Showing posts from January, 2014

Success Story: Sabaa Tahir and her YA novel, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

This week, I'm interviewing the fantastic Sabaa Tahir about AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, a YA fantasy being published by Razorbill!  In addition, Tahir has sold film rights to Paramount.  Pretty crazy, right? When I read about the deals in Publishers Weekly, I thought to myself, "Hey, isn't that the nice lady who tweeted me advice on feeding kale to my baby? How completely amazing!" Naturally, I had to learn more.

So without further ado, the Q&A.

Hi Sabaa! Thanks so much for the interview. I'd love to hear more about your debut novel, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES! What's the genre and one-sentence pitch?

Thank you, Maya! One sentence is tough, but here goes: Ember is YA fantasy about Laia and Elias: two teenagers from very different social classes who are fighting for survival and freedom while living under a brutal military dictatorship reminiscent of Ancient Rome.

What inspired the premise?

Articles I read while working at The Washington Post. These stories—about th…

Revisions: Tackling that Baby Monster of a First Draft

It's January, and it's time to tackle those baby monster NaNo novels, if you haven't already.  They're hairy, moody, random, but hopefully have some teeth.  It can feel a little overwhelming. Here are my tips to get started on draft 2!

1. Reread the first draft. It might be better than you think! 2. Highlight the lines you really like--and try to keep them in the next draft. 3. Make a list of things you like and things you don't like.   You may well discover that you have to get rid of some of the things you like later because they just don't fit, but keeping the list can help you stay positive & remind yourself of the things that drove you to start the project. 4. With the things you didn't enjoy, brainstorm about whether they can be improved upon or whether they should be eliminated or rewritten completely.
5. Write a one-sentence description of your story, which should include the character's goal, motivation, and conflict.
6. Write a practice …

On Starting New Projects

Yikes! 2013 was a difficult year for me.  I had two major family events in my life that consumed most of my brain, and quite a few other unfortunate other goings on that consumed the rest of it.  Result: writing ruts and many false starts.

Things did finally improve, writing-wise, in November and December.   I completed NaNo for the first time. I was amazed at how much I could output when push came to shove.  In December, I also started collaborating on a couple of picture books.  I have no idea what will come of them, but it's been a lot of fun to try something new and completely different.

Recently, Nathan Bransford blogged about the difficulty of starting a new project.

Looking back, here are some things that helped me:

1. Hold off on telling people your ideas.  Okay, this isn't for everybody.  But whenever a person responds to my idea without telling me what sheer genius it is, I inevitably question it.  The problem is compounded by the fact that I rarely have a fully fo…