Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Talk & Giveaway: BAD BLOOD by Demitria Lunetta & ARC Giveaway!

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.

Heather can't shake the nightmares. A girl burning to death, and a Celtic knot that she keeps seeing and can't stop herself from carving into her own skin. Therapy helped... kind of, but she still feels anxiety rippling under her skin, not bad enough that she can't hide it though. She has to, if she wants to go to Scotland to visit her aunt for the summer.

Meeting a nice Scottish boy and spending time with good friend should help, but Scotland - with it's long history of witchcraft - actually seems to be making things worse. And Heather can't slip the feeling that the twin girls she keeps dreaming about are connecting to her somehow, and she has to find out before the next cut she makes plunges too deep.

Want to help me with all the mailing costs? I do giveaways at least once week, sometimes more. It can add up. If you feel so inclined as to donate a little to defray my mailing costs, it would be much appreciated!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Samhain - You're Saying It Wrong

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 - the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

Since it's Halloween I thought I'd share the word origin of Samhain - also because you're probably saying it wrong.

Samhain is a traditional Irish/Scots/Gaelic festival celebrated around November 1 to mark the end of summer (or the beginning of winter, depending on your source). It's the origin of our celebration of Halloween, and also the most mispronounced Gaelic word I've ever come across. And trust me, that's saying something.

Although if you're really interested there's also a bit of back-and-forth between Scots and Irish Gaelic as to the correct way to pronounce it. Regardless, for my American readers, just FYI - it is not pronounced phonetically. Please don't do that.

For Outlander fans, yes, this is the calendar festival when Claire passes through the stones at Craig na Dun.

For cat people, I have a little black kitty I adopted two years ago on Halloween, who is named Samhain. The boyfriend calls her Fuzzy Face, because that's just easier for him. She is endlessly depressed by this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Middle Grade Author Carmella Van Vleet On Using Swag Effectively & Giveaway!

Most authors will agree that the creative part of the job is where we excel, the business and marketing side, slightly less. It’s lovely when the two can meet in the form of SWAG – Shit We All Generate. I’ve invited some published authors to share with us their secret to swag… little freebies that can sell a book longer after the author is no longer standing in front of a prospective reader. In order to create great swag, you have to be crafty – in more ways than one.

Today's guest for the SWAG is Carmella Van Vleet author of the MG novel ELIZA BIG IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER. Carmella also writes a variety of children's non-fiction titles (you can see them all here) and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Finding something that represents your book and hasn’t been played out by a million authors before is difficult. What’s your swag?

I carry a box of random things to book signings to lure unsuspecting…er…I mean to give to readers. Most of them are trinkets that have to do with my books in some way but don’t necessarily have my book titles or website info on them. (I know, I know. Bad author.) 

The trinkets include things like: plastic gold coins with dragons or hacky-sacs with the ying-yang symbol and smiley-faced bouncing balls. But I also have things with my web address, too. This include: silicon bracelets that say “Don’t Quit!,” temporary tattoos with the Egyptian eye on it, and sheets of space shuttle stickers. 

I also have bookmarks, of course. But I tried to do a little something different by making them interactive. For my middle grade novel, Eliza Bing Is (Not) A Big, Fat Quitter, the bookmarks say “I won’t quit until I - ” and then there’s a blank line for kids to fill in. I also give away a variety of scratch-n-sniff bookmarks (with my website stamped on the back.) These are a huge hit with both kids and adults.  

Something new I’m about to try are Tyvek bracelets. Those are the temporary sticker-tab bracelets you get at special events. These would be easy to transport, inexpensive, and different. I plan to have a custom design that simply says VIP Reader. Then my web address will be stamped on the back. I’ll have to keep you posted on how it works out. (I’m a little worried about the ink wearing off.)  
How much money per piece did your swag cost out of pocket?

Oh, man! You want me to do math? Grrr. 

The tattoos were - if I remember the price/quantity correctly - were around .30 a piece. 

The silicon bracelets cost roughly .30 a piece.  

The custom bookmarks were around .11 a piece.

The scratch-n-sniff bookmarks cost me .6 a piece. (My best investment!) 

And the space stickers were .25 a piece. 

The Tyvek bracelets will be about .20 a piece. 

Does your swag draw people to your table at an event or conference?

I think swag can definitely help draw people over. (But then again, it could the candy I also set out…) I’ve found that even adults like to pick up the bracelets, the temporary tattoos, and the scratch-n-sniff bookmarks. I’ve made them “generic” enough that they’re not in-your-face promo items. For example, my web address in on the inside of the bracelet. 
What do you think of big item swag pieces versus cheaper, yet more easily discarded swag like bookmarks?

I like using bigger swag items. I think they tend to get more attention. BUT  I’m not sure they make a huge difference in sales and so they’re hard to justify cost-wise. They’re mostly just for fun or for bigger, giveaway promotions.  

From my own personal preference as a reader-consumer, I’ll pick up things that are more book or reading related. For instance, a funny button or poster. If something has someone’s website in giant letters all over it, that’s a turnoff for me so I don’t do that myself. Outside of my bookmarks, nothing has my book covers. 

What’s the most clever / best swag by another author?

I know this’ll sound like I’m kissing up, but I always thought you using water bottles with custom labels for Not A Drop To Drink was brilliant! I’m sure they were a pain to drag around, though. But it was a perfect marriage between swag and book theme. 

I also got a sparkly, silver pen from Ingrid Law that said “What’s your SAVVY?” (Her book is titled Savvy and ink plays a special role in the story.) I used that thing until it ran out. Apparently I tend to like more useful or consumable promo items!

And the biggest question – do you think swag helps sell books?

Honestly? Probably not that much. But it’s fun, and it’s really nice to be able to hand a kid something even if they’re not ultimately buying your book. You’re putting positive energy out into the world and that’s always a good thing.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

How It's Different For Women

A few weeks ago I was driving to a speaking engagement and realized I was low on gas. Really low. I tend to do a lot of writing in my head while I drive and that means things like gas levels don't register until the car lets me know there might be an issue.

The nearest gas station was in a not-great part of a not-so-safe town. But my choices were to break down on the freeway, or put on my big girl pants and go get gas and hope that nobody got it into their head to try to take them off of me.

It was fine, nothing happened. I got gas and kept my head up and paid attention to my surroundings and went on without a single incident - not even a catcall. But this post isn't about how what I thought might be an iffy situation turned out to be fine.

It's about the conversation that came about after that.

I was relating this to a friend of mine - male - who is a good friend, and an honestly great person who tends to come down on the same side of most issues as I do. So I was surprised when he said, "You know it's scary for a guy in that situation too, right?"

And yes, it is. I get that.

But here's how it's different.

Assuming the bad-ending result of a man's story who stops at a sketchy gas station is that he is attacked, and let's go ahead and say that he is stabbed as well. Not minimizing anything, this is his fallout:

1) Physical pain, injury and recovery
2) PTSD from being assaulted
3) Loss of money / wallet / concerns of ID theft
4) Loss of masculinity - although, I would argue that since in my scenario his opponent is armed and he is not, this would be minimal. In fact, it may even enhance his masculinity because he's been stabbed.

Here's how it's different for a woman who is raped in the same scenario:

1) Physical pain, injury and recovery
3) Loss of money / wallet / purse, concerns of ID theft
4) Possible transmission of STD'S, some of which the carrier may have for the rest of their life, and be obligated to inform potential partners of.
5) Possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, that the woman has to decide whether to terminate or not, and suffer the emotional fall out from.
6) The event being present in the minds of both the woman and her partner when they have consensual sex following the attack - and for awhile afterwards, I would assume.
7) Being viewed as "used goods" or "dirty" after the event - both by others and herself.
8) Being viewed as complicit in her own assault:
          Why was she traveling alone?
          Does she not know that's a bad part of town?
          Why didn't she check the gas level sooner?
          What did she think would happen if she stopped there?

Every one of the things listed above has many subcategories, but for the sake of length I'm leaving it at the basics, which as you can see already doubles the male's fallout.

This is why it's different.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Talk & ARC Giveaway: BLOOD FOR BLOOD by Ryan Graudin

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.

If you haven't read WOLF BY WOLF you might not want to skip this book talk, as there will be spoilers!

Yael is on the run, with blood on her hands - the blood of a skinchanger like herself, one that she killed thinking that he was Adolf Hitler. With the Resistance fighting in small pockets, Luka Lowe following her, and the real Hitler declaring his survival all over television, Yael hardly knows where to turn.

Luka isn't quite the hindrance she thought he'd be, but her growing feelings for him are. With the Resistance pushing back and the Fuhrer demanding blood for blood, Yael's skin changing abilities are one of the only things that can keep her safe. But two of the most recognizable faces in all of Germania are with her - Double Victor Luka Lowe and Felix Wolfe.

She won't let either of the boys get hurt, not with her conscience already heavy laden. But Germania is a dangerous place to be, no matter what side you're on.

Ever been curious about Adele Wolfe’s side of the story? Pre-order BLOOD FOR BLOOD to get the scoop! 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Debut Author Sara Ella On The Author Having Cover Input & A Giveaway!

I love talking to authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.

Today's guest for the CRAP is Sara Ella, author of UNBLEMISHED. Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses, and conquering realms of her own imaginings.

Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

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

Yes! I knew I wanted purple. And not just because it’s my favorite color, but because purple/blue are symbolic in the story. I also knew I wanted my main character’s face on the cover somewhere because her birthmark/blemish is what the book is all about. Oh! And I hoped to have a little piece of NYC displayed since the book begins in the Big Apple. All three wishes came true!

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

I had to fill out something called an AMSI (Advanced Marketing and Sales Information sheet) back in September of 2015. So it was over a year before the release date that we started talking covers.

Did you have any input on your cover?

Yes. Lots more than I expected, actually. The AMSI had all sorts of questions regarding fonts, colors, people, places, or things I might like on the cover.

How was your cover revealed to you?

My amazing editor Becky Monds emailed it to me. I was like, “SBDLHASERASHBFK!!!!!!” It was so beautiful! I couldn’t have asked for a better design. I cried.

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

Yes! I have a YouTube (BookTube) channel so I did a live show cover reveal with my good friend Trina from the BetweenChapters channel. On March 4, 2016 we spent an hour talking about the novel and involving viewers in fun, bookish challenges leading up to the reveal at the end of the show. We topped it off with a giveaway in which six lucky viewers won a signed poster of the cover. It was tons of fun! Here’s the link to the replay if anyone wants to watch it!

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

It was about a month before the reveal date that I got to see my cover.

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

Um, yes. No, make that YES! I am such a horrible secret keeper, LOL :D I was itching to put that baby up on Twitter or Instagram.

What surprised you most about the process?

How much input I had. They really took my ideas and preferences seriously. I am so blessed to work with such an amazing team.

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

Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. The first time I saw my cover there were a couple tweaks I suggested, and my editor took them gladly. If you don’t like something or feel as if something is missing, don’t hesitate to kindly talk to your editor or cover artist about possible changes.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

I Menstruate And It's Not A Big Deal

Most of you know I worked full time as a high school librarian for fifteen years. One of the first things I learned was to have an extra pad or tampon in my desk – and they’re not for me.

I can’t tell you how many times girls have come into my office asking if I have something they can use for “…you know.” And of course I do, no matter whether they’re a student I get along with or not, and in the moment when I hand that “something” over we’re not a student and a staff member anymore – we’re just two women.

It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed before, as a college student or in my early twenties, in bathrooms of bars or a club when a perfect stranger’s hand sticks into my stall door from under the divider and says, “Hey, sorry. But do you have… something?” And again at the changing of hands, she’s not a stranger even if I never see her face. We’re just two women.

So why even among women do we struggle to say the word “pad” or “tampon?” Why do we slide them inside our sleeve or crush them in our fists as we walk to the bathroom so that no one will know that we’re menstruating? The fact that we shed our uterine lining means that we’re able to continue the human race, grow the next generation inside our bodies. But we’ve been taught that it’s bad, scary, shameful, dirty, or even gross.

In Biblical times a menstruating woman was considered unclean, and as a culture we haven’t come terribly far. In March of 2015, poet and artist Rupi Kaur posted a photo on her Instagram account of herself, curled up in bed, having bled through her pants. The photo was promptly flagged by users as offensive, and quickly removed from Instagram for violating community standards. Anyone who is familiar with Instagram knows you don’t have to wander far or scroll long to find any variety of explicit photos. Yet a fully clothed woman with a spot of blood on her pants caused an uproar.

Menstruation is not always met with disgust, but sometimes simple ignorance is to blame. I remember being in grade school and hearing about an older girl that had to be sent home early because she got her period in choir. The story had made some rounds by the time it reached the fifth graders, so the way we heard it, the girl had covered a chair in blood, gone home and had her period seven more times. They didn’t know if she was going to make it.

That one can be chalked up to the innocence of childhood, but I’ve had some dumbfounding experiences with adult males that can’t be so easily excused. When my boyfriend of nine years and I combined households, he soon learned that his sheets were our sheets. And our sheets have bloodstains. On all accounts he is a wonderful, kind, lovely person, who nicely asked me if I could possibly “wear something to bed to stop that from happening.”

To which I explained. “Honey, I am. You should see what would happen if I didn’t.”
“Really?” he asked. “It’s like that?”
“Yeah, honey. It’s like that.”

This came from a man in his late thirties who grew up with three older sisters. Even in a household of women, menstruation remained a mystery.

A few years ago a well-meaning man advised me not to venture into my garden during my time of the month, because it would make the pickles wilt. I told him that might not be the best gardening advice I’d ever heard but it was certainly a wonderful metaphor.

In 1892 famed axe-killer Lizzie Borden murdered her father and step-mother, yet when questioned about a spot of blood on her hemline by the police, she informed them it was from a “flea bite,” a euphemism at the time for menstrual blood. The officers promptly dropped that line of questioning, too mortified to continue. Lizzie was exonerated for lack of evidence.

Today we call that “getting out of gym class.”

As a YA author I’m often asked if I find myself restrained by the parameters of writing for teens, in terms of censorship. If you’ve read anything I’ve written then you’re probably aware the answer is “not really,” and – as I keep telling everyone – if I haven’t shocked you yet, just wait for the next one.

However, in an earlier draft of my debut NOT A DROP TO DRINK there was a mention of how my main character, Lynn, and her mother, handled menstruation in the post-apocalypse. Early readers asked me if that was really necessary as some might find it offensive. Being a new writer who only wanted to please, I chose to remove it. Looking back, I question how a book that opens with a nine year old shooting someone in the head in defense of her water source crossed the line by mentioning menstruation.

So where do we go from here? If red tents, axe-murders and wilted pickles litter the past what can we do in the present? Start by saying “pad” or “tampon” out loud, not asking for “something” because “you know.” Don’t be afraid to say menstruation, it’s not a dirty word. Don’t be ashamed to go into the store just to get a box of pads or tampons, because guys make that trip for condoms without thinking twice. Talk to your daughters openly about it, and – talk to your sons, too, so that their girlfriend doesn’t look at them like they’re stupid when they’re almost forty.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

NYCC16 Roundup: I Met A Dinosaur And Liked It Plus Some Swag I'm Giving Away

This was my second year at NYCC and I don't think it's something that one gets used to. Granted, there were more people inside the Javits than live in my entire county, but they also collectively had on brighter colors than my Midwesterner's eyes have seen in a lifetime of looking at stuff.

It was a great time. I found a LEGO booth that fit my style, and then Wonder Woman made out of Jelly Bellies, so that was all for the positive. Then I made my way over to the main gate and saw a swell of people so overwhelming that I found a place to hide under an escalator and just stayed there for a bit.

I was happy in my hiding place, but I had to find Brittany Cavallaro and Kimberly McCreight, none of us having ever met each other before. So that was fun.

wakeletPowered by Wakelet

wakelet Powered by Wakelet

We did manage to find each other, which was a small miracle. We went to the room for our meetup and I was stunned to find out that the long line of people waiting outside were actually coming there to meet us, and not waiting for the bathroom, which had been my assumption.

60 kids came to meet us, and each one received an EpicReads tote with free copies of our books! We signed for them at a round table an answered questions about our books. It was a great time, and good for face to face with fans - much better than a panel, I think!

After that I found another hiding place, up by the exits along the wall. Somewhere quiet where I could charge my phone, read some of the awesome books that I picked up on the floor, and watch a T-Rex chew people's heads. Seeing one of these things in real life was honestly a highlight. He accidentally knocked something out of a girl's hands and tired to bend down and get it for her but his tiny arms couldn't reach. Priceless. 

I came home with a lot more stuff than I went to New York with. My backpack resented everything I picked up, but I don't think you will. Giveaway below!

Phantom half-mask from ROSEBLOOD by AG Howard
First Look at CARVE THE MARK by Veronica Roth
Preview of THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR by Katharine McGee
Hardcover copy of IRON CAST by Destiny Soria

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Want to help me with all the mailing costs? I do giveaways at least once week, sometimes more. It can add up. If you feel so inclined as to donate a little to defray my mailing costs, it would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MG Hennessy & THE OTHER BOY: The Importance of Author Input On Cover Design

I love talking to authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.

Today's guest for the CRAP is MG Hennessey, author of THE OTHER BOY, a recently released MG novel about a transgender middle grader. M.G. Hennessey loves Star Wars, the San Francisco Giants, strawberry ice cream, and dancing. A supporter of the Transgender Law Center, Gender Spectrum. and the Human Rights Campaign, she lives in Los Angeles with her family. Be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

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

Design is definitely not my strong suit. But I knew what I didn’t want it to look like: I didn’t want any photographs of kids; I didn’t want a pair of sneakers or a baseball cap (‘cause there are wayyy too many of those on upper middle grade books); and above and beyond all else, absolutely no pink. The story is about a transgender boy who gets outed after living stealth for years, so that was a particularly important for me. I submitted a bunch of recent book covers that I loved for the art department to use as a guideline.

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

It was about a year before publication, and we had a final cover by the end of January.

Did you have any input on your cover? 

Lots and lots!

Having been around the block a few times, in my contract I requested (and received) “meaningful cover input.” If your agent can negotiate for that, it’s such an important thing to have; otherwise, by the time you see the cover it’s usually a done deal, and very little is liable to change.

My publisher was great: initially they sent me samples from the artist they wanted to hire. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled; her style didn’t match what I’d pictured. But they wanted to give her a shot at it, so we did.

Unfortunately, when the cover samples showed up, not only was pink featured prominently in every last one of them (a pink backpack, a pink baseball hat (!), a pink shadow); I also just really didn’t like them. They all seemed a little grim for this book; despite The Other Boy’s subject matter, it’s overall a positive, hopeful story.

My publisher listened to my concerns, then sent samples from four other artists. I ranked them in order of preference, and was lucky enough to get my top choice! The cover artist we ended up going with, Erwin Madrid, really hit it out of the park. The cover design changed very little from the sketches he’d initially submitted.

It meant a lot to me that the art department let me be so involved, and really responded to my feedback. That’s all too rare in this industry.

How was your cover revealed to you? 

For the first artist, I was shown five different versions of the cover in full color. For the second, I was sent early sketches of the design (black and white) for approval.

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

There wasn’t, actually; I guess with upper middle grade books, that’s not quite as much of a thing.

What surprised you most about the process?

Honestly, the amount of input I had. 

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

Get cover approval or input in the contract if at all possible; that’s really key. And if you get a terrible cover, make sure to detail precisely what about it you don’t like.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Talk & Giveaway: THE MIGHTY ODDS by Amy Ignatow

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.

You wouldn't think that bus accident on the way home from a field trip would give you super powers, but you'd be wrong. Only the losers got jammed into the second bus taking middle schoolers to the museum. Well, the losers and the most popular girl in school, who is in trouble for sneaking off to find an awesome jewelry store.

The fat kid, the social outcast, the super nerd, the quiet artsy girl, and the It Girl all managed to survive the crash, and don't even notice their weird new powers until a few days later. And powers are great but... when you can teleport (only four inches to the left), read minds (if they're thinking about directions), tear apart cars with your strength (but only in your thumbs), and change your eye color at will (and sometimes against your will)... it makes those powers seem... mighty odd.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

Thoughts lately...

1) When my dog is upstairs and looks out the window he clearly recognizes his yard. But does he process the fact that he is "up" and wonder how it happened?

2) Watched Westworld. One question: whose job is it clean and sanitize all the prostibots at the end of the business day?

3) Observation: there are no donkeys in Donkey Kong.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sarah Glenn Marsh On Channeling The On-Sub Woes Into Something Other Than Writing

If there's one thing that many aspiring writers have few clues about, it's the submission process. There are good reasons for that; authors aren't exactly encouraged to talk in detail about our own submission experiences, and - just like agent hunting - everyone's story is different. I managed to cobble together a few non-specific questions that some debut authors have agreed to
answer (bless them). And so I bring you the submission interview series - Submission Hell - It's True. Yes, it's the SHIT.

Today's guest for my SHIT is Sarah Glenn Marsh, who writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. Sarah's newest release FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP releases from SkyPony on October 11th.

How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?

I knew a lot before my first time on sub! Or at least, I thought I did from all my Googling, which included reading some interviews in this very series. Yet nothing I read prepared me for the various stages of emotion that would accompany this long wait. Also, I had no idea that an editor needed so many people’s approval (their team, their boss, the marketing department) before offering on a book—or on a related note, how much the acquisitions process varies between imprints and houses.

Did anything about the process surprise you?

The sheer amount of subjectivity. For instance, I’d get a pass that would say (making up an example here), “I don’t like the voice in this, but the plot was great!” And then a few days later, I’d get literally the opposite feedback—“I don’t like the plot in this, but it had a great voice!”

This was both surprising and admittedly, slightly maddening, because I like to have control over things and there’s absolutely no way to control or predict the opinion of someone I’ve never met!

Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?

With my first book on submission—Fear the Drowning Deep—which I’m discussing here, yes! I read every editor interview I could get my hands on. And while it occupied my anxious brain for a little while, mostly it just gave me false hope when I’d see something like, “Oh, this editor loves ocean stories! Hopefully my book will be for her.” See my note on subjectivity above, but basically, there’s so much that has to happen for an actual offer to be made that getting my hopes up like this was pointless. Then on the flip side, sometimes I’d see that an editor who had my book had just bought something similar, which would send me into despair for a few days.

I’ve since had other mss go on sub, and each time, I’ve looked up the editors less and less, to the point that with my recent YA which sold in the spring, I didn’t do this at all. I was happy to just go about my business, because I’ve realized looking up editors doesn’t add or detract from a book’s chances—it just makes me read into their tweets and words when I shouldn’t.

On that note, I don’t recommend researching editors—there are other things to do to keep yourself occupied while on sub!

What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?

Generally, responses came within one to two months. One outlier, who I’d convinced myself would never respond, took about 8-9 months. Fear the Drowning Deep sold at 10 months on, to someone who’d had it for about 3 months.

Here’s another example to show you how much this can vary, though: my recent YA sold after just about 3 weeks on sub!

Just because your submission doesn’t follow a certain timeline doesn’t mean it won’t sell is my point here—every sub experience is different, so don’t lose sleep over the timing!

What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?

A lot of other authors have answered this with, “Write the next book!”

But maybe you’re an anxious person like me, and that’s not possible. Maybe it’s really difficult for you to focus, like it was for me, when all your hopes and dreams are bundled into this thing that’s now out of your hands, and you’re nervous as hell about it.

My advice to beat the on-sub woes is: if you can channel your nerves/frustration/any negative emotions into creative energy, then by all means, write your next book! Then you’ll have another project to submit, just in case. And besides, you grow as a writer with every manuscript.

However, if you’re like me and you can’t channel your nerves into creative energy because submission is messing with your head—do something else! While I was on sub, I took up watercolor painting classes. It gave me a new creative outlet that had nothing to do with writing, and best of all, I wasn’t checking my email during the time I was in the classes! I also tried out a lot of new baking recipes and dinners, spent time with my animals, planned trips, called friends, listened to some cool podcasts I’d been wanting to check out—basically, keep yourself as busy as possible with life-stuff and fun-stuff so you aren’t dwelling on sub too much!

One other note here: I was bugging my poor agent so much that I asked for weekly check-ins on a designated day, even if there was no news. I think I got that idea from an author in this series, actually. The check-ins gave me a set time each week to worry about sub, and while it didn’t solve all my anxiety, it sure was helpful.

If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?

I was all over the place with how I handled rejections on Fear the Drowning Deep!

At first, it was exciting to hear from industry professionals on my work, even though they were passes; they were typically very complimentary, with a bit of critique.

After a while, though, the passes started to get wearing and make me feel down on myself. My solution to that was to take all the compliments from the passes I’d received and stick them all in a Word document I could look at when I was feeling low. That helped a little. So did my friends Snickers and Twix and Milky Way!

Overall, I found editor rejections worse than query rejections because I was that much closer to the top of the publishing mountain (an offer), only to be turned away right before the peak. That frustrated me, and was of course out of my control until we decided to revise the manuscript and submit to a fresh round of editors (my offer on Fear the Drowning Deep came from this second round of submissions).

If you got feedback on a rejection, how did you process it? How do you compare processing an editor’s feedback as compared to a beta reader’s?

The first thing I did was take some time away from it, because if a pass had feedback, it usually stung a bit at first look. Then, with a clear head, I’d go back and try to see if the rejection had anything in common with those before it—looking for patterns in their feedback that might help me revise later if needed.

Of course, being the anxious creature I am, I sometimes had a hard time sorting out what was personal preference vs. constructive feedback, so I leaned on my agent a lot to help me highlight what to take into consideration for revisions.

When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?

I found out via telephone, from my agent! I was actually at an event called FaerieCon (a gathering of fantasy authors, artists, and vendors and lots of folks in costume), heading into the ladies’ restroom, when I realized I had a voicemail from my agent asking me to call her. I gracefully (read: obnoxiously) shrieked, startling all the bathroom-going fairies, and ran to the hotel lobby where the event was taking place so I could call her back and hear the news in real time. Then I immediately called my husband and parents.

The whole night after hearing the news felt surreal. I remember it as a dazed, happy blur. Finally, someone appreciated my hard work. Finally, persisting in the face of so much rejection had paid off. I promptly took a picture of my happy-tired face so I could remember what it looks like when not giving up on your dreams pays off.

Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?

I did have to wait a little while, during contract negotiations, before sharing the news. I think it was about a month. Since I’d told my husband, parents, and grandparents right away, I was actually okay (read: just slightly antsy) with the wait. Cliché as it may sound, my husband is my best friend, so I was happy to just celebrate with him! I felt validated, and I knew this was really happening, so the wait was no longer anxiety-inducing—but, it was pretty cool when I finally got to shout it to the writing world.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Where To Find Me This Week (And My Book!)

It's going to be a busy week!

First of all, if you haven't bought your copy of THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES you might want to remedy that. Amazon is currently out of stock, and my publisher is printing more. However, Barnes & Noble still has some online, and I dare you to go to your local Indie and see what they have on hand. If having a first edition is something you care about, you might want to make that move soon. I'm hoarding mine for the bookpocalypse.

If a signed first edition is something you want in your life, there are ways to make that happen.

1) Call Fundamentals Bookstore at (740) 363-0290 This is my local indie and they have signed copies on hand... but only a few are left after my event last week. They are located in Ohio but will ship for you.

2) I have an amazing signing coming up this week with two fantastic NYT Bestselling authors. Lauren Oliver is touring for her newest release, REPLICA! I will be joining her alongside THREE DARK CROWNS author Kendare Blake at Cover to Cover Books in Columbus, Ohio.

3) Are you gong to NYCC or BookCon? Me too! I have a panel with fellow authors Brittany Cavallaro and Kimberly McCreight on Sunday.