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I Have Another Book Coming Out!

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I’m so excited to talk about my new novel. It’s called Monster, Human, Other. Here's the cover:

And here's a bit about it:

Wren is human. Isaac is not. Having switched places at birth, they now live with each other’s families. Growing up among a different species is difficult—for Isaac, who has to keep many secrets, and for Wren, who is teased for her lousy human senses. They’re told it’s necessary, though. The exchange is the first step in an ambassador program meant to ensure peace.  

But not everyone wants peace. There are creatures that live deep underground, coming up to the surface to feed. For them, war means food. They have a plan to stir up trouble, and so far, it’s working. In the end, it’s up to Wren and Isaac to prevent a looming war and to save both their kinds.  
The book is recommended for children ages 8 to 12, but I officially give permission to older people to read it, too. It comes out September 5, but you can pre-order it at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or your 

What Makes Me Stop Reading

I used to think I had to finish every book I started. I don't know why exactly. I guess putting a book down seemed like quitting. Or maybe it was a holdover from my days in school, when not finishing an assigned book would have been unthinkable for me. (Yes, I was that student.)

Regardless of the reason, I'd keep reading books I hated, albeit reluctantly. I'd slog through them at a snail's pace. I'd go to sleep early rather than face another page. It would take me forever and I wouldn't enjoy it, but by golly I'd finish.

Then I realized this was silly. 

I wasn't completing a school assignment. Most of the time, I was reading fiction for pleasure. If there was no pleasure, there was no reason to read. And as my to-read pile grew taller and taller, eventually threatening to topple off my nightstand and crush me while I slept, it occurred to me that I simply couldn't afford to waste my time on books I didn't love.

As an author, I might put my writer…

How to Plan Your Novel: Plotting Versus Pantsing

There are two basic ways to write a novel: you can plot it or you can pants it. If you plot your novel, you work out the plot before you start writing. If you pants your novel, you start writing with an idea in mind but without a developed plot. You write by the seat of your pants, as it were. You wing it.
It’s best to think of these two options as opposite ends of a spectrum. Your personal style may lie somewhere in between. It could even vary from project to project.
There are pros and cons to each side.
Plotting your novel ahead of time means you don’t have to worry about writing yourself into a corner. You’re far less likely to realize you need to cut fifty pages or eliminate a character. Foreshadowing is much easier when you know what’s coming. Although you’ll still have revise your work—there’s no way to avoid that—the revisions will generally be less intensive and less painful if your manuscript was plotted ahead of time.
If you’re a published writer and want to pitch your agent o…

What Would Your Character Do?

Imagine this situation. You're reading a book. (Not too difficult to imagine so far.) It's about a girl named Kathy who's really into science and nature. She likes new stuff, especially if it's weird, and she doesn't mind getting dirty. A boy shows her a neat bug he found, and she gets grossed out. You get mad and throw the book against the wall. 
Or you're watching a television show, and the vegan who's obsessed with health food is shown snacking on one of those convenience store processed meat sticks. Or maybe it's a movie. It doesn't matter. The important thing is that a character did something that character would never do, you know it, and it ticks you off. 
A good character feels as real as a good friend. When good friends act out of character, you get worried. When characters act out of character, you get angry at the writers.
So how can you avoid writing inconsistent characters?
By getting to know your characters, of course. 
The trick to writing…

The Magical Origin of Ideas Revealed

Where do you get your ideas?
It’s a question that authors get asked all the time, and it’s one that I’m never quite sure how to answer. I feel like people expect an interesting response, like my ideas should have some amazing, magical origin. Sorry. They don’t.
I don’t know where I get my ideas. I get them from everywhere—every show I watch, every book I read, every picture I see, every conversation I hear. I get them from nowhere—they pop into my head without introduction or invitation.
My ideas often come in bunches, which is quite annoying, honestly. The file I keep my ideas in currently contains 15,065 words and dozens of story ideas, and there simply isn’t enough time to write all of them.
I’m not sure why I tend to get a lot of ideas at once, but I have two theories. The first is that certain moods lead to ideas. I think up new things with I’m intellectually bored, or maybe when I’m intellectually stimulated—I’m not sure which.
The second theory is that idea generation leads to more …

Three Reasons to Give Thanks for Books

It’s been a hard month and a hard year. Staying positive can be a challenge in times like these, but yesterday was Thanksgiving, and despite everything I have a lot to be thankful for. I’d like to take a moment to explain why I’m especially grateful for books.
I’m thankful for the magical doors books open. My favorite genres are fantasy and science fiction, and I'll admit it: my reading tends toward escapism. Don’t we all need an escape sometimes? Books give me a chance to join an exciting adventure, one that I would never agree to take on in real life, and one that makes most of my actual complaints seem trivial in comparison.
I’m thankful for the lessons books teach us. When I read and write, my main purpose is entertainment. Nevertheless, I cannot deny the educational value of books. I’m not talking about facts, although it’s possible to learn those from books, too. I’m talking about empathy. Books let us slip into the shoes of another person—another gender, another race, anothe…

That’s Not Why You’re Getting Rejected

I keep hearing the same misinformation, so I want to address it. You don’t need connections to get a book deal. You don’t need publishing credits to get a book deal. You don’t need to live in New York to get a book deal. If you’re getting rejected, it’s not for one of these reasons.
How do I know this? Well, I got a book deal without any connections or impressive credits. I didn’t live in New York, and I didn’t travel there for conferences. I never met my agent or editor in real life before signing my contract.
This wasn’t a fluke. I’ve spoken to a lot of other authors, both face-to-face and online, and my situation was pretty common. Agents and editors like debut authors, and because everything’s done online these days, location doesn’t matter.
Nevertheless, I keep hearing these misconceptions.
Some people might have outdated information. I’ve heard that, in the past, writers were advised to develop some credentials writing short stories before seeking a book deal. Location may have matt…