Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday WOLF... And a Giveaway!

I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF (oh, how clever is she? She made an acronym out of her agency's name!) Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

Yes, I'm still giving away books from BEA as I read them. My TBR pile still seems to be growing though. It's like mold. But before you scroll down to get all grabby-eyed on the giveaway, treat your brain with some word history.

Here's one that I confess I didn't really understand until quite recently.

Have you ever heard someone referred to as a Luddite? I have, more than once (it happens when you work in the public school system), but I was always too embarrassed to ask what the hell that meant, because I'm the person who's already supposed to know that stuff.

A Luddite is someone who resists technology. So, for example, anybody who won't use a microwave or refuses to get online because the devil is in the url. But where does this come from?

With the industrial revolution came some great problems, and one of them was mechanized weaving looms. Textile workers were not allowed to unionize, but what they did do was organize protests, claiming that everything was being orchestrated by a mythical dude named General Ludd. During these protests mechanized looms were smashed as an expression of the worker's anger at a machine taking over their job. The followers of the non-existing Ludd were referred to as Luddites, and the term stuck.

Unfortunately for them so did technology.

And today's giveaway.... an ARC of BZRK RELOADED by Michael Grant!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

YA Author Brandy Colbert Talks About the Cover For POINTE

Today's guest for the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) is fellow Friday the Thirteener Brandy Colbert. Brandy has worked worked at a big-box hardware retailer, as a magazine editor for various consumer and trade magazines, and as a business editor for a boutique investment banking firm. She tap dances and is an avid fan of Degrassi, the Flintstones, Louis C.K., and Hello Kitty. Brandy is represented by Tina Wexler at ICM Partners. Her debut title, POINTE, will be available from Penguin, April 10th, 2014.

Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse

Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?

I did! A long time before the cover was conceptualized, my editor and I were casually discussing what we wanted it to look like. She mentioned bloody pointe shoes (“Can you imagine? A pair of pointe shoes, just sitting in a pool of blood!”), and that image sort of stuck in my mind all the months I was revising. 

How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?

I was never part of any official discussions, but about eight months after my book sold, my editor told me they’d started to talk about the cover in-house, and she asked for any photos I might have to give an idea of what I was thinking. I sent over a couple of ballet pictures I’d seen on Tumblr, as well as a photo of the gorgeous Misty Copeland in a tulle skirt on a fire escape, which I still very much think captures the tone of my book.

Did you have any input on your cover?

Besides the conversation and email I just mentioned, none. Once it was in the process of being designed, my editor asked if I wanted to see cover comps or if I preferred to wait until the cover had been approved by sales and marketing. I don’t like to get my hopes up and I trusted they knew what they were doing (have you seen Putnam’s covers? I knew I was in very, very good hands), so I told her I wanted to wait to see the approved version.

How was your cover revealed to you?

My editor—the amazing Ari Lewin—called one morning just before I was headed out to run some errands. I thought she was calling to tell me revision notes would be landing in my inbox, and it took me a minute to realize it was about the cover. I made a weird noise and babbled incoherently as I waited for my computer to boot up, then I opened the file and gasped. I squeaked out how much I loved it and we both got a little teary and I’m pretty sure I ceased to do anything else productive for the rest of the week. It was such a great moment in an otherwise totally normal day, and I’m so glad it was a surprise.

Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?

Yes! I revealed the cover, synopsis, and release date on YA Highway around the end of June, so just a little over a month ago.

How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?

I saw the cover at the end of April and revealed it two months later, so not too far in advance.

Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?

Well, I may have shared it with a few close friends and my immediate family, which made it a little easier to not splash the image all over the Internet. But it was hard. Total love at first sight and I wanted to share with anyone and everyone. 

What surprised you most about the process?

Honestly, I think I was most surprised at how chill I remained. I knew that as a debut author, I wouldn’t have much input, but I had friends who’d contributed ideas or suggestions through the evolution of their covers, and I started to wonder if I should have tried to get more involved. But ultimately, I 100% trusted my editor because she has great taste, and I knew she cared too much about my book to let it end up with a cover that was whitewashed or didn’t fit the story.

Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?

Try to relax and trust that your publisher will get it right. If you have experience in art or design, I’d definitely suggest letting your editor know. Otherwise, for me it was best to sit back and let them do their thing. And luckily, I ended up with a cover I adore that truly could not be any more perfect for my book. It’s even better than bloody pointe shoes!

Monday, July 29, 2013

How To Meet Awesome Critique Partners (And Keep Them)

I've talked quite a bit on the blog about my journey to publication, but I'll do a quick summation. I had been writing - and failing - for about a decade before landing Adriann Ranta as my literary agent. After that, I was on submission with NOT A DROP TO DRINK for a solid six months before getting picked up after a whirlwind auction. I was still rather stunned about my change of fortune - and honestly, still am.

Quite a few people have asked me why it took so long for me to get published. Even in this self-confidence-slaying business, ten years is a pretty long haul to seeing my name in print. And honestly, I don't mind it when people ask why my journey was such a long one because it gives me a chance to lay it all out for anybody else who might be making the same mistakes I did.

And my biggest one was that I didn't want to listen to anybody.

Obviously, I was a genius. Obviously, I deserved to be published. Obviously, my book was the best thing that ever happened. Obviously, anyone who didn't realize that was an idiot. Obviously, I had never had anyone else read my stuff because it needed to go straight to the biggest editor at the biggest publishing house, and then straight to press.

And obviously... I was an idiot.

I truly did write a book and not even edit it, or show it to anyone else for their advice. I just wrote an incredibly bad query and started sending it out. I was rejected - with good reason - left and right, and I bemoaned the state of the publishing industry and their inability to recognize my talent.

All of that could've been avoided if I'd found a good crit partner, listened to their advice, and begun to grow exponentially as a writer as a direct result. But because I was convinced I was a genius and terrified someone would steal my incredibly original idea (it wasn't), I never took that step. And that's the reason why I failed (miserably) for a good long while.

So the first piece of advice I give anyone who asks me for it, is to find a good crit partner, which is immediately followed up by, "How?"

I found both of my CP's (RC Lewis and MarcyKate Connolly) by using a writing community called AgentQuery Connect. I am very attached to AQC, as it is a positive and helpful (not to mention free) environment. But there are plenty of other great writing sites to meet CP's at, and I encourage everyone who has met their significant writing others online to share where in the comments.

Granted, it wasn't love at first sight. I met RC and MK fairly early on in the forums, but we didn't actually start exchanging manuscripts with each other regularly until we'd been on the boards with each other for a year or so, if I remember correctly. I have had other CP's that had come and gone - some more or less helpful than others - before I met these two and we became the wood glue in each other's fiber board.

I want to hit on the fact that it wasn't easy, and that I didn't find true love right off the bat. I know a lot of people get discouraged after a few bad (or just less than helpful) experiences, but you can't give up on finding a CP because of a few bad apples. Finding a great CP is just like dating - there are going to be some clunkers before you're all, "Marry me!"

And once you've found someone that is a good fit for you? Again, it's not that different from dating.

  • Support your CP. They're entering a pitch contest and need you to look over something in the next few hours in order for them to hit the deadline? Do it. You'll be in the same situation one day.
  • Reciprocate for your CP. They leave detailed comments in your ms, along with their reactions as a reader and thoughts as a writer. Don't reward their hard work on your behalf by responding to their ms with, "Speed up the middle, Make the mom more likable, and shave off half your dialogue tags."
  • Listen to your CP. So they aren't relating to your MC? Well, damn them! Wait a second... you trust this person's judgement. And maybe one of the reasons you have an insta-flare of protective writer ego is because deep down, you know they're right.
  • Realize your CP is human. Which means they're not always right. In the end it is your ms, and if they think something should be phrased differently or they don't like a particular piece of dialogue, definitely consider their opinion. But that doesn't mean you have to always agree. Trust me, my CP's and I read draft after draft of each other's work, and we do see when one hasn't taken the other's advice on the little stuff -- and it doesn't matter. 
  • Respect your CP. Don't send them your 120k first draft and ask them to find all the problems for you. Always edit before you hand anything off to your CP. It's not their job to catch your mistakes - it's their job to catch the ones you missed in edits.
  • Value your CP's time. Likewise, if you shaved a few dialogue tags and sliced an unnecessary word here or there, don't send your CP your entire ms and ask them to re-read and give you their thoughts. Only ask for an entire draft overview if you are re-shaping plot, changing character motivations, or making other big changes. Later on in the relationship you may make smaller changes and ask for an overall read - at their discretion - but don't throw this at their heads right away. It'd be like being married for two days and suddenly demanding five children, right now.

There are other Do's and Don'ts in the CP relationship world, but these are the biggest ones I can think of off the top of my head. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Talk - CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won't find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could've been better or what worked or didn't work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it's here I probably think it won't injure your brain if you read it.

Andrew Winston Winters shuts everyone out at his private boarding school. Prone to long walks and solitude, his is the first name that comes up when a dead body is found in a stream on a remote part of the grounds. Having alienated his roommate and best friend long ago, Win has few defenders... maybe not even himself.

He can't deny that there have been moments in his past when he lost control. His violent impulses set him apart when he was younger, but his older brother was always there to shield him... until one day he wasn't. A family tragedy landed Win in the Vermont boarding school where he was supposed to find time to heal. But he can't begin to heal until he admits the truth about what caused the original wound.

With his mind breaking and his sanity slipping, Win takes a chance on friendship with a new girl at the school. Rediscovering what it's like to be cared about takes him closer to the truth, and one night in the woods after a party will bring him face to face with the truth of his past - whether he is able to cope with it or not.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Giveaway! Giveaway! Me! Me! Me!

Obviously I've been cleaning house this summer and giving away a bunch of ARCs. It's been fun, and I think I've made some people happy. The newest giveaway has nothing to do with cleaning my house. I kind of got bored with that.

Many of you know that my short stories are available in anthologies from Elephant's Bookshelf Press. The latest release once again features something from me, a little story called "Anesthetic." If you think you'd like to give it a shot, slide over to Goodreads to enter to win one of ten copies, or use the widget in the right side bar.

Good luck!

Book two of the Summer's Edge short story anthology--because not all relationships are meant to last.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An SAT With CHARM & STRANGE Author Stephanie Kuehn

Today's guest for the SAT is fellow Class of 2k13 member Stephanie Kuehn. I had the pleasure of rooming with Stephanie (and Debra Driza and Kate Karyus Quinn - it was a blast!) at ALA 2013, but more importantly, I've also had the pleasure of reading her book. CHARM & STRANGE is what Steph calls her "dark little book." It's a mind-bender. I tweeted her after I finished it because I am convinced she's much, much smarter than she lets on. It's an amazing read that I encourage everyone with an interest in literary YA to pick up - look for my Book Talk on Friday if you want to know more about it!

Are you a Planner or Pantster?

I think I am a bit of both. I’m not someone who sits and outlines every detail before I get started. If I have an idea and I have an itch to write it, I’ll start writing. But at some point, I’ll pull back and try and summarize where I’m going with it and what the major themes and arcs are. 

How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?

It has varied greatly for me. But I usually anticipate it will take a few months to write a solid first draft. 

Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?

I used to only work on one project at a time, but I’ve learned how to multi task. Learning how to set something aside and come back to it, is definitely an acquired skill for me, but I am working on it!

Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?

Yes. I am very self-conscious person, and even though when I first began writing I wasn’t thinking about publication or ever showing anybody what I was doing, I still felt uncomfortable and exposed.

How many trunked books did you have before you were agented?

CHARM & STRANGE was my fifth full novel.

Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?

Yes, I have quit and moved on to other projects. I think I have to love something to keep working on it. I don’t have to love it in its current form, but I have to love what I’m saying or how I’m saying it, and if that passion isn’t there, I will put it aside.

Querying and Agent Hunt Process:
Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?  

My agent is Michael Bourret of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. I am so very fortunate to be working with him. I connected with him by sending a query to someone else at his agency, who passed it on to him—something I am so very grateful for! As to how I got a yes out of him, I have no idea. I suppose I had a polished novel, and one that was unique. I also think my novel fit his particular taste, which was probably the more important factor.

How long did you query before landing your agent?  

It took about two months and a half months of querying.

Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?

Be patient and be willing to wait for the right agent. It is worth it.

On Being Published:
How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?

Very surreal! It’s still surreal. In some ways I feel disconnected from the actual product…the story is something from inside my mind, an abstraction, but all the rest of the work that went into making it an actual physical book, well, I had nothing to do with that. The book is beautiful to see and hold and read, but my sense of ownership really only extends to the characters and the story.

How much input do you have on cover art?

I was able to give a little bit of input on the design, but it’s the designer, Kerri Resnick, who came up with the amazing cover. 

What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?

I learned how far I could push myself with revisions.

Social Networking and Marketing:
How much of your own marketing do you?  Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?

I have a social media presence, but I don’t do very much direct marketing. I’m involved in YA Highway, which is a group blog that has allowed me to connect with other authors and people in publishing. I’m obviously a part of the Class of 2k13, which is a small group of debut authors who work together on marketing. I’m most often on Twitter, but I don’t think of it as a marketing tool as much as I do a social networking one. 

When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?

I am not very marketing minded. I do think authors should have some social media presence, if only to connect with other authors and publishing folks, so that they have a handle on what the industry climate is, and to not feel alone in the whole process. But I have very limited time and my efforts are usually best spent writing.

Do you think social media helps build your readership?

I’m not sure. I think a good book and marketing on the level that a publisher can do, is what matters most. I also think social media in the form of word-of-mouth from readers to other readers can build interest, but that doesn’t involve the author. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Are Contests Worth It?

We all know there's more than one way to put yourself in front of an agent. Queries, conferences, and referrals are all possible doors to representation. And then there's the c-word.


Contests with agent participants vying for queries, partials and fulls from the entrants are sexier than the tried and true methods. I think it's our form of reality television, with high stakes and even higher refresh rates. Bloggers that host contests featuring high quality agents can expect a traffic boost, and a bevy of writers grateful to them for the chance to put themselves in front of an agent... but the rest of the world is watching too.

So is it worth it?

Personally, I think you have to have even thicker skin than the average querier to throw yourself into this particular ring. Some contests have anonymous entries, but if you've been around publishing long enough you know exactly how insular this community is. Writing communities are vital to most writer's success, but that also means that your anonymous entry in Contest #342 isn't so anonymous. After all, you've been flogging that book around for the last six months.

I think that's the kicker for a lot of people - public humiliation. A few years ago I had an "I Will If You Will" agreement with a CP and we both tossed our hats into the ring of a highly trafficked, much-anticipated annual contest. I walked away with eight total requests, two of them being fulls. My CP... had zero. The experience not only soured her on contests, but was a pretty rough kick in the self-confidence for her as well.

Now, I want to follow this up by saying that my apparent victories amounted to nothing. My partial requests fizzled into passes, and my fulls fell into a hole. All the requesting agents were very nice, professional people, but I ended up having to nudge them when I received an offer of representation... on a different project six months later. I don't want this to be perceived as a criticism of agents, because it's not. I have one, and I love her. However, I think we're all human, and sometimes we get caught up in a moment where excitement gets the better of us. Ask anyone who ever overpaid for something on eBay as the auction closed.

And my CP?

I gave her a bit of a prod and a pep-talk and would have resorted to flat goading and bullying if she hadn't pulled herself up off the ground and entered a contest yet again. Which she did. With a bright new ms to bolster her confidence, she threw herself headlong into the melee of the very same contest that had punched her in the brain the year before and... zero requests.

She wasn't anxious to enter another contest anytime soon, but a year after that she had a new ms with an amazing hook. Another big contest was on the horizon and she knew her concept was strong, her writing solid, and her hook... well her hook was contest fodder like manure is a fertilizer. She somewhat reluctantly entered and was accepted. Her entry was posted and shortly thereafter she received a request for a full from an agent not even participating in the contest who had been cruising the entries. She received seven full requests from participating agents, which turned into five offers of representation. Ahem. Yes, you read that right.

She's represented by Jennifer Laughran now.

My other CP is one that needs no prodding to enter a contest. She's a veritable encyclopedia of contest names, hosts, and timeframes. She's the first to tell anyone that contests are definitely worth it, and that putting yourself out there can turn into a fantastic experience. She's played the contest game to the max, receiving fourteen requests for one manuscript over the course of a few different contests, three of whom were cruising agents who contacted her through her website after seeing her entry.

Those numbers definitely sound good, but that particular ms wasn't the one that landed her in the sweet spot. She ended up shelving it and entering something new and fresh in a highly-trafficked contest from which she garnered eight full requests, two from agents who were cruising the entries and not officially involved in the contest. She was offered representation by three of these agents.

She's represented by Suzie Townsend now.

And me? I landed Adriann Ranta through the good old-fashioned query path, but I admit that contests do make my tin-can heart rattle a little faster. So I decided to host one. The PAPfest (yes, it says that) had its first run this past February, and there may be another PAP in your future (they are annual, you know). Two of our participants secured representation, one from a participating agent and one through a cruiser.

In the end, I think the question isn't "Are Contests Worth It?" but, "Are Contests Right For Me?" Contests can be nerve-wracking and downright embarrassing, but they can also bring elation, and a boost of self-confidence, even if you don't secure representation at the end of the day. If you think this sounds like your kind of pony ride, check out some the contests linked below. Most of them aren't active at the moment, but you can learn about them now and have something ready when the time comes.

An Agent's Inbox
Baker's Dozen
Christmas in July
Get Your Pitch On
Secret Agent
The Writer's Voice

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Talk - BRUISED by Sarah Skilton

My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won't find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could've been better or what worked or didn't work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it's here I probably think it won't injure your brain if you read it.

When a gunman walks into a diner where she's grabbing a bite, black belt Imogen knows exactly what to do... except she doesn't do it. Cramming herself under a table and locking eyes with the only other customer is the last thing she remembers, but it wasn't the last thing that happened. It couldn't be, because when the police killed the gunman she ended up covered in his blood.

Being a black belt has shaped her whole life. Imogen has always prided herself on her strength, her integrity, and how she exemplifies the Tae Kwon Do way of life in her everyday behavior. Except now she hasn't, and everyone at school is questioning the point of having a black belt if she hides under a table in a holdup.

Worse, Imogen is questioning it too. Through sessions at school meant to help herself and Ricky, the other survivor, cope with the shooting, Imogen realizes she needs to prove herself. And the only way to do that is to get in another fight. Walking alone late at night and wandering through town never delivers what she wants... but she's hoping Ricky will.

She offers to teach him how to fight, and her garage becomes their training room. But even as their relationship deepens, she knows he's always holding back. He won't really fight her because she's a girl, which only infuriates her more.

Imogen's self-control spirals away from her as the trauma of the killing in the diner burrows deeper. Her family and friends - together with Ricky - try to make Imogen understand what happened in the diner that night, before she loses sight of who she really is.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Thoughts & Another Giveaway

Just an FYI - I'm on the Dystopian Domination 4 blog tour today talking about humanity in survival situations... would you kill to survive?

Thoughts lately...

1) I went to see World War Z, and I admit that I actually kind of liked it. However, I have to point out that the character of Brad Pitt's wife had two main purposes - to be almost raped, and to make a badly timed phone call. After that all she got to do was stare at a phone longingly and make beds.

2) Walking on the beach repeatedly gives you a free pedicure. It's hard to enjoy that though once you realize how much of the beach is probably composed of other people's dead skin cells.

3) When it's really hot, people always ask me, "Is it hot enough for ya?" Sometimes I wonder if this is their way of saying they believe I'm going to hell. Then I wonder if having that thought at all is a reflection of my own paranoia. Then I eat ice cream.

And today's giveaway -- an ARC of THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater, #2 in The Raven Cycle series.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday WOLF & Another Giveaway!

It's time for more word history, but there's an incentive for you to plow through my possibly tedious nuggets of wisdom -- I'm doing a giveaway!

Here's the thing, we all claim there's no such thing as too many books. In theory, I agree. In practice, my cat likes to pee on plastic covers and I'm out of bookshelf space. ALA was a good time, but the TBR pile has doubled in size and it was just barely out of The Pee Zone as it was. So, it's time to part with some of the books I've been stacking right next to the TBR pile - the ABR (Already Been Read) pile. Scroll down to see what flavor of awesome I'm giving away today, and keep checking in all week and into next week as I filter through the mess that is my bedroom.

So - it's 100 degrees in Ohio today. I endured three softball games yesterday in a similarly-weather-themed-situation and I told someone I was sweating like a pig. Then my brain said, "Um, hey Mindy - pigs don't actually sweat." This is true - ask any farm girl. So where the hell did we get the saying sweat like a pig?

Turns out it has approximately jack crap to do with pigs. Instead, we get it from ye old iron works. Crude iron was referred to as pig iron, and when it had cooled enough to be safely malleable it would sweat, indicating to the smelter that it was time to get to work.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Heck, I Think I'll Just Become An Indie Publisher... A Conversation with Matt Sinclair & A New Release From Me

When I joined the writing site AgentQuery Connect years ago, it changed the way I thought about the publishing process. Before I became active there, I thought talent was all it took and homework was for the less adventurous. That's probably why it took me ten years to finally get an agent. A lot of the people I met there are now good friends, as well as fellow published MG and YA authors like RC Lewis and MarcyKate Connolly. But there have been other successes too, not the least being our friend Matt Sinclair establishing his own independent press, Elephant's Bookshelf Press.

EBP has given some much-deserved exposure to unpublished writers, and I've found it to be a wonderful outlet for my short stories. As Matt discusses below, short story anthologies from relative unknowns are pretty hard to come by because they're a risk for the publisher. Thanks to EBP, I've been able to see some of my shorts in print - "First Kiss" was the anchor story in SPRING FEVERS, my one-act play "Disconnect" was featured in THE FALL: TALES FROM THE APOCALYPSE, and if you care for a bit more Mindy you can find it in EBP's newest release, SUMMER'S DOUBLE EDGE, under the title "Anesthetic."

To celebrate the new release of a dual-anthology, I thought I'd invite Matt onto the blog to talk about taking the big step into establishing his own press.

Starting your own independent press is a huge step to take. How long had you been considering doing so before you made the leap, and what factored into your decision to try your hand in the first place?

It’s kind of a chicken/egg situation. The first anthology from EBP, SPRING FEVERS, came about from discussions I’d had with Cat Woods, who is one of the many writing friends I’ve met at AgentQuery Connect, which honestly has changed my writing life. Cat and I developed the idea of an anthology. I’d long been toying with the idea of starting a literary journal or a publishing company but it seemed like an overly daunting task. After Cat and I bandied the anthology idea about, however, I realized this was my opportunity to launch a publishing company. She was supportive and I knew that there were other helpful ambitious writers at AQC, so I felt I had the type of support system I needed.

What's the process like for starting your own press?

Well, I established Elephant’s Bookshelf Press as an LLC. It’s not necessary, but it seemed like a smart way to go about it. But while I am the one who takes the financial risk, I knew it wouldn’t work without a team of talented people who can help me. We had access to talented writers starting with people we knew at AQC, but as we all learned, talented writers are only part of the process. We also needed talented editors and book and cover designers. We are fortunate to have the multitalented Calista Taylor to help design the covers, and R.C. Lewis has done wonders with the book design. We’ve had a different copy editor with each anthology so far, with Robb Grindstaff, Jean Oram, and now Laura Carlson all serving in that role. Cat and I have each copy-edited some stories by the copy editors, since they’re also writers themselves.

You're currently publishing a series of anthologies based on the seasons, with the newest dual release of SUMMER'S EDGE and SUMMER'S DOUBLE EDGE. Did anything in particular draw you to short stories as your first gig?

Shorts were the genesis of my company, and I always loved them reading them when I was in high school and college. Personally, I think they should be even more popular these days with so little time to get anything done. But they’re a tough sell, so it’s really a labor of love and not due to any one thing in particular. As we’ve developed, EBP has evolved into a cultivator of new and unknown writers. I should stop and count, but I think we have easily close to a dozen writers who’d never had any fiction published before they became EBP writers. These are talented people, including several who have agents and writing deals for their novels. So, I’m very proud to have been the initial publisher for several writers I believe will have wonderful success in this field.

You're a writer yourself. You know what it's like to get rejections. Is it hard to now be the person sending those out?

Yes, but it also can be gratifying. I’ve tried to be informative in our rejections to help the writers improve. These are people who take their writing seriously, and they deserve some feedback. That said, we discovered during the summer anthology submissions that it’s possible to have too many strong submissions. I hadn’t intended to publish two anthologies this summer. We made decisions on a rolling basis and perhaps we’ll need to revisit that for the winter anthology. Ultimately, we want the best stories out there. And as we become a more popular publisher for emerging writers, we’re going to have to send out a lot more rejection letters than we already do.

And lastly, what can we look for in the future from Elephant's Bookshelf Press?

I think we have a bright, exciting future. In the fall, we’re going to launch our first novel,WHISPERING MINDS, by A.T. O’Connor. There’s a preview of it in the summer anthologies, and it’s a huge thrill to me, because I always envisioned EBP as a publisher of novels Eventually nonfiction books, too, though that’s probably at least two years off. We’ll still publish anthologies. In fact, I need to get moving on the winter anthology almost as soon as the summer books are out. It might seem far away, but with a January or early February publication date, there’s really not much time. 

Then in the early spring, we’re going to publish our next novel, which will be a YA baseball book by Steven Carman called BATTERY BROTHERS. We intend to publish that around spring training or opening day of the 2014 baseball season. We also have a third novel in the offing, probably for May or June of 2014. That hasn’t been finalized yet, but I think it’s a go. It’s a fun middle grade mystery. Then starting either in late 2014 or early 2015, we will publish our first of a new series of anthologies. I’m holding off on some of the detail on that, but it’s a seven-anthology series that’ll be genre-specific, by which I mean, each anthology will be all one specific genre. At some point, I hope to also get my novels in shape, but I’ve been fairly focused on publishing over the past year and it’s been hard to do more than write short stories! 

Thank you Matt for coming onto the blog today, and don't forget to check out SUMMER'S EDGE and SUMMER'S DOUBLE EDGE to get in some quick, summer reads before the season is out!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Some Things That Happened At ALA... And Some Things That Didn't

Yes, I know... everyone else is totally over ALA and this post is so five minutes ago. Well, it was my first ALA and I'm not over it yet. Plus, I had a crapload of fun putting this post together so just bear with me and scroll down.

The Class of 2k13 had the first ever "Class of" panel at ALA Chicago, and I really do think it was a success. We have Polly Holyoke (THE NEPTUNE PROJECT) to thank for conceiving of the idea that a group of authors could be forward enough to send ourselves to ALA (typically publishers send their authors, and choose who goes), and then for pushing the project through to its fruitful endgame.

And what a game it was...

We wanted to offer something a little different for all the librarians who might be tired of talking about databases and Common Core Standards. So we thought - hey, librarians know stuff, and they like knowing stuff. Let's give them a chance to show off!

Our concept - each author hosted a table, decorated to fit the theme of their book. When people were seated with the author of their choice, we let them know we were not only table partners, but a team. After a quick Q&A with the entire panel we jumped into a quiz bowl, where the winning team won Super Swag Bags which contained ARCs, among other things. But, just to be sure that no one was bummed out, we made sure every attendee got a swag bag, with our bookmarks and general swag, but no ARCs. Hey, we had to make the Super Swag Bags special, right?

Oh, and we thought having Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT) host the whole thing might help draw in some people. You know, just maybe.

So I decided to share some awesome pics of my fellow Class of 2k13 members and our panel, which was a rocking good time indeed. But... as all pictures go, some of them weren't very good. In fact, some of them were downright funny (mostly those are my shots, you'll see). And, because I can't help but put a story together, I ended up making myself giggle.

And I like making other people giggle too. So, here are some things that happened at ALA... and some things that didn't.


This was our swanky room at the Chicago Hilton

Kelly Barson's table for 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) - with M&M's!

Lydia Kang's table for CONTROL. It's all precise and stuff 'cause she's a doctor.
Cristin Terril's table for ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

Geoffrey Girard's table for PROJECT CAIN. That's a genetically manipulated
serial killer baby cooking up in a test tube, in case you were wondering.

Tamera Will Wissinger's table for GONE FISHING.

Demetria Lunetta's table for IN THE AFTER - with Twinkies!

Caela Carter's beautiful table for ME, HIM, THEM, AND IT, with birth announcements.

My table for NOT A DROP TO DRINK, with water bottles. It's not M&M's or Twinkies though...

Also when you have that many water bottles sometimes you forget which one
you were actually drinking from.

A line begins to form outside our room... we were totally excited about that, by the way.

Demetria signs copies of IN THE AFTER to give away at her table. It was also
her release week, so she had more stress than the President of the Universe.

Our terrific group president, Liesl Shurtliff, signs copies of her RUMP. And no,
that joke never stops being funny to me. Hopefully she thinks so too.

Debra Driza puts together her table for MILA 2.0

Jennifer McGowan and her table for MAID OF SECRETS

Stephanie Kuehn and her table for CHARM & STRANGE.

Nicole McInnes and her table for BRIANNA ON THE BRINK.

Liesl Shurtliff stuffing swag bags for all attendees.

The line lengthens...

When we saw the amount of people outside we all got a little stressed and
started hugging each other for support. Kate Karyus Quinn and Demetria Lunetta
represent Team Black Hair, Worn Down. I am team Black Hair, Worn Up, Non-Hugging.

Liesl Shurtliff and Caela Carter for Team Nearly Blonde.

Lydia Kang and Debra Driza for Team Awesome Hair Regardless of Color.

Polly Holyoke and Tamera Will Wissinger for Team We Make Short Hair Look Good.

Geoff for Team Only Dude In The Room.

They enter...

Kelly Barson explains the upcoming trivia game to her table.
They're happy already because they have M&Ms

Demetria explains the game to her table... they're happy because they have Twinkies.

Kate talks up her table. They're happy because she's so charming.

Everyone at Lydia's table is happy because they were presented with a
geometrically pleasing pattern.

Caela's table is happy because she's frickin' adorable.

I realize my table might get antsy because all I have to offer is water and I'm not nearly
 as adorable as Caela.  So I try to impress them by showing them my karate chop move.

... And Geoff realizes he'll probably have to explain the baby thing many, many times.

Dear God, it's Veronica Roth. I may have jumped up and down and flapped
my arms like a chicken when I saw her. 

A brief Q&A with the panel. Standing: Geoffrey Girard, KA Barson, Liesl Shurtliff.
Seated: Caela Carter, Debra Driza, Polly Holyoke, Lydia Kang, Stephanie Kuehn & Demetria Lunetta.

The right side of the table. Standing: Nicole McInnes & Tamera Will Wissinger.
Seated: Mindy McGinnis, Jennifer McGowan, Kate Karyus Quinn,
Tara Sullivan & Cristin Terrill.

The panel is over, and the quiz game is afoot...

Stephanie Kuehn's table knows everything. No one checked their IQ
level at the door and this table was stacked.

I don't know many of the answers, so I just try to cock my head like a puppy and look cute.

Seriously I had no idea what was going on. I couldn't even remember
the answers to the questions I had supplied.

Deb came up with the idea of flailing with her score sheet, which was more than I had.

When the panel was over and it was time to clean up, Caela regretted the glitter.
But it looked awesome, dude. Totally awesome.

And the Class of 2k13!
Back row: Geoffrey Girard, Tara Sullivan, Kate Karyus Quinn, KA Barson, Stephanie Kuehn,
Cristin Terrill, Caela Carter, Tamera Will Wissinger and Nicole McInnes.
Front Row: Jennifer McGowan, Liesl Shurtliff, Demetria Lunetta, Polly Holyoke, Mindy McGinnis,
Debra Driza and Lydia Kang. Yes, I am wearing flip flops.