before any of us)

Cousin #1: Cousin #2, get off the phone! (Cousin #2 hangs up on pizza guy) Wait. Why would you give me Pizza Hut's address? I was asking for yours!
Me: You said 'What's the address?' right after you said you were going to order from Pizza Hut, and I thought you'd been here enough times that maybe you didn't need ours!
Boyfriend: Wait, so the Pizza Hut delivery guy couldn't tell that you gave them the address to their own store? What, did the delivery boy just go out and then realize he looped right back around to deliver pizzas to their own store?
Cousin #1: What are you talking about? We didn't order from Pizza Hut. We changed our minds while you were gone and ordered from Round Table..... OH snap. (realization hits us all, except Cousin #3, who already got it)
Me: So Round Table delivered their pizza to Pizza Hut?

(silence)

All: OMG.
Me: Wait, but shouldn't they have given you, Cousin #1, a call when the pizza got delivered to Pizza Hut?? I mean, didn't you have to give them your phone number?
Cousin #1: No, I gave them the number you gave me, so that they could call you guys at home when it was ready. Cousin #2, what's the number?
Cousin #2: Uh, it was (area code)-792-2800.
Me: THAT WAS THE PIZZA HUT NUMBER!!!
Cousin #1: What! WHY WOULD YOU GIVE ME THAT!
Me: I thought you were ordering Pizza Hut pizza, so I gave you their number!!
Boyfriend: So now Round Table can't even trace who made the call? Because they call that number and get Pizza Hut?
Cousin #3: Omg. We made Round Table deliver their pizzas to Pizza Hut. This is the greatest accidental pizza delivery prank ever.

(We die laughing at the mental image of the poor Round Table delivery boy delivering pizzas to Pizza Hut, getting there confused, calling the number he got from us, but only to receive Pizza Hut on the line. And picturing the following conversation:

Pizza Hut: Pizza Hut, can I take your order?
Round Table delivery boy: Uh....no, but I have your order....

)

Cousin #1 did give Round Table my boyfriend's name when he was ordering, so now we are permanently afraid to ever call Round Table to deliver pizzas again. But it made for a good laugh. :)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

On the nightstand

(Except I don't really have a nightstand....I have a computer desk that is ridiculously high next to my floor-level bed)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Shauna, I sing your praises. I am clutching my ARC gleefully and have dived right into the first chapter. Consensus so far? Very delicious. I can tell I'm going to enjoy this one.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: The instant the main character pulled out a rhinestone-studded pink taser to take down a vampire, I knew this one was a must-have. So far, not disappointed!

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: Recommended to me by a good friend. I actually just finished this and have to say it's one of the most thought-provoking YAs I've encountered in a long time. It's made me go back to my manuscript and (in between fits of "Why can't I write a story like that!") figure out ways to put in more subtle emotions and interactions in both of my main characters. Whether or not I'm successful, we'll have to see....

Matched by Ally Condie: Also recently finished this one. As The Giver is one of my favorite YAs, this one was an excellent return to a similar world. I have to admit I'm on Team Xavier, though. Cassia, how can you resist his charms!

Whenever I feel stuck in a rut with my own writing, I always find it helpful to pick up an anticipated book and devour it from beginning to end. By the time I'm done, I'm almost always itching to dive right back into whatever chapter I was stuck on. Today was no different. I couldn't seem to start off a chapter about 3/4 of the way through Legend 2. So I stopped torturing myself, stepped away from the laptop for a while, and started reading Across the Universe. After a chapter and a half, I was ready to go back to my manuscript. And got 2,000+ words in 2 hours. The stimulating power of others' creativity at work! A good tip for any writer, I think.