Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Louise Galveston on Second Novel Blues

Welcome to the SNOB - Second Novel Ominipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?

Today's guest is Louise Galveston, who grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. The lone girl in her neighborhood, she always got to play Princess Leia.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

In my case it wasn’t, because IN TODD WE TRUST is the sequel to BY THE GRACE OF TODD. There was, however, a lot of looking back to little details and rereading to make sure I nailed the characters’ voices. There are a LOT of characters in these books.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

My launch for book one overlapped final edits for book two. So I was piggy-backing promotion and editing. And I wasn’t sleeping much. It was tough. But I’m not going to whine. This was what I’d dreamed of and worked toward for years-only it was like having twins instead of just one book baby! Also, constantly having to focus on the sequel helped distract me from the impending launch, which had my nerves in a knot.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

I think I always kind of write for myself (especially since I mostly write humor) and hope that if it entertains me, it will put a smile on readers’ faces as well. But you’ve got to make the editor smile before it can get to them. ☺

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author? 

Time management? Balance? Let me laugh hysterically for a moment. **clears throat** Okay, I’m back. Just pretend you’re the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and you’re running behind…in everything. Seriously, though, I had to sacrifice sleep. With ten kids at home (eleven total) I’m used to less shut-eye than most people, but during crunch time, I got pretty bleary-eyed. (As in, I could hardly read during my launch party because my eyes were so tired.) Now that I’m not under so much pressure, I try to write for a couple of hours later in the evening or before breakfast. My husband takes over on Saturdays, and I cram as much drafting/editing in as I can. 

There’s also the issue of not having time (due to deadlines) to run things past a crit partner or even my husband (my first reader). Having the security net yanked out from under you like that makes you really rely on your gut. I still try to read a manuscript aloud, but there’s not always somebody around to listen at 1:30 a.m.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

My second revision notes from my editor were much lighter than in my first book, because the characters’ personalities were well established and I understood what to do as far as details (such as formatting, use of italics, etc.) Also, I had a few good reviews under my belt, and I knew what material connected with kids when I did school visits. So with all of that in my arsenal, I was definitely more confident in my writing. But being published also means that you know for certain some people just aren’t going to get or like your book. And you learn to be okay with it. That knowledge was liberating, and let me write the book as it came to me.

I tried not to allow myself to procrastinate. (One of my worst habits.) If I got stumped on a scene, I’d force myself to muscle through it, even if I knew it was going to be mostly trashed later. I also had to break the habit of editing as I go. The perfectionist in me had to surrender to the deadline. I learned how to fast draft and found I was a lot funnier when I didn’t overthink things but wrote off the cuff.

Thanks so much for the fun interview, Mindy!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in green.

In Mithos, where white magic is fueled by purity and black magic by passion, True Love is known as the Intolerable Sin. It’s the most unstable and dangerous source of magic in the world. The punishment is simple: a quick death. Oooo, this sounds pretty fascinating. 

Martia is a Love Child, the daughter of True Lovers. Raised within the walls of Siris Academy, she’s been taught to hate both True Love and herself. Now that she’s graduated, Martia is out in the real world, doing what the Academy trained her to do: assassinate those who’ve committed the Intolerable Sin. Looking good so far. 

Then she meets her True Love, Narin. Martia refuses to fall under the lulling spell of the Intolerable Sin. She knows a mere caress between True Lovers could send out a flare capable of eating through skin and bone. But Narin's kind words and gentle smiles maybe not plural for "smiles" make Martia wish she could be more than a brutal executioner. When the Academy discovers her crime, she has a choice. Follow her training and kill Narin, or give into the black magic that betrays her past and risks her future.

This is a really, really good query. I honestly don't have anything to add. Your concept is interesting and seems original. The only thing I'd consider adding is possibly stating whether your MC begins to doubt whether her crime of love is actually a sin or not. She doesn't seem to be questioning her training, just whether or not to follow it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

CLARIEL by Garth Nix ARC Giveaway

I've had an influx of ARCs lately, some of which I know I won't get to before release date, so I thought I'd see that someone else gets the thrill of reading something special to them before it's available in bookstores.

I'm plowing through my TBR pile, so stay tuned as I read and giveaway from the mountain of books by my bed. Current giveaways include 5 e-books of NOT A DROP TO DRINK and 5 Paperbacks of DRINK with bonus content, an ARC of ENDGAME: THE CALLING by James Frey, and below you'll find a giveaway for an ARC of CLARIEL by Garth Nix -- enjoy!



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Book Talk & ARC Giveaway: ENDGAME: THE CALLING by James Frey

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.

Endgame only has 12 players, each descended from the original twelve tribes of humanity. For ten-thousand years the Players have kept their identities secret, some hoping Endgame will be played during their ages of eligibility, some relieved when they age out and the Player status moves on to their child. Every player is an assassin, a codebreaker, a linguist and a liar. Each player has the ability to win Endgame, ensuring that their line of humanity inherits the Earth when the Sky People return.

Their return is heralded by 12 meteors, each one raining devastation onto the hometown of a Player, an obvious sign that Endgame has begun. A globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse ensues from Iraq to Stonehenge, with every Player determined to be the last one standing. But even the last living Player must hold all the keys in order to save their line. Uneasy alliances form, false friendships and honest relationships bloom while each Player tries to solve the clue embedded in their minds at the Calling, kill one another, race to find the key, and most of all - be the one to win Endgame.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to NOT A DROP TO DRINK!

Yes, my firstborn book baby turns 1 today. Well done, little one, well done.

Enter to win e-books and paperbacks with extra content below!


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

And.... We're Live. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST Available Now!

And yes, you can get IN A HANDFUL OF DUST today!

Not a lot more to add to that particular piece of information... be sure to check out yesterday's post if you'd like to enter win an e-book of a paperback of NOT A DROP TO DRINK.

In the meantime, enjoy looking at my books side by side and watching the trailer.





Monday, September 22, 2014

Gearing Up For IN A HANDFUL OF DUST Release With Giveaways!

Oh boy. So, today is the last day you have to suffer without IN A HANDFUL OF DUST, and tomorrow you can start suffering in all new ways.

As a reader myself I know that sometimes you get excited about a book, but the TBR pile is huge, and you never get around to reading the first one. Believe me, I know.

So, in order to help you out, I'm pre-celebrating the arrival of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST with some NOT A DROP TO DRINK giveaways.

5 E-book copies are up for grabs, as are 5 paperbacks with extra content, including a short story.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in green.

The Prophet's Daughter is a set in a post-apocalyptic world suffering from the consequences of orchestrated murder - an attempt at genocide. Sixteen years after the initial destruction and spread of the disease that ravaged the human race, Arin is thrown headfirst into the world without any skills of her own to keep her alive. OK - lots of questions arise here. If there's an attempt at genocide, who specifically was targeted? I assume this is set on Earth, so the question of genocide means you will be saying who was being murdered by whom, which has the possibility of raising sticky questions, at best. Also, is the disease the weapon? Or is this something else that followed on the heels of the human genocide? And why would Arin have no skills to survive? You say that she is "thrown headfirst into the world," so where was she for the 16 years before that? The book follows her journey as she begins to discover the truth of how the world became what it has become and learn the true reason for her parent’s murder.

This is a pretty short query, which is good because you have plenty of space to expand and answer all the questions above. As it stands right now this query is too vague - there are tons of already published post-apocs and I'm sure many more hopefuls on the desks of agents and editors. Get the details of what makes yours different and unique into the query.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts lately...

1) Cut my finger on a can the other day and realized that getting stabbed is probably just awful.

2) When you do the, "My name is AIIEEEEEEEEEE....." reference from Splash and nobody gets it, it's incredibly awkward for everyone.

3) I have no idea what it's like to live in a non-writer brain. The other day I was having a normal conversation with an acquaintance who had read an ARC of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST and in the middle of the convo she stops and says, "I'm sorry. I just can't help but wonder what you're actually thinking about right now. I feel like it's probably just awful."

Well... sometimes it is, yeah.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

YA Author Emery Lord On The Second Book Baby

Welcome to another of my fabulous acronym-based interviews. The second novel is no easy feat, and with that in mind I put together a series of questions for debuts who are tackling the second obstacle in their career path. I call it the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.

Today's guest is Emery Lord, a 20-something Midwestern girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you're not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name "Emily," and that will get you really close. Emery's debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, is available now from Bloomsbury. Her next offering, THE START OF ME AND YOU releases March 21, 2015 from Bloomsbury.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

For me, it wasn't. As daunting as it can be to stare down the blinking cursor of a blank page, I think- I hope- every new project is an opportunity to improve as a writer. I was ready for a fresh start and new voices/themes/settings to play with.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

You know, I ducked in and out, and I think I'll keep doing that. When drafting was making me crazy, I'd stop and take care of swag, return emails, do guest posts, etc. And when promo felt overwhelming, I'd go back to writing. And, actually, I believe the best promo you can ever do is honing your craft on a second book! So...one in the same sometimes :)

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

Always myself first. Haha- that sounds terrible on its face! But it's because I can't hope anyone else will even *like* my book if I don't love it. Now that I have an agent and an editor/team of awesome people at my publishing house and readers who I really connect with, I feel all the more passionate about making sure I give them something I believe in.

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Absolutely. The main thing is juggling multiple books. Still work to do for released Book 1, promo for Book 2, edits for Book 3 and drafting Book 4. And there are just...so many emails, haha. I'm still trying to figure out how to balance it all! (If anyone has figured this out, give me advice! And coffee. Give me coffee.)

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I did two things differently. First, I used my "perspective of a published author" to make a huge rookie mistake. I was editing my second book while being publicly reviewed for the first time. And I kept letting those voices in- which was paralyzing. I could hardly make choices about my writing because I kept subconsciously lingering on what people would ultimately say. But, then, it finally clicked for me- the actual perspective of a published author that I needed: people are going to criticize me no matter what I write. So I might as well write balls-to-the-walls about the things I care about most. That's what I did differently for my third book. *shoots pistols into the air* No regrets.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Of All The Books In All The Stores & Libraries In All The World...

I get dizzy when I go into bookstores and libraries. Physically dizzy.

Granted, I do have vertigo but I don't think that's necessarily what sets me off every time. I think it's the limitless possibilities I see in front of me, the stacks and piles of books that I couldn't plow through in an entire lifetime even if I dedicated every minute that I have to just reading.

And yes, there's an element of bittersweetness to that. I'm highly aware that I won't ever make it through my TBR pile, and that if my tombstone listed all the books I wanted to read but didn't get to it would be bigger than the Washington Monument. That makes me a little bit sad, but it's also a testament to the nearly inexhaustible choices all readers have.

And of all those books, quite a few of you have picked me.

Awwwww....

No, seriously. I'm not lying when I say that I sometimes walk into bookstores with full intent to find my stock and sign it, then I end up browsing, reading, lounging, buying, and walking back out having never even glanced at my own book. And I'm the author.

So HUGE thanks to everyone that went into a bookstore or library with the intention of picking up something with my name on it, and equal thanks to anyone that browsed, spotted my cover, read the flap and thought, "Sure, I'll give this McGinnis girl a try."

You're awesome.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in green.

I am submitting to you because ______________ At just over 70,000 words, The Kavanagh House is a YA mashup—a haunted house with a mechanized past. This is strictly personal opinion, but I think it's better to start with a hook than with your ms specs. Also I'm not clear on how it's a mashup, unless what you're saying is that it's a paranormal steampunk.

Parker, who feels ghosts, enters the Victorian stone house her mother chose, and is attacked by the spirit of Vincent, the designer of the house, who mistakes Parker for Eleanor, the girl he holds responsible for his death. This sentence has me untangling plots and names right from the beginning. That night Parker discovers the journal of Eleanor Kavanagh with the cryptic note: My father’s house is haunted and it’s my fault. Now THAT'S a hook. Let's get this front and center. Also the casual mention of "Parker, who feels ghosts," kind of throws me off. I'm definitely interested in how the haunting is Eleanor's fault, and what the connection between Eleanor and Parker is.

At first she avoids the rotunda where Vincent is trapped; however, when he attacks her family, Parker enlists the help of Miles, who can see the spirits of the dead, to help her get rid of Vincent. Lots of commas, more names, much untangling. How does she know Miles? Is this an across-town move? And across-state move? She and Miles must solve puzzle locks, clues to hidden compartments where journal pages are kept, and face her own fears. Unfortunately for Miles, Parker has developed a crush on her father’s campaign manager, the tall, available, and devastatingly good-looking, Declan. This is unfortunate for Miles b/c he likes her, I assume? Also, why does that even matter? Is it relevant to the paranormal plot? Meanwhile, her friend, Abbi contrives to have a Halloween party at Parker’s house. But two days before the party, her mother has the rotunda floor torn up, and Vincent is set loose. At the party, after Parker enjoys a romantic dance with Declan, Vincent terrorizes the guests and nearly kills Parker in the pantry trap. The next day she and Miles find Vincent’s body and bury him. But all is not at peace. That night, Parker again hears music playing in her room. Vincent has not left. This is definitely starting to feel more like a synopsis than a query. The level of detail here is using up way too much space, and it looks like all the characters are being drawn into it, which is unnecessary in a query. You need to boil this down to the actual problem and the most pivotal characters.

After the first four, the chapters alternate between Parker’s POV and Eleanor’s journal entries. This could definitely get confusing. The Kavanagh House is the first in the planned Mechanized Gears series. Each book has a different mechanized location, a depot, a lighthouse, a library, etc., in one of the model cities of the Gilded Age. The six members of the Innovator’s Club are destined to haunt the places they created. Parker and Miles (in the next book) learn that to break the force that holds their souls captive, they must collect pieces of a machine from each location to free the six condemned souls. While this sounds really interesting, the query isn't showing me how the house is mechanized or why that matters at all. Also, pitching a series is going to be difficult in any case. You need to focus your query on pitching one book, not the plot that arches over six. See if you can turn this book into a standalone with series potential, and focus the query on selling that first book.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Talk & Giveaway: THE COMPOUND by S.A. Bodeen

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.

The past six years of Eli's life have been spent underground. The compound that his super-rich father built in order to protect his family in case of a nuclear attack saved their lives... most of them, anyway. Eli's grandmother and twin brother were lost that night in the panicked rush to the hatch. He lives with regret, and the haunting suspicion that the better brother is the one that died.

The rambling compound has everything they need, but the family struggles to keep their connections strong. Eli's father spends most of his time in his office, the door locked securely behind him. Eli's mother tries to put a good face on everything, even though her continued pregnancies drain her energy. Eli has always kept his distance from his siblings that were born after the hatch shut behind them. He knows well enough that they're not even supposed to have names, especially considering what the contingency plan for them is if the hatch food supply runs low.

When Eli's laptop picks up a wireless connection one day outside of his father's office, he has to wonder where it could be coming from. If everything outside the compound has been destroyed, it shouldn't exist... and neither should the instant message he's getting from people he knows are dead.

At least, that's what his father told him.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts lately...

1) How did people describe the texture of overcooked pasta or vegetables before the invention of rubber?

2) The best way to cut a passive-aggressive person out at the knees is to say, "Are you being passive aggressive?" Usually you'll get the chance to use the follow up question, "Are you being defensive?"

3) My bottle-fed kittens respond to the sound of my voice with panicked glee. My fifth grade classes respond to my voice with abject terror. I wondered what a combination of the two would get me, and then I realized it would be drunk Ewoks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shallee McArthur: Learning What's Important When You Debut

Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is Shallee McArthur, author of THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE. Shallee originally wanted to be a scientist, until she discovered she liked her science best in fictional form. When she’s not writing young adult science fiction and fantasy, she’s attempting to raise her son and daughter as proper geeks. And because people always ask, her name is pronounced "shuh-LEE." But she answers to anything that sounds remotely close.

Are you a Planner or Pantster?

When I first wrote, I was a straight-up pantser, but eventually my planner brain took over. I usually spend months brainstorming and plotting a 3-act-structure plot diagram (I’m a visual person). But with my most recent story, none of that worked out! I couldn’t get a plot planned, couldn’t plan out characters, and eventually I just let the story pour out. Pantsing means I take longer on first drafts, but for that story, it worked out to be exactly what the story needed. So…I’m both.

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

The first book I queried took 4 months to draft and about 9 months to revise. The next book—The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, my debut!—took 6 weeks to draft, and a year to revise (and another few months to revise with my agent). My most recent story took over 6 months to draft! But it only took about 2 months to revise (though a few more revisions are needed).

Basically, I’m unpredictable.

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

I usually work on different stories at different stages. I can only really draft ore revise one story at a time, mostly because I get super obsessed with that idea. But I’m pretty much always, ALWAYS musing and planning and exploring a new idea (or several) in my brain!

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

More like I have to overcome fears EVERY time I sit down to write! I’m one of those been-writing-since-I-could-hold-a-pen types, and when I was young, I had no fear. All I had was a love of stories. But somewhere along the way, I started to doubt myself. I’m always afraid I’ll never have another good idea, or never be able to pull off another story, etc. etc. 

But it’s kinda funny how once I am in the midst of writing, all that matters is the story and how much I love it.

How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?

I’ve got dozens of wonderfully clich├ęd, poorly written stories of varying lengths that I love dearly and no one will ever see. But if we’re talking stories that I attempted to get published, I have one trunked novel. I queried it, but it wasn’t quite ready. I thought it was, of course, but at one point I re-read it and realized it was a story that I loved, but it just wasn’t “there” yet.

So I trunked it and wrote the next one.

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

I have a folder full of stories at varying lengths of “completeness.” I haven’t really quit on them—mostly they just need more development time.

But the trunked novel I mentioned above…that was hard to decide to let go, because I still love it. I suppose I could have gone back and tried to revise it some more, but I knew the best thing was to move on and write the next one. Writing the next one is the best way to actually use all the things you learned writing the last one. And my next one is the one that’s getting published, so it worked!

One thing that helped me let it go was “selfie-publishing” my trunked novel. Not for selling to others or anything, just for my own self. I made a cover, printed it through Lulu, and now I’ve got a copy sitting on my shelf!

Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?  

Hannah Bowman is my agent, and she is my agenty soulmate! I found her in a bit of a unique way. Before she was an agent, she actually read my trunked novel and gave me fabulous feedback. When she became an agent, I knew I wanted to query her. She saw me tweet a pitch for The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, and requested the full right there! I shrieked and freaked, but didn’t send it for a few months until it was ready. When she offered rep, there was  much more shrieking and freaking!

How many queries did you send?  

I queried around 20 agents, and Hannah offered in a week! I talked to two more great agents who offered over the next week, so it was just over two weeks from the start of querying when I officially signed with her.

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

Timing and numbers of requests and all that jazz…it doesn’t matter. So what if someone had seven requests within a week? So what if someone queried for a year and finally got that one perfect offer? It’s hard to remember that when you hear all the stories, but when it comes to your career, those things don’t matter. You can still have a kick-butt debut that launches a kick-butt career, no matter how long it takes or how many offers you get. 

How did that feel the first time you saw your book for sale?

Well, it’s not for sale until November 4, but I did just get my ARCs in the mail, and found out my eARCs are on Edelweiss. The knowledge that my book is in the world for people to read is exhilarating. I wrote this book—all my books—because the story feels like something I love and need to share. So now that it’s being shared, it’s like the book is finally fulfilling its destiny.

Which is also terrifying. Because I want everyone to love this book the way I do…and they won’t. 

How much input do you have on cover art?

I got to send in a document full of descriptions, pictures, and covers I liked as a “mood board.” The designer from Sky Pony worked from that and delivered a cover. There were a few changes my agent and I requested to the final cover, and they were wonderful about making some tweaks. I’m so happy with the way it turned out!

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

How all the things you think matter SO MUCH…don’t. There were some things that happened that I didn’t expect, like the cover going online before I knew about it or could schedule a reveal, and I had legitimate panic attacks (my poor agent and editor!). I thought it was going to be such a huge deal, and it didn’t go the way I wanted, and it was SO IMPORTANT. And it wasn’t. It made no difference to anything at all. So basically, I’ve learned to relax!

How much of your own marketing do you? 

I do most of my own marketing, though my publisher has done some of the big things, of course (ARCs, etc.). I actually enjoy the “business” side of things, and I love social media! I’m on pretty much every social media platform out there, but the ones I use the most are my blog, Twitter, and Tumblr. I’m also on Facebook, and plan on being more active there!

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

I totally say before. It takes a long time to build up connections and make friends, and publishing is a long process…but not that long (my own deal ended up being 11 months from signing with the publisher to my release date!) Besides, it’s the best way to not feel alone in the writing world!

Do you think social media helps build your readership?

Absolutely. I don’t think there’s always a one-to-one correlation, but I don’t think that’s the point of social media. Not all the people who follow me on Twitter are going to buy my book, but I’ve made some great friends through social media. They might buy my book, and they might tell others who’ll buy it, and in the end, I have more people talking about my book—and most of all, more friends who support me in all kinds of ways.

Monday, September 8, 2014

NOT A DROP TO DRINK $1.99 On All E-Platforms! And A IN A HANDFUL OF DUST E-Book Giveaway

We're getting there.. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST will be out on September 23rd. And while that's super exciting, there are plenty of people who are like, "Oh crap! I haven't read NOT A DROP TO DRINK yet! What am I going to do!??!?!"

It's okay. I haven't read it yet either.

Now's a good time to remedy that-- NOT A DROP TO DRINK is $1.99 on Kindle and Nook and iBooks and Kobo!


But you know what else? Because I'm a really fun type of gal, I'm going to go ahead and give away 5 e-copies of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST. Enter in the Rafflecopter below.



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AND don't forget that you can still enter to win a signed hardcover copy of DUST too!

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in green.

I have completed an 80,200 word fiction manuscript entitled Former Child Star that I hope you would be willing to consider for your list. A lot of this is assumed - an ms should be completed before you query,  and also you need a concrete genre, not just "fiction." Is it YA? MG? contemporary? I think it's best to start out with a good hook, not the vitals.

Suzy Doran was just one of the thousands of children who are plucked out of obscurity and thrust into the spotlight. Decent hook, but I think you need something with more bite. In Former Child Star thirty-five year old Suzy looks back on her Hollywood past as well as the friends she made along the way, the loves found and lost, and that shattering moment when it was all taken away. So is it like a pseudo-fiction-memoir? She never planned on being washed up at sixteen and being “that chick from that show” made high school a whole lot harder. Slightly awkward sentence construction here, I had to re-read to get the gist. Not one to throw in the towel no matter how tough things get you need a comma here Suzy’s able to build herself a life outside of the spotlight. Until Hollywood’s siren call arrives again nineteen years later. Possible sentence fragment here? You need to do a little restructuring with your phrasing. Heeding it would mean walking away from everything she had worked so hard to build. But ignoring it would mean turning her back on what she once loved for good. Awkward phrasing here too, I had to re-read to get the point. 

I graduated from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in creative writing. This is good, showing that you have the background for your subject and to write your book.

Overall this is a very vague query and you definitely need to get a genre pinned down. Your protag is 35, but it sounds like high school plays a part in the narrative, so that makes this a little squirmy in genre. We also need the details - why is she washed out? How did she rebuild her life? What happens to call her back? I don't know any of these particulars, just that they happen. Get the data in there and show that you've got an original story, not just the bare bones of one.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Author Kim Rendfeld On Leaving Your Debut Behind & The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar Giveaway

Welcome to another of my fabulous acronym-based interviews. The second novel is no easy feat, and with that in mind I put together a series of questions for debuts who are tackling the second obstacle in their career path. I call it the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.

Today's guest for the SNOB is Kim Rendfeld, who has a lifelong fascination with fairy tales and legends, which set her on her quest to write The Cross and the Dragon, her debut novel. She grew up in New Jersey and attended Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English, with a minor in French. In 2007 she joined the marketing and communications team at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She gets paid to agonize over commas and hyphens, along with suggesting ways to improve writing, and thoroughly enjoys it.

Her second novel, The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar is set in the wake of Charlemagne in the year 772. Set against a backdrop of historic events, including the destruction of the Irminsul, it explores faith, friendship, and justice. This companion to Kim Rendfeld’s acclaimed The Cross and the Dragon tells the story of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances. You can read the first few chapters of both Kim's books on her site for free!


Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

Everyone has their own way to decide on when to start book No. 2. Whenever I finish writing a manuscript, I go through a form of grief, one that can be remedied only by starting on another book. So The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar was the only way I could cope with leaving The Cross and the Dragon behind. Working on another project also took some of the anxiety out the query process. It gave me something else to concentrate on besides all those rejections.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

It took so long to get Cross and Dragon published that I had gone through three major drafts of Ashes and started on a third manuscript. Still, once my debut was published, I focused on promotion for three months. Then I realized promotion is never really done, and I simply needed to get back to the manuscript.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

I don’t have a particular audience in mind when I’m writing fiction. I’m mainly focused on telling a good story with characters who are true to their time – the early Middle Ages in this case – but still appealing and relatable to modern readers. Even with book No. 3 (tentatively titled Lady Queen Fastrada), my first priority is the story.

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

I was busy even before publication – a full-time job, a blog, a social media presence, and oh yes, my novel. In addition, I enjoy gardening and do some volunteer work at my local library. So time management feels like a juggling act. Each night and weekend, I must ask myself what gets priority: a blog post, publicity, my work in progress, critique of a friend’s work. In other words, what do I put off for another night? Sometimes the answer is deadline driven. My crutch is my handwritten lists. Note the plural.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I wrote most of the second manuscript while I was still unpublished, so the writing process wasn’t that different. However, one thing I got to skip in this go-around was the query process, and that is liberating. Of course, Fireship Press needed to review the finished manuscript before making an offer, but to have a publisher truly interested in your work is a great feeling and a boost in confidence. It allowed me to focus on polishing the manuscript rather than agonizing over a cover letter.

On the publishing and promotion side, there was a four-month wait between sending the finished book to the printer and releasing it for sale. The reason was to allow time to arrange the virtual book tour and other publicity. I am very grateful to Fireship Press for believing in my work to make such an investment. I didn’t mind the wait. In fact, it gave me time to write guest posts, work on novel No. 3, even take a vacation or two to see family.

Enter to win a copy of The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar below!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Mindy McGinnis, Wizard-Librarian- Now With Tear Gas: Or, Lost in Translation- Why You Should Always Double Check Translation Machines

So, the German edition of NOT A DROP TO DRINK is titled BIS ZUM LETZTEN TROPFTEN, which translates as "to the last drop." I love that the German publisher kept my original cover, making it a hazy yellow. Like a good author, I've been trying to find ways to promote the German edition online. One of the easiest ways is to write up my bio in German for the German Amazon site.

Easy. Copy / paste my bio into Google Translate and plop it into my German Author Central page, right? Um... no. Luckily for me, my friend Lenore Applehans warned me that translation machines aren't always accurate, and in fact can completely twist your words. With that in mind, I used one to translate my bio into German, then re-translated it back into English using a different site. I did this with a few sites, hoping to get the most accurate rendition possible.

What I got was not exactly helpful, but definitely humorous.

Original Bio:

Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio and cans her own food. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion. Mindy has a pond in her back yard but has never shot anyone, as her morals tend to cloud her vision.

The Slightly-Less-Official Version, with Better Details:

Mindy grew up in the woods, and had a deep desire to see if she could
survive out there on her own if the situation ever presented itself. That never happened, and the introduction of the internet has quelled that urge.

She loves being a writer, because it’s the only occupation where you can legitimately stare into space and claim to be working.

Translation #1:

Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio and own food cans. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion. Mindy has but a pond in her backyard has never shot anyone, as their morals tend to dull their vision.

The slightly-less-official version, with better details:

Mindy grew up in the woods, and had a deep desire to see if they could 
survive out there on their own, if the situation ever presented. That never happened, and the introduction of the Internet has depressed this urge.

She loves being a writer, because it was the only occupation where you can look right into the room and pretend to work.

Translation #2:

Mindy McGinnis is a wizard YA librarian who lives in Ohio and your own food cans. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English literature and religion. Mindy has a pond in your garden but has never shot, as their morals tend to cloud your vision.

The Slightly-Less -official version, with better information:

Mindy grew up in the woods, and had a deep desire to see if they could survive there are on your own if the situation never presented itself. That never happened, and the introduction of the Internet has tear gas, please.

She loves it, a writer, because it’s the only profession, you can do pretty rigid in space and right to work.