My Best Advice for Aspiring Writers

Posted on: 14th Aug 2014  /   Categorized: Writing Life

One question that I’m asked over and over and over again is: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


At first, after Cinder had just released, I felt weird answering this question. I still felt like such an amateur myself! What did I know about anything?


But over the past few years I’ve come to realize that, yes, yes I do have advice to give, and a lot of these are things I wish I would have been told years ago. Because while every writer’s process and goals are going to be different, there are some things that I think apply to most of us across the board.


So here is my best advice, to take, or not, as you so choose.



1. First and foremost, write.

Oh, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I want to be a writer, but I never have time to write!” Or, “I have all these ideas, but when I sit down, nothing comes out!” Or, “I’ve been researching my novel’s setting for fifteen years—I feel like I’ll be ready to start writing it any day now!”

I’m not going to say that all excuses are bad excuses—sometimes you legitimately don’t have time or you’re not ready to start on a particular project. But for the majority of excuses: Stop. Stop making them. Stop tell yourself that you’re not ready or you can’t or you will someday.

Writers write.

So today, now, determine what your writing goals are and when and how you’re going to make them happen, and if your plan doesn’t include actual words on paper within the near future, then rework your plan until it does.


2. Almost as important: Write what you love.

I do think it’s valuable to know what’s happening in the publishing world and what your audience is interested in, but if you’re writing a vampire/dystopian/realistic novel because that’s what editors want, then you have probably already missed that boat. Trends come and go and by the time most of us figure out that something is a trend, it’s already on its way out.

At the same time, who knows? Your novel might hit at the start of the next big trend, that no one has any idea is on the horizon.

My real-life example: When I started writing Cinder the “rule” in publishing was that YOU CANNOT SELL SCIENCE-FICTION TO TEENAGERS. Seriously, you could have asked anyone in the industry. Teens want magic and vampires, not all this techy mumbo-jumbo! But I had my heart set on a story about a cyborg Cinderella and a society of mind-controlling people from outer space trying to invade Earth and I was going to write it even if no one in the whole world would ever read it, because I was so smitten with the idea.

Moral: If you love something—whether it’s yesterday’s news or an up-and-coming genre, write it. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. And hope that the readers will find it when the time is right. That’s the best we can do.


3. Don’t worry about not being “very good.”

Think of your favorite writer. The one that constantly blows you away by their clever plot twists, their marvelous characterization, the way they make the words glow on the page.

And then imagine what that writer’s very first story was like. Or, heck, their first tenstories. Maybe even their first fifty stories.

If you are imagining works of genius, I can tell you that writer would laugh very, very hard.

No one starts out a brilliant writer, or even a decent writer, and I think few writers ever reach a point where we’re like, “By golly, I am amazing.” We are always learning. We are always striving to be better. We can always point out our own weaknesses and flaws, but we’re storytellers, so we keep writing and improving as much as we can.

So don’t quit because you think you suck or you’ll never be as good as So-and-So. We all have to start somewhere.


4. Read craft guides.

I love craft guides. I have read dozens and dozens over the years, and I learn something new with every guide I read. Some are full of general advice, while others focus on one specific craft element like setting or characterization. There are also books on living a writer’s life while maintaining your sanity, or setting goals for yourself, or how to market your work once it’s published.

Three of my personal favorites:


Now—I have heard published, talented, wonderful writers say that they refuse to read craft guides, usually because they worry it would impact their own style or voice. To which part of me thinks: We all have our own process and method and we should do what feels best for our own personal creative path.

But then another part of me thinks: Hogwash.

The thing about rules and tips and advice is that you can choose to ignore them. But at least then you’ll be making an informed decision. You’ll know why you’re ignoring that rule, and maybe—just maybe—your style and voice will be stronger because of it.

I have certainly read my fair share of writing advice that I disagree with. “Don’t use a thesaurus,” says Stephen King, and I want to chuck my beloved thesaurus at his head. “Write what you know,” says Every Writing Instructor Ever, and I say, that’s dumb, I’m going to write what I’m curious about.

But I find most advice in these guides thoughtful and helpful, and I have yet to hear someone say, “You know, my writing really took a turn for the worst after I read that book on plot structure.”

So—don’t be afraid to learn and keep learning.



5. Be patient.

Yes, there are writers who were published when they were seventeen years old, but there are also writers who weren’t published until they were seventy. There are writers who hit the jackpot with their first manuscript, and there are some who have twenty rejected novels sitting on their computer. Getting published involves diligence, hard work, determination, and—yes—luck. The whims of the market cannot be ignored. There are a lot of factors outside of your control.

But one thing that is within your control is the work itself. So take the time you need to write The Best Book You Are Currently Capable of Writing.

By which I mean: Research. Read writing guides. Revise. Edit. Use critique partners and listen closely to their feedback. Do not rush through your revisions and edits just because you want to be published nooooooooowwww. Rather, take the time you need to bring your work to a quality that will set it apart from all the other writers in an agent or editor’s inbox. That might be a few extra months, or it might be a few extra years, but it will not be wasted time.

The work itself is the one thing you have control over, so don’t rush it.


6. Also… write. And keep writing.

Certainly I could come up with many more tips for this list: Read widely and often. Treat writing like a job. Strike the words “writer’s block” from your vocabulary. Do your best not to compare your career with someone else’s. And on and on.

But of all the writing advice in the whole entire world, this might be the only advice that really matters.



Good luck and much inspiration to you all!

Anyone wanting to impart their own wisdom is welcome to share in the comments.

The Treadmill Desk : A Hearty Recommendation

Posted on: 7th Aug 2014  /   Categorized: Writing Life

Last year for Christmas I bought myself a treadmill desk—something that had been on my writer wish list for years. I put it off for a long time though, as I find that most exercise equipment gets used for a month, then gathers dust for a few years, until finally making its way into a garage sale.



But then I read A.J. Jacobs’s marvelously entertaining and informative Drop Dead Healthy, in which he talks at length about the benefits of a treadmill desk—so I decided to go for it.


treadmill desk

Trying the desk for the first time.


Here we are, eight months later, and I can tell you that this remains one of my favorite purchases ever. (I am, in fact, writing this blog post on it!) So if you’ve been on the fence about getting yourself a treadmill desk, like I was, or maybe this is the first you’ve heard of such a thing, allow me to try and persuade you.



The Health Benefits 

First, I think it’s important to point out that the treadmill desk does not act as a replacement for regular exercise. You are typically going to be walking so slowly on it that any aerobic effects are going to stay pretty mild.


Rather, the treadmill desk should be viewed as an antidote to sitting, which the experts are telling us is the biggest health problem facing our society today.


Turns out, sitting for 8+ hours a day is bad for us. Really, really bad.


And we writers, we sit. A LOT.


(Miranda Kenneally recently posted about her own sitting-related health issues on her blog, in case you weren’t aware of how horrible it can become:



By taking even just an hour or two every day and changing your routine from sitting to walking (or even standing if a treadmill isn’t in your budget), we can begin to counteract some of those awful effects.


Am I sounding like an infomercial yet? Oops. *tries to tone down the sales pitch*



Better Focus 

Lots of studies have also found that our brains work better when we get regular exercise, and even better during that exercise. I’ve seen this firsthand in the amount of plot ideas I’ve gotten over the years while I was jogging or dancing or in the middle of a yoga class.


With my treadmill desk, I find that I rarely get those light bulb moments that I get during more strenuous exercise, but I do focus better. In fact, on days when I’m feeling distracted and can’t concentrate on a task, hopping on my treadmill desk is the best way for me to get back to work. I liken it to locking yourself in a room with nothing but a pen and pad of paper. You have nothing better to do—so you might as well get to work! Likewise with the treadmill, once I’m on it my brain seems to recognize that this is work time, and off we go.



Dedicated Time to Do . . . Whatever Needs Doing 

I know plenty of writers who use their treadmill desks for actual writing, and I can and have gotten writing done on mine, too. But I’ve found that for me the treadmill desk offers a perfect solution to separating “writing” from “everything else I’m supposed to do on a daily basis.”


Mostly, I love to use the treadmill for blog posts and answering emails, things that I will put off until the end of time if I allow myself. But now, I hop on my treadmill desk every morning, set the timer on my phone, and get to work. By the end of an hour I’ll have a completed blog post or a significantly reduced inbox, when I know that that same hour would have been full of other distractions if I’d tried to do it at my normal desk.


On top of that, just like being on the treadmill tells my brain “it’s time to work” (a.k.a. answer emails, write blog posts, respond to blogger interviews… whatever the current task is), stepping off the treadmill tells my brain “it’s time to sit down and write.” I’ve found the distinction between the two to be enormously helpful.



You Can Use It As a Reward, Too

Sometimes, when I know I’ve spent too much time sitting lately, I’ll use my treadmill in conjunction with a reward. “Finish this chapter and you can hop on the treadmill desk and read a few chapters of a book.” Or “Finish these copyedits and you can hop on the treadmill desk and watch the newest episode of Sailor Moon Crystal.” My brain thinks it’s getting a prize, while my body is grateful to get up and move.



* * *


Now that you’re ready to run out and buy one for yourself, here are some things to consider . . .



Type of Treadmill: Not all treadmills are created equal. Some, like those you see at the gym, are intended for short durations at faster speeds—you know, like jogging or sprinting. But there are treadmills specifically designed for longer periods at slower speeds. Walking treadmills. This is what you’ll want. You can jog on them, but they’ll generally max out at about 4 miles per hour. (The treadmill salesman likened it to a car—you wouldn’t drive on the freeway in first gear, would you? Then you wouldn’t want to continuously walk at 2-miles-an-hour on a running treadmill, either.)



Ergonomics and Set-Up:  All you need in your set up is a flat surface that goes across your treadmill where you can set your computer, but for maximum health benefits, try to take ergonomics into account. The top of your computer screen should be at eye-level and your elbows should be at a ninety-degree angle when settled on your keyboard. A wrist pad is an excellent investment, too. I splurged and got a super fancy keyboard that splits down the middle so that my wrists can be in as neutral a position as possible—it took some getting used to at first, but now I LOVE this keyboard and use it at my regular desk, too.


photo 2

photo 4



Speed and Balance: Whenever I tell someone about my treadmill desk, the first response is usually: “I couldn’t do that—I would totally fall off!


No. No, you wouldn’t. Trust me on this—it isn’t nearly as difficult to walk and type as it looks! Though it might take some getting used to, especially if you are not in the habit of touch-typing, I have never once felt off-balance or in danger of falling off the treadmill.


Partly I think that people are assuming they would walk fast—like you do at the gym. But I generally keep my speed around 2mph (a casual stroll for most people is about 3mph—so we’re talking very slow here!) Again, it isn’t a replacement for exercise, just an antidote to sitting.


* * *


If you’ve been debating a treadmill desk but weren’t sure, here is my hearty recommendation. I love mine and wish I’d gotten it much sooner.


Thoughts/questions? And if you already have a treadmill desk, let us know how you feel about it in the comments!

The Fall 2014 Fierce Reads Tour

Posted on: 4th Aug 2014  /   Categorized: Events

The upcoming Fierce Reads tour dates and cities are confirmed! I hope you can come join us for some shenanigans this fall.
*** See the dates and locations for the September leg of the tour, featuring Ann Aguirre, Caragh O’Brien, and Marie Rutkoski at ***
I will be on the October leg of the tour, along with Gennifer Albin, Nikki Kelly, and Jessica Brody.
(Event times to be determined. I always recommend checking with the bookstore or library to confirm final details.)



FR fall 2014
October 8
Irving, TX
The Irving Public Library
October 9
St. Louis, MO
Left Bank Books
October 10
Arlington Heights, IL
The Book Stall at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library


October 11
Portland, OR
Powell’s Books
October 12
Seattle, WA
Geek Girl Con
October 13
Los Altos, CA
Linden Tree Books
The winner of the Fierce Reads Video Contest:


October 14
New York, NY
Barnes & Noble, Tribeca



Don’t see your city on the list? Enter our video contest for your chance to win a Fierce Reads tour stop on October 13!


FR video contest

A Guide to Lunar Chronicles Character Traits

Posted on: 31st Jul 2014  /   Categorized: Cinder

I’ve been getting lots of questions lately about what my characters look like—even down to specifics, like how tall they are. For ease of use and to encourage all ye fanartists (and maybe inspire some of you for the Design a Sticker contest!), here are the character profiles that have been living in my Lunar Chronicles folder for many years.


If you notice anything that does not fit with what is written in the books, and you can point to a specific passage that contradicts what I have here, please feel free to mention it in the comments. Some times things change during writing, and it’s been a long time since I compared these profiles to the books.


If you would like to see inspiration photos that I’ve used, check out my Lunar Chronicles Pinterest Board here:







Birth date/place: Luna; December 21, 109 T.E., Sagittarius

Age: 16

Race: Lunar (mixed ethnicity—Asian/Caucasian?, tan skin, even more tan from walking everywhere)

Eye color: brown

Hair color/style: straight, fine, brunette, just below shoulders; often wears messy ponytails

Build: 5’8”, slender, few curves, almost boyish

Glamour: similar to Channary’s, breathtaking, she’s tempted to hide her cyborg parts but tries to fight it

Style of dress: comfortable and utilitarian

First book: cargo pants, T-shirts, dirty gloves, boots, messenger bag, occasional tool belt

Ball: Peony’s silver dress, Pearl’s white velvet boots that lace over the ankles, stained white silk gloves with seed pearls on hem that Kai gave her Prison: White cotton jumpsuit, bulky and loose, no shoes

Gloves: Cinder wears gloves exclusively for first book, usu. work gloves, but also thinner cotton gloves when not working. Kai gives her above-the-elbow white silk gloves with seed pearls on the hem for the ball


Cyborg characteristics: “Her control panel, her synthetic hand and leg, wires that trailed from the base of her skull all the way down her spine and out to her prosthetic limbs. The scar tissue where flesh met metal. A small dark square in her wrist—her ID chip, the metal vertebrae along her spine, or the four metal ribs, or the synthetic tissue around her heart (two chambers made primarily of silicon mixed with bio tissue), or the metal splints along the bones in her right leg. Ratio: 36.28%.”


Has a latch in the back of her head that opens, revealing control panel beside brain (no brain tissue can be seen behind it).


Can’t blush because it keeps her from overheating, but she can sweat. Can’t cry because tear ducts replaced with prosthetic eyes.


Prostheses: steel in first book. Left leg to mid-thigh (calf includes hollow compartment), left ankle attached via screws and red and yellow (and multicolored) wires; left hand to wrist.


New limbs (beginning at end of book one): new hand and foot. Plated with 100% titanium, fingers include: flashlight, stiletto knife, projectile gun, screwdriver, universal connector cable. Twelve tranquilizer darts are stored in palm.


Mannerisms: She has a nervous tick of fiddling with the hems of her gloves to make sure her metal hand is always covered. She also has a bad habit of pushing her hair out of her face when her hands are filthy, leaving grease stains on her forehead. She is ambidextrous. Often twirling tools in her fingers. Bites insides of cheek.





Birth date/place: New Beijing, Eastern Commonwealth; 7 April 108 T.E.; Aries

Age: 18

Race: Earthen/Asian

Eye color: copper-brown

Hair color/style: shaggy, straight black hair worn past ears, slicked back for formal occasions

Build: 5’11”, slender/borderline lanky

Style of dress: Suits and dress-shirts, although would rather be in jeans and Ts. Probably has a stylist telling him what to wear. For formal occasions, traditional mandarin-style silk shirts with fine embroidery and embellishments. Gray-hooded sweatshirt (incognito).

Physical characteristics: Handsome with angled, sharp facial features and “admirable” lips, smells faintly of soap

Mannerisms: Scratches at neck and ear when tongue-tied; ears turn red first when he blushes; quick to smile (looks for the humor in everything); yanks hand through hair when overwhelmed. Hands in pockets.





Birth date/place: Rieux, France, European Federation, 17 August 108 T.E., Leo

Age: 18

Race: Caucasian

Eye color: big brown eyes

Hair color/style: curly/unruly ginger-red hair to mid-back

Build: 5’6”, curvy

Style of dress: jeans and a red hoodie that her grandma gave her, clashes with her hair which is part of the reason why she likes it.

Characteristics: full lips, lots of freckles

Mannerisms: tries to make herself look bigger/stronger with folded arms, wide-leg stances, etc. Frank and abrupt, has a tendency to act first and think later.






Birth date/place: Luna, Nov. 4, 102 T.E., Scorpio

Age: 23

Race: Lunar (olive-toned skin—think Middle Eastern)

Eye color: strikingly bright green, thick eyelashes

Hair color/style: messy brown hair that tends to spike in all directions, refuses to be tamed

Build: 6’4”, super muscular

Style of dress: loose gray pants (almost like sweats), plain t-shirts or tanks, barefoot whenever possible, otherwise comfortable leather boots [wears military uniform when not “undercover”]

Other characteristics: tattoo “LSOP962” on left forearm; sharp canine teeth; covered in scars and wounds, some recent, some faded, including a bad gouge on his left arm from wrist to elbow, and more on his left temple and lips.

Mannerisms: protective stance, tense shoulders like he’s always ready to fight, often flexing fingers and making fists, snarling, trouble holding eye contact, shy around people, high metabolism, fidgety and constantly pacing, always hungry




Birth date/place: Luna, July 18, 110 T.E., Cancer

Age: 16

Race: Lunar (pale skin, Caucasian)

Eye color: bright blue

Hair color/style: honey blonde, insanely long at start of novel: “longest, waviest, most unruly mess of tangled blonde hair imaginable. The golden nest around her head was tied in a big knot over one shoulder, and cascaded in a jumble of braids and snarls, wrapping around one of the girl’s arms before descending out of the screen’s view.” Later cut above shoulders with a knife, so very ragged/blunt throughout Book Three.

Build: 5’0”, petite and slender

Face: sweet, heart-shaped with freckles across nose and cheeks, dimples, giddy smile

Style of dress: worn day dresses in satellite, no shoes (while on satellite)

Mannerisms: Always fidgeting with hair, toys and sucks on it, wraps it around wrists (when long). Tries to make herself smaller/invisible. Would sooner hide than fight. Flighty and nervous around people. Draws strength from overactive imagination.






Birth date/place: American Republic, May 22, 106 T.E., Gemini

Age: 20

Race: Earthen (Caucasian)

Eye color: blue

Hair color/style: short brown hair, usually with product (always wants to look his best), clean-shaven (after free from prison at least)

Build: 6’0”, broad-shouldered and strong, but not as muscular as Wolf

Style of dress: well-dressed, button-up dress-shirts with rolled sleeves or slim-fitting sweaters, vests, loves his leather jacket, prefers the “dressy” military uniforms to the utilitarian ones.

Mannerisms: checking that his hair is okay, admiring every woman he sees, whistling, making light of the situation. Cocky swagger. Flirtation smiles and raised eyebrows. Still labeled a “cadet” in military (though deserter), but insists on being called Captain.






Birth date/place: Luna, 3 January 109 T.E., Capricorn

Age: 17

Race: Lunar (black)

Eye color: golden-brown with flecks of gray around the pupils

Hair color/style: black, tight corkscrew curls, just below shoulder-length, very thick

Build: 5’9”, slender but with enviable curves, extremely graceful limbs, long neck

Face: high cheekbones, full red lips, delicate nose, ridiculously long eyelashes—the kind of face that is difficult to look away from; three scars on her right cheek, like teardrops from the corner of her eye to her chin; known as the most beautiful girl on Luna

Style of dress: sophisticated and conservative, both flowy skirts and pants but always feminine, likes to wear pastels and light colors, silvers, gauzy fabrics, etc.

Mannerisms: gentle and graceful, but crazy, whimsical voice and flighty gestures, almost skips when she walks, has a tendency to wander off, comfortable around people (except Lunar aristocracy) but has a habit of getting into their personal space and making them uncomfortable. Playful.





JACIN CLAY: royal guard; personal guard and pilot for Sybil.

Birth date/place: Luna, 8 July 107 T.E., Cancer

Age: 19

Race: Lunar (Caucasian)

Eye color: blue-gray

Hair color/style: blonde-white hair that falls in straight locks passed his chin, sometimes pulls into a ponytail

Build: 6’2”, muscular, graceful from combat training

Style of dress: official uniform of Lunar guards

Mannerisms: rigid, tense posture; confident and capable—rarely second guesses himself; makes few hand gestures—always trying to go unnoticed; usually quiet but harsh when he does talk; abrasive personality; will do anything to protect the ones he truly cares about

Day in the Life: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Posted on: 28th Jul 2014  /   Categorized: Day in the Life

Earlier this month I asked Twitter to choose a day for the next Day in the Life blog post, and you guys picked July 23, which happened to be a travel / event day. Let’s see what happened . . .


 6:00a.m.: My husband and I try to maintain some sort of normal routine even on days when we travel, so—wake up! Coffee! Check all the social networks and answer a bunch of emails. Schedule some tweets about tomorrow’s Comic-Con panel and signing.


I take a few extra minutes to read through the newest Publisher’s Weekly newsletter and am excited to see Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein mentioned in their Spring 2015 Children’s Sneak Previews column. I’m really looking forward to this book!


7:30: Get dressed and finish packing. Make sure the house is all in order for our house/cat-sitter.


8:30: What a laid-back morning! With 30 minutes to kill I think, I should probably start filling in some research holes in my historical anthology short story . . . but instead I end up reviewing my baby stuff shopping list and organizing the someday-nursery. Hashtag slacker.


9:00: To the airport!


9:40: We’re minutes away from the airport when it occurs to me that I packed the exact same outfit to wear to Comic-Con that I wore last year to Comic-Con. Well, drat. I do a quick search on our hotel and am relieved that it’s close to a huge shopping center—there goes my plan for a relaxing afternoon spent reading in the hotel!


11:30-2:00: Airports and planes. I’m FINALLY reading Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight and wish the flight was a whole lot longer. So. Incredibly. Good.


2:15: Holy cow, L.A., why must you be so hot? Feel like I’m melting as soon as we step off the plane. We take a cab to the hotel.


3:00: I do my hair and make-up in preparation for tonight’s event: the epic Fierce Reads Summer Block Party!  I’m excited to see my tour buddies again.


4:00: Time to go find a new dress to wear tomorrow. We walk over to The Grove shopping center, and discover . . . police. And crowds. And the road is completely blocked off. Turns out Obama is in town! Unable to get to the shopping center even though it’s right there, we detour into a Ross instead. I find a couple of dresses and even my husband picks out some new shorts. Bargain shopping FTW.


5:30: The President and his entourage have come and gone, so we make our way into The Grove’s Barnes & Noble. Having only noshed on a couple of Kind bars on the flight, we grab a quick snack from the café.


6:15: All of the authors and publicists have arrived! We head to the back room to be interviewed by blogger Kate Bond of The Midnight Garden. Easily distracted, we also notice a bowl of star stickers sitting on the table. These quickly become facial decorations.


You’ll soon be able to read Kate’s interview here:


7:00: The event begins, starring Fierce Reads authors Leigh Bardugo, Anna Banks, Ann Aguirre, and myself, moderated by Brutal Youth author Anthony Breznican. It’s a great panel with lots of laughter. I missed these girls!


photo 3


We have an awesome crowd and the signing line goes on and on (a fantastic problem to have), and it’s great to see many familiar faces from previous SoCal events. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to see us!


photo 1
With Shayla, an artistic fan who sewed her own Scarlet cloak!


photo 2
One fan’s amazing Lunar Chronicles nails!


10:30: Whew, everyone has gone home! We gather up our stuff and laugh at the fact that we’re all still wearing our star stickers. We head next door to the Cheesecake Factory for a late dinner.


Just past midnight: Take a cab back to the hotel, wash off my makeup, and fall into a very fast sleep. Not looking forward to our 6:00 a.m. alarm, but definitely excited to head down to Comic-Con in the morning!


. . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Announcing the “Design a Sticker” Contest!

Posted on: 21st Jul 2014  /   Categorized: Giveaways

Three things I love:


– book swag

– creativity-based contests

– giving stuff away!



So I decided it was time to host a brand new contest, since it’s been a while since the epic Lunar Insignia Design Contest which was a huge success last year.


The winners of the Design a Sticker contest will not only receive some neat prizes (see below), but their winning designs will also be turned into real stickers that I’ll be giving away at book signings and including in swag packs for the next year.




I decided to host a design-a-sticker contest because, well, I love stickers! I had stickers printed up with the Cinder and Scarlet book covers before and I liked having them not only to use as giveaway items but also for my own purposes, like sealing envelopes. But I stopped having them made up because using just the book covers was so boring.


Which is where you guys come in! I need your help, because you are all so much more creative and artistic than I am. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.


Ready for some details?



YOUR MISSION: Design a Lunar Chronicles Sticker that I can use for promotional swag.




– Your sticker design can be either square, round, rectangular, or oval. I will be printing using, so if you need guidance on dimensions, I recommend looking at their sticker-sizing options.


– Your sticker design may include graphics, text, or a combination of the two.


– You are welcome to use any or all of the book covers in your design, but please do not use copyrighted images. Any artwork or photography should be your own creation or you must have permission to use it.


– Be creative! I’m intentionally not giving you a whole lot of direction because I love seeing what you guys come up with. As long as it has something to do with the Lunar Chronicles, your design will be qualified.


– Remember, I will be using these as promotional items leading up to the release of Fairest and Winter, so ask yourself what kind of sticker you would want to take home and paste everywhere in order to declare yourself a proud Lunartic. Likewise, if you had never heard of The Lunar Chronicles but you saw this sticker on someone else’s e-reader cover (or wherever), what would prompt you to ask about it?





– Please submit ONLY ONE DESIGN. If you submit more than one design, your work will be disqualified.


– Once your design is finished, post it on a public web site. (Pinterest is preferred, but I will also accept Tumblr, DeviantART, Twitter, or Instagram. Please do not use Facebook as it has difficult privacy guidelines. Do not email me your design.)


– Send me the link to your design using the contact form at


– Important: By submitting an entry to this contest you are giving me permission to use your design for future promotional materials at my discretion. You retain all other rights to your work.


– Open internationally.


– All entries must be received no later than midnight PST on August 17, 2014.





I will gather all entries onto a Pinterest board and finalists will be selected through a yet-to-be-determined method. All finalists will then be posted on this blog and put to a Reader’s Choice vote.


ALL FINALISTS will receive a swag pack of Lunar Chronicles goodies.


TWO GRAND PRIZE WINNERS (one Reader’s Choice, one Marissa’s Choice*) will receive a signed book, a limited-edition messenger bag, and more! Plus their designs will be turned into swanky stickers. Yes, I will send you some stickers, too.


* The Marissa’s Choice winner will be chosen from all entries, not only the finalists.




I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Happy designing, and GOOD LUCK!


Upcoming Events

Posted on: 17th Jul 2014  /   Categorized: Events

Here where I’ll be in the coming months. I hope you can come see me!


Parkland (Tacoma), WA
Saturday, July 19, 10:00 a.m.
Summer Camp Writing Workshop sponsored by PY Art Show
For local students, ages 11-18. Registration is required.
For information visit


Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, July 23, 7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble The Grove (189 The Grove Drive)
Fierce Reads Block Party with Ann Aguirre, Anna Banks, and Leigh Bardugo


San Diego, CA
July 24-27
San Diego Comic-Con

Panel: Fairy Tale Remix
Thursday, 7/24/14, 12:00p.m. – 1:00p.m., Room: 32AB
Signing Time: Thursday AA09 01:30 PM – 02:30 PM

Friday, 7/215, 10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.
Signing at Macmillan Children’s Booth


Seattle, WA
Wednesday, September 10, 7:00p.m.
Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park
With Sarah J. Maas and Mandy Hubbard


Baltimore, MD
September 26-28
Baltimore Book Festival Presentation and signing times TBD.
For more information, visit:
Fierce Reads Multi-Author, Multi-City Tour
October 7-15
Locations TBD


Chicago, IL
Saturday, November 15
37th Annual Day of Reading Conference
Registration is Required. For more information, visit:


Don’t see your city listed here? More tour dates will be announced soon for both the Fierce Reads and Fairest tours!

Forthcoming Novels, Stories, and Secret Projects

Posted on: 14th Jul 2014  /   Categorized: Fairest

The last few months spent on a blogging hiatus have not been in vain—I’ve been one busy writer-ess! So I thought I’d clue you all in to what’s been happening behind the scenes and some projects you have to look forward to in the coming years.




FAIREST : As most of you know, my next novel, Fairest, was finally announced a few weeks ago. I am SUPER excited to share with you all the backstory of Queen Levana and how she became Princess Winter’s stepmother and Luna’s power-hungry dictator. After completing my final revisions on Fairest about a month ago, I’m now waiting to receive copyedits.

Release: 27 January 2015


WINTER PREQUEL SHORT STORY : Having written a prequel companion story for each of the first three books of the Lunar Chronicles, I couldn’t stand to leave Winter out! I’ve been brainstorming ideas for a Winter-based prequel and intend to draft something out by the end of this month. I have no idea how or when my publisher will want to release it, but I hope it will be available to readers before Winter comes out next year. Stay tuned!

Release: TBD



WINTER : Most likely your  most anticipated read, Winter, is chugging along! This book has been a long, hard slog, in part because it’s just so darn big and complex. (Four major plotlines? Seriously? What was I thinking?) But it’s finally shaping up and I’m working with my editor and beta-readers to make this the most epic and satisfying series conclusion that I possibly can. At this point I’m waiting to receive notes from my editor before I embark on Draft #5 (hopefully the final draft, but… we’ll see.)

Release: 10 November 2015


HEARTLESS : My Queen of Hearts-inspired prequel is the book I’ve been focused on most the past couple of months, and Draft #2 will be finished by the end of July. It’s only the second draft, so there are still a lot of things about it that I’m not happy with, but so far it’s been a lot of fun to write! I look forward to sharing my version of Wonderland with you all.

Expected release: February 2016


PETTICOATS & PISTOLS  ANTHOLOGY : A few months ago I was invited to partake in my first YA anthology, edited by the lovely and talented Jessica Spotswood! The anthology will be a collection of historical and historical fantasy stories with a focus on strong female protagonists, and there is a super impressive roster of contributing authors! My story will be set in Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, during the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1876-77. I’ve been conducting lots of research these past months and hope to draft my story this week.

Expected release: Early 2016


SECRET PROJECT : My publisher and I are working on something special that I can’t really talk about, but I can tell you that it’s been on my writer wish-list since I was a teenager. I’ve started doing some preliminary brainstorming and research and hope to have news to share with you guys by the end of this year.

Release: TBD, but I would expect early 2017 at this point



A BRAND NEW SERIES! : Last but far from least, I have a burning seed of an idea involving superheroes and supervillains that’s been plaguing me for well over a year now. I hope that, with any luck, I’ll be able to start writing it later this fall. Lately I’ve been brainstorming and doing some preliminary research for the series, and I’ll start outlining it as soon as I can cross some of the fore-mentioned projects off my list. Might this be another NaNoWriMo book? One can hope!

Expected release for Book One: Fall 2016



Whew! So that’s what’s on my plate now, meaning lots and lots of reading fun for the future. No rest for the wicked, right?

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