Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sale in Turkey!

Excuse the pun...ahem.

We sold The Red Queen series in Turkey!! Huzzah!

This is so exciting - I don't think I'll ever get over the sheer excitement of knowing TRQ will be appearing new countries. Also, I'll have to get another bookshelf for foreign copies and I am a FOOL for bookshelves, so this is a win/win/win/win/win situation.

Welcome aboard!! And of course, a million thanks to Kathleen Ortiz and all of New Leaf. They kick butt!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Greeks bearing (awesome) gifts!

I'm so proud to announce that the rights to The Red Queen have sold in Greece! NOW I MUST VISIT THE PARTHENON.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Russian and Korean Rights!

So excited to say we've sold subrights in both Russian and Korean. I've officially gotten to the point where I can't count my subrights on two hands, which is pretty crazy. Again, snaps to Kathleen Ortiz and New Leaf for making all this possible!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Taiwan and Complex Chinese rights coming in hot!

My first sale in the eastern hemisphere! This a momentous occasion. And I'm dream-planning a crazy globe-trotting trip to make it to all my sale countries. Also, does this count as The Red Queen traveling around the world yet? We're so close to beating Magellan (because he never actually made it around the world and died when sailing through the Philippines. Fun fact: the only ship that made it back to Spain was the Victoria).

So excited to welcome Taiwan aboard the SS Red Queen and thanks to all the warriors at New Leaf, especially Kathleen Ortiz, for piloting the good ship around the world!

Monday, June 17, 2013


After a long auction, The Red Queen has finally found its German home. I'm so thrilled to announce this, partly because it means I might get to go to Germany in the future. But mostly because, as this makes the SEVENTH subright sale for RQ, I'm beginning to believe all this is actually real. Mental breakdown via blog to come. :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Welcome aboard, Dutch rights!

And Dutch rights makes the sixth foreign rights deal for The Red Queen! I'm so excitedly I can barely blog. This still doesn't feel real to me (I'm imagining Suzie calling one day to say there's been a huge mistake) but I'm going to try and believe it. 

I've been to Amsterdam, but it was only once, and then it was just the airport, but they have a MUSEUM in the AIRPORT. The Dutch know what's up. Also, RECLINING CHAIRS. The States need to get with the program and catch up.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

the United Kingdom!

That's right, I'll be published in the land of King Arthur, Winston Churchill, and Love Actually!

This is particularly dear to my heart as my mother was born and raised in the UK and we visit often. When I was little, I actually read things incorrectly because my grandmother sent me so many Scottish books and comics to read. I got used to Scottish spelling which, in children's books, is phonetic, and different vocabulary. Oor Wullie and The Broons (Our Willie and The Browns) messed me up for a while

(I may or may not know all the words to Flower of Scotland because it is MY NATIONAL ANTHEM). I'm also in the process of filing for dual citizenship so I can visit my grandparents, Edinburgh, and eat as much fish and chips as I want.

I first went to the Edinburgh Book Festival when I was 13 (I bought a lot of Lord of the Rings encyclopedias, don't ask) and now one day I might attend as an author. I use the word crazy a lot, but only because it is. This all is. :)

All my love to the fabulous Kathleen Ortiz for making this real!

Friday, May 24, 2013

I've always been lucky...

...and by that I mean I won an American Girl doll at a raffle once and I usually win ten bucks on scratch tickets. But I never thought I was particularly lucky. The events of the past month (yes, it's been exactly a month since Suzie called me with HarperTeen's offer) have convinced me otherwise.

I'm sure there's hard work and a teensy bit of talent in the mix, but when I look back on my journey, I have to think luck played a huge, huge part in where I am now. Six months ago, I wasn't even done with the second act of my first draft. Now I have a publishing deal, multiple foreign rights deals, a movie option, and my family's respect (!!!!). LUCK LUCK LUCK.

A year ago, I had just graduated USC with a BFA in Screenwriting. I wanted (and still want) to be David Koepp. I wanted to write blockbuster, popcorn, gotta-see-it-at-midnight movies. And for some reason, a television pilot I wrote landed me a general meeting at Benderspink. (LUCK). After I pitched another TV pilot and a dumb movie idea, I heard luck whispering in my ear. Screw it. Pitch what you've been thinking about. So I told them I wanted to write the next big YA novel. I knew it was cocky to say, but that's what I wanted and I was mid-meeting, so I was firing on all cylinders. Turns out, Benderspink had just sold the rights to Dan Krokos' The Planet Thieves, so books were on the brain. I pitched writing a YA novel to them at exactly the right time.

When I finally finished, they passed the book to their publishing contact, who happened to be Pouya Shahbazian, the film/tv agent at New Leaf Literary. He thought my manuscript was in Suzie's wheelhouse, passed it on to her, and against all odds, she didn't look at the page count (my first draft was a whale). If she had, I'm sure she would've ran for the hills. Luck strikes again.

But Suzie didn't look at the page count until she finished. And after we revised and edited and hacked away at the manuscript like old-timey jungle explorers with machetes, and it was still a whale, somehow Kari Sutherland at HarperTeen didn't check the page count either (403 pages, for those of you wondering). I got lucky while on submission, a place no author has the right to be lucky.

Then Suzie called me with the offer. I was driving a vehicle at the time and, again, luck intervened to make sure I didn't have a breakdown and hit a tree. Luck struck again exactly two weeks later when the movie option sold to Universal, after Pouya and the gladiators from Benderspink did battle with Hollywood. Of course I was happy just to have the option picked up, but the fact that it was Universal almost had me in tears (and I don't get emotional very often). The Universal globe logo is one of my first memories, because I was a child raised by the screen, and E.T. and Jurassic Park were some of my very strange parents.

If luck strikes again (which I know I have no right to hope for), and The Red Queen does make it to a movie theater near you, don't mind the girl openly sobbing in the back. It's just me.

p.s. Luck keeps rolling in somehow. As of today, RQ will officially be published in Brazil, Italy, Norway, and France, along with the United States. I swear to God, the New Leaf team is like the Avengers of lit agencies.

France and Norway!!

At this rate, I feel like I should be sending fruit baskets all over Europe. My amazing subrights agent Kathleen just closed deals to publish The Red Queen in France and Norway! She's a true warrior/superhero/Avenger and I'm so lucky to have her on my team.

From Publishers Marketplace:

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around my book actually getting publishing in the States, so this is just another unbelievable thing. One day I'll get it and I'll have to curl up in a closet somewhere and weep. I will not post any videos of this, I promise.

Monday, May 13, 2013

attempting to understand

I'm still reeling from today's news, so there won't be a proper post until I recover. Long story short, Universal optioned my book. Details can be found here: .

I studied screenwriting in college and next to writing, movies are my great love. Some of my earliest memories are of the Universal logo spinning around before I watched E.T. and the (forbidden) Jurassic Park. Forbidden because I was three. When my parents found me laughing and clapping at the T-Rex attacking Lex and Tim, they knew I was going to be a weird kid.

So this is a pretty big, emotional deal for me.


We're going to Italy! This is super amazing (I think my Italian-born grandmother is more excited about this than the American deal) and hopefully results in a second trip to the mother land.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


That's right, I'm going to be published in Brazil! I can't believe I'm going to be translated into Portuguese!! Now I have an excuse to visit Rio and the Amazon - like I needed one. :)

From Publishers Marketplace:

Friday, May 3, 2013


My book deal is officially up on Publishers Marketplace. I never thought I'd see the day, but here it is:

That's right, I'm officially writing a trilogy. The first book, THE RED QUEEN, is slated for a Winter 2015 release and I'm basically dying. I can't believe this is real, and I can't believe I landed with an amazing agent and an amazing editor. I'm so excited to be a REAL AUTHOR!!;

Thursday, May 2, 2013

it's official

Finally, I can say it. I SOLD MY BOOK. More details will come tomorrow (more waiting, ugh I know), but the basics are this: my novel THE RED QUEEN is going to be real. My warrior agent Suzie Townsend kicked major butt and I landed with equally awesome editor Kari Sutherland at HarperTeen/HarperCollins.

*screams away into the night*

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

you call it playing god, I call it worldbuilding part 2

Wow, don't you want to start worldbuilding after that long, meandering post about the dangers of worldbuilding? Follow me!

But really, a quick step-by-step of my WB process. Hopefully I haven't turned you off the subject.

(I don't usually write contemporary genres, at least not without supernatural or fantasy undertones, so this will probably be overkill for those who do write contemporary. Or maybe not.)

  •  MAP. 
    • In case you didn't catch my drift the first time, I always work off a map. Geography has shaped our own history so much, it only makes sense that it will shape your story too.
    • Tools: first I draw out said map on graph paper, usually with a pencil, then transfer to Photoshop via a scanner or a cruder drawing. From there, I can duplicate and do certain maps for certain things (borders, roads, geographic formations etc.). I don't have a tablet, but I have a violent need of one for map purposes.
      • It may also help to have an atlas or Google Maps on hand to help, if you need inspiration. I was that weird kid who spent school library trips looking at the atlases in the back so I have a bunch of favorites at my house
    • Now that you have your map, check out the cities, the rivers, the mountains, all that cool stuff you just drew. What's going on down there? Is that mountain range a border? Do the people on either side like each other? Why or why not? Continue into perpetuity or until you die in worldbuilding ecstasy. (Don't do that). 
      • At this point, it might help to already have a story in mind. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. 
      • How does it fit into this greater history you're shaping? How does the history shape your story and its characters? What happened to make the world this way?
      • The trick here is to be brief. Don't get stuck in the quicksand.
    • Tools: a simple word processor will do, or pen and paper.Your choice. For larger stories that require intense background, I dabble in Excel and make color-coded timelines. This was before I developed self-control, but someone with willpower could do this quite easily and survive.
    • The fun part. Where do they fit on the map, in the history, in the setting you've created?
    • Here we can get a little deeper. Parents, grandparents, education, language, religion, culture - how does this shape your character? You have to know where they come from to know where they're going and how they're going to act when they get there!
      • Of course, as you start piecing together your character, you can use this stuff to inform the rest of the world you're shaping. It's a two-way street. 
      • I love family trees almost as much as maps.
    • Tools: Graph paper is my lord and savior. Great for family trees and character maps or character wheels. Of course, there's always a word processor or pen and paper to be used as well.
  • PLOT
    • By now, you've probably got some idea of the story you want to tell. Your worldbuilding has got you thinking like your characters, living in the world you know, and so you understand exactly where they can take you. You started this process wanting to tell a fantasy Romeo & Juliet. Now you know you're going to undercut it with a magical civil war that ruminates on the destructive power of revenge. 
    • GO WRITE THAT PLOT. Outline, bullets, numbering, word-vomit, whatever. Just get it down.
      • I personally go for the 8 sequence, three act structure when I'm outlining. I studied screenwriting and that was the style hammered into us and it works for me. (I can do another blog post on this if anybody wants). Basically this means my stories are structured like movies, or at least they try to be.
    • Get your lovely pile of worldbuilding together. Go through it, see where the gaps are. Where did this religion come from? What city did her parents live in? Why is the king so damn mean and what made him this way? Is there anything special about that island you drew in for fun? (Maybe it's a holy island haunted by angels, who knows). 
    • This is like plugging up holes in the front yard because someone is coming to look at the house. You don't need to fill them up, but just put a little grass over the top. You might fall through later, but at least you've gotten to later.
    • Remember, don't get stuck. Keep moving. Things can always be filled in when you need to fill them in. 
    • Tools: coffee
I can't promise you're ready to write (you could've been ready to write back before the word 'map' left my fingers), but this is usually the point where I am. And then it's off to the sometimes slow, sometimes fast, always wonderful and excruciating races.

you call it playing god, I call it worldbuilding part 1

Based on notes and comments and my own inflated ego, my greatest strength is worldbuilding. I've patrolled a lot of blogs and how-to's and they've helped me so much in my WB process, so this is my attempt to give back a little. Of course, what works for me might not work for others and vice versa. And then there's the little Tolkien on my shoulder saying "Oh you drew a map? That's cute. Try inventing a language next. Try inventing ten languages. SASSY TOLKIEN OUT."

Let's just get it out there. I've been worldbuilding since I was about six, opened the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time guidebook, saw the map of Hyrule and decided to draw my own. (Sidenote: I always think, wow that's the dorkiest sentence I've ever written/said. And somehow I always find a way to out-dork myself). Anyways, I was drawing maps before I ever started writing stories. It was only after the Crayola-scribbled wonder was done that I started thinking about what went on in those cities and poorly-drawn mountains. I have a habit of doing things the wrong way, so it only makes sense that I started worldbuilding before I ever started writing. And now, sixteen years later, the habit still stands. I always worldbuild before I write.

As I did with my Hyrule-knockoff, I usually start with a map. I did it with THE RED QUEEN and, because I am a fool for maps, I even did it with all my screenplays. Luckily the zombie western, the castle thriller and the WWII spy movie actually required maps (I honestly think I only write things that need maps). Yes, I even drew a suburban neighborhood/built a Sim house for a teen comedy I wrote. I won't mention the frat row I mapped out for the "fratire" comedy.

When it truly comes down to it, I didn't need the maps to aid the story, I needed the maps to help myself. The draw of worldbuilding, for me at least, isn't just about setting the stage and fleshing out a world. It's about becoming part of your story. There are probably a thousand bits of worldbuilding for RQ that never made it into the final draft, but they still exist. They're still in my head. When I write a particular scene in a particular place, I know what's going on in the next room. I know who has a pretty sister and has a complex about it. I know who that rando guard walking by in the hallway is and what family he comes from. All this just deepens the world for me, which in turn allows me to live, breathe and, hopefully, write about it as truthfully as I can. 

I truly believe that worldbuilding is meant to aid the writer as much as the reader, and perhaps more so. That said, there's a point in time where worldbuilding stops being a crutch and starts behind a burden. I'm talking about the dark side of worldbuilding. *thunderclap*

It's a trap I've fallen into with shocking regularity. I've got the map, some family trees, a brief history of world/characters and maybe even a plot outline for posterity, and I'm ready to write. But wait, I need to flesh out language parameters! But wait, I need to step this family tree back another 10 generations! But wait, I need to made coats of armor and 20 different color-coded maps depicting trade routes! But wait, but wait, but wait. This is the danger of worldbuilding - you get sucked in.

Worldbuilding is, in my opinion, very delightful quicksand. Once you're in too deep, it's almost impossible to get out and therefore, to actually start writing. In my experience, this is usually my way of not writing while tricking myself into thinking I am actually am. And then suddenly it's six months later and I've got some pretty maps, cool names, and no story. My inspiration is gone. I can't tell you how many binders of family trees I have lying around. (Beat that, Mitt Romney). And no matter how much work and color-coding I put in, they're never going to result in anything more.

It's taken me a long time to figure out the happy medium, at least for the style and subject I'm pursuing right now. For example, my YA fantasy THE RED QUEEN has the least amount of worldbuilding I've ever done for a story. It also happens to be the first story I've ever finished. Coincidence, I think NOT. I started writing RQ with a single, very rudimentary map, a plot outline, three pages of world background, and an excel sheet full of characters, tiny bios, and other miscellaneous details that I filled in along the way. For the first time, I didn't fill entire binders and for the first time, I finished a book. The world and characters evolved on the page and I let them. The world existed more in my head more than any excel sheet or map. Edits were made, characters were cut, but from page one I was in the world and I was in the story. I found my happy medium of worldbuilding, at least for this tale. And it was a lot less than I thought it was.

Now the challenge comes in not falling off the worldbuilding wagon. The other project I'm currently working on is a worldbuilding extravaganza. But now that I know less is much, much more, I hope I can rein myself in long enough to actually write it. Today I did some historical and cultural work in the world, but didn't flesh out what didn't need to be fleshed out. I made up some religions, but restrained from writing ten pages on them. THIS IS PROGRESS.

Of course, the amount of worldbuilding required varies from tale to tale and genre to genre. A series like A Song of Ice and Fire would obviously need more and 50 Shades of Grey would require no brainpower at all. The only way to figure this out is, unfortunately, to make a lot of mistakes and fill a lot of binders and build up a lot of self-control. No, Victoria, stay away from the Photoshop.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


So I've seen/gagged at a fair amount of "haul videos" on YouTube, wherein girls empty Sephora bags and gush over their new lipsticks. No hate, I do the exact same thing after any shopping trip - just not in front of a webcam. I'm not that type of person. I AM, however, the type of person to write about my book store purchases. Seems fitting, right?

So here it is. My "haul blog post."

There is absolutely not ring to that sentence. Sorry not sorry.

First up: CLEOPATRA, A LIFE by Stacy Schiff. Pretty self-explanatory, a biography of the last queen of Egypt, arguably the most intriguing woman in history.

I've been wanting to pick this book up for ages, I just always seem to forget when I step into Barnes & Noble. P.S. I love Barnes & Noble and will be first in line at the funeral if they go under. Anyway, this little gem was parked right in front of the entrance and was ON SALE. I am, above all things, a sucker for a sale and a good book, and this was BOTH. It was a miracle I tell you. So I grabbed Cleo and continued on towards the book I originally entered the store to buy. Fair warning, I'm one of those people who intends to buy one thing and leaves with 67 others. At least this time it's books and not shoes. Side note: the book is just so pretty. The cover design, the inner cover, the parchment-y pages. I'm in love.

The next book I picked up (still not the one I came into buy) is GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL: THE FATES OF HUMAN SOCIETY by Jared Diamond. This is a nonfiction book that discusses the formation of human societies and how/why Eurasian civilizations were able to rise to such dominance.

By far, this is the second dorkiest book I've ever purchased. The honor of first easily goes to my vast collection of Lord of the Rings reference books (including an atlas, encylopedia, weapons guide etc.). I absolutely love history and, again, I've been wanting this book for a long time. It always ends up in B&N pile and then gets cast aside at the last minute. Today, it made it past the final cut. I'm especially interested in reading this for my own creative purposes - worldbuilding is a hobby/obsession/compulsion of mine and studying well, the building of our own world is the best thing I can do to help stretch those muscles.

Yeah, I know, I just bought two Pulitzer Prize winners. I swear I'm not usually so highbrow. For example, the book I'm currently finishing up is a post-apocalyptic vampire epic.

My last purchase, the one I entered B&N for in the first place, is the one I'm particularly eager to start. It may or may not have to do with one of my works-in-progress.

CATHERINE THE GREAT: PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN by Robert K. Massie is, again self-explanatory, a biography of Catherine the Great, a minor princess who rose to become Empress of Imperial Russia during the 18th century.

I've been wanting this since I started reading NICHOLAS & ALEXANDRA, another Imperial Russian book by Massie. I'm particularly interested in the time period, depicting a woman's rise to the monarchy in a time period much better known for revolutions. Also, I'm really into Imperial Russia and female biographies. This is both. Like GG + S, I'm not reading this entirely for my own entertainment and I'll probably be taking notes while I read. If I remember to. Full disclosure: I never remember to take notes. I do, however, highlight, but only if I have a second copy. (Looking at you, Lord of the Rings). ((Actually that copy fell apart because I read it too much. RIP LotR paperback)).

That's my book haul. Questions, comments, insults?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

the agony and the ecstasy

I am not referring to Michelangelo here, but the impulse that drives - and destroys - anyone who voluntarily puts pen to paper or fingers to keys and creates worlds out of letters. I'm talking about the fundamental need a writer (or screenwriter or author or storyteller or bard or whatever you are, you freaking nitpickers) has to write. To tell a story. I get these quite often and, quiet frankly, they are the best and worst thing I've ever felt. Except for watching Real Housewives.

My moments of pure, unbridled I MUST WRITE OR I WILL DIE usually come when I'm walking out the door or in the shower or anywhere besides right next to my computer. This is a phenomenon all writers know and love/hate, because it reminds of who we are and what we do, but also the terrible pain behind that urge. If I can't write the exact paragraph that's marching through my head at this exact moment, I feel like jumping out of my skin. I've jumped out of the shower, shampoo in my hair, to jot down a sentence or a phrase, or left a party to go home and write. I've even attempted to narrate  to some recording app while navigating standstill traffic. The latter I only did once because I was too embarrassed by the sound of my own voice (I mean, isn't everyone?) to listen to the recording.

But that need is nothing compared to when you actually sit down, crack your knuckles, open up that word processor and suddenly find that all those stories and sentences and oh-so-smart turns of phrase are gone. You are dried up and you haven't even begun. The blank page taunts you. And you deserve it, right? You're a damn writer, you can bang your face against a keyboard and get a coherent sentence out of it! But despite all the button mashing, all the furious playlist creating (because a new playlist WILL help you and no it's not a distraction) all you end up with is the blank page and a lot of frustration. You go to bed pissed, wondering where all that drive went. And, for me, that's exactly when it comes back.

When I was writing THE RED QUEEN, I kept a legal pad behind a pillow so I could jot stuff down. Usually I woke up to incoherent scrawling and pen on my face, but it at least gave the illusion of help. I went back to my computer knowing the drive was somewhere, I just had to find it. So I pushed and typed slowly and fought myself. And that's where the third pain comes in, the one that might be worse than all the others.

I don't know how it is for anyone else, but for me, when I'm really going, I mean when I know every damn letter that's coming for the next twenty pages, I go into a weird little trance. My headphones go in, ambient Nine Inch Nails comes on, and I am a zombie. It doesn't happen often, at least back when I was writing screenplays it didn't, but the last 2 weeks of writing TRQ resulted in two full weeks of blank space. I remember waking up, eating a bagel, and then realizing it was sunset and two chapters were done. The only memory of the moments in between that stays with me is the thought I always have when writing: I am bleeding.

Because that's what writing is to me. I bleed. The connect between my brain and my fingers goes away and the words just happen. I open a vein and somehow pour it all out into a Macbook. This doesn't mean what I write is devastatingly serious or tragic or beautifully intelligent. Quite the opposite, I write to entertain, because that's what I see as my primary goal. Theme and moral and message come later, or else you're just writing a sermon or, at best, an episode of Seventh Heaven. I'm even crazy enough to feel this way when I'm writing something cliche or juvenile or just plain fun. (By fun I mean the zombie vs. cowboys melee that was the third act of my first screenplay). And because it's my blood on the page, it hurts that much more. Where is this going? Is it good? Am I good? All those questions that we all know way too well come haunting, a shadow behind every single letter. 

No one answers back, not for a long time, until the draft is done and you're ready to put that black blood out in the world. I was lucky enough to study screenwriting in college, and get four years of workshop classes under my belt to help me develop a hopefully thicker skin. But I still feel the sting (oh man do I feel it), and I'm sure you do too.

I was never good at conclusion in those five paragraph essay things they made you write in school (or introductions or theses either, come to think of it), and I'm a rambling writer. Again, I'm bleeding out a jumble of words. There isn't much advice in here, if any, but hopefully this post is more of an outstretched hand to remind us that other people understand the agony and the ecstasy. Other people, other writers, know exactly how you feel and how hard it is to do what you do every single day. Writers are, by nature, insular creatures and so we, above all others, need to be reminded that we are not alone.