Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

one week

Next week, which ironically enough also happens to be Banned Books Week, you will be able to get your hands on these.

First, on Tuesday, both the paperback edition of The Marbury Lens and the new release of its sequel, Passenger will be available.

They will be followed on Wednesday by the short story King of Marbury, which will be published as a free download at

To celebrate a bit early, MacTeen Books is running a blog post featuring five questions from readers to me about the Marbury series. The post is up today, so you can get a taste af what's coming up in just one week.

Read the MacTeen Blog here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

number crunching

I have a few things about numbers today:

1. The number 13 is one of my favorite numbers. It's also considered a lucky number in Italy, where I spent a lot of my youth. It is also the number of days until Passenger comes out.

2. I don't know how decisions like these are made, but the powers that be at Tor Books have decided to release the short story King of Marbury the day AFTER Passenger comes out. So you'll have to update your plans... it's going to be published on on October 3, which is exactly two weeks from today (14 days).

3. I'll have an upcoming post on Macmillan's MacKids blog in which I answer 5 questions that kids have sent me regarding the sequels to The Marbury Lens (Passenger and King of Marbury). One of the kids asked if there were any new characters or new monsters in Passenger. This is what I said:

There are definitely new characters introduced in Passenger. We meet the survivor kids called Odds. And there’s a new kid named Quinn who definitely has his own, very selfish, agenda that plays out as a deadly contest between him and Jack. And Marbury is different in Passenger, so there are some different—and very slimy—monsters.  A big chunk of the book takes place underground—in the derelict remains of a flood-control system. So there are some new elements to get readers creeped out.

4. Another thing about numbers: 237. This is a good number. It is the number of days until Winger comes out. It is also a good word because in Chapter 78 of Winger, there is ONE sentence that has exactly 237 words in it. You know how people at writers' conferences always tell you to never write sentences that have 237 words in them?



Saturday, September 15, 2012

wrap up on the roundup and utah. and shit like that.

So I spent the weekend in ridiculously beautiful Park City, Utah, where I had been invited out to conduct two workshops at the League of Utah Writers' Annual Round-Up.

I have many memories, some of which I will share here.

First, I finally got up the nerve to submit my final story for the forthcoming Chronicle Books anthology called Ripperology, which is due out next fall (2013) and features Jack-the-Ripper stories from people like me -- well, to be honest, most of them probably are not like me at all -- Ellen Hopkins, A.S. King (my pardner, to use a Utah-ism), and Greg Neri, whom I really miss and hope to be able to sit down and have a drink with soon, like when we are in St. Louis this November.

Oh -- speaking of drinks, I am in Utah, where drinking is kind of different. I'll leave it at that.

Also, when I went running, everyone I passed on the streets said "hi."

I know.

My friend Davis, who lives in Utah and brought his beautiful wife out to have ice cream with me in Park City, explained there are lots of rapists in Utah, and that's why everyone says "hi."

Who am I to argue with that?

So, anyway, the story I wrote for Ripperology is called The Planet of Humans and Dogs. I mention this because The Planet of Humans and Dogs is also the title of PART 3 of the novel I am just now finishing writing, which is called 100 Sideways Miles. So, yeah, the Ripper story also has something to do with another novel of mine, which is also kind of like In the Path of Falling Objects and Grasshopper Jungle, because those two novels share a principal character.

My first workshop was called (I didn't make up these topics) Pushing the Envelope: Edgy Content in YA Literature.

I'll be honest, and I admitted these following things to my audience:

1. I don't like the word "edgy" as it pertains to literature. It implies there is an edge, which, if you get too close, you may fall off. Or get raped. Or shit like that.

Now I realize I am never going to forget Davis' story about rapists in Utah.

2. I have a problem with how most people use the term "YA." Most people use YA as an age level, as opposed to a genre. I challenged my audience to consider what would be the essential features of a genre called YA as opposed to a ratings-level called YA.

I have some strong feelings about this concept, because although my books have many characters who are "Young Adults," I never wrote the first one of them for children, although I have no problem with explaining how they might fit into a genre about the essential adolescent -- YA -- experience.

So, anyway, I think it was an interesting discussion and a good group.

My second workshop (I didn't make up these topics) was called Kids Without Powers -- the Character-Driven YA Novel.

So I talked about my novels and my process in writing them -- what I believe to be a character-driven formula for constructing a balance between character, conflict, situation, and plotting, and how all those things work together -- that in my books, I do not believe the character can stand alone outside of the momentum of the plot, and the arc of action can't exist without the character.

I hope that makes sense.

Apparently, it did not.

About halfway through the workshop, one attendee raised her hand and asked me this:

"Can you please stick to the topic?"


So I was sitting at the hotel bar yesterday. This is a true story. A guy walks in to the bar. He happened to have been from Iowa, which is where Grasshopper Jungle takes place.

The guy from Iowa ordered a double vodka on the rocks (with a lemon).

I know.

Did you know that in Utah when you order a double they are required by law to pour it into two different glasses?

And, with that thought, I will leave you with a couple lines which occur at the end of Chapter 37 of Grasshopper Jungle (which is set in Iowa). The chapter is called "Eden Five Needs You," and, in it, Shann Collins is explaining to Austin Szerba, the narrator/historian, why she loves him:

Shann said, “I love how you tell stories. I love how, whenever you tell me a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion. Like a flower blooming.”

“Really?” I asked. “I… Hmm… I never noticed that about me before.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

i'll have three scoops of the one with bugs in it, please

Sorry to do this to you, but these things happen all the time.

Tor, the publisher of my short story, King of Marbury, has decided to publish the story on THE SAME DAY that Passenger comes out, which is October 2, pushing back the publication date by one week.

You can wait that long, right?

So, not only do Passenger and King of Marbury come out on the same day, it is also the release day for the paperback edition of The Marbury Lens.

Just think -- it's like walking into an ice cream shop and getting a triple scoop of the flavor with all the bugs in it!

I know this fills you with squee.

Or something. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

three weeks

On Friday, I'll be heading to Park City, Utah to be a part of the League of Utah Writers' 2012 Roundup.

Over the weekend, I'll present two workshops: The first on content and limits in YA literature, and the second on character-driven fiction. I'm looking forward to it; it should be a lot of fun, and I'll post some summaries and photos of my presentations.

Two weeks from today, on September 25, Conner Kirk is going to find out exactly what -- and who -- Marbury really is, and he tells about it in a short story called King of Marbury which will be published on There's also some ominous connections to The Marbury Lens, and an ominous warning for Jack, too.

And exactly three weeks from today, on October 2, Jack's universe is going to break into pieces when Passenger comes out. We'll see if he can fix it, or if the fix only makes things worse.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

in the arrivals lounge

In just over three weeks, Passenger will be arriving.

If you could measure time by all the stuff contained in its passage, then the journey from this book's beginning to October 2 has been monstrously long and eventful.

But that's also kind of what this book is all about: What journey does the passenger have to take to get him to his departure gate, and, once he arrives at his destination, where does he go from there?

That's a little hint. It's also the primary question that opens the not-so-short story called King of Marbury, which will be out later this month.

If you're a Marbury-head, here's what you might do to pass the slow drag of time between now and October 2: First, you should re-read The Marbury Lens.

Then, keep stalking the website There will be a story there. The story takes place right after the ending of The Marbury Lens and you will be able to get it for free.

That story, King of Marbury, will come out on September 25 -- exactly one week before Passenger, so mark your calendars and get ready to find out something new and unexpected about what -- and who -- Marbury really is.