Saturday, August 9, 2014

4 Seven YA Authors with New Releases Share Their Roads to Pub and Best Writing Advice

We've got an amazing group of authors here today, sharing how they got published, what inspired their books, and the advice that took them from writer to author.  Please welcome Kristi Cook, Lucy Frank, Delilah S. Dawson, Sarah Fine, K.A. Harrington, Rachel De Woskin, Rin Chupeco, and Suzanne Lazear!


Kristi Cook, Magnolia



What was your inspiration for writing this book?


I first envisioned MAGNOLIA as a sort of "reverse" of Romeo and Juliet. Instead of two feuding families desperate to keep their kids apart, I wanted to write about two extraordinarily close families who desperately want to push their kids into each other's arms.  It was pretty easy to imagine how *that* would work out! 


There are a few scenes in the book that pay homage to Romeo and Juliet including a balcony scene, where instead of professing their undying love, the two main characters profess their undying hate. I had a lot of fun playing around with these elements.



Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads



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Lucy Frank, Two Girls Staring At The Ceiling



What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I didn’t set out to write a novel in verse.  Or anything concerning Crohn's disease.  I started writing the story that became the poems that turned into TWO GIRLS STARING AT THE CEILING because of a foul-mouthed, ferociously brave, hilarious, and deeply kind woman I shared a room with during one of my own hospital stays for Crohn’s disease.  “You know what your @#$% problem is?” she told me. “You’re too @##$% nice!” Through two endless, scary nights, we pissed and moaned and ranted and laughed and told each other our life stories. I’d like to think I cheered and helped her as much as she helped me.  We emailed back and forth for years. Her motto, “We don’t take stress, we give stress” stayed in my head even after our friendship faded away, and I swore to write about her one day. I hope my character Shannon captures her spirit and I pray she’s still giving stress today.


How long did you work on the book?

From start to finish, TWO GIRLS STARING AT THE CEILING took close to five years to write, mostly because the subject matter, teenage girls with a chronic illness, is pretty intense, and I wanted to tell their story in a way that would be true and honest, but with plenty of hope and humor.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I was incredibly fortunate with this book. As soon as the announcement came out that TWO GIRLS STARING AT THE CEILING had won the PEN Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, I was approached by a wonderful editor who wanted to acquire the manuscript. Which was only about sixty pages at that point, so I am forever grateful for that act of faith.
TWO GIRLS is my eighth novel to be published. Before that, I wrote four really bad picture books and one novel that never got published. I’ve also started and abandoned a couple of novels along the way.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads



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Delilah Dawson, Servants of The Storm


What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I saw a photo set of the abandoned Six Flags NOLA a few years after Katrina, and I knew I had to write about it. Rather than setting the story in New Orleans and risk not doing honor to those who suffered through Katrina, I decided to move it to Savannah, where I have resources, experience, family, and a born-and-bred Savannah boy, my husband. I found Dovey in a sales flyer for Ulta, if you can believe it. After that, it was just having as much fun as possible in a creepy old city. Almost every scene in Servants of the Storm is set in a real part of Savannah, and you can even take a carriage tour with the pirate Dovey meets.


How long did you work on the book?
The first draft took about three months, and then my agent and I did two rounds of edits. When it sold, my editor gave me a nine page edit letter, and I had to write a World Bible and really make it sing. Altogether, I wrote the first draft in 2011, sold it in 2012, and it'll be published in 2014.


How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My first book was a fatally flawed magical realism that didn't get an agent. My second book was a Middle Grade magical adventure that received two offers of representation but didn't sell. My third book was a steampunk paranormal Romance called WICKED AS THEY COME, which my agent sold in a three book, four e-novella series. My fourth book was a Middle Grade magical adventure that didn't sell. My fifth book was SERVANTS OF THE STORM. My sixth book was HIT, which will be out with Simon Pulse in 2015. I wrote my first book in 2009, got an agent in 2010, got my first sale in 2011, and held my first published book in 2012. So, compared to some, it's been pretty easy… but it definitely doesn't feel that way. :)


What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I can write anywhere as long as I have my MacBook Air and some earbuds. Each book has a playlist that immerses me in the world; I behaviorally condition myself so that whenever I hear that music, I can work on that book. I love working in coffee shops, but it's a lot cheaper to work at home. But I can write in an airport, on a plane, in bed, or in the hospital waiting room. I try not to let it get precious.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I.. um… give a ton of writing advice on Twitter, most of which can be found Storified on my blog, WhimsyDarkhttp://www.whimsydark.com/blog. I'm always happy to answer questions about my books or writing on Twitter (@DelilahSDawson) and even expand on things that take more than 140 characters. And I teach a class on Worldbuilding at LitReactor, too. My best advice would be to know that YOU CAN DO IT. You don't need an MFA, friends in publishing, twenty years of experience, or a year in NYC. Everything you need can be found online for free. I wrote my first book at age 32, stuck at home and nursing a new baby. Always be reading and always be upping your writing game.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads



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Sarah Fine, Of Metal and Wishes


What was your inspiration for writing this book?
A lot of people might think it’s Gaston LeRoux’s Phantom of the Opera, since my book is often called a Phantom retelling, but in truth, those parallels only came to me as I was writing the story. The primary inspiration for the book was Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which I read as a teen, and hidden camera footage of undocumented workers in a poultry processing factory, which was part of the documentary Food, Inc. Reading and seeing the experiences of workers in those terrible places, who only wanted a chance to earn money and take care of their families—that was the true driver for Of Metal and Wishes.


How long did you work on the book?
I wrote the first draft in about three weeks. I revised it a bit with my agent and then with my editor after it was acquired, so that process was considerably longer.


How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I got an agent about a year after I started writing, but that was with the second book I ever wrote (Sanctum). So if you’re asking how many I wrote before Of Metal and Wishes … four, maybe? Two never got published and never will. Sanctum was my debut novel in 2012. And the other one is being published in January (Marked, an adult urban fantasy romance).


What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I work at home and hate writing in public (I don’t like sitting in chairs or working at desks). I sometimes listen to music, but it depends on the task and my mood. If I’m drafting, I always read through several pages of what I’d written the day before as a sort of warm up.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Be patient. These days it’s possible to immediately post/publish/query something you’ve written, but whether you’re seeking traditional publication or planning to self-publish, it’s crucial to your reputation in this business to only put out your best quality work. That means taking time to have it critiqued, edited, etc.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads



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K.A Harrington, Forget Me


What was your inspiration for writing this book?
One day, Facebook wanted to tag a photo of a friend with someone else’s name. They do look alike. But the gears started turning in my writer brain. I played the “what if” game and FORGET ME was born!

How long did you work on the book?
My first draft took me about seven months. But then comes the real work—revision! :)

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My first published book was CLARITY in 2011. Before that, I wrote three books that will never see the light of day. But I learned something from each of them.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I prefer to work at home when no one else is here, in complete silence. I could never be a coffee shop writer. I eavesdrop too much.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Read and lot and write a lot. And don’t get stuck on your first book. Be willing to move on and work on your next one. Most people don’t sell their first book!


Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads



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Rachel DeWoskin, Blind


How long did you work on the book?
Two years. In order to dream Emma up, I spent a year studying Braille, going to “beep ball” games and eating ice cream with blind teenagers, trying on glasses, tripping over white canes, and learning basic geometry with a teacher who taught me to feel shapes on a magnetic board. I talked to blind girls who told me they always wear nude bras, so the colors won’t show through, no matter what tee-shirt they might accidentally choose. I felt clothing labels Braille-d onto little squares cut from milk jugs, learned to tell a blue eye-liner (one rainbow loom band around the top) from a red lip-liner (two bands). I got how and why blind girls like to wear make-up. I was reminded that kids are kids no matter what their particular challenges, everyone working on the same universal projects: to figure out who we are and how to engage in the world in meaningful ways. Blind is for all those kids, and for my daughters, an exploration of what we need in order to stay on the opposite side of loneliness: each other, curiosity, love, empathy, and books.


How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
This is my fourth published book, but I wrote and wrote and wrote from the time I was tiny, stapling printer paper "books" together, for my giant readership (my parents)! Like most writers, I have endless drafts and unpublished works. . .

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I work in a small office, room-of-my-own style, with my books, an espresso machine, and complete quiet. Only three hours a day, and I only drink coffee when I write, which makes me feel like I love writing, even though it might just be that I love coffee.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads


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Rin Chupeco, The Girl from The Well


What was your inspiration for writing this book?
The first blip of an idea for The Girl from the Well came when I was still working a nine to five job inside a rather dilapidated office building in one of the busiest financial districts in the Philippines. I often had to stay late for overtime work (my job was at a mobile programming tech company, writing those user manuals that no one really reads and deciding in-house project protocols that no one really follows) and by the time I clock out the place is deserted, with minimal lighting.

Unfortunately, there were other people working on other floor that also had to work late. I had really long hair, looked really Asian, and am pale and liked dark clothes, so imagine the heart attacks I almost caused when the rickety old elevator slides open to reveal me.

Long story short - they got used to me, even nicknamed me Sadako. The idea of a 'good' ghost (albeit in only the vaguest sense of the word) started then, based on that experience: a ghost who isn't as evil as she looked, though still remains
something that shouldn't entirely be trusted.

How long did you work on the book?
It only took me three months from concept to completed draft - I worte that first chapter in less than three hours, which is something of a record for me. I didn't go into the book knowing what was going to happen - I didn't have a plot in mind, and I mostly winged it as I went along. I didn't know how I was going to end it until I was on the final chapter itself. Ideas just sort of introduced themselves when they were needed as I went along, and I was pleasantly surprised with the final result.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I had one book finished before I started work on The Girl from the Well that I stopped querying because I felt that it wasn't developed enough (I was, like a lot of first time queriers, prematurely overeager) though I intend to go back and make something out of it again soon. That said, querying for The Girl from the Well went faster than I expected. I was expecting close to a year before anything positive came my way, but in less than three months after starting I had an agent, and then a publisher within that same year. In many ways I was very lucky - I think I just happened to be querying my MS at the right time just when people were looking for this kind of book.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
My writing ritual has everything to do with being spontaneous and nothing to do with a ritual per se. One day I'll be writing at home without any music, and another day I'll be at a milk tea (coffee makes me too hyper) place with loud music blasting through my earphones. One day I'll devote two hours to write, and another I'll be on it for ten hours straight. Sometimes I'll write just fifty words on Monday, then wind up with five thousand on Friday. I'll even spend some days just rolling around in bed staring up at the ceiling, and that's considered a good day of writing to me. I like not having to follow structure, because then I don't make unrealistic expectations of myself, so the ideas just flow and ebb as they may.

What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write.
That's basically it. You'd be surprised at what you can do when you actually go ahead and start writing, instead of talking about or thinking about or planning what to write.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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Suzanne Lazear, Fragile Destiny


What was your inspiration for writing this book?
The Aether Chronicles series came about because I wanted to write a story about a girl dragged into the realm of faerie. What I got was Innocent Darkness. Fragile Destiny is book 3 of the series.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I wrote nine books (mostly adult urban fantasy) before I sold Innocent Darkness. None of those nine were ever published, most were really bad, but there’s a couple I’d love to rework one day.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I am a mom with a full-time job so out of necessity I have developed the ability to write anywhere. At lunch. At tennis practice. On the couch with cartoons in the background. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the story.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Be Dorry and Just Keep Swimming. Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep going. Don’t give it. You can do it.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

4 comments:

  1. Chock full of good books and good advice and interesting tales. Thanks.

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  2. Thanks for all the book recommendations. APpreciate hearing their publishing journeys…and once again, I'm commenting right after Rosi!

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  3. hello,, i'm just visit,, have a nice day :D

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  4. Thanks for all the inspiring publishing stories!

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