Saturday, September 6, 2014

3 Author Interviews! Read about the Road to Publication for Kiki Sullivan, Simmone Howell, Rachel Wilson, Hillary Monahan and Rebekah Purdy Plus Lots of Fantastic Writing Advice! AND the top 25 Contest Announcement!


Lisa here interrupting our usual post to make a BIG announcement! All of our entrants have done an amazing job in the Pitch Plus 5 Contest! I am so happy about the extent of the participation and feedback from everyone involved. You should give yourselves a big pat on the back and remember that everyone is a winner for receiving such valuable critique. Those extra eyes are so important!

I will be sending out emails later today with the judges comments so that you can put them to good use.

I know you're all waiting patiently, or maybe not so patiently. Maybe you've scrolled down already. If your manuscript it named below, please use the same rules you used when you sent your submission and the same email address to send me your 150 word or less query pitch and your revised first five pages by midnight on the 8th so they can be posted on the ninth!

Congratulations:


#2 Noble Virtues

#3 Phoenix Rising

#11 Aurora Island

#13 The Troll Diaries

#16 The Past Life of Jase Byrne
#17 Timekeeper

#18 Mash Up

#19 The Lost Pearls of Indarnini

#21 The Blood Rose Rebellion

#22 The Keystone Cure

#23 This Yellow Morning
#25 The River Runners

#26 A Magpie Mind

#29 Queen's Choice

#30 The Secrets We Share

#34 Daughter of the Disgraced King

#36 Freshman Blues

#37 The Runaways

#39 The Only Way to Change

#40 Playing Predator

#41 Incarnate

#43 Twice Dead

#44 Fog and Fireflies

#46 Apothecary of Forbidden Clocks

#47 The Virtue of Sin

*Remember if your manuscript is not up there, you will still have a chance to be chosen by popular vote for some amazing prizes!

AND NOW back to our regularly scheduled post!

Kiki Sullivan, The Dolls

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I developed the idea with Nick Harris from The Story Foundation (which works to turn novels into television shows or movies). We both wanted to create something that mixed a Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl feel with a little bit of dark magic. I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of New Orleans, so setting the book in a fictional Louisiana town just felt wonderfully natural.

How long did you work on the book?

It probably took me four months or so to write a first draft and another few months to revise it with my editor at HarperCollins. I was planning my wedding and writing another book at the same time, so it was quite a busy year!

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 very fortunate that Sara Sargent at Balzer + Bray took a chance on me with this one. Sara has moved on to Simon & Schuster, and I miss her input on THE DOLLS series, but I can’t thank her enough for getting the ball rolling and seeing the potential of the story. It took my agent and I a few months to find a home for the book once we had an outline and sample chapters, so it was a bit of a rocky road at first, but I’m very, very happy with where we wound up.

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 full-time writer, and I work at home. I have an office just beside my kitchen, which is wonderful, because baking is my favorite way to counter writer’s block. Seriously, if I’m struggling with a scene, I go make some cookies, and somewhere in that process, all the answers I need come to me. I write in silence, because I find that when I listen to music, I pay too much attention to the lyrics, and I have more trouble finding my own words.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
It’s easy to get into your own head and defeat yourself with negative thinking when you’re working on a book, simply because getting 70,000 or more words on the page seems very daunting. I think it’s very helpful to break the writing process down into small, manageable chunks. I write full-time, so I try to write at least 3,000 words per day (although when I’m on a tight deadline, I generally shoot for 5,000). I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I hit that target, which helps me not to feel as discouraged about the fact that I’m so far from the end. So for those of you who aren’t yet full-time writers, I’d suggest starting off with a very doable goal, such as 500 words per day. That’s about two double-spaced pages on the computer. If you can write 500 words per day, five days a week, you’ll have a 70,000-word first draft in less than seven months. Once you get into the swing of things, you should be able to knock 500 words out in about an hour. So set your alarm an hour earlier than usual each weekday, write a couple of pages, and walk out the door in the morning with a huge sense of accomplishment.

What are you working on now?
I’m just finishing up the sequel to THE DOLLS, which will be out next year!

Website | Goodreads

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Simmone Howell, Girl Defective


What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I was inspired by a couple of things. There was this article here. And there were the many record shops I worked in through my twenties and thirties. It was also inspired by various Nancy-like friends, who were always entrancing as fantasy figures but quite difficult as real life people. And I was inspired by St Kilda - the suburb where the novel is set, which used to be very down-at-heel and bohemian but has been gentrified.

How long did you work on the book?

I wrote the book on and off over a period of four years.

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 road to publication was long and winding! I have been writing since I was a teenager. I started off writing poetry to pop stars, then I wrote my friends essays for them, then more poetry, then short stories ... My first novel Notes from the Teenage Underground was published when I was 34! My second novel is Everything Beautiful.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I have a room at a Gothic mansion - seriously! I share there with other writers and sometimes we talk shop. I always start with coffee. I listen to music - but only on my way to the office. Usually the same thing (at the moment it’s a cd full of songs about hazel bushes and wandering ghosts). I tend to edit as I go, and I sometimes I have to write the whole book before I work out what it’s about and then I have to go back and rewrite with this new knowledge. So, yeah, sometimes it takes a while.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

I try to ‘fill the well’ when the writing’s not happening or I’m feeling uninspired I get out and DO something - visit a gallery, or go feed some ducks in a park. I try to remember that there is more to the world than writing. And that if I don't engage in the world there would be no writing.

Website | Goodreads

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Rachel Wilson, Don't Touch

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I dealt with OCD from about fourth grade into high school, so Caddie’s story began as an exploration of that experience. There are similarities between her early history with anxiety and my own, which I’ve talked about at Disability in Kidlit among other places. Over time though, her story took on a life of its own. Ophelia played a big part in that, and I’ve been inspired by so many bits and pieces that have nothing to do with my own life. For example, a couple of swimming pool scenes that are integral to Caddie’s story were inspired by a fortuitous drive I took into old Irondale, AL, where I found that an old swimming pool I used to visit as a child had been abandoned and left full of water and leaves. That became a charged setting in the novel that led to so many other scenes.



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 write first thing in the morning, often in bed, though I’ve been working at a standing desk (aka my windowsill) more lately—it makes my back feel better and keeps me more active and energized. Lately, with the chaos of book launch approaching, I’ve found it really helpful to begin my writing time with meditation. I’ll often start off with a short guided meditation recording, and while I write I like to put on Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Creative Mind System or nature sounds. Music with lyrics often distracts me while writing, but something more ambient helps me slip into the zone.


What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Ask for what you want and need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, for support from your publisher, for time off from your job when you need focused writing time. It may not always work out, but even the act of asking sends up a sign that you are putting writing first, that you are open to opportunities. If you take your own career and work seriously and give it all your love, others will want to support that. And of course, when you receive a helping hand, shout-out, donation, etc., try to return that support in kind. Mutual support among writers is a powerful force.

Website | Goodreads

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Hillary Monahan, The Summoning


How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

The book that landed me (and my best friend/writing partner Lauren Roy) our agent (Miriam Kriss at Irene Goodman) did not sell, but that's also because Miriam pulled it fairly early. It's a paranormal magical academy book and we wrote it too close to HARRY POTTER's heyday. I believe Miriam still plans to put it out on sub when there isn't so much paranormal exhaustion, so while it hasn't really seen the light of day, it will. One day, in a universe far far away. I continue to have hopes for that book, five years later.

My second book was MARY. The first draft was called THE LEGACY and was completed in January of 2011. It took three or four months to write and went on submission to ten or eleven houses. That incarnation was a historical; the first five chapters of the book were present day and then Mary pulled the main character into the mirror to "experience" life back in Mary's time.
We got precisely one pass on it, the editor saying how much she liked it but it wasn't quite right for her list. Four months later, we got a second pass saying how much the editor liked the style of the book and the premise, but it was too hard to market. It wasn't exactly contemporary, it wasn't historical. He said if I modernized the book, he'd love to take another look.

So we waited. And waited. No passes. Finally, in April 2012, another editor made the same request. "I like this but I would want it modernized." My agent pinged the submission list who had the book, all of whom had read it, and said, "If she rewrote this as a fully modern horror, would you be interested in seeing it?" The majority of editors who'd said nothing for a year chimed in with enthusiastic yesses. Enter Writepocalypse 2012 in which Hillary kept five chapters from THE LEGACY and rewrote the twenty chapters afterward to modernize it in a span of about six weeks. I had no summer that year.

Two weeks after we went on submission with MARY 2.0 we were at multi-house auction and landed with Hyperion.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

That all the "how I got published" stories in the world don't really matter because yours will be different. Some people get a small offer two weeks on submission, some people go to auction after sixteen months. It's a very individualized journey and there's no way to predict how it's going to go. The only thing the writer can truly control is the quality of the work they produce. Focus on that, not what everyone else is doing in the industry for down that path lies madness.

Website | Goodreads

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Rebekah L. Purdy, The Winter People

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Actually, I wrote it as an assignment (or at least a short story version of it) for my creative writing class my senior year of high school. I loved the characters and setting so much, that as an adult, I pulled out the short story and decided to turn it into a full length novel.

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 road to publication was a little tough. I think I wrote like six manuscripts that agents/publishers initially rejected. I had several requests, but just couldn’t get my foot in the door. Then finally, a small publisher (Astraea Press) gave me my first break. The book I wrote after that, I landed my 1st agent with. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out so well and we parted ways, which was devastating after working so hard to get an agent. So I wrote another two books, one of which landed my 2nd agent (who I absolutely love). Then she started selling my books (one of which was The Winter People). We then went on to sell 3 other books (2 of which had been rejected when I started querying years before--so hold on to ALL your books--never know when you might sell one).

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Welllllll…I usually write during my lunch hours and breaks at work. When I’m under deadline, I’ll write in the evenings at my desk in my room (overlooking some cool Star Wars stuff—LOL). I LOVE listening to music while I write—it really sets the mood (each of my stories has a playlist).

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Three words: Don’t. Give. Up. Seriously, I could’ve given up so many times over the 7-8 years that I got rejections. But I knew that I wanted to write—so I honed my craft, found a crit group, and worked my butt off. I tried to always keep in mind that it had to hit the right desk at the right time, and eventually it did!

Website | Goodreads



3 comments:

  1. Wow. What a trove of inspiring stories. Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So much awesome here it's hard to know where to start! Thanks for all the hard work putting together the contest--and I love reading these different publication stories. I esp. like the reminder that every story will be different--even mine. (I'm hoping to eventually *have* a publication story!)

    ReplyDelete

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