The time there was wine

Posted May 24, 2014 by Stacee in Signings | 6 Comments

When the launch party was announced for Amy Tintera and Debra Driza, it immediately went on the calendar. I was never 100% sure that I was able to go, but I knew I was going to try. It wasn’t until the night before that it was decided.

We got up to Skylight Books around 3:30. The bookstore is gorgeous.


After buying books, we strolled around Los Feliz. The neighborhood is pretty amazing. Not only is it on the same block as The Dresden [from Swingers fame], but it’s filled with vintage stores that sell things like this:


In case you can’t tell, those are book covers that someone mounts onto wood, then does some special things and now it’s art! And I want to buy every single every one of them.

We got back to the store around 4:15 to them setting up the event area. I settled into the front row and started typing up my draft. Amy found me shortly after and we chatted for a few minutes.


Debra got there a few minutes later and the set up with wine and cupcakes started. Meanwhile, hubs brought back this fantastically tasty chocolate coffee and I tried not to drink all of it.

Around 5:15, the event started. The host tried to get people to move forward, since the second row was free. He also talked about upcoming events before telling everyone that the store was technology friendly, to include the store in all of the Instagram and twitter posts.


Amy started out by saying that her and Debra have toured together before and that the event was going to be an in conversation type thing to start. But they always start out with two truths and a lie.

Amy: I used to be a bus driver, I had a meltdown over crickets or I wrote 12 books before Reboot.

I guessed the crickets and this was her explanation on truth:

When I was 16 I worked at Old Navy and they wanted me to clean a hallway and it was covered in crickets. I stood there and sobbed and then quit. The lie was that I wrote only 8 books before Reboot.

Debra: I wrote a Harlequin-type romance with dogs, I almost caught fire while planking at SCBWI, I once gave a friend a book to read and it was covered in pee.

I guessed the pee. Here’s her explanation on the truth. It was Shannon Messenger who got the pee book. She mentioned that it smelled weird while flipping through it. The lie was that someone else almost caught themselves on fire because they were planking too close to the fire pit.

A: Now we’ll talk a bit about trilogies.

D: I didn’t know how hard it was to write trilogies. The first book was pretty easy. The second one was changed a lot. It’s the bridge to the third book and you have to make sure it’s all set up properly. [There was more to this answer.]

A: For me, my books are a duology. I think it’s the lazier, easier way. There’s no bridge book. I wrote the first 30 pages and sent it to my editor. I’m a very on time type person. On time for me actually means early. The deadline date is actually late.

I’m working on a fantasy trilogy now and everyone tells me not to do it.


Now we’ll talk a bit about Hollywood. Deb has a tv option.

D: I don’t know what’s going on. There’s a screenplay and it got up pretty high and then got shot down. It’s exciting to get optioned, but that doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. I know they aged Mila up to her 20s.

A: Reboot was also optioned and they aged up Wren too. I think it’s because Hollywood is afraid of too much YA.

{There was an entire conversation about romance in YA and I didn’t get it down. This led to Debra asking:}

Are there shirtless boys in your books?

Yes. Callum is almost naked in Reboot. And he’s pretty much naked in Rebel.

D: bow chicka wow wow

A: Yeah, pretty much.

They chose not to read, so it was opened up to questions from the audience.

For Deb: did you do a lot of writing before your book?

I started writing really bad Harlequin romance type books. I focused a lot on the dogs, maybe I should have had the dogs have a romance. I tried to write another one and it was really bad too. I started reading YA and I read Twilight. My mom read the Vampire Academybooks and would hand them off to me and I really liked them. YA is really fast paced and it like it, there isn’t 20 pages of setting to get through.

I wrote two YA-ish novels before I got the deal for Mila. They would probably be considered NA now. Well, NA without the sex. Everything thinks Twilight is a bad word, but without it, a lot of us wouldn’t be here.


What do you think of Divergent and The Hunger Games movies?

D: I love the strong female characters.

A: It’s nice to see a broader range of YA. Before when you said that you wrote YA, people would say “like Twilight” and not in a good way. [There was more to this answer.]

For Amy: What prompted you to write both POVs and how did you keep it straight?

A: I knew there were some points where they were going to be separate. I knew I wanted to get in Callum’s head because he’s really emotional and Wren is not. She doesn’t show anything.

I had to spend a lot of time on it and I still think it’s not perfect. I do know that I never want to write in alternating POV again.

You wrote 8 books before Reboot. Do you ever go back and revisit them?

A: I love two of the books and think about rewriting them. It’s about angels and demons, which isn’t relevant any more. The rest of them are just people walking around. I hated screenwriting, but I learned a lot about plot.

D: I have an urban fantasy that I might go back to.

A: I say that angels and demons aren’t relevant any more, but teenager’s eyes light up when we mention vampires. They’re not tired of the topic. They’re not tired of dystopian. How old were they when Twilight came out, 4?

It’s the adults who are tired of it. The publishing gatekeepers who have read everything… {I’m not sure who said this.}


Are you a pantser?

D: I’m a pantser. I have to outline the MILA books, but it’s rare. It could get you in trouble when you have to revise. For me, outlining takes all of the joy out of writing. I like the discovery.

A: I often know the midpoint of whatever I’m working on. I did for Reboot. The second half of the book should be entirely different from the first half. [Clearly there was more to this too.]

How challenging is it when you’re in the middle and you have great ideas but you think it would be better to use later?

D: It’s challenging. If I have a good idea, I’ll write it down and then think about using later. Maybe it doesn’t even go in the book I’m working on.

A: I can’t really wait. I can’t write it all down, I’ll never go back to it. There’s a scene about 3/4s of the book that takes place in Callum’s bedroom and it was something I was really looking forward to writing. I used it as my motivation to write everything up to that.

What is it like working with an editor?

A: It starts with an edit letter. Reboot was 12 pages, single spaced. Books are around 80k words for the first round of edits, it was about 65k. I made changes and added about 15k words.

Then there’s line edits where you actually go line by line and fix things. Copy edits are next and it’s maybe changing a word here or there. Then you’re done.

D: I think the edit letter for Mila was 13 pages. Often you have to address the major points first. There’s three tests at the end of Mila and two of them are completely different than in the first draft.

A: The edits are just suggestions. My editor said that Wren should have a brother. That wouldn’t have worked so I ignored it. Then she said that the movie people would really like it, so I have Callum one. When I read the script, they had taken the brother out.

Do you tell them what you don’t want to do or just ignore it?

D: If it’s a big thing, I’ll call. If not, I’ll ignore it and see if she remembers.

A: I have to take a couple of days and calm down before I can address it. It gets to feeling like it’s hopeless and that I can’t possibly do it.  Calling is better than an email.  Something could be taken a wrong way in an email.  Writers are an oddly sensitive group of people.


If you could invite 3 fictional characters who aren’t your own to a tea party, who would you pick?

A: June from the Legend series, Mia from If I Stay, and probably Fanny Price. She’s my favorite Jane Austen character and I know she’s the least liked, but I really like her.

D: Do they have to be YA?

Me: No.

D: Katniss and St. Clair — he’s got great hair — and probably Sebastian from Brideshead Revisited.

Can you talk about having a day job while trying to write?

D: I was told early on to take writing seriously. If you work on manuscripts and finish, you’ll see progress. That’s what kept me going.

A: I was motivated by being a complete failure. I worked at a talent agency for a while and was demoted twice. I don’t know why they didn’t fire me. Someone told me that the only difference between a published or unpublished author is that someone gave up. I didn’t want to be that person.

On writing books before getting published, did you ever go through writer’s block? If so, how did you work through it?

D: Best technique for me is butt in chair. Sometimes I’ll go for a run and that will help me get scenes in my head.

A: I’m inspired by tv and by reading. For Reboot, I had just finished Shiver by Maggie Stiefavter. Maggie’s prose is just beautiful and it makes me want to read every single word. That and the end of The Walking Dead when you see the zombie come back to life. I thought we were going to get some background on it, but we didn’t. So I thought I could so something with it.

You often hear writers say to throw out your tvs if you want to write, but I love my tv.

D: Me too.

There weren’t any other questions, so the signed started. Of course I was first in line.

I handed Amy my book first because Debra was getting swag out of her bag. I thanked them both and Debra thanked me for coming up and Amy said the same.

ba bab

While Debra was signing she asked Amy what her tag line was. Amy told her and then Debra said that she was going to make one up right then and there.

baa baab

I thanked them again and then went over to find Gretchen and say hi. Gretchen introduced me to a couple of ladies she was talking with. She said that I drove up from San Diego, like normal. I responded by saying that it wasn’t the dumbest thing we’ve done. Gretchen said that I thought it was perfectly normal to drive up to San Francisco for a signing and then turn around. I pointed out that it still wasn’t the dumbest: that I had flown out to Chicago for Michelle Hodkin.

Turns out one of the ladies sort of knows Michelle and has the same agency as her. We started talking about Retribution, how badly I needed it in my hands and how I was not only prepared to cut someone for it, but that I had exhausted all of my favors trying to get an early copy. One of her friends had read it and said it was the best in the series. {SQUEEEEEEEE} She ended up taking my card and said she would see what she could do. I’m convinced you’ll hear me screaming if anything comes of it.

I went back to Amy and Debra to get a photo before cornering Gretchen for a couple of minutes to chat with her.

Skylight Books is a pretty cool place. The staff is friendly, the store is gorgeous and the area for the events is a nice set up. Never mind the fact that they push the use of social media and tagging them…I just love that. I’ll definitely be adding it to the list of stores I check out for future events.

As for Amy and Debra, if you’re not reading their books, you should be.

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6 responses to “The time there was wine

  1. This was fabulous! I zoomed in when I saw Amy Tintera’s name on this interview. REBOOT AND REBEL ARE MY FAVOURITES. x) Their answers are really cool (and the questions are quite unique! awesome!) and I particularly love that I’m not the only one that gets inspired by other people’s books and also tv. lol! That’s good to know it’s a “real” writer thing!
    Excellent interview. I really enjoyed reading this.

    • Stacee

      I really loved Amy’s books as well! These two ladies were a lot of fun. I really like the in conversation thing when the authors get along so well.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Stacee

      It was fun. I love the in-conversation thing when the authors get along so well. It would have been nice to see you for more than 2 seconds.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  2. This event seemed like so much fun!! I love that they do a two truths and a lie, that’s hilarious. I have not read either of their books (YET) but our other reviewers love the MILA books and we sell them well at the store. Thanks for recapping the event – it makes me feel like I was somewhat there!! :)

    • Stacee

      You need to read them!! Both series are so great. And thank you for saying that! It’s probably the best compliment you could possibly give.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

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