The Consuming Fire Contest Winner + Notes One Week Out From Release

Hey! We’re one week out from The Consuming Fire officially being released and me starting my book tour! Let’s talk about these things!

1. First, congratulations to Shatle, who for the Consuming Fire contest yesterday correctly guessed (and was the only one to correctly guess) that the city I was thinking of was Kingman, Arizona. Kingman is called out in “Route 66,” of which there are many, many versions. Here’s Chuck Berry’s:

In the event that no one guessed Kingman, I had a backup in mind, also in Arizona: Winslow, made famous in the Eagles’ “Take It Easy.” More than 40 of you picked that one. But Shatle had you all beat. Sorry.

2. The Consuming Fire is out next Tuesday, and people often ask what’s the best way to buy it: In hardcover, in eBook or as an audiobook. My answer is always the same: Get it in the version you prefer, because I get paid more or less the same for each, and also fundamentally I want you to be happy with your purchase. My publishers would be happy to have me get on the NYT bestseller list (and I wouldn’t mind, either), but the thing is at this point each format has its own NYT bestseller list (and there’s also a combined print/ebook list), so, honestly, again, pick the format you like, it all goes into the sales pile.

3. If you have no real preference in format, get it in hardcover, and also pre-order, or buy it in the first couple of days. That will make everyone happy. If you are waiting to pick up the book when I’m on tour, go ahead and pre-order the book now from the bookstore you’ll see me at — that way your sale still counts for the first week tally, and the bookstore will hold the book for you until I show up (I mean, or you can come pick it up from the bookstore any time before then, you don’t have to wait).

4. On this subject of purchasing books, If you are coming to see me on tour, please really do get the book from the bookstore you’ll see me at. It’s how you support that local bookstore and encourage them to bring in authors to do events. If you just can’t wait, and pick up the book prior to my event from somewhere else, when you’re at the event, please buy another book from the bookseller to show your support. It doesn’t even have to be one of mine! But bookstores need sales, and I need my events to do well for the bookstores. If neither happen, I stop being able to tour. So buy! Buy! Buy!

5. Speaking of the tour, here are all the tour dates this time around. All the events except Chicago’s are free, but some are ticketed (and some give priority to people who purchase the book at the store, another reason to get the book there), so click through to the venue Web site and get the details. If the information isn’t on the front page, check under “events”.

At the events I will: Read from upcoming work that no one else except the people who come to see me get to hear, sign books, answer questions, and otherwise attempt to be charming and amusing. As always, if someone brings an already tuned ukulele, I will play a song, poorly (strangely, this seems to be a popular part of the event; you people are weird). The exception to this will be in Texas, where I will be in conversation with the super-awesome Victoria Schwab, but that’s going to be very cool, I promise.

To pre-emptively answer some popular questions: Yes, I will usually sign more than the latest book but check with the venue for their signing policy; Yes, I will pose for pictures but please already have your camera ready to go (and again, this may be overridden by the venue); Yes, you can bring me gifts if you like (thank you!) but be aware that I am unlikely to travel with them (I will probably have the venue ship them home for me); No, I will probably not be able to hang out with you before or after the event because I am almost certainly already booked. Sorry. You’re awesome! Tours are just busy.

6. Please please please do come to see me on tour, and bring along every single person you know. It’ll be fun, I promise. I make an excellent performing monkey.

I think that’s it for now. If you have any questions, put them in the comments!

The Big Idea: Amy S. Foster

Why do writers write books? One reason is to figure out who our characters are, and who they need to become to be fully realized. Amy S. Foster explains the journey one of her characters makes, across a trilogy of books that ends with The Rift Coda.

AMY S. FOSTER:

Almost three years ago I wrote a post about the Big Idea I had for the first book in my series. My Big Idea was to create characters who sounded and acted like actual teenagers even though they were Super Soldiers guarding a doorway to the multiverse. It was a Big Idea, but it was not the Big Idea that would end up dominating the landscape of these novels.

I couldn’t have known when I created Ryn- a female, a girl warrior that I would run up against so much institutionalized sexism that in the beginning, I wasn’t even aware it was happening. But it did and it still is.

It was little things at first. ‘Why does Ryn care about boys?’ ‘Good story, but is she doing all of this to have sex?’ ‘Ryn is far too preoccupied with her love life. She’s a soldier.’ I was confused. Did I put too much romance in my novels? I mean sure, Ryn likes a boy but, that boy was always written as a device. He was an outsider. The voice of reason. He came into the situation and said ‘uhhh Great Big Super Important scientific discovery and teenagers are policing it? Really?’

The story started out with Ryn figuring out who was in control and why the people in charge were not only making teenagers into deadly killing machines but also interning immigrants from other Earths inside a village that while nice enough, was still a prison.

Soon enough I realized that Ryn’s journey was about much more than teens recognizing themselves in Ryn’s dialogue. I wanted teenage girls to recognize themselves in Ryn, period. But they weren’t and why would they?

Society tells us that women must choose between love and power. Girls aren’t supposed to be gun toting, hand to hand combat bosses, tactical genius’ AND be into boys (or other girls). Or their hair. Or clothes or make up or their feelings. How would a girl pick up the Rift Trilogy and be able to project herself into the role of Ryn if she has never seen a girl in real life be a fully realized female warrior? I’m not being extra about my feminism here. It was only this year, this month, that the first female candidates were able to be up for selection as a Navy Seal. And it’s not like the response has been positive. People are pissed. Pundits are complaining about standards slipping.

As I began to craft the final installment of the trilogy, the real Big Idea came to me. I need to help the world redefine what the female warrior archetype is. No, she is not a guy with boobs. She is a woman and she can lean into those singular attributes to make her a better warrior. Empathy, active listening, communication, admitting vulnerability- these skill sets will guarantee she is a superior soldier. They will also help establish that she is not a monster (I’m looking at you Joss Whedon/Black Widow) and therefore doesn’t have to be Asexual (Wonder Woman, you are hot, but I think we could have all used a little more time in that room with Chris Pine). Speaking of that- why is Diana the only child of the Amazons? Oh right, they are warriors- they can’t be mothers too (except why not though? Themyscara seems a fairly idyllic spot for raising a kid and they are incredibly maternal).

You see were I’m going with this. We don’t have a vast cadre of female warriors to choose from but the ones we do have are either virginal or non committal. They can have sex but not think about having a family. They can be creators but not destroyers. And so I had to make sure that Ryn embraced these parts of herself that she had been told by society made her weak. She had to learn to lead not from a hierarchal vantage, but from a more feminine non-linear one. She had to be okay with saying, what should I do here? And not worry about being perceived as incapable. Finally, she had to come to terms with the fact that she had feelings and those feelings weren’t getting in the way of her job and that in fact, they would make her better at it.

The more I speak about this at comic cons and write about it and do interviews, the more traction I get. I can see the change happening. Last week I got an email from a young girl who said she loved the book and was thinking about enlisting. She had never considered being a soldier before because she thought she was too emotional. She wrote that Ryn helped her understand that her empathy could actually do some good in the world.

If that’s not a Big Idea, I don’t know what is.

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The Rift Coda: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

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