That Time When Dr. Seuss was Your English Teacher

Another year, another set of teachers.  That’s what happens at Vita Post Mortem Academy, a school run by famous dead people. Having special abilities, like being able to see spirits, means extra responsibilities. Jules Winklevoss, the protagonist in my fifth book, The Curse of the Winklevoss Twins, learns that firsthand when she returns for another adventure at the prized academy.

Check out the line up of teachers she has for her sophomore year:

Science: Marie Curie
Math: Charles Ponzi
English: Dr. Seuss
Social Studies: Princess Diana
Psychology: Steve Jobs


Nominate the book on Kindle Scout to be published by Kindle Press:


A Cast of #Actors for Your #Book

I think coming up with a cast for your book is a great exercise.  Just like pinning ideas on a pinterest page, it helps you determine qualities of your characters and brainstorm traits you didn’t think about.

I put together a cast for my book currently posted on Kindle Scout, The Light of Supremazia!  It’s about kids who can see spirits and attend a high school run by famous dead people.

Jules Winklevoss would be played by Kiernan Shipka, also known as Sally Draper from the Mad Men series.  Just like Jules Winklevoss, she can be tough, brave, snotty, and vulnerable at the same time.


Jules has two best friends at Vita Post Mortem Academy.  Dahlia Langdon is the shy and awkward friend who grew up in a prestigious, broken family.  She would be played by Ariel Winter from Modern Family.


Jules’s other best friend, Logan Klomp, is a know-it-all, lovesick half-Asian dude who doesn’t care about fitting in.  He would be played by Nickelodeon’s Ryan Potter.


Jules’s equally brazen, but less approachable, sister, Sharpee Winklevoss would be played by Emma Watson.  Honestly, I picked Emma because she looks a bit like Kiernan, and of course I loved her as Hermione.


Sharpee’s best (and only) friend is Chase Hastings, a rich kid, living in his older brother Ryder Hastings the Third‘s perfect shadow.  Chase and Ryder would be played by Nash Overstreet (from the band Hot Chelle Rae) and Chord Overstreet (Glee).


Vote for The Light of Supremazia on Kindle Scout!

What exercises do you use to understand your #characters better? Share with #author @alanasiegel (click to tweet)

The Proper #Setting for a #MagicalRealism #Book

What is magical realism?

Magical realism takes place in a world like the one we know, but there is one thing that makes it unreal. Perhaps there are lurking vampires, or the main character is cursed, or you can buy magic spells from the store on the corner. The trick with magical realism is the reader has to believe the world really does exist.  The master of magical realism herself, JK Rowling, made us all have hope that our letter for Hogwarts would one day come in the mail.  We believed wizards existed in our world. (believed in the past tense? Some of us still believe).

A World for Your Book Within the Existing World

Writing magical realism might sound easy since most of the decisions about the world are already decided, but I think its the opposite.  Similar to using real people in a fictional story (as I wrote about in my last post), there is a ton of fact-checking that needs to be completed in order to convince your readers the world within our world is real.

Question #1: Where do you build your world?

The proper setting is tough. How many times did you read about Harry taking the Hogwarts Express and wonder where the final location really was? Or read about Percy Jackson heading out to Montauk toward Camp Halfblood and try to picture it in your head?

Vita Post Mortem Academy

When writing my magical realism novel, The Light of Supremazia, my editor and I went back and forth on the school’s location. The world around Vita Post Mortem Academy was exactly like the one we know today, except there needed to be a remote section of the woods, North of San Francisco, where a creepy institution run by spirits was located. We had a discussion about whether redwood trees grew in the area and if it was anywhere near Bodie, a real life ghost town. In the end, we realized that if you couldn’t see spirits, you wouldn’t notice much more than a massive institution surrounded by an endless necropolis.

Can you picture this edifice as your high school?

Vita Post Mortem Academy:


To see more pictures of The Light of Supremazia’s setting, check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page.

Is the #setting for #magicalrealism more difficult 2 #write than building a new world? @alanasiegel thinks so (Click to tweet)

Author @alanasiegel thinks #MagicalRealism #writing needs serious fact-checking. What do you think? (Click to tweet)

Vote author @alanasiegel for #TheLightOfSupremazia #KindleScout campaign here #amwriting (Click to tweet) #YALit

Launch on #KindleScout and a #CoverReveal

Beginning My Kindle Scout Journey

For over two years, I have been writing, scheming, and plotting my next book series. I am ready to announce the first book:

The Light of Supremazia, book #1 in the (after)life lessons series

The process was therapeutic. I worked through Juliandra Winklevoss’s highs and lows in a spirit-seeing world and at the same time built my own life in San Francisco, a magical wedding, two finance designations, and other small but meaningful achievements.

Writing this book has been an enjoyment and a distraction. It focused my attention on Vita Post Mortem Academy when I needed an escape. It gave me satisfaction when I spent months editing and then reread chapter one and felt the chills. It gave me a challenge when the plot didn’t align, but it also patted me on the back when a detail worked out just right.

I love this book for everything’s it’s given me, and I can’t wait to finally share it with others. I hope you can feel the love and passion I poured into it.

How Kindle Scout Works

For my new series, I am attempting something different. Perhaps it is because I live in the technology center of the universe, or maybe because I like to try difficult things, but either way, I decided to post my book on the Amazon crowdsourcing site, Kindle Scout.

On this page, readers are the scouts for the next great book. The Light of Supremazia will be posted on the site for 30 days for readers to vote as their favorite book. If it receives enough votes, Amazon will publish my book through their publishing house. So please, please vote!

Vote here: The Light of Supremazia Kindle Scout Page

Varying Opinions on Kindle Scout

As an author hoping to find hordes of adoring readers, I had to weigh the pros and cons of launching a campaign on Kindle Scout.  I found articles that berated Amazon for stealing the souls of authors by taking too large a percentage of sales and others that noted self-promotion is difficult and at least a Kindle Scout campaign gets your name out there.

I’m willing to give it a try. Writing is one of my favorite hobbies, but it’s not my day job. What do I have to lose? Plus, I’ve been through a book launch before. I’ve attempted to catch an agent’s attention, and I’ve self-published years and years of passionate writing. I’m willing to give this a shot. Here’s a few links to other’s opinions:

Amazon’s crowdsourced publishing program, Kindle Scout, is now open for voting

Amazon’s crowdsourced ‘Kindle Scout’ program picks first 10 digital books for publication

Cover Reveal for The Light of Supremazia

I would also like to officially reveal my creepy and stunning cover, designed by Kristin Centrella. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kristin.

afterLIFE Lessons Book 1 - The Light of Supremazia

The blogosphere is chock full of kind and helpful authors and readers. I stumbled upon The Book Wars a few months back. It is an entertaining blog for heavy readers with book reviews and all your favorite top ten lists. One of my favorite themes they discuss is cover design. With everything at our fingertips, snap judgments occur more often than ever. Their posts forced me to be thoughtful when working with Kristin on a cover design. Here are some of the things we talked about as important aspects the cover art for my book:

  • Viewable in small format
  • Eye catching
  • Includes pop art
  • Fewer, bolder colors
  • Portrays the book
Some other useful sites:

Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers

The Visual Factor: Judging a Book by Its Cover?

Finally, Marketing Blurb for my New Book:

Think it’s difficult to get into Harvard University? Try Vita Post Mortem Academy, a prestigious high school where John F. Kennedy teaches a class called American Ghosts stories, Albert Einstein grades science tests, and history’s most brilliant minds make up the rest of the teaching staff. Not a problem for Jules Winklevoss, one of the few who can see spirits.

Getting into school was a cakewalk, but Jules learns not all spirits are engaging and inspiring teachers. Fourteen years ago, Jules’s family thwarted an evil spirit’s rise to power. Now, the evil spirit wants revenge on all Winklevoss’s, beginning with Jules. As if evil spirit problems aren’t enough, add best friend drama, unattainable boy crushes, and homework to the mix, and needless to say, high school is going to be dreadful. Jules is determined to protect her family and keep herself alive, even if that means delving into the world of the dead.


Author @alanasiegel believes #KindleScout , a #crowdsourcing site for #books , will be a success, do you? (Click to tweet)

What are the important aspects of #CoverArt for a #book ? See what author @alanasiegel thinks here (Click to tweet)

Do you like #author @alanasiegel ‘s concept for her #book The Light of Supremazia? Vote on #KindleScout here (Click to tweet)

Want to learn how to create these twitter size bites? Check out @Ava_Jae ‘s blog here Click here

Writing about Social Hierarchy in Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

Social circles exist throughout our lives, but are most prominent and frustrating in high school. When writing a young adult fantasy book, this can’t be overlooked.

As I edit my next book series about kids in high school who can see ghosts, I have been thinking about these social circles. Navigating the many forms can be tricky, just check the convoluted social map in the movie Mean Girls.

Mean.Girls.2004.BRRip.XviD.AC3-SANTi.avi.flv_000552052 (Medium)

John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink is a great example. Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who has a crush on one of the “richie,” preppy boys in her school, Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy).


Another classic example is Grease. Danny Zucco (John Travolta), a bad-boy greaser, is a member of the T-Birds, while the girl of his dreams, Sandy Olsen (Olivia Newton-John) is a cheerleader.


In my series, (after)life lessons, Logan is very candid about the social hierarchy at Vita Post Mortem Academy:

“There are three unofficial school alliances that determine where you fall in the school’s social hierarchy, but don’t worry; attend important events and make the right friends, and you’ll be set for the next four years.” His words dripped with sarcasm.

Which one will Jules choose? Corpus, the jocks?


Mentis, the preps?


Or Viscus, the leftovers?

Check out (after)life lessons pinterest page: