Monday, May 20, 2013

Congrats to Andre Norton Award winner E.C. Myers and FAIR COIN!

I'm so proud to congratulate E.C. Myers on winning the 2012 Andre Norton Award for his YA debut, FAIR COIN! The Andre Norton Award honors the best Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of the year, and the winner is chosen by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Other nominees include Holly Black (Black Heart), David Levithan (Every Day), Libba Bray (The Diviners), and Rachel Hartman (Seraphina). What company, right?! For a complete list of winners and nominees, check out this link.

Eugene is not only a talented author, but he's also a funny, down-to-earth, friendly person whom I've been lucky enough to get to know through our local Philly Lit Night events. Congrats, Eugene!

Be sure to check out FAIR COIN and its sequel, QUANTAM COIN, which are available now!

The coin changed Ephraim's life. But how can he change it back?

Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more dis­turbing: she thought she'd identified Ephraim's body at the hospital that day.

Among his dead double's belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin--a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he's liked since second grade. But the coin doesn't always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people's lives as easily as it rebuilds his own.

The coin could give Ephraim everything he's ever wanted--if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to start a new novel in 22 easy steps.

1. Open a new Word document.

2. Save it as tentative book title.

3. Wonder if any other books have this title.

4. Check twitter.

5. Google tentative book title.

6. Feel relieved that you're somewhat original.

7. Type the title and "Chapter One" in Word document.

8. Check email.

9. Check facebook.

10. Stare at blinking cursor in Word document.

11. Check latest favorite blogs & tumblrs. (If you're wondering: The Bloggess, The Unslut Project, Title to Come, and What Should We Call Me)

12. Type first sentence.

13. Click "save."

14. Feel accomplished.

15. Feel thirsty.

16. Refill water glass.

17. Check twitter.

18. Click on five different-yet-equally-inane HuffPo links.

19. Stare at blinking cursor after first sentence.

20. Realize that, though this is book #3, you've totally forgotten how to start a novel.

21. Write blog post about it.

22. Type second sentence?

Here's the truth: I've had two awesome brainstorming sessions for my next book, first while waiting for my car to be fixed, and again with Frankie, and I'm very excited about it. But I still find it so, so intimidating to start a new WIP.

I know that I need to barrel forward, and my next step will be to just start writing the first scene I WANT to write, not the uber-difficult beginning — anything to get the creative energy flowing. It's all about diving in and being ok with being terrible. That's First Drafts 101.

But I've been in revision mode for so long that I almost forgot how awful a blank page can be, when you haven't established a character's voice and certain plot points are a little (or a lot) vague.

There are writers out there who can tap out a first draft like no one's business. This post is for anyone like me, who is sooooo not one of those lucky, lucky writers.

Repeat after me: I can do this!


Help! What's your tried-and-true method of breaking through the Chapter One, Draft One writer's block? Leave it in the comments!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE CAGED GRAVES recommendation and giveaway!

I picked up Dianne Salerni's THE CAGED GRAVES because I hadn't read a realistic historical novel in awhile, and the author was local, so I figured it would be the perfect read for a leisurely Saturday.

I'm happy I did, because I found myself so absorbed in the story that I finished it in a few hours.

THE CAGED GRAVES is part suspenseful drama, part historical mystery, and it was a refreshing change from the modern setting, epic scope, and breakneck pace of the books I've been reading lately. (To be clear, it's not a fast-moving plot, but it developed steadily and had me totally intrigued.)

THE CAGED GRAVES is the classic story of an outsider coming into a small rural town, meeting its citizens, and uncovering its dark secrets. Verity Boone returns home to Catawissa, PA after years of living with relatives in the city and is shocked to discover that her mother's and aunt's graves are located outside the cemetery walls (on unconsecrated ground) and caged with iron bars.

She begins digging into the mystery of her mom's sudden death and why the cage was erected in the first place. Throw in a deliciously gothic atmosphere, some suspicious and vindictive townspeople, and rumors of witchcraft and a long-lost treasure, and Salerni has woven together one engrossing tale.

I loved the romantic elements, as well: The purpose of Verity's return home is to meet her betrothed, Nate, with whom she's only exchanged letters. Their attempts to reconcile their romantic ideals of one another with the actual person before them are all-too-relatable for a generation of people who often meet and interact online. (And hooray no insta-love!!)

However, (well-written love triangle alert!) Verity finds herself drawn to and flirting with Hadley, a charming doctor's apprentice from the town. I loved the realism of the situation because she's completely unsure of how true/deep her feelings are for Nate (and his for her!), and the attention that Hadley's showering upon her, coupled with his bold advances, makes Verity (and the reader) swoony and confused.

The best part is, by the end, both the mystery of the caged graves and the love triangle weave together to wrap up nicely. Ah, satisfying endings, how I love thee.

With an intriguing, multi-layered plot, complex characters (plus a setting that's a character in its own right), and quality writing, THE CAGED GRAVES is highly recommended for anyone in the mood for a historical mystery. Best of all, it's available now from Clarion Books.

One lucky reader will win my ARC by commenting below by Friday, May 31st at 11:59pm EST* to answer this appropriately-morbid prompt: 

Uh oh, your grave has a cage of its own. Why?

My favorite answer wins!

*The fine print: Can only mail ARC to U.S. addresses! Include your email address or twitter handle so I can reach you, or check back the first week of June to see if you've won!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Do You Need Multiple Agents if You Write in Different Genres? (Guest Post by Chuck Sambuchino)

(This column excerpted from GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, from Writer’s Digest Books.)

During an agent panel I moderated at a previous writers conference, the four literary agents got a lot of intelligent questions from the crowd. One of the questions, which I hear frequently at events, was a complicated one: “Do you need multiple literary agents if you write in different genres or categories?” This is a tricky subject, but one that I want to address, since I myself have multiple agents.

Photo by welcometoalville
Some writers get into writing with a clear focus in mind—i.e., penning young adult fantasy novels. Other writers want to compose books in different areas. Sometimes it’s not a far stretch to jump—from young adult to middle grade, say. Other times it’s a whole new world—like making a jump from paranormal romance novels to writing nonfiction books about gardening.


Here are the three likely ways this will happen if you have a literary agent and want to branch out into new worlds.

1. You will have an agent that represents everything you write. In fact, if you want to write in different areas, it would be to your advantage to, if possible, specifically target agents who rep all of your areas when you first query.
2. Your agent will make an exception to rep all your works. I’ve seen this before. Writers have agents who represent only adult fiction, but will make an exception for you and handle your kids works just to keep it all in the family.
3. Your agent will wish you well finding a second rep. If your agent neither reps your new area(s) nor cares to handle it/them as a favor, the only option is for you to find a second rep. This makes things a little for complicated for the writer (having two agents now, not just one), but it’s a necessary step to move forward.


The major downside to addressing this question is a big issue behind it. The more you spread yourself across different areas, you more you dilute your brand and have to start over again. If you’re only spending, say, half of your time writing books about parenting (as opposed to all your time), then that’s less effort to develop a platform and network. If you can only write one thriller every 3 years instead of every 2 years because you’re spread thin, that’s less of a brand and readership, most likely.

If you’ve developed an author brand as a suspense writer, that platform and hard-earned readership will not translate to picture books, for example. In that case, a pseudonym is common—but the downside is that you’re starting over again with building your writer brand identity.

(Hi, everyone. Chuck here chiming in for a second. I wanted to say I am now taking clients as a freelance editor. So if your query or synopsis needs some love, please check out my editing services. Thanks!)


An important aspect in all this is to simply explain upfront to your agent what you’re considering. When I sat down to sign the author-agent agreement with my rep, she asked me if I wanted to write anything besides adult nonfiction. I said yes—screenplays and perhaps kids books. She said she didn’t rep those areas and had no desire to start, so I had her blessing to go elsewhere. I ended up finding a manager to handle my screenplays, and none of what I’ve been doing concerning scriptwriting has affected my work with my original books agent.

If your agent has an issue with you writing across categories, this is her time to bring it up and be honest as to why. I’ve spoken with an agent recently who said she does not represent clients unless she can be their sole agent. Others may be concerned you’re not writing enough projects that they can sell and they can be most productive parting ways. Most, I believe, will be A-OK with your decision—as long as it does not negatively impact them (and it is not likely to).

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
Early 2020: Writing Retreat of Maui (Maui, HI)
March 6, 2020: Alabama Writing Workshop (Birmingham, AL)
March 7, 2020: Minnesota Writing Workshop (St. Paul, MN)
March 28, 2020: Pittsburgh Writing Workshop (Pittsburgh, PA)
March 28, 2020: Kansas City Writing Workshop (Kansas City, KS)
April 18, 2020: North Carolina Writing Workshop (Charlotte, NC)
April 25, 2020: Seattle Writing Workshop (Seattle, WA)
May 2, 2020: Writing Conference of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
May 9: 2020: San Diego Writing Workshop (San Diego, CA)
May 16, 2020: Cincinnati Writing Workshop (Cincinnati, OH)
May 16, 2020: Florida Writing Workshop (Tampa, FL)
June 13, 2020: Tennessee Writing Workshop (Nashville, TN)
June 27, 2020: Writing Workshop of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
July 11, 2020: Cleveland Writing Workshop (Cleveland, OH)
August 8, 2020: Toronto Writing Workshop (Toronto, Canada)

Other columns by Chuck Sambuchino 
- What to Write in the “Bio” Section of Your Query Letter
- How to Write a Screenplay: 7 Starting Tips for Adapting Your Own Novel
- Why “Keep Moving Forward” is My Best Advice For Writers Everywhere
- How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips
- Building Your Writer Platform—How Much is Enough?
- Getting Specific: What Literary Agents Want to Get RIGHT NOW
- 15 Questions to Ask a Literary Agent Before You Sign
- Crafting a Novel’s Pitch: 7 Tips
- 25 Debut Authors Share Advice for Getting Published

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S and ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing.
    His 2010 humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING and SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM.
    Besides that, he is a freelance book and query editor, husband, sleep-deprived new father, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. Find Chuck on Twitter and on Facebook

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BEA 2013 Survival Guide!

First-time BEA attendee? Is last year a little fuzzy?
Here's the Book Expo America 2013 Survival Guide!

Top 5 Rules

1. Comfy Shoes
These are best left at home.
There are no shoes in existence that can allow you to survive BEA pain-free, but you need to wear something you can stand and walk in for 10 hours... with heavy books weighing you down. (Shoutout to the random women I've seen in 5-inch stilettos ... you're crazy, but I admire your will!) Check a small rolling suitcase in the bag check area (best $3 you'll ever spend) and dump your books when they get heavy. (It's amazing what 7 books will feel like when they're in a tote bag hanging from your shoulder for a few hours. Those straps dig.)

2. Game Plan
Map out your signings and book drops (and their locations) in advance, and highlight the priorities. (There's plenty of information on the BEA website!) Don't feel the need to go to everything, and save time for socializing. (Yay, human interaction!) Make sure you get what you really want (see #4), and give yourself plenty of time to wait in line. Otherwise, when the zombification hits you midday, you won't have the energy to focus.

3. Sustenance
I'm the girl who's always thinking about her next meal, and I get mighty cranky when I'm hungry, so I made sure to have a water bottle with me and quality snacks—baby carrots, apples, and healthy trail mix—to keep me going and save money on Javits food! But either way, leave time for lunch!

4. Restraint
If you don't say "no" to people, you'll end up with 85 books and 10 pounds of swag for things you've never heard of and have no interest in. Just because it's there doesn't mean you take it. Stick to what you want; politely decline what you don't. And if you end up in an awkward, can't-say-no situation, find an attendee who does want the book and pass it on! Repeat after me: LESS IS MORE. (Also, less is less painful to lug around and cheaper to ship home!)

5. Attitude
It's crowded. People are tired. People are rude. Lines are endless. Backs ache. Paste a smile on your face, be polite, and meet the nice people. It's an exhausting few days, but you're surrounded by books and the people who love them. What's not to be happy about?

The Big 3:
Transportation, Lodging, Budget 

1. Transportation
Arm yourself with an MTA subway map (and MetroCard), and brave the subway! If you insist on cabs, don't count on a cab to always be when and where you need it. Cab rides can be cheap and efficient when split between friends, but the subway is generally cheaper and will be way faster during congested traffic! But if you're carrying a heavy suitcase, subway turnstiles are evil. Lastly, if you have to get to your flight/train/bus home during rush hour.... remember THIS. Last year, with not a cab to be found, I ended up walking 40 minutes to Penn Station, lugging my suitcase o'books with me, to make my train on time. (And Frankie even carried a tote bag for me.) Never again!
Edited to add: If you're taking Amtrak, book now! Prices increase the closer you get to your departure date.

2. Lodging is your friend. Though BEA does provide deals for (and shuttle service to and from) nearby hotels, you can DEFINITELY find less expensive (and sometimes nicer and closer!) accommodations if you do a little searching on your own. For example, our lovely apartment this year is a 12-minute walk from Javits, and it's $600 total for 4 people, 3 nights — that's only $150 each!

3. Budget
Beyond buying books at nighttime events (that's all up to your self-control!) and paying for the aforementioned transportation and lodging, most of your money will go to food. The good news is, with a little forethought, you can keep this cost reasonable. After you check-in to your hotel/apartment, find a corner store and buy a bag of bagels and a jar of peanut butter—voila, a cheap and filling breakfast that you can eat on your way to Javits! And the sustenance mentioned above (see #3) makes for a healthy, portable lunch. That alone will save you $15 or more each day.


Overall, BEA is a great experience.
You discover some excellent books and spend three days surrounded by awesome, book-loving people. What could be better?

BEA Veterans: What's your best tip?
First-timers: Any questions?
Leave them in the comments!

See also: BEA website's Survival Tips and FAQs
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