Brainstorming Cress Swag! Suggestions Welcome

Posted on: 13th Sep 2013  /   Categorized: Cress

As I take a little break in between contests and giveaways, I’ve been starting to think about one of my favorite aspects of promoting a new book:




In the past, my publisher and I have done: bookmarks, stickers, temporary tattoos, pins, fortune cookies, sweatshirts, lip gloss, mirrors, magnets, postcards, bracelets, scarves, and book plates.


(Good heavens, when I list it all out like that, I’m kind of impressed!)


And now that the CRESS cover has been revealed, it’s time to order up some fun goodies for future events and giveaways.

swag pack


My publisher will be joining in the swag  fun again, too! For Cinder they made up small mirrors, for Scarlet there was watermelon lipgloss and these awesome red sweatshirts, and I think they’re thinking of doing combs or hair accessories for Cress? So fun and girly!

As for me, I’ll definitely be doing bookmarks and pins again, because those are always popular. Though I think I’ll be broadening some of the pins’ saying. (Someone has suggested “Kai is my Prince Charming,” “Thorne is my Captain,” and “Wolf is my Alpha” pins, which I’m rather fond of!)

swag pins

I’m going to try to mix in some more guy-appropriate sayings as well. Boys, if you have suggestions, let me know!


As for book-specific goodies, for Cinder my Mom made nuts-and-bolts bracelets, plus I had special fortune cookies made, which were so much fun . . . until they went stale, lol.



I did temporary tattoos for Scarlet, including LSOP tattoos.

Iko tattoo


As for Cress, I thought maybe Lunar Chronicles-themed postcards, like those fun retro ones. “Welcome to New Beijing!” “With love from Luna!” etc.


On that note, I could also doing wedding invitation postcards….. *cough cough*


Or maybe bumper stickers? “My other vehicle is a Rampion” perhaps?


I’m not sure how feasible it would be money-wise, but I also thought “portscreen” iPod skins would be fun, since Cress is the musical one of the group. But everyone has different iPods these days, so maybe iPhone or iPad skins instead? Hmmmm.


Other ideas:


- satellite keychains

- Commonwealth chopsticks

- Chronicles messenger bags/book bags

- Notepads or sticky notes

- T-shirts


And that’s all I’ve come up with so far, but I’ll keep brainstorming.


I’m interested in hearing your ideas! Have you been impressed with author swag before? What Lunar Chronicles goodies would you riot for?

And the Winner is . . . . .

Posted on: 12th Sep 2013  /   Categorized: Cress

The votes are in and tallied and WE HAVE A WINNER for the Lunar Chronicles Pinterest Board Contest!

In fact….


There was a tie for first place, with each board coming in with exactly 213 votes.

Big round of applause to:

“Cress” by Alyssa Hollingsworth


“Tour through the World of the Lunar Chronicles” by Metamorphose

Both of your boards are stunning, clever, well-organized, and of exemplary craftsmanship. Bravo, Alyssa and Metamorphose! Each of you will receive a signed ARC of CRESS along with some swag. Because everyone loves swag.

And many, many thanks to everyone who participated and voted.

Didn’t win? Never fear! Another creativity-based contest to win an ARC of CRESS will be announced within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Pinterest Finalists Announced! Cast your vote!

Posted on: 3rd Sep 2013  /   Categorized: Cress

WOW, you guys. Every time I host one of these creativity contests, I feel certain that it can’t possibly be that hard to choose the finalists. And every time I am proven ridiculously incorrect.

There were a total of 186 entries in the Pinterest Board Contest.

After my initial perusal of them, I managed to narrow it down to 53 finalists. 53!

*falls over laughing*

But I did, after much, much contemplation, manage to get that number down to my Top 6. And it was not easy. Oh, how not-easy it was.

BUT! Before I get to the finalists and the voting, I want to first give an enormous round of applause to….


“Cinder Retelling Pinterest Style” by Natalie DePalma: Natalie gives a breakdown of the entire plot of Cinder (note: spoilers!), but makes it entirely her own with some of the quirkiest, most random images to illustrate the plot twists! I LOL’d more than once.

“Dr. Erland’s Portscreen” by Merili Roberts & “Peony’s Portscreen” by Margaret Ann Hazelton: I’m combining these two because they have similar themes – each one pins items you would find on the characters’ portscreens. Not only are the pins themselves true to character, but their descriptions are told from Dr. E’s and Peony’s own perspectives, and their personalities are captured perfectly!

“The Lunar Chronicles: Cress” by Alazia Hurte-Cannon: This board might win for the most original concept out of all 186 entries. Alazia has made a board of the Lunar Chronicles characters… but as if they were all ballerines. Super clever idea, and the pictures are gorgeous!

“Trapped in a Tower” by Erin Kelly: This board compiles everything that Cress would do to pass the time while she’s stuck in her satellite – from origami to crochet to fancy hairstyles. I adore the board both for its accuracy (Cress WOULD do these things!) and also because I want to try half the projects on here!

Well done, all of you!
Now then, on to the finalists!
In order to narrow down the entries, I considered each board on the following factors:

1. Originality of the board concept
2. Effort involved in compiling (or creating) the pins
3. How well organized and curated the board is
4. How well The Lunar Chronicles are represented
5. How well the board takes advantage of pin descriptions

The finalists all received high marks in at least four, if not all five, categories. Please take the time to peruse the boards yourself, and – down below – vote for the board you think deserves to be the grand prize winner!


“Cress” by Alyssa Hollingsworth
“If I were trying to brainstorm for CRESS, these are the pictures I’d use as inspiration (organized into character, setting, and other categories for your convenience).”

“Epidemics and Outbreaks” by Sarah Smith
“Based on the letumosis plague (a.k.a. Blue Fever) found in the Lunar Chronicles, this board shows a history of Earth’s diseases and plagues in years past.”

“LC by Me” by Abbi Whozit
“This board is made of things inspired by the books and made by me, hence the badly-rhyming name.”


“The Lunar Chronicles (Cress Contest)” by Cathryn Martyn-Dow Jensen
“My theme is LC-related typography. I love graphic design, and you’d be amazed what you can do with some radical fonts and maybe a cool picture or ten.”

“New Fashionistas of 126 T.E. High Fashion Heroines of the Lunar Chronicles” by Christina
“This is Fashion Chronicles NetBlog of High Fashion for our New Beijing Subscribers of all that is La Mode. Straight to Your Netscreens!! August 126 T.E. Topic: The Styles and Flair of the Young Women who have inspired a new generation of Fairy Tale Dreams.”

“Tour through the World of the Lunar Chronicles” by Metamorphose
“Welcome to the wondrous world of the Lunar Chronicles. My name is Iko, and I’ll be your virtual tour guide for the next *bzzzt* 37 minutes. Let’s get started!”


NOTE: Please do click through and read the board and pin descriptions before voting, as you can really only get a feel for the effort that went into the boards by viewing them in their entirety. Thank you!

Please vote for ONE finalist. You may only vote once.

Winners will be announced on Wednesday. The entrant with the most votes will win a signed ARC of CRESS.

Voting for this contest has ended. Congrats to the winners!



Blogging Hiatus

Posted on: 5th Aug 2013  /   Categorized:

Now that the Cress cover art has been revealed


and the Pinterest Board Contest is under way


I’m taking a blogging hiatus!


I’ll be spending the next few weeks reading lots of books, watching lots of movies, finishing up some projects around the house, and taking a highly anticipated vacation.


I’ll be back in early September to announce the Pinterest contest finalists. Until then, happy pinning, everyone!

Important Change to Pinterest Board Contest

Posted on: 1st Aug 2013  /   Categorized: Cress

Since yesterday, I’ve learned that Pinterest will only tell me that I’ve been tagged in a pin if I already follow the person who tagged me. Which isn’t going to work.


So instead!


To submit your Pinterest board entry, please send the board’s link/URL to me using the contact form on my web site:


Sorry for the confusion, and good luck!

Cress Cover Revealed!! (+ A Lunar Chronicles Pinterest Contest!)

Posted on: 31st Jul 2013  /   Categorized: Cress

GO HERE GO HERE GO HERE! to see the exclusive cover art reveal from!


Plus a brand new teaser excerpt!


And an interview with yours truly!



I am SO ENAMORED with this cover, and I hope you all love it too. Please comment on the article and let me know what you think!


The rumor is that it will also be in this weekend’s print issue of USAToday, if you’re wanting a special keepsake. *squee!*


And here is a new chance for you to win an advance copy!


The Lunar Chronicles Pinterest Contest


Are you on Pinterest, or have you been looking for a reason to sign up? Well here it is!


Create a Lunar Chronicles-inspired Pinterest Board for your chance to win a signed advance copy of CRESS.


How to Enter


1. Create a board on Pinterest with a theme that in some way relates to the Lunar Chronicles. Do you want to make a New Beijing recipe board? An awesome cyborg technology board? A moon-themed fashion board? Be creative! Anything goes!


2. In the description of the board, explain how the board’s theme relates to the Lunar Chronicles.


3. Pin away!




- There must be at least 10 pins in order to be qualified for the contest.


- ONE of those pins must be the CRESS cover, which you can re-pin directly from here. (That said, the cover does not have to otherwise relate to your board’s theme.)


4. Follow me at and then tag me in ONE pin on your board. This is how I will know to enter your board in the contest finalists. Please do not tag me more than once or invite me to pin to the board.


4. Due to silly Pinterest rules, I am changing the method for submitting your board. Instead, please send the link/URL of your board through the contact form on my web site:


And that’s it!




- All entries must be received by midnight PST, August 31, 2013.


- I will collect all entries on my Pinterest page so that fans can view and enjoy.


- I will post the finalists of my choice, with links, here on the blog in early September. Finalists will be chosen based on originality and creativity. Readers will vote to determine the final winners.


- TWO winners will each receive a signed ARC of CRESS: Book Three of the Lunar Chronicles.


- Open internationally!


Good luck!


Subplots, Character Arcs, and Color Coding: My Process for Major Revisions

Posted on: 29th Jul 2013  /   Categorized: Winter

As we near the end of July, I’m about halfway through Draft #2 of WINTER: Book Four of the Lunar Chronicles, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about my process for tackling this book, before I forget what I was doing when I took all of these very impressive looking photos.



For me, the first draft of a novel is all about getting to know the characters and figuring out what this story is about. Although I’m an outliner, the first draft inevitably veers away from that outline as I uncover plot twists that hadn’t occurred to me and character motivations that I’d been previously unaware of.



Which makes the second draft the “making it all work” draft. Now I know where I’m going with the plot, the major points I want to hit, and I have a general idea of how the characters grow and change over the course of the story. I just need to rewrite, revise, and re-arrange it all in a way that makes sense and (hopefully) keeps the reader engaged throughout it all.



This is the process I devised for wrangling the massive, complex plot I’d unearthed in WINTER’s first draft.



1. Read through the draft. First, to refamiliarize myself with the story (which I wrote in early 2011), simultaneously taking notes on things that need to change and things I think could be stronger: where the plot gets convoluted, where character motivations seem weak, what is working and what isn’t. I may make notes in the file for smaller changes I plan to make, but I don’t bother changing anything right now. Mostly I’m just making a list of ideas as they come to me.


2. While reading the draft and taking notes, I also make my scene list. The scene list is easily my favorite tool when it comes to revising. Simply: It’s a list in which every scene in the book is summarized down to just two or three sentences. It allows me to see the major plot points and how the story progresses from beginning to middle to end, without getting bogged down with any superfluous information.


3. Determine the major plot threads and subplots—assign each one a color. WINTER is the first book for which I’ve been this neurotic about keeping my subplots straight, but it’s complex enough that it felt warranted. Every major conflict (the war, the plague, Cinder vs. Levana), every major character arc, every romantic subplot—they all need to have something that resembles a beginning, a middle, and an end. They all need to face obstacles and set-backs. They all need to grow and change over the course of the story.


All in all, I counted sixteen plot threads in WINTER. That’s a lot to keep track of!


(At this point, I also began organizing those notes I’d taken in Step One, noting which plot thread each one most relates to. For example, if I’d made a note during my read-through that I needed to find a way to give more closure regarding the letumosis antidote, I would put that note under the Plague plot thread.)


4. Using their assigned colors, I indicate each plot thread throughout the scene list. Does this chapter relate to Winter’s character arc? Does this one involve a new obstacle in Cinder’s attempt to undermine Levana? Then it’s highlighted to correspond with that plot thread.



Most chapters relate to more than one subplot at a time, and you’ll probably find that the most pinnacle chapters often bring three or more subplots together all at once, so this can get messy.


But then, when you’re done highlighting, you are given a very telling view of your entire book.


At a glance, you can see:


- which subplots tend to be completely ignored

- which subplots are all clumped up near the beginning or near the end

- which subplots remain stagnant, with no increasing stakes or suspense, for long portions of the story


5. I separate the scenes and lay them out by subplot ,so I can work on each one individually. After cutting the scene list into little strips of paper, so that each scene is on its own, I pull out one plot thread at a time and begin to analyze. What could I do to make this plot thread stronger? How could I reorganize the events to make them more suspenseful? What obstacles could I add to make it more intense?


Note: I found that this method only worked for about a third of my plot threads – namely, the major ones. Subplots, such as how a character grows during the story, or the romance arcs, tend to hinge on those other major plots, and are therefore harder to isolate.


And so, once I had each major plot thread more-or-less figured out, it was time to…


6. Put it all back together. This requires much staring and thinking and brainstorming. Much shuffling around. Many notes about what will change in each existing scene. Many sticky notes indicating brand new scenes that need to be added. Much more rearranging. Until finally I felt as though each major plot works together and plays on each other to create a single interwoven story.


Then I went back to dealing with those subplots…


7. More color-coordinating. By this time, all those pretty highlights I’d made at the beginning had stopped being effective because things had changed so much. So I decided to use colored markers I’d found in a board game to once again indicate which scenes related to which plot threads.


Once again able to see (at a glance) which subplots were weak or unbalanced, I added more notes and more scenes to strengthen them.


8. Transcribe the changes to thescene list (or Scrivener). Once I felt that I had done as much as I could to make a strong novel, short of actually writing it, I made the necessary changes on my Scrivener cork board (or you could notate it all on that handy dandy scene list). I rearranged the scenes from the first draft that needed rearranging. I added the summaries of the new scenes I’d come up with. I made notes about ways to show how this romance is tried in this chapter, how this character is made to question their motives here, how this chapter is meant to bring closure to this particular subplot, how I must mention here that the character has a weapon (foreshadowing a time in the future that they’ll have to use it), and on and on.


9. Then, finally, I start in on Draft #2. Self-explanatory, I hope.


This entire process took about two weeks, which is significantly longer than I would normally spend on planning a revision draft, except this book is just so long and so complicated. In the end, I suspect taking the time to do this has saved me months of additional revision work.


That said—I wish I could say that putting all this forethought and planning into my first revision draft has made it an absolute breeze. But the fact is, no amount of planning will keep plots from shifting, character motives from changing, and little interesting details from creeping up during the actual writing of a scene and throwing you for a tailspin. I’m still constantly making changes to that scene list and reworking plot threads that had seemed perfect when they were laid out on my dining room table, but I’ve since realized have an unexpected flaw in them. I’m already making a list of things I want to change and fix in Draft #3.


But this process has given me a foundation to work from, and the confidence that—no matter what changes—this story has a beginning and a middle and an end, and all plot threads are at least accounted for. There will be more work to do later, but this gave me a place to start, which is often the scariest part of any draft.

Designing a Dream Writing Cottage

Posted on: 25th Jul 2013  /   Categorized: Writing Life

Years ago, I read an article in Writer’s Digest about an author who had a personal writing cottage in their backyard, constructed from beautiful vintage windows and surrounded by a quaint English garden. That’s been a dream of mine ever since, but one that always lingered behind all the other dreams. I have a Pinterest board of Writing Spaces that I hope will inspire me one day, but for the most part, my vision of an ideal writing cottage has been something of a blur.


Except for one particular detail.


I wanted it to have a vintage Dutch door.


Why? Good question. I don’t know. I just like them.


Well, a few weeks ago, my husband and I were wandering through a shop of reclaimed building materials in Seattle and stumbled upon, what else? A vintage Dutch door.


Dutch door


Well, I couldn’t resist!


And now we have to figure out what to do with it, which means it’s time for me to start thinking about my dream writing cottage after all.


Though we won’t be able to actually build my writing cottage for at least a year or two, I’ve started compiling a list of some things my dream studio might have. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:


- floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on at least one wall.

- pretty vintage windows

- a large writing desk with enough space to check page proofs and lay out chapter synopses for complicated plotting maneuvers

- also, space on the desk for garden-fresh flowers

- and probably a coffee maker

- a cozy reading chair, with a side table for a lamp and a glass of wine

- a large corkboard for posting fanart and inspiration photos

- a special wine chiller/refrigerator, and a space for snacks, and maybe a watercooler? No, that’s too corporate. A pretty pitcher for filtered water then.

- Artwork that can be easily swapped out for new artwork that inspires the current WIP


So, what am I forgetting? What would you put in your dream writing cottage?

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