Daft Punk & The Joys of Finishing What You’ve Started

Daft Punk Rock

In the Spring of 2012, my pal Tim Quirino and I had a wacky idea. Let’s dress up like Daft Punk for our annual show, the Philadelphia Geek Awards.

We had a few months, so we saved our pennies and hunted down some custom helmets on Etsy. I went with the Guy-Manuel, while Tim opted for the Thomas Bangalter look. Then we spent a few weeks working on the gloves, which we had to cut out, sand, polish, and paint ourselves. You can check out all the steps for that business here. Took quite a while.

Instead of the awesome Daft Punk leather jacket (or the Get Lucky sparkly suit jacket), we would be wearing our tuxedos, since this was our black tie event and we wanted to actually enjoy it helmet-less. I promised myself I would get the jacket at some point, take some pictures, etc… but the helmet and gloves simply sat on my shelf, collecting dust.

With the Fall here in Philadelphia and the world outside as gorgeous as it is (seriously, Philly is BEAUTIFUL in the Autumn), I found myself really wanting to take some nice pictures outside. But you know, in a costume. Because I’m an adult. I have plenty of Master Chief suit pictures, and the Rocketeer isn’t quite done…

I spotted my Daft Punk helmet on the shelf, and knew what had to happen. It was time to wrap this one up. Jacket. Pants. Shoes. Let’s do this. Read more

And We Have a Cover!

inked final


And we have a cover! Hooray!

Last week, while I was on a little writing retreat with one of my best buds and my fiancee (I’ll write more about that in a future post), Publishing Crawl revealed the cover to INKED, my debut YA novel with Bloomsbury Spark.

It was a really exciting day, with the reveal hitting at 9AM on Monday. It was an absolute thrill to see so many of my friends tweeting and posting about the unveiling! Author buddies, publishing pals, friends from Philly and back at home… you guys were all over this, and for that, I sincerely thank every single one of you.

After the reveal, the book cover appeared on MediaBistro’s GalleyCat, fed into JacketFlap, and a number of blogs I adore, including Lauren Reads YA, M&EM Reads, A Reader of Fictions (in her Cover Snark column, yes!), Cuddlebuggery, my friends at BookRiot, Nicole’s Novel Reads, The Book Loving Nut, and more!

If you posted about the reveal and I missed you, let me know!

It’s also now on over 350 bookshelves on Goodreads. Before the reveal, it was just barely beyond 100.

So yay! Thanks again for everyone who shared and promoted the reveal, especially Adam Silvera and Susan Dennard, the two stellar authors over at Publishing Crawl who made it happen. And be sure to go meet Jenny, the stellar designer who created the cover. She rules.

Stayed tuned for more news, including the pre-order campaign, book trailer, blog tour… all that good stuff that leads up to book release. We are going to have a fun time, you guys.  Read more

On Writing Blurbs: A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne


Back in mid-July, Alexandra Edwards (please go follow her on Twitter, she’s awesome) over at Big Bang Press shot me an email about one of the first books the new publishing house would be putting out; A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne.

When I told her I’d love to check it out, what arrived in my inbox was one of the funniest, smartest pieces of YA I’ve ever read. I was thrilled to write a blurb for the book… and I fretted over what I would write for quite a while. I’d never written a blurb before!

I’d been asked, but the few times I’ve been approached for blurbs it was for books that weren’t quite my thing. You shouldn’t blurb a book if it isn’t something you would want to read, or isn’t aligned with your interests. This book? An incredibly geeky YA novel? Yes. Definitely my thing. Bring it.

I was thrilled that my first proper blurb (not including excerpted reviews from BookRiot or The Huffington Post) was for this book. I ended up writing:

“With a mix of sharp, witty dialogue and a detailed, engrossing fantasy world, A Hero at the End of the World reads like a Harry Potter novel written by Douglas Adams. A wonderfully imaginative, hilarious debut novel for geeks of all ages.” —Eric Smith, author of Inked and The Geek’s Guide to Dating

And I meant it!

The book comes out next week, and I highly recommend putting in a pre-order for it. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I think Erin is going to blow up.

Oh, and here’s the blurb from the back of the paperback. And it’s in very good company!


Inside My Beach Bag: Vacation Reads


Me reading The Selection on the beach

On September 26th, I packed up my bags, crammed some books in my satchel, loaded up my iPad with eBooks, and hopped a plane to St. Martin with my fiancee for a few days. I put an out of office email up at Quirk, scheduled an online discussion with my college students from my hotel, and tried my best to actually take a real vacation and relax.

I’m one of those weird people that have a hard time relaxing or taking breaks. I always want to be working on my books, dreaming up marketing campaigns for other people’s books, or fussing over blog posts.

So for this vacation, I left my laptop at home. Which seriously hurt, you guys. Like… ugh.

But, what I did bring were books. A lot of them. Some I picked up on my way (our first layover was in Miami, and I couldn’t help myself at the airport bookshop), some I crammed in my messenger bag (yay paperbacks!), and others I downloaded long before I left.

And while I told myself I’d be off the grid for the trip… I ended up tweeting a lot about the books I was reading. There was WiFi in my hotel, and it stretched out to the beach. Sorry, I’m not sorry. No one was surprised.

Anyhow, I loved all of these books, and you should check them out. Here’s what was in my beach bag while I was on vacation.

And pst. Suzanne. Thanks for handling Quirk’s social stuff while I was gone. You rock.

girls blog

SEPTEMBER GIRLS (Bennett Madison): When it comes to reviews, I try to use my best judgement. This particular book had some incredibly polarizing reviews. Some really negative ones by bloggers I adore, and some really positive ones by authors and bloggers I also adore. It was really hard to find any kind of middle ground with this one. So I decided to see for myself. And wow. I’m so glad I did.

Madison’s YA fantasy novel takes readers to a mysterious beach, full of girls that are… well, something isn’t quite right. And our protagonist, a young kid named Sam, finds himself swept up in a summer of beauty, magic, love, and loss. It’s a book I genuinely wish I would have read long ago. The first book I finished while on my vacation, it’s a novel I’ll be recommending to everyone I meet. And I can’t wait to read more of Madison’s books! There are a lot of them.

chuck books

UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY & BLIGHTBORN (Chuck Wendig): I’ve always enjoyed Chuck’s hilarious ramblings on his incredible blog Terrible Minds, and I’ve had his book Blackbirds sitting on my Kindle for quite some time, but I’d yet to dive into any of his novels. I have no good reason for this what-so-ever, especially considering I read his blog actively. However, when my friend Erin Morgenstern saw him tweeting about a Quirk title I was working on, she connected us. And with my vacation coming up, I decided it was time to dive in.

I read his first two young adult novels in two days.

These books! I couldn’t put them down. If you’re a fan of Chuck’s blog, that voice, that creative, hilarious, rapid fire voice… it fills these pages. These are the first two books in his Heartland trilogy (GIVE ME THE THIRD BOOK NOW, CHUCK), and these novels take you to a world that’s ruled by the Empyrean, powerful, wealthy people living in floating cities while the remaining Earth-dwelling citizens scavenge and basically slave for them. The world is covered in the Empyrean’s genetically engineered corn, which fuels and powers their super cities, while damaging the average folk and the planet.

There’s just so much to like here, and the sequel, Blightborn… man. It’s so rare that I stumble upon a sequel that is better than the first book, and this one… it’s just unbelievable. The world building! The action packed plot! AHH. Just everything. Get these. Post haste.


THE MAZE RUNNER (James Dashner): Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I know I’m like, the last person ever to read this book. I know I’m like, trying to be a Young Adult author. I should read the most popular books in the genre, right? Right.

Nena and I had one day on vacation where we just sat on the beach from morning until sundown. It was pretty glorious. And on that day, I read this entire book. It should come as no surprise that I loved it, and I’m really curious about the movie now. At least now I can see it guilt-free, having read the book.

I also picked up The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure, but haven’t started them yet.

And speaking of popular YA books, I also picked up the first two books in THE SELECTION series. I’ve been having a hard time writing romantic / swoony scenes in what I’m hoping is INKED’s sequel, so this was research. And I’m enjoying them.


STUMPTOWN: VOLUME 1 and STUMPTOWN: VOLUME 2 (Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth): I was first introduced to Greg Rucka after picking up copies of White Out on the cheap (I wrote a bit about it over on BookRiot), and just fell in love with his writing. Super strong female characters, thrilling plot lines, and always, always gorgeous art to accompany all of it.

I picked up Volumes 1 and 2 of Stumptown thanks to a sweet Comixology deal, and was not disappointed.

Taking place in Portland, Stumptown introduces you to private investigator Dex Parios. She’s an unflinching, tough, and occasionally awkward woman, who has a knack for getting caught up in cases way bigger than she anticipates. Both books can be read in an afternoon, and are a lot of fun. Highly recommend them.

queen country

QUEEN & COUNTRY: VOLUME 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Greg Rucka): Yes, yes. I read more Rucka while on the trip. I read FIVE VOLUMES of Queen & Country. What can I say, there was a Greg Rucka sale a few weeks ago on Comixology and I just stocked up. And I still have TWO MORE volumes to get through! But I don’t mind. These books are an absolute joy to read.

Illustrated in beautiful black and white, Queen & Country is Rucka’s amazing espionage series, published by the Oni Press crew (same folks who put out White Out and Stumptown). You meet a lot of awesome characters, and the cast is large and well developed, but the story really centers on Tara Chace, an agent with SIS.

There’s a lot to like here, with Rucka delivering a lot of action and plenty of heated, intense office-drama within the SIS organization. In fact, I think the scenes inside the headquarters are just as exciting as the ones with people running and shooting.

New York Comic Con 2014: Quirk, Signings, And Cory Doctorow


So New York Comic Con is this week, and I’m really excited.

I head to NYCC every year with Quirk, and I’ve been going there anyway for… well, years. I went a few times with Tim for the ol’ Geekadelphia, and I’ve gone plenty of times just for kicks. But this New York Comic Con is extra special.

Because it’s my first New York Comic Con signing books and hosting a Q&A. Saturday is going to be incredible.

SIGNING: On Saturday at New York Comic Con, from 11:00am to noon, I’ll be signing copies of The Geek’s Guide to Dating at the Quirk Books booth. I’ll be joined by my friend (and upcoming Quirk author) Sam Maggs, who will be signing The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy posters.

I’m really excited about this, particularly because Sam’s book is going to be incredible. We wrote together on Geekosystem for a while, before it was absorbed into The Mary Sue. She’s a talented gal, and I’m thrilled Quirk is publishing her. And we get to do a signing together!

The Quirk booth is at #2236.

CORY DOCTOROW Q&A: In October of 2012, I was thrilled to help bring Cory Doctorow to Indy Hall for a talk about his YA novel Pirate Cinema. It was an awesome event that I still talk about. And now, two years later, I’m hosting his Q&A at New York Comic Con.

From 1:00pm to 1:45pm, you can attend the Spotlight on Cory Doctorow in Room 1A10. I’ll be moderating the Q&A, and I’m just absolutely thrilled and honored. We’ll likely talk a lot about his latest graphic novel, In Real Life, which you might have seen me ramble about over on BookRiot in the Best of August 2014 post. You should seriously check it out.

And that’s my Saturday morning. I’ll likely be found sleeping in the Quirk booth right after the Q&A.

I’ll also be there the whole convention, Thursday through Sunday, doing my thing and talking to people at the Quirk booth. Come by to meet plenty of other awesome Quirk authors, including Ransom Riggs, on Friday.