June 2013 - Issue #2
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June, 2013, Edition:
In Which We Went to
BookExpo America!

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What a whirlwind month it's been! We appeared at BookExpo America, announced our amazing new Australian publisher, made tracks for Mexico and trod the halls of Graceland itself. We're ready for a lie down!

Thanks to those of you who gave us fantastic feedback on last month's newsletter (we're thrilled you loved it!) and congratulations to Kayla B., who won a swag pack for helping spread the word. There's another competition further down, so keep reading!


P.S.: Please be sure to add to your address books--we had some reports last month of our newsletter going straight to spam boxes!

In this edition...

RECAP: Book Expo America

BookExpo America is one of the largest publishing trade events in the world, and every year authors, publishers, bloggers and fans converge on New York to brave the crowds and come together over what they all love best: books. We knew we were going to have a ball this year, but we had no idea it was going to be THIS much fun!
For those of you who've never been to BEA, it's in a MASSIVE conference hall, with booths for each publisher set up in rows. The Disney booth was our command center, not least because we got to keep coming back to see our book as a big standee. Yes, we are totally posing with it like massive geeks. Because that's what we are. (Meg may or may not have smuggled that thing home on the plane with her.)

The most fun we had was at our signing for THESE BROKEN STARS on Thursday. We were signing at the same time as some truly amazing authors, which meant that we were completely caught off-guard—in the best way possible—by the length of our line. (Check it out on the right here!) We heard that people were already lining up for it 45 minutes ahead of time, which absolutely blew us away. Thank you, guys!

This was the first time we've ever gotten to sign our book together, so it was a truly unforgettable experience for us both. We're so grateful to the Disney team for bringing us to BEA, and continually amazed by the awesome fans and supporters who keep showing how excited they are for THESE BROKEN STARS. You guys ROCK, and we're so lucky to have you!

NEWS: We have new Australian best friends!

Australia is Amie's home, and Meg's lovingly adopted home, so the question of an Australian publisher has been near and dear to our hearts. Our wonderful US publisher, Disney*Hyperion, has found us the ultimate love connection: Allen & Unwin.

Allen & Unwin publish some of our FAVOURITE Australian authors—from Garth Nix and Margo Lanagan to fabulous debuts Amy Tintera and Lenore Appelhans! We might be writers, but there are no words to describe the happy dancing that went on when we heard the news (and thankfully for all of us, there are no pictures, we're not good dancers).

We cannot WAIT to see THESE BROKEN STARS on shelves in Australia, and for those Aussies reading this, brace for a party in Melbourne come launch time!


Since we know you guys love sneak peek content so much, we decided to put up the ENTIRE first chapter of SHADOWLARK for you!

Here's the first page--click it to go to the PDF, where you can read the rest of it.

f you haven't read the first book, SKYLARK, you're safe reading the excerpt below. This page is spoiler free, but you might want to wait on reading the rest of the chapter.

Happy peeking!

Click to read the entire first chapter!

Want to read more? Click here to read the entire first chapter!

Pre-order SHADOWLARK from your favorite bookseller!

Books We Love

(And which you should read!)

THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle

The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien's The Hobbit, Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood.

The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others. She meets Schmendrick the Magician--whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended--when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions. They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.

Meg says...

"Many people have seen the animated movie version of The Last Unicorn, but nowhere near enough have read the book. It's hands down one of my all-time favorites, and it gets better with every time I read the book. This was the first book I read that made me fall in love with beautiful prose. The entire novel is a fairy tale, but one unlike anything you've ever read. If you haven't read it, you MUST. Immediately."

About Us...

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

SHADOWLARK comes out Oct. 1, 2013, and THESE BROKEN STARS is coming Dec. 10, 2013!

Answer Me This: Megan Shepherd

Answers from authors in a hundred words or less!

What keeps you writing?

"Now that my first book is out, hearing from readers is the best motivation to keep writing. I keep a folder of fan mail, and hang fan art around my desk, and whenever I feel discouraged or like my writing doesn’t matter, I look back at my correspondence with readers and remember that my book really connected with someone, and made them laugh, or cry, or just entertained them. There is no better feeling in the world!"

—Megan Shepherd,
author of The Madman's Daughter

Quote of the Month

"Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it."
— Lloyd Alexander

SKYLARK is available now!
This dark, twisty dystopian fantasy debut, called "a novel you don't want to miss" by New York Times bestseller Veronica Rossi, is the first in a trilogy from author Meagan Spooner. Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio!
Get it now!


SHADOWLARK on Goodreads!

Enter to win an advance reader copy of SHADOWLARK on Goodreads. Open internationally!


Enter to win an advance reader copy of THESE BROKEN STARS on Goodreads. Open internationally!

In Search of the Write Space

The most recent "In Search of the Write Space" featured ABANDON author Elana Johnson. Enter to win copies of the entire POSSESSION trilogy!

Writing Tip of the Month

How do you write a great villain? Amie volunteered to take this one—though she prefers her villains with twirly mustaches and evil laughs, she knows they come in all shapes and sizes.

Amie Says...

"Now, a villain doesn't need to be a 'who'—it could be an illness, something entirely in the protagonist's head (like a lack of self-confidence), or as is the case in These Broken Stars, a hostile landscape. I'm going to keep this brief, though, and concentrate on villains of the human(ish) variety. For me, the key is to remember the villain is the hero of his or her own storythat means your villain needs to believe, in their own way, that they're in the right. Get that part down, and you'll ensure your villain is three-dimensional, and your story is more layered."

Peek Inside

We open one of our books to a random page and share a brief excerpt!

"Because no one survived!" he snaps, turning finally so I can see the fierceness in his features, the rawness of dashed hopes, and the weariness that has replaced them. He takes a slow breath, not unlike what he usually does when trying not to rise to my bait. This time, though, the tension drains when he exhales.

"They're all dead, Lilac."

by Amie Kaufman and
Meagan Spooner

So What's Next?

Amie and Meg share what they're working on now, and what's coming in the future!

"What a month it's been! I had a ball catching up with Meg in person at BEA, and I had the chance to hang out with my awesome literary agents Josh and Tracey Adams, as well as a heap of amazing people from our publisher, and some wonderful booksellers and bloggers. It was great to meet everyone in person! I road-tripped through the South first and ate my weight in barbecue, visited Graceland and learned a lot of civil war history, as well as reading some great books -- it'll be my turn to recommend one next month! For now, it's heads down and to work on Book 3 of THESE BROKEN STARS. We're up to a bit I've been really looking forward to writing!"

"BookExpo America was unbelievably cool, and just as unbelievably draining. It's kind of an introvert's worst nightmare (but in the best way possible). I'm just now getting my groove back, and looking forward to finishing Book 3 in the SKYLARK trilogy. I've just gotten to an entirely kickass part of the story, so it's full steam ahead right now! (I can say that, you see, because I'm in the drafting-and-everything-is-awesome stage. I'll get to the I-suck-and-everything-I-write-is-terrible stage later. It's all scheduled, you see.)"

Newsletter Exclusive Contest!

To thank you guys for subscribing, we're offering up a giveaway open to ONLY our loyal subscribers! To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter form. At the end of the month, we'll pick a random winner to receive a pack of signed swag for SKYLARK and for THESE BROKEN STARS, and announce the winner in next month's newsletter.

And the best part is: this contest is international!

Amie Kaufman News + Updates

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New York Times bestselling author of the Skylark Trilogy and co-author of the Starbound Trilogy (TH
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The Latest From Our Blogs...

Oct 07, 2016 08:02 am | Nick Crowhurst

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Oct 07, 2016 07:59 am | Nick Crowhurst

The second instalment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war. Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating […]

Apr 01, 2015 12:02 pm | shadows and spaceships

This is a tough question because no two writers follow the same path to publication or to full-time writer-dom. And there are so many sub-categories to this answer, so I’m just going to give the broad strokes here. Feel free to follow up with specifics if I don’t address your question! Warning: this is also really long. I apologize in advance. But it’s a BIG question. More under the cut, to spare people just scrolling past from getting a huge block of text. ;) 


The first thing you should know is that very few writers (statistically speaking) support themselves entirely on their writing work as full-time writers. Many very successful authors I know have other jobs and/or spouses to support the writing career, especially because being a self-employed artist comes with zero benefits of the financial kind.

Someone out there is going to disagree with me, I’m sure, but I strongly believe that you should never, ever become an artist of any kind for the money. For one thing, it’s way too easy to be disappointed if you never make it big, and for that disappointment to taint your love of creating art. I always tell people to ask themselves this question: If I never get paid a dime for my work, and I knew RIGHT NOW that I’d never get paid a dime for it, would I still do it? It’s okay for the answer to that question to be no! But it’s something worth knowing about yourself and your work, so that you can continue to reevaluate your goals as you move forward.

Now, I’m NOT telling all this to scare you. Far from it. I love being a writer, and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other job in the world. I’m also not trying to discourage you. But others WILL try to discourage you (every single writer out there can tell you about some naysayer who told him or her to study accounting instead) so I’m just laying out the realities so you’ll be prepared when others throw them at you.

SO. First of all, be prepared to work another job while you write (which it sounds like you are: teaching!). You may have to spend many years cramming your writing into lunch breaks and late night or early morning sessions. This can, strangely, help productivity. If you know you’ve only got an hour to write before you’ve got to go back to your job, you’ll end up writing like the wind.

Secondly, if you can afford to take a year to write before starting at another job, that’s fantastic. SEIZE THAT OPPORTUNITY, because it’s invaluable. Make the most of it. Just don’t bank on having a steady writing income by the time the year’s up. While it might happen, there’s no guarantee, so be prepared for what you’ll do if you’re not published by then.

Some advice on what to do to prepare for being a professional writer:

  • Read a lot. And not just for entertainment, though I’m a firm believer that life is short, so read what you want. ;) But read critically. If you read something you really love, go back and try to figure out how the author did what he or she did. What about this character made you fall in love? What about that plot twist made it so satisfying?
  • Write a lot. A lot of people disparage the idea of writing every day. I used to be one of them. I also never finished a novel until I tried it, and that experience made me a convert. But whatever it is, come up with a system for making yourself write regularly. The point is to start making the conversion in your head from “hobby” to “job.” This doesn’t mean it has to stop being fun, though your relationship with writing may change, which is okay.
  • Share your work. Find someone to read your work critically. There are a lot of great blog posts out there about how to find a critique partner, so I won’t go into it here. But getting used to both sharing your work and receiving both positive and negative feedback on it is invaluable. It gets easier the more you do it. It never gets EASY (at least it hasn’t for me!) but it gets easier.
  • Study the business. Follow writers on social media. Follow their agents. Follow their publishers. Read articles about how to get published, and read them from a variety of sources, because there are differing opinions that are all still valid. Read Publisher’s Marketplace and get a feel for what sort of books are selling right now, and how they’re pitched. When I began writing my first full novel (which ended up being Skylark) I started studying how one gets published, entirely via the internet. It helped motivate me to keep going, and by the time I’d finished writing the novel, I knew my plan of action when it came to querying agents.
  • And yes. Get an agent. Some writers do work without them, but personally, I am so grateful for mine and absolutely believe it’s worth the 15% commission. Not only do I think I would’ve struggled to get published at all without one, I KNOW I wouldn’t be making enough money to be full-time. All that aside, agents handle so much of the day-to-day junk that comes with writing—dealing with your publisher, fighting your fights for you, keeping track of income for tax purposes, selling to foreign publishers you’ve never even heard of, and a million other things. If you want to be traditionally published (as opposed to self-published) get an agent.
  • Set goals you can control. Don’t fall into the trap of “If I can just ________, I’ll be happy.” Because that bar keeps moving. You might think that getting an agent will make you happy, but then once you get one, you realize that now you’ve got to go on submission to publishers. Then it might be just selling your book that’ll make you happy, but then you have to see how it actually does in the market. Getting fans and followers. Selling another book. Getting to go on tour. Getting good critical reviews. Hitting various bestseller lists. Selling movie rights. These are all things over which you have next to no control, and if you make these things your goals, you’re going to be disappointed sooner or later. They can be dreams (because you should never stop dreaming) but don’t make them goals you HAVE to achieve to find satisfaction in your work. Set long term goals like “I’m going to finish my novel this year” and short term goals like “each week I’m going to research one new agent.” The rest will happen, or not happen, by itself.

The future IS scary. Trust me, it doesn’t stop being scary as far as I know. And if you’re looking for security, a career as a writer is not likely to provide a fear-free life. But in my experience, facing that fear gets easier with time. The first few years after publication are fraught with ups and downs as the reality of the business sets in. I’m still afraid, all the time, that my own career is a soap bubble dream that’ll burst if I look at it too hard. But fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I choose consciously to make that fear a positive, because it motivates me. (Sometimes I’m better at this conscious choice than other times.) I work hard because I love my work and don’t ever want it taken away from me, because what on earth else would I do for a living? I use my fear to drive me.

So it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re scared. Just don’t let your fear immobilize you. Bravery is going ahead despite being afraid, and art, ANY kind of art, is bravery. Every single one of us was scared too. You’re going to pour your heart onto a page and then ask someone you’ve never met to love it. It’s scary. But you can do it.

You can do it.

The post What steps should I take to become a full time writer? I’m graduating uni soon & plan to take a year off to write and then I’ll get qualified in teaching the year after but I really hope I can earn a living through my writing. The future scares me :( appeared first on Meagan Spooner.

Dec 02, 2014 11:41 am | shadows and spaceships

If you’ve ever wanted to study writing craft but don’t have the time or resources for an MFA or a full-time workshop, this is for you. The Odyssey Writing Workshop offers online courses, and this is the last week to register for the next session! The courses offered this time are “Showing vs. Telling,” “Crafting Compelling Scenes,” and “Effective Endings.”

I attended the full 6-week Odyssey workshop in 2009 and it was one of the best things I ever did for my writing career. Learning to do consciously what I’d previously done on instinct meant a wooooorld of difference when it came to writing and revising my work, and getting it publication-ready.

So check it out, and be sure to pass this along to any other aspiring writers out there who might be interested! Here’s where you can learn more about it.

The post If you’ve ever wanted to study writing craft but… appeared first on Meagan Spooner.

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