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Writing Advice

Now that I’m established in my career as an author, I’m more frequently asked what my advice is for aspiring writers. After putting together a response for one lovely reader, I thought it might be helpful to share these notes more broadly. Without further ado, here are a few broad pieces of advice that have helped me along my writing journey.

1) Write a terrible first draft. Even your most favorite published writers write horrible (or at least imperfect) first drafts, and if they claim otherwise, they’re probably lying. Anne Lamott’s book Bird By Bird sums this up well. Here’s the relevant excerpt in case you don’t have the book on hand.  Give yourself permission to write a bad first draft, knowing that when you revise it you can make it shine and do justice to your great ideas.

Caveat: some people do better writing fast/sloppy first drafts, and others find more success writing slowly and polishing as they go. Use the method that works best for you; the takeaway is that it is okay to write bad first drafts because words on the page you can edit and polish (either at the end or as you go) are always better than a blank page.

2) Stop writing for the day in the middle of an interesting or exciting scene. If I end a writing session without completing a scene I find compelling and exciting, it will help me dive back into the writing the next day with lots of momentum. If I stop at the conclusion of a scene I had fun with, I often struggle to dive back in the next day and end up procrastibaking five dozen cookies and scrubbing the bathroom tile and ultimately failing to get anything done on my novel.

3) Lean on your friends. People like to romanticize writing as a solitary art–the creative genius sitting alone in his/her/zir/their room churning out material that is publishable without a single minute of revision (lies!). Some writers work well in isolation. Many do not at all. I like to feel like I can do anything by myself, so it took me a long time to accept that I need help from my friends to write books. But the truth is that I write much better when I look to my friends for inspiration and support. Lean on them and let their faith in you carry you through. They can help you talk through plot problems or alpha read and give positive feedback. (Yes, it is totally okay to have alpha readers who read for the sole purpose of positive reinforcement. Fanfiction is also great for this.)

4) Self accept; don’t self-reject. It is so, so easy to tell yourself you are not good enough or can’t execute an idea you know is great. However, that will get you nowhere. Write that terrible first draft anyway! Every book you write will make you a better writer. You will learn more by actually writing than from reading any book about craft or from anyone’s advice (including mine). You don’t have to be perfect at the outset. Just remember that YOU are the only one who can write your particular book in your particular voice and help bring to life the ideas you have. The only way you fail is by telling yourself you can’t do it. I spent a lot of time in high school telling myself I wasn’t good enough and therefore not trying, and I regret all that wasted time.

Good luck, and I wish you all the best with your writing!

PS: The sequel to Of Fire and Stars is finally out! Here are some places you can buy it if you’re so inclined.

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository (free international shipping!)

How to preorder signed copies of OF ICE AND SHADOWS!

I’ve received a few questions about how to get signed copies of Of Ice and Shadows when the book releases on August 13 in just a couple of weeks. In fact, you’ll be able to order signed copies of any of my books around that time. Here’s how!

On August 17 I’ll be doing an event for Bookstore Romance Day at Creating Conversations bookstore in Redondo Beach, CA. I’ll be signing books at that event. To place an order for a signed copy of Of Ice and Shadows (or any of my other books!) please call Creating Conversations at 310-542-6000 between 10am and 5pm Pacific Time between now and August 8. Orders must be placed on or before August 8, 2019, so that there is time for the store to receive the books and get them signed. Then the books will be shipped to you!

In summary:


STARWORLD Cover Reveal + Giveaway!

Earlier this week the cover reveal for STARWORLD happened over at Young Adult Books Central. To learn more about the book and to enter the giveaway (US/Canada), go check out the post at YABC!

STARWORLD Cover Reveal and Giveaway

You can also add the book to your Goodreads here:
STARWORLD on Goodreads

Or pre-order from any of these retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository (free international shipping!)

INKMISTRESS Pre-Order Information


Where to Pre-Order Signed Copies (worldwide)!

If you’d like to pre-order a signed copy of Inkmistress, please order from One More Page books as part of the NoVa Teen Book Festival (bonus, you can also order signed paperbacks of Of Fire and Stars)!

Pre-order a signed copy of Inkmistress here

Order a signed paperback of Of Fire and Stars here



Inkmistress Pre-Order Swag!

If you’re in the US or Canada, you’re also eligible for some fun pre-order bonuses from me no matter where you pre-ordered from. Just email your pre-order receipt and mailing address to offireandstars(at)gmail(dot)com (US/Canada only). You’ll receive a signed bookplate, a dragon charm, and an Inkmistress bookmark.

Happy reading, everyone!


INKMISTRESS Cover Reveal + Giveaway!

Last week the cover for INKMISTRESS was revealed over at Young Adult Books Central. INKMISTRESS takes place in the same world as OF FIRE AND STARS, 200 years earlier. The real name of the book should probably be OF BISEXUALITY AND BLOODSHED. It’s the story of Asra, a demigod with the ability to change the past or the future by writing in her blood, but only at the cost of her youth. To learn more about the book and to enter the giveaway (international), go check out the post at YABC!

INKMISTRESS Cover Reveal and Giveaway

You can also add the book to your Goodreads here:
INKMISTRESS on Goodreads

Or pre-order from any of these retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository (free international shipping!)

OF FIRE AND STARS Secret Signing in London!

Psst…hey you, over in the UK!

I’m going to be in London for a few days. Want to get tea or coffee and talk books with me?

If there is enough interest and commitment, I’ll host a meetup the afternoon of 26 March at a secret location, likely near King’s Cross.

Please note: I do not have a UK publisher, so you must order your book online and bring your own copy of the book to be signed. If you don’t have the ability to order online but REALLY want to buy a signed copy of the book, please indicate that in your RSVP and we will try to work that out (I’ll need to know no later than 21 March).

RSVP Here!

How to Support Your Author Friends!

Of Fire and Stars will finally be out tomorrow. Eep! People often ask, “what can I do to help you as an author?” Here are a few ways to help, many of which won’t even cost you anything.

Buy the book! You can even go one step further and purchase it from your local independent bookstore. Here are some retailers where you can purchase Of Fire and Stars:

Purchase copies of the book to give as gifts (or to donate to your local library).

Request the book from your local library & talk to your librarian about it.

Leave a nice review on a retail site like Amazon. It can even just be one sentence. Quantity matters when it comes to reviews!

Recommend the book to your friends or book club. Word of mouth is everything.

Read your friend’s book in a public place.

Discourage people from pirating books (and please don’t do it yourself). Request the book at your library instead. Pirating books means that authors don’t get paid. Every sale really does matter.

Please be kind and resist the urge to rearrange shelves at bookstores. Booksellers work hard to keep everything organized. Instead, strike up a conversation with a bookseller and tell them about your friend’s book!

Friends, family, and readers have made my journey to publication possible. Thank you all so much for your support. I couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Pre-Order for Prizes!

The US/Canada pre-order campaign for OF FIRE AND STARS is live today!

If you already pre-ordered, you’re eligible. Swag packs include bookmarks, stickers, and limited edition character art cards created by the incredible Nate Hallinan.

Pre-orders and regular orders will be accepted through November 27, 2016. Best of all, if you’d like to pre-order a signed copy that includes the bonus swag, you can do so through BookPeople!

Learn more here!

STARWORLD: YA Contemporary Coming Fall 2018!

I’m delighted to announce that Kaylan Adair at Candlewick Press has acquired STARWORLD, a YA contemporary I co-authored with Paula Garner (Phantom Limbs, Candlewick 2016). Here is the deal announcement from Publisher’s Weekly:

Starworld Deal Announcement

This book contains an imaginary hot-sauce-fueled dragon, many bizarre curse words, and a huge piece of my heart. STARWORLD is about the power of friendship, the way a fantastical private universe can grow between two people, and how sometimes those who see us clearly and teach us the most about ourselves are the people we least expect. Writing it required me to let go of some negative perceptions of my teen self that I held onto and believed were true well into adulthood—and I never could have done that without Paula.

Like Zoe and Sam, the main characters in STARWORLD, Paula and I are seemingly very different on paper, but at the heart of our friendship is an understanding upon which everything else is built. Both the writing of this book and my friendship with Paula have changed me for the better, and I’m so grateful for and humbled by that. No other manuscript has ever been so much fun to work on, or cut so close to the bone. I hope readers will feel that, too.

Thank you so much Kaylan and Candlewick for giving our book such a good home! I can’t wait to share it with the world in 2018.

If you’d like to add STARWORLD to your to-be-read list, you can do so on Goodreads!

The OF FIRE AND STARS cover + bonus giveaway!

The wait is overthe Of Fire and Stars cover is finally here! Without further ado:

Of Fire and Stars Cover

The team at Balzer + Bray did an incredible job. I could not be more delighted that they put both main characters on the cover holding hands.

To celebrate the reveal I’m doing a giveaway that runs through 2/22/16. All you have to do is tweet or instagram the cover of the book (or a link to the Epic Reads reveal) with the hashtag #OfFireandStars to be entered for a chance to win a copy of Emily Skrutskie’s book The Abyss Surrounds Us, a signed Of Fire and Stars bookmark, and a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.