Monday, April 11, 2011

46 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

Welcome to another awesome week in YA lit! We're excited to share new books and insightful author interviews. Be sure to scroll all the way down to enter our fabulous giveaway!

This Week's Interviews

Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre
  • From Goodreads: In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn't like following orders. At first she thinks he's crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don't always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she's never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as to using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy... but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known.
How long did you work on this book?
This is kind of an amazing story. I drafted ENCLAVE in two weeks. For fourteen days, I wrote at least 5,000 words. It meant giving up sleep and time with my family to live in the world so fully. I wanted to give this book the kind of intensity that teenagers feel about everything. You know how everything seems so immediate, so life-or-death when you're that age? I felt like I had to write in crisis mode, giving every breath, every thought, every dream, to this particular book. It was insane. Intense. Grueling. By day ten of this incredibly punishing schedule, my hands hurt so bad that my husband had to massage them with Icy Hot, but I had this book so deep in my blood and bone by this point that I could not have stopped if I'd wanted to. I had to push to the finish.

My family was incredibly patient and supportive, as they hardly saw me. I might as well have been soldered to my laptop. For the last four days, I took Aleve, got hand massages at night, and wrote a woman possessed. By day fourteen, I had a draft. The total completion time was quite a bit longer, however, because I revised it before I sent it to my agent. I revised again after she read it. I revised again for Liz Szabla, my editor. I added more in the copyedits process. And even when we got the proofs, Liz asked for a little more detail, as well. This book came to me like a movie in my head, and it was so incredibly vivid that I wanted readers to experience it in the same way that I had. I felt the only way to do that was to dive in. A more moderate approach would have not imbued the pages with sufficient passion, and it was polished in layers, resulting in something beautiful.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Long. Ever so long. It started well enough. When I was eight, I wrote a story for a school writing competition called THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLDEN DOUBLOON. This seminal, self-illustrated work was about two best friends who went to Florida on vacation and busted an illegal treasure hunting ring. I won the contest. I went to the state finals and met Shel Silverstein, who read to a bunch of us from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. In that moment, sitting on my square of carpet, I thought, they pay him for his words, this is what I want to do. Later that same year, my teacher told me writing wasn't a real job and I should pick something else. As it turns out, I am stubborn beyond the point of common sense, as I never did choose another career.

I wrote my first novel at fifteen. I sent it to NY. At sixteen I got my first rejection. This pattern continued at nineteen, and again at twenty-one, although I did interest an agent that early. Unfortunately, the historical romance I had written was too dark for the market, though the editors all agreed I could write and that I had talent. I wrote more. In the meantime I got married and had some babies. I kept writing. More rejections. I hit my thirties, signed with an agent, and got more rejections. By this point, I had, oh, eight books that had been rejected. In utter despair, I wrote an SF novel. I decided, you know, if I'm never going to sell, then I am going to write the novel I want to read. I'm going to write for myself, for fun, for pleasure, and without regard for market. The result was Grimspace. Unfortunately, my agent at the time thought it sounded unsellable. I had to choose between my book and my agent. It was a terrible decision, but I believed so strongly in that project that I gave notice. I went back to cold querying. I was 36 by this point. My current agent pulled me out of the slush pile--and that was the start of a really magical career.

Laura Bradford is a romance specialist. (I thought I'd written a romance with futuristic elements. Turns out, no.) But she loved Grimspace so much, she learned the market, just for me. She said, "I've never sold SF but I want the challenge, so if you're okay with that, I'm offering you representation at this time." I chose passion and enthusiasm over experience. I signed with her on March 31, 2007. We pitched Grimspace on April 11, my husband's birthday. Within a couple of weeks, we had a nibble. An editor loved it and was taking it to acquisitions. She updated the rest of the editors, who were then motivated to read faster. Before we heard from the first editor, we had an offer from Anne Sowards. Since she's my dream editor--she edits so many people I've read and admired--I cried in excitement and disbelief. This sale was over twenty years in the making, closer to thirty if you count the story I wrote when I was eight. We accepted the offer at once, and since then, we've sold over twenty projects together in the last four years.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
If you can quit, do. There are easier hobbies. But if the voices in your head won't let you rest, if you have to write just like you need to breathe, then don't give up. Ever. Chase your dream with all your heart.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
How much time is required for the business aspect of things. Taxes, publicity, interviews, emails. Before I sold, I always thought, When I sell, it will be magical. I won't have to worry about anything but writing anymore. Turns out that was rather naive and romantic of me.

What Comes After by Steve Watkins
  • From Goodreads: After her veterinarian dad dies, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight must leave her beloved Maine to live on a North Carolina farm with her hardbitten aunt and a cousin she barely knows. Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, immediately clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats the livestock, spends Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense. Things come to a head when Iris sets two young goats free to save them from slaughter, and an enraged Aunt Sue orders her brutish son, Book, to beat Iris senseless - a horrific act that lands Book and his mother in jail. Sent to live with an offbeat foster family and their "dooking" ferrets, Iris must find a way to take care of the animals back at the farm, even if it means confronting Aunt Sue. Powerful and deeply moving, this compelling novel affirms the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.
How long did you work on this book?
Two and a half years from first word to last edited sentence, but that includes months when I was overwhelmed with my other job(s) and couldn’t carve out any writing time. If I’d had nothing else to do besides raising my daughters and working on WHAT COMES AFTER, I probably could have finished in a year. And if I subtracted all the time I spent doing laundry instead of writing (Did I mention my office is also our laundry room?) then I probably could have finished in six months. And if I subtracted all the time I wasted checking email, “researching” stuff on Wikipedia, listening to tunes on Youtube, setting up new stations on Pandora, walking the dog, sitting in unnecessary meetings, fretting about any old thing, then I probably could have finished in three weeks.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Actually no rejections at all. Candlewick Press published my first YA novel, DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN, which won the Golden Kite Award for Fiction from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and had an option clause in our contract. Bless their hearts, they made an offer on the book proposal for WHAT COMES AFTER just a couple of days after my agent sent it in. The title back then—the working title—was GOAT GIRL. I got the idea from an article in our local paper. DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN was an autobiographical novel about a twelve-year-old boy, Dewey Turner, growing up in a small Southern town in the turbulent 60s. I wanted to do something completely different for my next book, and so took on the story of Iris Wight, a contemporary sixteen-year-old girl, forced to live with her abusive aunt and thuggish cousin in North Carolina after the death of her veterinarian father in Maine. It’s a story very much informed by my experiences as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working in the juvenile courts as an investigator and advocate for abused and neglected children. It’s also a story about goats. And ferrets. And softball and English classes and Sufi poets and field parties and farmers’ markets and jail and foster care and Whoopie Pies.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
To aspiring writers: Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read. And then learn your craft, expecting to write unpublishable stuff for quite a lot longer than you think should be necessary. And then keep writing not even so much because you want to but because you have to—because you can’t not do it.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The number of people who have named their children after me. So many Steves, Stephens, Stevies, Stephanies! I’m honored, of course, flattered, absolutely, but enough already.

In The Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap

  • From Goodreads: It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher. Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she's falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm? A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp."
How long did you work on this book?
I think I started researching about a year and a half ago, and then the writing began soon after.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I have a peculiar story: I got an agent after about 6 months of trying, then he made me work on my novel for about a year after that. When he thought it was ready, he submitted it and got me a contract within about two weeks. It's not typical! I definitely got rejections, but I really felt that his guidance helped me do it with less pain.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Accept criticism. Listen to it: you'll know what's good and true and what's not. The best words I've ever heard were uttered by Jane Yolen: If you want to be a writer, first, believe in yourself. Then, get over yourself.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I find it very surprising that choirs of angels don't sing to me on publication days, that they're basically much like any other day! Seriously, although nothing can compare with the thrill of seeing your book in print, or in a bookstore, the whole process is so attenuated that the actual day is a bit of a non-event.

My Unfair Godmother (My Fair Godmother #2) by Janette Rallison
  • From Goodreads: Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn't exactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum "Chrissy" Everstar, Tansy's fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy's three wishes don't exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn't bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She'll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief 's son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control.
How long did you work on this book?
I thought about it for a more than a year before I ever started typing. The problem was I couldn’t think of a complete plot and I was trying to get the story clear in my mind before I began. Sometimes writing doesn’t work that way though. Sometimes you just have start at the beginning and hope you figure it out as you go. Once I started, it took four months of doing nothing but writing all day until I was done with the first draft.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My journey was deceptively short. Most authors don’t get published until they write several books. (Which is why I always tell writers not to give up if their first book gets rejected.) The first book I wrote was accepted—however, I had a lot of projects that I got 75% of the way done and then just quit and went on to something else. Those manuscripts were my bad novels and screenplays that would have been rejected if I had sent them out.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Learn the craft. I was at a writing workshop not long ago and someone asked me how you know when your manuscript is ready to send out. My response was, “If you have never read a book on writing or taken a class on writing, your manuscript isn’t ready to send out.” Writing is like any other art. Natural talent only takes you so far, you’ve got to learn the rest.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I wasn’t prepared for all the marketing authors have to do. I wish I’d taken more of those sorts of classes in college, instead of Renaissance English novel classes. But all in all, I’m happy to be an author. Who else gets to make stuff up for a living?

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
  • From Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent," with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
How long did you work on this book?
It took me about four years. I started writing it in 2006.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
The journey to publication for this novel was relatively short. But that was only because when I finished it, I knew exactly which editor would get a kick out of it and the timing happened to be perfect.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Writers write. Find time to do it by any means necessary. No excuses.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I published my first short story in 1999 and my first novel in 2005, so I've been a published author for some years now. I guess what's surprised me most so far is how much one can do in a relatively short period of time. And that it really is possible to broaden a genre.

Additional Releases

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong
  • From Goodreads: Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations. It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
On The Volcano by James Nelson
  • From Goodreads: In the 1870s, sixteen-year-old Katie has grown up in a remote cabin on the edge of a volcano with her father and their friend Lorraine, the only people she has ever seen, but, after eagerly anticipating it for so long, her first trip into a town ultimately brings tragedy into their lives.
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
  • From Goodreads: A young English boy, Robert Jacklin, finds himself enrolled in a Zimbabwean boarding school just after the war for independence. Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. The school is still predominately white with a few token black pupils but the racial tension is bubbling beneath the surface.


The Returning by Christine Hinwood
  • From Goodreads: Cam has a hunger, an always-hunger; it drives him from home, to war, from north to south. When he returns from war alone - all his fellow soldiers slain - suspicion swirls around him. He's damaged in body and soul, yet he rides a fine horse and speaks well of his foes. What has he witnessed? Where does his true allegiance lie? How will life unfold for his little sister, his closest friend, his betrothed, his community, and even the enemy Lord who maimed him?
Giveaway

Here goes! We are happy to offer copies of ENCLAVE, THE GATHERING, WHAT COMES AFTER, IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAMP, and MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER. Please fill out the form below and leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. The contest is open to US residents and winners will be announced this Thursday!

Happy reading!
The Ladies of ACP

46 comments:

  1. So many good covers - the books sound terrific. Thanks for the tips & good luck to my US buddies :)

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  2. I always enjoy reading what the authors have to say about their road to publication. Thanks girlfriends for doing this each and every week. You guys are awesome!

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  3. So many good books are coming out this week. I love hearing about other authors' journeys to publication. They really inspire you on. And I'm excited. Kelley Armstrong is coming to Ann Arbor Thursday night and I'll get to meet her.

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  4. Some diverse books this week. What fun! In the shadow of a lamp is a very interesting historical premise. The unfair godmother looks like a hoot. Thanks ladies for the giveaway.

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  5. In the Shadow of a Lamp sounds amazing. Right up my alley! I love reading these interviews. I especially enjoyed Ann's statement that "If you can quit, do it." It's so spot-on. Perseverance makes all the difference in this game! :)

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  6. The books this week sound amazing :)

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  7. I haven't heard of most of these titles. Thank you for pointing them out to me. What Comes After looks like a great read, I will definitely be picking that one up. Thank you for the giveaway :)

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  8. i'm constantly amazed by the books you get for these contests. many, many thanks!


    -- Tom

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  9. I've been excited about AKATA WITCH for a while, but I hadn't heard of many of the others here. Thank you for bringing them to light!!

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  10. LOVE Janette Rallison! I'm excited for her newest release. If I don't win it here, I will buy it!

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  11. Look at all these novels, how fun! How interesting that Susanne Dunlap had to revise for a YEAR with an agent before signing. Well worth it when it sold/contracted in 2 weeks though! :)

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  12. I very much agree with Taffy here. I just read the first book, MY FAIR GODMOTHER and now I am dying to get my hands on the sequal. All the books look great, though.

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  13. These all look amazing! So many great books to choose from! I'm taking notes of things to buy if I don't win.

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  14. Nice! Some of those are absolutely incredible-looking. I'm especially excited for Enclave, which I've been waiting for for months!

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  15. Wow more great books this week. Enclave looks awesome, I have heard great things. I want to read The Gathering too. Great giveaways!

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  16. Great post! I can't wait to read many of these!

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  17. Great interviews! I want to read all these books! :)

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  18. I'm so extremely excited for Enclave. It sounds fabulous!

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  19. Oh cannot wait for the release on Enclave!

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  20. My unfair godmother looks fantastic.

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  21. This is one of my favorite features on your blog. You ladies are awesome!

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  22. Sometimes, it's a little overwhelming how many good new books are out! :-)

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  23. I haven't heard of alot of these titles. Thanks for introducing them to me!

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  24. All of these sound great. I've been looking forward to reading Enclave!

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  25. OH I am so excited for Enclave and The Gathering

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  26. So excited for The Gathering!

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  27. So many look fantastic! I've already pre-ordered My Unfair Godmother because My Fair Godmother (the first one) was the best book EVER! I'd love to read so many of these!

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  28. The Gathering looks so good! I haven't read any of Kelley Armstrong's books. I really should!

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  29. I love these interviews you do every week. Am ALWAYS adding books to my to-read's list! :) thank you!

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  30. I can't wait to read The Gathering. I loves the Darkest Powers series by her. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  31. Great books coming out this week! Especially excited about The Gathering and In the Shadow of the Lamp, but all look good!

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  32. I love these posts :)
    jlhsperry624@hotmail.com

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  33. Each of these books sound amazing! Wow. Thanks, ladies.

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  34. The Gathering and On the Volcano both sound interesting. I so excited to read Enclave. Luckily, I've already ordered it and it's on it's way so I won't have to wait long. :)

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  35. All the books sound very good. Thanks for the giveaway. Tore923@aol.com

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  36. awesome as usual. my favorite post of the week!

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  37. These are some of my most anticipated books of 2011! Such diversity in YA--love it! I think I'm most excited for In the Shadow of the Lamp, but they all look great!

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  38. Great giveaway! Can't wait to read Enclave!

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  39. Wonderful giveaway with some really terrific book choices. Yeah!

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  40. All of the books look excellent, but I am particularly excited about The Gathering. Thanks for sharing!

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  41. Wow, what a journey Ann went through to get published. It's great she never gave up!

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  42. Lots of good releases this week! You guys always have such great giveaways -- thanks!

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  43. I love the variety in this week's books. Thanks for the interviews & the contest!

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  44. oh my goodness! Look at the great books! Thank you so much for the information, interviews and Book-Eye-Candy!!!

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