Archive by Author

Winner of Shatter Me and ARC of Unravel Me

15 Jan

Congratulations to:

GABY at Queen Ella Bee Reads

Gaby has won the paperback version of Tahereh Mafi’s SHATTER ME and the ARC of UNRAVEL ME!

Happy reading, Gaby!

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Goodbye, sweet 2012 (and a giveaway)

27 Dec

This year has been such an incredible ride for me, one full of surprises and excitement. In fact, in my entire life there hasn’t been a year with as much change.  If you had told me back in January that I would land both an agent and a publishing deal, I’d have thought you were crazy (um, in a good way, of course). I’m so grateful that it is exactly what happened.

But it’s not without hard work, of course. I spent the previous year on overdrive, honing my writing skills, going to conferences, learning from agents, editors and fellow authors—all who were kind enough to share their knowledge with newbies. I joined Twitter, which opened up a whole new world to me. I pounded the proverbial pavement—bearing rejections—to find the perfect agent for me. I revised, revised, and revised again to make my manuscript better.  I joined two critique groups and recruited many beta readers, finding out that I still needed to revise.

Heck, I’m still revising.

But hard work pays off, and I am so excited about spending 2013 not only writing and editing but working on publicity for OLIVIA TWISTED. I can’t wait to share it with the world!

So to that end, I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this journey, starting with my fellow Chicks. If not for them, I might not have found my path to writing in the first place.

And as a special thanks to our blog readers and to end 2012 with a bang, I’d like to offer up a very special ARC (thank you, Agent P!) of a book that won’t hit the shelves until February 2013—UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi, the sequel to the bestseller, SHATTER ME! As a bonus, I’ll throw in a copy of SHATTER ME as well. If you haven’t read this wonderful young adult dystopian, now is a great time to fall in love with Adam and Juliette.

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All you have to do to enter is leave your email in the comments on this post and we’ll draw a winner (to avoid freaky spammers, spell out words like “at” and “dot”). You have until midnight on Friday, January 11 to comment for the drawing (enter only once, please). That way I have time to read it first. =)

Here’s to just as much wonderful in 2013…for all of us!

Inspiration in Paradise

19 Nov

When Tracey’s husband Michael announced we would be going to an island for a weekend of relaxation, my thought was that I would have hours upon hours for writing and editing. With the initial manuscript edits just in from my editor and a short story due, I had my laptop in hand, ready to crank them out.

Yeah, not so much. What I didn’t expect was how busy relaxation could be!

But the funny thing is that even though we were always moving and doing things, it always felt like we were on “island time,” as they say in the Caribbean. We did whatever we wanted whenever we felt like it, so we never felt “busy” in the sense a trip to a big city would feel. Instead, we spent plenty of time strolling along the beach, walking along a pier to watch the fish jumping (we had no idea what they were jumping for, but it was pretty funny), and—my new favorite activity—kayaking.

But even though I was “busy” and didn’t spend much time on my computer, I got something even more important—inspiration. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that a vacation on an island can inspire a person. The day we went kayaking was my favorite. The water was like glass and the sky was cloudless blue. I stopped in my kayak to be “in the moment”—noticing how there was no end and no beginning where the water met the sky, the gentle swaying of the seagrass beneath the water, and the gulls whose wings barely tipped the water as they sailed past. There is beauty everywhere, of course, but we are usually in such a hurry that we miss just how wonderful the natural world around us really is. In fact, it was at the island that I got inspiration for my short story.

As we bid farewell to the sun on the last evening, it was a bittersweet moment. We would be saying goodbye to the island we loved, but we all knew in one way or another we had changed for the better. For me, the lesson that I took back with me is to stop and enjoy the world around me more often. Well, that and to stop eating processed foods. The way we cooked at the island was so healthy that it (with the support of my fellow Chick Eva) kickstarted a whole new way of eating for me, which I’ve continued and will continue for—well, forever.

Winner of Entangled book giveaway!

25 Sep

Congratulations to….

DAWN M.

…for winning an Entangled book of your choice! Dawn is listed as =P in the comments of my last post, and I knew that was her because we worked together years ago and she used that symbol all the time. At the time, I had no idea what it meant, so I just called her “equals p.” (Yes, we called ourselves “junior high friends” since that’s pretty much how people saw us.)

Congratulations, Dawn! You’ll be happy to know that my son Jack did the drawing for me and pulled your name (although he said, “Whatever Mom”)! I will be sending you My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century since it released the day I did this post and was edited by my awesome editor, Stacy Abrams.

Equals P.

Thank you to everyone who entered! I really appreciate all the kind words and best wishes. You all are the best!

A special announcement and a giveaway!

18 Sep

I can’t believe I’m posting this. Seriously, it sounds so cliché to say this but I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M POSTING THIS:

I am excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Entangled Teen!

As soon as I heard Entangled was interested in my story, OLIVIA TWISTED (a retelling of Oliver Twist about a foster child who finds friendship in a gang of hackers), I delved into the research. I contacted five (yep, five) of their authors, all of whom couldn’t say enough great things about the company. Entangled doesn’t get paid until their authors make money, so you can bet they put everything they can into each book. In fact, I classify this company as “extreme type A personality,” as I’ve never seen a group of professionals have such a go-get-‘em, dedicated attitude as they do for their authors.

And then I spoke with Stacy Cantor Abrams, the editor. Stacy came to Entangled after seven years at Bloomsbury/Walker Books for Young Readers. She was incredible and very enthusiastic about my story! I called my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, and said let’s do it (cue Wild Thing music). Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace:

They have an amazing group of authors (check them out at http://www.entangledteen.com/authors/). In fact, one of their YA authors, Rachel Harris, is celebrating the debut of her book this very day–My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century!

To my fellow chicks and critique partners and family and beta readers and agent and Twitter pals and work team members who have helped me reach this goal (and put up with my insanity), thank you!

And now, the giveaway: To celebrate my joining the Entangled team, I’m giving away an Entangled Young Adult (or any Entangled) book of your choice to one lucky winner! If you would like to enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post.
  • Include the name of the Entangled book of your choice (you can find them at EntangledPublishing.com). You can say “any” if you prefer the fun wild card method.
  • Include your email address (or Twitter handle, if you prefer). Spell your email address out so spammers don’t attack you with laser beams.

Comment by midnight EST on Monday, Sept. 24. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

To be (happily) continued…

Immersed in the storm

3 Aug

I was in the middle of a tornado tonight, listening to the roar of the train, watching the palm trees bend in half and bushes careening across a parking lot.

Well, not me, exactly. I was sitting in the middle of my comfy bed, laptop in front of me, listening to Pandora and writing about my poor main character trying to find shelter from a tornado.

It was in the midst of the scene, when my character was fleeing from swirling broken glass and tiles, that my husband decided to walk in and ask me a question.

I looked up at him and was barely able to stop from saying, “Run for cover!” I think he would have had me committed if that happened.

I remember reading Stormy, Misty’s Foal, one of the Misty of Chincoteague books, when I was a kid (I had horses but was still obsessed with books about horses). There was a spectacular storm scene, and I remember I was so caught up in the story that when my mom interrupted my reading (probably to do the dishes), I was completely freaked out that it was a beautiful, sunny day. I had actually thought it was storming outside.

I love when that happens. When I get so immersed in a story that I’m there—jumping in the icy water with Harry Potter as he tries to reach the Sword of Gryffindor, trembling with Edmund as he waits for the White Witch to decide his fate, sobbing with Wilbur when Charlotte dies. When a book takes me along for the ride, I know I’ve found a winner. This happened most recently with Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi (oh, Adam, sigh).

The experiences I’ve had as a reader lend themselves to my writing, as I try to immerse myself in whatever experience my character is dealing with (especially since I write in first person POV). My poor husband bears the brunt of this emotional writing. If I’m writing a scene where my main character is being treated poorly, I’ll be angry and will forget that my husband is an innocent bystander.

But if my character is in love…well, husband wins.

What’s the last book in which you felt completely immersed?

My favorite post in which I can say I have an AGENT!

24 May

(Movie trailer dude’s voice) In a world where imagination runs wild (not to mention the kids), a writer finds an agent…

Yes! I have an agent!

First a picture of my boys hugging a cute doggie (kind of tugs the “awww” out of you, doesn’t it?):

I love ’em!

So for the past few months I’ve been editing and querying (and editing more) on my young adult manuscript, receiving a pretty decent request rate.  I used any and all feedback to make my manuscript stronger. The responses became more and more personalized, resulting in a revise/resubmit at one point.

More revisions, more querying, more making my poor husband listen to revised and revised and revised excerpts (thank you, babe!). And more waiting at the virtual mailbox.

“Who the hell stuck me in this mailbox?”

And then one Saturday (yeah, a weekend), I got an email from the associate agent at Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency for a phone call. And this was me….

Whuuuuh???

The call wasn’t with Laurie McLean, whom I had originally queried. It was with Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (whom you may know as @BookaliciousPam in Twitter), newly promoted agent, who had rescued my manuscript from the slush pile and begged it off Laurie. I was SO excited that she was SO excited! In fact, (because I stalk people’s tweets sometimes—don’t pretend you don’t!) she was tweeting about it before she sent the email. She had great ideas for revisions and submissions, and she and I clicked instantly. I mean, she managed a rock band! Forget all her publishing industry experience — that’s just COOL!

Well, I did research on Pam, contacting very satisfied clients and even getting affirmation from another agent. So my “offer of rep” (EEP!) emails went forth and prospered into additional offers from other amazing agents! It was like Christmas!

“Oh yeah? Well, who the hell tried to turn me into some present?”

Finally, after a lot of chocolate consumption, I went with my gut (it never lies) and chose the kick-ass Pam to represent me (does she realize yet what she’s gotten herself into?)! A new agent with an established agency, she’s already sold a trilogy in her first couple months!

I look forward to a fantastic relationship with…I can say it now…my AGENT!

Really, Pam, do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into?!

The best free writer’s “conference” ever

19 May

About a year ago, I found a place where writers, agents and editors gather regularly to discuss writing, offer thoughts on revisions, and generally just shoot the breeze (am I dating myself again?). A place where newer writers rub elbows with established authors, and weekly chat sessions are set up to help participants improve their art.

It’s free, and you don’t have to even leave the comfort of your living room/office/kids’ playroom to attend.

It’s Twitter.

I’m sure the majority of those reading this blog already recognize the benefits of this particular social media outlet. I myself was skeptical until fellow Chick Peggy sat down with the rest of us and demonstrated the basics on setting up an account and using hashtags, etc. I mean, really? The number sign is that big of a deal?

Yes, it is.

Consider this as an example – #yalitchat is a chat that is held each Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EST for writers of young adult novels. Conversation is usually started around a specific topic, such as using voice in writing. During once such chat last year, I mentioned that I was searching for a critique group and someone responded that a great group meets in south Orlando (actually just five minutes from my house). So I joined the OWLS and have been thrilled with that decision. I also met a local author, found new critique partners and learned (and contributed) a great deal. There are other chat sessions held, including #mglitchat (for writers of middle grade). The # organizes the tweets and helps the topic become more searchable.

I started following several agents and editors to gain insight into the industry. Boy, did I learn a lot about what to do and, most especially, what NOT to do when querying! In fact, some of the most helpful agents and editors share this knowledge frequently through categories such as #askagent, #editreport, #askeditor and #10queriesin10tweets.

Twitter’s also great for laughs (check out @ohmrwonka for condescending Wonka tweets and @Lord_Voldemort7 for, well, I’m sure you can figure that out). Lots of cute pics of kitties shared, too (um, not on Lord Voldemort’s site, I hope).

Not sure where to start or who to follow? Sign up for an account, then click on the “# Discover” at the top menu. Type your interest, such as “writing,” into the search box and there you have it!

If you haven’t taken advantage of all the opportunities Twitter offers, you’re missing out.

For those already established, do you have any favorite hashtag conversations or suggestions? (updated: here’s a great site with hashtag suggestions for authors)

Now go forth and tweet!

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Procrastinators

11 Mar
  1. It’s not due for a few days. I have plenty of time.

    I'll work on this n--Oh look, there's a bird!

  2. Okay, now I’m sitting down to work on an outline [oops, phone call from friend trumps the outline].
  3. I’ll work through the outline in my head as I watch that new movie with Hugh Jackman [Hugh Jackman trumps everything].
  4. Okay, now I’m going to sit down and—oh, look, a shiny object!
  5. Oh, shoot, it’s due in two days. I guess I better start. Hey—a Glee marathon!
  6. Um, it’s due tomorrow. Okay, I’m sitting down to work on this. After I run to Starbucks. Then to Target. Then to the bookstore.
  7. It’s due in a couple hours. Oh, well, I’m better under pressure anyway.

This is me. And yes, I would’ve gotten it finished, no problem.

A few years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that measures how you perceive the world and make decisions. My results were ENFP, which basically means I’m the following:

  1. Extroverted
  2. Procrastinator
  3. Blue-sky thinker
  4. Disorganized
  5. Easily distracted

In fact, every personality indicator I’ve ever taken has shown that I’m these things. The funny thing is that no one who knows me is surprised by this. I told one person I took the MBTI and he said in a disdainful tone, “Oh, you must be ENFP.” I thought that was hilarious (ENFPs are very easy-going, by the way).

You know what? This works for me. Not everyone plans a vacation out a year in advance, or creates drafts from outlines.  I’ve tried to fit into the mold of a planner, but it’s never worked for me. In college, I used to write my final paper, then the outline from it. The one time I tried to follow the formula and tried to plan, my grade suffered. I do much, much better under pressure (and I do meet my deadlines). Perhaps that’s one reason I’m a great multi-tasker, too.

To sum it up, everyone is different. If you have a formula that works for you, excellent! Don’t apologize, and don’t try to change. Embrace your so-called weaknesses and make them work for you.

I’m going back to work on my edits…um, later.

How auditioning for The Voice is like finding an agent

21 Feb

This is definitely not me

I’ve recently started watching The Voice on TV and have noticed something (other than the fact that at their worst, these people out-sing me at my best): auditioning for The Voice is very much like querying agents.

1) They’re looking for that unique voice.

If you watch the show, you know that the four esteemed judges don’t see the contestants until after they sing. They listen. They decide. They either hit the button or don’t. If they hit the button, that means they found something in the person’s voice that appeals to them. And more often than not, you hear them say that the person’s voice is “unique” or “different.” Sometimes a little more different than I like, but there you go. If they don’t press the button, it doesn’t mean the person’s voice isn’t strong; it might just mean the voice sounds like every other singer.

Like the judges on The Voice, agents (or editors) may think a manuscript is strong, but it might be missing that unique voice that sets it aside from every other one they see.

This could possibly be me

2) It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Querying authors have all heard it: “This is such a subjective business.” “What appeals to one agent might not appeal to another.” “I know you’ll find the perfect agent for you.”

And it’s actually true.  Within one hour, I received a rejection on my query and five pages and then a request from another agent who read my query and ten pages. It made me laugh, but at the same time, it drove home the fact that my query “doesn’t suck;” my book “doesn’t suck.” It’s just a matter of finding the right agent at the right time. I’ve received enough requests now from agents who have already read pages from the manuscript to make me more confident in my work.

3) Agents get rejected, too.

As Adam Levine told a contestant who had not received any votes, “Hey, we’ve been there.” Most celebrities have been put through the ringer of rejection, and, similarly, agents have had their own share of rejections by publishers. So they know what it’s like. They don’t like it any more than authors do. Which is probably why some rejection letters are three times longer than they need to be in an attempt to soften the blow. They understand.

I’m looking forward to the day that the agent in the red Star-Trek-style chair presses the button to accept me as a client. And it’ll happen (sans cool red chair, I guess). For those of you playing in the same sandbox, my fingers are crossed that it’ll happen to you, too!

*disclaimer: poster does not have the voice to sing for The Voice, so she is writing this as a lazy observer sitting in her comfy chair at home 😉

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