Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kindle Paperwhite and Audio-Book Giveaway!

As Thanksgiving nears, we of the Fall Fourteeners have much to be thankful for: book releases, launch parties, reviews, conferences, fan letters, and more! So we're definitely giving thanks this time of year.

But that's not all we're giving! We're also giving tons of great stuff away. And this month, we thought we'd try something different and offer up some of our books in alternate formats: digital and audio-book!

Here's what we're offering:
  • From Kat Ross: a Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with SOME FINE DAY!
  • From Austin Aslan: an audio-book of THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD!
  • From Kristen Lippert-Martin: an audio-book of TABULA RASA
  • And from Fall Fourteeners co-founder Sarah J. Schmitt, who likes to kick it old school, a signed copy of Mike Mullen's ASHFALL trilogy!
As always, entering is easy. Leave us a comment, telling us how jazzed you are about all this great stuff, and when the contest is over (a week from today, November 11), we'll randomly select winners for each of the prizes. (Audio-book winners will receive a code for a downloadable version and/or a physical copy, depending on publisher.) Physical prizes will be delivered to U.S. addresses only.

Good luck, and give thanks with the Fall Fourteeners!

MY BAD! I totally forgot to post the winners! Here they are:

Kindle Paperwhite: iLuvReadingTooMuch
Audio-book of ISLANDS: Katherine Ivan
Audio-book of TABULA RASA: Meghan Martinez
Signed copy of ASHFALL trilogy: ShainaJo

If you haven't already, please leave your email in a comment so we can contact you and get you your prize!

Friday, October 24, 2014

October Giveaway!

October is here! (In fact, it's nearly gone.) The season of ghosts, goblins, ghouls... and great gobs of giveaways from the Fall Fourteeners!

Yes, we have another giveaway, this one featuring our two October releases:

Amy Finnegan, Not in the Script

Lisa Maxwell, Sweet Unrest

You know the drill: leave a comment, telling us which book you'd like to win. (No fair listing both--ya gotta choose for the entry to be legit!) Be sure to leave your comment by the end of October (no later than midnight PST on Halloween night, the 31st). We'll randomly select one winner for each book!

Please note: contest open to US only.

So even if you don't think you have a ghost of a chance, leave us a comment telling us witch of these great books you'd like to win. That way, you won't have to pump kin for the money to buy a copy!

Good luck from the Fall Fourteeners!

UPDATE: The winners have been chosen, and they are:

Not in the Script: KIKID
Sweet Unrest: Natalie (Never Trust a Duck)

Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to the winners!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Books in the Blood

I want to tell you a little about my dad.

He died very suddenly last month (official cause flu, unofficial cause heavy and unapologetic smoking and fanatical avoidance of doctors). Anyway, Andy was a voracious reader, everything from Stephen King to Hilary Mantel. He carried a bunch of plastic shopping bags wherever he went, and these bags were filled with scribbled-in notebooks, tabloid newspapers, books of all shapes and sizes. He read with a sharpened pencil to keep the words from flying off the page because of his dyslexia. I remember getting stabbed by that pencil (kept in breast pocket, point up, when not in use) repeatedly as a kid.

My dad was a writer too, although he only published one book. It was called Up Against the Brass (Simon & Schuster, 1970) and it recounts his Quixotic mission to unionize the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. It is chock full of little gems, like this from the day he was inducted in 1966:

It was, I imagine, a typical swearing-in ceremony. The lieutenant told us that if anyone went AWOL he would probably be shot, because there was a war on. Apparently, quite a few before us had already gone over the hill, but I didn't think the lieutenant's absurd threat was going to deter many people.

It didn't. As our train pulled out for the long, hot ride to South Carolina, we saw one of the guys who had been inducted with us.

He was on the train going the other way. He was AWOL.

When my dad would tell this bit, he would do the classic double-take. Like, "Hey, guys, isn’t that…?"

Born and raised in Philly, Andy ended up stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, described thusly:

Lawton is a typical Oklahoma town. It has sixty thousand citizens, and in the summer the temperature goes to 105 degrees and stays there…Lawton's sole swimming pool is white-only. When twenty-three black Gis and civilians tried to use it, they were arrested, and General Critz, the Post Commandant, refused the NAACP request to put it off limits for all Fort Sill soldiers.

Most bars in Lawton feature weak beer and juke boxes that blare recordings distributed by a southern outfit called Rebel Records. Rebel Records uses a confederate flag as its label and the racism its songs encourage is typified by titles like "Cajun KKK" and "Lookin' for a Handout."

During the summer of 1967 news of a record burning in Lawton got our hopes up that enlightened citizens had destroyed some of the Rebel Records. But no; it was the week after the Beatles had announced they were more popular than Jesus Christ, and a group of ministers had persuaded their followers to burn Beatle records in the public square.

Incidentally, the fire got out of control and almost burned down a city-owned building…

My dad was one of my best early manuscript readers. When my first publisher imploded, I think he was actually more devastated than I was. Then, when I was offered a new contract, he proceeded to call or text me nearly every day asking if I'd signed it yet. Due to a number of reasons (which I patiently explained anew every time we spoke), it took a few months for this to happen. It was apparently the same time that he was losing huge amounts of weight and getting really sick without telling anyone, but he still found the energy to drive me half crazy (the other half I managed on my own). It makes me happy that I was able to tell him I signed it a week before he died.

Now, when I read aloud to my daughter, I think of all the bedtime reading he did with me when I was little, including stuff that was obviously way over my five- or six-year-old head, like Darwin's Descent of Man. That didn't really matter though. Being read to is a magical thing you never forget.

He was also not above buying the most blatantly tear-jerking children's books as birthday presents, like Robert Munsch's I Love You Forever, which we both agreed kind of crossed the line into creepy and stalker-ish but which still gets me at the end every single time.

His tiny Manhattan apartment had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, almost entirely devoted to Greek and Roman history and the ancient world. He was an expert on all that. They live on my shelves now, and remind me why I still love tangible paper books so much.

Anyway, I bet lots of us have parents that read and write and talked about books and took us to the library all the time, and always gave books as presents. Who made them living, breathing things. I think that if we give our own kids just one single thing…well, that’s the thing.

Thank you, dad.

p.s. The New York Times did a really nice obit on him too, you can see it here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding your Tribe

One of the best parts of being a writer is the writerly community that comes along with it. At the heart of it, being a writer is solitary, right? I mean, you have to have your butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard to actually get your work done. HOWEVER…not all of us are solitary creatures.

So how do you find your tribe?

It’s easier that you might think. First you have to ask yourself if you want an online tribe or if you want to see their faces in real life. I like both. I love having the hive mind that is twitter and facebook. But I also really like to share a glass of wine or a nice meal with my peeps.

You can follow hashtags like #MGLITCHAT or #YALITCHAT. Or #KIDLITCHAT. There’s seventy gazillion, so keep looking until you find a group of folks who feel like kindred spirits.

I’ve met my besties through SCBWI (society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

Specifically, the New England chapter of SCBWI—but there are other chapters all over the world, so find the one that’s nearest to you. I love going to conferences and workshops and gleaning tips and knowledge from peers and colleagues. Chatting with friends about their processes and their successes and losses makes me feel like I’m not the only one.

And there’s nothing better than a glass of wine at a simple local meet up with like-minded friends.
When I discovered that there were no meet ups locally for me, I decided to start my own. I just made a reservation at a local watering hole, and then sent out the invites. And to my surprise…people showed up. We’ve been meeting every other month for about four years now.

If you want a more academic experience, there are critique groups. Contact your local SCBWI chapter or other writers group to find out if there are any groups with vacancies near you. Or simply contact your local library and start your own!

Leave your comments below if you have suggestions or anecdotes about finding your tribe!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Thing I Wish the Non-Writers in My Life Knew

So, I'm in the weeds, writing my second book for Harper Teen. While Rites of Passage only took me six weeks to draft, this book has taken a year. Each book is different, so I'm not horribly upset about the process, but there's a difference between being a writer and being a writer in the middle of creating.

For me, the act of drafting is the most mentally intense time. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I get immersed in drafting. I can write for hours a day, 4,000 or 5,000 words a day, sometimes even more. That means most, if not all, of my brain is consumed with creating.

In short, this is tiring.

I forget to eat. Sometimes sleep doesn't happen. Permission slips and RSVPs for school happenings--they're not on my radar. Showers, forget about it.

When I am in the process of creating, everything, and I do mean everything else falls by the wayside. My husband picks up the slack--he feeds Thing One and Thing Two, and Dog One and Dog Two. He makes sure there is food on the table, that I actually go to sleep at some point--sometimes on the couch because we both know it won't last long or I'll be too restless to let him sleep.

I have descriptions running through my head non-stop. I've got characters beating at my imaginary doors trying to get out. Imaginary conversations are taking place all the time.

While I'm driving, while I'm eating, while I'm playing with my kids or walking the dogs--I'm 97% focused on my story, even if I'm not at my computer. I only half-hear things people say, and if I don't write something I have to do on my calendar immediately, I'm going to forget it and there's no way I'll remember it on the day of.

Does this all-consuming make me a bad person? I hope not.

But I may seem like a bad person. My communication is slow, of not non-existent. E-mails can go unanswered for weeks, I may miss a dentist appointment, I may forget what the outside world feels like. I may have to run lunch to a Thing when I was too distracted to make sure it got into the backpack that morning.

Here's the thing, and this isn't an excuse, or an apology, it's just the way I work: I don't mean to put everything else on the back counter. The phone calls from my mom that I ignore--I'm not doing it to be mean or put her off. It's just...the story is so present, taking up so much of my mind, that it's hard to communicate with anyone.

I know it's a short-coming, and I'm working on it, but if you've ever tried to communicate with an author and you think we've forgotten or we're ignoring you on purpose, I promise, we're not.

We just might be in the act of creating.

And while it's amazing and beautiful, it's a hard place to be. Six weeks was hard. Being this way for a year, as I've been with The Harder You Fall, is exhausting.

But it'll be done soon, and I'll start communicating again soon.

I'll be human again soon. I'll get to be social (in a non-awkward-writer kind of way).

I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Write What You DON'T Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about the general writing advice of “write what you know.”
I hear the advice given a lot on twitter and Facebook groups in response to inquiries from new writers. Most often it’s in reply to questions about writing to trends. “Write what you love. Write what you know.”

There’s something about it that bothers me though. I get it. I totally get that you can’t possibly write to trends because once you’ve written it, the trend is likely over. I also understand what is meant by suggesting that you embrace what you love and toss the rest.

There’s a lot of appeal to that.

However, if we are professional writers, we should be able to do better than simply writing about what we know. As writers, we should be able to write about things we don’t know or about things we don’t love. It takes effort. It takes research. It takes revision. But if you’re a writer, and you want to earn a living (or even get a pay check once in a while), you’re almost always going to be required to go out on a limb at some point and try something you’re not 100% in love with.

About six years ago, I decided to try my hand at nonfiction. I was awarded my first freelance work-for-hire project and it terrified me. It required me to put aside most of what I knew about creative writing, do a boat-load of research, and craft an accurate history book for the 4th grade reading level.

It was hard. That first one took so much time to pull together. But it rocked. And twelve contracts later, I wouldn’t be where I am in my writing career if I hadn’t accepted that very first assignment. It's given me confidence, it's given me a chance to work with a number of different editors, and it's given me credentials that I didn't have previously.

So, yes, write what you love. But leave room in your career to take a risk and write something that you don’t love and see where it takes you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Giveaway!

Wow! Fall is officially here, and the Fall Fourteeners are in full fall swing!

We had no fewer than FIVE debuts this month, as follows:

Kate Boorman, Winterkill (September 9)

Joy Hensley, Rites of Passage (September 9)

Joshua David Bellin, Survival Colony 9 (September 23)

Kendall Kulper, Salt & Storm (September 23)

Kristen Lippert-Martin, Tabula Rasa (September 23)

Since we want to share the love, we're offering five lucky winners a chance to win a copy of these five awesome books! (In other words, one winner per book. We're not big on math over here.)

To make this incredibly easy on everyone, here's how it works:
  • Leave a comment, telling us which of these books you'd like to win. No fair listing more than one--you've got to choose!
  • Be sure to leave your comment before the end of September (so no later than midnight PST on the 30th).
  • We'll randomly select one winner for each book, and send a signed copy to our winners!
(Please note: contest open to US, UK, and Canada only.)

We look forward to your entries. And remember, we've got more debuts coming up in October, so don't go away!

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who entered! Our winners are:

Rites of Passage: Jessica Perez
Salt & Storm: Jamie Cristobal
Survival Colony 9: Jacquelyn
Tabula Rasa: Andrew
Winterkill: Michelle Lee

If you haven't heard from your author yet, please drop them a line! And congratulations!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


 I am so excited! WINTERKILL is now out in North America and UK/Commonwealth!

I owe thanks to many, many people, including the wonderful Fall Fourteeners for unending support and cheerleading! The journey was wonderful. It was intense. It was, at times, a bit unhinged. I have subjected my critique partner to hours of phone-mulling, I have cluttered up my agent's inbox with my neuroses, and I have bombarded my editing team with more of my THOUGHTS than were probably necessary. Many red pens, many squares of Cadburys chocolate, and many cups of mint tea were sacrificed in the attainment of this goal.

So here we are: creepy trees and unrequited love and family secrets and a big, bad winter sweeping in!

I truly hope you like it.

Stay tuned for a giveaway of WINTERKILL and other September releases, later this month!

And here are a few ways to get WINTERKILL in the meantime:


Rites of Passage is out today! We're giving it away!

You guys! Today is the day! Rites of Passage is out in the world! (And apparently, I've been given free license from the punctuation gods to use as many exclamation points as I want!) Today will be spent freaking out, traveling to local book stores to sign, more freaking out, a massage, and lots of squeeing on Twitter. I apologize in advance.

I wanted to give a quick OMG! Thank you so much! to those of you who have helped throughout the writing/publishing process. There are too many to name here and if I tried, I'd forget someone. You're all in the acknowledgements, and if you're not, please forgive me and know you mean the world to me even if I didn't put your name in the book.

To all the writing friends I've met along this long and sometimes gray-hair-causing journey,  especially to the @onefourkidlit crew and the @fallfourteeners--I couldn't have done this without you.

To all of the bloggers/reviewers/readers who are as excited (if not MORE excited) than me, I don't even know what to say. You are why I wrote this book. I hope you love the DMA and Mac as much as I do.

And now, cupcakes and hugs and free for everyone(okay, not that last part)!!!!

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, NO EXCEPTIONS!}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

In honor of the release, I'm giving away two copies of Rites of Passage and some SWAG! You've got a week to win--sign up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August Books Giveaway!

Now that our debuts have started to hit the shelves, we'll be running a giveaway of each month's titles! For August, that means we're giving away copies of Austin Aslan's THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD and S. L. Duncan's THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM. Enter below for a chance to win one of these titles (if you have a preference, please indicate this in the comments). The giveaway runs for a week, from today until the end of August, so get in while the getting's good!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 23, 2014

SURVIVAL COLONY 9 Jacket Reveal and Giveaway!

Today, we're revealing the FULL JACKET for Joshua David Bellin's SURVIVAL COLONY 9, which releases a month from now, on 9/23. Given our scanner's physical limitations, we had to chop the image into two, but you get the picture:

Josh has been asked why there's no author photo, and he provides two answers to that question: 1.) to spare an unsuspecting public the image of his mug; and 2.) because for some reason, his publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, doesn't do author photos on its covers. Take your pick.

If you'd like to win one of two nifty prizes--a signed ARC of Josh's novel, or a signed copy of the full jacket--check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below! And be on the lookout for another giveaway on our site TOMORROW. As Fall nears and our books start to release, we've got lots of goodies to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Summer Vacation in 99 Words

Early June, a few weeks before pub date, midst of blog tour. Informed that book will only be published as e-book.

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Following day. Boxes of now useless swag arrive on doorstep.

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Okay, fine. It was more like this.

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Two weeks later. Informed that actually, book will be not published at all because publisher is going out of business.

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End June. Agent calls. Has sold book to Skyscape.

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Mid-August. Still waiting for contract to be finalized.

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My birthday. New contract lands! Can now move on and get back to work. So excited about my WIP.

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You can find Kat on Twitter and her website.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Launching Your Debut: 5 important things to remember

In a(nother) rare and candid interview, Kate Boorman sits down with Kate Boorman to talk about how to successfully launch a debut novel.

With just three weeks to go before her book releases, Kate has been thinking long and hard about this. She shares her wisdom for debuting authors, aspiring writers, and readers alike. Because everyone will probably be interested.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Coming Soon: The Jacket Reveal for SURVIVAL COLONY 9

Here in Pittsburgh, the weather's turned fall-like, and that can mean only one thing: September is nigh! Which means further that my debut, SURVIVAL COLONY 9, is right around the corner!

Next week, I'll be posting a jacket reveal and giveaway for SURVIVAL COLONY 9. The story of Querry Genn, a fourteen-year-old without memory of his past living in one of the last human groups to survive catastrophic wars and climate change, SURVIVAL COLONY 9 has received glowing reviews (check out Kirkus and School Library Journal for starters) and great press (as in this Washington Post op-ed about the emerging genre of "cli-fi"). And the jacket, I think you'll agree when you see it next week, lives up to the hype!

So tune in on 8/23, one month before the book's release date, for a glimpse of the full SC9 jacket plus a great giveaway!

Fall! When our thoughts turn to ... the Skaldi?

How a Book Baby is Birthed

On August 1st, I had the privilege of seeing something a lot of authors don't get to see--I got to see Rites of Passage, my fall 2014 Harper Teen title, get printed.

I swear, I'm going to try to keep the references to the process of printing a book as a birthing to a minimum, because if I don't then this blog post would be awkward and filled with goop and you don't want that. Believe me, I'd end up telling you what happened in the room next to mine that made the husband violently puke in the bathroom and scared/distracted my doctor while I was in labor with Thing One.

See? Told you you didn't want that.

No this post is full of pretty pictures, pretty thoughts, and lots of shiny looks at Rites of Passage that comes out in just a few short weeks!

As a writer, I know all the behind-the-scenes stuff that happens before a book gets to this point. As someone who worked in a book printing factory, I know how the printing part of this works, too, but a lot of you don't, so I thought I'd share.

(A quick note here: I'm not allowed to mention where the factory is or what the company's name is--I had to sign a paper and everything--that's why it's kind of vague-ish on those details. I also had to get special permission to take pictures and there were rules about where to aim the camera and what I couldn't get in the background. There was also a dress code. I felt REALLY SPECIAL this day!).

So, after we writers create, revise, edit, copyedit, and sign off on first pass pages, the book is out of our hands. Then, it goes onto the hands of many other people who do amazingly magical things to our thoughts and words. Look:

The first step is to get the computer document onto metal plates so that it can be printed on these huge rolls of paper--omg, you guys, think, like, a three-thousand pound roll of paper--that's what we're talking about. On the first machine we saw, these huge rolls of blank paper became huge rolls of paper with MY WORDS ON THEM. I wanted to hug them, seriously, but can you imagine the paper cut that might involve?? Ouch!

After the book gets printed on these huge rolls, the magic machines cut and fold the paper so that all the pages are in the right order--thank goodness, right? Otherwise page 12 could come right after page 3 and you would be so confused!
Here's a picture of this crazy folding of which I speak. In printing terms, this is called a "sig"--a signature.
At this point, I cried. Because I could totally see that this was actually happening. A silly dream when I was in third grade--a dream that I couldn't shake and couldn't give up on--was coming true. My book was about to become a real book. So I cried a little more because whoa. Emotion. Then I started taking pictures. And other people started taking pictures. Lots of pictures. (Here's me with my baby sig and Jodi Meadows with copies of Incarnate and Asunder which were printed here, too! Our books are siblings...or cousins...or something!)
And then I realized there were MORE sigs with MORE of my words and if I stacked them all together, they looked like this and THAT IS MY BOOK OMG!
After all the sigs are printed and stacked in some way that only book printers understand, they get taken to a second machine. A machine full of arms that lovingly carry little baby sigs until they are all stacked together in the proper order. Then they add a little warmth, making sure the little book babies are not too chilled in the factory air. (Note: I am almost positive that this is not the way book printers think about our books, writers. But it's nice to imagine that they might think about our books this way.) This warmth is also called glue, but it's okay. The book babies will NOT be hurt by this. It will make all its little book arms and book legs stay together. It, too, is magical. Basically, everything here is magical and Hogwarts has nothing on this place.
Once the glue dries and my little book baby is held together so lovingly, it's time to trim it--to make sure it's pretty and acceptable to the masses. And then--out pops the book baby, all wrapped in a jacket and looking beautiful.

Then, pictures. Pictures with EVERYONE.
My critique partners.
My 5th cousin by marriage, Jodi Meadows.

Blurry spirit fingers with my friend, Lora!

Sometimes I would be having conversations and realize my book baby (after a year and a half + of nurturing and growing inside my mind) was actually in my hands and I held it protectively so no one could hurt it.
Once, I had to wait for the tears to stop so I could take a picture with my daddy. See--when I was in third grade and first came on a tour of this factory, I promised him that one day we'd watch my book come off the line here. This picture is a snapshot of a dream come true. Literally, a dream 27 years in the making. But I wanted a picture which didn't make me look like I was Claire Danes ugly-crying over Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life  (because I totally could have been).

 And then--people asked me to sign books. Ah! The pressure!

This is the first book I've EVER signed.
And then: more pictures. (And thank goodness because I was so excited I didn't remember ANY of this!)
And then Jodi signed her books for the amazing people who led this magic-filled tour.

Then, suddenly--there were more book babies. And more book babies. And they were put in boxes and the boxes stack up and then I realized that HOLY COW I HAVE A LOT OF BOOK BABIES!
And then I took more pictures, with dad and mom and grandma (who is the one who spent the money to send me to that revision workshop that got me my agent in the first place--Thanks, Nan!).
After that, there was lunch, which was amazing. And talking about books--which was even MORE amazing. And then, at the end, there were more tears and hugs (and maybe some spilled sweet tea on the carpet that was totally embarrassing but THANKFULLY didn't get on my new, pretty book babies).

Once all the goodbyes were said and I got home, there was  just the unbelievably peaceful feeling of being able to say that I never gave up and I lived my dream.

And as hard as it was, it was every bit as fantastic as I thought it might be.

Thank so much to Mandy Hubbard, Jennifer Klonsky, Ruiko Tokunaga, Krista Strawderman, the most amazing book printing company IN THE WORLD, and every one else I'm not naming who made this day just the most amazing day of my entire life!