I LOVE WELCOMING SPECIAL AUTHOR GUESTS TO MY BLOG!
It's true. And even more so when I've known the author for a while. I first read some of today's special guest's work a couple of years ago and can still remember clearly the smooth tones of her gorgeous voice.
So, please welcome author Sarah Floyd, whose debut MG BUTTERFLY GIRL is out on March 26, with some wise words for new authors and a little insight into her journey to publication.
Tell us when you decided to take your writing more seriously and pursue publication. Was there a day or a moment when you felt ready to follow the dream?
My dream of writing children’s books started in childhood. If you had asked eight-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response would have been “a children’s book author!” But, an adult I trusted convinced me that an English degree was impractical, so I landed in Communication Studies instead, and took a job in professional sales after graduating from college. My dream of becoming an author moved into the background.
Fast forward to married life: For the first ten years of our marriage, I worked as a corporate relocation specialist for a large real estate company, but after our son was born, my love for children's books rekindled. Days spent sharing wonderful picture books with him, volunteering at his preschool, and even helping my husband in his home office (which I still do) brought me deep satisfaction. But with our son moving up to kindergarten, the time for me to return to my former career was approaching, and even though it was an enjoyable occupation when I did it, something in me had shifted—I wanted to do something else with my life, I just couldn’t figure out what “something else” was!
I began thinking deeply about life purpose, legacy, and work that would bring me joy, which led me back to the idea of becoming a writer—but I had no idea how to get started. The only writers I had read about were either bestselling, breakout talents who had catapulted overnight to fame and fortune, or they had spent many years in graduate school to earn degrees that proved their qualifications. Then, one day while walking home after tutoring a group of struggling readers in my son’s kindergarten class, I prayed for guidance on what to do with the rest of my life. I loved being a volunteer reading coach at my son’s school, so maybe I should go back to my corporate job and continue tutoring on the side? Or I could go to grad school and become a Reading Specialist? Or maybe get my MFA and become a professional writer? In that quiet moment of soul searching, a line for a picture book sprang to mind. Within a few minutes the entire plot revealed itself, and I literally ran home to write it. That was my moment of “awakening.” After that I was hooked on writing children’s books and never questioned if I was on the right path. I’m grateful that my husband’s job puts food on the table and keeps a roof over our heads—writing hasn’t replaced my former income, but it brings me the joy I was missing, and I have no regrets.
How long was your querying experience before you landed your agent? Can you tell us a little about the journey from sending out your first query to receiving the first offer?
I started writing in 2008, but didn’t begin querying in earnest until 2011. I was enthusiastic, but my queries back then were pretty terrible. Query “rules” seemed too limiting—I thought it would be best to stand out from the crowd by changing things up to include philosophical thoughts about why the submitted work was important, what writing meant to me, etc., etc. My queries tended to run rather long . . . (it’s hard not to cringe just thinking about it!)
In 2011 I joined the SCBWI Blueboard and started posting my work for critique. That’s when I got some much needed tough-love on how to write a query letter! I also began swapping manuscripts with other writers there, and over time some of those writers became my friends and ongoing critique partners—we grew together as we shared information and critiqued each other’s work.
After a few years of writing and querying picture books, form rejections began turning into an occasional personal response. One of them was from an agent who suggested I might have an interesting voice for MG . . . but I was committed to the picture books I had written and didn’t want to hear that! Writing a novel seemed completely out of reach, but I couldn’t quite dismiss the thought either—and on a whim I picked up a few books at the library about novel structure and craft. A few months later, the first draft of Butterfly Girl was born.
My confidence grew, and I began entering online contests, where I occasionally won a critique from an agent or a published author. I also signed up for WriteOnCon—that’s where I met my first agent, Danielle Smith, in 2014. I was elated when Danielle requested the full manuscript, along with three of my picture books . . . and a few weeks later she requested “a chat.” Finally, an agent wanted to discuss representation! The call went well, I signed with her—hooray! A book deal was right around the corner, or so I thought . . .
Danielle seemed capable and kind, but we couldn’t seem to get things going—no submission list, no revision notes, nothing. This was a few years before she abruptly closed her agency, so no one was talking openly about the problems there, but the uncertainty and disjointed communication kept me on edge and unable to relax enough to be creative, and after six months I knew it was best to part ways. Thankfully, in late 2015 I signed with Essie White of Storm Literary—my experience with her has been nothing but positive. She is a phenomenal agent!
Did you ask and receive any help to polish your manuscript/s before querying? If so, who from and how much?
I received feedback from my CPs, especially on the first three chapters, and occasionally reached out to freelance editors for guidance too. And while between agents, I hired freelance editor Mary Kole, a former agent, for a phone brainstorming session to talk through the plot of my newest novel. Her advice and encouragement allowed me to move forward quickly, and with confidence. More recently, Kate Foster beta-read that same novel, which will be going on submission soon. (Thank you, Kate! Your feedback was SO helpful!)
Giving feedback to other writers has also helped me tremendously—it has taught me to spot flaws in my own writing technique. I have never read my own or anyone else’s self-edited draft and said, “Ta-Da! Done! Ready to submit!” Anyone who believes that is very likely setting themselves up for disappointment. It really does take a village!
How long did it take before an editor fell in love and offered you a publishing contract? How was the experience?
Essie submitted Butterfly Girl to Callie Metler-Smith of Clear Fork Publishing in 2016, with a plan to publish it the following year. Working with Callie and her team has been a wonderful experience! After writing a second stand-alone novel (the one that is going on submission soon), I asked Callie if I could re-read Butterfly Girl before publication to see if anything I had learned might apply. Re-reading ended with me sending her some “Before and After” excerpts to show how I would like to revise various scenes to elevate the writing while keeping the content intact. She agreed with my plan, and we pushed back the release date to give me the time I needed. I’m grateful to have landed with such a collaborative and supportive publisher!
What advice would you give new and upcoming writers, those in the querying and submission trenches?
Read widely in your genre, study craft books, and join a writing community like SCBWI where you can receive support and information, as well as connect with other writers. Also, if you love your book’s concept but it’s not clicking with agents, it might be the writing itself, not the concept—I notice that when rejections roll in, many writers abandon worthwhile (but not quite ready) projects to start something new, instead of digging deeper to fix whatever isn’t working. Butterfly Girl took many years to develop to a publishable level. That timeline has been much shorter for my soon-to-be-submitted second novel, but first I needed to learn how to write for publication, which is a layer upon layer process of drafting, revising, swapping critiques, studying, querying, rinse and repeat—which grows both the work and the writer in the process. Of course we need to be willing to move on if the concept is flat, but if not, keep going! I’m convinced by my own experience that perseverance is the secret ingredient that turns writers into authors.
About the book:
In the summer before seventh grade, Meghan McCoy-Lee discovers there’s magic in the sap of her family tree. She follows instructions in her great-grandmother’s journal . . . and grows leathery wings! Meghan’s story goes viral and her mother, who abandoned Meghan at Grandpa’s Oregon farm six years earlier, swoops back into town with superstar plans for her Winged Wonder Girl. Grandpa says stay on the farm and ignore the paparazzi, but her charismatic mom wants her to leave for Hollywood and start a new life together. The popular girls at school want Meghan gone, like yesterday—she’s getting way more attention than they are.
One thing is certain: Meghan’s going to make up her own mind, and the designer divas aren’t part of the equation. With the help of her brainy best friends, there may be a way to make the queen of the mean girls stumble and fall off her throne. Now Meghan must decide if a glamorous life with the mother she dreamed of is worth moving away from the friends who stood by her—and from Grandpa, who loved her before the whole world knew her name.
Pre-order your copy by clicking here!
Add to Goodreads by clicking here!
Sarah Floyd was born in Carmel Highlands, California, where she and her friends explored, built forts, and acted out magical adventure stories in the woods that surrounded their homes. When she was in first grade her family moved to San Francisco, and then to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She always brought her favorite books, wherever she moved, and she always found new friends who loved to read. Now she writes books for children and teens—for her, it’s the best job in the world.
Sarah is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and lives in Florida with her husband and teenage son. To learn more, please visit sarahfloydbooks.com and follow her on Twitter @kidlitSarah.
I did. I couldn't resist the pull.
...I am pleased to say I will be a 2019 WRITE MENTOR mentor!
Because I love being involved in these opportunities for brilliant, talented upcoming authors; I love the buzz that goes with it; and I love befriending so many fantastic writers.
See? I couldn't really say no to Stuart, could I?!
This is where you'll find my wishlist, but first, GO HERE to learn a little more about this opportunity, if you're eligible to enter, what's involved, and, of course, the all important contest schedule.
I'm getting straight down to business, no GIFs, no fancy nonsense, because I know you'll want to hop around to the other mentor's wishlists and find your perfect fit.
…MIDDLE GRADE which covers books for the 8-12 year old.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this age group because innocence and hope reign supreme. Books can still cover anything and everything including (and more importantly than ever) difficult topics, but you can have so much fun with whatever content you choose. Immaturity is definitely still allowed so you as the writer get to revisit those silly days where you can get away with things maybe you can't so much now. By this I mean, farts and bums, because they rarely fail to raise a smile, and tears and tantrums, which still feature regularly!
But, these kids deserve respect because they're often much more tuned in and smarter than we realise. Never scrimp on challenging vocabulary, never talk down or patronise, never be afraid to cover darker content though be careful of the details included, and show these kids that whatever they're feeling, it's okay, it's normal. and there is always light and hope somewhere.
I'M NOT RIGHT FOR YOU IF...
…you write historical, verse, or graphic novels. Not that I don't love these, but simply because I'm not the right mentor for you.
That's it. Short and sweet, no frills, no faffing.
Now's the time to get polishing those manuscripts because this is a great opportunity you don't want to miss. The calibre of mentors is extraordinary and I wish I could enter the contest, to be honest.
Looking forward to your lovely MG words!
OMG. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this cover reveal for the fabulous and frighteningly talented author/illustrator Cat Scully! And this cover. You need to know more about this beauty before I show you because this is no ordinary cover, and this is no ordinary book! So...first, I asked Cat a few questions and you have to read these answers to understand the level of awesome you're dealing with here!
I would love to know how it all happened! Did you ask your publisher if you could do the illustrations? Did you show them your work and they loved it and said yes, illustrate your cover now!!!?
So, my first cover was a sketch that I sent to our cover designer to express what I wanted the cover to be. It was of two hands coming down around the title out of the darkness. I wanted it to represent the forces pursuing Jennifer, and her name absolutely had to be in gold. Without going into detail, let’s just say there’s a cost to her power. The cover designer at my publishing house, Dyer Wilk, saw it and went... No, you're good. You got this. I was like NO I DON'T. I DON'T GOT IT. I get very nervous about doing covers. There's so much pressure to get it right. He helped me through the process though, making me laugh along the way, and that really helped. The story doesn't stop there though. My agent saw that cover and went “It’s YA. Where is the girl?” Of course she was right. She’s very wise. I immediately came up with four or five alternate designs but none of them felt right. It wasn’t until my friend Todd Keisling, who is a cover designer and writer, suggested I take what I already did and put Jennifer in the middle. It was a stroke of genius! Everything clicked! I was nervous though. I am very self-conscious of my people designs, even though I’m doing part of it comic. A cover sells the book. I wanted to get it right. I made a kind of lineless version of Jennifer, which my friend Chris Golden pointed out to me looked actually more anime than lineless. So it was back to the drawing board again. I redid her face to reflect my character cards and BAM. That was it! That was the cover!
And what other art exactly have you done for the book?
It's part comic, part illustrated journal, part book. What’s going to be the most interesting thing to me will be seeing readers react to how many different styles of art are within Jennifer Strange. There’s a style I used, that’s all pencil with very light Photoshop additions, that was for the journal portions. I wanted Jennifer and Liz’s mother Emily to have her own way of drawing, being that her job is illustration and she’s using her art to warn her daughters about the ghosts and demons that hunt them. This style is entirely different to the comic portions, which feature Jennifer and Liz. I did all of these in Procreate, a digital iPad app, that created a more comic book style. I wanted that to feel very YA, as Jennifer and Liz are both teens and their world would absolutely be different than their mother’s interpretation of the monsters. It will be fun to show readers or even fans of my maps just how many styles as an artist I can hop between that look vastly different but it’s still all me. I’ve never seen this kind of thing done in YA before. It’s definitely going to break the mold in a very visual way.
Do you have to check in with your publisher with sketches or are you free to create?
I was totally free to create! Which I did not expect. I was totally blown away by the freedom. It's easy to get intimated by the blank page. I just started drawing and let it come to me. It took maybe eight drawings, but I got there!
Will you do my artwork for all my horrors!!!!?
HA HA Sure! I'd love to do more illustrated horror! Or any illustrated books for that matter! I love collaborating! I'm such an extrovert.
See, told you! Anyway, no more dallying. BEHOLD THIS GORGEOUS COVER!
And, if you head over to YA Books Central, there's a very special giveaway happening right now. Just click here!
Cat is a writer, designer, and illustrator. When she's not writing and illustrating books of her own, she works in publishing as a freelance designer and illustrator, best known for her world maps in LABYRINTH LOST and WINTERSPELL. Her first book, Jennifer Strange, is out on July 23, 2019. She lives outside Boston with her husband and children and very fluffy cat.You can follow Cat on Twitter or Instagram at @CatMScully or visit her website at www.catherinescully.com
FOLLOW CAT HERE:
Yesterday, I had a bad day. Well morning, really. It did get better as the hours passed. Because, after I'd mopped up my tears and swept away my frustrations, I climbed out from under my duvet, made a cuppa, and grabbed a bar of chocolate, and then I decided to do something brave. I thought I might as well. Why not, right? Fight back, take charge, live a little.
Dramatic, for sure, but my brave act led to me hovering in the middle of a dilemma I know a lot of writers experience.
I've been writing a middle grade uplit contemporary that's a pretty personal story and, other than a couple of CPs reading it, I've kept it pretty much hidden, private, surrounded by a protective shield because oh my heart might break if people don't get it... The whole process has been lengthy and taken me right out of my comfort zone, forcing me to ask a lot of questions. But all for good reasons.
Anyway, I'm not here to talk about me; I want to talk about the feedback I received on the first 1000 words I sent out to a variety of readers yesterday.
Each reader is a writer of MG at varying stages of their careers, and all the feedback offered to me was kind, thoughtful, and helpful. I specifically asked for immediate feelings and thoughts as opposed to in-depth critique because I wanted to gauge reader immersion, voice, pacing, and connection. I am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL to each of these wonderful people for taking the time out of their day for me. You guys rock! :)
But, what I soon realised as the feedback hit my inbox was, EVERYONE HAD SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO SAY!
And I'm not even exaggerating a tiny bit. I received no two pieces of feedback the same.
A few examples:
One reader said they wanted something bigger and more challenging to happen.
One reader said they thought there was way too much happening.
One reader suggested removing a medical term.
One reader thought the use of the medical term was clever.
One reader wanted to get inside the MC's head more.
One reader said the balance of internal and external was spot on.
You get the picture!
So, as I sat pondering each nugget of golden advice, I came upon two solid pieces of my own:
1. It's good, but something isn't quite right about these opening pages.
2. My only option is to choose what feels right for me and my story.
Yep. The one thing that would have made my life much easier in this situation would have been consistency; at least two or three readers saying "Yeah, this didn't work for me" or "I couldn't connect with your MC" or "I got confused here" and so on. Which means the only way to move forward is to trust myself and stay true to the vision and voice of my work.
Obviously I can't run with every piece of feedback -- bummer. So, my plan of attack now is to copy every piece of advice and then to consider each carefully -- deciding how major the comment is, and maybe even incorporating it in a trial page to see if 1. it works with my and my MC's voice, and 2. what the knock-on effects might be -- and finally to decide if it works for what I want from these opening pages.
I know, and every writer needs to remember, that NO READER IS THE SAME. And this is a blessing. It means from all the feedback we receive -- and I suggest getting as much as you can from a range of different people -- we, the writer, get to listen to different viewpoints we might never have considered and understand what is or isn't coming across in the words we've chosen. And then WE GET TO FIX IT AND MAKE IT SHINIER!
And that's where I am today. I can't wait to get cracking on revisions. :)
So thrilled to be a part of my lovely friend's cover reveal. Yes, I'm a bit (fashionably) late but that's so not important when the cover and book is THIS GOOD.
Just pre-order this book, okay. Nuff said.
Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis!
Be on the lookout for this new title from Lakewater Press.
What do you think of the cover?
Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis
Available for pre-order:
“Unflinching, authentic, and the perfect mixture of bold and sweet, WITHIN AND WITHOUT is a story readers will lose themselves in more than once. A debut both heartwarming and heartbreaking from an exciting new voice in YA literature.”
—Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts and Last Girl Lied To
“A moving portrait of first love, friendship, and the pressures we put upon ourselves daily.
Maroulis tackles the delicate subject of eating disorders with a realistic pen, all while maintaining a humorous and hopeful tone. WITHIN AND WITHOUT will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”
—Samantha Joyce, author of Flirting with Fame
“A heartfelt and moving story of friendship, first love, and finding yourself. Maroulis isn’t afraid to tackle tough topics to show that finding love requires learning to love yourself.”
—Kelly deVos, author of Fat Girl on a Plane
The boy I’ve secretly loved for the last three years is parking in Granny’s driveway. The tires of his blue 4x4 roll to a stop, and warbled song lyrics promising a good time boom over the vineyards.
Dear fashion gods, now would be the perfect time to send me something flowy and flattering.
I sink into the porch swing as my heart matches the thump of the beat echoing against the wrap-around porch. I suck in my gut and lift my heels so my legs won’t smoosh against the bench—a trick I learned to instantly look a size smaller. My hands smooth over my jeans in the hopes the fashion gods might reconsider.
Again, no such luck.
The driver’s door swings open, and Jay leaps to the ground, sauntering up the graveled driveway to the porch. To me. Now all that’s separating us is a white picket fence and sixteen years of my inability to be normal in a social setting.
I’ll take Dying Alone for $200, Alex.
He’s abandoned his usual work boots and flannel for a tank top and canvas slip-ons. He’s obviously not supposed to be working—so what’s he here for? Probably been in town with his friends doing friend-ish things. As he works the gate latch, the muscles under his fair skin flex, sending the hundred-degree temperature up another ten. He’s easily the most attractive being on the planet I wish I had the nerve to talk to. I did try once. But we don’t discuss The Dark Days.
You can request Within and Without by Deborah Maroulis for review on NetGalley HERE!
You can also sign up to take part in the blog tour in May 2019 HERE!
Congratulations! You've been querying for what feels like forever, had bites here and there with partial and full manuscript requests, and finally an agent wants to talk. WHAT A FEELING! Celebrate it.
To be fair, you've worked so hard to get to this point, dealing with rejections and set backs and your beautiful little word baby being picked apart, so why wouldn't this day come? You persevered through it all. But now comes a whole new part of the process. An agent wants to talk. On the phone. About you and your book. HOLY PENCILS.
They might be calling to offer you an R&R (revise and resubmit) so definitely prepare for that outcome. But, this blog is more focused on the agent offering you representation -- the dream!
If you're on Twitter, or really actively involved in the writing community in any capacity, you'll know that this doesn't always have the best conversations surrounding it. We've all heard of dodgy agents doing dodgy dealings, as well as writers leaving their agents and agents dumping their writers. I have to assume at this point, that of receiving THE CALL, you've already done plenty of research on all the agents you've queried -- looked at their sales and the other clients they represent, or if they're new, the agency they're with or their previous experience. I'm not going to lecture you on this but I do also know the excitement and that almost desperation deep within to get an agent, so do make sure you research before querying.
But now you enter new territory (or maybe not) and suddenly you're having to think about next steps. My advice now, is to break your questioning down into three topics and make a note of the specific questions that are most important to you prior to having THE CALL.
You are interviewing the agent as much as they are interviewing you. Be professional, be polite, be courteous. But at the same time be relaxed and let the conversation flow. Keep your list of questions handy so you can refer to them as the call rolls forward, ticking off what you've already discussed so you can easily find anything that's outstanding. Everybody wants something different in an agent and every agent is different. The only way to find out if you and this agent are a good fit is through asking the right questions.
Here's a list of sample questions to add to your list. Of course, adapt them to suit your needs and you may indeed have more specific questions that relate to you - e.g. You're also an artist - will they submit your artwork with the written product as well? You were with an agent before who submitted this project to a handful of editors, is that a problem?
TOPIC 1: YOUR BOOK
What did they like about your book?
What changes, if any do they recommend?
How will edits happen - one pass or more?
What if you don't agree with their edits - are they up for discussion?
Will they edit the manuscript or will they use an intern/assistant?
Do they have a timeline or deadlines with the revision schedule?
TOPIC 2: THE SUBMISSION PROCESS
Where do they intend to submit the manuscript?
Do you get to see the pitch letter and list of editors submitted?
How often will they update you on editor responses?
When do they plan to chase the editors for responses?
How many submission rounds will there be?
Will each submission round be small - less than 10 editors per round?
Is it possible they might suggest further revisions after so many rejections?
If it's nothing but rejections, when and how will they decide to shelve this manuscript?
Do they submit more than one manuscript at a time?
Do they only submit to big publishing houses or to smaller presses as well?
TOPIC 3: THE FUTURE
Are they representing this book only or all your literary works?
What happens if multiple books don't sell - will they let you go?
Have they parted ways with other clients in the past - why?
What if you write a different genre/category to this book, will they represent those projects as well?
If you write a future book they don't love, will they still submit it to editors?
How editorial are they?
Will they help with brainstorming or do they prefer you to only send in finished and polished projects?
When you send them a new manuscript, what's their turnaround reading time?
Are they happy to offer you emotional support or are they more of a business-only partner?
Will they guide you with your author platform and social media presence as well?
Other points to consider:
Ask them if you may speak to some of their other clients for more insight. AND DO THIS.
When you have a contract, get some advice on it from a more knowledgeable source.
Ask them if they can give you two weeks to think about it so you can chase up other agents with the manuscript and do some further career checks.
If they say no or seem cagey about any of your questions and requests, file this as a red flag.
YOU CAN SAY NO TO THEIR OFFER.
No one will judge you if you choose not to accept the offer. NO ONE. And if they do they are more fool than you. Trusting your gut instinct is underrated so you have to get a feeling. Say it with me: NO AGENT IS BETTER THAN A BAD AGENT. Not all agent/author relationships work out and this can be devastating. It's sometimes impossible to predict if this will happen. True, some authors find out their needs later on in the process, after they've signed a contract, so signing on that dotted line always carries some degree of risk. But, if you've done your homework and asked all the questions you can, then be confident and CELEBRATE THE NOW!
Good luck, and feel free to DM me for a chat anytime.
Also, if there are any other questions you think I should add to the lists above, leave them in the comments below for other readers to see.
Thank you for reading!
I have my fair share of bullies. I’m not talking about the kids who called me names, spread ugly lies, and took every chance to make fun of me at school. I’m talking about the mean-spirited voice I often hear in my head. This voice tries to scare me into inaction based on its negative comments. It tells me untruths such as, “You’re not good enough, clever enough, or even deserving enough to produce a decent piece of writing.” Most writers call this voice writer’s block. I call it my inner bully.
Inner bullies aren’t real but they can nonetheless hinder us from taking chances, grabbing opportunities, and fulfilling our writing goals. So I thought I would share a few tips on how to beat the inner bullies/writer’s block and move on to achieving a more rewarding writing experience:
The first step to getting rid of your inner bully is learning to recognize its voice. When your thoughts are negative, limiting, or self-sabotaging, it’s most likely your bully talking.
When you can, write down the negative statements your bully is making. The good news is that bullies aren’t very creative, so they will often use the same “catch phrases” repeatedly. That’s why keeping a written record of them helps. You’ll recognize the “catch phrase” and be better equipped to reject its message.
Each time you hear a negative statement, ask yourself, “Is this absolutely true?” Bullies are convinced that their view is the undeniable truth. You don’t have to prove them wrong. All you have to do is question the veracity of their statement, which will slow down their momentum and put you back in the driver’s seat, writing at full speed again.
These are three very simple but quite effective tools to help you banish your inner bully. In time, it will become easier to recognize and silence your bully. You will also notice that when it does pop up, it won’t have the same incapacitating effect on you as it once had. Believe me, I speak from experience.
The world of publishing is no bed of roses. Try to remember what you’ve accomplished. Even if you’ve never been published, you’ve written something that is important and meaningful to you. If it matters to you, that’s an accomplishment. So, don’t forget to give yourself the praise you deserve! And, remember, a professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
I'm not quitting. I'm still a very much an unheard of author. But I keep writing. My motto is, "Think big, start small, and keep going."
CALLING ALL TEENAGERS!
CALLING ALL TEENAGERS!
CALLING ALL TEENAGERS!
TeenPit is a contest created to showcase teen writing prowess and help teen writers improve their craft! How do you enter? It’s easy:
Here are the rules:
Here’s the Schedule:
March 31: Mentor reveal day. Mentors talk about what they would like to mentor in a short bio.
April 5: Submission day! From 5 PM EST until 5 PM EST on April 6th, teens between the ages of 13 and 19 will submit the first page of their manuscripts, up to 250 words and a short (no more than 50 word pitch) about their books. Include name, age, grade, genre, word count, and if the book is complete or a work in progress. We will cap the number of entries at 200. We will notify via Twitter and on this website when we reach capacity.
April 7-10: First round: Judges select top entries (according to number of mentors).
April 10 (5 PM): Finalists and mentor pairings are announced. Mentors will assist mentees with preparing short bios to go up on blog.
April 10-21: Mentors work with mentees on revisions.
April 22: Second round: Resubmit revised pages.
April 22-25: Judges review new pages, and pick the top entries.
April 26: The Reveal! Top three entries are posted up on blog.
Get your pages ready! It’s your turn to shine!
It is with great pleasure, today, that I get to help out my lovely friend Kristy Fairlamb with the reveal of her super dooper amazing cover! LUCID is one heck of a fantastic YA novel for supernatural thriller fans. It's edgy and different and a super intense read. You will love it. All the details you need are below. So, here it comes...
by Kristy Fairlamb
Genre: YA Supernatural Thriller
Release Date: April 23rd 2019
A Terrifying Power. A Horrifying Curse.
Lucy Piper lives a lonely existence on the precipice between life and death. She possesses the horrifying ability to resurrect real-life tragic events in her nightmares, reliving over and over, as if she were there, the last few moments before the victim takes their final breath. Car accidents, drownings, plane crashes – Lucy has seen it all. No one understands what it’s like living death by night and fearing sleep by day.
When Tyler Sims and his family move to town to escape past traumas, Lucy is drawn to him. The two of them are linked through their dreams, and with Tyler’s trust and friendship, hope for a brighter future returns to Lucy’s world. But Tyler’s presence awakens something else in Lucy, and now she will be forced to make impossible decisions. Decisions that will change history, and the future.
Chilling, haunting and compelling, this novel is the first in a two-part series for fans of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Hidden Memory of Objects that will leave you breathless for days.
WOOHOO! HAPPY NEW YEAR, READERS! I can't believe it's 2019 and I'm already here with my first blog of the year. And it's a cracker.
I'd like to welcome my client Laurie Bell who has such an important message for all the writers out there losing faith and wondering why they should keep persevering. Because it totally pays off in the end!
NEVER GIVE UP!
It’s a funny thing about your first. You remember it fondly, or maybe you wish you could forget it. You want to fix it, change it, make it work. You can't let it go.
I wish I could quit you, first book.
No, actually I don't. I want it around for ever. 😊
I wrote White Fire back in high school. It was that story I was busting to tell, because it was a story I was desperate to read. Up until then, I’d written many, many short pieces. I had notebooks full of scribblings. I even teamed up with school friends to write books together, but White Fire (once known as "the title that shall not be named") was MY story. My novel. My first real piece. And I was proud of it. So proud. A story about Toni... the female police/bounty hunter version of Han Solo. A cool science fiction story with a strong, independent, wiseass character... the female James Bond that I wanted to read about as a kid. The Princess Leia, who was the focus of the story not the female sidekick. (Back before she was a General and totally kick-ass in her own right. No, let’s be honest. Leia was ALWAYS kickass.) My Toni WAS the hero of my story (though back then she also had a different name.) She had a robot companion and a snarky AI. She was a spaceship pilot. She was in control – sort of. She beat up the bad guys and saved the universe, all while being thwarted/annoyed/reluctantly assisted by the "not-love-interest" Dan and still found a way to wind up her grumpy boss, Antonio.
I wanted everyone to read it and in my youthful exuberance, did manage to cajole, bribe and force many a friend and family member into reading it. And I love them all to bits because they told me they enjoyed it! Ha ha. Then real life happened, and I put it away. I remembered it fondly as MY FIRST BOOK. A youthful experiment, but I had a real job now and dreams of being a writer faded with my memories of Toni kicking ass.
In the intervening years I continued to write here and there. I wrote another book only reaching the half way mark before STUFF got in the way. I kept up with my short pieces, I wrote a blog, I wrote fan fiction. I joined a weekly prompt writing group called Friday Fictioneers (some of the best people and writers I have "virtually" met.) I kept a pinkie finger in the writing world, but I didn't take any of it seriously.
Eight years ago, through a conversation with a friend, I decided to actually try my hand at this writing thing seriously. Work was work but it wasn't my passion. Writing was when I felt alive. Creating worlds and people and awesome action sequences... that was what I loved. I finished the SECOND book and wrote a THIRD (now published as The Butterfly Stone – read it now!). But in the back of my mind, I always came back to THE ONE. My first book. The book I loved.
I got it out, reread it and BOY did my memory turn it into something it was not. It was okay, it was good... it wasn't great. It was a fun, silly read but I wasn't happy with it anymore.
I could (and had) done better since. My heart wanted to fix it.
I rewrote that baby. I thought it was great. I sent it off for assessment and...
Okay, so maybe it still needed work.
I rewrote again, (based on the learning I had undertaken with my newer books). I had multiple POV, I had action scenes, I had drama, I had a solid plot... but... meh.
I got myself a mentor, and I rewrote that sucker again. And again.
I entered a competition, I joined a writing group and twitter. I rewrote again. I entered a 6-month online workshop where I met THE BEST PEOPLE, and rewrote my baby again. Now, my baby had two parts, a cool intro, lots of emotion and an awesome ending.
I started to query it with agents and publishers, I found myself some amazing beta readers, and trusted CPs and still, I couldn't let my baby go.
I did put her away for a while and concentrated on my new works. And things started to happen. The Butterfly Stone became a reality. (Out now, really... go get a copy!)
But my baby was still there, waiting for me, calling me, tempting me. ("We can be so good together!")
So out she came again.
I sent her off for a new assessment, this time with the lovely Kate Foster. And when her assessment came back I was able to read it with fresh eyes. Kate pointed out the things I'd been unable to admit to myself because I loved my characters so much... I was TOO close to them. I thought they all needed a voice. Kate suggested options. Oh, how I love a person who provides options. And examples! Options and examples. Go back to a solo POV. Concentrate on Toni's story. Understand show don't tell. Focus on the story I wanted to tell.
Holy heck, did I have a lot to learn! - And still do. Let’s face it, the journey is not over, I still have a lot to learn and I am loving every little bit of the journey.
It was that old light bulb moment. I rewrote again... this time with purpose. I found a project manager to sort me out (thank you, Joel Naoum) and an editor I adore (the glorious Libby Turner.) And here we are. White Fire. Out Jan 14, 2019. At last I feel like I can let my baby go. It's been a 22-year journey. And perhaps I am a little crazy. Too stubborn to just let old dogs lie... persistent in the face of death... perhaps I should have just hidden it away as a failed first attempt and never thought of it again.... BUT…
I think, if you are truly proud of something, and are willing to put in the work, and the time, and learn about the craft, and yourself and spend a bit of money – oh dear god so much money... (and rework, and rework, and oh my god, Laurie, just let it go! No no, I can't, I love you little book. I'm in it for the long haul... Damnit.) You don’t know what you don’t know. I needed fresh eyes. I needed honesty. I needed to take a good long hard look at myself and realise, at the end of the day, after all the assessments, and CP reads and friends and family, only I could do this.
White Fire is at last a reality. She's a fun old thing full of action and adventure and my silly sense of humour. She's my dream. She's a little bit crazy. A wild ride. She's a fighter. And so is Toni.
And she'll be back. (Well... I'm writing a sequel. It seems Toni still has stories to tell.)
White Fire is out January 14, 2019. You can get it at most online outlets, either in print or ebook, or from me direct. If you read it and enjoy it, I'd love a review. Talk about it, share it. I love to talk so hit me up for a blog interview or author interview or a school visit. If you want to write a book. Write a damned book. And then find someone to love it as much as you do.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!