Tag Archives: news

Right Now in Speculative Fiction

The NOOKcolor is here, which means you can now hand over a $200+ gadget to your toddler and test whether he can enjoy digital picture books without breaking the thing. The gadget includes a “Read To Me” function, which is perfect for when you’re sick of reading the same story aloud 500 hundred time in a row (can you tell I have a toddler?). You might also check out my online diary about my own experiences with the first generation NOOK here.

Tiger’s Curse, a fantasy romance by Colleen Houck about a cursed Indian prince, will be the first novel from Splinter, a new teen fiction imprint from Sterling Children’s Books. So if you’re sick of pining for vampires and werewolves, there’s whole new creature with fangs to fall in love with.

Speaking of love stories with bite, Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade is a new release about a werewolf girl who falls for a human boy. You can read about the cover art at Melissa Walker’s blog, but don’t say I didn’t warn you that there would be talk of blood-sprinkled flowers.

The New York Times looks back at the life of Eva Ibbotson, who wrote many fantasy novels for children although she didn’t publish her first until she was 50 years old. Books lovers are mourning her recent death of a heart attack at the age of 85. Her titles include The Secret of Platform 13 and Which Witch?

Please stop buying pet owls for your young Harry Potter fans! I found this article via BoingBoing in which the Indian Environment Minister blames Potter wannabees for the decline of wild owls in India. So if you’ve been trapping owls and trying messages to their legs, consider going back to regular old snail mail instead.

Our own giveaway is still going! Enter to win a copy of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams here. Rhonda Hayter’s journey to publish this book was quite interesting–read about that at the same link. We have a lot more interviews and giveaways coming up this month, so keep checking back for more.

Parker Peevyhouse


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TAG, You’re It!

There was an interesting announcement recently from Sterling, the book-publishing wing of Barnes & Noble. They will be launching a YA imprint called Splinter that will debut in January with at least one fantasy title, Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck, followed by four more books in the Tiger’s series.

New fantasy imprints are worth watching. Books published by a retailer are a trendy topic. But here’s what really raised my eyebrow:

“…all books will be released simultaneously in hardcover and e-book formats, and the print editions will be imbedded with TAG codes that will enable readers with smartphones to scan the codes to access Web-only material.”

The commitment to publish an e-book edition of every book simultaneously with the hardcover edition shows how legitimate the digital format has become. But what in blazes is a TAG code? Could they mean that those ugly QR Code blocks will be plastered throughout the book?

Page 112 of Tiger's Curse?

Obviously this is just a rough mock-up but it’s fun to imagine a book with web-content footnotes using a technology that’s becoming more and more common.

There could be links to interesting facts about the setting, video of the author explaining how a scene came to be, references to other books or movies that the reader might be interested in, pictures, recipes, or whatever. It would be just like an HTML-based book with hyperlinks!

We’re now seeing the first printed books that incorporate some of the capabilities of digital books. Only time will tell whether readers will come to expect hyperlinked content in all formats or if this is just the kind of weird experiment we see when people go a little nuts with a new technology.


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Right Now in Speculative Fiction: Major Deals

For this edition of Right Now, I give you a tantalizing list of recent major deals ($500K+) in speculative fiction!

A 17-year-old girl, who’s spent her life waiting for a group dubbed “The Society” to tell her who her ideal mate is, has her world upended when she discovers she’s falling in love with someone other than her supposed soul mate.

Star-crossed love and overbearing societies… I love a good dystopian!

A teenager is cryogenically frozen only to thaw too soon, before arriving at the new planet that’s her destination.

I’m especially excited about this book for two reasons: 1) It’s set on a spaceship, a setting I always find intriguing, and 2) Beth is a frequent visitor to the The Spectacle. Congrats, Beth!

A shy Nantucket teenager named Helen Hamilton is destined to start a Trojan War-like battle by falling in love with heartthrob Lucas Delos.

Greek tragedy + high school = next big romance sensation. I think this one should be made into a musical.

  • FOREVER - Maggie Stiefvater Summer 2011

The final book in the trilogy that began with Shiver, about a girl’s romance with a boy who turns into a wolf during winter. Included in this deal were three other, unnamed YA fantasy novels.

Sam gets my vote for most lovable werewolf. Can’t wait to see where FOREVER takes him.

A 16-year-old falls for a French teen named Vincent, who just happens to be a zombie.

Even after all the vampires and werewolves and faeries, I did not see this coming. Zombie romance? Apparently in this book, zombies aren’t quite as disgusting as usual–they don’t eat brains, and they don’t look like corpses.

I can’t find a description of this novel, but it’s nice to have at least one male author represented on our list.

A supernatural fantasy series set in Manhattan during the 1920s.

Bray has a way with settings–the Victorian boarding school in her Gemma Doyle series had some serious atmosphere. I can’t wait to step into a speakeasy!

A teenage girl with psychic abilities runs away to Whidbey Island, Washington State to escape from her stepfather, who has been exploiting her abilities, only to also be abandoned by her mother.

George has previously published books only for adults, which are all set in the UK. Apparently, her recent move to Whidbey Island is shaking things up.


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Right Now in Speculative Fiction

Bloomsbury promises a new cover for the US edition of Jaclyn Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass after receiving complaints that the novel’s dark-skinned main character appears white on the current US cover. (You can read our October interview with Dolamore here.) In response, Monsoon Summer author Matali Perkins is hosting a poll for booksellers, teachers, and librarians to find out how often kids read books whose covers feature persons of color compared to how often they read books that don’t.

Similarly, Little, Brown will now “adjust” the three covers of the Mysterious Benedict Society series, to portray a character described as having light brown skin more accurately. Currently, the character (Sticky Washington) appears pale-skinned on the covers.

In the midst of all this controversy, the Persons of Color Reading Challenge offers book suggestions and will give away prizes to those who reviews books about or by persons of color.

Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, a coming of age novel with a surprising time-travel plot thread, has been awarded the Newbery; Libba Bray’s Going Bovine has taken the Printz award. Myriad other recent award-winners are listed here. Winners of the Cybil Awards, for which our own Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest is a finalist, will be announced in February.

Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog has a list of eight YA authors who “shaped the world and language of YA over the past ten years”–what they’re calling “the YA decade.” Justine Larbalestier gives her response to the list here, pointing out the dominance of white authors on the list and adding some names of her own to it.

“Hard” science fiction is hard to find in YA, so says Charlie Jane Anders in this article on io9. Anders quotes our own frequent commenter, Tanita Davis, who claims there was “a SERIOUS dearth of actual science fiction” among the Cybil nominees this year. Our own Joni Sensel will post something related to this article tomorrow here on the Spectacle.

Should agents charge a minimum fee to their clients? Chuck Sambuchino discusses a suggested plan  in which an agent takes a higher commission on low advances as an incentive to take on risky books (those that probably won’t make much money). He claims this structure would help out authors whose books appeal only to a small audience, authors who would otherwise be overlooked by agents.

Giving away free books for the Kindle: “industry hypocrisy” or savvy business move? The New York Times  presents the issue here and spotlights YA author Maureen Johnson, whose Suite Scarlett hit No. 3 on Amazon’s Kindle Bestseller list after Scholastic offered free downloads of the novel in order to build hype for its upcoming sequel, Scarlett Fever (out Feb. 1).

If you thought the plot of recent sci-fi movie Avatar felt familiar, you’re not alone. Check out this hilarious screenplay treatment for the film… or is it for Disney’s Pocahontas?

The Harry Potter Alliance is planning to award some amazing prizes to randomly selected participants in the Help Haiti Heal compaign. Anyone donating $100 is eligible to win a set of Harry Potter books signed by J. K. Rowling–a special item considering Rowling rarely gives out her autograph.

Parker Peevyhouse


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Right Now in Speculative Fiction

Know someone between the ages of 9 and 16 who likes to write–or who just loves to read about ghosts? Our own Linda Joy Singleton (Dead Girl series), together with authors Chris Eboch (Haunted series) and Marley Gibson (Ghost Huntress series), is hosting a short story contest. Each entrant must write a story about his/her real or imaginary ghost encounter in 400 words or less. The winner will receive autographed copies of books by the three hosting authors.

The 2009 Cybils are now open for nominations. Anyone can nominate any children’s book published between October 2008 and the end of this year. So far, science fiction and fantasy nominations include books like R. J. Anderson’s Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter and Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant.  Get your nomination in by October 15.

Team Jacob fans now may soon have a new onscreen werewolf to admire: Unique Features has acquired film rights to Shiver, Maggie Steifvater’s bestselling novel about a girl who falls in love with a boy who turns into wolf during winter. A screenwriter has not yet been set.


Six authors give the buzz on banned books here, answering questions like, “Is there a silver lining in having your book challenged in terms of increased publicity?”

Literary agent Sara Crowe is calling for new YA manuscript submissions. On her blog, she spells the reasons she took on some of her clients, including Lisa Schroeder, author of the paranormal novel-in-verse, I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

You’ve heard about the necessity of a press kit for an author. But what about a blogger kit? Austin Kleon of The Book Design Review discusses the importance of “spreadability–images and videos that are easy to embed, post, disseminate on the web.” Find out what your blogger kit needs here.

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s interviews Booklist editor Daniel Kraus about reviewing book trailers. His best tip on creating a good book trailer: Stop doing the same old images+text thing and “create something wholly new. It could be an animation, it could be you talking to the camera, it could be a video diary entry from a character in the book–the point is that it is something that didn’t exist before you created it (kind of like your book).”

Need help tackling a new draft of your manuscript? Shari Green has compiled revision tips from ten different authors, including the above-mentioned Maggie Steifvater, Kelly Para (author of Invisible Touch), and more.

For those in need of a laugh, especially you editors and agents who have slush pile sickness–Jim C. Hines (author of Goblin Quest) presents “Slush Reading, Seuss Style.” Here’s a sample:

I do not want your D & D.
I do not like your elf PC.
I cannot stand your purple prose.
I want to punch you in the nose!

Finally, don’t forget to enter our October contest: Wow us with the opening of a story and win a giftcard to Powell’s online bookstore plus a copy of Dead Girl in Love by our own Linda Joy Singleton.

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse is having fun reading your story openings


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Right Now in Speculative Fiction

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is September 14-18: it will be devoted to spotlighting blogs that talk up books and promote reading. Plus, there will be giveaways and awards. You can vote now for your choice to win categories like Best Speculative Fiction Review Blog and Most Chatty.

Tweeting writers will want to use this Twitter guide for writers, which includes a great tip for easily finding out whether a person you follow is also following you, as well as a discussion about how much you should share in your tweets, (among other tips).

Harry Potter: 44. Hamlet: 7.  How much are your favorite books worth? This essay on the much-used Accelerated Reader school program laments the uneven approach to getting kids interested in reading.

Those handwritten notes stuck to bookstore shelves can influence buyers to pick up certain books. Publishers Weekly’s “Shelftalker” herself gives some interesting tips on how to use shelftalkers. Most notable to me: hand-written shelftalkers may work better than printable ones that come from outside sources (such as writers’ websites).

The New York Times spotlights something that could have come straight out of a futuristic novel: vertical farms. Global warming and population increases may end up severely limiting our farmland, but no problem–we’ll just build tall structures that make use of hydroponics to grow food year-round. From a distance, these leafy towers would look like “gardens suspended in space.”

Just when you were thinking the prolific James Patterson should take a vacation comes the news that he has  signed a deal to write 17 books by 2012, including both adult and YA novels. No word yet on how this is humanly possible…

HarperTeen has launched a new interactive books series for readers aged 13 & up: read an excerpt of The Amanda Project: invisible I. You can take part in the search for Amanda both by reading the novels and by participating online. Some readers will even have their online writing published in the books or the e-zine.

And if you’re itching for some free books, remember to enter our current giveaway of THE AMETHYST ROAD and THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD (ends Sep 21), and the Fantastic Book Review’s giveaway of 3 urban fantasy books of one winner’s choosing (ends Sep 13).

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse


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Right Now in Speculative Fiction

I might have been the last person to hear that THE HUNGER GAMES is getting the film treatment (with Suzanne Collins herself writing the screenplay!) but it’s only been about a week and a half since Variety announced that Disney will make Aprilynne Pike’s WINGS into a Miley Cyrus movie. WINGS, written by an acquaintance of Stephanie Meyer’s, is about a girl who realizes she’s turning into a fairy. No word on whether this fairy will sing in the movie…wings

Some British authors, including Philip Pullman of THE GOLDEN COMPASS fame, are angry about a new vetting process planned for authors who visit schools. Pullman has called the plan, which is meant to keep students safe from sexual predators, “outrageous, demeaning and insulting.” Pullman said if plans go through, he won’t speak in schools again.

Tor.com is serializing LITTLE BROTHER author Cory Doctorow’s new novel MAKERS before the book hits stores in November. So… get it free now or pay later–or do both!

The same website is also doing an interesting series on maps from fantasy novels. Included so far: maps from THE HOBBIT, A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, and THE DEATHGATE CYCLE.


What exactly takes place when a writer gets to work? Not a whole lot of writing, according to this article, in a which a writer admits how he really spends his “writing” time. (Mostly eating toast and surfing the internet–sounds all too familiar).

For the writer nervous about doing a public reading, here’s some advice from THE GRAVEYARD BOOK author Neil Gaiman, who “casts” characters in his head to make his voice more interesting.

So many awesome books are yours for the winning:

Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES and its sequel CATCHING FIRE, about teens trying to stop an annual battle to the death, at HeyLady.net until July 31.

Alyson Noel’s EVERMORE and its sequel BLUE MOON, about the magical dimension of Summerland, at Fantastic Book Review until July 23.

Lisa Mantchev’s EYES LIKE STARS, about a girl’s life at the fantastical Theatre Illuminata, also at Fantastic Book Review until July 24.

Pam Bachorz’s CANDOR, about a boy’s struggle againt the subliminal messages that control his town, at the author’s website until July 25.

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse once used sublimnal messages to win a battle to the death.


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Right Now in Speculative Fiction

I’m not the only one intrigued by book covers. InterGalatic Medicine Show contrasts the British and American covers of fantasy novels here, and Sarah Rees Brennan does the same with YA fantasy novels here. What’s up with all the red and black, anyway?hunger-games-1

And speaking of Sarah Rees Brennan, if you loved her novel THE DEMON’S LEXICON, you can find a related, spoiler-free short story on her livejournal. As if that will tide you over until the sequel…

Author Patrick Jones talks about edgy YA fiction on YALSA’s blog, saying that teen lit is “catching up with the music. The influence of rap and hip-hop culture washes over every part of teen life, so that it would finally find its way into book isn’t a surprise.” Read more here.

A lot of writers are chiming in on author John Green’s blog post about large advances being a bad thing. And editor Andrew Karre gives his take here, saying that what really needs to change is the relationship between publisher and retailer.twitter

Itching to get your hands on CATCHING FIRE, sequel to THE HUNGER GAMES? Lauren Barnholdt is giving away an ARC, but your chance to enter is almost over! Head over to her website by Wednesday, July 8.

Plus, the Class of 2k9 is hosting HUGE giveaway–we’re talking tweleve books, including an ARC of Ellen Jensen Abbott’s WATERSMEET, about a land all magic people are being purged from. (Ends July 14th).valiant

Because I know you all are as excited about the next Harry Potter movie as I am (July 15th–hyperventilating!), here’s a link to a behind the scenes featurette for The Half-Blood Prince. And because I know you’re already thinking about the next next Harry Potter movie, here’s an article on Geeks of Doom about which point in the story The Deathly Hallows will be split into two movies.

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse will be very busy on July 15th.


Filed under Parker Peevyhouse

Right Now in Speculative Fiction

BookEnds agents Jessica Faust and Kim Lionettia are holding a Twitter pitch contest: follow Jessica and Kim on Twitter, wait for their signal, and then pitch your novel in 140 characters or less. Those with the best pitches will receive critiques of their synopses and first three chapters. The contest will be held multiple times all week long.

Writer Cynthea Liu is holding an online auction to benefit Tulakes Elementary School. Bid on items like a five-page critique from agent Jennifer Mattson or a critique from author Jay Asher.quidditch

The estate of a author Adrian Jacobs  is suing Bloomsbury for plagiarism. Both Jacobs’ book WILLY THE WIZARD: LIVID LAND and Bloomsbury’s HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE feature wizards competing in tournaments. As Writer Beware points out, the Willy the Wizard website seemed to be crafted especially for the lawsuit, with dozens of excerpts showing similarities between Willy’s and Harry’s world. Bloomsbury says the case has no basis.

How does a publisher get an author involved in the marketing process? With the dreaded Author Questionnaire–a list of grueling questions like “What search terms would readers use at Amazon.com to find your book?” Get a peek of a questionnaire here.

Agent Emily Masters is looking for “inventive and creative picture books and middle grade and YA fiction (from realistic to fantasy and everything in between).” She’s also very interested in poetry. Read an interview with her on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s livejournal.

In defense of adults reading YA: Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s online essay “Betwixt and Between: YA in an Adult World” discusses the “freshness” of the YA genre–something you might use to explain your reading habits to those who aren’t browsing the teen shelves.

If you know a teen who likes to write science fiction and fantasy stories, consider enrolling them in Shared Worlds, a camp held at Wofford College, where students “create entire worlds, complete with history, economy, language and culture” and then write stories, make art, and design video games based on their created world.rampant

Need a fun summer read? Enter to win an ARC of RAMPANT by Diana Peterfruend and spend your summer slaying some evil unicorns. Or go here for your chance to win an ARC of SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater (love and werewolves!) or an ARC of ICE by Sarah Beth Durst (love and polar bears!).

Finally, check out this remix video “Buffy vs Edward” for some vampire romance fun.

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse prefers Buffy over Bella–must be the dry humor.


Filed under Parker Peevyhouse

Right Now in Speculative Fiction

J. K. Rowling is off and Stephanie Meyer is on…. I’m talking about Forbes’ list of the 100 Most Powerful Celebrities, which has Meyer ranking at #26 after earning $50 million dollars in the space of one year from her Twilight series. Rowling has dropped off the list, though, in the lull left after the end of the Harry Potter series.twilight

The week leading up to your book’s debut you’re stirring up excitement on your blog and sending out emails to all of the contacts you’ve been gathering for ages. Unless you’re THE DEMON’S LEXICON author Sarah Rees Brennan, in which case you’re reeling from the shock of having your Livejournal and email account hacked into… and wiped clean. You can read her horror story on agent Kristin Nelson’s blog. And you can enter to win a copy of her book and a bunch of other novels here.

Our own Linda Joy Singleton is off in Savannah with several other YA writers at the Gothic Girls writer’s retreat, which apparently involves pizza and strolls to a graveyard, among other, more literary endeavors. Linda blogs about her experience here. You can follow all of the authors and read their answers to tweeted questions on this Twitter page.jetpack

Why are we still waiting for flying cars and Smell-O-Vision? Hasn’t our shiny future arrived yet? Actually, it has–but no one wants it. This CNN article discusses futuristic devices that have been invented but never implemented, like the jetpack, invented in 1961 but too impractical for use. Another little known invention: teleportation. (credit: Cynthia Leitich Smith’s facebook page.)

Writers: agent Nathan Bransford has a helpful checklist for revisions up on his blog. Have you checked your manuscript for your personal writing tics? Can you combine any minor characters?

Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series, is delving into the world of (angst-free) faerie. Her book deal announcement makes me chuckle:

Sarah Prineas’s THE CROW KING’S DAUGHTER, featuring faerie lore without the urban setting and without drugs, sex, and angst, to Toni Markiet at Harper Children’s, in a three-book deal, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (NA)

Free books! Fantasy Debut is having a weeklong giveaway–it’s already started so hurry over for a chance to win lots of fantasy novels. Megan Crewe is also hosting a giveaway on her blog–you could win SHADOWED SUMMER by Saundra Mitchell, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder, and a signed copy of Crewe’s own GIVE UP THE GHOST. And check back here tomorrow for own summer reading giveaway.

cheryliconParker Peevyhouse has a lot of books to read this summer.


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