Monday, August 29, 2016

Muggin' It

Sometimes the best pieces of advice are the ones that stare you right in your face. Or in this case, every morning when I take a sip of coffee. 
Mug that says Make it Worse
Mug that says Tension on Every Page

Mug that says Raise The StakesI've had the pleasure of working with independent editor Lorin Oberweger and attending several of her Free Expressions conferences including The Breakout Novel with Donald Maass. For fun, she created a few t-shirts that including key phrases from some of the workshops. They caught on, and the rest is history. 

I love my mugs because after writing a scene or a chapter or whatever it is that I'm writing, I can look back and check off:

1) Was there "Tension on Every Page?"
2) Did I try to "Make it Worse?" 
3) Am I continuing to "Raise the Stakes?" 

If I haven't, well, first, I grab another cup of coffee, then I dig in again. 

You can check out Lorin's fun and informative merch here





Monday, August 22, 2016

From Page to Screen (and back again): #1 NYT Bestselling Author Jay Asher Returns and Talks Netflix

Thirteen Reasons Why Cover
It's been four years since we last spoke with author Jay Asher. At the time, his novel Thirteen Reasons Why had already spent over a year on the New York Times Bestseller's List and had been optioned by Universal Studios as a feature with Selena Gomez set to play lead, Hannah Baker. 

Fast forward to today, the novel is still going strong on the NYT Bestsellers List (over 208 weeks and counting!) and the film project has morphed into a thirteen episode miniseries (currently in production) on Netflix.  The miniseries stars newcomer Katherine Langford as Hannah, Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps) as Clay Jensen and Kate Walsh (Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy) as Hannah's mom. 

To add more power to the project, the Netflix series is executive produced by Selena Gomez with writer Brian Yorkey (co-playwright on the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal), showrunner Diana Son (American Crime, Blue Bloods) and director Tom McCarthy (Spotlight).
Jay Asher Headshot
Jay Asher


It's been quite the whirlwind adventure for Asher who has experienced a lot of change throughout the star-studded journey, but one thing remains the same. He is still the down to earth, cool, fun guy with a "can do" attitude that I met back in 2012. 

I had a chance to chat with Asher in July and reflect on the winding path that brought him to Netflix and his new book What Light to be released October 18, 2016 by Razorbill

JP: Could you reflect on the journey that took place from optioning the book at Universal to becoming a mini series at Netflix? What were some of the most exciting times and most challenging? 

JA: We first sold the rights for a theatrical film years ago. A script was written for it, but that's as far as we got. During that time, TV took off as an exciting place for high quality and unusual storytelling. When the producers approached me about pursuing that, it just felt perfect. They wanted to go after a 13-part series, one episode per "reason", which would let us explore each issue well beyond what we could do in a two hour film. The most exciting times have been seeing the quality of people coming on board, and hearing them talk so passionately about the project. We have a Pulitzer Prize winning series creator, an Oscar winning director working on the first two episodes, and every single actor is perfect for their role. Every one! The most challenging part has been watching some of the frustrations over the years from online fans who first heard about the movie rights and have been waiting all this time. Often, I had details that would make them excited, but I couldn't reveal them yet. Thankfully, I have a strong feeling that they'll see their patience rewarded.

JP: Selena Gomez was set to play Hannah, now she is Executive Producer. Did that transition occur organically? What is one thing about the film and tv world that you found contrasted the most with the literary/publishing world?
Lead Cast Headshots
Leads Dylan Minnette & Katherine Langford

JA: Selena has been involved since the beginning. Years went by between the time we first sold the theatrical rights and this last time, so that transition to another actress did happen organically. I'm very happy that Selena is still involved as an EP. From the beginning, we shared a vision for this project, and I know that's why it maintains that vision to this day, even with all the other people brought into it. The difference from the publishing world is, in film and TV, there's so much more that needs to happen before a final product is seen. In publishing, except in extremely rare circumstances, if a publisher buys the rights to a manuscript, it will become a book. With this, there's a lot more money involved, and more people--the right people--need to sign on. And those "right people" have to be available at the right time.

JP: In our last interview, you spoke about that moment at the back of the airport shuttle on your way to a speaking gig in Georgia when you received the offer from Universal. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself based on what you know now?

JA: I don't know if any advice would be warranted. Before we first sold the rights, I'd watched other authors go through the process. I was fairly realistic about the chances of it getting made. In fact, in the final weeks leading up to the filming for Netflix, I was still assuming something would keep it from happening. But the producers were telling me, "No, it's happening." And I'd respond, "Okay. We'll see."

Selena Gomez Headshot
Executive Producer Selena Gomez
JP: It must be exciting to see your “baby” grow but were you apprehensive to let go of the reigns? Could you describe your working relationship with writer/EP Brian Yorkey and the process that took place between author and showrunner?

JA: I'm normally a very anxious person with every aspect of publishing. My closest friends know how freaked out I get about my books coming out, and the editing, and covers... but they've all commented on my calmness over the TV series. Adapting a book is its own art, and it's exciting to watch these other incredible artists work on my story, and bringing themselves into it. I trust them all, yet I still have trouble believing all of these amazing people have come together for this book I started writing at a kitchen table in Wyoming. Many of them were fans of the book before they got hired for this job, including Brian Yorkey. The showrunner, Diana Son, is incredible. Honestly, every one of them, I'd love to hang out with outside of this project.

JP: Your new book What Light is coming out this Fall. How does the process and release of this novel compare to your previous experiences?
JA: In the nine years since my first book came out, this is only my third novel. Each, while having similar themes that connect them, have very different tones and structures. So there's a lot of anxiety about what people will think, even though I've been completely happy with how they all turned out. With all of them, even the one I co-wrote, they're exactly as I want them. Obviously, with the success of my first book, there's more interest in anything else I release. While it is exciting to see that interest, it comes with its own worries because the books are so different. But I do kind of like that each release feels just as nerve-racking and thrilling. It means I care about what I'm putting out!

JP: Between the Netflix series, your blog, new books, school visits, how do you juggle everything? What’s one thing that helps you to focus and keep writing?

What Light CoverJA: Juggle? I don't know how to juggle, physically or metaphorically. I just tackle things as they come and try not to let things slip too far off track. I travel a lot, and have never figured out a way to write while I travel. I also can't make myself write unless the idea is pounding to get out. I wish I knew how to change all of that, the juggling and writing, but in the nine years that I've been published, I'm starting to feel okay with my cluttered inconsistency.

JP: In our last interview, you spoke about the books you read and your reading process when you’re writing. Is there a book that you just finished that you would recommend?

JA: The last two YA books I read and loved, though they don't come out until later this year, were Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven and Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg.

You can find out more about Asher and his novels and adventures here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Interview with Author Rita Branches + a Chance to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

I'm super excited to have author Rita Branches join us today. Rita is here to chat writing, publishing and her latest release, UNDER A MILLION STARS. Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Also, quick PSA: Make sure to swing by on Monday when we will be hosting New York Times Bestselling author Jay Asher as he talks about his hit novel 13 Reasons Why and its road to Netflix series. (Yes, THE Jay Asher. You don't wanna miss it!)

Without further ado, please join me in giving Rita a huge Thinking to Inking welcome!

Hi Rita! Thanks so much for joining us to chat your latest release, Under a Million Stars. The cover is beautiful!  Can you tell us a little but about your writing process for Under a Million Stars and how it differed from your debut, Painting Sky?

I actually wrote most of Under a Million Stars before Painting Sky, then I took a break because it’s a heavy book and it was difficult to write, even if I never went through anything like Charlie’s going through, it’s easy to enter the character’s head and feel like her. After finishing Painting Sky - which is much more easy going - I picked up Charlie’s and Jacob’s story and was able to give them a proper ending.

How do the ideas for your stories come to you? How did you come up with the idea for Under a Million Stars?

Honestly? I have no idea! They just come to me. It starts with just a tiny idea and then the characters come to life in my head, way before I put them on paper (or screen). The rest of their stories grow while I’m writing them.

What surprised you most about writing and publishing the second book vs. the first?

Like I said, I wrote most of Under a Million Stars before Painting Sky, but I must say that the ending came much more quickly than Painting Sky, the story unfolded in front of my eyes and I think I managed the perfect ending for their story, I also had Painting Sky’s reviews in mind while finishing this book. Readers’ opinions are very important - good, or not so good - to improve a writer’s way of working.

What advice would you give writers still working to make their publishing dreams a reality?

Do it! Yes, that’s my advice. Take a chance. I spent years writing and thinking about publishing and, even though I think I’m much more mature in my writing now, I wish I had taken a chance long ago.

What are you reading now?

I try to read so many books at the same time, it’s difficult to say, now I don’t have that much time to do it, but the paperback that I’m reading (and enjoying!) is ‘The Problem with Forever’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Who's your favorite character from Under a Million Stars?

Oh, that’s difficult! I loved almost all of them. Charlie and Jacob hold a sweet place in my heart, for obvious reasons. But I enjoyed Jacob’s parents and Kylie - their friend.

And, even though we don’t actually meet Jamie, I feel like I lost him too. Writing one chapter about him (you’ll have to read to know which) was the only time I ever cried while writing and editing that chapter broke my heart every time.

If you could be one character from any book or movie, who would it be?

We like to read about exciting stories and exciting characters with amazing lives but, in most books, there are problems that I wouldn’t want to face, so it’s difficult to say. In my favorite books the characters go through horrible obstacles, so, I choose to be just me ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by, and congrats on the release of Under a Million Stars!  

More about Under a Million Stars:
Under a Million Stars
by Rita Branches
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 8th 2016

Can a beating heart bleed from the shattered pieces?

Her heart cracked when her best friend walked away; it completely shattered when she lost her family in a tragic accident.

Now orphaned at seventeen, Charlotte Peterson is forced to live with her former best friend, Jacob Parker. Charlie, a talented pianist, desperately wants their loving friendship back, but something is holding Jake back. The more she spirals into the darkness of depression, the more she needs him.

Jacob vowed to stay away from her—no matter how much he still loved her. Armed with secrets that would have destroyed both of their families, he chose to end their friendship and walk away, which nearly killed him. As he watches the girl he once knew begin to fade away, however, he realizes that their relationship is more important than the truth he's hiding.

Now it's up to Jacob to put the pieces of Charlie's broken heart back together—even if it means revealing the secrets he so desperately wants to protect her from.
Will Jacob find a way to bring back the carefree, talented girl he once knew, or is it too late for both of them?


About the Author 

Hi! I'm Rita Branches. I was born and raised in in Portugal and I'm going to independently publish my debut novel in the Spring of 2016, Painting Sky. I am so happy that you decided to take a look at my work. Little bit about myself: along with being a writer, I am also a landscape architect. I started writing to bring 'to life' the stories that my mind created.

I LOVE to read. It was and always will be my passion.

Author Links:

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Story Arcing Real Life Adenveture

Trying to decide what to do about my trail experience - to write about it or not.

I have an idea or two, but am struggling with the story arc. How exactly am I going to frame this story?  And what if I want to blend genres?  What else can I do?  Google.

I have come up with some steps and googled a few sites that I found useful and thought other might too.


Story Arc Searches:


1. Google story arc (skip this if you already know what it is and the parts).

2. Google story arc worksheets and/or story arc template images. This really helps me visualize the story and get started.

3. Google story arc generator (if you are stuck for ideas or plot twists).  I like  den.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot.

4. www.storyjumper.com/main/starter also had lots of good questions and points.

Hope this helps not just me, but you.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Interesting Writing Link Roundup: 8/10/16

The last few weeks have been busy ones in the writing world! Here are some recent stories and articles I found particularly interesting.
If you've ever worried that you haven't been quite polite enough to agents, this cautionary tale will put things in perspective.

Since I'm due to have my second child in the next few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about the scary things out there in the world and how to help them cope with the challenges they'll face in the future. This awesome article, written by authors Kate Milford and Fran Wilde for the Washington Post, really resonated with me.

Continuing the children theme, I love this NYT article about the benefits of reading real, paper books to your young children. (Part of the reason I feel good about this might be that it justifies the literal hundreds of board and picture books scattered around our house.)

And to end on a lighter note, this story from The Onion is good for a laugh (and maybe just a leeetle bit of reflection on whether there are better ways to promote than those bookstore author events—I'm not a fan, personally!).

Did you see any interesting articles or stories about writing recently?