Week Two in the Faction Challenge (inspired by Veronica Roth’s debut novel DIVERGENT) has finally ended. How did I do during Amity Week?

Well, I ATE apples. So there’s that. Oh, and I sang! Katy Perry’s E.T., and One Potato Two Potato Three Potato Four. Which should really earn me extra points because it’s a song about farm-y stuff.

That’s one big ass potato

But by the end of the week, I pretty much wanted so say:  SUCK IT AMITY. I mean, I tried to be more understanding of others, especially the kids. I think I had some success. But there were moments when being understanding was QUITE a challenge. Like when the kids refused to stop yelling in the doctor’s office while the doctor was trying to speak. Yeah, Amity pretty much bailed on me there.

My 3-yr-old struggled with Amity this week as well.  Example?  How about the time she walked down the stairs, eyed her older brother’s elaborate Lincoln Log creation, and then kicked it over for no apparent reason…and she did it with a song in her heart.

My money's on the 3-yr-old

I’m pegging her for a Dauntless.

Also, I was hyper-aware of my non-Amity-like thoughts this week, even when I didn’t act on them. I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Overall, I guess I’d say that while Amity wasn’t an unqualified fail like Abnegation, it also wasn’t as simple an undertaking as I’d hoped.

But enough about me—how did everyone else do? Check the (continuously updated) links below and find out!

Kathleen Peacock

Katharine Owens


Kaitlin Ward

Jamie Blair/GotYA

Sarah Enni

Nikki Katz

Lori Tays Eastep

Kate Hart

Dana Alison Levy

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We’re on week two of our DIVERGENT Faction Challenge, where participants tackle Veronica Roth’s factions from her amazing YA debut, DIVERGENT-–one faction at a time.  Last week we tried Abnegation.  Now, let’s be honest.  Abnegation week did not go so well. In fact, based on the blog posts I read, Abnegation was kicking un-selfless butt all across the country.

This week, I’m choosing an easier faction. Something…fun. Something…banjo-y.

(No, NOT the Deliverance type of banjo. Which is totally stuck in my head now. Awesome.)


Those of you who’ve read the Divergent know I’m taking about AMITY, The Peaceful. The faction that got to ride around in farm clothes in the back of a truck, eating apples and strumming tunes while everyone else tried not to croak.

From the DIVERGENT fansite:


1. friendship; peaceful harmony.

2. mutual understanding and a peaceful relationship, especially between nations; peace; accord.

3. cordiality

It’s not just about banjos and apple-picking.* It’s about cultivating strong relationships and trying to understand each other.

*Whoa, wait a second.  This faction isn’t just about banjos?  CURSES.

Here’s what else Veronica says about Amity:

–Dresses in Red or Yellow

–Seem Kind, Loving and Free

–Understanding counselors and caretakers


What do you think?  Will this faction be easier than the last one?  Check back on Friday to find out!

Amity Cat



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How procrastination can lead to a book deal. No, really.

Posted by houndrat on Thursday Jan 27, 2011 Under writing, Young Adult

So, some of you may remember that I mentioned my book deal was a bit atypical, and that I promised to share a few deets about how it all went down.

This is that post.

I would like to start by saying that I owe a lot to Absolute Write. If it weren’t for that forum, I never would have procrastinated connected with so many writer friends, and without those writer friends, I might never have attended SCBWI last summer. See, the main reason I went was to meet all my fellow Young Adult writers from the boards in person and terrorize socialize with them in the flesh. Or, you know, in clothing.

So, I went to SCBWI. One of my roommates happened to be Veronica Roth, whose amazing, fabulous book Divergent had recently been picked up by Katherine Tegen Books at Harper Collins. (Shout out to the rest of my roomies Corrine JacksonSteph Kuehn and Dawn Miller:  you know I love you, naked or not.  Also…suddenly thinking it’s going to be harder to find roommates this year.  Hmmm.)   Another friend Kathleen Peacock (also a KT Books author–the awesome Hemlock comes out in 2012) couldn’t attend and was bemoaning that fact—apparently, L.A. just isn’t all that handy to Canada—because her editor Claudia Gabel would be there.

So me being the sweet, thoughtful kind of girl I am (snicker), I decided what better way to torture Kath show Kath she was dearly missed than take a photo with her editor and send it to her?

But I still almost missed Claudia’s session. Why?  Because her session was about “book development,” a concept that was completely foreign to me at that point in time. (Ironically, my group blog GotYA did a post on that very topic a day before I left for SCBWI, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until I came back). Veronica wanted to attend Claudia’s session, though, so I tagged along. Best call of the entire trip  (Well, except for the Wham! Medley on the Santa Monica pier. And learning naughty words via urban dictionary. Ahem.)

Anyway. The more Claudia talked, the more I sat up and listened.  First of all, she’s so bubbly and enthusiastic, you can’t help but give her your full attention. And second of all–WHOA! Was she saying that you could get paid to write books and actually have an editor guide you through the entire process?  REALLY?  Holy cow, how had I never heard of this before?

When I saw my agent at the conference, I asked her if I could send Claudia a writing sample, and she said if I was interested, to go for it.

About a month later, I did.  And then afterwards, promptly forgot about sending in the sample due to the vast chaos that is my life/house/brain.

Just before Thanksgiving, I was reminded by an email from Claudia. It said she had a new project that might be a good fit for me, and would I be interested in writing some sample scenes?

I was a little worried before I opened the proposal—I mean, what if I just didn’t get it, or it was outside my range, or, or, or—but all my worries turned into excitement as I read. The concept was right up my alley and I found myself picturing scenes and getting into the main character’s head almost immediately.

So I double-checked with my agent, got the okay, and wrote the scenes. I turned them in two weeks later and Claudia said to expect to hear from her the following week, at which point time started crawling along at the pace of a geriatric snail, just to ensure that I got to log in some good quality hours with my angst.  Thank you for that, time. No really. Because, you know, writers aren’t nearly angsty enough as it is.

Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting Claudia to get back to me so quickly. I’m sure we’ve all heard how editor time is like dog years, only reversed.  My expectation was, maybe, if I were REALLY lucky, to hear something early 2011.

Guess what?  Not only did Claudia get back to me that next week, but, oh-my-God, she also told me she loved my scenes!  After that, things moved really fast. By the following week, I had an offer to write the series. SQUEEE!

And after holding my hand throughout the process and letting her ears get drenched in angst, Taylor negotiated the deets.

So, there you have it—my book deal. Which, when I imagined it, totally wasn’t how I expected everything to go down, but really, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I can’t tell you how in love I am with the concept I’m writing, not to mention the characters!  And it probably wouldn’t have happened without procrastinationAbsolute Write, so thank you, AW!  (And Kath and Vee in particular. See, Kath, aren’t you glad I sent you that photo now? Um, wait. Don’t answer that.)

And, just because:

Kath, where are youuuuu....????

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Top 10 Things I Learned at SCBWI

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Aug 17, 2010 Under Uncategorized, writing, Young Adult

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I STILL feel like I’m recovering from SCBWI. I had such an AMAZING, AWESOME, FANTABULOUS time, meeting up with a bunch of online peeps, attending keynotes, and generally just flying my crazy-flag. A huge shout-out to my roomies: Veronica Roth, Corrine Jackson, Stephanie Kuehn, and honorary one-night-only roomie Dawn Miller–you ladies are both super fun and amazingly tolerant. Cough.

So, in honor of my trip, I’ve put together a list of top 10 things I learned at SCBWI. While there may be some useful tidbits for writers on here, a lot probably falls firmly into the Oh-my-god-Deb-is-so-freaking-random category. Don’t judge.

10. The girls of YA Highway are all gorgeous (really, it’s uncanny), fun, and great at leading field trips! Also, they rock at coming up with cool group costume ideas:

So glad they let me terrorize hang with them!

9. Veronica Roth likes to spoon when she shares a bed with you. Okay, joking, joking–there was no spooning involved at all–partly bc I sleep like a vampire, partly bc I think she would have punched me in the nose in her sleep if I’d tried.

8. Some editors suggest that book tours often don’t promote sales enough to justify the expense, and endorse other forms of marketing as much more effective. (see, I DID listen sometimes). This was interesting to me because I’ve always heard so much about book tours as the MAIN way of promoting your book.

7. Hannah Moskowitz talks faster than should be humanly possible. And yet I STILL understood her. Hmmm….. (also, she’s freaking adorable, though she’ll probably kick my ass for using that term to describe her).

6. Yes, editors are sick of paranormal, but yes, it’s still selling. Make sure yours has a unique spin.

5. Don’t ever open up urban dictionary in a group setting. Ever. Also, writers know many, many bad words and hand gestures (thank you, Steph–the guy in our breakout session will remember that moment forever).

4. Not all of your roommates will appreciate your stunning Wham! medley…especially not when you sing it on the Santa Monica Boardwalk.

3. According to several editors, ebooks are not a sign of the Bookpocalypse! No, really. Some editors actually embrace ebooks as a good thing for publishing.

2. The jacuzzi at the host hotel doesn’t stay open nearly late enough.

1. Writers, agents, and publishers are some of the best peeps ever!  (cue random photo montage;)

The Musers (and Cindy Pon!) chilling by the pool....

Dawn Miller, taking a shopping break...

Emilia and Jay Asher, looking pretty in pink...

Cindy Pon (who told me I almost broke her lap, HA!)

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