Monday, January 31, 2011

26 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

We're rubbing our eyes this morning- partially because we're dead tired from SCBWI-NY, and partially because we can't believe our eyes at the amazing books out this week. Read on to see for yourself. Be sure to scroll all the way down to enter to win 6 fantastic prizes!

This Week's Interviews

The Trust (Secret Society #2) by Tom Dolby
  • From Goodreads: Who can you trust when everything is secrets and lies? It's a new semester at the Chadwick School, and even with the ankh tattoos that brand them, Phoebe, Nick, Lauren, and Patch are hoping for a fresh start. Each day, however, they are reminded of their membership as new Conscripts in the Society. The secret group that promised to help them achieve their every dream has instead turned their lives into a nightmare. Exclusive membership lost its luster as the Society revealed its agenda to them and two of their classmates were found dead. Now they can't help but wonder: Who's next? While they search for the elusive truth about the Society, the Conscripts are forced to face their darkest fear—that they truly can't get out. Will Nick and Phoebe's new relationship endure this strain? Can Patch and Nick's longtime friendship survive the truth that will come to light? The deceptions of the group's leaders, once trusted friends, and family will test these four as they fight to leave the Society behind.
How long did you work on this book?
THE TRUST took about a year to finish. It is a continuation of the first book in the series, SECRET SOCIETY, and the two work together to create a complete arc for the characters.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
On this book, it was a relatively short journey -- I wrote up a proposal for my agent, and after a handful of revisions with her, the two books sold several weeks after being submitted.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write every day, and don't give up. Check out Julia Cameron's ARTIST'S WAY series if you find yourself stuck.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I think the thing that has surprised me most is how once a book is out in the world, it's no longer my own book. Everyone has their own relationship to it.

Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
  • From Goodreads: Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.
How long did you work on this book?
I think it was about six months to do the first draft, and then another month or so on the edits. We work pretty quickly.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Well, our previous novel, THE HALF LIFE OF PLANETS, had already sold, so that definitely made it easier to place this one. But we did have a few rejections that surprised us along the way. We're very happy with where the book ended up.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I've said this before, but you have to be fearless about writing crap. If you're always editing in your head, you'll never get anything onto the page. Just write it, and you can always fix it later. When you make yourself write, you'll sometimes write great stuff and sometimes write crap. And a lot of times you have to write some crap in order to get to the good stuff. So I guess that's just it--write it first and worry about whether it's any good later.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Well, not to be too much of a bummer, but how hard it is to make a living at it. One of my students asked me last week, "you wrote all those books! Why aren't you rich?" I think a lot of people think that once you've got a book on the shelves, you've punched your ticket to fame and fortune, or at least fortune. The truth is that for most published authors, writing is a second job--a great, fun, and sometimes thrilling job, but not one you can really count on to pay the bills.

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
  • From Goodreads: He's come to do a job. A job that involves a body. A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field. You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.
How long did you work on this book?
Well, I’ve said in other interviews that I’ve sort of been working on it--at least subconsciously—since I was fourteen. So that’s a pretty impressive gestation period. But in terms of direct action, I started preliminary sketches about three years ago.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Fortunately, You Killed Wesley Payne didn’t get any rejections. This is my third book with Little, Brown after Going Nowhere Faster and Fade to Blue. We already had a great relationship, so when I sent them sample chapters, and they said they were interested, it was a go.

Or do you mean just in general? Yes, in reflection, it’s clear that you do, but I’ll just leave the above comment. At any rate, my very first published work was a short story in a very tiny lit journal with a circulation of maybe a hundred copies. It was a lousy story. By the time I’d had about ten stories published, I racked up an ungodly stack of rejections. Enough to make you want to quit writing and get a job at Sears. By then I had a thick skin, though. And Going Nowhere Faster ended up selling pretty quickly.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I get asked this question a lot. And my answer is always a variation of this: figure out if you really want to write. Like, so badly that it’s all you think about. To the point that you’re willing to sacrifice a lot of other things to make it happen, and push yourself without stopping until it does. If not, that’s fine. But if you’re not entirely committed to an arduous solitary pursuit, it’s a pretty long way to go to make girls think you’re cool.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
How many other published authors there are. And how much you have to put into a book aside from actual writing in order for it to be successful. And, also, how much fun it is.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  • From Goodreads: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.
How long did you work on this book?
The first draft of DELIRIUM took me about nine months, but then of course, I did several rounds of edits. From conception to publication, the process was about two and a half years.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Well, I was lucky in that DELIRIUM is my second book; my first book, Before I Fall, was purchased by HarperCollins as part of a two-book deal (which is fairly standard in the industry), and so I was able to essentially propose my idea for DELIRIUM to them, and have it approved, without having to go through the submission process. But for my first novel, Before I Fall, I had to suffer through the agonies of sending it out. I was lucky that the process was relatively short. Brenda Bowen, who at the time had an imprint at Harper, kind of jumped on it. I did get several rejections, though. I didn’t count them. I’m not that masochistic! And before publishing Before I Fall, I had completed and sent out two manuscripts that never went anywhere. So I feel I’ve earned my dues!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
My advice to other writers is always the same: get into the habit of writing every day, no excuses.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That’s an excellent question. I guess what has surprised me most is how difficult writing still is—I mean, I love it and I need it, but it still feels every bit as agonizing and hard as it always has. I still feel consumed with anxieties about running out of ideas, or turning out schlock. I guess I thought that being published might somewhat assuage those fears, but it has probably just compounded them!

Mystify (Mystyx #2) by Artist Arthur
  • From Goodreads: Sasha Carrington has grown up feeling like an outsider, and her parents are too concerned with scaling the Lincoln, Connecticut, social ladder to even notice her. They’d be really horrified to know about the supernatural abilities Sasha and her friends Krystal and Jake possess. But as part of the Mystyx, Sasha has found her place. Now her parents have suddenly taken an interest in everything she does, and their timing couldn’t be worse. Sasha’s father wants her to become BFFs with snooty Alyssa Turner, who hates Krystal for stealing her boyfriend. Then there’s Antoine Watson, the boy Sasha has liked forever, the boy her parents would never approve of. But with the dark side getting more dangerous by the day, and the Mystyx’s own powers growing in unexpected ways, Sasha is facing choices that could affect her friends, her love life—and even her destiny…
How long did you work on this book?
The planning and initial research stage took about four weeks then another three months for the actual writing.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I’ve been published in adult romance for eight years. The decision to write young adult paranormal came at the suggestion of some close friends, a few people in the industry whom I highly respect and my sixteen-year-old daughter. Luckily, the series was only rejected once before being picked up by Harelquin. Since then I’ve had a few projects rejected so I never get comfortable in my writing, you never know what can happen.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
To take a serious and professional approach to this business because it can be tedious and petty and very rewarding. Writing professionally is definitely not for the faint of heart. Sometimes I think coming up with the idea and writing the book is the easy part. LOL But I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
No matter how many books I have in whatever genre, I’m always surprised and so grateful when I receive emails from readers. Seeing my book on a shelf in a book store then realizing that someone actually brought it, read it then thought enough of it to write to me is mind-blowing.

Consumed (Possessed #2) by Kate Cann
  • From Goodreads: The thrilling sequel to POSSESSED finds 16-year-old Rayne still entwined in the creepy history of Morton's Keep -- and about to discover that she's the only one who can stop the evil lurking there. Rayne's countryside escape has proven to be anything but -- the remote mansion house where she lives and works holds terrible secrets, and she feels trapped there. And when a new manager shows up, things take an even more sinister turn. Rayne doesn't know who to trust -- even the ghosts of Morton's Keep seem to be warning her. It's up to Rayne to overcome the ancient evil lurking here -- but how?
How long did you work on this book?
When I finished POSSESSED I went straight into the sequel, CONSUMED. I had so much more to say about the legends and mystery surrounding Morton's Keep. I wasn't so much moving the story on, as delving deeper into it …uncovering all the dark layers. I found it very exciting and it seemed like it was already half written in my head. It took six months to write whereas most of my other books have taken me about nine.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I've been very lucky. The first book I wrote, DIVING IN, was accepted for publication after about a six-month wait and yes - my fair share of rejection slips! DIVING IN is part of a trilogy and they're still in print despite having no mobile phones in the book - they were written 15 years ago!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
a) Get out and live first! You can't write anything real tucked away in an ivory tower. b) If it doesn't excite you, it will bore the reader - write about something you have passion for. c) Don't underestimate the need for a good edit. Go back the next day and rework what you've done. d) Knowing what to delete is almost as important as knowing what to write. e) I'm sounding too bossy now so I'll shut up!

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The absolute delight of the lifestyle. You're allowed to do something you love for about four hours a day ( I can't be creative for longer) and still call it work!

Anya's War by Andrea Alban
  • From Goodreads: ANYA'S WAR is set on the eve of World War II and is about a Jewish girl from Odessa living in the French Quarter of Shanghai. At first Anya Rosen's life in Shanghai is privileged and relatively carefree: she has crushes on boys, fights with her mother, and longs to defy expectations just like her hero, Amelia Earhart. Then Anya finds a baby, a newborn abandoned on the street. Amelia Earhart goes missing. And it becomes dangerously clear that no place is safe-not for Jewish families like the Rosens, not for Shanghai's poor, not for adventurous women pilots. Based on my family's past, ANYA'S WAR is about finding strength within, when the world spins out of control. This is a litle known passage in Jewish Holocaust history.
How long did you work on this book?
Most of my life! I grew up listening to my Jewish father's account of his childhood in Shanghai and spent hours imagining characters and scenes that would one day form the basic plot of Anya's War. I took a leave from my senior year in college to write the novel but became a natural food store owner, an event producer, then a wife and mother. Twenty-six years later, with a contract in hand for ANYA's War, I returned to SFSU to finish my Creative Writing degree and the final draft of the novel.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My first book contract was for an inspirational parenting book entitled, Mother's Nature. This was a sidetrack from my dream of publishing a children's picture book. My manuscripts were rejected 49 times (between 1995-1998) before I decided to jump on a chance to create a gift book for Mother's Day 1999. Several parenting books later, my agent opened a door for my children's work at both Scholastic Press and HarperCollins. My first two books, January's Child and Ten Little Wishes published within months of each other in 2007. The Happiness Tree, book #3 published in 2008, and now three years later my debut novel. I find that if I focus on the moments of writing and the joy a writing day brings, the publication process becomes timeless.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Realize that the art and craft of writing lies in the revision process. Read as a writer every book in your genre. Copy by hand into a journal, as you read aloud, every sentence that moves you, every character description that evokes knowingness and emotion. Study how your favorite writers handle snappy dialogue, dramatic story settings, crowd scenes, pacing, death, birth, love.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The zing of accomplishment I feel when my author copies arrive hot off the press. Anya's War is my ninth book and the thrill never dissipates.

Additional Releases

Dark Moon (Wereling #2) by Steve Feasey
  • From Goodreads: A few short months ago, Trey Laporte learned the news that would change him forever: He is a werewolf, and the evil vampire Caliban wants him dead. The threat becomes real when Caliban attacks Trey’s mentor, Lucien Charron, and leaves him fighting for his life. Gwendolin, a wicked sorceress, holds the only key to saving Lucien. Together, Trey and Lucien’s beautiful daughter, Alexa, must enter the Netherworld to defeat her. The pressure for Trey is great—Alexa is counting on him to save her father. But when Trey and Alexa find themselves trapped and surrounded by demons, can Trey use his werewolf strength to save them both?
Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
  • From Goodreads: Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.
Kick by Walter Dean Meyers and Ross Workman
  • From Amazon: Kevin Johnson is thirteen years old. And heading for juvie. He's a good kid, a great friend, and a star striker for his Highland, New Jersey, soccer team. His team is competing for the State Cup, and he wants to prove he has more than just star-player potential. Kevin's never been in any serious trouble . . . until the night he ends up in jail. Enter Sergeant Brown, a cop assigned to be Kevin's mentor. If Kevin and Brown can learn to trust each other, they might be able to turn things around before it's too late.

We're happy to announce giveaways of ANYA'S WAR, JENNA & JONAH'S FAUXMANCE, and FADE TO BLUE, as well as two copies of CONSUMED! Artist Arthur is offering up a fun MYSTIFY t-shirt for one lucky reader. You must leave a comment on this post and fill out the form below to enter to win one of these prizes. The contest is open to US residents and we'll announce winners on Thursday morning. Good luck!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP

Saturday, January 29, 2011

7 Best Articles This Week for Writers 1/27/11

Marissa, Cam, Cici, and I are all at SCBWI-NY (YAY!), so this week's round-up is through Wednesday only. We apologize for the delay in posting! We'll catch up with the rest of the week in next Friday's round-up post. But there are still a LOT of great articles this week. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Craft of Writing
To Market
Social Media
  • A Wait Well Worth It [Katie Ganshert] Hooray! Kate Ganshert scores a 2-book deal with Multnomah Waterbrook.
After the Sale
Book Reviews
Issues and Trends
Other Weekly Round-Ups:
Did we miss anything? Anyone? Please leave a comment!

Happy reading and joyous writing,

Martina, Marissa, Clara, Cam and Cici

Thursday, January 27, 2011

12 Writing: The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion

The second article in our author marketing and promotion series is by Lisa Desrochers, acclaimed author of PERSONAL DEMONS and the upcoming ORIGINAL SIN (July 2011). You can catch Lisa on her website, her blog, or on As we mentioned in Tuesday's article by Shannon Delany, Lisa's book is also one of the prizes in our Viral Marketing Experiment and Contest. Please help us see how far and fast word can spread on the 'Net.

The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion

by Lisa Desrochers

FREE STUFF! Everybody loves free stuff. And, everybody knows I’m the queen of giving away free stuff. In October and November alone, I gave away signed books by Melissa Marr, Claudia Gray, Maria V. Snyder, Ally Condie, Andrea Cremer, Melissa de la Cruz, Kiersten White and Sophie Jordan. I also gave away signed copies of Personal Demons, two iPods, and tons of swag. Why, you ask, do I give away so much stuff? Answer: Because it warms my heart to see you readers sooo happy when you win something really cool! …Oh…yeah. It also helps me promote my book. Personally, I think free stuff is one of the best ways to draw attention yourself and your book.

Myra is going to talk about pre-publication promotion, but that’s really where it all started for me. My timeline from book deal to shelves was anything but traditional. Personal Demons sold on December 21, 2009, and I found out in January that my publisher was crashing into the September 2010 list.

I freaked.

The more typical timeline of 18ish months allows plenty of time to get the word out and create buzz for a book. I was sure Personal Demons would release in September and no one buty my mother would have ever heard of it.

So, I started giving stuff away. And I used other unsuspecting authors shamelessly to do it. First thing in January, when no one knew I existed, I started my monthly 2010 Debut Contests. Each monthly winner had a choice of one of four YA debut books that were releasing that month, or a signed ARC of Personal Demons when I got them. I tweeted the crap out of my contests and entries grew incredibly fast. At first, I felt kind of bad dovetailing on other authors buzz, but you know what? Most of them retweeted my contests, and I’ve become Twitter buds with a lot of them. (Incidentally, all winners except January chose Personal Demons. :p) As an author, don’t be afraid to ask others of us for signed books for giveaways. We’re all looking for ways of promoting our books and many of us would be happy to oblige.
Of course, any good book giveaway needs to include swag. Bookmarks are always popular, and I’ve gone through thousands. (Sometimes they’ve mysteriously found their way into other popular YA books at my local B&N. Shhh…) Be sure on your bookmarks to include all your contact info (email, web, FB, Twitter etc) and then they double as business cards.

Creative swag is always fun. Shannon’s bookmarks and the whole AR thing (see Tuesday’s post) is totally amazing. A favorite of my readers has been the Team Luc and Team Gabe tattoos. (Luc and Gabe are tagging souls via these tattoos, btw.) There are several sites online where you can design your own custom tattoos. My daughter designed mine. I also designed a logo for tank tops. You can use your book cover, or part of it if that works better, or you can use fan art or your own design. Again, there are several online shops that have a design center where you can uses your own art to come up with just the right shirt. ( and come to mind)

VENTURING OUT (into the cyber or real world)
When you go on the road, you’ll want to bring all that great swag with you. If you’re doing school visits, tattoos and stickers are popular. You should always have enough bookmarks to hand out to every single person who crosses your path at any book function (because they’re your business cards, remember). I also give away tank tops. These are great incentive to encourage people to ask questions. I’ll usually talk for a few minutes, read a few pages, then ask for questions, giving tank tops to the first two or three people to ask.

Which brings me to general logistics of author events. I’ve found it’s usually better to have my publicist set up signings. In turn, the bookstores are usually happy to set up school visits in their local community. You can set up signings on your own by contacting the community relations manager (at chains) or the event coordinator (at indies). They’re often very friendly and happy to work with authors. When I travel, I always stop into the local indie and chain bookstores to sign stock and chat up the booksellers, leaving a bookmark in each signed copy.

There are myriad options for reaching out to the on-line community. Many bloggers host live author chats where everyone piles into a chat room and the questions fly. If you’re friendly with a blogger or two, ask if they’d be willing to host a chat for you. The most effective time to do online chats is just after a “buzz generating” event, such as your cover reveal or release of your book trailer (which bloggers are wonderful about helping with, btw). Unlike “live” audiences, online chatters are never shy about firing off the questions or comments. This is a really fun way to connect with readers. Other authors like to do Skype chats. Shannon covered most of the social networking opportunities, which I encourage you to take full advantage of to publicize your live and online events. I blog daily ( and live on Twitter (@LisaDez), linking my Facebook page to my Twitter feed for maximum publicity of all upcoming events.

And that’s Shameless Self-Promotion 101. Questions?

1 In Stores This Week: Contest Winner!

Thanks to our dear friend Frewin Jones, someone has won this amazing book...

And the lucky winner is...


Thank you, Frewin for your generosity and many thanks to our faithful readers. As for us, we're off to New York this morning for the SCBWI conference. We hope to see you there!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

8 WOW Weds: Michelle Leigh Brown on Writing in the Cracks

Michelle Brown, our guest blogger this week, is another success story we were lucky to witness during one of our contests, where she pulled her entry because she'd found the perfect agent. Michelle has won several writing awards for her humorous middle-grade fiction, most notably Highlights Author of the Month, February 2010 and Highlights 2009 Fiction Contest Winner. You can find her web site, her blog, or on Twitter.

In the Cracks

by Michelle L. Brown

Something wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure it out. Lame premise? Query too cliché? Title off-putting? (C’mon, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to rep a book called, REVENGE OF THE PINK GRANNY PANTIES?) I didn’t think it was my writing sample. My book had been beta read, published author read, group critiqued, contest commented on, freelance edited, and secret agented . . . twice. The last of that list did result in a partial read, which led to a pass. Most of my readers loved it, and I weighed each suggestion. I tweaked every syllable until it sang and queried twenty-five well-researched agents in small batches, but no real bites. Something wasn’t working. But that something wasn’t me. I was bustin’ my bootie with this book. I revised some more.

Then came writeoncon. I posted my query, thinking it was as good as it was going to get. A couple blessed critters on those boards got to the heart of my problem, which was lack of heart in my query. I saved my latest version in a folder and waited. I had my eye on an agent, but I wanted this pitch to be perfect.

I’d seen a new agent interview with Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management. She was looking for funny middle-grade novels, and I put her at the top of my to-be-queried list. I followed her blog and tweets. I followed all her clients’ blogs and tweets. I loved how her clients loved her. She was cutting-edge and passionate about getting middle-graders reading. Then Bree judged a one-sentence pitch contest, and I made mine as clever as I could and entered.

Two things happened while I waited for the pitch winners to be announced. First, another agent at one of my “dream” agencies asked to read a partial of a different book (the one I’d posted here for the pitch-to-query contest) that I’d entered in a secret agent contest. This was the first book I’d written, and it hadn’t been as widely critiqued.

Note: I don’t advise querying two books at once. I was “testing the waters,” which I should have done through my betas and critique group.

Second, Sue Ford, the fabulous Kansas SCBWI Critique Coordinator, had asked me to moderate an online magazine critique group. We scheduled an initial in-person meeting, which only one member could attend. That meeting changed my life.

I had a three hour drive to the meeting place, and drove through torrential rain most of the way. The other person who showed up was a very nice fellow named Ron Rutler. He listened to Sue and I go over the magazine story I’d brought and banter about agents we’d queried. Then he said I should query his agent. Bree Ogden was her name.

After I freaked out sufficiently, I told him she was judging the one-line pitch contest I’d entered. I didn’t end up winning. I didn’t even get a nod. And I wanted to be her client more than ever, after all the great things Ron had said about her.

Bree then posted the query that her client, Kate Grace Bacheller had used, and highlighted what she’d done right. I decided to try Bree again, using that query as a pattern. I mentioned meeting Ron Rutler in the letter.

Weeks went by, and I heard nothing from either agent. I distracted myself with preparations for the birth of my daughter. Then came the email from Bree, apologizing for the delayed response and asking to read the full “at my earliest convenience.”

I squealed, sent her the full, and asked her (still can’t believe I did this) if she could delay telling me if it was a pass, since I’d be having my baby over the weekend. I didn’t want anything to cloud my joy!

My sweet Sarah was born, and we returned home from the birthing center. When I checked my email, there was a note from Bree. Oh, great. Here it is. Another rejection, I thought. I sighed and opened it.

Bree loved the book and wanted to represent me! After another massive freak out, I emailed her back. I reminded her about the other agent (I’d informed her of the other partial out in my initial email) and told her I’d get back to her in a week.

Here I must give credit to the “other” agent. When I informed her of my offer, she read BOTH full manuscripts, and sent back her thoughts within days. She said some extremely kind things about my characters and writing but said she’d need to see some revisions before making an offer.

Now, this agent had sales behind her and was at a terrific agency. But I’d read (and this agent said herself in so many words) you need someone to rep you who absolutely adores your work. I felt like her suggestions would change the tone of the book. I wanted to hear what Bree would say.

We had a three hour phone conversation. Bree talked about my characters like they were kids she knew. Her enthusiasm totally sold me. I asked her all the proper questions, (most of which she answered before I asked) and explained my ideas for the future. Here is the actual list of questions I had in front of me while we talked (from author Hannah Moskowitz (via Kathleen Ortiz's blog):

And here is an even more comprehensive list of questions:

Bree told me to take my time and think it over, but I’d already made up my mind. She was the agent for me!

This is just the latest chapter of my writing journey. It started a decade ago, when I signed up for the Institute for Children’s Literature basic course. I had five kids at that time. Now I have ten. I’m very short on the solitude writing requires. But along the way, my mentors kept daring me to dream, and my husband took vacation time to watch the kids while I went to conferences and retreats. People often ask me, “When do you find time to write?” As the wise and wonderful Eileen Spinelli (mother of six) once told me, “Write in the cracks.”

If I can do it, anyone can!

Monday, January 24, 2011

3 Using Technology for Book Promotion (Plus an Experiment and Contest)

This week, for a change of pace, we are doing a brief series of articles on author marketing in the age of technology with advice and lessons learned from Shannon Delany, Lisa Desrochers, and Myra McEntire. And in honor of the series, we're going to try an experiment in using the Internet to spread the word. To learn more about the contest, go here to pick up your secret code, instructions, and drop off your links for a chance to win books from the authors!

Today, to kick us off, we are thrilled to turn the blog over to Shannon Delany, YA author of 13 TO LIFE, SECRETS AND SHADOWS (out 2/15/11) and BARGAINS AND BETRAYALS (out in August 2011).  You can read her article below, or download the audio file she kindly prepared by clicking here.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Meet Marketing and Technology

by Shannon Delany

Technology and books go together as well as the classic team-up of werewolves and vampires or chocolate and peanut butter. It should be no surprise that marketing is more and more frequently found entwined with technology.

In my case, the marriage of technology and book promotion was a bit more extreme than most. My series started as a serial cell phone novel, joining tech and writing from the get-go. I used the technology available on the internet (to me still a relatively unfamiliar venue in 2008) to write the initial version of 13 to Life. Technology allowed me to post it online in a very public forum at, to handle readers’ thoughts and to integrate a little public opinion into the story’s structure (via the results of simple polls on my blog).

That was 2008 and I’m no longer involved with Cell phone novels were freakishly hot in Asia then—many bestsellers in the Asian publishing industry began as cell phone novels—and was on the forefront of bringing that publishing venue to the western world.

Putting It All Out There

Being so public about my writing (and so consistent—two brief skeletal sections a day posted: one before most school or work days started, another near standard lunch times) was definitely an advantage. Polls allowed readers and fans to participate and “buy in” to the book as it was being born. They realized their opinion counted (and who doesn’t want that?). And that realization (regardless of the fact we’d never met or personally connected) built a psychological bridge between my work and themselves.

When I won the 2008 contest the very public nature of my writing opened doors to interviews I probably wouldn’t have gotten any other way as a debut author. called (and then didn’t take the story to press for unknown reasons) and the LA Times also interviewed me well before 13 to Life hit stores. I was in The Writer and a publisher and movie producer contacted my agent and me even before query letters went out. Technology was the grease in the cogs of the publishing industry in my case and it made things run faster and smoother because I embraced technology’s potential.

For me, marketing, technology and writing blur together.

My Favorite Poisons

I use Twitter ( I’m @shannon_delany and suggest organizing hashtags and hashtag chats), Facebook (I have a page for the current series and a page for myself ), AuthorsDen, RedRoom, GoodReads, AuthorCentral and LibraryThing among others to connect with readers. I do online press releases through free press release sites (people will tell you press releases do you no good, but my publishing contract exists in part just because of a snappy press release which attracted a publisher and producer). Some online venues I use more frequently (and more aptly) than others.

I blog (generally only once a week). I do blog tours that play to my strengths and the interests of my fans. Last year’s “Serial Tour” included serialized snippets of the book, pre-release, which encouraged readers to follow the entire tour. With the release of Secrets and Shadows on February 15, I’m doing the MAX-imum Exposure Blog Tour (starting 2/1). Some participating blogs will have downloadable audio of the interviews they’re doing with Max and Pietr. We’re even arranging a live chat with the Rusakova boys through Mundie Moms. We’ll also be doing a special BTR (blog talk radio) show featuring Max, Pietr and me with Barry Eva at his A Book and A Chat  on February 12 at 11 am EST.

I’m even considering participating in sites like Second Life to tap a different crowd.

I have a series website, (still having growing pains) and an author website at

I do book trailers (and believe they are a necessity in most cases) and this year we “personalized” them for my favorite stores. I provide free online puzzles for readers and fans. I post snippets from the 13 to Life series online (check out the #13toLife hashtag on Twitter) and occasionally share a snippet from a work-in-progress through #FridayFlash or #3WW (3 Word Wednesday) and Sunday Scribblings. I’ve found sharing bits and pieces can go miles when it comes to whetting the appetites of potential readers and bridging even that six-month space between book releases that makes my fans so itchy.

Where I grew up, there was an expression: “Why buy the cow if the milk’s for free?” I mix that into my strategy regarding technology. I’ll tease readers and potential readers (and it seems I’ve gotten quite a reputation for doing just that), but will I give away the thing they want the most completely and for free?

Not. Yet.

AR—It’s Not Just What Pirates Like to Say

The newest technology I’m embracing for the good of my series relates to Augmented Reality or AR. Because this technology is so far beyond my ability level (and comprehension), I’m working with Anthony Mincarelli of Digital Reality . “Augmented Reality is the process of using a computer and web-cam, along with patterns called "markers", to display a 2 or 3 dimensional image on a computer screen,” Mincarelli states. It allows us to further blend fact and fiction and deepen (or allow for) a new aspect of the reading experience.

Essentially what happens with AR is you print out (or are provided with) a specially designed AR marker. You go to a designated site, activate your web-cam, hold up the marker and watch it transform into something totally different. Because I like showing more than telling, Anthony designed a fun little bookmark for my readers that I’m launching with this article.

So go ahead, print out and cut out the black and white bookmark and holder shown here, go to the website printed on it, make sure the light in your room is good and your fingers don’t touch the marker or its black frame, activate the camera, show it the marker and just hold still to see what happens. I personally envision huge opportunities to further enrich the reading experience through the use of technology like this (and we have lots more planned with the August 16 release of my third novel, Bargains and Betrayals).

I also Skype with the two guys who will play Pietr and Max at a couple of my events. They are local enough to be involved but far apart enough to need the aid of technology to unite us. And that’s what technology really does—it unites us. It allows for better book “buy in” and connections between authors and fans whether you’ll ever meet in person or not. It allows you to build an audience as you build a book and to bridge the distances created by time and geography.

So embrace technology and you’ll open many doors for yourself and your books.

~Shannon Delany

10 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

Welcome to another fantabulous week in YA lit! Like last week, this week features several male authors. They're in the company of two huge female authors, too. Read on for intriguing tales from the road to publication, writerly advice, and a wonderful giveaway all the way at the bottom!

This Week's Interviews

The Charmed Return (Faerie Path #6) by Frewin Jones
  • From Goodreads: She was once a princess of Faerie, the seventh daughter of King Oberon. But sixteen-year-old Anita Palmer wakes up in London with no memory of the Faerie Realm; her princess identity; her true love, Edric; or her quest to save Faerie from a deadly plague that ravaged it. Anita must reawaken Tania, her Faerie self…but how? And who can she trust when not even her memories are safe? Her quest leads to a thrilling final battle, with her own destiny—as well as the fate of both Faerie and the Mortal World—at stake.
What routines do you find helpful for you to stay actively writing?
I write for a living, which means I am usually writing to deadlines set by publishers. This means I have to do my best to set up my working day in as organized a way as possible – pretty much like going to the office!

My daily routine is to start work about 8 in the morning. I begin by checking my emails, replying to fan mail, responding to mails from colleagues and editors etc. Then I open the file of the book I am working on. I usually check the previous day’s work first – changing anything I’m not happy with, editing and improving and reminding myself what has just happened, before setting off writing the next section/chapter/scene. My target is normally to write about 2000 to 2500 words a day. This can take from three to five or six hours depending on how well my brain is working. My wife Claudia comes home from work in the early afternoon, and I stop work then. If I’m behind schedule I will get back to my computer in the evening when Claudia is in bed or back at work (she works shifts that often mean she works nights). If I don’t need to work, I will watch movies on DVD or read something or even do some browsing on the Internet.

Of course, part of being a writer is that even when I am not actively writing, my brain is usually churning away on ideas – which means it’s useful to have a note pad and a pen close by, so I can scribble down thoughts as they come to me. Often these thoughts will be about the following day’s work, but sometimes they pop into my head as better ways of writing something from today, or yesterday, or even from a week or so ago.

For me the most useful “routine” is the one where I plot the book out in quite fine detail before I start writing it. Plotting stories out from start to finish helps me a lot – and prevents me from opening the file one morning and finding I have no idea what happens next. I know that for some people plotting everything out seems really boring – making stories up as you go along is part of the fun – but to make a living from writing, you can’t afford to hit a wall and wait for inspiration to come.

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?
That is a very interesting question, especially as writing is my main source of income. I cannot afford to spend six months writing a book that no publisher will be interested in, so I usually want to know in advance that the book is going to be published before I start writing. In other words, I do need to make sure the book I want to write will be of interest to a publisher. For instance, twenty years ago, no publisher was interested in fantasy books. I really like fantasy books, but back then I couldn’t get anything with fantasy in it published, so I wrote other things – mystery stories, romances, family stories, cops’n’robbers stories, etc etc. Then Harry Potter came along and all of a sudden publishers all wanted fantasy – which allowed me to write The Faerie Path books and Warrior Princess. At the moment, there seems to be a growing interest in Steam Punk stories – I have been asked to write a Steam Punk short story for an anthology that is coming out in May this year “Clockwork & Corsets”. I really like Steam Punk, so if I can convince publishers to publish some Steam Punk by me, that would be great. If not, I’ll have to try and find something else that interests me and that they are also interested in. So, you see, from the point of view of making a living, I do have to pay a lot of attention to what the “audience” wants – meaning, what publishers believe the audience wants.

But as a professional writer, it’s part of my job to give 100% commitment to whatever project I’m working on, and to make sure that, whatever the genre, I write a book that I would be happy to read.

What advice would you offer writers to build their platform before they become published?
I’d like to start by saying that becoming a published writer is getting harder and harder all the time. For every writer who is published, there are probably hundreds of writers who desperately want to be published but maybe never will be. If you enjoy writing, my advice would be to write principally for your own entertainment and forget everything else – to start off with, anyway.

Writing is a craft and a skill – and like any other craft or skill, it takes time to learn how to do it well.

These days many people like to post their writing on the Internet – and to an extent, this is quite a good idea for budding writers – it can open your work to outside criticism and examination, and it can help you to improve your story-telling skills – but bear in mind that a publisher is unlikely to want to buy and publish for money a story that is already available for free on the Internet.

Don’t give your best ideas away for nothing!

The best bet is to find yourself a Literary Agent who will help you to hone your work for the market – this is something that publishers rarely have the time to do. Alternatively, if you don’t yet think your work is quite ready for that, you could always join a creative writer’s course or group – either on the Internet or locally – just be wary of groups that ask for money up-front – and be especially wary these days of Internet companies who offer to publish your work for a fee – such companies are perfectly happy to publish anything at all so long as the writer stumps up the money! If your work is good enough for the market, then it is good enough to make you some money.

Self-promotion never does any harm, but bear in mind that there are thousands upon thousands of other budding writers out there – and they are all blogging and tweeting and clamoring to be noticed – your best bet, if you want to be published, is to contact a Literary Agent or a reputable Publisher.

How much do trends influence your writing?
As I suggested above, publishers are always looking for and jumping on the latest fashion or trend – in the early years of this century, they wanted fantasy like Harry Potter – at the moment they are desperate for something along the same lines as Twilight – and in a few years…what? That’s the impossible question. No one knows what will be the next big thing. A lot of people in the publishing world THINK they do, but projects that are heavily advertised and showered with money can still fall flat. And at the same time, small books can quickly grow huge simply because the people who have read them love them and talk about them and get their friends to buy them.

So, the answer to your question is that I do obviously need to have some idea of what publishers want, but at the same time it’s pointless trying to write a book like Twilight in the hope of getting it published while the genre is hot property. I like the supernatural and sci-fi and fantasy – but to write a book simply to appeal to publishers is no fun at all.

So, I’d say, I do keep an eye on trends, and make the most of them when they appeal – as with the fantasy trend, but I would not want to write books based on the latest trend if it was something I didn’t find interesting.

Drought by Pam Bachorz

  • From Goodreads: Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved. She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood. So she stays. But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?
How long did you work on this book?
I worked on this book for about ten months.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
This is my second book, and I was already under contract with my publisher to publish it--so my journey, in that way, was pretty easy! However I still did a LOT of editing and revising work with my editor. In fact I completely rewrote the book after I got her feedback, at one point, shifting the timeline back.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
My biggest advice would be to make writing a priority. Schedule your time to write and stick to it. It's so easy to let the real world push away your precious and spare writing time. That still happens to me, even when I DO schedule time.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Something I didn't expect is that I am always "moving the bar": the writing accomplishment I celebrated a year ago doesn't feel as exciting the second time around. I have to remind myself to mark and celebrate each milestone, for each book, for they really are just as exceptional as the first time around.

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • From Goodreads: Quincie P. Morris, teen restaurateuse and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life — or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who "blessed" her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running. She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature — and a flaming sword — and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late. Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul? 
How long did you work on this book?
Let's see, I have two answers to that question. The first involves the actual manuscript that became Blessed (Candlewick).

I wrote the proposal for my editor in March 2008. I'd gone with my very cute husband (and sometimes co-author) Greg Leitich Smith to a continuing education conference for patent attorneys at the Arizona Biltmore. The place opened in 1929. It's swanky, designed in the Craftsman tradition (think: Frank Lloyd Wright). Irving Berlin penned "White Christmas" by the pool. Marilyn Monroe referred to that same pool as her favorite.

While Greg attended lectures, I grabbed a chair around the pool, then, later, another around the fire pit, and brainstormed.

Blessed is the third book in the Tantalize series. It crosses over the two previous casts, and I had a general idea of where the story needed to go. But the Biltmore exudes creative magic. Murky plot elements literally poured from my fingertips onto the page.

The second answer is: since late 2001/early 2002. Because Blessed is part of a larger world (and preceded by both Tantalize and Eternal), it would've been impossible to write if I hadn't clocked quality time world building back in the beginning.

Early on, I studied the preceding YA Gothics and those published for grown-ups, going all the way back to the classics. Then I looked at the mythologies, the oral stories, that inspired them. All of that informed the world reflected novel 3.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I began writing for young readers with an eye toward publication in the late 1990s, when I was still in my twenties. It took me about two and a half years to secure my first contract--for Jingle Dancer, a children's picture book (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000)--and sign with my agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd. in New York.

I attribute this speedy path to publication to a long history as a reader, a handful of short story classes that I'd taken as an undergraduate at the University of Kansas, to several years as journalist--writing daily and working with editors, to the confidence I gained at the University of Michigan Law School, and to the student loans I racked up at that same fine institution. I didn't have the financial luxury to be a hobbyist. Instead, I've been writing with the idea of making a living at it since day one.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
It's not about you, it's about the story. It's not about the folks who raise an eyebrow because you're not yet published or not yet J.K. Rowling. It's not about what that lady at church may think or, for that matter, the critics. It's not about the fact that you can't please everyone, and it's sure as heck not about the odds. In the immortal words of Gold Five, "Stay on target." You may or may not be the one who destroys the Death Star. But you're a hero if you get out of your own way, put it all on the line, and try.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
What surprises me most is that I get to fully belong in this enchanting world of story makers and book lovers. I'm still star struck about having actually met Katherine Paterson, whose Bridge to Terabithia in part inspired my own first novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001). And I'm still wowed when a reader says that my writing has touched them in some way. Absolutely wowed.

Vesper (Deviants #1) by Jeff Sampson
  • From Goodreads: Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered. The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human? As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?
How long did you work on this book?
I first got the idea for Vesper in January 2007. The actual writing time for the first draft was maybe a month or so, and then there were many revisions between then and January 2010, and of course copy and line edits throughout the past year. So, basically, four years all told!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I actually had a very odd publication journey. When I was 18 I was asked to help create some stories for a book series called Remnants, since the series creators were mentors of mine. That was a decade ago, and between then and now I also wrote 6 or 7 work-for-hire fantasy novels. Vesper is my official debut, so even though I more or less jumped into this business early on, it took ten years of hard work before finally getting to publish my own original ideas. I actually never experienced rejection until I went on the agent search for Vesper a few years back. The search was half a year and I got 6 rejections before a recommendation from one rejecting agent led me to Michael Stearns, who turned out to be a fantastic fit for me.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
This was told to me a long time ago, and it's what I often repeat when asked this: Don't worry about writing THE book, just write A book. It’s okay if your book isn’t one hundred percent perfect. If you obsess over that, you’ll never be able to finish anything. So I’m happy to write a bunch of A books and hope that perhaps one day I’ll surprise myself by writing THE book. This may not be the advice for everyone, but I find that it helps me let go of stress and get my stories down.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Well I mentioned above that I did work-for-hire novels before, so I thought I knew all about being a published author. But debuting of an original work from a big publisher is such a massively different experience. I guess the biggest thing is the idea that there were hundreds if not thousands of people who would read my silly stories used to be more of an abstract thought. But with Vesper, I've been getting far more attention than I ever expected, and it's sort of nerve-wracking. It's definitely not a bad thing to have people pay attention to your work, but it's a new sensation for me that I'm still getting used to!

Additional Releases

Famous by Todd Strasser
  • From Goodreads: All Jamie Gordon wants to do is to take pictures of celebrities...and maybe to become famous herself. She's only fourteen, but already her pictures are sought after by fanzines and websites, and she's invited to all the best parties. And now she has the chance of a lifetime. She has been invited to spend a week with Willow Twine, taking pictures of the teen superstar's new chaste life. But when Jamie gets her hands on some sensational shots of Willow, she's suddenly in over her head. The pictures could make her career...and destroy Willow's. Everybody seems to want to get their hands on the photos, and Jamie has to decide what she really wants...and what she's willing to pay to get it.

Throat by R.A. Nelson
  • From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Emma feels cursed by her epilepsy—until the lost night. She's shocked to wake up in the hospital one morning, weak from blood loss. When her memories begin to return, she pieces together that it was a man—a monster—who attacked her: a vampire named Wirtz. And it was her very condition that saved her: a grand mal seizure interrupted Wirtz and left Emma with all the amazing powers of a vampire—heightened senses, rapid speed—but no need to drink blood. Is Emma now a half-vampire girl? One thing soon becomes clear: the vampire Wirtz is fierce and merciless, feared even by his own kind, and won't leave a job undone.

We've featured author Frewin Jones in the past and we have to share that he is one of THE nicest authors ever! He's offered up a copy of THE CHARMED RETURN to one lucky reader! Please leave a comment on this post and fill out the form below for a chance to win. The contest is open to US residents. We'll announce the winner on Thursday!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP