Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Quick Note About Spoilers

This is a little outside out regular fare here at Apparently! but everyone is getting so worked up over this subject that I thought I would say something.

(BTW, if you have not read Stephenie Meyer's New Moon, there are spoilers in here for that.)

Okay, so due to a grocery store in Texas allegedly releasing Stephenie Meyer's final book four days early, there are scads of spoilers dancing their way around the internet. First off, let me be very clear, I have not read Breaking Dawn. So I am certainly not going to say anything about the validity of anything that is being said. However, for the hoards of people who are weeping, wailing, and generally gnashing teeth, I do want to say this.

Do not believe everything you see on the internet.

On the other side--and perhaps the more important side--do not believe the WAY that everything is said on the internet.

As a writer, we know that ideas are a dime a dozen. In fact, in the screen writing world, according to my friend Saundra, things are way cutthroat and people will take your idea and hand it off to the newest up and coming screenwriter. Why? Because execution is everything.

Let me give you an example from New Moon. Imagine that you adore Twilight (you may not have to imagine very hard!;)) and a week before New Moon comes out, you stumble upon this on the internet from a Very Reliable Source (TM).

In New Moon . . .

*Edward breaks up with Bella and the Cullens move out of Forks!
*Bella gets together with a new guy who hates Edward!
*Bella starts hearing voices in her head and jumps off a cliff!
*Edward goes to Italy to kill himself!

All of the sudden you're thinking, "Oh no! The couple I loved breaks up and the vampires leave and Bella dies!!!! I hate this series!!!"

Well, all those things DO happen in New Moon, but taken out of context they look really melodramatic and silly, don't they?

But New Moon was awesome!

Why? It's the context and the execution. It doesn't matter how crazy and ridiculous an idea may seem, a good storyteller can pull it off.

And Stephenie Meyer is nothing if not a darn good storyteller.

Enjoy Breaking Dawn in two days!!!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

That Darn Middle!

So a little over two weeks ago I finished my second draft of the sequel to WINGS. I handed it off to my husband who is my fabulous first reader, and this was his conclusion; the beginning was good, the end was good, but the middle? Not quite so good. So now I've been working on the middle.

When I was doing Q&A a few weeks ago, someone asked me whether I thought the beginning or the end was the hardest to write. Well, I must not have been in a very "think outside of the box" mood that day because I simply outlined some of the hard things about writing both. But now that I think about it, my real answer to that question is neither. What is hardest for me to write is the middle.

If I were a literary superhero (with a fabulous costume of course!) my arch-nemesis would be the Dreaded Middle! (And would have a cape.)

Middles are hard for me. I have discovered that I have to write in a linear fashion--from the beginning to the end--otherwise I write all the funnest scenes and filling in all the blanks is boring and it shows. But often that means that I hurry through the middle too fast just to get to the end.

So my middles generally suck to first go-round.

But I'm working very hard! In fact, I am about halfway done with the middle and I think it's quite good. (Plus I've been reading it aloud to my husband as I go and he thinks it's much better too. Yay!)

So how about you? What is your literary arch-nemesis and how do you brutally beat it into submission?

Um . . . metaphorically speaking, of course. . . .*chirpchirp*



Monday, July 21, 2008

Winner and an Extra-Large Basket Full of Awesome!

Okay, back from California and back to work!

First off, the winner of James Dashner's Thirteenth Reality is KAT!! Kat, please jet me an email at aprilynnepike at gmail dot com with your address, and how you would like your name spelled in the book. I'll get together with James sometime in the next little while and force him get him to sign your copy. (He has a cool silver pen!)

And now there is so much awesomeness!! This is one of the most full of awesome posts ever!

My copy-edits are scheduled to arrive today. This is really exciting to me because 1. I am part of an experimental group at Harper who is having their copy-edits done electronically. That means no deciphering strange handwriting and everything is super nice and neat. But also 2. because this is the last time I will work with my book in a word document in Times New Roman. The next time I see my book it will be in the form of First Pass Pages (FPP) which will be typset and should have any chapter headings, internal art, etc!! That is super cool to me. (This is also my last chance to make any kind of major changes . . . but that's a whole other story.:)) So hooray for copy edits!

Next, go check this out. I am in Publishers Weekly!! I have been dying to be in PW since I first made my sale. Huge thanks to Carrie Ryan for chatting me up the instant I signed into Gmail this morning to tell me. *happy dance* Here's the report for Harper Teen:

"HarperTeen takes flight with Wings by Aprilynne Pike, a debut faerie fantasy novel; Emily the Strange Book 1 by Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner, a mystery-adventure; Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, an urban faerie fantasy by a first-time novelist; Sloane Sisters by Annabelle Vestry, first in a series about stepsiblings; and a reprint of The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, about an Antarctic adventure."

(And apparently there is a second page to the article that is not working right now. Hopefully it will be soon.)

This next one is time sensitive; I don't know how long it will be up. And bear in mind before you go that this is not my cover, is is an outtake. Which means that it is just one of the pictures that was taken during the photo shoot. But that is my set, and my model, and my wings. *big grin!* Check it out at, I don't know how long it will be up. (EDIT: It's no longer up as of about 5:15pm Mountain Time.)

I also have some more super exciting news, but I need to wait to find out if I can share it. I just might, maybe, possibly have something to do with a super-awesome blurb.;) More on that soon!

It has been a super-exciting news week and I am expecting more good news this week. Stay tuned!!


Monday, July 14, 2008

The 13th Reality Giveaway!

Okay, I don't have time to post much except the subject of the giveaway; I've been called off to family business in California and I will be here till Saturday. Thus the time parameters for my contest! You can enter from now until Midnight (MST) on Saturday (July 19th) and here's how you do it: in the comments I want you to tell me your favorite book (any genre) that you have read that was published in about the last year. (I know, Pride and Prejudice is everyone's favorite book, but I've already read that! So give me something moderne!;))

Okay, so on to the book! Our giveaway this month is the very talented James Dashner's The 13th Reality. James is a good friend of mine and has a really great success story. He was originally published by a small niche press, then was published by a new publisher with national distribution, and just last week he announced that he recently sold his newest book to Delacorte press, and imprint of Random House. So niche, to national, to big time New York Publisher. Go James!

Here's a bit about 13th Reality, shamelessly stoles form Amazon.:)

What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created--the life that would've been had you made the other choice? What if those new realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities? Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials "M.G.," the letter informs Tick that dangerous--perhaps even deadly--events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen. Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? Will Tick discover the life he was meant to live? The first volume of an outstanding new children's fantasy series, The Journal of Curious Letters is filled with adventure, humor, riddles, and, oh, yes--danger... As M.G. warns Tick, Very frightening things are coming your way.

So if you want a piece of Atticus Higginbottom, leave me your book recommendation!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Q&A, Part the Second

Alrighty then. Let's just pretend it hasn't actually been eleven days since I last posted. Okay? Deal.;)

The good news is that it's because I have been working so hard on my sequel to WINGS. It's coming along nicely and I'm hoping it will be really polished and ready for my second round of betas in less than two weeks. Yay!

Okay, I am charging through the rest of the Q&A because, quite frankly, I keep forgetting. (Why yes, I do have a mind like a steel sieve.) So without further delay, here are the LJ questions and then the rest of the blogger questions.

And just to keep you reading, I will be announcing my next book giveaway on Monday, so stay tuned!

*Where did you get the idea for the WINGS books?

I think that is always the most FA of the FAQs for authors. I actually decided one day that I wanted to write a YA about faeries, but I wanted them to be a kind of faeries than no one had ever seen before. (And to find out just what kind of faeries those are, you'll just have to read.;)) So I came up with the basic idea after a long night of bad sleep (and I was seven and a half months pregnant at the time, so bad sleep was not uncommon.:)) and my husband and I bounced the idea around for a couple of days and built up a fairly extensive mythology. Then we started doing the what-ifs and eventually came up with what I think is a fun story.

*Are there ever any problems writing under your real name instead of a pseudonym? If you really make it big, are there privacy concerns you have?

Not really. The nice thing about authors is that even if you hit it big, like JK Rowling type big, it's not like being a movie star. Paparazzi don't follow you around, your kids don't have to go to super-private schools, etc. Honestly, in terms of paperwork and etc. I think it is probably LESS of a hassle using your real name. And the nice thing is, if I get really big *insert laugh*, I can always do what Stephenie Meyer jokingly suggested in her EW article (which you can find here. It's a really great article and I got to meet the reporter when I had dinner with Stephenie in May. She was way nice! And man, the picture is gorgeous! Nobody is photogenic like Stephenie.) I can "put up a fence and get shepherds. And then I'll have a button and get to say 'Release the hounds!'''" Hehe, I got a major kick out of that!

*How are you preparing for your first workshop? (You can find details of the workshop here.)

Preparing? Am I supposed to prepare? *blinkblink*

*Do you consider yourself a 'professional writer'? Why or why not?

I do, actually. There's something about getting that first check that makes you feel very professional. And there's something about knowing I am supporting my family for the next five years that makes me take that role even more seriously than I might have otherwise, which is probably a good thing.

*My question would have to be, what books/authors influenced you the most as a young adult? What do you enjoy reading today?

I read a lot of Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Christopher Pike, VC Andrews, EB White, and CS Lewis as a child and young adult. Actually, I spent most of high school in a very small town that didn't have a great library so I did a lot of reading my literature textbooks in high school. I think I read every single one cover to cover. Oh, I also discovered Lois Lowry's The Giver in high school.

I adore the depth and variety of YA on the market today and have enjoyed reading a lot of it. Lately I have enjoyed Sarah Dessen's Just Listen, I just finished Claudia Gray's Evernight, I am eating up John Green's Looking for Alaska, I recently got my hands on an ARC of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book as well as an ARC of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth and I will admit that Sarah Shepherd's Pretty Little Liars series is a guilty pleasure of mine. Oh, and Anna Godbersen's The Luxe. Mmmm, the Luxe.:) I'm looking forward to getting ARC's of Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer in the next couple of weeks, and Erin Dionne's Real Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies shortly after that. So basically I'm all over the board.:)

*Do you sign books? (and will you sign mine?)

Yes, and yes.:)

*Are you still into Natural Birthing and will you ever be a doula again?

Not a writing FAQ, but one near and dear to my heart anyway. Yes, I am still into natural birthing (none of my kids were born in hospitals and I hope to keep that up) but I probably will not doula consistently again just because I don't know my schedule well enough to be on call, which is a shame. I do have a repeat client in October and will probably doula for friends and family intermittently, but probably not full time again. *sad*

*What was the best compliment you have received about your writing? What was your harshest criticism? How have these things affected your writing (if at all)?

Best compliment I have ever received about my writing came from my editor, Tara. She told me my writing was "compulsively readable."

My harshest criticism was from a source I'm not going to share and they told me they just had no interest in finishing the book.

Tara's compliment makes me feel less self-conscious when I see some writers' beautiful prose. It helps me remember that I am not that author and I don't have to be. I write very commercial fiction and that's okay because it is "compulsively readable.":)

And honestly, any criticism makes me want to do better. My reaction to this particular criticism was that I needed to make my book more interesting.:)

*I've been reading a series of essays by book authors. They each touch on the moment they felt like they had to be a writer; knew they were going to write as a profession. So, at what moment did you know you were a writer?

Um, is it bad to say I didn't know for sure until the moment I had a deal? I knew I wanted to be a writer the morning I woke up with the idea for the first book I ever write. But the morning I got the call from my agent that we had interest in WINGS, I had just convinced myself that after over two years of trying, I needed to give up; it was never going to happen. Go figure.

*What's your writing schedule (or hoped for schedule) now that you'll be writing full-time for the summer? And where do you write?

For the summer I write in my bedroom which has our home office in it. I lock myself in at ten in the morning and finish at four in the afternoon. It works beautifully!

*What fostered your love of writing?

Reading, reading, reading, and reading. I wanted to do what the authors of books I loved had done!

*When you look back on this incredible journey from unpublished author to four-book deal with HarperTeen, what would you say has been your favorite part and why?

I think sharing my joy with my family and friends who have supported and encouraged me from the beginning was probably my favorite part. I loved showing that their belief in me, which never faltered, had been justified.

*How rough is your first "rough" draft of any manuscript?

Oh man, today is a great day for me to answer this. My first draft is currently 66,000 words. I expect to change no less than 20,000 of them.

So yeah, generally quite rough . . . although it does vary.

*Describe your writing process. Do you plot/outline? How many drafts do you usually go through before you have something ready to submit to your agent/editor? How long does it usually take you to write a book?

I generally plot in my head. I don't like to do outlines, although I have in the past. I write linearly, from the beginning to the end (I learned from going through and writing all of the most exciting parts first. Bad idea!) I think I generally go through about five or six drafts before I show it to my agent (sometimes more) and she and I go about three rounds before sending stuff out to editors. From start to finish it takes me about four to ten months to write a book.

*When did you start writing?

I started writing my first serious book about five years ago. I finished my first book about three years ago and I finished my first publishable book one year ago.:)

*Is your husband ready to be the homemaker?! Do you ever get asked for your autograph in real life, or been recognized on the street, yet?

Oh, my husband is a better mom than I am.:) But he won't be the homemaker after this summer. I a still hanging on to that role. He is a law student at the moment and after that will be a PhD student. And no, I haven't been asked for an autograph or been recognized as and author. Not yet, anyway.;)

*What do you think is more important to a story: the beginning or the ending? Also, which one is harder to construct writing-wise?

I am mixed on this. I think that the ending is more memorable and will make up for many flaws in the book. But I think the beginning is both more important and more difficult to write because it is our first impression. If your beginning sucks, the reader may never get to your phenomenal ending.

*Do you do a lot of research when writing your books or do you just let the ideas flow and connect from your imagination? What and how much did you research in order to write Wings?

Both. I let the general plot flow, but there is a lot of research involved in the little things. I tend do do my research as I got along because otherwise I get all the fun, imagination stuff down and THEN have to go back and do all the research. If I do it as I go I get a nice mix.

For WINGS I did a lot of research of the geography and topography of Northern California and Crescent City, where my book is set. I also read a lot of faerie lore and did a lot of research of Aurthurian legends and stories about Avalon. For the sequel I am doing a lot of research on herbs and ecology as well as homeopathics and naturopathy.

*How did you get beyond the slush pile and get Jodi Reamer's attention?

I actually didn't come out of Jodi's slush pile. I was lucky enough to get a client recommendation. However, I did make it out of a lot of other agent's slush in the interim and my "secret" to that is the same secret you can find anywhere: a striking query and very strong opening pages. I'm afraid there are no other tricks.:)

*How much of writing success is gift, and how much is sweat. I would like explanations and percentages of each.

Honestly? I think it is fifty-fifty and that a super big helping on either side can tip the scale. I know authors who can roll prose off like nobody's business and they don't have to work quite as hard. I also know authors who work their tails off for every word they write, but they work and work and work and they make it too.

Personally, I think mine skews about 40-60 . . . with the 60 being sweat.;)

Okay, that really is all the questions. Thank you so much everyone for submitting them!! And remember, next book giveaway is on Monday.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ally Carter Advice

I like Ally Carter's blog because she is such a real author to me. I find myself reading it and nodding my head going, "Dude! I totally do that!" Well, the last week or so she has been doing 101 tips for aspiring authors (which is just beyond crazy!) And most of the advice was run of the mill. Good--and often great--advice, but advice I've heard before. But then I stumbled upon this one.

"When attending industry events, dress and act like someone a business can feel comfortable entrusting with a large sum of money."

I was totally struck by this!!! Isn't that the dream of every aspiring and even most published authors? To have a publisher say, "Gee, we love your book. We have a Swift Truck full of money outside our building right now; may we send it your way?" But anytime I have ever thought of that it has been from my point of view. The "OMG they have publishing power and i just want them to dole a little scoop of it out for meeee!" kind of thing.

I don't ever think of it from the editor or publisher's point of view. This little tip made me do just that. Do you ever wonder if an editor thinks about that? I'm sure they do. They probably sit and think about this awesome book on their desk and go, "I want to offer a bajillion dollars for this book, but will the author do good revisions? Will they be willing to promote? Will they be a total prima dona? Do they have three arms? Will their next book be this good? Can I even justify offering for more than one book?" These are all things that an editor does not know until . . . well, until the deal is done and often not until it's published.

Makes me want to wear an elegant black dress to my next writer's function and hand out super-professional business cards and maybe flash my husband's law school insignia.

And above all, it makes me hope my editor, when she met me last month, had a moment in her office later and thought--just for a second--"Dude, she was totally worth it!"