Monday, February 14, 2011

32 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

It just doesn't get better than this. There are some amazing books debuting this week. The interviews are hot and um... Let's just say you'll want to keep scrolling down and see what else is hot ;)

This Week's Interviews

Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting
  • From Goodreads: The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found. Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life. As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.
How long did you work on this book?
I actually started Desires of the Dead, the sequel to The Body Finder, before I even had a contract for TBF. It’s pretty typical for me to spend 4-6 months working on a solid first draft, and then several months (depending on how fast my editor is) going back and forth with revisions.

No one said writing was for sissies!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Both, really. I started writing (and even had an agent) when I was in my early 20s (in other words, many years ago!) for a full-on horror novel I’d written. I picked up A LOT of rejection letters for that one!

The good news: It never reached publication. It was terrible.

The bad news: It was another 15 years until I wrote The Body Finder, which landed me my first-choice agent and sold within weeks of being on submission.

So, yeah…sort of a long, torturous journey, with my fair share of rejections!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Keep trying. Don’t give up on your 1st, or 5th, or even 50th rejection. Read every book you can get your hands on, work on your craft, and learn to revise (even when it makes you uncomfortable to cut those words you spent so much time working on). Write new things, and keep submitting.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
OMG, so many things I don’t even know where to start!

1) I thought you write your book, hand it to your editor, and they edit it. Period. End of story.

Actually, your editor will offer suggestions on your first draft, and then the two of you work together to revise and revise until you’re both satisfied. This means long hours going over your manuscript again and again and again. I don’t think editors get nearly enough credit for the big part they play in our books. Seriously, I cringe at the thought of my first draft being published as-is!

2) How much “say” the big chain bookstores (like B&N and Borders) have over book covers.

I actually just learned this early last year, when some of my friend’s covers were rejected by the big chain bookstores. Until then, I had no idea that this even happened. The author usually doesn’t have much say about the cover, the publisher (who commissions the design) has much more say of course, but ultimately, it’s up to the big booksellers to decide what the final product will look like. Crazy, isn’t it?

3) And social networking, who knew?
I know, right? I was like a newborn babe navigating the waters of websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Goodreads and Shelfari, and even Amazon. I could (and do) spend hours and hours procrastinating online.

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  • From Goodreads: When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul. A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once. While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.
How long did you work on this book?
The first draft of Angelfire was completed in 39 days, but I spent five months revising.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I don't know how many rejections I received, because I hadn't queried Angelfire very widely. It was completed in November of 2008 and I signed with my agent in February of 2009.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Extra pairs of eyes going over your writing are invaluable. When someone tells you that your work is good, figure out how to make it great.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I'm most surprised by how different every author, agent, editor, publisher works. Everything varies so incredibly that you can never guess!


Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen
  • From Goodreads: There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on—and off—the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy—including the most innocent bystanders. When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.
How long did you work on this book?
The original germ of the idea for LEVERAGE--two kids from really different backgrounds forced together to defend themselves against outside forces--had been brewing in my head for about 15 years. When I was in college I played around with a version of the story but dropped it. Then I picked it up in earnest again years later after reading a news account of a really horrible attack by a group of high school seniors on their fellow underclassmen. My story isn't the same as the real life news account but something in the news account really motivated me to investigate deeper truths about how people (young and old) and entire communities can operate under a veil of fear and completely succumb to intimidation. The news account also motivated me to draw attention to the serious nature of the bullying going on out there in our schools. I really started to hammer down on the story from 2004 onward. Around the spring of 2007, I think I had the manuscript in a place where I was ready for some trusted people to read it and give me feedback. Once it was picked up by my agent (the awesome Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management), I reworked it based on her feedback and then, once it was acquired, I continued to work on it with the incredible editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, all the way up to the galleys. So my really long-winded (and run-on sentence) answer to your question could be summed up by saying that it's been in my head for at least fifteen years but I'd been working on it in a concrete way for about six years.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My journey to publication was, how shall I put this? .... SUPER LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG! Before I scare anyone off from the process, however, make sure you read the rest of my answer because, ultimately, after a super long time, it eventually happened and it has been totally worth it! I'd been writing with the hopes of getting published--seriously writing, not just kinda-sorta seeing what would happen--for about 10 years. I was not very smart about the entire process and I imagine I could have shortened that timeline if I had been more astute about, and just as dedicated to, the marketing/business side of publishing as I was to the actual writing and craft portion. I once heard an editor at a writers' conference say that new writers trying to get published should spend 50% of their time on the business side and 50% of their time on the craft side. I think for the first 7 years, I spent about 95% of my time on writing and only 5% of my time on the marketing of my manuscript, all the while thinking it would just happen. Looking back on that editor’s advice, it was really wise and I really did not heed it at all.

Prior to LEVERAGE, I’d been working on another manuscript (actually slaved over it is a better term) for about 5 years and, in retrospect, I needed to get that manuscript out of the way--it was really self-indulgent and snarky and supremely witty (so I told myself after re-reading it obsessively every night at 3AM) and it basically was a 150,000 word non-story. Yuck! But it was so, so precious to me. Well, after five years of laboring to deliver this behemoth got me only multiple rejections (What was wrong with these agents? Couldn't they see how amazing it was?!?!) I went into a deep, deep existential depression and stopped writing for about eight months. And in those eight months, I suddenly found myself with tons of free time when I finished my day job. This was what normal people did, I told myself. They watched TV. They hung out with their friends. They hung out with their spouses. Things were great for a few months, especially catching up on sleep I'd been denying myself for several years. Then something odd happened around month seven. I felt really empty inside. My day job was just a day job and I didn't find it fulfilling and I liked hanging out with friends and family but the thing that fulfilled me was gone.

I decided to begin a new story and this time I told myself I was going to pay close attention to creating an actual story, not just a series of vignettes. I made sure that it felt like something that had commercial appeal. Also, at some point early in the telling, I decided to have it in the voice of two younger boys and this served me well because neither character was so educated and witty and snarky that he would speak with over-the-top vocabulary that was just cluttering up my earlier manuscripts. The boys' voices forced me to keep it simple and tell the story, not get lost in 3-dollar words that I imagined would impress an old college English professor somewhere. I continued to write this story and all the while ask myself, would this hold the interest of someone else?

Counting all the time and rejections I garnered with my first manuscript and then with the manuscript that would become LEVERAGE, I'd say that, yeah, it took about ten years to get published. How many rejections? Lots. I'd guess at least thirty but probably more like fifty to sixty. I’m not even counting all the short stories I wrote and submitted that received rejections. That would put the rejections easily in the triple digits. I did keep all the snail mail rejections. (An interesting side note to all of this is how much the submission process has evolved in the last ten years. My first manuscript submissions, back around 2000 and 2001, were all done by snail mail. My LEVERAGE submissions began as a mix of snail mail and email and finally were all email. This is a huge improvement as far as I’m concerned.)

At one point I’d pretty much given up the dream of ever getting published and went through this martyr stage where I was just submitting to agents to see how many rejections I could garner but then, amidst all the rejections, I started to receive a smattering of nibbles from agents, and the nibbles were enough to keep me going. Sometimes they asked to see the first ten pages or the first fifty pages. A handful of agents asked for the entire manuscript and offered some great feedback but ultimately passed on it for business considerations, thinking they would have a hard time selling LEVERAGE due to the heavy subject matter. These rejections felt like little victories to me since respected people in the publishing industry were reading and considering my work. For any writer banging his or her head to get anyone to read their work, these types of rejections feel pretty good. Eventually, Catherine Drayton of Inkwell asked to see the first fifty pages and then the next 150 pages and, finally, the entire manuscript. When I received that call from her asking to represent me, I completely flipped out. Finally, finally, it was happening! Inkwell Management has been a powerful advocate for the book and I could not be more pleased that I signed with Catherine.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Beyond the earlier advice I’m passing along from the editor at the writers’ conference to split your energy 50/50 between the craft and business of writing, my own advice is to simply hang in there. And believe me, I KNOW how hard that is to read and hear sometimes. Trust me when I say I was in a really dark place regarding my own writing prospects for a very long time. When you find yourself at that point, it’s okay to leave it alone for awhile, take a break, and focus on other aspects of your life and regain your balance. But, at some point, you need to go back to it.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Since I’d spent the last decade obsessing over writing and getting published, nothing was a surprise so much as a confirmation. The trade publishing business is a Business with a capitol B. I think most writers trying to get published already have an inkling that this is the case but I don’t think, until you’re on the other side (and you are signing contracts and discovering all the other considerations that go into turning your manuscript into a book that will be marketed and sold to the public with the idea of making a profit) do you understand it in a concrete way (or, at least, I didn’t). What writers should take from this is that they may have the most amazing manuscript ever written and if it keeps getting rejected, it may be no reflection on the writing itself but what the industry perceives as what the market will buy. If you want to write to get published, then you must walk that line between chasing the market and completely ignoring it as you try to create something in your own unique voice. I’m no expert in this area and I’m still learning myself. But so far it’s been a really, really fun ride!

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
  • From Goodreads: When high school junior Natalie--or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper--is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want. But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected--especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?
How long did you work on this book?
Off and on for about three or four years. It's kind of hard to say, since I'm usually juggling projects (I frequently put a book on the back burner while I wait for feedback or try to get distance) but that's an approximate time frame for this one.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I started publishing here and there in magazines with nonfiction articles fresh out of college. I had a little success then with getting plays produced as well. I've been very lucky in terms of finding the right agent who landed me two three-book-deals in a row (one with Red Dress Ink, then most recently with Penguin's Dial Books). It's taken persistence and hard work like anything worth doing, but I've also been super blessed in many ways.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write what you love as often as you possibly can and don’t let anyone who trivializes your work get too close to you. Take yourself seriously in terms of the amount of time and energy you give to it, but also let there be pleasure and a sense of whimsy in your writing life. External validation is always a blast, but it’s the delight you take in the writing itself that will keep you coming back.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I love getting emails from readers! It can be very moving. After writing for so many years with an audience of mostly family and friends it’s mysterious and wonderful to be reaching strangers, touching their imaginations in some way.Sometimes I just sit around and try to imagine my book in people’s hands. I picture readers lying by the pool, sitting on airplanes, waiting in doctor’s offices, all of them reading my words, and it gives me this indescribable thrill.

Additional Releases

A Tale of Two Pretties (Clique #14) by Lisi Harrison
  • From Goodreads: Massie Block has long led the Pretty Committee—through boy drama, clique mutinies, and jealous wannabe attacks—while always in ah-dorable outfits. Over the past thirteen novels, avid fans of Massie, Alicia, Dylan, Kristin, and Claire, have made The Clique one of the premier bestselling series in the world. After the myriad of juicy escapades, the Clique is finally ready for their curtain call.
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
  • From Goodreads: Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star. Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship. The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation. As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?
Giveaway

We are thrilled to announce this week's giveaways. We have ANGELFIRE swag, as well as copies of DESIRES OF THE DEAD, LEVERAGE, and BABE IN BOYLAND! All you need to do for a chance to win is fill out the form below and leave a comment on this post. The contest is open to US residents and we'll announce winners this Thursday!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP

32 comments:

  1. Great interviews. I loved The Body Finder and would so love to read Desires of the Dead. Kimberly's interview was so inspiring. She didn't give up and she is such an amazing writer. Thanks.

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  2. Thanks for the interviews! These looks so good - I can't wait to read them all! :D

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  3. Love these interviews! All these books look awesome and I already have most of them on my to-read list. Thanks for the awesome giveaways!

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  4. Off and on for about three or four years. It's kind of hard to say, since I'm usually juggling projects.

    So glad I'm not the only one who does this!

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  5. Wow, what a bevy of amazing books! Great interviews too.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

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  6. OH what great giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity! Happy Valentine's Day!

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  7. this is def one of my fave posts of the week!

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  8. amazing week in books this week. Can't wait to read them all!
    Happy V-Day! :)

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  9. So many books I want this week. I know what I will be doing tomorrow night!

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  10. Thanks so much for the interviews!! Lots of good insights! And it's great to get an early start on my new book wish list!!

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  11. Love the interviews! Thorough and informative. Thanks for a wonderful giveaway! Liza

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  12. Great post and very insightful interviews! Can't wait to read the books!

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  13. Ack! Booksellers decide COVERS?? Yikes. That's...sobering.

    LOL--love the clever cover of Babe in Boyland, with the little mustache drawn on the finger!

    Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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  14. What wonderful books and great opportunities for us to get to know the authors. Thanks for the interviews.

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  15. Great books this week. I especially would LOVE to win Desires of the Dead!!! Thanks for the contest :)

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  16. Wow - what awesome sounding books! Good luck to all my US buddies :)

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  17. Wow, 2 3-book deals in a row?? Jody Gehrman must be UBER talented. :)

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  18. So many books, so little time.

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  19. I always love reading your interviews and finding out about new books. Thank for doing this!

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  20. Awesome interviews.Angelfire was awesome. Desires of the Dead is on my buy soon list.

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  21. Great interviews! I'm really looking forward to reading all of these wonderful books

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  22. i LOVE these interviews! They are so great!

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  23. I can't wait to read Desires of the Dead! I'm excited for Rival too.

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  24. I'm really anticipating Desires of the Dead. I was thoroughly creeped out in a good way with The Body Finder :)

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  25. BABE IN BOYLAND sounds fun! would love to win this one!

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  26. Great interviews and so many exciting books coming out this week!

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  27. As usual, inspiring interviews make me want to keep chugging along! Really want to read BABE IN BOYLAND!

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  28. Great interviews!Thanks for the giveaway!

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  29. Awesome interviews. I've ordered most of these books for my library and I really cannot wait to read them.

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  30. These are great titles. I cannot wait to get paid to pick a few up. I would love to be entered. Thank you!

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  31. I received Desires of the Dead in the mail yesterday, and Angelfire is on it's way. :D

    Thanks for the great interviews!

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