courtney summers | author

courtney summers | author

Official Tumblr of YA author Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers is the author of CRACKED UP TO BE (2009), SOME GIRLS ARE (2010), FALL FOR ANYTHING (2011), THIS IS NOT A TEST (2012), PLEASE REMAIN CALM and ALL THE RAGE (forthcoming, 2015). To find out more, visit

Anonymous asked:

Hi courtney! I have a q's: what makes you pick up a book? Like do you judging the cover and/or the title. I usually go for the title and I really love how you titled cracked up to be and that's how I got to read CUTB. The title caught my attention.:)

Hi, anon! I’m so happy that CRACKED UP TO BE caught your eye, title-wise! I’ll have to tell my sister since she’s the one who thought of it. :)

The first thing I am drawn to is to cover and title. I love when these two components work well together. An eye-catching cover can make up for when a title doesn’t intrigue me, though. Then I’ll read the summary on the back. Whether or not the summary totally grabs me, I will always read the first few pages to see if the writing it does.

So the immediately visual stuff gets my attention first, but personally, I always make sure it’s the writing itself that’s the deciding factor on if I’ll invest my time and money in the book itself—especially knowing how little the other three aspects (cover/title/summary) are out of an author’s control.

I hope that answers your question! :)

Anonymous asked:

I'm trying to write my first 'long' story, but couldn't think of a good way to start it. So I wrote a load of scenes for the story or with the group of characters but now I'm struggling to string them together or give them any structure. I'm not even sure if my original plot still works. :/

On the plus side, you have a lot of material to mine from, it sounds like! I would suggest trying to figure out what the emotional core of your novel is and then take a look at the plot again—does the plot serve it? Or do you need to do some tweaking? Once you have figured that out, take a look at the scenes you’ve written and ask yourself which ones successfully execute both of these aspects. Maybe some scenes don’t—but will with some work. You have to be brutal about what does and doesn’t fit, but that’s part of the process. It’s okay if everything’s messy now because that’s where revision comes in. If you feel strongly about your idea, it’s worth taking a good hard look at what you need to do to make it work. Again, I would suggest starting with pinpointing what the emotional core of the work is, then taking another look at the plot, then taking a look at your scenes.

I hope this helps!

Anonymous asked:

courtney! i've hit a reading slump. any advice on how to get over this hell? :(

That’s rough, anon, and I’m sorry to hear it. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If reading has ceased to become something you enjoy, you might just need a break from it and that’s okay! You’ll know when you’re ready to dive back into it. I’ve had these moments myself and I think it’s better not to force what you’re not feeling or you just create more stress for yourself, which makes it a negative experience, which makes it take longer to get you back to a place where you want to read again.

Also consider redefining what reading is to you and you might feel better about this situation. Maybe you’re just not into a certain TYPE of reading right now. If you mostly read fiction, try some nonfiction. If you mostly read a certain genre, try the opposite of it. If you’re over books, try reading scripts! If you like fanfiction, get on that! Long-form essays! Reviews! Answers to asks on Tumblr ;) There’s a good chance you’re already doing some of this kind of reading, so… that sounds like less of a slump than you might think it is.

There is a lot out there to read—don’t feel bad if you need a break from books, or a certain type of them. It will pass. I hope this helps!

Anonymous asked:

Just saw your tweet about adults being afraid of a ya novel. Wasn't aware I should be afraid of a book, ;). I either like it or don't. So are you getting flack? Maybe I should read 1 of your books, I have a teenager and conflictrus.

(The tweet in question.)

I’ve certainly gotten some less than pleased feedback by certain adult readers. It would be hard for me to name a YA author I know who hasn’t. Unfortunately, some people do not like to be confronted with too much reality in their fiction and when they think you are corrupting tomorrow’s adults, they like it even less.  :)

If you read my books, I hope you enjoy them!

library-grrl asked:

Hi, Courtney! I just wanted to say that I absolutely love your writing and that This Is Not A Test is my favorite zombie novel I've ever read, which is big for me because zombies are pretty much my favorite thing. It's also just one of my favorites in general. Any tips for a struggling writer on how to get past writer's block?

Hi! First—it means a lot to me that THIS IS NOT A TEST is your favourite zombie novel, especially coming from a zombie fan. Yaay! Thank you so much for letting me know, and for reading! :)

I have written about dealing with writer’s block before here and you might find it helpful, though it’s more of a ‘the writing is the issue’ kind of answer.

I ALSO think it’s super important to try to figure out where YOU are at emotionally and mentally in terms of your life/writing. Are you fighting with yourself or the words? Sometimes, when you’re stuck, it’s easy to try to put it all on the words when the fact of the matter is you just might need a break. During that break, try to fill the well with things that make you love telling stories. For me, that’s playing video games, watching movies, reading books etc.

I hope this helps! Thanks again for your kinds words! :)

Anonymous asked:

Fall for anything is my favorite of your books and I spend more time than I should considering my dream cast for it- I totally think Evan Peters as Milo, Dane. Dehaan as Culler and Charlize Theron as Beth would be perfect. Now that other people have gotten the dream casting ball rolling, do you have any thoughts?

Thank you so much! This means so much to me. I love hearing who readers envision as my characters, though I think I am always less imaginative in my answers than they are. :)

Proof of that: for the longest time I pictured Gilmore Girls era Milo Ventimiglia as Milo because uh. They had the same name. Hah! I love your choice of Evan Peters, but strangely enough, I think he would be a GREAT pick for Culler instead. I think Charlize Theron would be an EXCELLENT Beth—and another possibility to me now, for her, might be Christina Hendricks.

I love the model on the cover for Eddie, so it has been nearly impossible for me to picture her as anyone else.


I hope that satisfies your curiosity and thank you for sharing your picks with me!

Anonymous asked:

I've never actually messaged a published author, never mind one whose books I've read. Firstly, I want to tell you that I think you're an amazing author and I love, love, love your works! Secondly, I want to ask you for some advice. C: I've searched your "Writing Advice" section many times and I've learned a lot from it. Thanks for doing that, by the way! It’s helped me a boat load. If you decide to respond to this, thank you so, so, so much!!! (PART 1)

Question cont’d:


First, thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate them and they mean a lot to me. I’m so happy to hear you’ve enjoyed my novels and I’m equally happy to hear my writing advice has helped you too. :) I am sorry it took me so long to respond to your question but a deadline prevented me from getting to it sooner.

From reading your question, I think the clearest thing to me is that you have A LOT ON YOUR PLATE RIGHT NOW (or did when you wrote), the kind of stuff that is denying you the opportunity to sit down, with a clear head, and think about your work. I think it’s HIGHLY unlikely that your creative well has run dry—I think you’re just tired out. And when you’re tired, it can be next to impossible to organize your thoughts and get to work. Sometimes, when you can’t organize your thoughts, you think that means YOU’RE DOOMED because you’re so tired, you forget that you’re tired. And then you get frustrated with yourself because you are tired. You wrote this to me after what sounds like a long streak of consistent output, feeling pressured to produce more, and on the heels of beginning a new school year. Uhm. That is quite a lot, objectively.

It is great that your readers expect you to create new content soon. But it sounds like you need a little bit of a breather to re-inspire yourself, so you can give them the best work you can. I think ideas are a dime a dozen, but the spark you need to chase after one and follow through needs to be nurtured. I do this by playing video games, reading books, watching movies, TV—engaging with other forms of storytelling until I feel inspired. Have you given yourself time to do that? If you need more time, you need more time and you have to honor that. It will not be the end of the world if you NEED more time and are in a position where you CAN take it. I understand what you’re going through. I felt I had no time to spare when it came to writing ALL THE RAGE. I delivered a book a year up until I started that novel. My publisher and my readers were incredibly supportive and understanding when the release date kept getting pushed back. The book needed that. I needed that. If you need that, and you can give yourself that, do. You’re not a machine. You’re a person and people need to regroup/recalibrate/rest.

Give yourself time to acclimate to a school routine, too! When big routine upheavals are on the horizon, it can be hard to focus on other stuff while you’re getting prepared for that. Give yourself time to acclimate and find your rhythm there. After you do that, it might be easier to start thinking about your writing without the stress of that anticipation on your shoulders.

But again, mostly what I am getting from this is that you are tired and you need to take a break and let certain things around you settle. I struggle a lot with stepping back and that often creates more stress, so I get what you’re going through. But trying to force it clearly isn’t working. Admitting that isn’t a defeat. Admitting it is looking after yourself. And once you do that, I think the odds are the writing is going to start coming more easily again.

I hope this helps!

Anonymous asked:

I'm having trouble figuring out who exactly my characters are. Do you know how I can fix this? Or, does this mean I should quit the story?

Sometimes characters take a while to reveal themselves and that’s totally okay. If you believe in the story, you shouldn’t give it up. Think about what you want the story to SAY—what the emotional point of it is. Once you’ve pinpointed that, start asking yourself the kind of personalities will best complement it, the ones that will be most satisfying to filter that through. Also consider Googling character worksheets—some writers find a Q&A with their characters helpful.

I hope that helps!

Anonymous asked:

I read your answer to the anon asking how to handle getting to close to their characters and not wanting to hurt them. My question is slightly different because I have no problem being cruel to my characters as it opens them up for more writing. My problem is that I don't like to make them imperfect. in their friendships, reactions to situations big or small.

I understand the desire to make your characters have a perfect grasp on and response to everything that is happening around them. It can be SUPER tempting to make them more capable of dealing with everything than we believe we are ourselves. (Even though lots of the time, we are all more capable than we think we are!)

But here’s the thing. It’s important for readers to be able to connect emotionally to the people you’re writing about. I’m not saying that means you have to make them the WORST for that to be possible or you have to make them the BEST for that to be possible. But you DO have to make them as well-rounded and three-dimensional as possible and no one on this earth is flaw-free, no one is perfect, no one has their shit together all the time. Sometimes our initial emotional responses are the opposite of what they ‘should’ be. Sometimes we’re selfish and short-sighted. Sometimes we know the right things to say and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we hurt people accidentally. Sometimes we do it on purpose. And sometimes those are the things that make a character memorable and those are the things that make them resonate the most.

Take a look at some of your favorite characters and you might find yourself connecting most with their ‘flaws.’ I mean, just off the top of my head. for me—

I love Taylor from Melina Marchetta’s JELLICOE ROAD because she’s so sharp-edged and most of the time she filters her responses through the emotional pain she’s going through. Her responses weren’t perfect, sometimes selfish, but I’m not perfect and I can be selfish too. It also emphasized how much she was hurting. If she had been able to respond ‘perfectly’ to all things going on around her, I would have never been sold on her pain.

I love Theo from brandycolbert's POINTE because she struggles with asking for help and insists on working through SO MUCH on her own. That's not a technically 'perfect' response but that's her emotional arc—getting to a point where she can reach out. It's POWERFUL. So incredibly powerful because her initial response? Is not 'perfect' (whatever that means!).

And let’s look at HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF PHOENIX by JK Rowling. It was so divisive when it came out because Harry didn’t have the perfect response to his grief and the pressure he was facing in the impending war. But I think that is what made it great, you know? I don’t think I could’ve stuck with Harry much if he hadn’t been allowed to be ‘real.’

These characters are among my favourites because of their ‘imperfect’ responses. They are not even IMPERFECT, really. They’re HUMAN. Think less in terms of perfect and imperfect, and start thinking in terms of human.

The main thing is, you want to give your stories the chance TO emotionally resonate and reach people and so much of this hinges on the characters. So start challenging yourself more when it comes to this particular aspect of your writing. It might not make you comfortable initially, but it might take your work to a new level you didn’t even realize you were denying it. And isn’t that worth a shot?

I hope this helps!

(Referenced: getting too attached to your characters to the detriment of your work.)

Anonymous asked:

Hey, Courtney. I just finished my novel -- hurrah! -- and I'm a little bit stuck on what to do now. When you finish a novel, do you print it out and edit/revise from that? Or do you do it all from your word document? Thanks. :)

First of all, congratulations! That is an amazing accomplishment and I hope you’re still basking in it. Yes, STILL. Because I got this ask a while ago and I’m sorry deadlines prevented me from being able to answer it until now.

When I finish a novel, I get right to the revision. I used to print out my books A LOT more and go over them with a red pen, but now I do that less unless I’m starting to have problems focusing on what’s on the screen. So more often than not these days, I revise from the Word Doc, and I often have multiple documents and notepad files open—dump files for scenes I might have to cut or move around, notes for things I want to change, that kind of stuff. My approach is so messy and a lot of times the contents of the documents overlap and I’m amazed this has worked out for me, but it does so I’m not going to start messing with that.

So in short: do whatever feels right! There is no one way to approach this—printing or editing entirely from the screen… it’s not how you revise, necessarily, but that you do. :)

Hope that helps!

Hi,Courtney! Would you recommend me any books like Saving June by Hannah Harrington?

I loved Saving June so much I blurbed it! It’s a wonderful book and Hannah is a wonderful writer. It’s easier for me to recommend ‘authors like’ vs. ‘books like’ sometimes, so I think if you like Hannah’s work, there’s a very good chance you will dig novels by Amy Spalding, Simmone Howell, CK Kelly Martin, Anna Jarzab, Tiffany Schmidt, Lisa Schroeder and Mindi Scott, to name a few. They are all among my favourite authors, too. I hope this answers your question! :)

Anonymous asked:

Any news about all the rage arcs?


They are here and they are beautiful (in my completely unbiased opinion)! And I will be giving one away to a random subscriber of my newsletter when the first issue launches in October. :)

(With apologies to amyspalding from my headcrab for ruining the shot. Just kidding—he’s not sorry, Amy. He’s not sorry AT ALL.)

wordsmalarky asked:

Hi Courtney :) Do any of your books have foreign tranaslations? I'd love to read them in the languages I'm studying!

Awesome! I am not sure it’s one of the languages you’re studying, but THIS IS NOT A TEST has a Hungarian edition. It’s published by Konyvmolykepzo and is called Éles helyzet there, which Google translate tells me means ‘Sharp Position.’ This is the cover:


My agent recently got copies and the title and the blood spatters are all raised WHICH I realize was not part of your question but was so neat I had to note. :)

Thanks for asking!

exposings asked:

hi courtney, I just wanted to let you know I read 'This Is Not A Test' as a part of the white pine reading club at my school and it was a really big hit among my peers and I. all of us really enjoyed your novel, and i was just wondering if you were going to write a follow up novel to it? thank you so much for your time, shanzeh.

That makes me so happy to hear! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me know. I really appreciate it. There is a sequel e-novella to THIS IS NOT A TEST called PLEASE REMAIN CALM and it’s coming out early next year. When I have a firm release date, I’ll share it. :)