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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.
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Posts Tagged ‘many-worlds trilogy’

Updates and extras

Posted on January 14th, 2014 by annakjarzab

Happy 2014 everybody! Just dropping by to give a few updates on what’s been up with me, since I realize I have not posted here in a while. Let’s get started!

Thing 1: Books

tandem cvr quote

Last year, Tandem came out! Which is very exciting! Also, The Opposite of Hallelujah is in paperback now, if you like that sort of thing (by which I mean books that are cheaper than they were previously). I also managed to completely rewrite Tether (Many-Worlds Trilogy Book 2) and it just came back from copy editing, which means it’s like 95% done (she says, having not looked at the copy edits yet). It’s currently scheduled for the very vague Spring 2015, which for a Random House book can mean anywhere from January to June (here’s hoping it does not in fact mean June); as soon as I have a firm date, I will make sure to post it everywhere.

2013 was a hard year for me in many ways, but not in the sense of writing productivity. Not counting the two very different versions of Tether I wrote last year, I wrote two other full-length novels. One is adult contemporary fantasy (I don’t know why but I like that term better than “urban fantasy” even though this book, which we shall give the code name FM, is in fact set in New York, and partly in New Orleans) along the lines of, like, The Magicians. The other is contemporary YA in the vein of If I Stay, and I am OBSESSED with it. We shall call that book BYSA. I got the idea for it in very early November. I’m a weird half-insomniac; I usually wake up four hours after I’ve gone to bed and toss and turn for the next four or so hours, which is obviously very annoying since I have a day job to get up for.

Anyway, I was tossing and turning per usual that morning, and then I just got hit with this idea. I got up and went to my computer, jotted down a paragraph of notes, titled it “Might be something”, and went back to bed. First thing in the AM I started reading books for research, taking copious notes, and writing. I finished in early December. I don’t usually write that fast, but this was one of those situations (it happened with The Opposite of Hallelujah, too) where there was no writing friction to slow me down. I’ve revised it once since then, and am letting it sit and settle for a while before going back to it (plus I still have more research to do). But I’m really pumped about it!

Other than FM and BYSA (and Tether), I wrote a Many-Worlds Trilogy short story last year and half of another one (which I’m throwing out and rewriting because…reasons? Even I don’t actually know why), and about 200 pages of a novel called Red Dirt. Which leads me to Thing 2…

Thing 2: Wattpad

In my professional life, I am the digital and social media manager for Penguin Young Readers Group. So if you’ve ever interacted with Penguin Teen on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., it was probably me. I don’t talk about this a lot in these parts because it feels like a weird conflict of interest of sorts? But actually lots of publishing professionals are secretly or not-so-secretly aspiring or published authors, so it’s not that big of a deal. Anyway, I was on a Digital Book World panel yesterday talking about teens and social media and I met a woman from Wattpad, Ashleigh, which reminded me I’ve been meaning to get on Wattpad for some time now. So I went home and started playing around with it. For some reason (insanity), I decided that I was going to post the first three chapters of an original, work in progress novel called Red DirtRed Dirt is unpublished and uncontracted and unfinished. I got the idea the first time I went to Oklahoma for Memorial Day, and started writing it when I got back from Oklahoma the second time I went there. So I assume that after I come back from Oklahoma this year, I will finish it. The WIP document on my computer is 200 pages, with probably about 50 or 100 pages left to go, and while I doubt I’ll be sharing all of it on Wattpad, I decided to put up the first three chapters for fun. This is sort of what it’s about (this is not great marketing copy, but it’s what I came up with yesterday):

Sammy Lester’s had about enough of her life in back of beyond Oklahoma, but family loyalties and uncertainty about the future are holding her hostage. She’s got her ex-con, ex-addict father take care of, and her five-year-old sister, Decca, to think about. And then there’s Brayton Foster, a rich boy just arrived for the summer; for some reason, Sammy can’t resist his charms, no matter how hard she tries.

Then the unthinkable happens–Sammy’s father disappears. She believes he’s been murdered; the police and her older brother, Denver, aren’t so sure. As the summer marches on, and there’s no sign of Billy Ray Lester, Sammy is forced to question everything she thinks she knows about the people she loves, and to wonder whether it’s even possible to get justice in a place where the very ground is red as blood.

You can read the prologue and the first three chapters of Red Dirt on Wattpad. If people like it (and I’m comfortable) I might post more! But I did make sure to post enough so that you meet the boy. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Speaking of Wattpad! I also posted the prologue and first three chapters of Tandem up there, plus a little bonus essay called “A Brief History of the United Commonwealth of Columbia”, which is probably only of interest if you’ve read Tandem. I have a bunch of extra stuff like this for the series, I just need to find it and make sure it still makes sense since these books have changed a lot over the years. But I will post more when I can.

I also have a The Opposite of Hallelujah short story about Hannah that takes place before the events of The Opposite of Hallelujah called “The Girl in the Well” that I’m going to post, but I need to re-read it for continuity. TBD on that!

I think that’s it. Oh:

Thing 3: I turned 30 yesterday.

I think that’s self-explanatory.

An interview with the Tandem cover designer!

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by annakjarzab

tandem cvr quoteI don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cover for Tandem, my third YA novel that comes out next Tuesday (!!!!). If you haven’t seen the interiors of the book, they are also super beautiful. I’m totally fascinated by the process of creating packages for books–it’s a lengthy, and often much-debated process that people outside the industry don’t always get a glimpse into. So I asked Sarah Pierson, the designer of both the cover and the interior design of Tandem, a few questions about this mysterious but very, very important part of making a book.

You are a book designer at Random House–does this mean you design all aspects of the book: cover and interiors? Do you work on all imprints and age groups, or do you focus on YA/novels?
I currently work on all aspects; jacket, interior, and the hardbound case cover. I work on middle grade and YA for the Knopf and Delacorte imprints. I also do paperbacks for the Ember and Yearling paperback imprints.

Once you have a title assigned to you, what steps do you take? Does the editor usually have very specific ideas of what they want, or do you read the book and come up with a proposal of what you’d like to do?

This process varies book to book! I read the most recent draft of the manuscript. It helps me come up with ideas, from big concepts and motifs to small details. Having a strong sense of themes and mood is important to be able to approach the design. After reading the manuscript, I’ll sit down with the editor and talk about how they envision the cover. They tell me what they want the cover to convey and they may ask for specific imagery. Then I start making cover comps based on a few different concepts, either my own ideas, the editors’ or something we arrived at together.
 
How did you become a book designer? Did you go to art school? What made you want to design books for a living?
I went to Drexel for graphic design and I worked at the library throughout college. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I’ve never been a huge fiction reader! But I loved working at the library because I love books…jackets, paper, ink, bindings, headbands…I love them. I spent way too much time shelving art, design and photography books, stopping to leaf through them. I came across unusual old engineering and science books, and popular fiction was always circulating. I studied everything from a design perspective. Junior year I got an internship at a super cool independent publisher called Quirk Books. A few months after graduating in 2005, I got a job in the picture books group at HarperCollins and have been designing books ever since.
 
What are some other books you designed, besides TANDEM?
Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Posses by Gretchen McNeil, Wildwood by Colin Meloy. Check out my website.
 
What was your thought process behind designing the TANDEM cover? Was your first idea much like the finished product, or did it go through a lot of revisions? How did you go about bringing together all of the visual elements (the girl, the bird, the colors, the amazing title treatment, etc.) into the beautiful cover we have now? 
I read TANDEM very closely. It was so good! The story felt intricate and intimate and epic at the same time. As I was reading, I made note of different things could work as imagery for the cover. I had several ideas at first, and one of those eventually became the final cover. I searched for and used stock photography to use to build the image, combining elements in photoshop in a similar manner from the beginning. After initial comps were promising, I was directed through rounds of revisions adjusting the composition and scale, typography, color, and different models and poses for Sasha.
 
tandem cvr comp1a
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These are some of the comps from the first round. The basic concept and all the elements are here, but it took time to get to the end result.

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Trying out different girls, sizes of the girl, typefaces, colors, ways of blending the sparrow and girl. I had the basic composition and down. This is just a few of the variations.

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This is when we felt like we had hit it.

 
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Livened it up with some color. I tried several different background color variations at this stage.

 
tandem cvr quote

More color to Sasha’s face, more depth in the background, and some fine tuning. Series title is in place and quote at the top.

Knowing that TANDEM was the first book in a series, did that affect how you designed the cover? Did you design it with how you would create the covers for the other books in mind?

I kept in mind how I would change the various elements. I tried working on the second book along with the first once it was more developed to see how they would look together. The sort of soft glamourous starkness is what I hope will carry over through the series.
 
Okay, let’s talk about the interiors! What was your thought process behind how you did the interior design (which is really quite complex and thought out!)? Do you usually create such design-heavy interiors, or was this out of the ordinary? 
I do not usually design such complex interiors but with its 3 parts, different points of view, and day countdown TANDEM presented a unique chance to do something interesting. At first I was totally stumped about all this! I think I spent a whole week just getting my head around it. I chipped away at it starting with the parts (Earth/Aurora) and then more ideas came out of that. I eventually mapped out the whole structure because it was helpful for me to see it that way.
 
What is your favorite part of the TANDEM interiors (or the cover!)? 
I like the lines of little dots on the flaps, back jacket, under the page numbers…other places too. It’s a small detail but I think they’re elegant and have a little meaning. They represent ‘many worlds.’
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the TANDEM cover or interiors? Any designs that didn’t make the cut? 
A part of the interior design was inspired by a music video from 2011! I am pretty sure music videos have less cultural impact these days but I find them to be a really nice source of visual inspiration!

Thanks so much to Sarah for giving us a little insight into how a cover gets made! You should absolutely check out her website, which showcases many of the beautiful book covers she’s worked on in her career, including many I know you’ll recognize.

More about the TANDEM cover!

Posted on February 20th, 2013 by annakjarzab

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I’ve been so pleased with everybody’s reactions to the Tandem cover (first revealed here on USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog, along with a small excerpt!)–clearly, y’all love it as much as I do. Seriously, you guys, I’m obsessed. I have the cover taped to the wall above my writing desk (along with book 2’s cover, which I already have, and which is also GORGEOUS) and I stare at it any time I need inspiration. I’ve gotten a few questions about the cover, so I thought I’d do a little post about how we got to this look and What It All Means. But first, I feel like I should show you the full Tandem jacket! Click to enlarge.

Tandem-full-jacket

Okay, so! The journey to this cover began with my editor kindly asking (as she always does, bless her) how I imagined the cover looking. Usually, my answer to this is something like “Russian dolls!” (All Unquiet Things) or “I don’t know, but please don’t put a cross on it!” (The Opposite of Hallelujah) i.e. near-useless and not at all inspirational. This time, though, I had a vision. I didn’t know what I wanted the cover to look like, but I knew what I wanted it to say, if that makes any sense. We talk about this all the time at my job–what does this cover say to a reader? And what I wanted the cover to say was this: This book is not contemporary; it is romantic and mysterious and slightly sci-fi. 

I wanted it to be clean and simple and pretty, with a cool title treatment, and I thought it should have both an identifiable symbol and a person on it. I suggested (although I’m sure the designer and my editor were already thinking along these lines) including the birds in some way, and/or the ten-star equilateral triangle called a tetractys, which you can see is ghosted on the back of the jacket. I also suggested that each cover be a color that the aurora borealis can be (blue, green, red, or purple). I seriously wrote a whole email along these lines, far from my usual, “Whatever you think works!” (And, let’s be fair, I’ve really lucked out on covers with this strategy.)

So, if you’ve been keeping track, the cover that was sent to me (this is the only version I saw) ticks literally every single one of those boxes. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Clean and simple? Check. Pretty? UH, CHECK. Cool title treatment? Check! Symbol + person? Check check check! It’s even green/blue/purple, very aurora borealis (cover two is also a blend of aurora borealis colors, just different ones, and so will cover three be). I got my bird, and my tetractys, too! Sarah, the designer, is awesome and obviously very talented, and I so appreciate my editor’s willingness to go with me on this one.

Re: the bird, that’s a starling. It’d be far too in-depth and spoiler-y to say why here, but suffice it to say that you will find out about 50% of the way through Tandem. About that point, you can probably figure out what bird/character will be on book 2’s cover, and as for book 3, well…as Gossip Girl says, I’ll never tell. XOXO

You want to know something super creepy? The day before I saw this cover for the first time (so, the cover was done already), I sent my editor this image. My editor put on her best poker face and was like, “Yeah, neat!” And then the next day I got the Tandem cover in my inbox, looking EXTREMELY SIMILAR. Great minds, you guys. Or fate. Hard to tell.

Don’t forget, you can still enter to win a galley of Tandem, and if you think the book sounds good, I would be grateful if you’d mark it “to-read” on Goodreads. As I mentioned, there is an excerpt from Tandem on USA Today’s cover reveal post, and I’ve posted an additional excerpt on my Tumblr, with this image of Thomas I made because I have, like, too much time on my hands. It’s really worth checking out the #tandem tag on my Tumblr anyway, because as I was doing my first pass pages I posted some blurry pictures (sorry! blame the iPhone) of the very cool interiors. I also posted a little bit about why I wrote Tandem and the Many-Worlds Trilogy in the first place here.

TANDEM cover and excerpt reveal!!!

Posted on February 8th, 2013 by annakjarzab

At long last, I can finally show you the cover for TANDEM, which I’ve been talking a lot about but could not prove actually existed. Don’t lie, I know you had your doubts. 🙂 But now I (or, rather, USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog) can show you the cover AND give you a little excerpt to tide you over until you can read the whole thing on October 8, 2013.

Behold, my darling book!

AND, that’s not all–in celebration of this truly awesome Friday, I’m going to give away a signed galley of TANDEM from my personal stock to one lucky winner! All you HAVE to do is follow me on Twitter (@ajarzab), but you can get extra points for liking my Facebook page as well. Details in the Rafflecopter widget below (this is my first time using Rafflecopter, so I hope I didn’t mess it up). Go forth and enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TANDEM synopsis!

Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by annakjarzab

I’m not a very patient person, which is annoying, because half of being a published writer is just sort of waiting around for things to happen or people to get back to you or whatever. But I’ve been trying to be better about this as part of a whole self-improvement-before-30 thing. It’s going okay I guess? Anyway, I was trying not to spend the few months leading up to the publication of The Opposite of Hallelujah by talking incessantly about Tandem, which comes out October 9, 2013. I’m so out of control excited about Tandem, but it seemed gauche to ignore Hallelujah (which I also do love, don’t get me wrong!) and keep jabbering about Tandem. Now that The Opposite of Hallelujah is out, though, I feel no such compunctions and therefore I’m going to share the synopsis with you today–because I can! If my self-improvement-before-30 thing was working better, I’d wait until I got the go-ahead to show you the Tandem cover/full jacket, which are SO COOL and YOU WILL DIE and then you will have to order Tandem from Amazon.ghost to read it, but it would be WORTH IT because OMG.

But it’s not working and I’m still impatient and I want to tell you what Tandem is officially about so here it goes:

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she’ll be trapped in another girl’s life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love–one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she’s someone she’s not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing–and no one–is what it seems.

As Ryan Lochte would say, “Jeah!” More soon!