Tuesday, February 8, 2011

25 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways) Part 2

Here comes part two in our In Stores This Week mega-post! You can revisit part one to see the other books releasing this week. Read on for more author interviews and scroll all the way down to enter to win many of these fabulous books!

This Week's Interviews

Chasing AllieCat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis
  • From Goodreads: Sadie Lester has been dumped with relatives for the summer. Boredom seems inevitable in her small Minnesota town until she meets Allie—a spiky-haired off-road biker with incredible grace and speed. Training for the upcoming bike race, Allie leads Sadie and cute fellow cyclist Joe up and down Mount Kato—an exhilarating rush that pushes their limits. The fun ends abruptly when they stray off the trail and find a priest, badly beaten and near death. After calling for help, Allie mysteriously disappears from their lives. Just like the trash littering the beautiful river bluffs, there's something foul afoot. Creepy rednecks are prowling the woods, the same ones who ran Sadie and Allie off the road one night. It's not until the day of the big race that Sadie finally learns the startling truth about Allie, her connection to the priest, and what drove her into hiding.
How long did you work on this book?
I actually started on this story in 2003—so a long time! I’m a teacher, so I often only get to write during the summer and winter and spring breaks. That makes for slow progress sometimes. I revised the entire manuscript fifteen times, plus little tweaks that I don’t count as revision. I cut eighty pages from the original manuscript, too.

I also want to talk about the process of this book a bit because it was so different from other stories I’ve written. I had these varied images of scenes in my head that weren’t related:

· The first thing from this book that I wrote was a long paragraph about Allie flying downhill on her mountain bike at the end of the race. I had one character.

· I spent a couple years living in an apartment in LeHillier, the town where most of the action in this story takes place. It’s actually a township which is part of Mankato, Minnesota. While I was out walking my dogs, I kept finding freaky places—a dumpster cemetery (who knew that dumpsters had to go somewhere when they die?), a semi-truck still brightly painted and absolutely swallowed up in vines as if it had been bewitched or haunted, a cemetery for ruined trailer homes with pipes and bathtubs sticking out, and the real junk woods which is beautiful and wild but filled with trash—where much of the action takes place. I had a setting.

· The dogs and I were walking in the junk woods one morning, and I thought, you could hide a body in here and nobody would find it. I had a plot.

· Then, I needed to tie these varied things together—so I did: Who would find a body in these woods? Mountain bikers. It all fit together and I plunged in. However, I think this method is harder than starting at the beginning and following the story to the end!

I have animal imagery for various ways of taking a story from beginning to end. This method I call prairie dogging. You get an idea or image here; you get an idea or image there; you get another over there; the images are like prairie dogs popping up from various holes. Your job is to figure out what prairie dog burrow ties them all together and weave it into a story.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My journey to publication for this book seems long, but not nearly as long as for my first book, Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged. That book was rejected a few dozen times over six years. I sort of gave up and stuck the paper manuscript in a drawer.

I was moving to a new house, pulled the manuscript out, and started reading. I thought this is actually really good. Somebody ought to buy this. I started sending it out to publishers again. Then I was finally in the right place at the right time: having lunch with a writer friend when his agent happened to call him. My friend told his agent about my YA manuscript, and the agent said, “Have her send the first three chapters overnight.” (this was still the day of paper submission only).

I hurried to Kinko’s and sent the first three chapters overnight express.

Five months later, the agent called. He’d read the chapters and loved them. He wanted me to overnight the rest of the book. I did. Four months later, he called and had finished the book and wanted to represent me. Within about six months, George Nicholson had sold the book to HarperCollins.

Chasing AllieCat was shorter because George represented me all along. The long part was getting the story right. HarperCollins didn’t buy it because Jake Riley hadn’t sold enough copies, and I don’t think I’d nailed the story of Chasing AllieCat yet, either, when they rejected it.

After we’d get about six to eight rejections, George and I would talk, and I’d do a major overhaul, based on the comments we’d received. That happened a couple times. I think we had about fourteen rejections.

Then, two and a half years ago, George hired a new assistant, and she read it with fresh eyes and made some astute suggestions (Thanks, Erica Silverman). Some of the comments I didn’t like very much. I let them simmer for awhile on the back burner of my brain, and then I tore into the manuscript again. This time, I was ruthless, and that’s when I cut eighty pages and rearranged. I ramped up elements of mystery and romance. When I was done, I knew I had it right. The first place George sent it after that—Flux—bought it.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
· Based on the story above, know that anything worthwhile takes time. If you believe in your character or characters and know that they are people readers will want to know and follow on a life adventure, don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to revise, revise, revise.

· Don’t be afraid, as Faulkner or Mark Twain (questionable original source) said, to “kill your darlings.” When I said that I cut eighty pages, I cut a scene that was truly one of “my darlings.” In that scene, Sadie, Joe, and Allie all spend a night in the bike shop basement. To write the scene, I actually camped out with my dogs in the basement of A-1 Bike. It was creepy, and the plumbing sounded like machine guns going off; there were unidentifiable bangs and slams, and it smelled of greasy dustbunnies. I loved that scene in the book, and of course it was near and dear to my heart since I’d done it in order to write it, but the scene dragged the story down—slowed way down—in those fourteen pages, so it was part of what I cut.

· When you have a character and a story going in your head, throw up on the page—or in the computer—and don’t worry about making it perfect the first time through. Revision—cleaning up what you’ve thrown up—is most of the fun—making the story sharp and clear, and fast-paced, but you can’t always do that the first time through.

· If you have a story to tell, write it. Don’t tell everybody the story you’re working on. If you tell your story aloud, you lose your need to write it. Keep that need to write urgent.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
How satisfying it is, and how much work it is.

· My biggest dream since I was four years old was to be an author. My mom read to me so much that by the time I was four, I knew I wanted to write stories when I grew up. So my biggest dream for my whole life was to publish a novel. When that happened, it was the most satisfying thing in the world—besides having grown kids who are spectacular human beings. Seeing your book on the shelf at the bookstore and the library is about as thrilling as it can be. Things like having a few young men in their twenties tell me that Jake Riley is the first book not required for school that they read cover-to-cover and couldn’t put down was one of those this-is-worth-every-minute experiences, too.

· What I didn’t know is that after the book comes out, you have a whole new job again—not just to be sure you’re working on a new novel, but to promote the one that’s out. Promoting a book is a full-time job, and most of us authors have to do it all ourselves. Surprise? I didn’t even have a clue I was supposed to promote my own book the first time. This time I’m ready!

  • From Goodreads: Corrinne Corcoran’s upscale Manhattan life is perfectly on track—until her father announces he’s been laid off and she’s shipped off to Broken Spoke, Texas, to live with her grandparents. All alone in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the glamorous life she’s supposed to be living. But as she grudgingly adjusts—making new friends and finding romance along the way—this city girl begins to realize that life without credit cards and shopping sprees may not be as bad as it seems....
How long did you work on this book?
I wrote the initial manuscript in about two months through an online Mediabistro class. The initial manuscript, however, is only about half of what the novel is now. I truly owe my editor Catherine Onder a lot of credit. I wish her name was also on the cover. She saw what WHERE I BELONG could be and helped to guide me there. I am sure it isn’t easy to work with a first time author, and her patience was amazing. We went through two round of revisions, and that took another four months of writing. Total writing time was probably around six months- and a month for copyediting because I am definitely not perfect at grammar.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My book’s initial title was CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE RECESSIONISTA and I shopped it around during the spring of 2009 when the recession was the topic. I think agents and publishers were looking for stories that were narratives about what was happening, so that gave me a great advantage. That said, not every publisher or agent wanted it. There were agents that I definitely never heard back from, which is the norm. And there were others who thought the recession was too trendy of a topic, and it would soon pass. I am happy that HarperTeen saw that the novel wasn’t just about the recession and that the recession was something important enough that it should have novels with it as the backdrop.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I might sound like a broken record, but I would advice everyone to write for yourself. Don’t try to figure out the market. I didn’t write WHERE I BELONG because I thought the market wanted a recession story. I wrote it because I was trying to understand the recession and how it was changing us (and our country) myself. I had just finished my graduate degree and I was having an extremely difficult time finding a good job- or any job. Writing it for me was therapeutic. It helped me realize that even if life doesn’t turn out how you thought it would be- that life can still be good and sweet. I would recommend writers to work on pieces that are both personal and cathartic because you are your own most important audience.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The blogging community has been the biggest surprise. I had no idea how many wonderful people where out there reading, blogging, and forming virtual communities. I am impressed by the diversity of the type of people as well. There are 11 year olds blogging about YA and 50 year olds. I’ve been very lucky to be in touch with many of them, and their dedication and passion inspires me. I know that I would have benefited from a blogging community when I was a teen, so I want to tell all the teens (and adults) to keep it up! I love reading your reviews (good and bad) and emailing with you all.

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
  • From Goodreads: The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.
How long did you work on this book?
I first proposed Cryer's Cross to my editor when I finished writing GONE, book three of the WAKE trilogy, in spring 2009. I thought about it for a few months, wrote it in the fall of '09, and edited throughout 2010.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?My original journey to publication was pretty easy compared to some. My first two manuscripts didn't find an agent -- I got around seventy rejections for the first manuscript, and I didn't submit the second one because it was pretty terrible. When I submitted WAKE, I got an agent within a week, and we sold it three months later. For Cryer's Cross, it was a matter of presenting a proposal to my editor and working out the details.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Go to your favorite book and re-read it as a writer. Ask yourself why you love it. What makes you want to keep reading even though you know the ending? What do you love about it -- the characters? The action? The mystery or suspense? Figure that out, then imitate it.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Learning the business of publishing is constantly surprising. I love it and I learn something new every day.

Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Court by Mark Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr.
  • From Goodreads: It’s one steamy July day at the West 4th Street Court in NYC, otherwise known as The Cage. Hotshot ESPN is wooing the scouts, Boo is struggling to guard the weird new guy named Waco, a Spike Lee wannabe has video rolling, and virgin Irene is sizing up six-foot-eightand-a-half-inch Chester. Nine of YA literature’s top writers, including Walter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Adam Rapp, Joseph Bruchac, and Sharon Flake reveal how it all goes down in a searing collection of short stories, in which each one picks up where the previous one ends. Characters weave in and out of narratives, perspectives change, and emotions play out for a fluid and fast-paced ode to the game. Crackling with humor, grit, and streetball philosophy, and featuring poems and photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr., this anthology is a slam dunk.
How long did you work on this book?
It’s hard to say exactly because there was a lot involved just to secure all the authors. The book was actually written in real time meaning each author waited for the previous author to complete their story before they were able to do theirs. Each author had a month for their piece but some were a little late, while others took up the slack by delivering early. Once we had all the pieces, we checked each story for continuity, making sure there were no inconsistencies. Overall, it was probably about 12 to 18 months.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
The acceptance for publication was pretty quick since Marc and I already had a relationship with Candlewick and the publisher was also an editor for each of us (some publishers do edit a few authors, but not many) so we were able to spell out the idea and she took to it instantly. Candlewick was our first choice but we were confident it would get picked up some place.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?I tend to be very honest in my advice for aspiring writers but it’s only because most people are only in it for the money and want a quick easy road to success. The best advice I can give, (and I’ve heard it by successful people in all types of industries) is make sure you love what you do. If I didn’t get paid to write, I would still do it. If I didn’t paid to take a picture, I’d still do it. The fact that I love doing it means I’ll work 24 hours straight if I need to, to get something right. If you can’t see yourself putting that much effort into it, find something else.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Probably the biggest surprise is that I get paid to do what I’ve always loved doing since I was in school, which is to simply create.

Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger
  • From Goodreads: Living with his grandparents on a tiny island off the Washington State coast, Zach feels cut off from the world. Especially when he's forbidden to chat with his online friends. But then his little brother, Gilbert, is kidnapped. To find him, Zach discovers how to astral project. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm—a shadow place. While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory, another astral traveler who's intriguing (and cute). As they track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows—but each moment could be Gilbert's last. Even worse, there's a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it's hungry for Zach.
How long did you work on this book?
Shadow Walkers is the story a gay teenager living on an isolated island in Puget Sound in Washington State. He begins to experiment with astral projection and soon finds himself embroiled in mystery and danger (and also a little bit of romance!).

It was actually a screenplay first, but it was a totally different story that point. I wrote it more than ten years ago, and it won a big award, but it ultimately never got turned into a movie.

The inspiration to turn it into a teen novel came a few years ago, when I received some criticism over my first novel, Geography Club. Some people were upset about the fact that two of the gay characters first meet online. This is, of course, an extremely common way for gay teenagers to meet each other, but some people accused me of glossing over the dangers of online meet-ups (I don't think I did), or argued that I was encouraging people to make such meet-ups.

At a lecture once, I was trying to explain all this, and my attitude about the internet, which I see as being this big, complicated thing that is incredibly helpful on one hand, but can be incredibly dangerous on the other hand. "The internet is this vast expanse of knowledge and wonder," I told my audience. "There is both great beauty there, and great danger, and it's really important to teach kids the difference. The internet is like ... the astral dimension, almost."

It was right then that I remembered my earlier screenplay, and I thought, "Hey, the astral dimension could be a great metaphor for the internet." Which is why Zach is so cyber-connected at the beginning of the book, why he's initially drawn to the astral dimension when his computer is taken away, and why so often the whole realm reminds of him of the cyber-world.

Honestly, I actually believe the astral dimension and the internet are very closely related!

Anyway, that's how I decided to completely rewrite the screenplay I'd written, but make it about a gay teenager.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Somewhere between the two. I was working with an editor at a different publisher at the time, and she okayed the idea, but by the time I'd written the whole book, she admitted that she didn't like the idea after all. That miscommunication was a little frustrating, but my agent and I took it to other publishers, and Flux was one of the first to get back to us. It was clear the editor was a fan of my other work, so that's where the book ended up.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Slow down and concentrate on the craft. I think aspiring writers are often way too concerned about getting published. I know that was true in my case, and it really hurt my career. I ended up wasting a lot of time submitting projects that simply weren't ready to be published.

Here's the thing: it's simply not true that it's hard to get published -- not if you have a marketable, well-written manuscript. Yes, a lot of crappy books get published, but there are usually specific reasons for those books being out there -- like someone's a celebrity, or someone knew someone else.

Most of us don't have those connections, so if you really want to be a successful author, far and away your best shot is to write a terrific book on a topic that hasn't been done to death. Don't ape someone else, don't rip-off the latest trend, don't assume your readers are idiots, and don't submit your first (or even your second) draft.

Join a critique group, take classes, open yourself up to honest feedback from other professionals. And try to learn everything you can about the business of writing by working as an editor, a reviewer, or a bookseller.

The reason why it can be hard to get published is because there are so many works mucking up the system that aren't written at a professional level. But because there are so few truly great books, when an editor or agent finally does come across one, they definitely take note.

Trust me: you take the time to really polish your craft, and you will get published. Maybe not with that first book, but eventually for sure.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
On one hand, I have the greatest job in the world: I get paid to do what I love doing most in the world, what I'd do even if someone didn't pay me. I try hard never to forget this.

What surprises me? How wonderfully supportive readers are -- and how smart! No, I'm not just sucking up to my fans -- I'm genuinely surprised by how much thoughtful, intelligent feedback I get. There's very little negativity among my actual readers.

But on the other hand, it's an insanely competitive industry, and I'm sometimes frustrated by how little power authors have over their own destinies. So many decisions are made -- decisions that directly impact your career -- that you have absolutely no control over. In that respect, being an author isn't like other professions -- a lot of it is luck or just sheer random chance. Sometimes the random chance has been in my favor, and sometimes it hasn't, but the serendipity of it all has definitely surprised me. 

Additional Releases

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

  • From Goodreads: Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma. When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.
Father of Lies by Ann Turner
  • From Goodreads: Lidda knew, with a clarity that was like a candle in a dark room, that all had changed; something was loosed in the village—Devil or not—and they would pay for it, every last man, woman, and child. Fourteen-year-old Lidda has always known she was different. She longs to escape Salem Village and its stifling rules—to be free to dance, to sing, to live as she chooses. But when a plague of accusations descends on the village and witch fever erupts, L idda begins to realize that she feels and sees things that others can't, or won't. But how will she expose the truth without being hung as a witch herself? Gripping and emotional, Ann Turner's retelling of the Salem witch trials captures one girl's brave soul-searching amidst a backdrop of fear and blame.

Along with the giveaways announced yesterday, we have more wonderful prizes to announce! Copies of THE IRON WITCH, CHASING ALLIECAT, SHADOW WALKERS, and WHERE I BELONG are all up for grabs. That brings our giveaway total to nine prizes. To enter, please leave a comment on this post and fill out the form below. You can enter today even if you entered yesterday to double your chances of winning! The contest is open to US residents and we'll announce our winners on Thursday morning! Go!

Happy reading,
The Ladies of ACP


  1. Rebecca Davis' road to publication is so inspiring. There's hope for someone like me who makes slow progress because of work and family.

    Great giveaways. I am so, so, so hoping I win The Iron Witch. I really want to read it.

  2. So many amazing books! Alliecat sounds really interesting. I like the intrigue they've left us hanging with. And The Iron Witch, well, I just have to have it! I'm doing a book giveaway on my blog today. Feel free to check it out! Thanks.

  3. These all sound fantastic. I've been dying to read The Iron Witch, but Cryer's Cross also sounds interesting. Thank for doing the giveaway!

  4. OMG, only the 2nd person to comment - wahoo! Thanks again!

  5. Wow, what a great week for giveaways and interviews. They all sound wonderful but I am most excited to hear about WHERE I BELONG -- totally my type of book, a lovely YA Contemporary with heart. It is sad to say but without such a lovely interview and the synopsis posted, I probably would have passed this one by in the bookstore, so thank you :-)

  6. More books! Yippee!
    I hope my books make it on here someday when they are ever published!

  7. WOW, look at all these books! Drool! What a great giveaway. :) Ha, I like Taffy's comment; yes that would be nice, to be published someday and give out copies of books on this site!

  8. That is a sweet set I would love to read, thanx!

  9. All these books look awesome! I can't wait to read them and they are all going on my to-read list. Love the interviews and thanks for the great giveaways! :-)

  10. these are my favorite posts of the week. I love all the stories

  11. I'm so looking forward to THE IRON WITCH, it sounds so fab! Thank you so much for this awesome giveaway!

  12. Shadow Walkers and Cryers Cross sounds like great reads. ^_^

  13. I'm really looking forward to Iron Witch.

  14. OH It seems like I have been waiting forever for The Iron Witch.

  15. I love reading your interviews. What a great set of books too. thanks!
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  16. Wow, so many great books this week! :)

  17. As always, you guys gave some great interviews and are giving away some cool books! I've been hearing a lot of things about Chasing AllieCat and REALLY want to read that. Thanks for the contest :)

  18. Wow, so many books this week. I ordered Lisa's new book yesterday. Now there's a few more titles to add to my wish list.

  19. Thanks for the great giveaway! so many amazing books i want to read. Also great interview!

  20. These books sound really awesome! This is even more incentive not to grow up, I guess. :P

  21. WOW!!! What fantastic insightful stories to share with my students! I LOVE knowing more about an author's thought processes...it makes the book come alive!

  22. Wait, a part two? My "to be read" pile is taking over my life!

  23. Thanks for the great giveaway. Lots of good books to read. Tore923@aol.com


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