Author Archives: Jan Gangsei

We have a winner!

Thank you everyone for the kind and encouraging comments about my upcoming debut! This is why I am so grateful for the kidlit community! And now, without further ado, the winner of a signed copy of ZERO DAY is:Zero-Day_Final


Shannon, I’ll be emailing you shortly with details. And again, thank you all for your incredible support! Wishing everyone a Very Happy 2016!

On debuts, gratitude… and a giveaway!

I’ve been at this writing thing for a while now — as a journalist, in corporate communications, and writing MG series fiction under various pen names. But in just a few weeks, I’ll reach an exciting new milestone: my YA debut (pinches self repeatedly, faints and falls over), will publish with Disney-Hyperion.

It’s all a bit crazy. And surreal. And thrilling and actually a little (okay, a lot) terrifying. Because here’s the thing — I don’t care how ready you think you are, how hard you’ve worked, how many rejections/edits/revisions you’ve gone through to reach this point — nothing can really prepare you for the wild roller coaster ride of emotions as publication day approaches. Here’s my last couple of months in a nutshell:

  • Final edits are done. I’ve seen the galleys. My book is real! Holy moly, it’s real!! Soon, my book is actually going to BE IN STORES!!! People will be able to BUY it! And read it! Oh my *&@#$, someone other than my mom, (hi mom, I love you!), is actually going to READ MY BOOK!!!
  • Oh my *&@#$. Someone other than my mom is actually going to read my book. They are going to read it and figure out I stink. Because I stink. I have no clue what I’m doing. And this whole published author thing? A fluke, obviously. Can I have my book back now? I need to fix it. I don’t care that it’s gone to print. I NEED TO FIX IT!!!
  • Oh help me. There’s no fixing it. Review copies have been sent out. Where’s my chocolate?
  • I got a review? And the reviewer liked my book? (Are we sure this wasn’t my mother?) It wasn’t? And more reviewers have read it and said nice things about it, too? I’m so happy now I might cry! Please pardon me while I dance down the middle of the street with my hands in the air, until…
  • Oh boy. Here comes the-review-magazine-that-shall-not-be-named (rhymes with Quirkus). Is it possible the word “the” is a compliment? Because if so, I totally nailed that one, baby! No? Okay, I’m done dancing. If you need me, I’ll be curled in a ball under my coffee table with a big bag of chocolate and a bottle of wine until this whole thing is over (or I run out of chocolate and wine).
  • But, wait! School Library Journal loves my book, and Booklist thinks it’s pretty darn good, too. I think I just saw the words “must-read”… ABOUT MY BOOK!! You know what, it’s getting a little stuffy here under this table (and seriously, who’s in charge of vacuuming this place anyway?!? I think that’s a dried-up Cheeto stuck to my sock). Ah, who cares? I’m feeling the need to daaaaaance! Because who knows which way the roller coaster is headed next?
  • (Dances all the way to Costco to buy cases of chocolate and wine. Vacuums under the coffee table. Just in case…)

And if that’s not bad enough — don’t even get me started on the uncontrollable urge to Google yourself. And check your Amazon ranking. And see how many people have added your book to their to-read lists. Even though you know you should be — what is it they always say? — working on the next book. Ha. Yeah right. Telling yourself to stay off Amazon is kind of like telling the dog to stop eating scraps from the garbage can. It’s irresistible, man.

Yet, despite all that — despite the fact that publishing a book will basically turn you into a walking basket case who can’t decide whether to laugh or cry at any given moment — I’ve discovered there’s one emotion (at least for me) that trumps all others:



My book!

Yes, gratitude. Even though I’ve paused writing this post a half-dozen times to check my Author Central page (uh, kidding/not kidding), I’m grateful. Grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to be on this wild ride in the first place. Grateful to the many wonderful people who helped me get here. Grateful to the people who’ve taken the time to review my book, whether they love it or hate it (yeah, even you, Quirkus).

But most of all, I’m grateful to the readers who let me and my words into their lives. It’s an honor and privilege, and one for which I’m endlessly thankful.

So! To share my gratitude, I’m giving away a signed hardcover copy of my new YA novel, ZERO DAY! Just leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win. The winner will be drawn on January 5, and the book will be shipped by the release date.

Many thanks, and wishing you all a beautiful and Happy New Year!

Jan Gangsei’s debut YA novel, ZERO DAY, a political thriller set in her backyard of Washington, D.C., publishes January 12, 2016 with Disney-Hyperion. She’s also the author of middle-grade series fiction for London and New York-based book packager Working Partners. Say hi to her at


Boy book, girl book… or just a book?

So, the little one and I were perusing Halloween costumes last night. (I’d like to say that I’m one of those super crafty, Pinterest-moms who can fashion a fairy outfit from a roll of tulle, some glitter, and two-sided tape. But, no… I’d probably end up taping the kid to the dog, covering myself in glitter, and hot-glue gunning my fingers together. I much prefer to get my costumes the old-fashioned way — direct from Amazon Prime.)

Anyway, the little one excitedly tells me she wants to dress up in a Minecraft costume this year, and I think — yay! That should be easy, right? I mean, every kid under the age of ten is pretty much obsessed with the ubiquitous computer block game. I figure there have to be a ton of costume choices available.

And there were! Tons of choices! For boys…

Yes, no matter how hard we searched, little one and I couldn’t find a girl’s Minecraft costume. Anywhere. Lots of “Steves” and “Creepers.” But no girl characters. At all. Surprising — and kind of sad — considering half of the Minecraft players out there are most certainly girls. I can only guess that someone determined Minecraft=video/computer game=”boy” thing, so why bother with a girl costume?

This got me thinking about books (as things often do), and the gender assumptions we make about the kids who read them. I’ve often heard it said that boys are reluctant readers who need shorter, more action-packed stories to stay engaged. Girls, on the other hand, will allegedly read across genres and can make it through longer, more complex stories. (Ironically, this theory hasn’t held true in my own highly un-scientific sample of two — ie, the children who live in my house. My son has always been an avid reader who can become engrossed in a book for hours, while my daughter prefers drawing and watching videos to reading).

Which makes me wonder — are we doing our kids a disservice when we make such broad assumptions about what boys and girls will read/play with/dress up as for Halloween? If so, what can we do better? Is it a matter of just removing labels, like at Disney and Target? Is it ensuring that books are marketed to all children — not just by gender — as this nationwide campaign in the UK advocates? Or is it something deeper/different?

Tell me, what do you think? Should there be boy books? Girl books? Or just books? Share your thoughts in the comments below… right now, I’ve got a Minecraft costume to make. (And sorry, if you don’t hear back from me right away, it’s because my fingers are glued shut…)