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Billy’s Tattoos: An I Hunt Killers Tidbit

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I hear that question a lot, and the answer is that I’m not really sure (but read this guest post of mine anyway for some thoughts). Still, I know where some of the smaller ideas come from.

This Tumblr post reminded me of a tiny tidbit from the development of the I Hunt Killers series. So…

I came up with the name “Billy Dent” pretty early in the process of writing the series. It was there right from the beginning, really. And then something wonderfully serendipitous happened.

Many of you may know that I always try to put a Bruce Springsteen reference into my books. Sometimes it’s brutally obvious, as in Hero-Type. Other times, as in Goth Girl Rising, you gotta look for it.

The nature of I Hunt Killers dovetailed perfectly, though, with a specific lyric from the Springsteen song “Cautious Man:”

On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear

And in which hand he held his fate was never clear

Pretty perfect, eh? I couldn’t have asked for a better reference. And the fact that it suggested an actual plot twist made it even better.

 

Faith and Vision

I was so happy to announce The Secret Sea. As I mentioned when announcing it, the book actually sold to Feiwel & Friends nearly two years ago, but for various reasons, we had to delay announcing it until now. I am over-the-moon in love with this book and I’ve been champing at the bit to talk about it.

This book excites me for so many reasons, most of which I can’t reveal because they’re spoilers. But it’s a fun cast of kids, it’s a great age group to be dealing with, and as I said in the previous post, it’s basically the kind of story I’ve always imagined myself telling. And now I have.

It also excites me because it almost didn’t exist. And I thought I would take a moment to tell you why.

There’s a persistent myth that once an author is published, he or she will always be published. This is untrue.1 The fact of the matter is, you can publish one book — or two, or ten, or fifteen — and then never another one again. As with anything, publishing can be fickle, whimsical, arbitrary, mercurial. Publishing one book is no guarantee of publishing another.

Since the publication of my first book, I’ve had three separate books I’ve tried to publish that no one wanted to take a chance on. One of those books came very early in my career.

My second novel, Boy Toy, had just come out and the critical acclaim was terrific. My agent took my third book — a middle-grade fantasy novel — and sent it off to my editor, confident (as was I) in her immediate and enthusiastic offer of sweet, sweet cash.

Instead, she declined. Just wasn’t her cup of tea.

I can be honest about this now, years later: I was shaken. My agent immediately submitted the manuscript to five other editors.

They all turned it down, too.

[Read more…]



  1. I’ve written about my concerns about this fact here.

My Next Book: The Secret Sea

Secret Sea header_blogifiedOh, I have been waiting so long to tell you guys about this!

Barry Lyga’s THE SECRET SEA, pitched as a 21st-century WRINKLE IN TIME, about three friends who find themselves plunged into a world of quantum physics, a rare disease that only affects identical twins, and a mysterious fact about a real-life global catastrophe, to Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends, for publication in Spring 2016, by Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management (NA).

I sold The Secret Sea two years ago (almost to the day!). For various (boring) reasons, we had to keep it under wraps. But now it’s officially announced and I am beyond thrilled.

I am so freakin’ excited about this book! I can’t even explain it. It’s middle grade, but that doesn’t mean I’m pulling my punches. You’ll definitely know the guy who wrote I Hunt Killers was behind this.

But it’s so much more than that. There’s a scope to this book, a breadth that I’ve never achieved before in a published book. This is precisely the kind of story I always imagined myself telling when I was a kid and I daydreamed about being an author.

It took a long damn time, but it’s finally here. (Well, almost. You gotta wait ’til next year. Don’t complain — I’ve been waiting my whole life.)

I will have more to say on this very soon!

Clean Reading, Dirty Business

“I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?”

– Genesis 3:10-11

Let’s start with something both amusing and sad.

clean_reader_twitter_blogifiedOff to your left, you’ll see a detail snagged from the Twitter page of an app called Clean Reader, which purports to “clean” your reading experience by allowing you to mask curse words in ebooks.

Do you see the irony?

Clean Reader wants to protect people from the horrors of curse words. Yet its Twitter bio forces a curse word into your head! “Quit reading $%&# in your books!” can only mean one thing. “$%&#” doesn’t stand for crap or garbage or junk. If it did, there’d be no need to mask it. It can only stand for the word shit. The clean-minded folks at Clean Reader are forcing everyone who visits them on Twitter to think the word shit.

But at least they’re not reading it, right?

“Who told you that you were naked?”

“I saw it on Clean Reader’s Twitter page, my Lord.”

Okay, let’s move on. [Read more…]

Episode 9: “Can you do me a favor?”

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The ninth episode of Writing in Real Life is now up and available for your listening pleasure!

When do you stop reading a book? (Other than at the end, smart-ass.) Do you have to finish a book you start reading? Why? What is wrong with us as readers? Morgan disses Moby Dick. Barry scams the system. Morgan discovers freedom. Why aren’t episodes of Law & Order available on every flight? How do you decide which book to read next? Morgan’s love connection with Taylor Swift. Leia once again trolls her parents, sleep-wise. And Barry cheats at Recommended Reading. (Of course he does.)

Rate us on iTunes, follow us on Twitter, and be sure to send us feedback/topic suggestions!