It's pretty much the same answer you'd give to someone if they ask how you lost weight, (well, what I imagine I'd say if I lost weight, which I'm always striving for...), which is "lots of hard work and persistence."
I hate when people state the obvious. Of course, I know THAT much, but what are the deets, the down low, the real deal?
You want the details? You got 'em.
THE SHORTCUT: Took me nine years, five novels, and three agents...but FINAAAALLLY, one of my novels sold! I'd been to acquisitions twice before, with two different novels (one each with two prior agents), but this time, Eric Myers of The Spieler Agency finally sealed the deal. *Picture me jumping up and down and tears streaming down my face when I got "the email." Okay, stop picturing that. I doubt it was a pretty sight. :) And yes, he sent me an email, so I didn't get "the call," but I suspect Eric was protecting his eardrums from my shrieks of uncensored joy.
THE PUBLISHER'S MARKETPLACE BLURB: Kym Brunner's debut WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE, about two teens possessed by the spirits of Bonnie and Clyde who soon discover that the legendary outlaws plan to continue where they left off, to Jacquelyn Mitchard at Merit Press, for publication in 2014, by Eric Myers at The Spieler Agency (World English).
THE TWISTY-TURNY LONGER VERSION: I wrote, revised, sent it through my critique groups, revised again, the whole shot for roughly 18 months. Started sending queries out to agents and got a "send the full manuscript" from Eric Myers. So I sent it, he loved it, and then he asked me to get it line-edited before we sent it out. So he gave me a few names of freelance editors, one of whom was former Scholastic editor, Jennifer Rees––who had edited the HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY! Naturally, I decided to utilize her expertise and have some development editing done as well. She shared some ideas with me and four months later, my manuscript was even shinier and prettier than before. Eric sent it out on submission and I was thrilled when Merit Press Books editor and fellow author (first Oprah Book Club author) Jacquelyn Mitchard, fell in love with it too. We changed the title from Gangster of Love to WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE (thanks to my daughter Karly for that awesome title!), which fit the story perfectly.
And now another sort of journey begins––revisions and book promotion plans, creating an author website and Facebook fan page, and anything else I can dream up. This being my debut novel, I know have a lot to learn. Hope you'll stick around and help me along because I can use all the cheerleading and advice I can get...starting now. What were a few things you wish you knew when after you sold your first novel?
'Til next time, KYM
- Current Mood: excited
The 1915 Western Electric Employee Picnic is the social highlight of the year in Cicero, Illinois. Five steamers wait to ferry seven thousand passengers to the picnic grounds in Michigan City, Indiana. As teenager Dee Pageau packs her picnic basket and prepares to board the SS Eastland, she anticipates this will be the best day of her life. Dee hopes to spend time with her best friend, Mae Koznecki-but she also wants to get to know Mae's handsome brother, Karel, a little better. Dee has no idea that in a matter of hours, tragedy will strike...
Intrigued already? To purchase her book, click here:
1) What made you decide to write a book in the first place?
I used to teach primary special education, and I would always read picture books to my class. I fell in love with that genre and used to spend hours in the library each week looking for the perfect books to match my curriculum or books that tickled me or touched my heart. After I quit teaching, I thought maybe I'd try my hand at writing picture books and quickly discovered I had absolutely no talent for this at all. Picture books are incredibly difficult to get just right. So I moved up to MG and then to YA where I landed safe and sound. I've been writing YA every since.
2) Approximately how long does it take you to write a book––from a germ of an idea to the final draft?
Writing historical fiction is my passion. It's usually takes at least 6 months to do thorough research on the subject/time period. Then maybe a year to write the novel. So all in all, about 18 months.
3) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk––certain music, lucky socks, favorite beverage?
I love the company of my 3 cats when I'm writing. They are usually very relaxed and happy to sit beside me on my desk or curled up at my feet when I'm lost in my work. I have only one pet peeve - I hate when they walk on my keyboard. (As I wrote this sentence, my black cat, Onnie (short for Onyx) jumped onto my desk. She must have picked up a psychic vibe that I was writing about her.) Oh, and a nice hot chocolate always helps with the inspiration.
4) What appears first in your mind when developing a new story––characters, plot, or setting?
The protagonist is always the first development in any of my novels. I have an idea of this person. Who is she? What's she all about? Where is she? What will happen to her? How will this change her? And I just go from there.
5) What was a surprising thing you learned while creating your books––about yourself, the business, or about the world?
What surprised me the most when I first started writing was how much I really and truly loved it. I've had a few jobs in my life. But nothing, even teaching (which I loved), was as personally fulfilling as my writing. It nourishes me, keeps me sane, keeps me whole. I could never live without it. Guess they'll have to bury me with my laptop and Thesaurus.
6) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why?
I've written several horrid picture books, 1 MG, and 5 YA's, only one of which has been published. The rest will remain securely buried in boxes. Early on in my career, I attended a writing seminar. The speaker told us that a writer has to scribe 2 million words before he/she becomes any good. At the time, I thought he was crazy. Now, I think that's a low ball estimate. For each novel, there are numerous revisions. There are many, many drafts that no one will ever read. Add all those revisions together with all those unpublished manuscripts, and you have a million (or 2) reasons to keep working at your craft.
My favorite novel is Merely Dee because I'm obsessed with the time period and the actual historical event involved in the story.
7) Why did you choose the route you did––to go with traditional publishing or to self-publish?
I decided to self-publish because I became frustrated with acquiring an agent for Merely Dee. Agent after agent said the same thing - Historical YA does not sell. But I believed in the story and gratefully, so did my husband. So we used some savings to self-publish and I've been happy with my decision ever since.
8) Do you read reviews, and how do they affect your writing?
I enjoy reading reviews. Of course, a negative review stings, but I understand that not every book is for everyone. A positive review is very rewarding, especially one that encourages the reader to seek more information about the historical event. Merely Dee is based on the real-life capsizing of the SS Eastland back in 1915. I once had a reviewer tell me that she was so inspired by my novel, that she took a fieldtrip to Chicago to see the actual site of the disaster. What more could a writer want? I was thrilled and humbled.
9) Top three bits of advice for writing a successful novel?
*Join a critique group. Your writing is never as good as you think. A successful writer knows the value of another perspective.
*Have a quiet, organized place to work. Even if your workspace involves cats.
*BIC - Put your 'Butt In a Chair' and write, write, write. Perseverance is a writer's best asset.
10) What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
I love the creativity. I never thought myself capable of being creative till I started writing. Then it just flowed. Hope the river never runs dry.
If you want to read more about Marian's work, or get to know her even better, head over to her blog:
Thanks, Marian for giving us a bird's-eye view into your publishing journey - one that, in the word's of Karen Carpenter...has only just begun. ;) KYM
- Current Mood: envious
I'm so excited to share with you the results of my second author interview, this time of the prolific and successful, Susan Kaye Quinn! I'm sure you want to read all about about her and her latest series, The Debt Collector, which sounds pretty freaking amazing. Check it out (interview follows):
Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat, jackboots, and the black marks on his soul that every debt collector carries. He’s just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja’s sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane… until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn’t what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone—a dark pit he’s not sure he’ll be able to climb out of again.
Contains mature content and themes. For YA-appropriate thrills, see Susan’s Mindjack series.
Delirium is approximately 12,000 words or 48 pages and is one of nine episodes in the first season of The Debt Collector serial. This dark and gritty future-noir is about a world where your life-worth is tabulated on the open market and going into debt risks a lot more than your credit rating. You can find out more about the series at the Debt Collector website and facebook page. The Debt Collector newsletter is a special list just for episode releases.
“The street-smart science of LOOPER meets the cold, just-the-facts voice of DOUBLE INDEMNITY in this edgy, future-noir thriller that will have you holding your breath, looking over your shoulder, and begging for more.” —Leigh Talbert Moore, author of The Truth About Faking, The Truth About Letting Go, and Rouge
“Do you owe more than your life is worth? No worries. A more deserving person than you can benefit from that excess life—and someone else will get paid with it. Enter the Debt Collector.” —Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and The Eighth Day (HarperCollins 2014)
The first three episodes of Debt Collector will be released a week apart, starting Wednesday, 3/20/2013. The remaining episodes will release every two weeks. Delirium can be found on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iTunes, Kobo. Or add it to your TBR on Goodreads.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA SF Mindjack series. Debt Collector is her more grown-up SF. Her steampunk fantasy romance is temporarily on hold while she madly writes episodes to keep Lirium happy. Plus she needs to leave time to play on Facebook. Susan has a lot of degrees in engineering, which come in handy when dreaming up dangerous mind powers, future dystopias, and slightly plausible steampunk inventions. Mostly she sits around in her pajamas in awe that she gets make stuff up full-time.
- What made you decide to write a book in the first place?’
- Approximately how long does it take you to write a book––from a germ of an idea to the final draft?
- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk––certain music, lucky socks, favorite beverage?
- What appears first in your mind when developing a new story––characters, plot, or setting?
Muse: The Debt Collector.
Me: Er, what? Who are you?
Muse: When people's debts exceed their future potential contributions to society, he cashes them out.
Me: Whoa. Tell me more.
Muse: He extracts their life energy and transfers it to a "high potential" - someone who can use it to make greater contributions to the world.
Me: Holy Crap. That's a great idea.
Muse: He's a good man with bad power. And it's future-noir.
Me: Future-noir! Cool! Uh, what is that exactly?
Muse: Dark. Gritty. Futuristic but retro at the same time.
Me: Oh... like Blade Runner... Holy Crap, this is awesome.
Muse: You're welcome.
- What was a surprising thing you learned while creating your books––about yourself, the business, or about the world?
- How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why?
Published: 4 novels, 4 novellas/short-stories, soon-to-be 1 nine-part serial (which will be like 3 short novels in length)
Unpublished: 4 novels (one of which will remain unpublished forever, thank God)
And my favorite book is always the one I’m currently writing. I have to be in love with it or it just doesn’t work.
- Why did you choose the route you did––to go with traditional publishing or to self-publish?
- Do you read reviews, and how do they affect your writing?
I do, however, really enjoy getting feedback from fans while I’m still writing a series. While I was writing Books 2&3 in Mindjack, the fans who wrote and told me what they loved, or scenes they hated, or characters they were rooting for… that motivated me like no one’s business. Enjoying that circular process, where the reader shares the work with the writer while it’s being created, is part of why I decided to serialize Debt Collector – I hope to get some of that same feedback from people who are reading the series as I write it.
- Top three bits of advice for writing a successful novel?
- What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
**** Thanks for the interview, Susan! I can't wait to check out your Debt Collector series....but I think I'm going to need to keep a sharp knife on my nightstand while I do. The very idea of a debt collector scares me! Best of luck! xoxo, Kym
Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.
Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.
Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
Dangerous, intoxicating, and darkly romantic, Embrace is a thriller that will leave you spellbound.
I had a chance to chat with the talented Cherie Colyer, a YA author with Omnific Publishing, about her writing journey. She's open and fun, a real pleasure to talk to. Loved her book, too! Read about her writing process below:
- What made you decide to write a book in the first place? My husband. I used to tell him about these ideas I had for different books. One day he said, why don’t you write one of them down. So I did, and I’ve been writing ever since.
- Approximately how long does it take you to write a book––from a germ of an idea to the final draft? Oh, wow. If we count from the time I first start to think about a new idea to the time I’ve written the book, two or three years. If you start the clock from the time I write the first chapter to when I finish the novel, three to six months.
- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk––certain music, lucky socks, favorite beverage? I like to write in the family room where the television is on and the family is moving around. I’ve become very good at blocking everyone and everything out.
- What appears first in your mind when developing a new story––characters, plot, or setting? A snippet of a scene. With Embrace it was of a girl running through the halls at school.
- What was a surprising thing you learned while creating your books––about yourself, the business, or about the world? My protagonist’s mom is usually dead. My mom—who is a wonderful woman—happened to point that one out.
- How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why? Six or eight, a few of those will never see the light of day, however. I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite.
- Do you read reviews, and how do they affect your writing? I do read reviews. I believe it’s good to know what readers liked and didn’t like about my book so I know what is working and what I can improve on.
- Top three bits of advice for writing a successful novel? Write what you are passionate about, be open to criticism and willing to revise, and never give up.
- What's your favorite thing about being a writer? Being able to make things up to weave together my own stories.
Cherie Colyer’s imagination extends far beyond her Illinois roots through her love of books and reading. The discipline of her career as a Network Technician provides an opposing mindset for her fictional stories. Cherie combines her fascination of all things mythical with her passion for writing to weave together middle grade and young adult stories. Her young adult paranormal romance/ thriller, EMBRACE, is now available.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embrace-c
I’m always happy to hear from readers:
Usually I plot out my story in its barest form all the way through to the end, and then write to fit that skeleton, ready to change things if a better twist comes to me. When I share my early work with others, while I've invested quite a bit of time in plotting and figuring out the basic personalities/strengths/goals of the characters, I haven't spent all that much time being "with" my characters yet. So when I start writing the first draft, it's like any new relationship I've been in––it takes awhile to get to know the person, to appreciate their hidden talents. And perhaps observing what behaviors aren't so great.
Although I'm sometimes (okay, often) embarrassed to hear comments that point out gaping holes in my storyline or polite remarks on dreadful character traits that somehow I missed, those suggestions are always therapeutic. If my critique partner explains that my MC is a spoiled brat who they hope fails miserably and was this what I wanted?, I need to change her––FAST! And I do. I imagine meeting this person in real life, and try to alter her so that she still fits my vision of the story, but is compelling to readers at the same time.
If, on the other hand, I've waited until I've written the entire first draft to share, I worry that I'd be too invested in my characters and plot to want to change much. Like bringing out my newborn for people to admire, only to have them point out the flaws. I imagine that it would be more difficult to want to make sweeping changes that would resonate throughout the whole story (and maybe feel a little sad that my newborn isn't as cute and cuddly as I had hoped).
Your turn: Do you share your novel while it's still a sparkle in your eye, or wait until you've given birth to the newest member of your writing family? I'm sure there are pros and cons to both, and I'd love to hear how you work.
- Current Mood: peaceful
BE COMPLETELY HONEST. Yes, it feels good to let everyone in the world know how you wasted your time reading this drivel. Too darn bad if that the author spent years writing the book and has received rave reviews from Kirkus and the New York Times. You know better than people who do this for a living. Be snarky, have fun, tell it like you see it.
PROBLEM WITH BEING COMPLETELY HONEST:
#1: the longer you've been writing, the more writers you'll know personally, and the more people you will deeply offend, who will then, in turn, write crappy reviews for your books.
#2: Rants about boring books filled with backstory, or those where nothing happens except characters standing around talking, expose your shallow tendencies. People will find out you like to read mostly for entertainment instead of for discovering valuable, lifelong messages that you will incorporate into your life. If you want one of those messages, go read a Trader Joe's package or a Dove chocolate wrapper.
PROBLEM WITH NOT BEING COMPLETELY HONEST:
#1: People will think you have terrible taste in books OR....
#2: The author will think you liked their book and ask you to buy books 2-5 in the series.
GOOD THING ABOUT NOT BEING COMPLETELY HONEST:
#1: You will keep your friends.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DON'T LIKE THE BOOK BUT IT'S YOUR FRIEND?
Keep it on your "Want To Read" list for a veeerrrry looonnng time.
REVIEW THIS POST: Has this helped you decide how to write that review? Feel free to write your opinions below. Be honest if you didn't find it useful OR try out your skills at deception. Either way, thanks for stopping by!
- Current Mood: amused
I've heard a variation of this line many times, but lately I've been wondering if that's true. At least not for me. I've started so many books that have eye-catching covers and cool premises, only to be bored to tears by the pacing and lack of action. The main character and the secondary characters might start off interesting enough, with a cool new world I've never seen, but for me, a lack of anything happening beside internal growth leaves me wanting more.
I started noticing this pattern in the books I didn't finish. While some readers are determined to "make it to the end," I'm not so generous with my time. If by page 50 or 75, I find that the characters are "all talk and no action," I toss them like a stale cracker. I've even read the first book in a series and abandoned the second book when I've read more than three-fourths of it because I realize I just don't care if that person is successful in their goal or not.
So ultimately I'm saying that a character's internal tension alone doesn't do it for me––there has to be some outside force causing main character to do something he or she might not do, some goal that he or she must accomplish no matter what. THAT is what keeps me turning pages.
So for me...I purchase books for the premise, but stay for the story.
How about you? What makes you purchase a book, and what makes you keep reading? Will you finish a book no matter what, and if not, what's your tipping point for abandonment?
Now, eight years later, I'm the co-leader of an SCBWI-IL group in the northwest suburbs, agented by Eric Meyers of The Spieler Agency, and we're working on selling my latest novel, a YA paranormal romance thriller called Gangster of Love. I've written five novels in that time, all either tween or young adult, and writing has become as normal to me as drinking Chai tea every morning as my muse has his way with me.
Back to the topic however...the answer is YES. It's absolutely worth it. In the beginning, you are gaining knowledge, making professional connections with agents and editors, learning the ins and outs of publishing, but probably most importantly, is building a network of other writers like yourself with whom you can learn, commiserate, and celebrate. My network of writing friends has multiplied over the years, and I'm proud and thankful to be a part of such an awesome group. Thanks, guys!
So while you might not come away with a contract in hand, each conference is another stepping stone along the path to publication. The things I've learned and the friends I've made aren't things you can gain from a craft book. So if you're still on the fence about whether you should go, take it from me…you'll be paid back exponentially in rewards far exceeding the cost of admission.
Some writing conferences to consider:
For YA paranormal, fantasy, and dystopian writers:
For writers of children's books, from picture books to young adult:
And a list of many writers' conferences in Canada and US (not only for children's book writers):
Whatever you do, good luck. And I hope to see you at a conference sometime soon.
- Current Location:Chicago Suburbs
- Current Mood: artistic
Self-Published Island looks awfully inviting––lots of smiling natives with jars of putty in their hands, calling out to me to join them, yelling words of encouragement. I look over my shoulder and see a ton of motorboats cruising over there, which proves the service is good and the natives friendly, but I worry that the island soon will be overcrowded. Being claustrophobic, I paddle on.
When I see Peninsula for Editorial Advice, I decide to head on over. No one comes to greet me, but I see several islanders hard at work in their huts. After finding one islander taking a break to drink some water, I beg her to help fix my boat. She willingly agrees as long as I bring her a boatload of coconuts and wait my turn. I agree. And wait. And wait some more. I get impatient, wondering if I made the right choice. After all, I might already be well on my way back home if I had gone to some of those other islands.
- Current Mood: artistic
Robert Charlton, 16, was a laborer from Newcastle and was imprisoned for four months for stealing two pairs of boots.
Author: Casey Glynn // Credit: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum
I know most teens make poor judgment calls in the heat of the moment. I'm not suggesting that a single mistake should follow them around for the rest of their lives, but perhaps sentencing should get tougher for second and third time offenders. I bet they'd stop and think a few minutes longer before committing a crime if they knew they'd end up in prison for a few months instead of completing community service.
What do you think?
- Current Mood: contemplative