Alpha Recap – So many goodies you don’t want to miss out!

Hey all! I am finally back from Pennsylvania, and I CANNOT WAIT to tell you all about my last couple of days. For those of you who missed my post about the writing workshop I was just attending, it’s HERE. If you bear with this post, you will find live tweeted writing advice, a video of Tamora Pierce reading for Battle Magic AND a giveaway of a signed book!

In recap, for the past almost two weeks I spent days being lectured to by three amazing authors and one fantastic editor: Kij Johnson, Tamora Pierce, Catherynne Valente and John Joseph Adams. I also spent time writing and hanging out with 19 other fantastic writers in training, all between the ages of 14 and 20. It is like all the awesome in the world, packed into one.

Our first lecturer was Tamora Pierce, who is like the Alpha Writer-in-Residence. She is there every year, though the three other spots rotate. This year, she chose to live with us in the dorm and hang out the WHOLE TIME. I nearly died of happiness. Tammy was one author with whom I managed to get in some live tweeting, so here are all those tweets for those who missed it:

This was hardly all the live tweeting I did for her or just Alphaness and general, and if you want to check out the rest find the hashtag #alpha2012.

Tammy was fantastic, both in her lectures and in hanging out in general. At a Barnes and Noble reading, she also read from her yet-to-be-released book Battle Magic. Because I’m the best, I got a video of this for you guys. ^.^ Check out my youtube channel for more!

Kij Johnson was the second author guest we had. She was also the last person I got a large amount of live tweeting in on. Let’s just get that out of the way…

Like the other author guests, Kij was absolutely amazing. Her lecture about the levels a story should have with themes, motifs and symbols really got me thinking about my own writing. In some ways it was really hard to hear, but in others I think it was good to know that I have things I need to work on. We also got to hear Kij read her short stories Ponies and 27 Monkeys. She also signed my copy of her novel, Fudoki!

Cat Valente also lectured with serious levels of awesome. Her first lecture took place after some craziness: she had just flown in from Budapest! Talk about some serious jet lag, but she soldiered through it. During her second lecture, I was actually prevented from live tweeting because I was taking SPEED NOTES. She had this animated power point like thing that took us through all the levels of structure in a story and, well… I ran out of ways to bullet my notes trying to keep up with her diagram. She also read from her novel Deathless and signed my copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making!

John Joseph Adams was our last guest. This was a really awesome contrast, because JJA isn’t a writer, but an editor! He’s been called “The King of Anthologies” and also edits the online scifi/fantasy magazine “Lightspeed.” After a lot of lectures about the actual craft of writing, hearing about the world of writing and publishing–especially since the goal of Alpha is to submit something at the end!–was a great new topic and just as helpful. He also read a story, one not of his writing, from his latest anthology.

After all this time at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg campus, our merry band of writers moved on to a Doubletree hotel in Pittsburgh for a literary scifi/fantasy convention called Confluence. Though I did not actually attend many panels in lieu of spending time with all my new friends, the entire workshop did get its own hour Q&A with the Confluence guest of honor, Seanan McGuire (some of you may know her as author Mira Grant). Though I didn’t get any pictures or live tweet this, it was absolutely fantastic. Seanan is a GREAT person who is really funny and amazing to talk to. She also signed my copy of her novel Discount Armageddon!

My time at Alpha was amazing. Words cannot adequately describe it, and its entire purpose was to teach me to be a better writer. The friends I made there are awesome, and the things I learned I’ll keep forever. If YOU are a young writer in between the ages of 14-19, I BEG you to apply there next year. The deadline is March 1st.

Out of all this, I did manage to snag you guys something! A SIGNED copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cathrynne Valente! Don’t miss out! Click HERE to enter! Giveaway is US only.


I’m going to hang with some amazing authors for 10 days, and you do NOT want to miss this!

This post should be a Waiting on Wednesday feature, but alas I have no time to do the link up today! Why, you may ask? Because at this moment, I am on a plane on my way to Greensburg, PA, for a very special event.

You may trust everything I say about this event, because I went last year. Basically, it in a nutshell is this: Me and a bunch of other young writers (ages 14-19) are going to spend 10 days writing, critiquing and listening to fantastic authors lecture. We will also be having an INSANE amount of fun at all times. Literally, AT ALL TIMES. (Sleep doesn’t happen at Alpha, not really.)

But now you’re wondering, “Well, why do I care?”

If you follow me on the blog … you probably don’t. I mean, the blog will continue its regular, jam-packed posting schedule without interruption. I’ve still got tons of giveaways, reviews and more coming right at you. No rest for the wicked or the grossly over scheduled, they say!

But if you follow me on Twitter, it could mean everything.

I will be live tweeting my favorite pieces of advice or author tidbits from each lecture. So this either means this is the time to unfollow me on Twitter for a little bit (please don’t) or follow me on Twitter RIGHT NOW (please do!). These are the authors I’ll be live tweeting from:

Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce was drawn to books from a young age. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, the child of a “long, proud line of hillbillies,” her family never had much. “We were poor, but I didn’t know it then. We had a garden where my folks grew fruit and vegetables and our water came from a well,” she explains. But one thing they did have was plenty of books. So Tamora read.

A self-proclaimed “geek,” she devoured fantasy and science fiction novels, and by the age of 12 was mimicking her literary idols and writing her own action-packed stories. It was thanks to her father that Tamora began writing. “He heard me telling myself stories as I did dishes, and he suggested that I try to write some of them down,” Pierce says.

But Tamora’s novels had one major difference: unlike the books she was reading, her stories featured teenaged girl warriors. “I couldn’t understand this lapse of attention on the part of the writers I loved, so until I could talk them into correcting this small problem, I wrote about those girls, the fearless, bold, athletic creatures that I was not, but wanted so badly to be.”

Seventeen years later, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, a brief career in teen social work and some time spent writing for radio, Tamora Pierce held true to her childhood crusade, and published Alanna: The First Adventure, the first in a quartet about a valiant, young, female warrior. Pierce’s heroine struck a chord with readers across the country and quickly earned her a loyal following.

Pierce is now a #1 New York Times bestselling author and has written twenty-five books, including her newest, BEKA COOPER #2: Bloodhound. “It’s a pretty good life, if I do say so myself. Struggling along as a kid and even through my twenties, it’s the kind of life I dreamed of but never believed I would get. Yet here I am, after a lot of work, a lot of worry, a lot of care for details, and a massive chunk of luck, the kind that brought me such strong friends and readers. Pretty good for a hillbilly, yes? And I never take it for granted,” she says.

Pierce lives in upstate New York with her husband Tim and their three cats and two birds.

Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson (born January 1960 in Iowa) is an American writer of fantasy. She has worked extensively in publishing: managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast/TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, and content manager working on the Microsoft Reader. In her time at Wizards of the Coast/TSR, she was also continuity manager for Magic: The Gathering and creative director for AD&D settings Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms. She is an associate director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a final judge for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Johnson is the author of three novels and more than 30 short works of fiction. She is best known for her adaptations of Heian-era Japanese myths.

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams (—called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes &—is the bestselling editor of many anthologies, such as Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom, Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, andThe Way of the Wizard. He is a four-time finalist for the Hugo Award and a three-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is also the editor and publisher of Lightspeed Magazine, and is the co-host of’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton Award, the Tiptree Award, the Mythopoeic Award, the Rhysling Award, and the Million Writers Award. She has been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, and Spectrum Awards, the Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award in 2007 and 2009.  She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and enormous cat.

What you do now is up to you! Just know these few important announcements and all will be good. Also know that I’m thinking of having a huge giveaway during my wrap up post. If you guys think it’s a good idea. Anybody want signed books from these guys? Anybody? ^_^