Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I’ve finished my edits and submitted the revision to Karen at Harper Collins. I hope the next round is only line edits…so keep your fingers crossed.

In the After also has some foreign interest, which is super exciting. It would be amazing to have my book available in other languages (you may remember we held back foreign language rights from Harper).

Other than that I’ll be working on a detailed outline for book two. Any New Year’s writing resolutions?

Hope everyone one has an awesome new year. 2011 was fantastic, so I have high hopes for 2012!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

R.I.P - Unnecessary Characters

I had not one, but two characters that didn’t make the cut. One major and one minor. They just had to go. The good news is that there is no longer a love triangle in my book…yes, I know it’s over played anyway.

It’s strange to get rid of them, but it definitely makes the book flow better. Even so, I’m having trouble weeding out/rewriting all the references.

What about you guys? Ever have to sacrifice a character to the editing gods?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Never-Ending Edit

Hi everyone…still editing. It may seem like it has been forever and it sure feels that way to me J I’m not a super slow editor, but I’m not super speedy either. Taking time just comes with the territory. I want to make sure I get it right, since this is my first book. It’s also taking double long because my original editor left Harper Collins and my new editor had different suggestions.

What about you guys? Fast with edits, slow with edits?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Editing is Hard!

I know...most of you are thinking, "Duh!" But really, it is. You take something that you love, and mold it into something else (hopefully that you love as well.)

When you edit for yourself, you're completely in charge. When you edit for a group...well, you're still in charge...but when you edit for a publisher you lose some of that control. Not that it's completely a bad thing but it's definitely difficult for someone to tell you they want something done that you yourself didn't think of. I'm learning a lot from this experience, namely, how to be a better writer. How to think, parden the cliche, outside of the box...or  I guess more outside of the book.

What about you all, any good editing experiences, bad ones?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back From the Fringe

Hi everyone. I just got back from the Fringe Festival in Scotland...thanks for not robbing my house while I was gone :) Edinburgh is an awesome city, really inspiring. I love going there.

What cities/places inspire you?

Since Monday is a holiday I'll be back the week after with another (longer, I promise) post.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Name Game

Through the editing process, I’ve had to change a few names. One was the name of my creatures, which was too juvenile, one the name of one of my characters, which was too old fashioned, and one was the name of a place, which was just plain stupid. J

The problem is that I still think of these things as their original names. When I’m editing, I have to go through the whole process of reading the name and associating it with the original name to trigger my memory and the story line of the character/creatures/place.

I’m sure I’ll get over this soon and start to think of these things as their new names. What about you all. How attached are you to the names in your writing? Can you easily change these? Or are you like me and have trouble accepting name changes?

Back next week!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Money, Money, Money

It's the question everyone wants answered, but know one want to ask: When do I get paid? Here are a few things you should know about getting paid for your book deal.

1)      The price your agent negotiates is an advance. This means you won’t earn any more unless you sell enough books to make up the advance. Don’t worry if your book doesn’t sell enough copies (and not many actually do) you don’t have to pay the publisher back. They’re basically “betting” on you and hoping for the best.
2)      Royalties are your portion of money earned by each book sold. Again, you won’t see any royalties unless you sell enough books to reach the amount of your initial advance.
3)      You don’t get paid until you sign the contract. Don’t forget that contract negotiations can take a couple of months.
4)      The price your agent negotiates includes their 15%. Most large publishers will cut a check directly to you (for your 85%) and send the rest to your agent. The smaller publishers may still send out a check for the full amount…to your agent. Your agent would then send you your share. Ask your agent about a publisher’s policy on this.
5)       You don’t get all your money all at once! For a single book, you’ll get paid three times.
a)      1/3 when you sign your contract.
b)      1/3 when you finish your edits.
c)      1/3 when the book is released.

Hope this was helpful! Back next week!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

MIA No More!

Sorry for being such a super sucky blogger...I'm just finishing up some more edits due tomorrow. Thank you all who have bothered to shame me :) I'll be back Monday with a real post, I promise!

Monday, June 20, 2011

About Contracts

I know a lot of you are curious about the publishing process, so today I’m going to talk about contracts. One thing that I didn’t know is that you don’t actually sign your contract until a couple of months after you’ve agreed on a deal. I know, this seems weird, but once you have a verbal agreement with a publisher you have a book deal. You may even start editing for them before the contract is signed. This is pretty common.

What takes so long is the fine print negotiating that your agent will do. You’ll never agree to the first draft of a contract. This is where your agent really earns their 15%. They haggle over royalty percentage and how many advance copies you’ll get. They try to work in bonuses for you, as well as guarantees on how long your book will be in print. All this takes time, especially since everything has go through your publisher’s legal department and be approved by a gazillion people.

This is a good thing, and hopefully the time spent negotiating will work out in your favor. One bad part, you won’t see any money until the contract is signed by all parties. I’ll talk more about that next time, how an advance works and when to expect the promised bucks.

I know I wasn’t very specific, but every contract is different. Any questions?

Also, blogger still isn't letting me comment on a lot of people's blogs. Sort of frustrating, but what can you do? Is anyone else having this problem?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Covers I Really Like

…and hope my cover looks like.

Here are the examples I gave to my publisher:

I think each is beautifully creepy. I like how each girl’s face is covered, intimating a secret. I know that my cover will be dark and ominous… let’s hope it’s half as awesome as these are!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cover Control

Harper Collins is starting work on my cover, so this week I’ll be talking about...covers (what else!) A lot of you may be curious to know just how much say an author gets over her/his own  cover and about the cover creation process. We’ve just started, but here’s what I know so far. J

Yes, you have some say over your cover. Your editor will discuss this with you, about what you envision and if you have any strong feelings about a central image or theme. They want to hear what you have to say, then take that to their design team.

No, you do not have final say. Most contracts will mention that you will “consult” on the cover, but really, it’s the publishers who make the final decision. They want to make you happy, but they also want to sell your book, and people do actually judge a book by its cover. They have professionals who do this for a living, so I’m confident they can come up with something way better than what I could think of.

You’ll also provide examples of covers that you like and a paragraph about the physical characteristics of each of the main characters. This is sort of a blueprint for the design team, though again, they may go a completely different way.

Back Wednesday with the sample covers I gave to my editor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I’m Done!

...Well, sort of.

I sent off my first set of revisions to Karen at Harper Collins, and I must say that I now possess an incredible sense of accomplishment. J I know I still have a couple rounds of edits left, but it’s all starting to seem real. We even discussed cover concepts. I can’t wait until I have a cover and share it with you all.

Next week I’m going to share a couple of covers (from already published books) that I really like…and sort of hope my book looks like. See you next week!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Editing for Your Publisher

I’m still in the process of my first round of edits, but I have to say…everything is going really well. I’d heard horror stories about publishers wanting huge changes and writers feeling like they’ve sold out, but all of Maria’s (now Karen’s) editorial suggestions are really insightful and helpful. I think I may have it done by Friday (Karen, if you’re reading this, don’t hold me to that). J

This is the part of the editing process that is the “big picture” stuff. After I turn in my edits, Karen will get more into specifics. After that, it’s onto the nit-picky line edit. I’ll keep you all posted about each step.

Back Friday!

Oh yeah, for some reason my computer isn’t letting me comment on other people’s blogs…I’m working on fixing that, so if I don’t comment back, sorry! I will as soon as I can.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I’m Back…With a Shiny New Editor

I’m still working on my edits, but I have some Harper Collins news…Maria Gomez is leaving. I know; it made me sad too. Maria is so awesome and really got behind my book (pretty sure she was the driving force behind my pre-empt offer). She’s leaving to pioneer Amazon’s new publishing venture. They’re branching out from a strictly self-publishing service to become a more traditional publisher.

Maria’s left me in good hands. My new editor is Karen Chaplin, who was already on my editorial team.

So, what does this mean for my book? Well, pretty much everything is the same. Same deadlines, same team, same enthusiasm, just a different first point of contact. The news freaked me out a bit, but now that I’ve had time to process, I’m good. It’s better to have a new editor at the beginning of the series than halfway through, that’s for sure!

Back Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Publishers Lunch Statement

This is the statement from Publishers Lunch, slightly different from the one that was in Publishers Weekly, notably that it’s the longest sentence ever.

Demitria Lunetta's IN THE AFTER, the first book of a post-apocalyptic trilogy where the seventeen-year-old protagonist must survive in a world overrun by vicious, predatory creatures while protecting the abandoned two-year-old she finds in a desolate grocery store, until the pair finds refuge in a secretive survivors' colony called New Hope, to Maria Gomez at Harper Teen, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2012, by Katherine Boyle at Veritas (World English).

I’m going to start working on my edits for Harper Teen pretty soon, so my I’m taking off the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back in May with posts on the submission process, how book advances work, editing for your publisher, and more books I love. See you then!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Books I Love – Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

 A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, Mass Market Paperback

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

A lot of you probably have already read this book, (as I did, ages ago) but in light of the new HBO series, I thought I’d give it a reread. It’s everything fantasy should be: a believable world, intriguing characters, and a page turning plot. It’s hefty at 700 + pages, but it reads really quickly.

A Game of Thrones is told from a lot of perspectives and there are a ton of characters to remember, some of which have the same name. It might be hard to keep the characters straight, but there is a nifty appendix in the back to help you out. I like that, while this is adult fantasy, half of the main characters are young adults/children, which gives it a YA feel, though the subject matter is definitely not YA.

This is actually the next book that we’re reading in my book club, so if you’re in the Chicago area, you should check it out.

Back next week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

When Do You Give Up On a Book?

Over the weekend I gave up on a book. Usually I hang on to the bitter end, but it was just so boooooooooooooring. I got a quarter of the way through and still nothing had happened. This is one of the first books I’ve given up on in a long time.

Here’s why I usually don’t give up:

1)      Out of hope. Some books redeem themselves.
2)      Out of stubbornness. I’m not going to let a book beat me.
3)      Out of respect. Someone poured their soul into their work, and an entire team of publishing professionals deemed it worthy. Even if I don’t like it personally, I try to figure out its merits.

So, what about you guys? Do you give up on books easily or stick it out?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Books I Love – I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

John Smith has just arrived in Paradise, Ohio, just another stop in a string of small towns where the 15-year-old has been hiding out from the Mogadorians. Those terrifying aliens are hellbent on destroying him and the other nine Loric children who have sought refuge on Earth. The Mogadorians are picking off the surviving kids in numerical order. The first three are dead and John's number is up. Will his Legacies, his defining super powers, develop in time for him to fight against the enemy?

I was so happy to read a book about an alien. Not just any alien, an awesome alien with weird superpowers who is just learning how to use them. Think superman with limitations other than kryptonite. In the world of YA, where vampires and angels rule, this book was very refreshing.

Number Four, aka John Smith is a great MC. He just wants to have a place where he belongs, but of course, knows he never will. He’s been running his entire life and there’s no end in sight. The secondary characters are all well developed and even the jerky jock’s actions are understandable. There’s a bit of “cheesy” romance, but a lot of YA fans like the mush and it’s not overdone. The love interest is smart, cool, and very likable.

The story progresses really well, answering questions in a well-paced way, just enough to keep you turning the pages. The two worlds (a small town on Earth and Four’s home planet of Lorien) are both believable without a ton of information being dumped on the reader. You really feel for Four, who has lost everything and is now faced with not only continuing his nearly extinct species, but also possibly saving another planet.

Pittacus Lore is a pseudonym, if you’re interested you can google who’s behind the book, but I’m actually sorry I did. It’s better to hold on to the illusion that the writer is a Lorien elder, although the book is in first person from Four’s perspective.

Anyone read this? I haven’t seen the movie, but I want to. It looks like they made the MC older and more badass.

Alex Pettyfer Picture

Back on Monday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My New Author Photo

I am extremely camera shy…I don’t like to be in photos, even as background to random tourists in Chicago snapping away. I knew I needed an author pic, but I always thought, “I’ll just wait until I get an agent,” then it was, “I’ll just wait until I get a book deal,” and with that final event come and gone, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I wanted to, but my editor needed a photo for the catalogue.

So, this is what I look like J Please be kind. And thanks to my fantastic friend Lucky for taking the photo.

What about you guys, do you already have your author photo or are you like me and putting it off until the last possible moment?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Being on Submission - The Process

I’ve been very lucky to have an extremely short submission period, and I know a lot of you are interested in what actually happens when you go on submission. Here goes:

The Pitch – It all starts with the pitch. This is very much like a query letter, but your agent will prepare it and send it out to publishers. Some agents will pitch in person, but it’s not uncommon to pitch over the phone or by email. Your agent should have editors in mind for your book when she/he signs you and will pitch to 10 to 15 editors at a time.

The Manuscript Request – Based on the initial pitch a publisher will either pass or request to read your manuscript. The response time can take less than a day to a couple of weeks, depending on your project and how swamped the editor is. If it’s a pass, it’s not necessarily because of your manuscript. The publisher may have just bought something similar or might not have the budget to make an offer. If it’s a yes, your agent will send along the manuscript, your bio, a series synopsis when relevant, and any other information they think the editor will want to know about you. Again, response times vary; a publisher can get back to you the next day or after six months. Just like with an agent, a publisher may not want to sign your work as is, and may request a rewrite.

The Offer – Hopefully, after all your hard work, you won’t stay in submission limbo for too long. If all the answers are no, it’s back to the drawing board, either with a rewrite or a new project, but there are several ways that a publisher can say yes.

1)      The Pre-empt – If an editor absolutely has to have your book, they’ll make you a pre-empt offer. Usually you’ll speak with your agent before hand about how much money you’ll consider taking for a pre-empt, but of course other factors will come into the equation, like if you connect with the editor or if you want a big or small publisher. You are never under any obligation to take a pre-empt, but they’ll want to know your answer within a couple of days. Your agent may still even negotiate a bit with them to see if they can go up. The whole point is that a publisher will throw a bunch of money at you and snag you before anyone else can.
2)      The Offer – If you don’t get a pre-empt, don’t freak out. You can still get an offer, usually a reasonable amount. At this point your agent will email everyone who has requested the manuscript and let them know you’ve received an offer. It’s kind of like when your agent offered you representation. As soon as other publishers know you have an editor interested, it will light a fire under their butts to read your manuscript and make their own offers. This can happen with a pre-empt too. Just be aware that other publishers will then make offers not knowing what the original publisher offered. It’s just how it’s done.
3)      The Auction – If a bunch of publishers make offers (but none large enough for you to take as a pre-empt), then your book could go to auction. This is when your agent will start the bidding at a low amount (lower than any of the offers most likely) and do a round robin bid, calling each publisher in turn. Certain publishing houses will drop out when the bidding gets to high and you’ll eventually get a final figure. Here’s the thing, you are under no obligation to take this figure. If the second highest publisher has a kick-ass editor that you’re dying to work with, take a little less money and work with them!

You’ll always be able to speak with any editor that makes an offer, it’s important to know what their vision is for your work and what edits they think your manuscript needs.

Maria over at Harper was so enthusiastic about my book, I knew she would invest a lot of effort and resources into making it successful. I feel very lucky to be working with her!

Whew! I think that’s the longest post I’ve ever written! Any questions?

Monday, March 28, 2011

It’s Official!

I'm a Harper Teen girl!

Here’s the publicity statement for Publishers Weekly that’s running today in the deals column:

Rights sold for debut author Demitria Lunetta's IN THE AFTER, the first in a post-apocalyptic YA trilogy set in a near future where Earth has been overrun by vicious, predatory creatures. Seventeen-year-old Amy thinks that she and the toddler she rescued from a desolate grocery store are the only humans left alive-until they find refuge in a survivors' colony called New Hope. But as Amy is drawn deeper into its secrets, she comes to realize that all is not what it seems. And the dark truth she uncovers about this brutal new world will change everything.

Maria Gomez of Harper Teen acquired World English, in a pre-empt, from Katherine Boyle at Veritas Agency. Author Demitria Lunetta has resigned from her job as a receptionist to write full-time.

So pick up a PW on the newsstand today and check out Rachel Deahl's column. I’m going to buy like 20 copies. J They’ll also be another statement in Publishers Lunch on Wednesday.

I’m already working with Maria on a few edits for the first book and soon I’ll start on book number two.

Back Wednesday with a post about the submission process.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Books I Love – Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

After her father’s death, 16-year-old Hanna hitchhikes to Portero, Texas, the home of her mother, Rosalee, who abandoned her. Hanna is desperate for Rosalee to love and accept her, and Rosalee reluctantly makes a bargain: Hanna has two weeks to make friends and fit in at her school or she won't be allowed to stay. Hanna has never fit in anywhere, though. Struggling with manic depression, she hears voices and hallucinates, wears only purple dresses, and has a history of violence. Portero is no ordinary town, though, and Hanna learns that it is haunted by doors to other dimensions and plagued by dangerous creatures from those realms. Wyatt, a powerful young initiate in the Mortmaine, a demon-hunting organization, recruits Hanna, and together they struggle to deal with an ancient evil that threatens the town and Hanna’s future.

This book is majorly f***ed up…but in a good way. The main character is totally crazy cakes. Hanna’s father is dead, but still speaks to her and her mother doesn’t want anything to do with her. She also may or may not have killed her aunt when she ran away to find her mother. Um…to say she has faults is a bit of an understatement. Hanna makes decisions based on faulty reasoning…but who doesn’t? She knows she’s gorgeous and is really selfish, but is completely likeable because she is so very refreshing. There isn’t another main character like her out there.

There’s a lot going on in this book and you don’t know at first if the paranormal things are really happening or if they are a product of Hanna’s schizophrenic mind. I like this ambiguity, though it soon becomes apparent that Hanna isn’t just crazy…strange things happen to everyone in the town.

This book is for older teens, there is a lot of sex and violence, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hanna is confident, in her looks and her body (if not in her grasp on reality) and understands the power that some women hold over men. Her mother is an extremely sexual person as is Hanna. She’s not na├»ve or clueless, as so many teenage girls are portrayed. Just a warning, if you like your YA PG, this is more like PG-13.

Has anyone else read it? What did you think?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Submission Update: I Took the Offer!

After careful consideration last week, I decided to take the pre-empt offer! The publisher is working on a publicity statement for Publisher’s Weekly right now. I’ll post that next week. My agent wants me to wait until that comes out to make the “official” announcement but I am very pleased with my choice and my editor.

Back Friday with a Book I Love and next week with more on the submission process, and of course, the publicity statement announcing my publisher.

Can I just say…WooooooooooooooooooooWeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Whew, I think I needed to get that out of my system. J 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Books That Made Me Want to Write

Thank you all for being so supportive, I’ll definitely have more next week on my submission journey. Until then, I wanted to share some of the books that made me want to be a writer.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – This is one of the first chapter books I ever read. I actually ended up reading it once a week for my entire third grade year. I was so intrigued by that world, and actually also adored The Magician’s Nephew one of the more overlooked Narnia books that tells the story of Narnia’s creation. This book gave me my love of reading.

Sabriel by Garth Nix – Whenever I think about this book, I get goose bumps. The world and the characters are so vivid, it makes you think of them as real. The idea of different levels of death and someone being able to control spirits through bells…how did Nix think this up? This book made me realize what I could achieve with my overactive imagination.

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer – I made myself read this book a chapter a day, not wanting it to end. The pacing is perfect. There is such a sense of place, Farmer meshes modern day Africa with a futuristic world. This book made me think of putting old ideas with new ones, folklore with the future.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I read this book in fifth grade…a little young for the subject matter, but I fell immediately in love. Although I was just a girl, and didn’t understand all the gender issues at the time, it spoke to me. The world Atwood created was so bleak, so dark, but I could just imagine our country going that route. This book made me understand the importance of believability, even in dystopian fiction.

Those are a few of the books that made me want to write…what about you guys?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Submission Update – I Got an Offer!

After a week of In the After being on submission, I’ve received a pre-empt offer. I am absolutely stunned. I’ll go into more details when everything is settled. I think I’m in shock right now. I’ll post more as soon as I regain my composure. J

Oh, and the giveaway winner is….M PAX! I’ll be emailing you shortly for your address. Congrats!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Books I Love – Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all.

I put off reading this book for a while, maybe because I wasn’t all that impressed with the cover (as much as I hate to admit this, I do judge a book by its cover.) I was glad I finally read it though, because I was completely blown away.

You really feel for Tamsin and her lack of “talent.” She lives in her older sister’s shadow…and their relationship is spot on. I’m an older sister and I saw a bit of my sister in Tamsin, just generally how a younger sister acts towards her older sister i.e. bratty. (Sorry Nyssa, you know I love you.) But Tamsin’s feelings are understandable, as her sister is one of the most talented witches in their family, while Tamsin has no talent at all.

I also liked the way the love story progressed, though I spent a bit of time thinking the love interest was her cousin as she calls his mom, aunt. (It is explained that they call any adult witch aunt or uncle.) The romance isn’t a love at first explosion of hormones, but rather a slower, get to know each other through a shared adventure romance.

I won’t give away the plot twist, but it’s very interesting, as are the connections MacCullough makes as her characters travel through time in order to save their family. Definitely a good read. I can’t wait for the sequel, Always a Witch which comes out August 1st.

See you Wednesday when I announce the winner of my Across the Universe giveaway.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Submission Update

On Tuesday my agent gave her pitch and after two full days, 12 publishers have requested to read my manuscript. It’s so strange, knowing that professionals in the publishing world actually have a copy of In the After and are considering it for publication.

It can take months for a publisher to make a decision, but I’m really hopeful. There seems to be a good response to the idea, and I’m extremely confident in the edits I did (with my agent’s suggestions) so the writing should hold up. Just don’t uncross those fingers yet, guys.

Back Monday with a book I love…unless I have better news to share. J

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Giveaway Ever!

In honor of my book going on submission, my birthday last week, and just hoping for some good karma, I’m doing my first giveaway. I was lucky enough to win a copy of Beth Revis’ book Across the Universe. I also got a copy for my b-day, so I figured I’d pass one on to you.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

You all pretty much know the drill. You must be a follower and have a US address (sorry Euro-peeps). If you want to enter, comment below with either your email or blog address. If you want a double chance to win, mention the giveaway on your blog and leave that link in your comment. I’ll make sure you’re entered twice.

This giveaway closes Tuesday, March 15th at midnight and I’ll pick a winner at random to be announced on Wednesday, March 16th. Um…did I leave anything out?

Good luck guys!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fingers Crossed!

Tomorrow I will officially be on submission! That’s my big announcement. I started writing In the After last year just after my birthday, so it’s been almost exactly one year. The whole process has been amazing. It took me six months to write, two months to self-edit, one month to query, and three months to edit for my agent. Whoowee. Now we just have to sell the thing.

Submitting to publishers is a lot like finding an agent, except I won’t be the one in control, even though I’ll still be the one waiting. Here are a couple of things I’ll do so I don’t freak out.

1)      Finish writing a YA historical novel I’ve recently started. It takes place during the civil war, so I’m really going to dig into the research.
2)      Eat lots of sugar. Sugar helps you stay calm, right?
3)      Read, read, read. Nothing helps me relax like reading.
4)      Try not to email my agent every hour asking her what’s up with various publishers.
5)      Be positive. I’m usually quite the cynic, but I’m going to remain hopeful and send out good thoughts. I know, I know, the formerly cynical me would call myself a dork…feel free.

What about you guys? How do you deal with the stress that is waiting to hear back on a query/submission to a publisher?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Books I Love – Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg's strange talent for seeing the paths of people's pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him--secrets about Rigg's own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead. He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent…or forfeit control of his destiny.

Even though I loved this book, I have to admit that it’s not for everyone. First of all, it’s really long. There’s also a lot of explanation in the form of characters hypothesizing about time travel, origins of their planet’s biosphere, and other random sci-fi topics. The blurb doesn’t really do this book credit…yes, Rigg’s own path is the main plot point of the story, but there is also a secondary story (told in short scenes at the beginning of each chapter) that gives Pathfinder incredible depth.

If you’re a sci-fi geek (guilty) then you’ll be interested in Card’s take on time travel. He contends that if you see a future version of yourself who tells you not to pick a fight, then after you follow your future self’s advice, you don’t have to go back in time and warn yourself. You’ve changed your future and there’s no need to do what you already did in an alternate reality. Umm…yeah, a little confusing but a good read. I’m looking forward to the next book.

Also, if anyone wants to check out an aspiring author interview I did, you can find it here on Brad Jaeger's blog.

See you Monday with an announcement. I know, that sounds very ominous, but I'm just trying to build suspense J

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy B-day to Me!

I’m turning the big three - O next week and I’m taking a week off from blogging and just about everything else to live it up. I’ve known people to freak out when they age out of their twenties, but not me. Last year was great with finishing my manuscript and finding an agent, and I have high hopes for this year too.

Back next Friday

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Chopping Block

When I queried my manuscript the word count was a little over 96,000 words. After my line edit, it now stands at just under 87,000. That’s with an additional scene. I was shocked. 9,000 extra words!? Am I really that, well...wordy?

My agent assured me that all manuscripts need to be trimmed, that writers sometimes explain things that don’t need explaining or continue in a dialogue that can end a few lines earlier. In rereading my manuscript, it is definitely tighter and flows better. I cut out two whole scenes, but the truth is, they were only in there to explain each other.

When it comes to cutting, I can never decide for myself what needs to go. Once someone else points it out, it becomes blatantly obvious. What about you guys? Are you having a hard time cutting out scenes or sections? Are you good at removing the unnecessary?

In thinking about it, it seems more established novelist can get away with lengthier novels…why is that? I’ve read a few that could have used a good cut. J

Friday, February 18, 2011

Books I Love – The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves-Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

If you don’t like the Twilight series (gasp…yes some YA fans don’t give a crap about Team Edward or Team Jacob) still give this book a try. It’s a bit long, but if flows really well and such a unique take on an Invasion of the Body Snatchers norm.

While Melanie (the human) and Wanderer (the “soul” invading alien parasite thingy) are stuck in the same body, they have very distinctive personalities. The love triangle is done really well, with Wanderer unsure if her feelings for Jared are only echoing Melanie’s own love for him.

This also touches a lot on human nature (as all good alien invasion stories do). The band of survivors has to decide how to treat Melanie/Wanderer and do not know how to deal with someone they know and love who is at the same time someone they loathe and are fighting against. Wanderer also has to come to terms with her own humanity and revaluate her species. Although they rationalize their presence by making the world better, taking away disease and crime, Wanderer begins to see that they are also harming the world they occupy, by taking away the dominant species' free will.

The Host isn’t typical teen angst YA and is actually listed as an adult novel (although it reads like YA). Check this one out, if you haven’t already.

Back next Wednesday after the holiday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SCBWI Grant Time

I just sent off my application for the SCBWI WIP grant. I’m using my current book, In the After, even though it may have a contract before the grant is awarded (fingers crossed). The great thing about this grant is that it only has to be un-contracted through March 15th, after that, all bets are off. You can apply if you have other books published or if you’re a complete newbie. If you haven’t already, check it out. You do have to be member, but if you want to write YA, a SCBWI membership is a useful tool to have.

Other than that, I’m still going through my line edit. It’s actually pretty tedious. It’s more track changes fault than anything else. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the past hour:

Left click. Highlight Accept Deletion. Right click. Left click. Highlight Accept Insertion. Right click.

Repeat several hundred times.

The thing is that you have to approve every insertion or deletion, so if you want to delete a comma and insert a semicolon, you have to approve both. If my agent makes a word choice suggestion I have to either accept or reject it and reject any of her comments so they do not become imbedded in my manuscript. Like I said, tedious. Whoowee. I’d better get back to it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I’m Awesome at Procrastination

This weekend I failed to work on my line edit at all and instead did these many, non-writing related things.

1)      Played a couple hours of Super Mario Galaxy 2. So very addictive.
2)      Watched episodes of Dollhouse on Netflix streaming. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me how good this show was? I think it’s cancelled now. BTW I’m going to marry Tahmoh Penikett. Should probably figure out how to pronounce his name first…J
3)      Read three books: Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein, Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker, and Unwind by Neal Shusterman
4)      Attended a B-day party for a co-worker’s daughter. There was a whole table devoted to candy. How cool is that?
5)      Tried to reach 200 followers on my blog. Mission accomplished.
6)      Walked to Sweet Mandy B’s in search of more cupcakes. Best in Chicago. For sure check it out if you’re here.
7)      Watched Last of the Mohicans for the 100th time. Best. Movie. Ever.
8)      Generally hung out, chilled out, and slacked off.

My rationalization is that my brain needed a few days off to come back and make my manuscript as good as it can be. Makes sense, right?

What are your preferred procrastination methods?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Books I Love – Need & Captivate by Carrie Jones

This week it’s a two-fer! I’ll only post the summary for the first one though, so as not to give away any spoilers.

Zara collects phobias the way other girls collect Facebook friends. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.
Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

These books are great. I love Jones’ attention to detail when it comes to setting. I went to college in Maine, and as I was reading I kept thinking, “This sounds exactly like Bar Harbor!” I flipped to the acknowledgements page and sure enough, Jones thanks Bar Harbor and the Mount Desert Police Department. I think it’s awesome that she’s captured life in a small Maine town so well. I know Stephen King is the master of making Maine super creepy, but Carrie Jones gives him a run for his money.

These books are also very well paced. Once you pick them up, it’s hard to put them down. The creatures are remarkable and described just enough to be creepy. You may think, “Pixies…seriously?” But these pixies are more like psycho monsters than cute little mischief makers. Captivate ends with a cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the third book, Entice.

What did you all think of these?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Line Edit Away!

Woohoo! I’m on to my line edit…with a bit of rewrite mixed in. My agent continues to amaze me with her awesome suggestions. I’m in the final stretch before submission. I thought I’d be freaking out much more than I am…but there's still plenty of time to have a nervous breakdown. J

I’m changing my blog schedule to Monday, Wednesday, Friday…if any of you are curious. The Monday – Friday thing wasn’t working out and I like having a set schedule.

I’ve been writing a lot of posts about the process of writing a query and getting an agent. Does anyone have any questions? I’ll do my best to answer them and anything I don’t know I’ll ask my agent. Did I mention she is awesome?

Monday, February 7, 2011

To Correct or Not to Correct

That sure is the question. The other day I was having a work related phone conversation and the woman was giving me her email.

She said, “Blah blah blah ampersand blah dot com.”

Hold up. I’ve never heard of & being in an email address.

“Ampersand?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “You know…the little a in the swirl thing.”

Whoa. This is the moment of truth. Do I tell her that the @ symbol is not an ampersand?

So what did I do? I just said. “Oh, okay.” And let it go.

In retrospect, should I have said something? She probably gives out her email a thousand time a day and either is wrongly informing people that this @ is an ampersand or has a bunch of people think she’s an idiot. I’m one of those people who appreciates (to a certain extend) being corrected when I misuse or mispronounce a word, but I know to the general populace this is seen as obnoxious.

What would you have done?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writing a Synopsis or Summary – The Long Version

Writing a longer version of a synopsis is much easier than the shorter version. When an agent asks for a synopsis they usually want something between 8 – 12 pages, but of course, always make sure.

With this longer synopsis you can introduce more characters, expand on your plot points, and go into greater detail. Also, you have to include the ending. In a longer synopsis you don’t have a choice; it’s just how it’s done. Here are some tips.

1)      Always write your synopsis in third person, present tense. Even if your manuscript is first person past tense.
2)      Go through your manuscript chapter by chapter and outline all the major events. This will present you with a sketch of a synopsis. This will also help you see themes and connections that you weren’t aware of before. (Believe it or not, it happens.)
3)      Weed out minor characters that don’t need to be in your synopsis. Focus on your main character and a few essential supporting characters. My longer synopsis mentions (by name) seven characters. The first time each character appears, highlight them and make sure you’ve introduced them into the storyline properly. That way, the reader (agent or publisher) can quickly glance back through and reference any character.
4)      Focus on the major plot points. This is an opportunity to showcase all the exciting and important events in your novel. Make sure events flow in your synopsis; you don’t want to get stuck on unnecessary information.
5)      Pay attention to style. You want your synopsis to read well and be interesting. It’s a representation of you and the way you write.
6)      Don’t waste words. In a synopsis each sentence needs to count. This isn’t the time for flowery writing or drawn out scenes.
7)      End with the ending. This may seem like a no brainer, but a lot of people feel like they should end with a cliff hanger…maybe in a query but never in a synopsis. The agent or publisher needs to know what happens at the end.

These are my suggestions. Any others? I’m working on a two-page synopsis for books 2 and 3 of my series, so I’ll do a post about that next week.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Books I Love – Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

I made it through the storm just fine. One good thing about the blizzard is that I had a whole day to just chill and read. I caught up on some library books and this one really stood out.

Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Sometimes I read a book and I get jealous because it’s so damned good. Yeah, this was one of those books. Evie was just the right amount of sassy and sweet. Also, I like female main characters that can kick some butt. Evie is extremely likeable as a lonely girl living outside of “normal” society.

I liked the way the love story progressed. Evie isn’t exactly torn between two men (boys…things…whatever) but she does have an outside influence (a fairy…literally) vying for her affections. With all the weirdness going on in this book, you’d think things would get confusing, but really White does a great job of holding it all together and making Evie’s word accessible.

My one complaint is that Evie calls her taser gun “tasey,” which really got on my nerves. I’m not in to cutesy wootsy…but seriously, that’s my only problem. The rest of the book was awesome.

Tomorrow – More about synopsis with tips on writing a longer version.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writing a Synopsis or Summary – The Short Version

If you have your hook, the next part should be a breeze…not really, but don’t you feel a little better about it?

Your short summary is what you’ll use in your query. It will only be 2 -3 paragraphs, you’ll want to get across your main characters and your major plot points. I’m a big fan of putting the ending of a book in a query (for agents’ eyes only) but that’s a matter of taste. You want them to be interested in reading your manuscript. You don’t go into sub-plots or minor characters, no matter how much you like them.

Here are some tips:
1)      Simplify. Remember elementary school English? What are the most important things that happen in your book? Who is the main character? What is the major conflict? Some of you will want to mention the resolution.
2)      Refer to your main character and one other important character central to the plot by name. Three is pushing it. If you mention (by name) four or more characters, you need to reevaluate your summary.
3)      Sometimes it’s helpful to pinpoint your central plot point. Mine is the idea of safety vs. freedom. Expand on this point.
4)      Less is more. You don’t need to say: Stephen turns Mindy over to the awful Grunda monsters. Now the dastardly creatures have the device that can destroy Mindy’s home planet. You can instead say, Mindy is betrayed by a trusted friend, jeopardizing her safety and placing her home world in peril. (Oh yeah, I just made that up…impressed? J )
5)      Don’t use slang that you’ll have to explain. This is especially true for sci-fi or fantasy. Although your manuscript may be riddled with words of your invention, now is not the time to use or explain them.
6)      Don’t get bogged down in explaining details. Avoid writing things like, So and so does this because of these motivations and then this happens. Be succinct and to the point.

Just remember, this is a short summary, you will not be able to give every detail of your manuscript. You may feel at first like you’re cutting the heart and soul out of your story, but eventually you’ll be able to see a middle ground and be able to relay your story in a few paragraphs.

Any other tips on writing a short summary?

Next time – Writing a longer synopsis.

*There is a huge storm moving through the Midwest, sooooo I might be out of commission for a few days. If I don’t post tomorrow I’ll be back Thursday or Friday.*