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When Stories Attack

Resistance by Jenna Black

Written by Jenna Black

When I worked a “normal” day job, there was always a very clear delineation between work time and leisure time. Work time was when I was in the office. Everything else was “leisure,” to be divided between whatever life responsibilities I had outside of work, and free time/recreation.

These days, I don’t have a “normal” day job with regular office hours. Every hour of every day is a potential work time, and I find myself working even when I’m not in my home office. I work in the shower. I work when I’m driving. Heck, I even work when I’m trying to get to sleep at night. That’s because my mind never shuts up, and it’s always telling me stories—even when I don’t want it to. The more immersed I’ve become in writing as a career, the more constant the assault has become.

Sometimes, it’s a good thing. When I’m stuck on a particularly difficult plot problem, I know one possible solution for it is to take a shower. Because there, my mind has nothing else to keep it busy, so it starts doing the story thing. I am a captive audience. Sometimes, taking a shower is exactly what I need to push myself past whatever is slowing me down. (Good thing we have a generous hot water heater.)

A time when it’s less convenient is when I’m driving somewhere very familiar. For instance, the (on average) two times a week I drive to and from the studio where I take ballroom dance lessons. It’s about a thirty minute drive each way, and I could practically drive it in my sleep. Which means my mind thinks it has nothing better to do than to ponder stories. Fix existing plot problems. Come up with ideas for future books. Psychoanalyze my characters so I can better understand their motivations and figure out better ways to torture them.

All of which is well and good, except that when I’m operating a potentially lethal vehicle, everyone would probably rather my mind actually be in the car with me rather than dilly-dallying out in la-la land. But hey, I’ve gotten some of my best story ideas while driving, and I haven’t killed anyone yet. (That’s the sound of me knocking on wood).

But the single time I struggle the most with the onslaught of stories is when I’m trying to get to sleep at night. I try very hard not to do any writing work at night, at least not when I don’t have to, because I know once my mind starts chewing on a story, it’s going to keep at it for a long, long time. Thinking about my books at night is like drinking a double espresso and then wondering why I’m suddenly so hyper.

It’s incredibly hard for me as a writer to forcibly stop myself from thinking about stories. I’ve been wired for stories since I was very young, and that’s why I became a writer in the first place. But actually, “wired” is a pretty apt word choice, because the energy that fills me while I’m developing stories is like a jolt of electricity, waking every nerve in my body and setting my mind to humming. Which clearly is not a good state to be in when you’re trying to sleep.

One thing I’ve been finding helpful lately is doing some meditation right before bed. I discovered meditation through a wonderful book called The Mindfulness Solution, by Ronald D. Siegel. It’s a very down-to-earth, accessible introduction to mindfulness meditation, and it has done wonders for me in helping to discipline my mind at night and stop myself from running frantically around the hamster-wheel of storytelling.

The question writers are asked most frequently is “where do you get your ideas?” For me, the more relevant question is “how do I make them leave me alone?” Getting ideas is the easy part, even if explaining the how of it is difficult. The hard part is not letting those ideas hijack my concentration at times when I need my mind for something else. Even if that something else is just relaxing.

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From the Tor/Forge February 17th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Resistance Sweepstakes

Resistance by Jenna BlackJenna Black’s Resistance doesn’t hit shelves until March 11th, but we have a chance for you to win a copy now!

We have two copies to give away. To enter for the chance to win one, comment below and tell us what your Waiting on Wednesday pick is this week.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 or older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete entry here beginning at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) February 5, 2014. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET February 11, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

YA Grab Bag Sweepstakes

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YA Grab Bag Prize Pack

About our newsletter: Every issue of Tor’s email newsletter features original writing by, and interviews with, Tor authors and editors about upcoming new titles from all Tor and Forge imprints. In addition, we occasionally send out “special edition” newsletters to highlight particularly exciting new projects, programs, or events. Read a sample here >>

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Sign up for your chance to win today!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 or older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete entry here beginning at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) February 3, 2014. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 PM ET February 28, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Three Nightmares You Can’t Resist

Three by Kristen Simmons The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett Resistance by Jenna Black

Heat up your winter by joining three exciting Tor Teen authors for special bookstore events this March!

Tor Books is thrilled to announce the THREE NIGHTMARES YOU CAN’T RESIST tour, featuring three amazing YA titles: Kristen Simmons’ Three, Mindee Arnett’s The Nightmare Dilemma, and Jenna Black’s Resistance. The three authors will be speaking and signing books as they take to the road on a week-long tour.

Join them, and Tor Teen to see the wide variety of young adult fiction that even the most reluctant reader won’t be able to put down.

Three Nightmares You Can’t Resist Tour

Tuesday, March 11: Lexington – Joseph-Beth

Wednesday, March 12: Cincinnati – Joseph-Beth

Thursday, March 13: Dayton – Books & Co

Friday, March 14: Louisville – Carmichael’s

Monday, March 17: Chapel Hill – Flyleaf

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About the Books and Their Authors
Three
Kristen Simmons
Tor Teen Hardcover ▪ ISBN: 978-0-7653-2960-8 ▪ E-book ISBN: 978-1-4299-4803-6 ▪ On-sale: February 11, 2014

The thrilling conclusion to Kristen Simmons’s post-apocalyptic YA trilogy (Article 5, Breaking Point), set in a future American in which the Bill-of-Rights has been replaced by the Moral Statutes, and young Ember and her boyfriend have been branded criminals. Now, joined up with the resistance movement, they are trying to find a safe place to settle—but they may be coming closer to facing the notorious organization known only as Three. The CW Atlanta has dubbed Simmons: “A true dystopian force.”

Kristen Simmons has a master’s degree in social work and is an advocate for mental health. She lives with her husband, Jason, and their precious greyhound Rudy in Tampa, Florida. She is the author of Article 5, Breaking Point, and Three.

The Nightmare Dilemma
Mindee Arnett
Tor Teen Hardcover ▪ ISBN: 978-0-7653-3334-6 ▪ E-book ISBN: 978-1-4668-0068-7▪ On-sale: March 4, 2014

The second in the new fantastical mystery series that began with The Nightmare Affair, this thrilling series isn’t your typical paranormal YA thanks to the incredible writing chops of author Mindee Arnett and her talents for weaving a riveting story with a cast of compelling and highly-relatable teens. She takes us once again into the world of Nightmares, Sirens, Wizards and Demons at Arkwell Academy—a place very wondrous and strange, but where teens still struggle with some of the same problems as in the real world.

Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic and the macabre. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines. Arnett has a Master of Arts in English literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She blogs and tweets, and is hard at work on the next novel in the Arkwell Academy series.

Resistance
Jenna Black
Tor Teen Trade Paperback ▪ ISBN: 978-0-7653-3372-8 ▪ E-book ISBN: 978-1-4668-0490-6 ▪ On-sale: March 11, 2014

Resistance is the second installment in acclaimed author of the Faeriewalker series Jenna Black’s new SF romance series, which started with Replica. Black has created a unique near-future world, controlled by corporations, where the rich have technology to return to life as synthetic replicas of themselves. A young man who found himself murdered and reborn as a replica now begins to work with a rebellion movement to overthrow the classist system.

Jenna Black received her Bachelor of Arts in physical anthropology and French from Duke University. She is the author of the Faeriewalker series for teens as well as the Morgan Kingsley urban fantasy series.

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