Still abuzz from the star-studded premiere of Veronica Mars! You guys. You guys… I have lost the ability to form words. It was so amazing. I took all the pictures.

First of all–the flick is great. Go see it this weekend! It was a great follow-up to the show, and Rob Thomas and team do not let you down. All the characters you wanted to know about, a ton of surprises. I mean surprises. We gasped, we screamed, we cheered. At one point Faith, my date, actually jumped out of her seat. It was epic! Lives lost, bloodshed, spanning decades and continents… you will love it.

And the party! Every single person involved in that film is a total class act. They are so committed to their work, so involved, so supportive of and generous to the fans that helped make this movie possible. I am so, so grateful to have been a part of this project.

Highlights from yesterday include, but are not limited to:

  • Getting my first blow-out at a cool hair-styling place called drybar, while I sipped a mimosa.
  • Later seeing the girl across from me at the hair place at the premiere.
  • Having lunch and ice cream with Margaret Stohl at a famous farm-to-table where celebrities do lunch.
  • Driving down Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard, Sunset and Melrose and all the other famous streets in the beautiful LA sunshine.
  • The movie! The movie! The movie!
  • The Chinese Theater, which is GORGEOUS.
  • Meeting Rob Thomas! We met him first, in a big knot of YA authors including Rachel Caine and Mira Grant.
  • Talking to Ryan Hansen about Party Down and Friends with Benefits.
  • Having Enrico Colantoni introduce me to Diane Ruggiero (screenwriter!).
  • Talking to Diane Ruggiero about writing!
  • Meeting Darran Norris at the bar (Cliff!) and Amanda Noret,w ho had the most beautiful black gown on.
  • Doing Charlie’s Angels guns with Kristen Bell.
  • Meeting Martin Starr.
  • Chatting and making friends with so many Veronica Mars fans!
  • Dancing with Chris Lowell (at one point, Faith, Chris, and I made a Piz sandwich).
  • And, oh, yeah. THIS:


Posted in fabulosity, party girl, veronica mars, writing life, YA 7 Comments

The Ivy YearsI get a lot of email from fans of the Secret Society Girl series who want to know what they should read next. I often send them along to E. Lockhart’s THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE-LANDAU BANKS, which is about a high school student who takes down an all-male secret society. But it’s a very different kind of story, a sort of YA feminist fable, almost, with an omniscient narrator. Still, fabulous society intrigue, so if you like that aspect of SSG, then you’ll love Frankie. I also often recommend the novels of Stephanie Perkins, because I think she has great, really smart romances (also YA), and if you like the kind of guys I write about,  you’ll love St. Claire and Cricket.

Now I have a book to recommend if you want to read about college life at Yale. THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN, which I had the pleasure to read recently, made me so nostalgic for Yale Eli Harkness (As Sarina Bowen has named her Yale-esque campus). Life in the residential colleges, singing group rush, the athlete scene, the dining halls… you know that song “I Wish I Was Back in College” from Avenue Q? Yeah, that.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the cover reveal. (But don’t worry, I’ll definitely be posting again when the book comes out next month!) And here it is: The Year We Fell Down

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else can quite understand.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

Warm, funny, and often heartbreaking, The Year We Fell Down is New Adult contemporary romance. Contains: hot hockey players, too many pairs of crutches, gallows humor, Princess Bride references, and a slightly outrageous vibrator scene. (Sexual situations make the book suitable for ages 18+.)

The expected publication date is Monday, March 17th, 2014, on all of your favorite e-book websites.

Sarina Bowen writes contemporary romance and new adult fiction from the Green Mountains of Vermont. She lives with her husband, two children, eight chickens and an unwieldy pile of ski and hockey equipment.
Posted in other writers, SSG 2 Comments

8246872325_a982f05fcdThis weekend I’m a guest judge at the Cherrydale Library’s Edible Book Contest. I know, right? It’s like the perfect marriage between a novelist and a food critic. Here are all the details:

What is an edible book?

  • It’s any representation of a book title that is made primarily from edible materials.
  • It can look like a book, refer to a character, be a pun on a title etc.
  • It can be as fancy as a decorated cake or as simple as a bowl of grapes (The grapes of wrath?)
  • Check out some of last year’s entries.8247943602_24ea592286

How does the contest work?

  • Deliver entries to the Cherrydale Branch Library from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 1.
  • Awards will be given out at 3 p.m., and then light refreshments will be served.

Competition categories include

  • Best in Show
  • Best Entry by an Individual (Children under 12, Teens 13-18, Adults)
  • Best Entry by a Family
  • Best Entry by a Group
  • Viewer’s Choice

Start baking! There will be prizes!

Posted in fabulosity Comments Off on Edible Book Contest

vania-disneyIn the months since the release of ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA, I’ve heard from a lot of readers about loving Persis, loving Princess Isla, Persis and Isla’s relationship, general gender-flippery, and even wanting a star cove of their very own. And I agree on all these things.

But today, while reading an article about stereotypical female characters you never see as males, I started thinking about another of my favorite characters from that book: the villain, Vania Aldred.

I love Vania. I named her after my friend, the talented photographer Vania Stoyanova, because that name is awesome and so is she. When I asked the real Vania if I could name my villain after her, she said, “Hell yes!” When I added that the villain was clever and evil and marvelous and liked to wear capes made of black feathers she was like, “Honey, when you’ve made the sale, stop selling.”

But Vania is awesome. She wouldn’t be a good villain unless she was a match for my heroine Persis. She’s just as clever and ambitious and resourceful… not to mention just as conflicted and damaged by the society she grew up in. In another world, Vania and Persis might have been friends. After all, she was lifelong friends with my hero, Justen.

Why is Vania the villain? All characters have flaws, but in storytelling, the villain is the one who has a fatal flaw — one that they cannot overcome or mitigate in order to find redemption. (We’re not talking about tragedies or anti-heroes here.) It’s a lot more fun when the villain is a real person who you, on some level, sympathize with, rather than a blankly evil, evil-to-be-evil capital E-Evil (see also: boring “First Evil” from Buffy versus Glory, who Just Wants to Go Home).  In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, there’s a one-two punch with villain Gaston, who actually has the same vain, egotistical flaw that caused the Beast’s own downfall. The Beast learns his lesson (hero); Gaston (villain) does not.

I read an article that said the original concept for Frozen was much more in keeping with the actual Snow Queen story, with the Queen as a villain, but when they presented the song “Let it Go” to the Powers that Be, they realized that a song about empowerment and self-acceptance is not a song for a villain. This is not a song about a fatal flaw (see: “Gaston” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” etc.).

I had fun writing the scenes from Vania’s point of view and exploring the way her father twisted Vania’s beliefs, the same way he twisted the beliefs of the other Galatean revolutionaries. Vania is strong (positive), ambitious (positive), caring of her family and foster siblings (positive), respectful of history (positive), and interested in liberating her people from a cruel overlord (positive). She’s also petty (negative), superior (negative),  casually cruel (negative), bigoted (negative), and, worst of all, she’s unable to see the error of her ways. There are other instances of pettiness, superiority, and bigotry in the book from the “good guys” — because people aren’t perfect. Two other Galatean revolutionary characters, Remy and Justen, spend the book overcoming their learned bigotry. Vania doubles down. That’s what makes her the villain.


Maybe I’m thinking about this a lot right now because I’m writing a story ABOUT a villain: about the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty. She’s in my head. Is she good? Is she bad? Is she redeemable? What makes her tick? How’s it all going to end?

I’ll tell you one thing: she’s fascinating.

Posted in star-swept, writing advice, writing life, YA 2 Comments

The news is out so I thought I’d share:



Com 30 mil cópias vendidas em seis meses, “O Livro das Princesas”, projeto da Galera Record que reuniu autoras brasileiras e americanas em novas versões de contos de fadas, rende crias. Sai em maio “O Livro dos Vilões”, com contos das americanas Cecily von Ziegesar (sobre as irmãs de Cinderela) e Diana Peterfreund (sobre Malévola) e dos brasileiros Carina Rissi (sobre a madrasta da Branca de Neve) e Fabio Yabu (sobre o Lobo Mau). Além disso, Paula Pimenta, uma das autoras de “O Livro das Princesas”, prepara um livro com a ampliação de sua versão para “Cinderela” e outro com releitura de “A Bela Adormecida”. – Folha de S.Paulo


A (sorta) translation, for the English speakers amongst us:

Princesses, The Sequel

With 30,000 copies sold in six months, “The Book of Princesses”, a Galera Record project which brought together Brazilian and American authors in contemporary versions of fairy tales, yields offspring. Out in May, “The Book of Villains,” with tales from Americans Cecily von Ziegesar (about Cinderella’s sisters) and Diana Peterfreund (about Maleficent) and Brazilians Carina Rissi (about the stepmother of Snow White) and Fabio Yabu (about the Big Bad Wolf). Also, Paula Pimenta, an author of “The Book of Princesses”, prepares a book with the expansion of its version of “Cinderella” and another with a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty.”

(So, Filhotes de Princesas translates literally to Puppies of Princesses, but speaking as someone who used to write cutesy headlines for little pieces like these, I’m pretty sure it’s the cutesy Brazilian version of Princesses 2: Electric Boogaloo.)

I am SO EXCITED to write this story! I’m a huge fan of Sleeping Beauty  and I’ve always thought that though the evil fairy kind of got out of hand with her revenge scheme, she does have a point about not being invited to the princess’s party. The release of the book is scheduled to coincide with the Angelina Jolie movie, Maleficent.

And I’m so excited to be working directly with Editora Record, the publisher of my Secret Society Girl and killer unicorn books, for the first time ever. I’ve never written directly for a foreign language before, so it’s been lots of fun trying to figure out a title that translates well, etc. Stay tuned for all the details.

Oh, and if you’re an English language publisher, anthologist, editor, etc. who is interested in getting your hands on this story, those right are available and I’m open to exploring my options to getting this to an English speaking audience as well (or any other language, for that matter). Drop me a line.

Posted in anthologies, Brazil Comments Off on Great News for Brazilian Readers!

Today we’re going to talk about the new book RELEASED, by S. J. Pajonas. I’ve gotten to know Stephanie as my “Viv Daniels” persona because we’re both publishing “new adult” books. But I actually think her futuristic Japanese novels would appeal more to fans of For Darkness and Star-Swept, so I’m posting about her newest book, RELEASED, here.

Look at this cover, guys:


Isn’t that gorgeous? I love those cranes. The covers on these books are actually from photographs that Stephanie took while researching in Japan. How cool is that?

And here’s what it’s about:

Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While Nishikyō recovers from the earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s eventual rule on Yūsei continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs.

Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With relations in Sakai clan rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who amongst the clans is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?

From Nishikyō to Yūsei, RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating New Adult post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them in the future.

As you can tell, this story is kinda epic, so it might be best to start with book one, REMOVED:

REMOVED (Book ONE of the Nogiku Series)
Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything.

Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin, a sweet and smart half-Japanese girl, is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love and excitement on New Year’s Eve 3103. Mark Sakai, who knows more about her than any stranger should, thinks Sanaa is the perfect person to spy on the heads of the three biggest Japanese clan leaders in Nishikyō. He wants her to gather enough evidence to keep them from going to war when they land on Earth’s colonization planet, Yūsei. Nishikyō, built by the Japanese 300 years ago to house the rest of mankind, is failing and everyone is preparing to leave.

Sakai has known Sanaa’s family all her life but she knows nothing of him! And despite all the time they spend together, he keeps his distance from her. Then one day, he brings her to Jiro, his nephew, to learn sword fighting, and it changes her life irrevocably. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering on the clans, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts her and all of Nishikyō in danger.

Buy it now: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBookstore / Kobo

And here’s a special excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Itami-sama, I’m glad to see you’re feeling better. Sakai-san tells me you were injured during the earthquake. How unfortunate.”

What a supremely cunning liar Minamoto is. I’m sure he knows everything about the fight, my injuries, my recovery, and my near death again in the hospital at the hands of an assassin. He has spies. We have spies. If only we all just told each other everything, but instead we do this dance. To men like Minamoto, the dance is everything, and if I don’t want to offend him, I will have to step lightly.

“I am quite well now, thank you, Minamoto-san.” I rise from seiza to lean forward and lift my cup of tea from the table between us. Jiro is sitting silently to my left, Usagi standing behind me, and Sakai is on my right.

I sit back on my heels and take the time to sum up Kentaro Minamoto. He’s twenty-two, the same age as Jiro. He’s lean, fit, and possibly a little wiry under his gray kimono. He has a thin face, long forehead, and short spiky hair. If I had seen him out and about, I definitely would have thought, “Not my type.” He has yet to utter a word, but he is watching me while I watch him.

“Minamoto-san, you said you had business to discuss,” Sakai says, setting his tea cup down and placing his hands on his upper thighs. I continue to sip at the genmaicha. Hmmm, this tea is not as bad as I remember it being.

Kentaro lightly shakes his head at Minamoto. Violences flashes over Minamoto’s eyes as Kentaro turns towards me.

“Itami-sama, before the earthquake, I was prepared to get back to you about my support. I am willing to throw the full weight of my house behind you, but I ask one thing in return.”

I keep my face as passive as possible. Here it comes.

“You currently have no consort. You are twenty and of the age that such things are permissible. It would be advantageous for both our families if you were to take my son, Kentaro.”


Buy it now: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBookstore
Learn more about S.J. Pajonas:

Check it out now!


Posted in other writers, SF 12 Comments

Books/stories written:

  • “The First Star to Fall” [10k]
  • Omega City [50k]
  • One & Only (w/a Viv Daniels) [75k]
  • unfinished novella* [20k]
  • Sweet & Wild (w/a Viv Daniels) [40k, plus whatever I manage in the next few days]

Total wordcount for 2013: 195,000**

* Despite revising this novella multiple times, I could never get it to gel. It took longer to write than a full-length book. In the end, I was forced to shelve it.
** I also revised 105,000 words

Books/stories sold:

  • Omega City 1,2,3
  • “The Last of the Unicorn Hunters”
  • “Huntress Sinister”
  • (Plus several foreign deals and reprints)

Books/stories published:

  • For Darkness Shows the Stars, extras paperback
  • Foretold, paperback
  • Under my Hat, paperback
  • “Sharper than a Seraph Blade” in Shadowhunters and Downworlders
  • Across a Star-Swept Sea
  • “The Last of the Unicorn Hunters” in When the Hero Comes Home, vol. 2
  • One & Only (written as Viv Daniels)

Book festivals/conferences/attended:

  • New York Teen Author Fest
  • Frederick Book Festival
  • DC AwesomeCon
  • BEA
  • DragonCon
  • Baltimore Book Festival
  • Capclave
  • NINC

Plus another dozen unconnected signings. It was a busy year for events.

Writing Retreats Attended:

  • Chicago with Simone Elkeles and Mari Mancusi (August 2013)
  • New York City with Mari Mancusi (November 2013)


  • After years of only self-publishing reprints of short stories, I not only self published an original short story (“The First Star to Fall”) but I also wrote and self-published a novel! I’m officially a hybrid author!
  • I sold my first trilogy! (Yes, it took me this long to even write one.)
  • I added two new genres to my resume with the above entries: Middle Grade (or action adventure, or both) and new adult romance. It’s fun to write things that aren’t SFF sometimes.
  • For Darkness Shows the Stars, already on the Capitol Choices (DC Area) Reading List, is also on the Lonestar Reading List!
  • Across a Star-Swept Sea got a starred review from VOYA.


That’s all the good news. The bad news is that while I was doing all this, I forgot to take care of myself. It’s been a very stressful few years–2013 might be the worst of the lot–and my health has taken a hit. As I’ve read the accounts from fellow writers like Stephanie Perkins, Lauren DeStefano, Jessica Spotswood, Andrea Cremer, and others who have struggled with health issues, I’ve seen too much of myself in their posts. (And a few weeks ago the YA community lost Ned Vizzini, who wrote wonderful books about his own struggles with depression.) When I read the blog of the fabulous and indomitable Susan Donovan and learn how one of the reasons she’s alive today is because she was so very healthy and active when the infection hit, I know that I’ve been too much of a lump. My friends and family have seen it, too. I read the articles about the increased rate of depression in writers, I hear the jokes about how we’re all miserable, alcoholics, and drug addicts, I see the cartoons like this:

drunken vagrantI’ve started thinking it’s too close to true. So though I’d like to set out goals for next year, I have only one priority, and it’s to get myself back together again. I used to be the girl who went hiking with my dog for three miles every day. I used to be the girl who grew a garden every year, who liked cooking and crocheting and home improvement projects, who kept foster dogs and volunteered at the zoo and wanted to travel. And I tell myself, well, you have a kid now, some things are going to have to give. But what shouldn’t give is me.

Of course I’ll still be writing; it is my job. I have edits due in January, not to mention two books to write, a short story to expand, and two books to publish in 2014. Still, my MG and NA novels are shorter books, not the 120,000 word doorstopper that Star-Swept ended up being (watch out, George R. R., amirite?). But I think I will be pulling back majorly on events and concentrating on my health and achieving a work-life balance.

On that note, I’m off to celebrate a kid-friendly “GMT New Year” with some friends-with-kids. Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night.

Posted in Uncategorized 2 Comments

After the discussion exploded on Twitter and Facebook yesterday, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t include a more in-depth analysis of the issue here. I think there are some who are misunderstanding the complaint of the YA writers who feel the category has been underserved by its description.


The way the RITA award is structured is messed up is that you pay $50 to enter your book (and $150 if you aren’t an RWA member), and when you enter you pick the category you are entering your manuscript in. There are nine subject/subgenre categories, plus a “best first book” category that debut writers can check in addition to the category they are also entering. Most of the categories are subgenre related, such as “best historical romance” and “best paranormal romance”. (It would be like the Nebulas had a best space opera, best steampunk, best dystopian, etc. category. It would also be like the Nebulas was a pay to play award, but that’s a whole OTHER discussion.)

There are two length-based awards: “best novella” (romance doesn’t publish a whole lotta short stories), and “best short contemporary romance” (by which the denizens of romancelandia mostly mean category romance as published by Harlequin, though in this brave new world of ebooks, there are lots of titles that now fall into the “under 65k” rubric.

So basically, when you enter, you, the entrant, decide which category your book fits best into. Your historical paranormal romance could be entered into either category, for example.

In the decade or so I’ve been in RWA, they’ve rejiggered the categories and their descriptions several times. Like they used to have a category called “single title romance” by which everyone in the industry understood meant NON-Harlequin-category contemporary romance, but no one else understood the jargon, so they axed it. They had to change the descriptions of their “short contemporary” and “long contemporary” requirements every time Harlequin changed their word counts. They added in a “fiction with strong romantic elements” category at one point [read: women’s fiction/chick lit]. Then, two years ago, in an attempt to rebrand RWA as being for ROMANCE writers, they axed that one and wrote new descriptions and judging guidelines and decided to focus heavily on the romance.

Which is fine. I cannot stress this enough. If RWA wants to be an organization that focuses solely on its mission of romance fiction, I think that’s GREAT. It doesn’t need to have women’s fiction in its organization just because some of its members also or mostly or even only write women’s fiction (raises hand). I published “women’s fiction” for years and I didn’t enter it in the RITA because I didn’t think it belonged and I’m fine with that. I don’t need RWA to cater to me when I’m not writing romances. But, you know, sometimes I write romances, too.

Now, in order for your category to “make it” into the contest, it needs to comprise 5% of the entries, which are capped at 2,000 (so, 100 entries in any given category). This year, YA didn’t “make it” which means that there weren’t 100 YA entries. YA entrants got the option of having their book switched to another category or having their entries and fees returned.


Here’s why I think that happened. If you look at the category descriptions of each category, they are far, FAR more restrictive for YA romance than for any other category of its nature. Because they are so restrictive, many people who would have entered their books in the RITA did not (I heard from nearly a dozen yesterday.)

Most of the subgenres of romance have crossovers. For instance, you can write a historical paranormal, or an inspirational [read: Christian] suspense, and you have to choose where your book best fits. When they redesigned the RITAs two years ago, due to a huge, years-long outcry by the erotic romance community about how they were being judged too harshly in their respective categories by judges who didn’t like sex, they chose to institute a special “erotic romance” category. Erotic romances can be any other subgenre of romance (historical, paranormal, etc.). Same with “inspirational romance” which also doesn’t always get a fair shake in say, the straight up historical category.

[Please note that in every single category of the RITA, the judging guidelines that appear below the category description require that “the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.” This appears in every single category, because it’s a romance contest, and the books should be romances.]

So let’s play a game. Here are some category descriptions:

  • Paranormal Romance: Novels in which the future, a fantasy world or paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot.  
  • Romantic Suspense: Novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. 
  • Historical Romance: Novels set in any historical time period.

Okay, fair enough, right? They focus on the specific elements that make those romance novels fit into those categories. Now, here’s the description for YA.

  • Young Adult Romance: Novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship between two adolescents. These novels are marketed to adolescents and young adults.

One of these things is not like the other. Compare that YA description to the description for the two “contemporary romance” categories:

  • Short Contemporary Romance: Novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are less than 65,000 words in length.
  • Contemporary Romance: Novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are greater than 65,000 words.

Gee, nearly identical, huh? Reading that, you’d think that “YA Romance” was just another kind of contemporary romance, wouldn’t you? Like “contemporary romances” (i.e., now-set romance novels with no strong paranormal, mystery, thriller, religious, etc. plotline) YA romances are required to “focus primarily on the romantic relationship.”

Star-sweptExcept, we all know that’s not what all YA romances are. Sometimes they are contemporary romances that focus primarily on a romantic relationship (Anna and the French Kiss, Eleanor and Park, Perfect Chemistry, etc.) Sometimes, in addition to the romance, there’s a lot of other stuff going on, like saving the world from a demon invasion (The Mortal Instruments), or running away from home and falling into a magical addiction (Valiant), or trying to survive on an alien planet after your spaceship crashed (the upcoming These Broken Stars).

Because of this description, a lot of people didn’t enter their YA romances. I still entered Across a Star-Swept Sea, though it also does not “focus primarily on the romantic relationship between two adolescents.” What it is is a futuristic spy thriller. Yes, there is a romantic relationship that is a “main focus” of the novel, but there’s also a revolution and genetic engineering and court politics and all kinds of stuff, much like there would be in an adult romantic suspense novel (i.e., they fall in love while also catching the serial killer). I mean, let’s be honest here. It’s inspired by the Scarlet Pimpernel, which is one of the ur-books of the romance genre and inspired countless of the romance novels published. It’s definitely a romance.


Since YA Romance, like erotic romance and inspirational romance, also exists in every other subgenre of romance, I feel the description of YA Romance should mimic that of those categories. Here’s the description of “erotic romance” in the RITA Awards:

Erotic Romance: Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).

Why can’t the YA description be similar? Something, perhaps, like this:

“Novels in which a romantic relationship between adolescents is an inherent part of the story. These novels are written for and marketed to adolescents and young adults and may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).”

And then they can have your whole “love story must be a main focus of novel and ending must be satisfying and optimistic” bit in the judging guidelines, just as they do now and as they do for every single category in the entire contest.

What I’m not saying: That RWA should open up the YA category to books that aren’t romances. That’s silly. Of course not all YA novels are romances. Not all erotic novels are romances, either.

As for me, I chose to have my entry fee returned to me rather than choose an alternate category for Star-Swept. I did this because I didn’t feel like “paranormal romance” (where RWA lumps the tiny, tiny percentage of futuristic SF romance that is published along with a ton of vampire and werewolf books) was a suitable category for my story. Luckily, there are still other genre awards this book may be eligible for. There are lots of awards and other honors for young adult lit given out by librarians (hi, librarians!) And as a science fiction novel, it has options that my fellow disappointed entrants writing, say, historical YA, may not. If you are a SFWA member and liked Across a Star-Swept Sea, you can vote for it in the Nebula Awards (Norton). (Hi, SFWA folk!)

And, if you are an RWA member, please consider writing a letter to the board to ask them to revisit the YA descriptions, so what happened this year does not happen again.

For more excellent coverage on this issue, check out blog posts by Marni Bates, who discusses her disappointment in the category and why the awards are important (and there’s some great points in the comments section), and Bria Quinlan, who is posting covers of books that didn’t make it into the RITAs this year because of the cancellation.

Posted in industry, industry news, romance, writing industry, writing life, YA 4 Comments

This year, I published my most frockalicious book yet. Lady Persis Blake wears nearly twenty different amazing outfits over the course of Across a Star-Swept Sea, and she’s also a certified badass. Which is how I know she’d get on like a house on fire with Lilac LeRoux, who like Persis, is futuristic, rich, fashionable, and totally awesome.

And she manages all of this in a single gown. This one:


Altogether now: Oooooooooooooh. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

These Broken Stars is the first in an amazing new sci-fi series by authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Think Firefly meets shipwreck. You’re gonna love it.

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the Skylark trilogy, currently lives in Asheville, NC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! These Broken Stars will be available in North America on December 10, 2013.

And here’s the coolest part. Lilac’s green gown is real, and it’s going on tour! The first stop, yesterday, was chilling with Marie Lu on the streets of LA. Today, the gown is hanging with me in our nation’s capital.

We took a little hike in Rock Creek Park. Ah, the fall color!


And by “we”, I mean me, the dress, and of course, Rio:



This one might be my favorite:


Nothing like a rock throne, amirite?

Thank you so much to Disney/Hyperion, Meagan, and Amie for letting me unleash my inner Lilac and go hiking through the wilderness in a fine green gown.

And that’s not all, folks!

TBSposterbanner_largeClick on this picture to enter the pre-order campaign.

And stay tuned for more adventures of the Traveling These Broken Stars Dress.

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Tomorrow afternoon from 4:30-8, you can find me at the Annapolis Barnes & Noble, signing copies of all my books and chatting with fellow authors Lea Nolan (ALLURE), Jon Skovron (MAN MAD BOY), and Andria Buchanan (EVERLAST). Catch me there!


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