Monday, February 7, 2011

45 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways) Part 1

This week is HUGE! We have so many interviews and giveaways that we're publishing two posts to do all these wonderful authors justice. Read on for our first portion of interviews and be sure to scroll all the way down to enter to win these amazing reads!

This Week's Interviews

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
  • From Amazon: Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming. Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.
How long did you work on this book?
It took me about two months to write the first draft of THE FOURTH STALL, writing only on my lunch break at work. But then I spent another three or four months doing revisions with my agent before we eventually sold the book.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Well, time-wise my publication journey has been relatively short. However, I always like to say that I packed a decade worth of stuff into just a few years. THE FOURTH STALL is my third completed novel and I have hundreds of rejections for the first two of those manuscripts. I know my beard has certainly been through a lot.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
To not spend time or energy lamenting over rejections. It really just isn’t worth your time or energy. All you can do is write the best story you can. After that, you have no control over who likes it and who doesn’t, so there’s really no point stressing over it. I mean, you can’t force people like your manuscript. They either will or won’t, and you’ll stay much more mentally healthy if you merely accept it as just that and move on. Plus, I also recommend wearing a bowtie when you write. You’ll know why once you try it.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Not a whole lot because I spent way, way too much time obsessively reading blogs and articles on publishing before I sold a book. So when it finally happened, I’d read about so many stories and so many different things that can happen, that none of it really surprised me all that much. But, if you’re going to make me give an answer, then I’d have to say that I certainly never expected everybody in publishing to be so obsessed with mustaches, I mean, seriously, what’s up with that?

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

  • From Goodreads: Johnny’s not your average hero. But a little magic changes everything. There isn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. It all starts with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess. And before Johnny knows it, he is on a mission in the Evergladws, with only a flock of swans and a talking fox named Joe to help guide him against the forces of an evil witch.
What routines do you find helpful for you to stay actively writing?
Write something every day (or, at least, every weekday). I also try to get away from distractions, including the Internet, by writing away from home. I'm one of the few authors I know who actually writes my drafts longhand, and the added benefit of that is that my notebook (the one made out of paper) doesn't get an Internet connection.

As a published writer, do you feel pressure to balance your creative writing license with what the audience wants? If so, how do you balance the two?
Usually, the audience I think about is myself as a teen and maybe my teen readers who write to me. I don't worry too much about writing to a large audience or making the New York Times bestseller list. Honestly, if you get into writing because you hope to get rich, you're likely to be disappointed. There are many, many jobs you can get where you'd make more per hour than you make as a writer, including the job I gave up, as a lawyer. You really can't count on being J.K. Rowling, any more than you can count on winning an award.

What advice would you offer writers to build their platform before they become published?
In the same vein, I think they should not worry about building their platform and worry more about writing what is in their heart. If one is trying to write to be commercial, it usually will show in the writing because it's not as good if the author isn't really excited about it.

That said, once you get published, it is probably a good idea if your second book is for a similar audience to your first book. In other words, don't write one humorous chick lit and one dark vampire novel, and if you wrote a good mystery, write two. Teens like being able to find another book by the author they liked.

How much do trends influence your writing?
They don't, really. An author cannot write to trends. By the time one writes a book, the trend is cresting or over. So, for example, if I said, "Oh, fairy books are popular, so I think I'm going to write a fairy book," by the time I wrote that book, there would already be hundreds, even thousands, of fairy books being submitted and published. It has to be a happy accident when you write a book that happens to be trendy, in time for the trend. My first several books were realistic fiction, which I wrote because I was interested in that, and which happened to be selling, at least at the beginning of my career. Then, there were a few rocky years when chick lit was popular, but I was still writing realistic fiction. However, I still had a readership because I was already established, and schools like to assign the type of books I was writing. I got the idea for Beastly, and I was actually a little nervous about changing genres, writing a fairy tale retelling. However, it turned out to be one of those happy accidents because that sort of dark fantasy was getting to be popular, just around the time Beastly came out. I really couldn't have predicted that trend. I was just lucky.

The good news is, even though it may SEEM like the trendy type of book is all that is getting published, that's really not the case. There are always a lot of different genres, though some may be more visible on school and library shelves than in the bookstore. The one thing you don't want to be writing is the thing that was really popular a year before, but now is waning. That's more likely to happen if you write to trends.

So Shelly by Ty Roth
  • From Goodreads: Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident. After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.
How long did you work on this book?
I began writing So Shelly in May of 2007. It was placed with my agent within six weeks of beginning the querying process in August of 2009. I agreed to a two-book deal with my publisher on October 1 of that same year, and it is finally reaching bookstore shelves in February of 2011. In total, it’s been just under four years.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Prior to finding an agent and a publisher for Shelly, I had written three previous novels. For none of which was able to secure representation. The turning point for my career as a writer came when an agent who had requested a partial of my second novel suggested that I try writing a YA novel. At that time I had no idea what YA was. So I did some research, read a few popular young adult novels that were out at the time, and tried to write one of my own. That first attempt at a YA novel failed, but I received numerous requests for partials and full manuscripts from agents. It was enough to encourage me to try one more time. That attempt is So Shelly. Although Shelly generated a good amount of agent interest, still, the vast majority of those I queried rejected it, which proves the old adage that it only takes one. Ironically, on the day I received my first advance payment from Random House, I also received one final agency rejection for the very novel for which I had just been paid. Not surprisingly, that one didn’t sting so badly.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Because of their passion and enthusiasm for writing, it’s the hardest thing to convince an aspiring author to do, but I’d say, Slow down. Unpublished writers so desperately want to find an agent and a publisher – remember, for most of us, we’re talking literally about making dreams come true – that they often submit work that is unpolished and not representative of their authorial best. The most likely result of this rush is rejection.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
At least for right now, how little my life has changed as a result of it. I still teach school. My tennis game hasn’t improved much. Very few people stop me to say, “Hey aren’t you that author?” My kids’ tuition bills still stress me out. And according to my wife, it hasn’t made me a better kisser. The amount of self-marketing required has also been an eye-opener, but I actually enjoy doing it.

Kindred by Tammar Stein
  • From Goodreads: The first time I meet an angel, it is Raphael and I am eighteen. Miriam is an unassuming college freshman stuck on campus after her spring break plans fall through. She's not a religious girl--when pressed she admits reluctantly to believing in a higher power. Truth be told, she's about as comfortable speaking about her faith as she is about her love life, which is to say, not at all. And then the archangel Raphael pays Miriam a visit, and she finds herself on a desperate mission to save two of her contemporaries. To top it all off, her twin brother, Mo, has also had a visitation, but from the opposite end of the good-evil spectrum, which leaves Miriam to wonder--has she been blessed and her brother cursed or vice versa? And what is the real purpose behind her mission?
How long did you work on this book?
It took about two years.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My road to publication was a lot longer than I thought it would be. I figured: write a book, sell it, end of story. Ha! For anyone reading this who is an aspiring writer, and one who has, perhaps, received more rejections than they thought they would, I want to encourage you to stick with it. The fact that the road is longer and bumpier than you expected doesn’t mean it’s a dead-end road. It just means it’s slow going. And it was slow going for almost every single published author.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Keep going back to your manuscript, keep revising, and hang out with other writers.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
How excited people get when I tell them what I do. There’s a kind of disbelief, like I confessed I was an elf, or a part-time mermaid. No one seems to expect ever meeting a real-life author.

The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier
  • From Goodreads: When Trei loses his family in a tragic disaster, he must search out distant relatives in a new land. The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajurai, men who soar the skies with wings. Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself.  The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his newfound cousin.  Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araene has a secret of her own . . . a dream a girl cannot attain.Trei and Araene quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths.  But neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined, and that the fate of the Floating Islands will lie in their hands. . .
How long did you work on this book?
Probably about four or five months for the first draft. That's typical for me when I'm not under deadline pressure. Then my agent and my twin brother read the manuscript and they both made good suggestions for streamlining certain sections. After that, my editor, Michelle Frey, read it and requested revisions of her own -- I completely rewrote the back half of chapter five, for example. Michelle is such a perfectionist, which I love in an editor, so there was another round of revisions after that for detail-oriented touch-up work. I'm sure the whole revision process took longer than writing the book in the first place, though with lots of time off waiting for revision comments to come back to me.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
If you count writing a high fantasy trilogy and a huge science fiction duology that will never see the light of day, well, it took a long time. I've heard that it takes a million words of practice to learn how to write -- well, for me it was about half that! It was ten years, maybe, from the time I typed the first page of my first book until I finally wrote a book that could sell. But everything moved pretty fast after I finished The City in the Lake. It took me about two months and eleven rejections to find an agent, and she hooked Knopf pretty quickly after that.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Read a lot (I'm sure that's unnecessary advice), but also study the books you read. Look for writers who do great dialogue, great description, who are fantastic stylists, who really take you into a character's head. Study point-of-view and how that affects verb tenses. Figure out what makes a book sing for you, but also focus on the craft of writing -- the use of language. I do think the sheer craft involved in using English well sometimes gets less attention than it deserves.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That the single most thrilling moment isn't when you see your books on the shelves. Though that IS a thrill, for me, the BEST moment is when my agent tells me she's got a firm offer from a great publisher.


Pink by Lili Wilkinson

  • From Goodreads:  Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She's ready to try something new—she's even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink. Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don't work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and especially from her old girlfriend. Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.
How long did you work on this book?
About eighteen months altogether, between opening a blank document and holding the finished book in my hands. Having said that, that's just for the Australian edition. If you measure from the blank document to the publication of the US edition, it's more like two and a half years.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
In some ways it began when I was eleven and went to a teen literary event held by the Australian Centre for Youth Literature. Five years later I did my high school work experience placement at a local publishing house, Black Dog Books. Five years after that I had finished University and was working as an admin assistant at... the Centre for Youth Literature. I did a lot of reviewing and writing there, and so three years after THAT, I got a phone call from Black Dog Books asking if I'd like to have a crack at actually WRITING a book. That first book was a teen non-fiction title about Joan of Arc, and it was my first book. My first three books were commissioned - the Joan one; Scatterheart, a novel about fairy tales and Australian convicts; and a teen romance in the Girlfriend Fiction series. PINK was the first book I wrote without being asked to first, and it's also been the first book I've sold to the US (although my other titles have sold to the UK, Italy, Turkey, China and Germany). As I write this, I'm sitting at my desk at the Centre for Youth Literature. I've been here for eight years, and I'm leaving in two weeks to be a Full Time Writer and start my PhD.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Read a lot. I mean, A LOT. And don't be afraid of other writing influencing yours. If it is, and you're noticing it, you're not reading enough Beware of adverbs - use them like bay leaves in pasta sauce - to create flavour, but remove them before you serve up. Please don't write any more books about dead girls in country towns - I've had enough.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Fan mail - teenagers write the best fan mail. And the fabulous community of writers for teenagers. Everyone is so welcoming and generous - it's such a wonderful industry to work in.

Additional Releases

Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch
  • From Booklist: Alexander grew up constantly overshadowed and relentlessly, if good-naturedly, teased by his older brother, Robert, whose first-person narration provides the window into this complex sibling relationship. Both brothers take classes at the community college and fret about their single mother’s financial straits, but Robert is the more responsible brother, and Xan the wildcard. Xan finally finds an outlet for his frustrations and inability to connect when he falls in with a group of young activists, who justify their frighteningly extremist means with questionably beneficial ends. As a loan shark hounds the family and hints of violence whisper in, Robert wonders what his brother is really capable of. Lynch cuts to the quick during this short novel. He shows how two brothers can be a part of a sibling relationship but have drastically different interpretations of it. And Robert’s voice displays the claustrophobia of uncertainty about the forces that threaten the family even as he dwells on how he could have done better by his brother. It rings true, and hurts, at that.
Giveaway

You'd be crazy not to enter to win this week. We have giveaways of THE FOURTH STALL, SO SHELLY, THE FLOATING ISLANDS, and CLOAKED. The winner of CLOAKED will also win a copy of the movie BEASTLY! If you enter today, you're also automatically entered for tomorrow's post. To increase your odds of winning, we invite you to enter tomorrow, too! We'll reveal four more giveaways then. We'll announce the lucky winners on Thursday morning. The contest is open to US residents. You must leave a comment on this post and fill out the form below for a chance to win. Good luck!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP

45 comments:

  1. Great interviews. It's interesting to see that the road to publication wasn't too long for this book for many of the authors, but they had prior ones that didn't get an agent or publisher. So we just have to keep writing.

    Thanks for the contest. I hope you'll post soon about your experiences at the SCBWI conference.

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  2. Oh my goodness! So many great authors in one place :-D Wowsa!

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  3. Again, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading these interviews. They're so good at showing that the journey to publication is subjective and individual.

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  4. I love these author interviews. Especially one's like Ty's. :D

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  5. Wow! This is a great giveaway and a great post! I have some books to add to my TBR pile. Thanks for the chance to win :D

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  6. Yay! Interviews! Loved this post - thanks so much! :D

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  7. Oh my goodness, what an awesome giveaway! Lovely interviews, too :-) Fingers crossed . . .

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  8. Oh my god, the awesomeness above me is just sickening. Totally entering this contest and thanks so much gals! LOTS to look forward to this month!

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  9. What awesome interviews! I love to hear about the journey. What wonderful releases, but I'm especially looking forward to The Fourth Stall.
    Thanks for a great contest!

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  10. I love that you do this. It is inspiring to learn everyone's story to publication. Gives me hope.

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  11. Whee! Look at all these lovely books! I just have to enter. I enjoyed reading the interviews too.
    1. Chris R: haha, wearing a bowtie when writing; good advice/attitude on rejection
    2. Alex F: wow, longhand first drafts! Sure takes care of Internet temptations
    3. Great cover of SO SHELLY; sounds like it matches the mood of the novel
    4. Rachel N: yep, those million words of practice...I think I'm almost there!
    5. Tammar: cute, a writer seeming like an elf or a part-time mermaid :)
    6. Lili W: using adverbs like bay leaves. YES!
    7. The dark clouds on Chris L's cover is so incredibly moody

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  12. Love these interviews they are so fun to read. All these books look awesome...especially Cloaked! I loved Beastly and A Kiss in Time! Thanks so much for the awesome giveaways! :-)

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  13. oh those were great looks into those awesome books! I cannot wait to read them. Thank you for the great blurbs on them all. Made my monday.

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  14. Oh those are some wonderful choices. I read cloaked as an ARC and I cannot wait to get the finished copy. These are wonderful. Thank you.

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  15. Really looking forward to a few of these.

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  16. I love this feature! It's so exciting!

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  17. Wow I didn't realize so many good books were coming out this week. Thanks!

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  18. Squee! I am so excited for Beastly! I really want to see it! And I Am Number Four. As you can see, there's a constant factor between these two: Alex Pettyfer. Haha. Also would love to read Cloaked and So Shelly!

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  19. Thanks for showcasing these books. I am excited about reading them.

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  20. Chris Lynch is an awesome writer! The book you featured here sounds real interesting. Also, I'm all kinds of excited for your two part giveaway. Thanks :)

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  21. So many great books this week! I'd be happy to win any of them. :)

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  22. Wow, what a great group of books! wonderful interviews with the authors as well. Thanks for the chance to win.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

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  23. I have been wanting to read Cloaked for awhile so happy it's being released this week.

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  24. These all sound great. I'm really looking forward to The Floating Island. That cover is awesome and I love the concept!

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  25. WOW - there are so many terrific books this week - thanks for the tips and the interviews! Good luck to my US buddies! :)

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  26. It's always inspiring to hear other authors' stories. I can't wait to start reading!

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  27. Great interviews. So many awesome titles and WOW at the cover art. Must read them all...LOL.

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  28. What amazing books AND author interviews. Thanks!

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  29. Those are some awesome books! Thanks!

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  30. What a great giveaway with some great books!

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  31. These look great! Thanks for the interviews!

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  32. Wow. Some many books! Awesome giveaway.

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  33. thanks for the great giveaway! Great books! i been looking forward to reading Cloaked by Alex Flinn, Pink by Lili Wilkinson, and Kindred by Tammar Stein.

    Great interviews by the way!

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  34. So many great books this week! Can't wait to get started.

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  35. I look forward to Mondays and finding more new books to read! THANKS for your time in doing this! My daughter is DYING to watch Beastly.

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  36. I loved the interviews--readable and interesting. Thanks for the contest.

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  37. Thanks for another great giveaway!

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  38. WOW! This week is huge in book releases and giveaways! ALL of thse look scrumptious! Thanks again for giving us the opp. to win these treats!

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  39. Oh my gosh there were amazing releases out this week. I cannot wait to read them all. Wait I need a second job! thank you for the giveaway!

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  40. Thanks for the giveaway. I am a follower and email subscriber. Tore923@aol.com

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