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!

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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!

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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!

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Should I Be a Writer?"

I’ve noticed since I started writing full time that I get a lot of the same questions over and over. “How do you stay disciplined?” is a pretty common one; so is “How do you come up with your ideas?”

But I’ve been getting another question lately, one I’m not really sure how to answer: “Should I be a writer?”

This question usually comes from a friend or a friend of a friend, along with a request to check out a writing sample. I actually really enjoy reading people’s stuff, and I don’t mind taking a look and offering critiques, but when it comes to assessing someone’s potential, I usually give the same response: I can’t tell you.

What I mean is I can say if I think something is working or isn’t, if I enjoyed what I read, if I would have wanted to read more if I was an agent or editor, but should you quit your job and write full time? That’s a totally separate question.

I think when people consider writing for a career, they imagine that if they have the talent, that’s all they need. And it’s true, talent is hugely important. But so much of writing is determination and follow-through. It’s sticking it out for months and years with very little hope of success. It’s stacks of rejections and second-guessing. If you have the drive and perseverance and passion to keep writing, to keep getting better, you will. And if you don’t, you don’t.

I sort of suspect that someone asking someone else if they should be a writer has, in a way, answered their own question. Because while it’s helpful to talk to professionals about what to expect, how long the process takes, the difficulties along the way, a person with the passion and drive to be a professional writer would never ask another person if they think they should go for it. You’d just go for it.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question your own skills or path, and it doesn’t mean that once you go for it, you don’t second-guess your decision all the time. But you also don’t leave that question in someone else’s hands.

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's been One Month, Three Weeks and Three Days and ...


For those of you who have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I have fallen off the face of the Earth. Long story short, my debut year has not turned out the way I thought it would.
In case you haven’t heard, my former publisher, Strange Chemistry, closed their doors, effective immediately, on June 20th. (You can read more about my initial reaction here.) There’s no other way to put it other than to say the event sucked. Really sucked.
So now, seven weeks and three days later, with a new book deal in the works, I’ve had a little time to reflect on it. Not on the closing. That happened and really, there was nothing I could have done to change that. Writing is business, no matter how tightly we hold that “artiste” hat to our head. No, what I had time to reflect on was community.

While a million plus books are published every year, the actual writing community is pretty small. And the longer you’re in it, the smaller it seems to become. And like any other community, when bad stuff happens, this amazing rally begins, spiraling out, pulling people in until you truly feel like it’s sheer will of the universe propelling you get out of bed, put on clean clothes and do important stuff like feed your kids.

It’s that powerful.

So back to my reflections (because I really just put that in so I could use the scene from Twister). I have learned a lot in the last 51 days. Here are a few of those lessons.

1. Use the DELETE KEY often.

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Think about the last time you've been disappointed by something. In this day and age of instantaneous everything, spouting off and hitting send has become an Olympic sport. I can't tell you, as a grown woman, how many friendships I know of that ended or were at least seriously damaged by NOT using the delete key. There's an old saying that goes something like, "what someone says about you says more about them than it does about you." GREAT ADVICE!

2. Don't Trash Talk.

That's what I said! Remember the last thing I mentioned about what someone says reflecting on them? Ignoring the multiple use of the same verbiage in one sentence issue, truer words have never been spoken. Too many times I see writers slamming an agent because they were turned down and I want to shake them and tell them that this is NOT OKAY. And I'm not just talking about Facebook and Twitter. I'm talking about email as well. Never put anything in writing that your mother would be embarrassed to know you wrote. And don't say bad things. EVER. That intern you just eviscerated in an email. There's a chance she's going to be a Senior Editor someday and I promise, SHE WILL REMEMBER YOU!

3. We're all in this together.
Oh no she didn't just pull out High School Musical. YES I DID. And not just for the catchy tunes that you know are now stuck in your head for the next three days (you're welcome or MUWAHAHAHA, depending on your level of secret like for this movie), but because I had spoken to a hand full of SC authors prior to the big announcement, but not many. I was "marching band geek" who had yet to prove myself and they were the "Troy and Gabriella" of the imprint. I had no reason to strike up a conversation. But shortly after the announcement, an email thread began and I realized that when a tornado (yes, I want to add the cow GIF again) hits your school, it doesn't matter if you're the superstar or the loner. You pull together and support each other. And that's what has happened. Everyone is waiting to see what's going to happen and I hope that we manage to stay in touch and continue to support each other long after the sting has faded.

4. Wine is your friend.
Yes, Maya Rudolph. Yes you can. First, let me assure you, I did not become an alcoholic over all of this. I thought about it, but I like my liver and buying books too much, so it wasn't a long term affair, just a casual fling. Did you know you can put an entire bottle of wine in a Starbuck's Trenta cup? True story.

5. When it's the worst, go back the barre.

No, not bar. Barre... like ballet barre. I shared this story with Amalie Howard, my agency sis and fellow orphan (and publishing sib again) and I don't think she'll mind if I share it with you.

My all-time favorite movie is Center Stage. It's all about being at a ballet academy. Now, I never danced, which is OH SO OBVIOUS, but I love the movie. I have it on DVD and VHS, just in case technology implodes and we have to live old school with the VHS player I have squirreled away for the end days. Don't judge. ANYWAY, there's a scene where the ballet instructor is talking to the hot-headed-but-uber-talented dancer who's been cast in the corp. The dancer is mad, angry, feeling like it doesn't matter if she's talented, she's getting the raw deal. The instructor gives some sage advice: there are always going to be things that happen... bumps along the way, but a dancer knows where to turn when things get rough. Back to the barre. Back to the beginning. Back to the basics. And back to the heart of dance.

So it's time to go back to work. Flex my creative muscles and remember why I started writing in the first place.

Yep. That looks about right.

6. Finally, no matter what happens in life, you can always go home. For me, my literary home is at the Midwest Writer's Workshop in Muncie, Indiana. I know what you're thinking: Who doesn't want to go to Muncie, Indiana in July? Isn't that the town that made Erik Estrada, LaToya Jackson and  Jack Osborn law enforcement officers? (Once again.) Why yes, yes it was.

But there's more than just bad reality television resulting in a lawsuit in Indiana. At the end of the July, every year, amazing authors, fantastic agents and a whole bunch of my friends gather for what has to be, hands down, the best small conference in the world! Great talent has been discovered there, including a little known author named Veronica Roth. Yes, we name drop her ALL the time because she met her agent at our conference, but that is a whole other post. 

The point is, when the publishing machine grinds to a halt or stalls for a while, make sure you have people in place who get you and what you do. Whether it's drunk tweeting Twilight with someone you follow on Twitter (check) or helping a new friend work on their pitch to their dream agent (check), know that, in this world we have entered into voluntarily, someone will always have your back. 

To wrap this rather long winded post up, sometimes sucky things happen to you. But that's okay. They don't matter. Not in the long run. What matters is how you face them. BE FEARLESS when that time comes. And remember, unless you are in a Monty Python sketch, nothing can keep you from going back to the barre. And sometimes, not even that will stop you!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

WINTERKILL jacket reveal + giveaway!

Next up in our list of Fall Fourteeners jacket reveals is Kate A Boorman's WINTERKILL (North American edition), releasing September 9th, 2014 from Amulet Books.

Kate's thoughts on her jacket:

"I think the starkness (offset with those ominous traces of crimson) is really mysterious and evocative. And I absolutely love the skeletal branches bleeding in around the border. Very beautiful-creepy! I'm also so honoured to have endorsement from James Dashner (The Maze Runner series) and Julie Berry (All the Truth That's In Me)-- lovely words from incredible authors."

To celebrate, Kate's offering up a signed ARC of WINTERKILL (open internationally, until August 15th, 2014). All you have to do is comment to enter (just leave your twitter handle/a way to contact you)!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Win an ARC of The Islands at the End of The World

The first Fall Fourteener has his debut tomorrow, August 5th, but you can win his book today!

I have an ARC here that I'm going to send out into the world. Trust me. With TWO starred reviews, you want this one.

In this fast-paced survival story set in Hawaii, electronics fail worldwide, the islands become completely isolated, and a strange starscape fills the sky. Leilani and her father embark on a nightmare odyssey from Oahu to their home on the Big Island. Leilani’s epilepsy holds a clue to the disaster, if only they can survive as the islands revert to earlier ways.

A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Want to win? Here's what you need to do!

  1. Follow the Fall Fourteeners Blog
  2. Follow me ( ) and Austin (so we can find your entries. (While you're at it, you might want to follow the other 14ers, too. We're a pretty awesome and friendly bunch)
  3. Send a tweet telling us what you would do if the world were ending tomorrow. Be sure to use the hashtags #islands #end so we can find your entries.
We'll pick a random winner (US only, please) at midnight HADT (that's Hawaii-Aluetian Daylight Time) and post it here on 8/6.

And just in case you don't win, why not pre-order ISLANDS today, while it's 25% off??  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Coming Soon: Kate Boorman's WINTERKILL Jacket Reveal!

Next up in the Fall Fourteeners parade of jacket reveals: Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman!

Releasing September 9, Winterkill tells the story of Emmeline, a sixteen-year-old member of a strict religious community living in an isolated and wintry land. With a family history of Waywardness—the greatest sin in her community’s eyes—Emmeline should feel profoundly grateful when the settlement’s religious leader asks for her hand. But Emmeline wants more than the safety of a loveless marriage—the woods around the settlement call to her, speaking of mysteries and discoveries she’ll give almost anything to experience.

I had the good fortune to read an ARC of Winterkill, and it’s exquisite, written in a lyrical language and creating an imagined world unlike any other. Kate will be revealing her Winterkill jacket on 8/9, and she’ll be offering some goodies along with the reveal, so make sure to tune in then!