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Creating Kick Butt Female Characters

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 20, 2011

Join us for our live chat with Courtney Allison Moulton at 5 p.m. EST today in the inkpop Live Chat Forum. Courtney is the author of Angelfire.


How did you come up with the idea for Angelfire?

I grew up watching Sailor Moon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and had always wanted to write a story about a reluctant heroine who fights monsters. I’d been struggling to find the right story until one day I was watching the movie The Time Machine, which is an old favorite of mine, and I had an idea. In this movie, a scientist’s fiancé is killed and he builds a time machine to go back and save her, but she is doomed to die no matter what he does. I wondered what this man would be like if he had never given up trying to save her when she tragically dies in front of him every time, and then Will’s character in Angelfire was created.

What is your background with writing?

I don’t have any formal training with writing, unlike a lot of authors who have degrees in this field. When I was little, I made up stories all the time—usually involving monsters—and wrote them on whatever I could find, including library books, much to my mom’s dismay. When I discovered the Goosebumps books, I became addicted and decided I wanted to be RL Stine when I grew up. I took a creative writing class my junior year in high school which was the coolest class I’ve ever taken. I just hung out with a couple friends in that class and wrote a play about vampires killing each other, which we acted out (fake neck-snapping, I assure you), and illustrated a children’s book about a baby Pegasus who was learning how to fly. I wrote my first novel that year based on my play about not-so-cuddly, homicidal vampires.

Explain the process of getting published as a debut author. What were the steps you took to securing an agent? What happened after you had an agent? How long did this process ultimately take?

I found an agent the old fashioned way by querying. I had a project about vampires that had a lot of interest from several agents, including my agent now, but the story just wasn’t there. During the phone call with my agent about this book, she told me to send her something else, so I wrote Angelfire and queried her again. This time she signed me. After month and months and months of revising, she sent the manuscript to my editor who offered a three book deal. To show you how long it took, I queried my first book in March 2008, signed with my agent in February 2009, sold my second book Angelfire in November 2009, and was published in February 2011. While it took three long years to get where I am, some people query for years and years, and some people only take a couple weeks to sign with an agent. Every journey is vastly different, so it’s wise to have zero expectations. There’s no standard or average. If you want to become a published author, you just have to go with whatever happens and never give up.

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Creating Characters: inkTips from Lauren Oliver

Posted by inkpopbecki on March 18, 2011

Bestselling author Lauren Oliver has moved from writing real fiction to dystopic fiction in the span of a few years, but what has always stayed consistent are her compelling characters. Want to hear more from Lauren? Join us for a live chat with Lauren Oliver in our inkpop Forum Events on March 20th at 2 p.m. EST.


People often ask me about how to create dimensional characters, and usually I respond that for every character, you should know his/her wants and needs, and how these differ. (A character might WANT to date the head cheerleader, for example; but he might NEED to feel accepted).

But a recent conversation with Gayle Foreman made me realize that understanding character is slightly more complicated than that, since it requires that you really understand PEOPLE. And with that in mind, I’ve assembled a little list of “method-writing” tips. Never heard of method-writing? Like method-acting, method-writing asks that you get inside the minds of your characters.

1. Be a spy. No need to bust out the all-black outfits and the infra-red night goggles. Just start listening and paying attention. Instead of zoning out on the bus and listening to music, listen to the conversations other people are having. Observe how people eat, chew, fix their hair, adjust their scarves.

2. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…or at least think about it. One of my favorite games to play is to pick a person radically different than myself–a middle aged business-y type man, for example–and ask myself, how did he get to be who he is? What was his family life like? What does he dream about? What does he eat for breakfast?

3. Take an acting class/try out for a play! This seems crazy, but so many writers I know are also actors and theater buffs. Nothing teaches you more about being someone else.

4. Play pretend. When you’re a kid, I bet you dressed up and imagined you were a princess…or a soldier…or an impoverished servant forced to do slave labor by your cruel parents (or maybe that was just me when my mom asked me to set the table…). And then I bet you stopped. But playing pretend is a wonderful way of understanding the interaction of story and character. So bust out that princess tiara and play castle!


5. Play 20 Questions. I go out a bunch in New York City, and I’m often amazed by how rarely people actually ask each other questions (and even when they do, they often don’t listen to the answers). Everyone has a story; ask about it! When you meet someone new, ask what kind of music he/she listens to, or what it was like to grow up in the suburbs/country/big city, or what that person fears the most. That’s the only way you’ll start being able to relate to people and characters who are different from you. Bonus: it will make you the most popular guest at any party. Seriously. Try it.

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Lost Projects Update

Posted by inkpopbecki on February 7, 2011

Hey inkpoppers! So as you know, projects the disappeared during the great glitch of 2011 have most been restored. I say mostly as there were nine projects that our tech team were unable to reinstate.  Now we’re asking for your help. As best as I can I have tried to note the projects that we could not retrieve. Some inkpoppers have already uploaded a new version of their project. We’re asking for those to be considerate. If you had any of the below projects on your list prior to the glitchapocolypse, please consider putting the project back on your list when the author uploads it again. Again we apologize for the technical glitch and we appreciate all of your patience and help through out this process. If you had a project that disappeared and has not yet been reinstated (and it is not on the below list) please message me so we can begin to search for this. Thanks!
Remember Cass by quite.spazzy
Derawood by ashnicole96
‘Til You Make It by ashnicole96
The Sayari by peony12
The High Prince by peony12
The Devil in Disguise
Playing Adeline
Evelyn August: Alice Rockwell’s Revenge
Brooke: Alright!

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inkpop: Who We Are and Where We’re Going

Posted by inkpopbecki on February 4, 2011

Hey we were going to post an update today that encompassed sort of the future plans for the inkpop site, but then this

article came out on . Here are some great excerpt. Check out the full article at


Ypulse: How was the inkpop platform built or tweaked to accommodate the needs of an interactive community of readers and writers? Could you describe the dynamic between members?

Becki : When was built last year, HarperCollins wanted to create a more social book site experience. That was impetus for inkpop. Over the year HarperCollins has really seen the power of this site. We’re taking our motto, “Your World, Your Books,” seriously.

Along with searching for more manuscripts from our inkpop community, we’re also working on developing more outlets where readers and writers can just get their ideas in front of editors here. We realize that writing a full novel is difficult and not something that every teen can do every day. We also realize that they are full of great ideas and we want to empower our members to share those ideas with us, so that instead of editors in a room creating books that they think teens will like, teens will really be helping to create the books they want to read.

Ypulse: What has been the most challenging aspect of building this new model? The most rewarding?

Becki:  We’re pioneers here, which is an exciting position to be in, but trying to explain exactly what we’re doing for the users at all times is difficult. At first people who came to the site just thought we were going to take their ideas.

We we had to assure them that that wasn’t the goal of the site. Users weren’t sure we were always listening, but publishing is such a long process it’s also hard to explain that books don’t come out in a month. Now that we’re showing some results, our members are really getting excited.

We want to change the way people think about creating books. That we can and should be listening to our consumers in every way possible. The digital age has given us the capability to do that and it is a huge advantage over previous generations. It’s just getting everyone in and showing them that we want to hear from them that is the continuing challenge.


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Review for Subway Girl

Posted by inkpopbecki on January 30, 2011

Check out this blog post from Reading in Color. We’re so excited that author P.J. Converse will be on inkpop on February 23 for a live chat. Check out the post.

Subway Girl by P. J. Converse

Release Date: March 15, 2011

From the moment he sees Amy on a Hong Kong subway, Simon wants to talk to her. But when he finally works up the courage, he finds out he can’t. Because Amy doesn’t speak Chinese, and Simon is failing English. But despite their language barrier, Amy and Simon connect, and they discover they understand each other.

In this stunning first novel about class differences, cultural arrogance, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, sexual double standards, and love and friendship, two vulnerable teens carve out a relationship even though each seems way beyond the reach of the other.

-Oh my goodness I want this book so bad! It talks about abortion, sex, cultural arrogance and class. Bonus: INTERCULTURAL ASIAN ROMANCE! On Goodreads it says that Amy is Chinese-American and Simon is Chinese and they meet on the subway. And it’s not love at first sight. And there’s a language barrier but they still become friends! It’s set in Hong Kong. What’s not to love? I feel meh about the cover but it grows me since it shows the subway and I think the girl on the cover could be Asian and it makes sense that she’s not facing us due to Simon only catching glimpses of her. Lots and lots of potential.

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Writing Paranormal: Writing Tips from Bestselling Author Kiersten White

Posted by inkpopbecki on September 24, 2010

Writing paranormal fiction sounds like fun. Just like fantasy and science fiction, there are rules that have to be adhered to when creating work in this genre. Think you have what it takes? Check out these writing tips from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White, then pop over to inkpop to join the Paranormalcy Writing Challenge.


1- My first writing tip is always the same: Edit!  First drafts are wonderful, but most of what makes books great happens in editing.

2- When writing paranormal, it’s very important to have your world setup believable (or as believable as something with vampires/faeries/werewolves/leprechauns can be) and consistent.  Decide on the “rules” and write them down, then stick within the boundaries you’ve created.  It will help make your unbelievable story work!

3- Read your work out loud.  Nothing will help you identify awkward phrasing or stilted dialogue faster than having to say it to yourself.

4- Research.  If you can’t come up with an idea for paranormal or urban fantasy that you like, try going back to traditional folklore stories.  You’ll be amazed at what you find and it’s bound to trigger your imagination!

Want to hear more from Kiersten? Check out here blog at

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How First Time Novelists Sold a Series: Inside the Mind of Rina Onur

Posted by inkpopbecki on August 11, 2010

They were best friends, college roommates and now co-authors of a new series called The Ivy. This series, by Rina Onur and Lauren Kunze, about girls at Harvard, is not just their first novel, but their first series. Find out what it takes to sell a series as a first time author today in our live chat. Join us on the inkpop forums at 2 p.m. EST to talk with Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur. We sat down with Rina Onur for some quick questions before the chat. Check out her answer.


How did your real life experience of attending Harvard together as roommates impact your novel?
Once we decided that we wanted to work together to create a series, we immediately knew we wanted to write about Harvard. To us, it was only natural, because we could only write about something we knew first-hand. Harvard had been such an important experience for both of us thus far; consequentially, we gravitated towards a story that follows the travails of a freshman girl coming into Harvard. The feelings of insecurity, fear and not belonging were common to a lot of people coming into college, so we wanted to dwell on those topics along with the fun, the drama and the occasional glamour.
We realized there were so many YA books out there about junior-high and high-school, along with many more belonging to the genre which people named as “chick lit”, focusing on younger women and their lives, but there was nothing that focused on the period in between! We wanted to take advantage of that and offer people something different.

How did you two come up with the idea to do this series together?

Lauren and I got the idea of writing a book together from the failed attempt of a Harvard classmate, who sold the rights to her book during our Sophomore year. What could have been a very successful YA book back then, failed even before it got a real chance. It’s actually easy to figure out what book we’re talking about (google people?), but there’s no point in naming names right now.

We knew we could do a series and we could do it differently. That’s where our own Harvard experiences played a huge part.  We also knew that it’d be an incredibly fun thing to do together and we weren’t wrong!
What was the most challenging part of being first time authors selling your series?

You always hear the stories of first-time authors with finished manuscripts, who can’t get the right people’s attention from the publishing world and waste months, if not years trying to show their book to publishing houses. We were kind of lucky on that front. Lauren and I had a kick-ass query letter even before we had written a chapter of our book, which got us the attention of quite a few editors.

I think what we had going for us was a marketable idea and a lot of enthusiasm. During a publishing meeting at Harvard for the literature students, Lauren had managed to acquire the email address of a VP from Little, Brown. During his talk, he had said that he would read an email from unsolicited authors, only if he were sent a “very interesting letter.” Thankfully we had that: a very interesting query letter, which managed to get the attention of many senior editors, but unfortunately following the initial interest, there was a long chain of disappointing answers. So first lesson right there: don’t give up that easily; know that a lot of published authors get rejected before they get snatched away!
BUT, the editors were right; the first few chapters we had written were very rough and in the wrong direction. So lesson two: learn to listen if everybody’s giving you the same feedback, but work harder!

Fortunately we had the time and the will just restart from scratch. Big kudos to Lauren for not giving up back then!
I’m glad we got all that feedback, because it steered The Ivy series in the right direction!

How did you find your agent and publisher?
A couple of the senior editors, who passed on the opportunity themselves, recommended us literary agents. Along with contacting those candidates, we also compiled a long list of reputable agents from literary marketplace and publisher’s marketplace. Signing up to those services really pays off if you want to get some solid information.


After we sent out our manuscript to a list of agents, we started narrowing the list down based on the answers and the level of interest we received. Once we cut the list down to only a couple people, we had phone interviews with the candidates to talk about what they planned on doing for us and the series. We then happily decided to sign with Rosemary Stimola, who got us the Greenwillow deal about a week later!

Want to hear more from Rina Onur and chat with her co-author Lauren Kunze? Join our live chat at 2 p.m. EST today on the inkpop forum events.

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We’re Redesigning inkpop

Posted by inkpopbecki on July 9, 2010

Alright guys, we thought we would mix things up a little bit this week and address some of the changes that will soon be coming to inkpop. We wanted to acknowledge that we have been listening to you and some of the changes you requested are in the process of being made.

First you can start looking for changes sometimes towards the middle of October. I know that seems really far away, school will already be back in session and we will have at least three more top picks. We know! Such is development time.

Now on to the fun news:

  • Private Messages: Now you can send a private as well as a public message to your friends on inkpop.
  • Swap Box: You want it, you got it. Now you will officially know who is and is not open for swaps
  • Categories: We are helping you out by breaking the site up into sections. Now you can judge fiction, nonfiction and poetry separately, each having a shot at their very own Top Picks list.
  • Helpful Comment: Tired of all of those one word, or just “Nice Job” comments? Well now you can let people know. You can rate a comment on a 1-5 star basis.

More to come. Please keep us posted on changes you would like to see to the site. Feel free to post in our forum.

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inkpop Fundamentals: June 24, 2010

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on June 24, 2010

John Hughes 2.0 Though film director, producer, and writer John Hughes passed away late last year; the memory of his launch of the “Brat Pack,” and work on films such as Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club undoubtedly lives on, influencing every new generation despite the fact that his work primarily took place in the eighties. Hughes’ most recent influential stand in the entertainment industry comes in the form of Disney’s new high school comedy Prom, a big screen release which centers around a group of teenagers preparing for one of the biggest dances in high school history, that is rumored to be more Sixteen Candles than High School Musical, and stars Friday Night Lights’ Aimee Teegarden and Gossip Girl’s Yin Chang. Variety.

Exercise your mind While many associate staying active with participating in some sort of physical activity – be it swim team or soccer; Michelle Obama has a second item to add to that list…reading. Via her Let’s Read. Let’s Move. Campaign, the First Lady is looking to not only encourage kids to get off the couch and exercise their bodies for at least one hour per day this summer, but to exercise their minds by reading five or more books during their summer vacays. USA Today.

‘Emily the Strange’ rocks out! Since her creation back in 1991 for Santa Cruz Skateboards, Emily the Strange has become a hot commodity in the world of pop culture, spawning not just a clothing line bearing her moniker, but a possible feature film, in addition to an entire book series. Now, however, Emily has deemed it time to dabble in a new genre – music. Virgin Records recently inked a contract with Gator Group – the licensing agency behind Emily the Strange – to create a hushhush Emily music project that is rumored to feature the work of many noted artists. The album is scheduled for release in 2011. Cynopsis.

Over to you…are you a fan of John Hughes’ work? Will you be seeing Prom? Do you feel that Disney is capable of creating a film that stands the test of time in the same fashion as Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club – why or why not? What do you think of the Let’s Read. Let’s Move. Campaign? What five books will you be reading this summer? Are you an Emily the Strange fan? Will you be taking a listen to the Emily music collaboration?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

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inkpop Fundamentals: April 27, 2010

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on April 27, 2010

Taylor Swift…illustrated During her twenty years Taylor Swift has accomplished more than many hope to achieve in a lifetime; but there is still room for firsts, and that is precisely what her appearance in her comic-book biography Fame: Taylor Swift, which hits shelves in July of 2010, can be classified as. The fourth title in Bluewater Comics’ Fame series – which also includes illustrated biographies of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattison, and Lady Gaga – will chronicle Swift’s rise to fame, and feature art by Erick Adrian Marquez and JuanMar Studios. Future Fame biographies will include Taylor Lautner, David Beckham, and 50 Cent. MTV.

Hello, this is your future calling YA author Sarah Mlynowski prides herself on being innovative in terms of writing; but she is just as creative when it comes to marketing. To draw attention to her new book Gimme a Call – which centers around a high school senior who drops her cell phone in a fountain, only to find that she is able to make calls to one person and one person only…her 14-year-old freshman self – Mlynowski recruited the assistance of popular YA novelists to Tweet advice from the future to their former selves. Over 1000 authors participated in the project – including Libba Bray (author of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy), Neil Gaiman (author of Coraline), and Julia DeVillers (author of How My Private Personal Journal Became a Bestseller). Huffington Post.

Pass it on…to your parents! Though our parents are forever passing everything from advice to secret family recipes down to us; YA literature has given a reason for the tables to turn, putting the power into the hands of younger generations to school their folks in the world of fiction, given the rise of popularity in YA books. While the sale of adult hardcovers has been down considerably; there has been a large rise in children’s/YA hardcover sales courtesy of books such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, indicating that there is still a bright spot to the lackluster publishing industry…youth! Los Angeles Times.

Over to you…are you a Taylor Swift Fan? Would you ever read or buy a comic book biography? If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be and why? Do your parents read YA books – if so, which ones? If you were to recommend one YA book to your mom or dad, which one would it be and why?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

Posted in inkpop News, Teen Trends, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »