ARCHENEMIES Cover Reveal, Touring Info, + News!

Posted on: 22nd Jun 2018  /   Categorized: Archenemies

This blog post is WAY overdue, as I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my site lately and wasn’t able to post anything. (Thank you Sarah, Tech Extraordinaire, for fixing it!!)


And now – I have so much news!


First: The BIG exciting announcement that RENEGADES is now a trilogy! That’s right, I’m thrilled to announce that there will be a total of three books in the series.

Second: I have a cover to share for Archenemies and how amazing is it?!



I love it and can’t wait to share the book with you on November 6!


A bit more about the book: 


Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other’s worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.


Third: Have you seen the RENEGADES character art posters?


Fierce Reads is doing a preorder promotion for ARCHENEMIES where you can get your name in the paperback of RENEGADES and the character art poster in the fall. Details below – make sure you click through to the form for all the legalese stuff and to submit. (This promotion is open to US residents only.)

You can preorder ARCHENEMIES now.


Fourth (Fifth? I’ve lost count): Tour information!

I’ll be on the second leg of my international book tour in August, visiting Brazil, Argentina, and Panama (and Mexico at the end of November!)

Plus, I’ll be on the Fierce Reads tour in October, and again on book tour for Archenemies when it releases in November!

All dates and locations to come.

I hope to see you!

I will announce tour details here and in my newsletter when I have them.

Title Reveal + Giveaway!

Posted on: 28th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Archenemies

The sequel to RENEGADES will be hitting bookstores this November, and I am finally allowed to call it something other than “Renegades 2!” That’s right, it has an official TITLE!


Are you ready?


Coming November 6, 2018…




To celebrate… let’s have a Renegades-themed giveaway!


– Three (3) winners will each received a signed copy of RENEGADES (international paperback edition) and assorted superhero-themed swag.



– Open internationally.
– Closes to entries midnight PST on Wednesday, March 7.
– Winners will be randomly selected and notified on March 8.

To win, enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Note: If you are reading this on Goodreads and can’t see the Rafflecopter form, head to my web site here.

It’s a Birthday Giveaway! Enter to Win GONE ROGUE, exclusive swag, + more!

Posted on: 19th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Giveaways

Today is my birthday (confetti and champagne for all!), and to celebrate… I’m giving away some Books!! And also Other Things!

To enter, fill out and submit the Rafflecopter form below. The more connected you and I are on social media, the more chances you have to win!



– Five (5) runner-ups will each received a signed copy of WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE, a set of exclusive WIRES AND NERVE nail wraps from Espionage Cosmetics, and an “I Love YA Comics” temporary tattoo from First Second Books.

– ONE (1) grand prize winner will receive all of the above prizes PLUS a signed copy of RENEGADES, a signed copy of HEARTLESS (UK, paperback), a decorative patch, and a wolf charm necklace!



– Open internationally.
– Winners will be randomly selected.
– Closes to entries midnight PST on Monday, February 26. Winners will be alerted on February 27.
– Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Note: If you are reading this on Goodreads and can’t see the Rafflecopter form, head to my web site here.

Get Your Free Printable Activity Book!

Posted on: 13th Feb 2018  /   Categorized:

You know those cheesy activity books you would get when you were a kid, usually before going on a long road trip? The kind with mazes and coloring pages and little tic-tac-toe squares? Well, for years I’ve had this crazy idea about wanting to create one of those for fans and readers of my books, as a THANK YOU for your enthusiasm and support.

And I am thrilled to say that my little dream has come true!

I had the great joy of collaborating with Kathryn Gee (the artist behind The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book) on a series of fun book-related activities, and our booklet is now ready for your enjoyment!



What’s Inside the Activity Book:
– Exclusive coloring page featuring Cinder, Cath, and Nova
– “Help get the Rampion to Earth Safely” maze
– “Create Your Own Superhero” game
– Renegades quote coloring page
– Lunar Chronicles crossword puzzle
– “Help Decorate Cath’s Lemon Tarts” coloring pages
– Renegades madlibs
– “What is your job on the Rampion crew?” quiz and profiles
– Make your own superhero masks activity
– Recipe for Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Chocolate Bars


The booklet is printable and shareable, and I encourage readers to print out as many copies as they would like for themselves and other YA readers. I would also LOVE to hear from teachers, librarians, or book clubs who might use the activities in conjunction with themed parties and events, too!




To receive the booklet, just subscribe to my newsletter.
You will automatically be sent a downloadable .pdf link.


Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part IV

Posted on: 8th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

Welcome to the final installment of my blog series on how I wrote the WIRES AND NERVE graphic novels! If you missed any of the previous posts, start from the beginning.


The first three parts of this series were mostly about writing the actual script for the book. Once it’s finalized and approved, it’s time for the script to go to the artist, and that’s when the real magic starts to happen!



Character Sketches

Before the artist delved into the script, he first provided character sketches of the main players, based off descriptions that I’d provided, so we could be sure they all matched my vision. Most of the character sketches were spot-on right from the start, but a handful required some tweaking.

Initial sketches for Cress, Kinney, Jacin, and Iko.


Initial sketch for Thorne, followed by revised options.


After approval, he was able to start in on the script!


And here, to be completely frank, I became pretty uninvolved, so I don’t actually know too much about what happens behind the scenes, though I suspect—like with authors—every artist has their own process that works for them. I know with the first WIRES AND NERVE, the artist Douglas Holgate would sometimes send sequences of pages out of order, so perhaps he was working on what was most inspiring him, or focusing on a particular subplot or character at a time. Whereas with Volume 2: GONE ROGUE, the artist Stephen Gilpin submitted all pages in order, starting from the beginning.


Whatever their process, though, once they had a bundle of sketched pages completed, those would be forwarded on to me and the publisher to review. I was repeatedly reminded that these sketches were “rough”—in some cases more directional than anything else—but they were still head and shoulders beyond what I’d expected for a first draft, and this was the point when I started getting really super excited. It looked and felt like a real graphic novel! Eeeeeh!!!


First “rough” sketches.


In seeing the initial sketches, I was able to give feedback and make requests for changes, though I have to say, both of the artists that we worked with on these books were SO good, and I could not have been any more impressed with their quality of work. They both nailed my vision for the story on the first try 95% of the time, and I almost never had to ask for any big changes. There would be the occasional request for consistency or world-building stuff (i.e., sometimes Cinder’s cyborg hand ended up on her right hand and had to be switched to the left, or there was one time when the artist had drawn a citizen of Luna with a pipe in his mouth, which I requested to be taken out because there is no nicotine on Luna, stuff like that).


After all feedback was submitted (from me, my editor, and the book’s designer), the artist went back and updated the sketches. The next round of pages would begin to look a lot more finished:


Second-round pages.


Sometimes the pages would have text at this stage, sometimes not. The text is added in by someone else, not the artist, and it never became clear to me at what point they get in to the files to add it in.


Once the illustrations and lettering are finished, I get to review the whole thing again, now as a complete book. I LOOOOOOOVE this part. With my novels, too, I love when I finally get the typeset page proofs, because in both circumstances it is the first time when I can look at the book and see it as readers will see it. It feels like something official and real and professional, and this stage is often the first time in the process when I can really take a deep breath and think—“You know what? I’ve totally got this.” (A shame that it takes that long to feel confident about any project, but I’ve come to realize that’s just part of the job.)


Final pages.


So with the final pages in hand, I will conduct one last read-through. Here I am checking to make sure the story is consistent, there are no glaring problems in the text or illustrations, and the dialogue doesn’t feel too wordy at any given point. I find myself doing a fair bit of editing at this stage, because once you see all the text typeset onto the page, you can usually tell when the characters are talking too much. Also, things that seem like they need lots of explanation in the script now seem like they need much less explanation, often because the illustrations are doing so much of the work themselves.


I generally get to see any changed pages one more time to make sure all edits were made correctly, and then…


It’s off to the printer!! Woot!


And at some point after that, a big carton of gorgeous, finished, beautiful books are delivered to my door, and to bookstores everywhere, and we all ogle and squeal and dance around our living rooms clutching them joyously to our bosoms and crying tears of overwhelming delight.

I mean, that’s totally normal, right?




And that’s how my journey was writing WIRES AND NERVE and WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE. In the end, I absolutely loved writing these two graphic novels. In fact, it is probably the most fun I’ve had writing something since my days of Sailor Moon fanfiction! I definitely have more graphic novel ideas in the works, so I hope to try my hand at it again in the future.


But in the meantime, I sincerely hope you guys will love the conclusion to Iko’s story in GONE ROGUE… in stores now!




Read this blog series from the beginning: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part III

Posted on: 7th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

In yesterday’s post, I talked a bit about my process for pre-writing (both novels and graphic novels), and some of the differences between the two.

Today, I want to go into more detail on the actual writing of the script–particularly the panel descriptions–and some of the more technical things to consider when writing a graphic novel or comic.


Developing a Style

Like I mentioned in Part I, I discovered in researching comic writing styles that some authors write incredibly lengthy and detailed descriptions for their panels, with a very specific plan for how they want a setting to look or an action sequence to play out, while other authors are more generic with their descriptions and opt to leave the details, and sometimes the actions themselves, up to the artists’ discretion.

I’d say that I ended up falling somewhere in the middle, but I only discovered this in practice. Because I already knew these characters so well, I had a very keen sense of how any of them would react at any given time, so a lot of my artistic direction was focused on how each character’s facial expression should be, or their hand gestures or body language.

There would also be times when I had a very clear idea of what a setting looked like, and that would lend itself to a lengthier panel description—especially for settings that have already been described in the novels, as it was important to me that the two match.

Here’s an example of one of my lengthier panel descriptions:



Alternatively, there would be pages, especially action-oriented or exposition-heavy pages, where the descriptions were much shorter, and I was more than happy to let the artist take over and do what he does best—bringing the story to life through the illustrations.



On average, I would say that the majority of panels had no more than two or three sentences describing the illustration, and yet both of the artists I worked with were able to capture what I envisioned wonderfully. Though that could have a lot to do with the competence and talent of those artists as much as anything in the script!


Other Considerations

Beyond just trying to tell the story in this new, visual format, there were a number of other things that I tried to keep in mind as I was writing the script.

Number of panels: Generally, I aimed to keep each page to around four to six panels. That felt like a good, natural pace for this story. However, there are plenty of exceptions – times when more or fewer panels made more sense. There were also times when I wanted a page to end on a mini-cliffhanger, or wanted a big visual reveal after a page turn, so that required some finagling of the panels to make sure the page ended where I needed it to.

Balancing dialogue and visuals: I also tried to keep a balance between pages that are super dialogue heavy and those that are more visual. In scenes where there’s lots of exposition (i.e., dialogue explaining stuff), I tried hard to come up with actions for the characters to be doing, so it wouldn’t just be a face panel after a face panel after a face panel.

(That said, I have to give a ton of credit to the artists—Stephen Gilpin and Douglas Holgate—who often took the art direction I’d given in the script and ran with it, making the illustrations even more exciting and action-oriented than I’d foreseen, and always in ways that blew me away! But more on working with the artist later.)

Chapter length: Though I didn’t have any strict rules to follow as to how long a chapter should be, I like to have some consistency in chapter length (ditto in my novels), so if a chapter was running long, I would consider how to tighten it up, and if it felt too short, I would consider if anything could be rearranged in the chapters before or after it to even them out. I try not to pad a chapter merely for the sake of increasing page count, but usually with a bit of brainstorming I could find ways to make it work.

Ending on an even number: I knew that I wanted each chapter to begin on a right-hand page, which meant that every chapter had to be an even number of pages (30 or 32, never 31). This later had the added benefit of letting the designer add in those pretty star-covered chapter breaks throughout the book.


SFX (a.k.a. Sound Effects)

One element of graphic novel writing that is a LOT different from writing novels was coming up with the Sound Effects!



The thing about sound effects in comics is that, when done well, the reader hardly notices them. They become a part of the picture, and when your eye hits them, you “hear” it in your head, without any annoying, practical voices in your thoughts piping up to say, “Ummmm, what exactly is PFFFT supposed to mean?”

However, when you’re writing the script, without any visual context to guide you, it can be pretty hard to silence those annoying, practical voices.  Pretty much all sound effects look weird in the script (at least to me!), so this part of the process required a lot of trust that they would work once they got placed into the illustrations.

How do you come up with sound effects? For me, it involved a whole lot of sitting in my office, staring at the ceiling, and making funny noises, trying to determine how that would be spelled, exactly.

So when Iko is injured and her internal wires are sparking, I would think, okay, a spark sounds like….  “Zip? Zap? Zat? Zzzzzzit? Snap crackle pop?”

Eventually, I ended up with the sound effect: SZIT SZIT

Still looks weird, even now, but I think it works pretty well in context.


Beyond that, I spent a fair amount of time poring through my own collection of graphic novels to see what sound effects other people had used in certain situations, or browsing around the Comic Books Sound Effects Database. This usually gave me a jumping-off point for, say, how does a spaceship engine sound, or a gunshot, or a scream.



Once the script was complete, it went through revisions and editing, just like with any manuscript.


Then… the fun part.


Up next, in the fourth and final installment of this series, I’ll talk about working with the artist!



Read this blog series from the beginning: Part I | Part II | Part III

Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part II

Posted on: 6th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

In Part I of this blog series, I talked about where the idea for Wires and Nerve came from, and some of the resources I used to research graphic novel scriptwriting.

The next step for me was very similar to my process with novel-writing, too.

I started to plan out the story.



Once I felt like I had a solid grasp on what needed to go into the script and what the formatting would look like, it was time to start really figuring out the scope of the overall story. This part of the process looked pretty much exactly like how I start all of my books. I’m a planner / outliner, so I employed a lot of the same strategies here.

I already had a basic premise for the story:

Rogue Lunar wolf soldiers are wrecking havoc on Earth, and Iko has taken it upon herself to hunt them down and return them to Luna before they can destroy the tenuous new peace agreement that’s been established. There would also be romance, a new villain rising to power, and some flashbacks that delved more into Iko’s backstory.

With that premise in mind, I spent lots of time brainstorming ideas for scenes, plot twists, characters, settings, and ways to work in all of our favorite crew mates from the Rampion, while trying to build on the places where Winter had left off.


Once I felt like the story was forming into something coherent, I drafted a full synopsis and had it approved by my editor.


That synopsis then became the start of writing a scene-by-scene outline—again, this very much mimics my process for novel-writing.

However, once I had my scene-by-scene outline complete, I narrowed in on the story even more, employing a strategy that Stan Lee himself uses (because, hey, if it works for Stan Lee, who am I to argue?).

With my complete outline in hand, I set about writing a page-by-page outline, detailing exactly what needed to happen on each and every page that would move the story forward.

Though I didn’t save any of that original outline, it was a really simple breakdown of the story – nothing complicated. It essentially looked like:

1: Establish scene – somewhere in Australia
2: Iko scaling cliff
3: Iko arrives outside abandoned mine
4-5: Preparing to enter mine, Iko explains how she is hunting wolf soldiers
6: Enters the mine; show how she is alone
7: Searching the mine, establish creepy setting
8: A wolf soldier sneaks up behind her
9: Fight!
10: Iko tries to get soldier to surrender
11: Iko shoots soldier and misses; he discovers that she’s an android
12: Soldier runs away; Iko chases him.

Etc. Etc. Easy, right?

I’m not sure I would have done this if I hadn’t read about Stan Lee doing it, but it was easily one of the best tips I’d learned. Because once I started drafting the script, I discovered that it is SO EASY to get caught up writing pages and pages of dialogue, without anything ever happening. Or having so much dialogue dumped onto a page that you forget to give the characters interesting visual things to be doing at the same time. But by starting off with this page-by-page outline, it ensured that something interesting and important would be happening at all times.

It also forced me to maintain a bit of brevity at those times when I wanted to go off on tangents. And I always want to go off on tangents.

Which is all to say—Thank You, Stan Lee!


Discovering the Scrivener Template

Once my outlines were complete, I transferred them into a Scrivener file.  I do all my writing using the software program Scrivener, and whether you write books or graphic novels, I cannot recommend the program enough. It has really made my life so much easier in so many ways, and I can’t even imagine how I managed to write Cinder using nothing but Microsoft Word way back when. (Dude, old school.)


So when I first set out to write WIRES AND NERVE, I was so excited to see that Scrivener comes equipped with a comic book script template! (Sweet!)

That means that I didn’t need to waste my time formatting everything (center the text, capslock, character name, next line, tab tab tab, dialogue) and on and on. Rather, the template intuitively knows that after a panel comes a panel description, which is usually followed by a character name, which is followed by dialogue, and it automatically changes the formatting as you go. It did take some practice to get a hang of the proper keystrokes to get it to do what I wanted it to do, but once I got past the learning curve, the formatting aspect took care of itself. Hallelujah!



Drafting a Novel vs. a Graphic Novel

So at this point, once I really started getting into the nitty-gritty writing of the thing, I discovered possibly the biggest difference between writing a novel and a graphic novel—at least for me. Because I’ve gotten used to drafting very fast first drafts of my books, it is not unusual for me to average 1500+ words (6 pages) in an hour, or 5000+ words (20 pages) a day, when I’m working on a novel.

Which is not the case with writing graphic novels! (Again, at least for me. Very possibly there are other writers who can burn through these pages with no problem. I am so not one of them.)


Because with a graphic novel, I found myself having to pause before writing every. Single. Panel. Pause and ask myself:

What is happening in this panel?
Okay, what does that look like?
Picture it in my mind…
Okay, how do I convey that to the artist?
Type type type…
Okay, now what are the characters saying here?
Type type type…
Umm, okay, that’s pretty good. Do we need any sound effects? Yes? Well, what does that sound like?
Think think think…
Type type type…
I think I like that. Good job. *pats self on back*
Moves on to next panel.
So… what is happening in this panel?


So every step of the way would require me to stop and consider the story, panel-by-panel, action-by-action, line-by-line, and there just wasn’t anything speedy about it!



In Part III, I’ll go into a bit more detail on panel descriptions and other technical considerations of scriptwriting. Stay tuned!


Read this blog series from the beginning: Part I | Part II

Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part I

Posted on: 5th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve
Comments Off on Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part I



I’d intended to write this blog series when WIRES AND NERVE first came out last January, but never got around to it, so here – finally! – as we’re in the midst of celebrating the launch of WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE (out now!!), I wanted to answer some of the questions that have come up over the past year and talk about the similarities and differences that I encountered in writing both novels and my first two graphic novels. So if any of you are dreaming of one day writing a graphic novel yourself, or you’re just curious about how the process works, I hope you’ll find my thoughts useful!


Why I Wanted to Write Graphic Novels


First, some backstory on how I came to write WIRES AND NERVE to begin with.


Writing a graphic novel is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager, and first got majorly hooked on reading manga. At the time, though, graphic novels were almost nonexistent in the U.S. – other than Marvel and DC comic book compilations, at least. The genre just hadn’t hit its stride here. So even though my friends and I would spend hours  creating our own manga, it seemed like even more of an impossible dream than my OTHER big fantasy of someday becoming a bestselling novelist. (I’m telling you, guys. Dream big. Work hard. You just never know.)


So anyway, fast forward about fifteen years, and I’m wrapping up Winter and Stars Above and The Lunar Chronicles are coming to an end, and it was a very bittersweet time for me. I was excited to be moving on to new projects, but also sad to be leaving these beloved characters behind. Until one day, a new idea popped into my head – a spin-off story that would take place after Winter and follow Iko as the main character. It would answer some of the questions that remained unanswered in the books, and give me a chance to explore the backstory, dreams, and desires of one of my favorite characters. And of course, Iko always thought she was the hero of the books, anyway, so it seemed fitting to finally give her a story all her own.


As soon as this spin-off story started to grow in my imagination, I almost immediately began to envision it in graphic novel format. It seemed like an extra visual story, and I loved the idea of being able to use the images to compare and contrast the differences between human and machine, and also human and wolf-hybrids (as I knew early on that one of Luna’s bioengineered soldiers would be the main villain).


So one day I pitched my shiny new idea to my editor. She loved it, the two-book series was sold, the contract was signed, and I found myself facing a conundrum.


I did not know the first thing about writing a graphic novel.



The Research Phase


Every book I write begins with a research phase, but in the case of WIRES AND NERVE, the research was not so much about plagues and cybernetics and moon colonization, but rather the technical aspects of graphic novels and comic book scriptwriting.

I needed to know:

– Standard formatting practices

– Terminology (panels, splash pages, SFX, close-up, inset panel, etc.)

– The typical responsibilities of the writer and script vs. those of the illustrator

– Scriptwriting techniques and strategies, and what I can do to convey my intentions to the illustrator to better help them translate the story for the reader





These are a few of the books I read while researching how to write a graphic novel. Though I gleaned something useful info from all of them, I would say that the one I got the most out of was Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers. It’s pretty much just a compilation of various existing comic scripts, so it was a wonderful tool for seeing the styles of different artists and how they conquered different types of scenes and storylines. It really helped set my mind at ease when I saw just how different each of the authors’ styles was. Some writers are very, very detailed, and would write lengthy descriptions of each and every panel, detailing exactly how they wanted every image laid out. On the other hand, some writers were much more sparse with their artistic direction, giving just the necessary information for the artist to understand the scope of the story and the context of the dialogue. Seeing the wide variation of techniques showed me that there wasn’t going to be any One Right Way (just like writing a novel!), which helped me get over some of my early fears of being the amateur who was going to do everything wrong. 😊


Once I felt like I had a decent grip on what the finished product was going to look like, and what my responsibilities were in terms of creating it, it was time to get started!

In Part II, I’ll talk about pre-writing, and some of the ways in which it was similar and different to pre-writing my novels.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV



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