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If you saw my Facebook post, you know we’ve had a really hard week in our household. One of our two canine “children” died, leaving the human children, the other dog, my hubby, and myself devastated. This is Gennie:
When we rescued her through Colorado Beagle Rescue, she was 2-years-old, emaciated and timid. We nursed her back to health and had 11 more amazing years with her. Out of our dogs, Gennie was my “velcro” dog. She followed me upstairs if I went to get laundry, downstairs if I went to get a glass of water, and everywhere else in between. She also loved to nap with me on the rare days I got a few minutes to rest in the afternoon. Her favorite spot though, was next to me on the couch while I wrote. Whether during the day while the kids were in school, or at night after they went to bed, this is where you’d find Gennie:
I joked once in an interview that though I dreamed of writing in a fancy home office/library, I’d probably still just sit on my couch with my pups. I wrote several novels with Gennie by my side, and the loss of her stings as I write this post with only empty space next to me. This was my first loss of a dog, and it’s been beyond heartbreaking. I’ve so appreciated all the supportive hugs (both virtual and real), emails, cards, texts, and gifts. The stories that people have shared with me about their own losses have helped my own healing process, and my heart goes out to those who have lost a beloved animal member of their family. As a very wise friend told me, the sadness won’t ever go away but the pain will lessen with time. She thinks the time will even come when I’ll want to open my heart to another dog in need. Right now, I’m focusing on loving up our other pup who is missing her “sister,” as well as answering tons of questions about death by my kiddos. I’ll get back to posting writing-related things next week when some of the sadness has dissipated. Thanks for understanding.
I have a few fun things to share today. My fellow YA Valentines and I have shared our most embarrassing 1st day of school stories over on our Valentine blog. Hint: Mine involves Sun-In. One brave Valentine even shared photo evidence.
Also, the awesome writer and book blogger, Kelsey Ketch, featured me in an interview on her blog today. Check it out to see my deep thoughts and life philosophies. Just kidding. You can check out whether I prefer ice cream or dessert though. Have a great weekend!
I’m excited to help YA BOUND reveal the cover for DAUGHTER OF ISIS by Kelsey Ketch! Check out the cover and book summary below, and then keep reading for an excerpt from the book. Also, you still have six days left to enter last week’s giveaway, so don’t miss your chance to win a Kindle copy of THE DEFIANCE by A.G. Henley. And now, I give you the cover for DAUGHTER OF ISIS:
Daughter of Isis (Descendants of Isis, #1)
by Kelsey Ketch
Release Date: 10/26/13
Cover Designed by: Steven Novak
Summary from Goodreads:
“Her mouth parted slightly, waiting for Seth to breathe life into her own body, just like in the story. She wanted him to awaken her senses.”
Their worlds collide in California’s high desert.
The last thing Natara “Natti” Stone wants to do is to start anew at Setemple High School. She wished she had never left London. Yet the brutal murder of her maternal grandmother has made her life very complicated. The only clue related to her murder is an ancient, encrypted necklace Natti discovered after her grandmother’s death. And if trying to adjust to American life is not enough, Natti is being stalked by a mysterious, charming high school senior, Seth O’Keefe, who is annoyingly persistent in his attempts at seduction.
Seth O’Keefe is secretly a member of the Sons of Set, an order that worships the Egyptian god of chaos. Seth’s blessing from Set, his “charm,” never failed, except with one person: Natti Stone. Her ability to elude him infatuates and infuriates him, and he becomes obsessed with the chase. But the closer he gets to her, the more his emotions take a dangerous turn, and he risks breaking one of the most valued covenants of his order. The punishment for which is a fate worse than death.
The adventure this unlikely couple becomes engulfed in could cost them their lives and their souls.
*Note: Content for Upper YA*
There was a crash and a loud gasping moan. She turned to the door next to her and stepped into the room. Her eyes widened as two entangled bodies jumped in the dark; the light shining from the hall streamed over the couple. She recognized the tall, copper haired upperclassman from the parking lot; the boy who had sent her the enchanting smile. Now he was completely shirtless, his fly clearly unzipped, and a brunette held tight in his arms. The girl glared at Natti. She struggled a little against the boy’s grasp, trying to cover herself with her bra.
Natti blinked in complete shock. “Okay.” She finally glanced at the empty room. “This is obviously not American Literature.”
“No duh!” the brunette snapped.
The young man smiled and turned to the girl in his arms. The brunette’s cold demeanor melted away once her eyes met his. He stroked her cheek, sending visible shivers through her body. Natti rolled her eyes, ready to gag.
“Now, now, Charlotte.” The honey-sweet voice made Natti freeze when she was just turning to leave. It gave her a dizzy feeling; a fog creeping at the back of her mind. “We shouldn’t be rude to our guest.” The boy’s eyes traveled Natti’s curves again. His grin widened. “Perhaps she’d like to join us. Maybe we can all get to know each other a little better.”
He motioned Natti to come inside. She unconsciously took a step forward; a strange force compelled her to join them. Her hands were reaching to pull her shirt off. It was as if she was no longer in control.
What the hell . . . ? Natti shook her head, finding the strength to resist through a familiar heavy sensation that rested against her chest. It was one she often got when someone lied to her. She was born with it. A gift, her grandmother called it, which could tell her when something wasn’t right. And as much as her body suddenly wanted to be next to the boy, feeling the skin of his lean, muscular chest, her gift was telling her something was off. His intentions were not pure.
She lowered her hands to her side, taking a step back into the hall. “Sorry.” She shook her head. “I don’t do threesomes.”
About the Author
During her high school years, Kelsey Ketch could always be found tucked away in a little corner of the hall or classroom, writing her fantasy worlds and creating illustrations and maps. Today is no different, except now she’s writing in the break room at her office building or at the tables of the Barnes and Noble Café in Cary, North Carolina. She is also an avid reader, a part-time book blogger at Ketch’s Book Nook, and lives with her two orange tabbies and awesome and humorous flat-mate. Daughter of Isis is her debut novel.
For more information, please visit her site at kelseyketch.com.
Cover Reveal Organized by:
Hi everyone–I’m excited to host my friend A.G. Henley on the blog today to help her celebrate the release of The Defiance! Following the interview and book description, A.G. is giving away a Kindle copy of The Defiance to one lucky blog reader. Enter via Rafflecopter below. NOTE: If you haven’t started this series yet, I highly recommend you start with The Scourge before devouring The Defiance.1) What is The Scourge about? Did you have any interesting moments while researching the book?In The Scourge, Sightless Fennel must face terrifying, flesh-eating creatures called the Scourge, in order to gather water for her people, the Groundlings, as they hide from the creatures in caves near their forest homes. Fenn’s Sightlessness is supposed to mysteriously protect her, but she hasn’t been tested. Until now.I did learn some interesting things while researching The Scourge. I can’t tell you the most interesting thing I learned, because it is a big spoiler. It had to do with how the Scourge became the way they are . . . But, I recently had the opportunity to do some hands-on research into archery (Peree, Fenn’s Lofty Keeper and the male protagonist of the series, is an archer.) My fingers are still red and a little sore from releasing the arrows!
2) As I read The Scourge, I thought it was refreshing for Fennel, the heroine, to have a physical disability. Where did the idea to make her Sightless come from?
I can’t remember exactly when the idea came to me, although it was before I started writing the manuscript. I thought it would be cool to feature a protagonist with a disability. I’d read widely in the YA genre and couldn’t think of many books that had a disabled main character. As for making her blind, I was influenced by Ivy in the film The Village. I love the way Ivy and her family and friends seem to accept her blindness as just a part of who she is. It is a challenge to be sure, but it doesn’t define her. The film often gets a bad rap, in my opinion. I loved it—especially the setting and atmosphere.
3) I know this may be a tough one, but which character is your favorite?
Oh, that’s not too hard. I love Fennel. She’s who I wish I could be: strong, brave, intelligent, responsible, concerned about others, family and community oriented, non-judgmental. And yet still fully human, I think, with as many insecurities and small concerns as any seventeen-year-old.
I also had a blast developing Moray’s character in The Defiance. He’s an antihero—deliciously self-centered and arrogant—while still adhering to his own code of ethics and values. They just aren’t the values most other people share (thankfully.)
4) The character names are unique and refreshing, how did you come up with them?
I wanted the character names to reflect something about the groups they came from. In my series, there are two main groups of people—the Groundlings, who live on the ground, and the Lofties, who live in the tops of the trees. They are locked in an uneasy, sometimes violent, symbiotic relationship. The male Groundlings have animal names (Bear, Eland), the female Groundlings have plant names (Aloe, Rose), the male Lofties have bird names (Peregrine, Petrel) . . . and then I ran out of steam for naming the female Lofties. I eventually decided they would be named for something in their environment (Moonbeam, Dusk). The Groundlings make fun of the female Lofty names, which was really me making fun of myself for not being able to think of anything better!
It occurred to me much later that by giving the characters these types of names, I also gave readers a sense of what the characters either look or act like. It’s a little heavy handed, but I think it’s also helpful when you write in first-person from the perspective of a blind main character who can’t describe the way other characters look.
5) If you were a character in the series, would you choose to live on the ground or high up in the trees?
I think I’d choose to live in the trees, where I could have a view and catch the breezes. But mostly I would want to have the choice, unlike the characters in my books.
6) The Defiance—the second installment in the Brilliant Darkness series—released on July 29th. Did you plan the novel before writing The Scourge, or did you wait to see how the first installment faired?
I published The Scourge last year without being at all sure I would write another book of any kind. It took me months to decide to write a sequel. I am a pantser (meaning I don’t outline or plot books before I write them) so I had only a vague idea of where I would take the plot of a sequel. I actually had a much better idea about what a third book would include. But usually when I let my mind wander the ideas start to flow, and that’s what happened with The Defiance.
7) Speaking of The Defiance, what can fans of The Scourge expect in this second installment?
Fennel and Peree are determined to be together in the protected village of Koolkuna, and Fenn feels strongly that it’s their responsibility to bring their people, the Groundlings and Lofties, back with them. When she receives a frightening message—a pair of dead, bloody animals gutted and nailed to the wall above her bed—she realizes that not everybody is willing to go along with her plan.
8) Tell me three things that you loved about writing The Scourge and The Defiance.
Allowing my imagination to run wild
Spending time with my book children, especially Fennel and Peree
Learning about the craft of writing fiction and the business of publishing
9) Post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction are popular sub-genres in the literature world right now. Why do you think people enjoy them so much?
I think it’s intriguing to read about and imagine how you would react if you were put in these kinds of dire situations. Would I make the same decisions the heroine does? Would I feel the same way she does? Or would I decide to do something wildly different? Reading gives us a safe (and fun) way to explore those decisions.
10) Finally, what’s on your summer reading list?
Ooh, good question. I agree with the scores of other people who have said writers should spend almost as much time reading as they do writing. I love reading, so it’s been a treat to turn a hobby into something I have to do for “work” ; )
I recently devoured the first two books and the novella in Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series. SO good. I also read and loved Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series. I have an affinity for historical fiction already, but write in the style of Jane Austen and throw in some magic, and I’m utterly hooked. Now I’m starting on indie author Chelsea Fine’s The Archers of Avalon series. Her books won a bunch of awards at the utopYA convention where I was a panelist in June. I try to read a mix of both traditionally published and indie-published authors. I also mix in a few classics. I re-read Oliver Twist and The Great Gatsby in the last few months.
The Defiance by A.G. Henley
(Brilliant Darkness #2)
Publication date: July 29th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Read The Defiance (Brilliant Darkness, #2), the highly anticipated sequel to The Scourge (Brilliant Darkness, #1), a 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist!
Suspicion Trust. Fear Compassion. Hate Love.
It hasn’t been long since Fennel, a Sightless Groundling, and Peree, her Lofty Keeper, fell in love and learned the truth: the Scourge, and their world, are not what they seem.
Fenn and Peree are determined to guide their people to the protected village of Koolkuna, but first they must convince them that everything they believe is a lie. An impossible task, especially when someone seems hell-bent on trying anything—even animal sacrifice and arson—to destroy the couple’s new bond and crush the frail truce between the Groundlings and the Lofties. Not everyone wants to uproot their lives in the forest, and those who stay behind will be left terribly vulnerable.
Fenn and Peree’s resolve to be together, and the constant threat of the Scourge’s return, push both groups to the breaking point. Unable to tell friend from foe, Fenn must again decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to ensure the future of the people of the forest.
Only this time, the price of peace may be too high to bear.
Praise for The Defiance:
“Fans of The Scourge, you will not be disappointed with this sequel. The Defiance was thrilling, romantic, and full of surprises. Loved this book!”
– Imagine a World, blog review”I had very high hopes for this follow-up novel, and Henley DEFINITELY delivers in her sophomore release!”
– Booking It With Hayley G, blog review”I absolutely LOVED The Defiance! No, I
more than loved it! It was breathtaking, intense, romantic,
suspenseful . . . the list could go on and on!”
– ARC review
A.G. Henley is the author of the BRILLIANT DARKNESS series. The first novel in the series, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award.A.G. is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they’ve had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she’s not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she’s inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado.
Enter below for a chance to win a Kindle copy of THE DEFIANCE–good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to everyone who entered my cover reveal book giveaway! Rafflecopter selected the winner last night, and the winner of the YA Book of Choice and DEFY THE DARK is…….(pretend that’s a drum roll): Alyssa Susanna Sooklal. Congrats, Alyssa! I’ll email you to find out your book pick. If you didn’t win, I’m going to do a huge, mega contest very, very soon, so check back for the deets.
First of all, if you haven’t yet seen the movie, get going. This is a movie that has to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. Though I’m an admitted sci-fi nerd, even people who don’t usually like sci-fi have said they loved it too. The writers of the Into Darkness screenplay (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof, based on the series by Gene Roddenberry and directed by J.J. Abrams) can also teach you a thing or two about writing in general. Here are some things I took away, without giving any spoilers:
1) The bad guys don’t know they’re the bad guys. At least at first. Remember the old cartoons where the evil villain twirled his mustache while tying a damsel to the railroad tracks for the sheer glee of it. Star Trek does bad guys so much better than that. The “bad guys” are complex characters with reasons and motivations behind their actions, which makes them much more interesting. I thought the reveal of Khan in Into Darkness was brilliant. Even in the first 2009 movie, the Romulans had their justifications for being total asshats.
2) You can always be meaner to your main character (MC). I like to pride myself on being mean to my MC’s. I wonder what would be the worst thing that could happen to them and try to create it. What Star Trek: Into Darkness does to Captain Kirk, as well as the rest of the crew, makes it look like I sent my MC on a Disney Cruise with unlimited free ice cream. When the climax of the movie came, the thought that went through my head was “He is so f#*ked.” Anyway, that’s what I want readers to think while reading my book.
3) Lack of time increases tension. If Chekov or Scotty had days to fix the warp core or McCoy had hours to defuse the bomb, the tension wouldn’t have been nearly as high. The whole movie felt like a giant race against time, which kept me on the edge of my seat. Even if your chosen genre isn’t sci-fi, you’ll usually find some sort of time element working against the main character (e.g. cancer in The Fault in Our Stars, war in The Book Thief). Use time to raise the stakes in your novel.
Anyone else see the awesome that is this movie? Any tips you’d add? Any opinions on the best ever Captain Kirk? (cough*Chris Pine*cough) Also, this is the LAST day to enter my big cover reveal GIVEAWAY and win the YA book of your choice PLUS Defy the Dark.
It must be cover reveal season, because today is the cover reveal for my friend and fellow psychologist, A.G. Henley. First of all, if you haven’t yet read the first book (The Scourge), please do so immediately. I promise that you’ll want to jump right into the sequel, The Defiance, to see what happens to Fennel and Peree.
First, here is the cover for THE DEFIANCE:
Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc., http://www.gobookcoverdesign.com/.
THE DEFIANCE (Brilliant Darkness, #2)
Suspicion Trust. Fear Compassion. Hate Love.
Fennel and Peree learned the truth: the Scourge, and their world, is not what it seems. Now they need to convince their people that everything they believe is a lie.
An impossible task, especially when someone seems resolved to try anything—even arson and butchery—to destroy Fenn and Peree’s new bond and crush the frail truce between the Groundlings and the Lofties.
Unable to tell friend from foe and with the Scourge pushing both groups to the breaking point, Fenn must again decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to ensure the people of the forest’s future.
Only this time, the price of peace may be too high to bear.
Publication Date: July 29th, 2013
A.G. Henley is the author of the BRILLIANT DARKNESS series. Her first book, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award.
A.G. is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they’ve had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she’s not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she’s inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Learn more at aghenley.com
Website | Facebook | Goodreads
I’m so excited to help out with the cover reveal for my fellow YA Valentine, Jen McConnel. I love me some witches, and started drooling when I heard about Jen’s book. First, here is the awesome cover for Daughter of Chaos:
Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.
Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.
But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.
DAUGHTER OF CHAOS is the first in a YA paranormal trilogy.
Jen is doing a giveaway in celebration. You can win Embrace by Jessica Shirvington and Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).
She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.
A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.
I’m beyond excited to announce that BURN OUT has a cover! A huge thanks to my fellow YA Valentine, Lynne Matson, for doing my formal cover reveal over at the YA Valentines. They are an amazing group of writer peeps, and there are links to more of them in that post. Also, check out the awesome Kelsey Ketch from Ketch’s Book Nook and my fab critique partner, author Valerie Kemp, who helped to spread the cover love. I LOVE (yes, in all caps) this cover, because my cover designer, A. Castanheira, at EgmontUSA is uber talented and awesome. In celebration, I’m doing a giveaway. First, here is the cover that perfectly captures my main character Tora, and her world:
I seriously stared at this for like an hour, because 1) did I mention I love it? 2) it reminds me of Star Trek which I also love and 3) I finally feel like my book is A REAL THING. Also, I have a real publication date: April 8, 2014! That’s less than a year away which is mere minutes in the publishing world.
To celebrate my cover happiness, I’m doing a giveaway. The winner will win the YA Book of their Choice PLUS a copy of DEFY THE DARK (a short story anthology by amazing YA authors, including Myra McEntire, Carrie Ryan, Saundra Mitchell, and the aforementioned Valerie Kemp). The contest runs through Tuesday July 9 and is open to US residents (sorry, but I’m doing another giveaway soon that will be global).
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Last but not least, I’m so excited to announce that my book is available for pre-order on Amazon. I’m giving something special to every single person who pre-orders, so let me know at kristi (at) kristihelvig (dot) com.
I’m so excited for today! It’s the release day for DEFY THE DARK, a collection of stories by awesome writers including Carrie Ryan, Malinda Lo, Rachel Hawkins, and one of my critique partners, the fabulous Valerie Kemp. I’ve read Valerie’s story, STILLWATER, and it’s incredible…I can’t wait to read the whole book.Valerie is doing a giveaway of Defy the Dark and discusses what inspired her story. Hurry, because you only have until Friday the 21st to enter!
From Goodreads: It features 16 stories by critically-acclaimed and bestselling YA authors as they explore things that can only happen in the dark.
You can order the book here. Also, if you don’t win Valerie’s giveaway, you have another chance to win next week. I’m giving this book away too, because I have something big to share with everyone…so check back for details next Tuesday the 25th!
One of my fellow 2014 Valentines, Sara Larson, is revealing her awesome book cover for DEFY (Scholastic). The official release date is….January 1, 2014. Happy New Year to Sara! I’m so excited for her and so in love with this gorgeous cover:
The fiercest member of a prince’s elite guard is actually a girl disguised as a boy, who gets embroiled in a deadly game of thrones while keeping her secret, and realizes she has far deeper feelings for the prince than she thought.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this one, and in celebration of her cover reveal, Sara is giving away two books to a lucky winner! Enter below for your chance to win…good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Benefits of Having a Great Agent
I'm sure you've all heard the warning that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. I've read horror stories (and even heard in person from a best-selling author) about what happens when an agent goes bad and they have to start over and find a new agent. I've also read a lot online saying you don't even need an agent these days, especially if you plan to self-publish. I respectfully disagree. In fact, I went to a talk by a best-selling self-published author, and guess what she had? A top agent from a great literary agency. Another top-earning self-publisher just blogged about recently obtaining an agent for her books. Why? I'll discuss that in a minute. Overall, I agree that having no agent is better than having a bad agent...but having a rock star agent is golden. I know a little bit about this because I have a rock star agent *waves at Jessica* from a great literary agency. So here is how a fabulous agent can benefit both traditional and self-published authors:
1) Editorial relationships. A great agent has a wealth of publishing knowledge and solid relationships with editors, so they know who is be looking for a specific project. For instance, they know if an editor has been dying for a book about killer space monkeys, or conversely, if an editor will stab themselves if they see one more monkey story. Though I try to stay abreast of publishing industry news, I don't have the years of relationships with publishers that my agent does, and I'm so glad she knew exactly where to send my book (which sadly, does not involve killer space monkeys). Some self-publishers are pursuing the hybrid model, which involves having some books published traditionally while they self-publish others, and for any author who wants a traditional publishing deal, a reputable agent has access to publishing houses that don't allow non-agented submissions.
2) They know books. This might sound obvious, but it's true. Agents read a ton of queries (after doing my "query critiques for all" giveaway earlier this year, I have even more respect for the massive amount of work they do). They also read a lot of manuscripts and you know, actual books. The bottom line is that agents know books. They know what makes for a great story and can easily spot what works and what doesn't. Every suggestion my agent made for revising my book was spot-on. Her knowledge made my book better, and I'm not saying that just because the book sold to a great publisher...I'm truly satisfied that I created the best book I could.
3) Contract negotiations. Can you say "reversion of rights?" Yes, technically you don't "need" an agent to sign a publishing contract, but have you read one lately? I got a headache after seeing one paragraph. An agent knows their way around the technical language of the contract, and knows where to push for change (e.g. more money, reversion clauses, etc.) They will also likely be more successful in having those changes accepted than if the author negotiated themselves, because part of being a good agent involves killer negotiating skills. Could someone do this themselves if they spent enough time on it? Yes, but personally, I'd rather focus on writing. I have enough trouble negotiating bed time with my kiddos, and am happy to leave legal negotiations in my agent's capable hands.
I'm also including foreign rights in this category, and it's a big reason why some self-published authors either already have or desire an agent, even if they don't want a traditional publishing deal. I can't imagine the time and energy involved in navigating foreign rights contracts, nor do I want to. The agented self-published author I heard speak said that the foreign rights sales alone was the impetus for her to get an agent.
4) Trust. This one is more intangible but just as important (to me, anyway). The author-agent relationship is a business partnership, and if you don't have trust in your business partner, then you're screwed (and yes, that trust goes both ways). For the writer, it's important to feel like you have someone watching out for your best interests. Yes, an agent only makes money if your book sells, but I believe that most agents go into the business for the same reason that writers do--we are all passionate about books. Most agents only take on a book because they love it. They wouldn't devote hours of their time to something they didn't believe in. When you trust that your agent is competent and skilled, it frees you to focus on other things--you know, like writing (well, and marketing, but that's a whole other post).
What have I missed? Any other opinions out there from the agented or unagented?
If so, then get your loglines and manuscripts polished for Miss Snark's First Victim 3rd Annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. Agents will bid against each other to compete on your manuscript. Check out all the details over on Authoress' blog, but you need to have a completed manuscript to enter. She is accepting submissions for both young adult/middle grade and adult fiction (all genres except erotica). Best of luck to all who enter!
In case you missed my squeals of joy yesterday, this is the official news about my debut YA book deal from Publisher's Marketplace:
September 25, 2012
Kristi Helvig's sci-fi series BURN OUT, after the sun has burned away the atmosphere, Tora Reynolds
survives, protected by lethal bio-energy guns that bounty hunters and governments are desperate
for, to Greg Ferguson at Egmont, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2014, by Jessica Regel at Jean
V. Naggar Literary Agency (world).
I am beyond to excited to be joining Egmont, and am super grateful to my rock star agent for believing in this book! The deluge of awesome emails, tweets, and FB messages yesterday was amazing, and I feel lucky to know so many wonderful people. Wow, I use a lot of adjectives when I'm excited.
Also, don't forget to enter the 1000 Twitter Follower Giveaway to win books and all kinds of critiques (including the Wednesday Query Critique)!
For the first time, my kiddos are both in school and I have oodles of time during the day to write. I'm not even a full-time writer yet as I work two days a week in my private practice, but that leaves THREE whole days of interrupted free time. Therein lies the problem. I wrote three novels in the past two years, and did it in the one to two hours of time I had in the evening after the kids went to bed. Those one to two hours involved nothing but fast, hard writing--because it was all the time I had to do it. I envisioned that once the kids were in school, I'd be able to multiply that output by ten, and could crank out a book every two months. The kids have been in school a grand total of 5 weeks now, which means I should have another book almost finished, right?
Not quite. First, I discovered the joy of grocery shopping without little ones underfoot. If you haven't tried it, it's an amazing experience. Next, I thought I'd conquer my possessed laundry basket which never empties no matter how many loads I do. I've seen the bottom of my laundry basket several times in the past few weeks, a sight I haven't seen in years. My to-do list has been tackled, my dogs have have enjoyed walks with me in the morning after I take the kids to school, and I've caught up with friends for lunches and brunches and other food-related outings. The most productive writing time for me in the past few weeks...has been in the one to two hours after the kids go to bed at night.
What the hell? I mean, I'm still writing but not nearly the amount I thought I'd be. Part of it is probably the habit of night writing, and part of it is probably the fact that I have quiet time in the house by myself for the first time in over eight years. Part of me worries that even if I were a full-time writer, I wouldn't be writing more than I am right now--Stephen King would mock my current habits (if you haven't read On Writing, you should). I'm hoping the novelty of being home wears off quickly, and I just ordered a day planner and am going to set myself up on a much stricter writing schedule (NOTE: the day planner itself looks so fun and amazing that I'm sure I'll do an entire post on it once it arrives.)
Anyone else struggle with this issue? Any additional tips you'd like to share? Pretty please. Or just let me know if you're in the area and want to go to brunch. ;)
Today, I am so excited to have author Jeanne Ryan on the blog (full confession: she’s also my critique partner). Her YA thriller, NERVE(Dial), releases tomorrow, 9/13/2012. When I read the first draft of this high-tech truth-or-dare game gone very, very wrong, I told her this was going to be her first published book. After getting my very own copy in the mail last week, I can tell you that the finished book is even scarier. Please check out Jeanne’s new website and make sure to follow her on Twitter.
I’m also giving a copy of NERVE to one lucky person. Enter by Tues. Sept 18th for your chance to win-- either tell us a dare you did (for the brave), or you can enter by less scary means.
Here is the cover for NERVE:
Hi Jeanne—thanks so much for joining us today, and huge congrats on NERVE! As I’ve told you before, I think the concept of a high-tech truth-or-dare game is awesome! Where did you get the idea for this book?
From watching my teenage niece and her phone. Seeing how fluidly she moved between her “real” life and her online life with her friends, with a lot of overlap between the two, got me to thinking about a story where a lot of the excitement and danger would be delivered via phones. I wondered how far a game of Truth or Dare could go if strangers could be brought together to perform and record the dares.
Yeah, this book was a far cry from the dares of my youth, like ringing someone’s doorbell and running. How long did it take you to go from writing it to publication?
I started writing it in May, 2010. It sold in April, 2011 and is being published September, 2012. So two and a half years from start to finish.
Less than a year between starting the book and selling the book is pretty darn impressive. Was this your first book?
Nerve was my fifth manuscript. Although I decided to become a writer at age eleven, many other dreams got in the way between then and the time I started writing a manuscript that I’d actually finish. I got serious about writing in 2004, finished my first manuscript in 2006, signed with an agent in 2009 and got my first deal in 2011. That doesn’t count the years beforehand when I wrote many tortured poems, awful short stories and an unfinished novel (also awful).
It goes to show that persistence pays off, and you always need to be working on the next book. Speaking of which, can you tell us what you’re you working on now?
Two things. One is another YA thriller which is scheduled to come out with Dial in early 2014. It’s called CHARISMA and is about a terribly shy girl who turns to an experimental therapy that's supposed to make people more sociable. It does, but comes with some scary side effects.
The other thing I'm working on between revisions is an MG historical set in 1974 South Korea. It may never see the light of day in the publishing world but it’s a great way to cleanse my mental palate after working on the darker stuff.
Yay for another book deal! I love your MG historical, and definitely hope it sees the light of day…and what I’ve seen of Charisma is fantastic. Writing several things at once seems daunting. Do you have a set writing routine or schedule?
During the school year, I try to get in about four hours a day, Mon-Fri, in the morning. During school breaks and summer vacation, I grab time whenever I can.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers out there?
Keep working on the craft. The writers I’ve seen who eventually landed agents and book deals are the ones who kept producing manuscript after manuscript until they wrote the story that everyone who reviewed it knew was “the one.” (Sometimes, the author is the last to know. J) Sure, there are those lucky few who sell their first attempt, but viewing that as the norm is a good way to set yourself up for misery. I speak from experience.
That’s great advice. So why don’t you finish by sharing something weird or random with us. (It doesn't have to be writing related)
Weird or random. Hmmmm. When I was a little girl living in Honolulu, our house was rumored to have a ghost, which everyone in the neighborhood called a Kahuna. My parents had a difficult time finding babysitters, because everyone was scared. (Their reluctance could also have been due to the fact that the number of kids in my family was already at six and growing.) Anyway, my parents finally solved the babysitter problem by hiring two at a time. And they approached the Kahuna problem the way a lot of things were solved in the hippie days--by throwing a large party that involved lots of chanting and alcohol. Whatever the grown-ups did worked, because we never had any weird bumps in the night after that. And the babysitters were eventually willing to work solo.
That’s a great story. Thanks so much for joining us today and Happy Release Day (a day early!)
I'll wait for you to stop laughing and saying "What money?" Even if you haven't gotten to the point of earning an advance, or even better, royalty checks, many writers earn some money through freelancing, self-publishing, editing services, short story sales, etc. But money earned as a writer will always be different than that earned by those who get a steady paycheck each week. Even in the scenario of royalty checks, it's never a guaranteed amount. So how do you budget or calculate living expenses on uneven income?
Though I've recently made some money through freelance work and by offering query services through the blog, I know a lot about this topic because I've been self-employed for a decade. I run my own private practice as a psychologist, and my income has always varied from month to month. I'm used to the uncertainty principle, and thought I'd pass along several tips that might help with budgeting. NOTE: This is my own personal experience and should not be construed as financial advice. That's what CPA's are for. :)
1. Keep good records. If you're earning money from various sources, such as selling several articles or short stories a year, keep careful track of all your income (and expenses.) Money spent on websites, marketing, editing, etc. will help offset the cost of your total income. You can track this through a program like Quicken or Excel, or you can use an old-school ledger and pencil. Just make it thorough. This will make step 2 easier.
2. Pay Estimated Taxes if needed. I've paid estimated taxes for years, but look at it as a positive thing, because it means my business is profitable. A good accountant, or a reliable tax program like the Business Edition of TurboTax, can help you figure out what you should pay. A good rule of thumb is to set aside at least a third of what you earn for taxes.
3. Make your budget based on the lowest expected amount of income. After a few months of receiving writing related income, you can probably get away with taking an average of those months to determine your budget, but I use the lowest amount I make in a given month to set my budget. That way, I make sure I'm covering basic expenses, and if I make more than that, it can be added to an emergency fund for unforeseen crises. If no crisis occurs, the money can be used for other things, as mentioned in the next step.
4. Use the bucket method for your income. I'm a huge fan of the bucket method, because it allows you to put a little money towards fun things, along with boring stuff like the aforementioned estimated taxes. I have a savings account labeled for each "bucket," so you could have designated accounts for things like taxes, mortgage, etc,. but make sure to include at least one bucket for something fun. Even if you can only put a few dollars in your fun bucket at a time, it will eventually add up. Then you can get that new laptop or go on a weekend getaway--and what writer doesn't need those things (BONUS: that new laptop may even qualify as a tax deduction depending on your situation!)
These are some basic tips, but I'm sure there are plenty more. Has anyone tried any of these, or have any other money tips to share?
The Olympics are long gone, which is a very good thing for my writing. The nights of endless gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, diving, and track may or may not have affected my daily word count (okay, it totally did), but at least a few sports failed to suck me in (I'm looking at you, fencing and water polo). However, there was an upshot to the abnormal amount of time I spent in front of my television--I found tremendous inspiration in every athlete out there. I also noticed similarities between what it takes to be an Olympian and an Olympic writer:
1) Train. Those athletes didn't make it to the Olympics by saying, "I know I have it in me to be an Olympian," and then find excuses about how they didn't have enough time, money, etc. to put in the hours. Using Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours rule (if you haven't read Outliers, you should), these athletes have logged well over 10K hours in training. Michael Phelps should have gills from how much time he's spent underwater. How does an Olympic writer train? Certainly not by saying they know they "have a book in them...someday." They write. Then they write some more. Then what do they do? You get the idea.
2) Be persistent. Not every athlete qualifies for the Olympics on their first try. Those that make it to the Olympics don't always get gold--or medal at all--their first time there. I don't think that's a bad thing, as it can be a powerful motivator. Track star, Allyson Felix, took the silver in the 200m in Beijing. From 2008 until the 2012 Games in London, she trained her ass off and focused on being the very best she could be...and got her gold. Most athletes don't medal, but at least they knew they did the best they could do and were good enough to get to the Olympics. The lesson for writers? Never give up. Keep trying and get better. If your first book doesn't land you an agent or a book deal, keep trying. If you self-publish and the book doesn't sell well, keep trying. Go back to step 1) and push yourself to be the best writer you can be.
3) Hope for a little luck. Yep, even in the Olympic, sometimes winning a medal involves a bit of luck and good timing. I watched a noted BMX racer (yes, I watched BMX too--I told you I watched a lot o' Olympics) go down because of a crash in front of him. One swimmer might hit the touch pad a bit harder than another and get the faster time. Everyone has times when they feel they are "in the groove" and other times when things don't go their way. With the Olympics, athletes have only that one moment, and they better hope they are in the groove. Though not as intense, there is timing and luck involved with publishing too. Even publishers can't always predict which books will be a hit. Sometimes it takes hitting the right publisher, or the right audience, with the right idea at the right time. You don't have control over this, but you do have control over steps 1), 2), and 4), which makes this step more likely to fall into place.
4) Be a good sport. Whether an athlete won gold, bronze, or even nothing at all, most of them carried themselves with grace, poise and humility. Oscar Pitorius, the double amputee track star from South Africa, didn't medal but stood out as an Olympic hero. McKayla Maroney demonstrated great humor over the attention she's received regarding her obvious disappointment at winning silver in the vault. If you haven't checked out the McKayla is Not Impressed page, it's cute (my fave pic is the one of her in the scene at the art museum in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). The lesson for writers? Whether you're a New York Times bestseller, or an aspiring writer trying to get out of the slushpile, treat others with respect and kindness. It doesn't cost anything to be a decent human being, plus I'm a big believer in karma, kismet, and va
Up until now, I've written my novels solely via laptop. Sure, I've mapped out outlines, ideas, and characters in a notebook (okay, so I have notebooks everywhere, and it might be an addiction, but that's a different post), but the actual writing has taken place at my computer. Then I had something weird happen a few weeks ago.
This is not the actual pen used, but I am SO getting this pen one day!)
I had a client need to reschedule an appointment at work, which left me with an entire hour of writing time--except that my laptop was at home. For some reason, I pulled out my legal pad rather than the cute flowered notebooks I usually carry, and decided to write a chapter. The words flew onto the page, and when I typed them into the computer that night, I'd written almost 3K words...in an hour. For me, that's a lotta words, and even though I took shorthand in high school, I also took typing, so I couldn't believe how fast I was. The other strange part was that when I went back the next day to edit, it required way less editing than usual. In the next two days, I easily wrote two more chapters that way. I know there are studies out there about enhanced neural activity and increased memory capacity in writing versus typing, but I'd never tried it out for myself.
Summer with the kiddos has challenged my writing time, but my goal for this week is to get 10K words completed, because I'm excited to finish my new book...and because my agent is waiting patiently for it.;)Have you tried writing in longhand versus typing? Anyone else notice a difference?
Oh, and Happy July 4th! The Wednesday Query Critique will be back next Wed. 7/11 on my personal blog.
When you're writing a novel, I'm a big believer in rewarding yourself for achieving the baby steps along the way. For instance, when I'm in the revision process after finishing my first draft, I reward myself with chocolate after revising each chapter (don't judge). I'd like to say the satisfaction of writing and revising is entirely its own reward, but sometimes I need that extra shot of motivation.
So when I really want to push myself, the reward needs to be bigger, and then I'm way more likely to reach my goal. I don't watch much television and don't have any of those recording thingies to watch shows later, but I have a crazy addiction to Design Star on HGTV--I know, some people have a wild side, and mine is dan-ger-ous. Anyway, guess who hit her word count goal last week with over 30 minutes to spare? This girl. It's on again tonight and I'm sure I'll hit my goal today too, because no way in hell am I missing David Bromstad's pep talks regarding room decor (I'm so badass like that).Now that I've confessed my sure-fire writing reward, I want to know about you. How do you reward yourself? (It's okay if your method isn't as hard-core as mine. Not everyone can be this cool. ;)
I'm not saying that you can't call yourself a writer if you do nothing more than toil away on your manuscripts for hours, days, even years. However, at some point, most people want others to see their work. Though the joy of writing is what keeps us going, behind it is the hope that others will find joy in our work through reading it. Whether you're writing a family genealogy meant only for close relatives, or you're writing a commercial novel for the masses, at some point, writing means putting your work out there...which can be scary.
It's much safer to keep your writing tucked away on your hard drive, or in a trunk under the bed, because exposing it to daylight invites possible judgment and criticism. Some writers are sensitive by nature, but writing is not for the skin-thinned, so where should you start? I started with a critique group, and think a good critique group (consisting of fellow writers) is worth its weight in gold. Other writers are the best resource (IMHO) for pointing out your own strengths and areas for growth as a writer.You can find them through professional writers groups, conferences, and online message boards or blogs. Use the feedback to make your work the best it can be. But you can't stop there.
At some point, you have to bite the bullet and put your work out there. Whether it's querying agents and editors if you aspire to a traditional book deal, or hiring an editor and then self-publishing, no one can read your book if it's not available. This doesn't mean rushing things. Take your time to write, revise, edit, and polish your book to a high gloss. But if writing and all that goes into making a complete novel is Step #1, make sure you eventually push yourself to do Step 2). Put it out there.
Which step are you on? Any tips for those struggling with Step 2?
Today is my day to be hosted on the Miss Snark's First Victim Blog Hop! Check out my interview over at the fabulous Amanda Sun's blog where I'm giving away a first chapter critique to one lucky winner. Stop back tomorrow when I interview the awesome Leah Peterson.
You may remember way back in January when I announced that I would have a short story appearing in the upcoming HarperTeen anthology DEFY THE DARK, that I said there'd be more exciting news about how YOU could be in the anthology too. Well, that day has finally arrived!
HarperTeen and Figment have opened up the DEFY THE DARK Short Story Contest.
This cover is NOT FINAL, but isn't it pretty?
The contest is open to any unpublished writer, or published writer who has earned less than $2000 from their writing. All you need to do is write a 2000-4000 word story of any genre that mostly takes place at night, or in the dark.
You can be creative with this. It doesn't have to be dark and scary. A girl sneaking out at night to meet her secret crush fits just as well as those creepy things that go bump in the night.
You have until September 1st to write an upload your story to Figment. The winner gets:
- The winner will get paid and have their story published in DEFY THE DARK!
- Two second place winners will also win cash prizes from HarperCollins and have their stories published on the Defy The Dark website.
So what are you waiting for? Get all the contest details at the Figment.com DEFY THE DARK contest page!
Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’ Success Story blog tours! Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross promote each other’s work. Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories, so make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs (there’s a list below). Also, if you haven't checked out my interview on Amanda Sun's blog from yesterday, you still have time to enter to win a first chapter critique from moi.
Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing the awesome Leah Petersen. Leah is giving away an ebook copy of her book Fighting Gravity to one lucky commenter! Just comment here for a chance to win this:
"When Jacob Dawes is selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he's catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob's own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor's heart, but it's no protection when he's accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves." Leah Petersen
lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. Make sure to check out Leah's blog
and follow her on Twitter
Her first novel, Fighting Gravity
, is available now from Dragon Moon Press
. Welcome Leah--I'm from North Carolina too! I think you need to post a pic of the knitting while reading thing, because that is amazing. So can you tell us how participating on the MSFV blog helped get you where you are now?
Leah: The short(ish) version is that I got into one of the monthly Secret Agent contests (back when it was simply the first 25 or 50 that got into the mailbox, purely a trigger finger rather than a merit thing.) The agent had some pointed criticism of my opening, and little about it that she thought worked. Ouch. Well, I took her critique and worked on making it better. The next month, Authoress announced the open submission period for Dragon Moon Press. They looked like a good fit for me so I queried with my revised draft and they asked for the full. The next day I got an email asking if we could have a phone conversation. And the rest is history.
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I haven't done a book recommendation in awhile, so here you go. My rec for this week is Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. It was a William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist, but I didn't even know that until after I read it. I'm an unashamed title and cover whore, so I knew nothing about this book except that the cover grabbed me (and made me sing along in my head to the Elton John tune). I'll wait a minute while you sing it too. Done? Okay, so here's the great cover:
And the description from Goodreads:
Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.
Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.
With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin? Why I liked it: This was such a fast and fun read--seriously, the chapter titles alone are worth it. I loved Sam and thought his character was well-developed and real (plus a lot of the genre YA I read tends to have female MC's, so Sam was a refreshing change of pace). Also, I love me some snark which is found aplenty in this book. There were a few plot issues I had to overlook, but I'm really nitpicky. Overall, if you're looking for fun genre fiction, this book is a definite win. I don't often get around to sequels but I would read a sequel to this in a heartbeat.Happy reading!