Category Archives: P. J. Hoover

Revision Week—Win a copy of CWIM 2011

We’re all focused on revision this week, and while revising, it’s important to keep in mind why we revise. So I’ll give you five good reasons to revise your manuscript:

5) Because it isn’t perfect, no matter how much you think it might be

4) Revision provides the perfect opportunity to work on improving at writing.

3) Everyone is doing it. And in this case, peer pressure is a good thing.

2) Your critique partners told you to.

1) You dream of having that book actually published.

And so once you revise and the book is even more perfect and your critique partners are happy, it’s time to find an agent or publisher, right? What better way than with your very own copy of the 2011 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market? For your chance to win this great resource, answer me this:

What do you do for fun when you take a break from revisions?

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover needs to get back to her revisions…

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Those Certain Chapters

In case you guys haven’t seen the first chapter of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis (Razorbill/Penguin, Jan 2011), I have to strongly suggest you head there and do so now! It’s an amazing first chapter for what I know to be an amazing debut novel.

It’s also one of “those chapters.” The kind that are so intense and written so well, they get your heart racing and leave you thinking about them for days. Beth has this chapter in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, and I know Neal Shusterman has one in UNWIND (for those of you who’ve read it, you know which chapter I’m talking about. Um. Wow!).

These chapters deliver that edge-of-your-seat feeling while reading that I got while watching PULP FICTION (multiple times).

So what other chapters can you think of that give you the same reaction? And can this same level of adrenaline be kept up for an entire book? If so, tell me about it!

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover needs to watch PULP FICTION again.

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The Most Creative Things Come out of Nothing

So there’s a theory out there that if kids are given no toys to play with, they will have to exercise their creativity more and come up with new things to play with on their own. Kids will use sticks and rocks and bugs and leaves to make worlds and characters and drama. And then they’ll play happily for hours and want to show off their creations to everyone who will watch.

I give you Stonehenge

So what about authors? Are we doing ourselves any favors by using tricks to invoke our creativity? Or would we be best served to head out to nature and start playing in the mud and see what comes to mind?

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover thinks playing with sticks and rocks in the mud would be a great way to spend the afternoon.

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Why You Should Create Your Own World

Remember back when they first announced they would be making THE LORD OF THE RINGS into movies? Okay, so this was a very exciting time for me. I pulled out my copies of THE HOBBIT and the LOTR and proceeded to read them without stopping. I then bought THE SILMARILLION on audiobook and listened to it non-stop. Then I bought THE HOBBIT and LOTR on audio and listened to them. Then I bought THE SILMARILLION illustrated by Ted Nasmith hardcover and read it, loving all the gorgeous pictures.

Finally, the day came that I’d been waiting for forever. The first movie was out, and I rushed to the theater and saw it. I bought the extended edition and saw the second movie and debated with friends on how much better the extended cuts were since in THE TWO TOWERS the character of Faramir was so much more drawn out.  Third movie came out and I was there, loving every minute of it. I re-read the books. I wanted to study the mythology Tolkien had created.

And then I had one of those moments. You know the ones. It dawned on me that I was spending an awful lot of effort studying the world someone else had created. And to what end? There was no real value added in doing this. Sure, I could talk about Hobbits with the best of them, but my life was not much richer as a result. And seeing as how I could never kick back and have an ale with an actual hobbit, what was next?

So I made the decision to create my own worlds rather than losing myself in someone else’s. And that’s when I got very serious about creating my own fantasy worlds and putting them on paper.

What was your turning point for your worlds of spec fiction?

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover still wants to visit The Green Dragon.

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Reader Appreciation Giveaway

ETA: This giveaway is now closed.

During the month of July, we’ll be doing a few things to show our appreciation for you, our faithful reader of The Spectacle.

One of those acts will be to give away some great books. Because we love what you contribute to our discussions, we will give away books to three blog readers who post comments during the month of July.

Here’s how it works: At the end of the month, we will pick a week of July at random. Everyone who posted a comment on any post (except for this one) during that week will be entered into a drawing. Three of those people will win books! (Commenting more than once during any given week will not up your chances of winning, and winners must live in the continental US.)

Which books can you win? Here they are:

Prize Pack #1

An advanced reader’s copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie and a hardback copy of ICE by Sarah Best Durst.

Prize Pack #2

FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve and MAGIC BELOW STAIRS by Caroline Stevermer, both hardback.

Prize Pack #3

A signed paperback of MIKE STELLAR: NERVES OF STEEL by K. A. Holt and a signed advanced reader’s copy of ALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Brian Yanksy.

We can’t wait to read your comments this month, and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Books into Movies – JURASSIC PARK

Okay, so I think much of the debate this week will be on the fact that the majority of the time books are far better than the movies made. I’d like to point out one I think is the exact opposite: JURASSIC PARK.

First the disclaimer – I know this is not MG or YA.

Anyway, I saw the movie first. And there was nothing like the special effects and action and music and imagery of this movie. I loved it, felt emotions along with the characters, felt the ending tied up neatly. It was perfect. Even now, 20 years later, I still enjoy watching the movie with my kids.

I went on a Michael Crichton kick not too long after the JURASSIC PARK movie came out where I read everything he’d written to date. This was about the same time most of his books were being made into movies. I read SPHERE and CONGO and TIMELINE and everything else.

SPHERE and CONGO were way better books than movies. TIMELINE felt like it was written to be a movie (which it probably was). But even after reading JURASSIC PARK, I still enjoyed the movie far more.

Anyone else with me on this one? And why do you think this was the case?

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover wants to drive a JURASSIC PARK Jeep.

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Sci-fi Background Required?

We all see the trends, but in case you’ve been living in on a holodeck, the latest trend to hit the MG/YA market like a warp bubble is Dystopic Fiction. It’s everywhere even now, and in case that isn’t enough, every day in Publisher’s Weekly, there’s a new deal being posted. We cannot escape it. Resistance is futile.

As authors, many of us think, “Oh, I’d love to write a dystopic story next,” because let’s face it, writing about the world as it could become is pretty darned cool. I love reading about all the various incarnations of the world people dream up, and I’d be lying if I said I’d never had thoughts enter my own head about writing a true dystopian story myself.

In addition to dreaming of the book I’m going to write, I’ve been reading lots of new dystopic, too, and here’s my question for you:

Is a sci-fi background needed to write a good dystopic story? Will the world be stronger if the author grew up on Star Trek and Logan’s Run, or can this world building be learned to a satisfactory degree with no previous interest in sci-fi? Or does the world building not matter so much as long as the character development and plot is there?

I’d love your thoughts!

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover is trying to decide which dystopic world she’d want to live in…

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Roundtable Discussion: Futuristic Novels (concluded)

We conclude our discussion on novels about future societies.

P. J. Hoover
My real first intro into future societies, particularly dystopic, was the awesome movie LOGAN’S RUN (which is a total classic, in my opinion). Sure, I was a kid when I watched it, but the things that stuck with me the most were (1) the images of Washington DC presented in total decay; and (2) the idea that people would be killed when they turned 30. It wasn’t the tube transportation or the fancy surgery techniques though these were cool. They were strictly sci-fi aspects. The fascination was in wondering about the answers to the “why” question. Why did DC get neglected? What so horrible could have happened to make people retreat into a bubble? Why did people get killed when they were 30? Were there too many? And after the why questions, the wondering if this type of thing ever really could happen in our society.

I love that we’re seeing so much dystopic these days. It makes me want to get out my LOGAN’S RUN DVD, make a bowl of popcorn, and watch it while thinking about how happy I am our society is not like Logan’s. Otherwise I wouldn’t be around to do the watching :)

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Can’t Get Enough Dystopic?

Hey fellow lovers of all things dystopic!

First a huge thank you for reading THE SPECTACLE! It makes us all so happy to connect with others who love talking speculative fiction as much as we do!

And second, in case you want more to read, there’s a brand new blog on the block featuring debut YA dystopic authors! It’s run by future superstars:

and it’s called THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY WRITERS, and you can check it out here!

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover loves dystopic YA!

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Do People Want to Think When They Read?

In much of spec fiction, we’re dealing with new worlds, new rules, new technologies, new creatures. And with any of these things, as writers, we need to provide answers to the who/what/where/when/why questions.

How did the silicon rock creature develop?
Why is the world flat and on the back of four elephants?
Where is Earth in relation to the center of the Milky Way?
What came first when time travel is concerned: the past or the future?
Who did the aliens harvest their DNA from originally?

As writers of spec fiction, it is our responsibility to make sure these questions are addressed and answered. But do the answers need to be in the pages? And if so, how detailed should they be?

In my opinion, most people read spec fiction to immerse themselves in a new world. And immersed in this place, they don’t want to have to think to hard. They want to lose themselves in the words. They don’t want to see detailed technical details that take them out of place.

So should we purposefully not put too much detailed information into our writing, and thus let our readers avoid a brain cramp from trying to understand? And if we do leave out information intentionally, will be be called out as not addressing the important questions?

And furthermore, what books can you name on both ends of the spectrum?

pjhoover_casual1 PJ Hoover likes to think especially when she can understand easily :)

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