Best News!

I found out on Wednesday that The Iron Thorn had made it to the final selection list for the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012 list. Needless to say I was thrilled to be in the company of wonderful authors like Holly Black, Kendare Blake, Kiersten White, Maggie Stiefvater and so many more.

The full list is here–and I wholeheartedly recommend ALL the books on it! There’s something for everyone, be they a genre freak, a contemporary fangirl, or a romance lover.

(On a personal note, I was delighted to see some straight-up horror stories nesting in the Top 10…I don’t write horror, but it’s my favorite type of book to read, and sorely underrepresented in YA, I feel.)

And for something fun, interactive and with the possibility for prizes: thanks to your votes, Iron Thorn made it into the next round of the YA Book Genre Battle on Fiction Fervor! BUT, the book needs advocates (basically cheerleaders without the standing back handsprings or pyramids or tap pants)(okay, you can wear the tap pants if you want)…because while some books have as many as 15, poor Iron Thorn has none at the moment! This cannot stand–I know there are some enthusiastic types out there ready to spread the word on days when Iron Thorn is engaged in battle to reach the semifinals.

What advocates do: they use social media/their blog to encourage people to vote for Iron Thorn…you can do as much or as little as you’d like, as long as you keep it legit (ie no spamming) and it helps if you’ve read or want to read the book. You can sign up to be an advocate for The Iron Thorn via Fiction Fervor or email them directly: fictionfervor  at with “IRON THORN advocate” in the subject line.

You all rock, and I know we can take this thing all the way!

ONE LAST THING. (Because you know awesome things come in threes.)

If you check the sidebar you’ll see I FINALLY have an appearance scheduled, hopefully the first of many this year. I’ll be at Not Your Mother’s Book Club at Books, Inc in Berkeley on March 14th with Nina LaCour and Lissa Price. Click the link! They made us a spiffy graphic and everything!

You can also see the info on their Facebook page.

Whew! Lots of news, all of it good! Back to revising for me for now, but I hope to see some of you in Berkeley!

Nightmare Garden Giant Giveaway WINNERS

Congrats to the three winners! They are:

Anna Dase

Anna won the Unearthly Creatures prize pack–copies of both Iron Codex books plus Carrie Ryan’s complete zombie trilogy.


Liszi won the Steampunk prize pack–copies of both Iron Codex books plus Cassandra Clare’s first two Infernal Devices novels.

Jennifer K

Jennifer won the Shadowy Secrets prize pack–copies of both Iron Codex books plus Holly Black’s first two Curse Workers novels.


Winners! Please contact me via email (caitlinkittredge AT gmail) with your name and mailing address. Please do this within 48 hours or I’ll draw a new winner for your prize pack.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Stay tuned for another great giveaway in February!

Endings, Edits and Excitement

I finished the rough draft of the third Iron Codex novel, which means I’m done with the drafting stage for the entire trilogy. It’s a bit odd, since I conceived the idea for the books way back in 2009, and finished The Iron Thorn in January 2010. I always intended the Iron Codex to be three books. I will say I left the third volume a bit open-ended, but not a cliffhanger, because I despise finite series that end with actual major threads unresolved. (I do love a few lingering questions, though–I suppose it’s the ex-fanfic writer in me.)

I also received the edit letter for Black London Book 5, Soul Trade and have…a fair bit of work ahead of me. Try as I might in the first go-around, I just could not make the draft work like I wanted it to. It ended up being about 60,000 words, which is super short, so I have a lot of addition to do (and subtraction of all the crappy writing I did to try desperately string five or six disparate ideas together.)

Phonecall with the agent tomorrow to discuss some new and very seekrit proposals I’m working hard on. Hopefully, soon they’ll turn into book sales and in a year or two you’ll get to read them!

Anyway, I probably won’t be blogging much until Monday since I’ve declared this a Week Off, but I will announce the winner of the Nightmare Garden Giant Giveaway tomorrow, as soon as I’ve tabulated all the entries.


To-Do 1/9/2012

Part of my new accountability dealie…feel free to skip if, unlike me, you’re not a Type A Virgo and minutiae doesn’t interest you.

Last week:

  • Mail ARCs of The Nightmare Garden  to all who requested

  • Get to 70k words in the draft of Iron Codex 3

  • Write an outline for Black London 6, which I’m calling Ghost Town

  • Go over swag, promo and appearance ideas for Nightmare Garden’s release

  • Write up my deadline/release date calendar for 2012 (I don’t have a couple of deadlines from editors yet, so still waiting…)

  • Set up a giveaway for Nightmare Garden (You can find that giveaway one post down.)

This week!

  • Finish rough draft of Iron Codex 3

  • Write outline for Black London 6

  • Finalize deadlines for 2012/write release calendar

  • Try not to go mad

Away we go!

Nightmare Garden Giant Giveaway!



It’s that time again! Time for me to give away some books, and make three of you very happy!

That’s right, I have three prize packs, but since they’re not just my books, I’m going to make you work for them!

See, the Iron Codex books are a combination of a bunch of fantastic genres, so I’m going to give away three sets of books, each representing a different type of story I pulled from. In addition to a copy each of The Iron Thorn and The Nightmare Garden, I’ll be including two books (and in one case three) from some of my favorite authors!

Prize Pack 1: Unearthly Creatures The Iron Codex is full of cosmic entities like the Old Ones, but it also has its fair share of scary, spooky and just plain monstrous creatures. In addition to copies of both Iron Codex novels, this prize pack will contain all three of Carrie Ryan’s zombie books: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places.

Prize Pack 2: Steampunk! The world of the Iron Codex is full of steam-powered contraptions and fantastical machines. The world of steampunk is one of rusty rivets and high-flying zeppelins, so this prize pack will contain both Iron Codex novels plus the first two Infernal Devices novels by Cassandra Clare: Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince.

Prize Pack 3: Shadowy Secrets Aoife Grayson’s family has some dark secrets, many of which come to light in Nightmare Garden. Because dark family secrets, especially of a paranormal nature, make for a great read, this prize pack will include both Iron Codex novels plus the first two Curse Workers novels by Holly Black: White Cat and Red Glove.

All fired up to win? Great! Here are the rules:

  • Contest closes Sunday, January 16th at midnight

  • One entry per person (see below how to gain additional entries)

  • Prize packs will be distributed randomly once three winners are chosen

  • Winners will be picked using

  • Comments MUST be on my WordPress blog (if you’re reading on LiveJournal click through via the link at the bottom)

  • Contest open globally–no shipping restrictions

PLEASE NOTE: One of the prizes is a finished copy of The Nightmare Garden, which will be released on 2/14/2012. That means that NO PRIZES WILL SHIP BEFORE 2/15. But I hope you’ll think the prizes are worth waiting for.

How to enter:

Below, you’ll find an exclusive excerpt of The Nightmare Garden. (Never before seen, and not included in the chapter sampler at Random Buzzers.) To enter, simply comment here telling me what you’re most excited about reading in The Nightmare Garden (or how you’re excited to read the series for the first time.)

How to gain additional entries:

YOU MUST TELL ME WHAT YOU’VE DONE IN YOUR COMMENT ON *THIS BLOG* and link to your own blog if you’ve posted the excerpt, video or other options, otherwise I have no way of knowing how much extra work you’re doing to win!

  • Post the body of the excerpt on your own blog with sales links +15

  • Tweet about The Nightmare Garden or Iron Thorn  to your followers +5 (no link)

  • Facebook post about The Nightmare Garden or Iron Thorn +5 (no link)

  • Link back to this entry on your own blog, Twitter or Facebook +10

  • Retweet my contest tweet +5 (

  • Preorder The Iron Thorn paperback edition or The Nightmare Garden hardback +20

  • Preorder both books +40

  • Ask your local library to order The Nightmare Garden, The Iron Thorn or both: +10 (and I trust none of my lovely readers would lie!)

  • Post a video or blog about why you’re excited for the Iron Codex book (Let’s say more than 100 words to differentiate from link posts)(again, on the honor system y’all!) +15

  • Vote The Iron Thorn through in the 2011 YA Book Genre Battle +10 (Click the link and scroll to “Dystopia”) Prelim voting is closed! Thanks everyone!

And here’s the excerpt (with preorder links) for your reading pleasure:

Before me stood a figure twice as tall as I, only a shadow, smooth and without feature. I stayed still, unsure of my footing in the dream. I always felt only vaguely attached to my dream-body, as if my mind were floating free in the void of outer space and my body were waiting back on Earth.

Behind the figure, a great gear rose, half of it above the platform on which we stood. Above us, a hundred skies turned by, sunrises and sunsets, skylines and the blackness of space. And in those skies things twisted and writhed, great tentacles of darkness coming down to merge and mingle with the shadow figure before me.

I found I could speak, which wasn’t always the case in these madness dreams—for that was surely what this was, brought on by the iron of Windhaven. “Where am I?”

The figure stared back impassively. I knew he was staring, despite his lack of eyes or any features at all. I could feel his gaze, hot and penetrating. Beyond him, beyond the gear and the platform, the skies spun faster. They were more than skies now—it was as if we were inside a giant dome, and lantern reels in the thousands and millions were projected onto the glass sides.

“Where am I?” I asked again.

The figure reached out a hand. It was fathomless, black smoke in the shape of a human thing, and I felt cold emanate from the shadow as it drew closer to me. The tentacles writhed faster, lashing, and from all around us came a great moaning, which vibrated the dome to its core and came up through my feet into my bones.

“Who are you?” the figure hissed. “Why did you come here?”

“You tell me,” I whispered, my lips barely able to move from the frozen air of the dream and my own fear. This felt too strong, too real, to be purely a result of the iron around me. The madness was getting worse. I was starting to believe my own dreams. I dug my fingers into my palms, but in this dream place, I felt no pain. That didn’t soothe my worries any.

“I don’t know where here is,” I said. The great gear behind the figure began to turn, and as it did the tentacles retreated, the black figures floating in the skies shrinking away. In my ears, and through the dome, a thousand screams echoed.

“You shouldn’t be here,” the figure told me. “This isn’t your dream. This isn’t a dream at all.”

Then, as if I’d fallen from a great height, I snapped awake.

Preorder links! (You must include these for your entry to count if you’re reblogging the excerpt.)

The Nightmare Garden

The Iron Thorn (paperback edition)

That’s it! Thanks, everyone, and happy contesting!


A Little Drop of Honesty

(Fun fact: the post title was taken from Tom Wait’s “A Little Drop of Poison”. Not that I want to poison any of you.)

There’s six weeks until my second YA novel, The Nightmare Garden, is out in the world.

When the first book, The Iron Thorn, dropped, I had high hopes. Huge hopes. Hopes so big they would break normal-sized sofas. Visions of sales numbers previously unsurpassed, of NYT list-hitting, all kinds of crazy stuff.

What actually happened? Average stuff. Average sales numbers, average interest from readers–basically what I was used to as somebody who hails from the midlist (that place where neither horribly selling nor best-selling novels live.)  The reviews were fantastic, and the reader reactions even better. People genuinely love Iron Thorn in a way they never loved any of my previous work. That part was wonderful, and overwhelming, and I am so grateful for it to this day.

But what of those hopes? What happened to them? Why did I even have them in the first place, since this was neither my first novel nor my first time at the rodeo? (It was, in point of fact, my 9th published novel. I was not a green newb salivating over my inevitable movie option and star-studded multi-continent tour.)(Not that that stuff doesn’t happen to green newbs, and when it does I’m happy for them.)(No, really. I have professional jealousy, but I save it for people I know I’d actively hate even if they’d never written a book in their life. Green newbs don’t fit that category.)

Anyway, the hopes. Usual stuff happened, I think. Budgets got shuffled. The economy, which had been teetering when I sold the trilogy, tanked in the 18-month gap between deal and release date. It was nobody’s fault. NOBODY’S. I don’t blame my editor. I don’t blame my publicist. I blame the shit economy a little. I blame the giant multi-armed mutant octopus from Mars that the publishing industry has become, that hobbles a lot of good books from getting much visibility, a teeny bit. (And the first person who chimes in “You should self-publish then, hurr hurr” is getting a cat thrown at their face.) This isn’t a post about the failures of the industry or the economy. This is a post about me, and a book I wrote.

For that book’s troubles, I blame myself the most.

See, I thought I could finally rest. I was a relentless hustler for my adult novels, because I’d always known they might be midlist. Fine, I’m midlist. I’m not going to cry, I’m going to rustle up some signings and try to create a few more repeat readers. And it worked. My very first novel still sells in excess of 50 copies a week, and it came out in 2008.

It’s also tiring as fuck. Emailing for guest blogs, for events, making industry contacts with reviewers and bookstore owner and librarians. Mailing your own review copies, hustling all over the web without getting gratuitous about it. I’ve spent in excess of eight hours a day doing self-promo.

I don’t get paid.

I don’t get a break.

All I get is more visibility, and more readers.

With Iron Thorn, in a new genre, a new book (the best I’d ever written) I thought I could finally let someone else steer the ship, or at least alternate shifts on the watch with me. I could stop emailing 20 book bloggers a day seeing if they’d like a guest blog or review. I could stop paying my own way to SFF cons and lit festivals. I could just rest for five minutes and focus on actually writing books, unencumbered.

So I got lazy. I didn’t reach out to bloggers and teen readers the way I should have. I’m snarky and abrasive by nature and I didn’t give the people that matter (readers) a reason to like my book. Or a reason to buy it from snarky, abrasive me.

After I looked at my dwindling sales numbers, and after literally the hundredth time I heard “You wrote a YA novel? I had no idea!” I think I snapped a little. I had a long, angry rant at my roommate about why everything sucked, why my YA career was a disaster, I was going to have to change my name, I could never sell another book to Random House, on and on, just crazy frustration and rage built up over 11 months spilling out.

Then I calmed down and realized I wasn’t really angry about that stuff. I was angry that this book that I loved, that I’d worked so hard on, had come in with a whimper and gone out without even that. I felt hopeless. I ate some Christmas cookies and wanted to kick the wall.

Then, I got a sliver of good news. Random House Germany wanted to publish Iron Thorn as their lead YA title for Spring 2012. Lead title. Those magic words snapped me out of my funk. Someone besides me and my fabulous US editor (Editor Krista, for my regular readers) saw what we did in this book. They saw its potential for greatness and they were at least giving it a chance to reach all of those readers who would love in just like the small but dedicated cabal in the US did.

I stopped shoving my face with holiday treats and decided that while it sucked, I was going back to what I knew. I commissioned a book trailer and brainstormed ideas for swag with my author/graphic designer. I knew how YA operated now, and I knew which bloggers would like a copy of the book and might be interested in helping me promote it.

Basically, I pulled my head out and decided to do everything I could to give Nightmare Garden the chance I denied Iron Thorn.

Do I have any control over my sales? Not really, unless I magically find a way to roll back our terrible economy and give everyone in the country an extra $17.99 to buy the hardback copy. Do I have to sit on my butt and bemoan the dashed expectations of Iron Thorn?

No. Hell no. At the very least, I can try to do everything I can to help the book succeed.

Iron Thorn didn’t fail. But it wasn’t given a proper chance, and I’m not going to let that happen again. So I’m back to emailing and blogging and tweeting and 24/7 thinking “What else can I do to help this book succeed?” I still have my wonderful team at Random House, and soon I’ll also be published in the second-biggest fantasy market on the planet.

Things could be better.

But they’re never going to get that bad again.

The Year of Not Sucking

I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge–2011 was not a banner year in a lot of ways. It wasn’t  as difficult for me as for many of my friends and fellow writers, but it didn’t leave me with the urge to jump around covered in glitter, either.

See, I’m not even doing my usual year-end roundup post. 2011 was that much of a bummer. BUT! I’m not going to focus on how things were for many months difficult, chaotic and stressful on the work front, and even more chaotic on the home front. I’m not going to talk about my personal woes, my umpteenth ride on the always-exciting-never-in-a-good-way Mental Health Rollercoaster, or how much I hate my crackhead neighbors and wish they’d walk into traffic.

Because it’s 2012 now, and that stuff is so last year. (My friend Amy also claims it’s the Year of the Honey Badger, and I’m rolling with that.)

I’m a big believer in new beginnings, second chances, and the redemptive power of deciding to change your life. On that note, I’m going to list the positive stuff of 2011, even if it’s silly and covered in cats.

  • I managed to earn a living off writing, which I’m grateful for

  • I completed major revisions on The Nightmare Garden and a rough draft of Soul Trade, for my YA and adult series respectively

  • I got invited to work on a true Seekrit Project, which came along at a helpful time financially and looks to be fun

  • I sold a short story to an anthology I’m thrilled about

  • I finally got paid for another story that was published almost 2 years ago

  • I adopted a cute black kitten that my vet found on the side of the road, which turned out to be just the thing my two Grown-Up Cats needed to stop being so dang neurotic

  • My vet and I got Victor the Cat’s diabetes under control, and he’s back to his old self

  • I started a DIY blog for the projects around my house

  • I actually did some projects around the house (hooray for insulation!)

  • I ran a 5k and a 10k race, something I never thought I’d be able to do

  • When almost immediately after the 10k, I sprained my ankle by bending it at a 90 degree angle to my foot, it healed completely and didn’t give me any complications

  • Nobody among my friends or family died, and a friend who was severely ill recovered completely

  • Movies were better than in 2010

  • I bought myself an iPad and actually used it for something other than Angry Birds

  • I saw Tom Hiddleston and Chris Evans walking around New York Comic Con and they’re both just as disgustingly good-looking in person

  • I’m loved and supported by my family and have a circle of friends that are loyal, amazing and talented in their own right

  • When life sucked, and continues to suck, I’ve learned in 2011 that I have the power to change it

That last one is the most important, I think.

I declare 2012 the year of not sucking. If I sense approaching suck, or find myself mired in suck, change happens. No questions, no waffling. Life’s too short to spend covered in suck. Suck thrives on apathy and I’m not giving it a chance to gain root in 2012.

And I will go back to blogging regularly.

Just as soon as I finish this manuscript…

Where I am: Comikaze Expo

I’ll be at Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles this weekend, mostly on Saturday, and I hope to see some of you there.

Where it is: The LA convention center, in Kentia Hall + meeting rooms (Park in the South Hall parking.)

Where I am:

  • Signing sporadically at Table 38 in the artist’s alley area

  • Doing a spotlight panel with Marie Lu at 5 pm on Saturday, in Room 3

Can I buy your books at the show? I Will Not have any books for sale at my table, but some dealers may be stocking them. I’m happy to sign as many of my books as you can carry/chitchat/take photos within reason.

You’re not at your table! What do I do??? You can check Twitter to see where I’ve absconded to, or you can go harass Mark Hamill and try back in a few minutes.

Where do I get tickets? Comikaze is almost sold out from what I understand, but you can still purchase tickets at their web site. They’re only $12 right now, so if you’re in LA you really have no excuse.

I am Jack’s blog post

I have a couple of substantial entries I’ve been poking at, one about piracy and one about how e-books do not mean either THE END OF ALL THINGS or THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT AND I FEEL FINE.

But. I have two weeks of basically solid travel coming up, for a convention and a lit festival (see the sidebar if you want to come!) and so I’m just going to lay out my to-do list for the rest of 2011 for my own edification and come back next week with substance, style and pizzazz.

Or I’ll at least come back. Oh, and Halloween was great, thanks for asking. I put on my zombie prosthetics, makeup and blood-spattered zombie clothes and managed to traumatize several small children, including one who took off running into the night when he got a look at me and had to be dragged back by his parents. I started making my roommate (who was a voodoo zombie, not a biological one, and therefore not covered in gore) answer the door. We had a giant bag of candy from the wholesale club, and we gave away all but a handful. I’d say we probably had 30-40 kids, and a lot of adorable costumes.Then I de-zombified myself and watched Twilight for the first time.

Y’all. It was so bad. I mean, I’d heard it was overwrought, badly directed, and full of comical CGI and questionable script choices. There’s a Rifftrax for it and everything. But I wasn’t prepared for the sheer level of badness inherent in the film. You have to work to be that bad. Only Ed Wood has ever managed that level of terrible organically, which is why he’s a genius, of sorts.

And no, I’m not picking on Stephenie Meyer or the book series. Just the film. I’ve seen a lot of terrible films, guys. I seek them out. And Twilight catapulted itself into my top 5 instantly, alongside such gems as Showgirls and Batman & Robin.

So yeah. Pretty great Halloween.

And here’s my terror of a list:

  • 1st pass page proofs for The Nightmare Garden (November 8th)

  • Finish rough draft of Iron Codex 3 (January 1)

  • Write detailed outline for Seekrit Book Project (January 1)

  • Do two outstanding charity critiques (ASAP)

  • At least take a stab at starting Black London 6 (After December 1)


  • Comikaze, Los Angeles Nov. 4-6

  • YALLFest, Charleston, Nov. 10-14

  • JoCoCruiseCrazy 2, Feb. 19-26, 2012

Now if I don’t fall over, back to work.

At the late-night, double feature, picture show

In exchange for missing my days this week, you get a short story, “Devil Dust”, which will be appearing in an anthology sometime next (?) year. I can’t announce the particulars yet, but I’m very happy with the short, and it’s something new for me–contemporary southern noir, with a zombie twist.

Continuing in that vein, and in honor of Halloween, have a sampling of my favorite scary movies to tide you over. I’m going to eschew my usual selections (The Exorcist, The Thing, etc) and focus on the more obscure, slightly less flashy but still terrifying offerings that are inhabiting my shelf:

The Changeling

George C. Scott is at his best (yes, better than Patton) as a depressed composer who’s wife and child were killed in a freeway accident. He moves into a haunted mansion, and quickly realizes he’s not the only inhabitant, and that murder, conspiracy and ghosts are as ingrained in the house as the wood, plaster and creepy steam pipes. The scene of the medium intoning “Are you the child who was killed by the coal cart?” is one of the creepiest seances ever put on film.

Session 9

Shot at the now-demolished Danvers State Mental Hospital (a place that figured large in my childhood, as we lived only a short drive down the highway), Session 9 is at least three movies wrapped inside each other, all of which have horrifying endings that stack thicker than the asbestos dust the characters move into the hospital to remove. It’s claustrophobic and awful and sticks in your mind, and it’s one of my favorite haunted-house stories.

The Stepfather

No, not the remake with Dylan Walsh, which is toothless slasher crap, but the original scenery-gnawing 80s campfest. Yes, it’s a terrible film. Gloriously terrible. And even though it’s bad filmmaking, it’ll resonate with anyone who’s ever hated their step-parent enough to imagine they might actually be a obsessive-compulsive serial killer.

Midnight Meat Train

What more do you want? It’s a film starring Vinnie Jones and an as-yet-un-famous Bradley Cooper, about a serial killer who prowls the subways for, well, meat. Of the human, subway-going variety. The ending falls apart, but the production values and atmospheric tracking shots make it worth the viewing. Also, it’s called Midnight Meat Train. How can you pass that up?

Let the Right One In (Sweden)

Ignore the American remake and it’s bizarrely religious overtones. This is the sweet story of a boy and his vampire. Yanno, until she (he? We’re never sure) starts killing his neighbors and grooming the kid himself to be her new Renfield. Nothing is creepier than little kid monsters. Nothing.

The Orphanage and The Devil’s Backbone

Guillermo del Toro has made other Spanish-language films besides Pan’s Labyrinth, although they’re equally depressing, creepy, atmospheric and soul-crushing. Watch these, and then go look at videos of kittens playing or something until you no longer despair of humanity.


Dario Argento’s lighthearted narrative of ballet school, witchcraft, ritual sacrifice and black magic. You know, without the lightheartedness, and adding in creeping sexual paranoia, claustraphobic sets and an over-saturated color palette horror directors still try and mimic today.

Tale of Two Sisters

Another step-parent from hell story. (Gee, do you think I identify with these or something?) This time it’s a Korean film, and the parent in question is a psychotic, obsessive step-mother who manages to make the chick from Single White Female look like a great roommate. The mansion the family lives in is gorgeous and a star in its own right–I was entirely disappointed when I found out it was all fake.

Sometimes They Come Back

Another solidly B-movie offering, based on a Stephen King novella, but as far as ghost stories go, I love this. The story never pretends to be anything other than pulp, the acting is solid and the scenes in the haunted train tunnel are properly tense and terrifying. It’s as much about the inevitability of aging and being haunted by guilt rather than ghosts as it is about murderous undead greasers, but you don’t have to delve any deeper than MURDEROUS UNDEAD GREASERS to enjoy it.

What are your favorite obscure or not so obscure scary movies? There’s more room on my shelf!