Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Resolutions

I know, I know. We all make them and then we give up after about a month.

But even though we all have the normal 'eat healthy, go to the gym more, quit smoking' type resolutions that look good on paper but actually, you don't have the time to go to the gym, or you really fancy that cupcake after a stressful day, and that cigarette is the only thing keeping you from quitting your job, so how about your writing/reading resolutions?

Let's make some of those!

For example, some of mine would be...

1) Stop using the word 'just'.
2) Try to write a romance with no paranormal twist.
3) Try to write that story I'm too scared to write.
4) Think of better chapter titles.
5) Read more contemporary titles.
6) Move from 75 books read to 85.
7) Buy a bigger bookshelf!!

So there's mine. What're yours?

And don't forget about the pitch to Entangled editors coming up on the 25th January!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What about the teens?

I think we all know: The YA online writers community is kinda huge and amazing. It's awesome to see so many people excited about the same things I'm excited about.

We talk a lot about how YA isn't just for teens. We discuss how incredible it is to be an adult and still read YA. Authors, book bloggers, agents & editors talk about what we want to see in YA books, what we're tired of seeing. But sometimes I think: maybe we take it too far.

I think maybe we're so focused on what we (people who are not teens) like and what we want to see, we lose focus on the teens - our target audience. YAtopian Wendy and I were discussing this a few weeks ago and she said, "Sometimes we forget who the YA target audience REALLY is, and that we need to stay in touch with the youth and the fads they're living, etc."

With that in mind, I will be launching a new monthly feature here at YAtopia called Teentopia, where I will interview average* teen readers about books, reading, trends, etc. I'm trying to make these interviewees as diverse as possible, so please let me know if you know any teens who would be interested!

The first interview will be up in January, so keep an eye out!

*I know there are some teen book bloggers - but these voracious readers are also kind of an exception. Personally, I'm most interested in hearing from casual readers, ones who have no idea what "voice" means and know nothing about how the publishing industry works.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Hi, everyone! DJ here. Most of us are busy celebrating the holidays, so I'm not going to post anything meaningful today. Instead...


To those who may not be celebrating, I hope you're all having a great time and are spending your time laughing, smiling, and loving. Here's to a great new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pitch Contest!

UPDATE 1/9/12: Due to interest in this pitch contest, we now have eight editors taking pitches, three of them senior editors. As a result, we will be taking pitches for pieces of any age-range, any genre, any length - as long as romance is central to the story.

Have a shorter piece you'd love to have published, but not quite sure where to submit it? Or maybe you also write romance? (A lot of YA writers do!)

You are in luck! On January 25th, four editors from Entangled Publishing (sound familiar? They're our very own Kelley York's publisher!) will be right here taking your pitches for the following lines:

Flirt (10k-15k words, strong romantic elements, most genres)
Ever After (20k-40k words, strong romantic elements, most genres)
Lori Wilde's...Indulgence (50k-60k words)

You have one month to get your pitch and novel or novella in tip-top shape. Pitches will be accepted in comments on January 25th, as soon as the blog post goes live until midnight EST. To participate, have a two-line pitch and the first 100 words of your story ready to post as a comment. Be sure to read the line descriptions linked above. Each editor will choose at least one winner, from whom they will request the full manuscript.*

Read below to learn more about Entangled and each editor's taste.

Entangled is a boutique publisher of romance fiction. We pride ourselves on quality stories and commercial covers, and our innovative business model offers our authors the best of indie and traditional publishing. To find out more, see our website. And don't forget to look through our current open submission calls.

Any level of heat works as long as a romance is central to the story, and the plot is intimately entwined with the building romance. Stories must end HFN or HEA.

Adrien-Luc Sanders, Senior Editor
His current interests run towards sci-fi, contemporary, and urban fantasy—the darker, the better—with a love for gritty dystopian, cyberpunk, steampunk, supernatural, and that rare cross-genre gem. He likes stories falling into that gray area of the battle between good and evil, with strong antiheros and believable villains, or heroes who face temptation and corruption and don’t always get away unscathed, though he can also be won over by quirkiness, sweetness, and humor, with a love of oddball characters and whimsy. He’s also interested in stories that portray people of color and LGBT people as mainstream characters whose cultural, ethnic, sexual, and gender diversity are enhancements to their character rather than the primary focus of the story. Adrien-Luc was interviewed here recently.

Libby Murphy, Associate Editor
Libby would like to see submissions for adults and young adults written with a killer voice, and she especially loves quirky characters and plots. She loves sci-fi with aliens, robots, and high tech; urban fantasy and time travel; contemporary romance; women’s fiction with a strong romantic element; and suspense and mysteries. She craves humor, anti-heroes, and underdogs, and strong, capable heroines are a must. For Indulgences, she's looking specificaly for the following: Best friends, best friend’s younger sister, millionaire playboy, athletes, relationship because of a bet, arranged marriages, bad boys, revenge plots, reunions, adventure (Indiana Jones meets Bridget Jones!), romantic comedy, forbidden love, geeks (hero or heroine), and military heroes. I’m not likely to request sheiks or royalty, but if the royalty is the heroine, that’s definitely more likely. I’m a huge sucker for snarky heroines, funny heroes, and heroes who are the strong, silent type. Libby was interviewed here recently.
Libby is especially interested in Flirts and Ever Afters that fit the following:
  • Scientists or inventor-types who walk the line between good and bad (like Batman)
  • Paranormals with a villain hero/heroine who is redeemed by the end
  • Disaster or apocalyptic events in which people find love, despite everything falling apart around them (can be sci-fi, fantasy, or contemporary featuring a natural disaster, for example)
  • Quirky contemporaries or paranormals—humor is a must!
  • Sci-fi, especially if it has a Tron, I, Robot, or a Terminator type setting
  • Thrillers set in a small town
  • Zombie hunters :)
  • Romantic Comedy (would love to see a trilogy about a group of girlfriends finding love)

Kerry Vail, Associate Editor
Kerry loves the whole spectrum of speculative fiction, from hard scifi to space opera to sociological. She loves dystopian futures and alternate histories, especially when combined with a compelling voice and an unusual twist. She also enjoys urban fantasy, high fantasy, and paranormal thrillers, and gravitates toward strong female leads who are intelligent and can save themselves and fall in love. She is open to stories of love in any of its many forms and any heat level.

Kerri-Leigh Grady, Associate Editor
She loves paranormal romance and UF worlds that aren’t complicated by numerous mythical beasties, smart romantic comedy, dark comedy, romantic thrillers/suspense/horror, dystopian romance including steampunk, reunions, BFFs falling in love, marriage of convenience, [strong] woman in jeopardy, man in jeopardy, supernatural elements, clever monster elements, multi-cultural characters, alpha nerds, high stakes adventure, and general hilarity. She’s open to F/M, F/F, and M/M pairings in all heat levels. For Indulgences, she's looking specifically for the following: reunions, BFFs, marriage of convenience, ugly duckling, [strong] woman in jeopardy, man in jeopardy, road trip, alpha nerds, high stakes adventure and suspense, forbidden love, fish out of water, and smart romantic comedy. I’d love to find a military hero where the romantic conflict rings true and is related to the challenges of being a mil-girlfriend or milspouse.
 *Editors reserve the right to not choose a winner, based on quality and quantity of submissions.


UPDATE 1/6/12: So... when some of the other Entangled Editors saw we were hosting this pitch contest, they got a little jealous... at least that's the story I'm going to tell! Long story short, we will have two more editors taking your pitches on January 25th!

Josh Vogt, Associate Editor

Josh Vogt has a passion for reading and writing speculative fiction. He’s seen all sides of the publishing industry, works as a freelance copywriter and editor, and is currently signed with a literary agent to get his novels published. He brings to the team his love for books, plus a desire to help aspiring authors in their quest for publication success. Find him on Twitter at @JRVogt.

Wishlist: Josh is interested in all types of fantasy and science fiction, from urban fantasy to steampunk to space opera to epic and YA fantasy. He loves stories that suck him in without warning and compel him to keep reading thanks to fascinating characters, great dialogue, twisting plots, and powerful worldbuilding.

Lewis Pollack, Associate Editor

A student of philosophy, psychology, and the sciences, Lewis Pollak has an appreciation for both characters with complex motivations and stories that are thought-provoking. Find him on Twitter at @LewisPollak.

Lewis loves books that take readers to new worlds, whether they are alien landscapes, alternate histories, or contemporaries with a twist. He also enjoys books that strike a balance between serious and humorous moments. While partial to all sorts of speculative fiction from high fantasy and urban fantasy (but not Keith Urban fantasies) to science fiction and paranormal, interesting characters with genuine emotions and snappy retorts usually win him over regardless of genre.


Update 1/9/12:  Two more senior editors have heard about this contest and would like to hear your pitches!  Bonus: both of these editors are looking for YA!

Stacy C. Abrams, Senior Editor

Stacy Abrams started in the publishing industry in 2002, most recently leaving a seven-year stint at Bloomsbury Publishing’s children’s division to join the Entangled team. Stacy has edited such award-winning and high-caliber YA authors as Jessica Warman, Tracy Deebs, Alex Scarrow, and Michelle Rowen, among many others, and her books have earned starred reviews from all the major review journals. In addition to editing, she has been a freelance copy editor for several major New York publishing houses. She earned her Bachelor’s in English at Northwestern University and currently resides in New York City with her husband and too-cute puppy. Find her on Twitter at@StacyAbramsEdit.

Stacy loves working on contemporary teen stories, even if they have a supernatural bend. Some of her favorite projects she’s edited have been Jessica Warman’s Between (contemporary ghost/murder mystery story), Tracy Deebs’s Tempest series (mermaid paranormal romance), and Loretta Ellsworth’s In a Heartbeat (dual narratives from the POV of an organ donor and recipient). She’d love to see more psychological thrillers, unique paranormal creatures, time travel, gritty across-the-tracks romances, or a historical set in the twentieth century. In the adult genre, Stacy loves light contemporary romances, ripped-from-the-headlines thrillers, friendship stories, and suspense. She doesn’t tend to lean toward vampires, zombies, adult historicals, or high-heat levels—though if any one were done in just the right way, she wouldn’t say no!

Heather Howland, Senior Editor

Award-winning young adult author Heather Howland began editing in the legal, industrial, and technical sectors eight years ago while working as a Production Manager. She has since honed her fiction editing skills as a freelancer and as the former acquisitions editor of a small romance publisher. Heather regularly hosts craft chats and teaches editing workshops for various organizations, and is an agented YA and adult romance author. She holds a BS in creative writing and psychology, which she channels into her love of dark, romantic fiction. Find her on Twitter at @HeatherHowland.

Heather loves all subgenres of YA, especially darker, twisting plots with a literary voice, and contemporary YA reminiscent of Stephanie Perkins and Jennifer Echols. In adult romance, she enjoys Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Lora Leigh-style contemporary, accessible sci-fi, quirky fantasy, and unique paranormal series that present fresh takes on familiar tropes such as best friends to lovers, love triangles, heroes falling for their best friend's forbidden little sister, and tight-knit groups (Navy SEAL teams, fire departments, roommates, brothers, etc.). While she’ll look at anything with a fantastic voice, Heather generally avoids cozies, urban fantasy, historical, hard sci-fi, high fantasy, shifters, zombies, and Plain Jane heroines.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Entangled Book Winners

Earlier this month we had an interview with Entangled Publishing publicist Stacey O'Neale. She's giving away an e-copy of the YA paranormal, TOUCH, by Jus Accardo and the YA thriller, HUSHED, by Kelley York to one lucky commenter on that post. 

Without further ado...

The winner of TOUCH is...

Marisol Gaddi! 
(your TBR pile just got one book longer)

And the winner of HUSHED is...

(yay for geek girl stories!)

Congrats! We will contact you soon to arrange delivery of your book!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Birthday CONTEST

It's common knowledge that I have one of the worst birthdays ever! LOL. As an adult, I get it. As a kid, it was no fun being born the day after Christmas. Everyone is so tired, wiped out and busy after the holiday and getting ready for New Years that the last thing they're thinking about is a birthday.

SO, this year, I'm celebrating by giving books to YOU for my birthday!! That's right. My birthday, but YOU can win.

I'm going to give TWO winners, each a copy of one of my favorite reads of the year. You can either win....

When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.


What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Both these books were made of awesome!! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and be a YAtopia follower to enter. I will give an extra point of you follow my personal blog HERE, but it's not mandatory. Just let me know in the comment if you follow me too. Contest is open through my birthday on December 26th.

Ready... set... comment :)

Oh, and please add your email address to your comment :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

American Horror Story anyone?

Okay, so it's not strictly writing or reading related, but sometimes we all need a break from that, don't we? And what better way to take a break than discussing my new favourite TV show.

There are ways to tie in this TV show with writing and reading. For example, the writers of this show are very talented. They know how to throw twists at you. How to get readers to practically salivate with need for the next episode. To sit there and be simultaneously shocked and enthralled with what's happening. To unfold the larger picture bit by bit.

I have to say, this show fascinates me. For me, it's the love/hate feeling I have towards the characters. Ben, the father. He's a cheating douche. He has some seriously messed up desires, and yet you can tell he genuinely loves his family. Violet is an angsty teenager but I wouldn't know what to do in her position either. And Tate. Tate, Tate, Tate. He's one sick, messed up individual, and yet...I love him.

If there was a book like this, I'd be all over it. The twists, the relationship between characters, the morbid scenes and creepy ghosts. Love, love, love.

So have you been watching? Do you love it too? I'd love to get a conversation going about it in the comments!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blog Tour: SAVING ELIZABETH by Amy Machelle

Wendy here!  :)  I am pleased to introduce everyone to Amy Machelle! This is the first stop on her blog tour for her debut novel, Saving Elizabeth, which is being published tomorrow, December 14th! I met Amy on, and she couldn’t be sweeter. While uploaded to inkpop, Saving Elizabeth was a huge hit with readers on the site, so I was not surprised to hear she’d been picked-up for publication. I was stoked to be able to read an advanced copy of her novel for this tour stop!

Blaming God for the death of her father, sixteen year old Elizabeth Bridges denounces her faith and vows never to utter His name again. She tries to distance herself from anything spiritual, but the events that occur after an unwanted move make that difficult.
First, the dreams come – dreams of evil creatures, and rendezvous with the gorgeous stranger she thinks her mind created to escape her miserable life. But her first day at Glacier High proves there’s more to it than that.
Elizabeth meets Riel, the boy from her dreams, and he knows more about her than is humanly possible. He says she possesses a coveted gift that all of Hell is clamoring to seize. The monsters she dreams of are real, and they’re battling for her soul. Soon, Elizabeth is thrust into a spiritual realm where she doesn’t know friend from foe. She battles demons in the storage closets of her high school, with Riel, her only protection.
Will Elizabeth be able to trust Riel and help him save what matters most, or will they both join forces with darkness and turn their backs forever on the only One who can offer them the love and peace they so deeply desire?

     Saving Elizabeth is a fast-paced, quick read told from dual perspectives: Elizabeth and Riel. Both characters are struggling with their own internal issues, and it’s interesting to be inside both their minds since Riel knows about Elizabeth’s struggles, while she is unaware of his.
     I love our main character, Elizabeth--my heart goes out to her when her mom starts moving on with life before Elizabeth is ready, and I can feel her pain. Then there’s Riel’s storyline, which captured me even more. His fight against his own desires versus what he knows is right will keep you riveted. My friends know I’m a sucker for literary bad boys. So why, you ask, did I fall so incredibly hard for Riel, the ultimate good boy?  Don’t get me wrong - Riel’s no wimp; he can fight. He’s strong and honorable and passionate. *sigh* Riel is simply num-nums. Is it wrong to want to gobble a pure soul to bits? The whole time I was reading I could feel his need so clearly. (I’m trying really hard not to get carried away and give spoilers here. There’s so much I want to say, but I can’t!) 
     Besides making me swoon over Riel, one of the things Amy Machelle does especially well are the creepy enemy scenes. The dark souls fighting to take Elizabeth are straight-up scary. They have this demonic smoke that oozes from their mouths - eeek! Amy’s writing could take me from laughter to tears to chills in a snap.
Saving Elizabeth is a sweet, soulful, and engaging read. I was flipping pages so fast to see how it would end, and I love that I couldn’t predict it. The overall story is one of love, hope, healing, and faith. If this sounds like it’s for you, I urge you to check it out!


Like our YAtopians, Leigh, Kelley V, Sharon, and myself, you were on the HarperCollins YA writers' community inkpop prior to being published. How did you find that experience and how did it help you as a writer?

Oh, wow. I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful inkpop was when Saving Elizabeth first started to take shape. It was truly an amazing experience. I had completed half of the novel, and was prematurely searching for publishing options when I ran across authonomy, inkpop’s sister site. I uploaded a couple of chapters of Saving Elizabeth, but quickly realized the site wasn’t for me. While there, I noticed some of authonomy’s members also had their work posted on inkpop. Since Saving Elizabeth is a YA manuscript, and inkpop is geared toward authors of YA literature, I thought I’d give it a shot. I uploaded what I had written so far, and it was a perfect fit. I couldn’t believe how welcoming the community was. Right from the start, they seemed to genuinely care about my story and its characters as much as I did. They offered words of praise and encouragement, but also pointed out areas that could be better. I received comments that included everything from grammar help, to identification of plot holes and weaknesses in characters. I had never written much of anything before, so you can imagine how helpful this was. Saving Elizabeth definitely wouldn’t be where it is today without wonderful inkies.

Tell us a little about your journey to publication as a first-time author.

After Saving Elizabeth received a gold star on inkpop in March of 2010, I edited my manuscript according to the review and got to work querying agents and publishing companies that accepted unsolicited queries. I’d take a break in querying when the rejection letters got me down, but I never left it for too long. For a year, the rejection letters slowly trickled in. During the summer of 2011, when searching for more agents to query, I ran across Tell-Tale Publishing Group’s website. They were a newly formed small press publishing company building their list of authors, and best of all, they accepted unsolicited queries. It sounded like Saving Elizabeth was the type of manuscript they might be interested in, so I gave them a shot and was thrilled to hear back from Patricia Lazarus shortly after. She is the editor of Tell-Tale’s young adult imprint, and she expressed her interest in Saving Elizabeth. One thing sort of led to another, and as they say, the rest is history.

Is Saving Elizabeth a stand-alone novel or the first in an expected series?

There will definitely be a sequel. Elizabeth isn’t quite finished with her story yet. Even though she’s come such a long way, she’s still got some growing to do.

I found it to be a gutsy and exciting move to have God and Lucifer as "characters" in the novel. What made you decide to write a faith-based YA fantasy?

My husband is a youth pastor, and the Twilight craze hit his youth group pretty hard, so much so that the girls started to bring their copies of Twilight to church. They were seriously reading it during church services. I couldn’t imagine what in the world would have them so captivated, so I bought all of the books and read them for myself. I finished the entire series in two weeks, and decided to search our local Christian bookstores for young adult fiction that would capture them like Twilight, but reinforce much of what my husband was teaching them during youth group. I came up empty handed. There just weren’t any faith based paranormal romances out there. The Christian book stores weren’t offering young adults much in the way of fiction at all. As a matter of fact, their young adult sections were minute in comparison to their adult sections. That’s when I made it my mission to write something that would appeal to the younger generation. 

In what format is Saving Elizabeth available for purchase?

December 14th is the e book release. You’ll be able to purchase it from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for Kindles and Nooks. You’ll also be able to purchase it in pdf format from Tell-Tale Publishing Group’s website (<--also check out the site for a sneak peek at the first two chapters!). The print release is yet to be announced.

Rapid Fire Questions:
Pink or Black? Black, but I think the two look fabulous together, especially in polka-dot form. :o)
Coffee or Tea? I’m ashamed to say I’m addicted to both. I seriously need a caffeine intervention.
Heels or Flats? Flats
Electric or Acoustic? Acoustic
Whipped Cream or Cool Whip? Cool Whip

* * *  I want to wish Amy the best of luck on Saving Elizabeth and future writing endeavors!  Here are a few ways you can support her...

Check out Amy's website.
Follow Amy's blog.
Follow Amy on Twitter.
Friend Amy's author page on Facebook.
Like Saving Elizabeth on Facebook.
Add Saving Elizabeth to your Goodreads shelf.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The BIG Apocalypsie Giveaway!!

Hey lovely followers! I'm holding a giveaway of any 2012 debut YA book over at my blog! That includes my own book 'My Heart Be Damned' and Wendy's book 'Sweet Evil'. There's not much to do to enter, and you can earn extra entries! Hope to see you there!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Change Write Now

Wait a second! *Looks around suspiciously* This doesn't look like Tuesday! Everybody's too happy for it to be a Tuesday. Where am I?

Oh yeah, Wendy and I traded days for this week! Because she asked me to help her out and I said 'yes.' Because that's what YAtopians do for each other.

You know what else YAtopians do for each other? Support each other in their New Year's Resolutions! (Ahh, yeah... I'm riding that segue like Paul Blart.)

Last week, fellow YA Rebel Corrine Jackson and I started talking about how we wanted to start living healthier lifestyles, about how this sedentary writer thing had made our waists a little bigger and our endurance a little lower. Writers - especially those of us with "real" jobs - tend to let our health slide in the rush to fit everything else in to our hectic lives. So we decided it was time. Time to ...

Change Write Now!

We came up with a game designed to help writers develop new good habits, while ditching some of the bad. It's not necessarily about losing weight, it's about developing a healthier lifestyle - with a little friendly competition and a lot of peer support thrown in.

It's about making your health a priority.

The game starts on January 1st and we will be competing alongside randomly assigned teammates through March 6th. Points are awarded for things like eating healthy, drinking enough water, getting a good night's sleep, checking in with your teammates, exercising, ditching bad habits and adopting new good habits. To sweeten the deal, we already have at least one editor on board, donating prizes for the winners!

With 60 people already signed up in the first three days, I guess we aren't the only ones who need a little push towards a healthier lifestyle. That's why I wanted to invite all of you to join us! You can find more information - and the sign up form - on Cory's blog here.

I'm working on building a website, but it's not *quite* ready for public viewing yet. Watch this space for updates - I'll post a link as soon as we launch it.

I hope you'll join us in our search for a healthier 2012!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top five Noob mistakes

A lot of people want to be a published writer, but very few people make it. There's a lot more to writing than just having a great idea and getting the words out of your brain and onto paper (or into a computer as the case may be).

I get to read a lot of aspiring writers' pieces of work and I regularly see the same mistakes, which are often a sign of poor research. Just like anything else, if you want to be good at it you need to study it and work at it. I'm not saying you have to go to uni, but you should at a minimum be researching online, or trying to make it to conferences. (WriteOnCon is free and it's online so there's no excuse!)

But here's the top five newbie writer mistakes I see:


As a former journalist, I had correct dialogue formatted burnt into my frontal lobe by my uni lecturer  editor.

"I can't believe how often people dialogue wrong." She said.   WRONG!
"I know. It's crazy," he replied.  Right!

When you're using a verb for talking after the speech, it's still the same sentence so it needs a comma, not a full stop (period for those of you in the US) and if it's not a person's name then it's lower case for the next word.


I think when everyone starts out, we do a bit of telling. Especially if we're writing in a hurry. But we need to look for opportunities to use showing instead.

Bob's hair is brown and he doesn't brush it. Telling!

I resist the urge to reach out and sweep the clumps of unbrushed hair from Bob's eyes. Showing!

Mary Sue

Hello Mary Sue, how do you do? Still perfect? Still beautiful, but denying it. Still having "everything coming up Milhouse" for you?

If the character has no depth and flaws, then they will be uninteresting, uninspiring and flat.

Rushing queries

I've just finished this MS and it's the total bomb - time to query!

Stop it! You should revise yourself, get multiple Beta editors to have a squiz, workshop your query letter too - then maybe you'll be ready to query.

Writing to trends

If you write to something is hot now, remember, by the time you finish writing it the trend is probably on the decline and the chances of you getting picked up are low.

In saying that, you should also try to write the story that is in your heart. Listen to your muse. But always try to come up with a unique concept as the last thing you want is to be rejected because it's too similar to something on an agent's list or something on the bookshelves already.

Not listening to advice

I think by nature, most people who have a desire to write also have a personality that LOVES affirmation. That can make it hard for us to listen to constructive criticism *raises hand* and means that we can ignore advice because our pride is hurt, rather than looking at it constructively.

I've learnt to mill over advice for a couple of days if it doesn't ring true to me at first as it might be my ego getting in the way.

So, that's the top five things I've noticed with writing noobs. How about you? Got any stories from when you were a noob, or anything you've noticed. Let's share the wisdom.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Today is the release date of Kelley's Hushed!!

One of our awesome Yatopians has a book birthday today. Kelley York, author of Hushed is freaking out right now, and rightly so. Release day is a big dollop of excitement mixed with a side of fear.  But fear not, Kelley, Hushed is fantastic. CHECK IT OUT, GUYS!

You can buy the awesome Hushed at Barnes & Noble and Amazon! Go get your copy now.

Congrats, Kelley!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Degree or Not to Degree

Maggie Stiefvater, author extraordinaire, wrote a blog post today about creative writing degrees and the necessity of them in order to get published. Like all of her posts on writing, it's an interesting and great read, so if you'd like to read it you can find it HERE.

I have wanted to be a writer for quite some time. I may not have wanted to pursue it since the age of five, but as soon as I hit my teens it became a passion. This resulted in my desire to study writing and go to college for a creative writing degree. I figured if I'm going to pay money and spend another four years in school, I might as well study something I love and want to excel in. But do I think people need writing degrees to get published? No. I mean, look at me, I'm a published author and haven't even finished college! :-) What I do think is that people who wish to be writers should learn as much as they can about the written word and all the rules that go along with writing. You don't need to follow the rules (I think it's a requirement that authors break grammar rules, haha), but if you know them you can choose which ones you like and which ones you don't.

Now, as I move into my second semester of my sophomore year, I'm becoming less and less enthused by the idea of pursuing a creative writing degree. I don't want to have to worry about fulfilling my Social Sciences credits or about turning in that composition for Spanish. I certainly don't want to keep spending money on textbooks that are outrageously priced. I understand and appreciate the "need" to have a college degree, but at the same time I feel like degrees are lessening in value more and more.

What I want is to work at the bookstore more and interact with readers and aspiring writers. I want to read and read and read, and only stop to eat or go to the bathroom. I want to take photos and observe the world through both my camera lens and my own eyes, and take these observations and throw them in a story.

All I want to do is write and love what I write.

*Clarification: I whole-heartedly believe in the importance of having and receiving an education. Knowledge is one of the most important things in our world and it is invaluable. What I meant to say with this post is that for me, seeking a creative writing degree may not be what I actually want/need anymore. I'm actually looking into photography, journalism, and even web-design/marketing as possible routes :-) *

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Entangled Publishing Publicist Interview & Giveaway!

Blogger, writer, book reviewer, website owner and now a publicist with Entangled Publishing Stacey O'Neale knows the book industry from multiple angles. So let's get to know the woman who is a well recognized face on Twitter and in the Blogisphere.

I first found you on
Twitter and have enjoyed reading your blog and The YA Fantasy Guide. Would you tell us a bit about the YAFG?

Thanks! :-)

The YAFG is a website dedicated to books within the YA fantasy genre. The site features recommendations/reviews by category, author and literary agent interviews, articles for aspiring writers, and monthly contests/giveaways.

How did you get into this?

Two people actually inspired the YAFG. The first one was Simon Lipskar from Writer's House. I had a chance to attend a literary agent panel that included Simon. In case you don't know who he is - he's one of the best and most respected literary agents in the business. The panel was discussing writing platforms and someone in the audience had asked if a writer should have a blog and what amount of traffic would be impressive to an agent. Every agent said 5,000 hits per month then Simon said 10,000. Everyone laughed but I remember thinking that I wanted to create an online presence that would even impress someone like him.

A few weeks later, a friend was telling me that she was re-reading Twilight for the 5th time and I looked at her like she was insane. I couldn't understand why she would continue to read the same series when there are so many other books in that genre worth reading. I ended up running down a list of other vampire books that I thought she might like and that got my wheels turning. When I went online that night, I looked for a YA fantasy site that broke down books by favorite characters (faeries, mermaids, etc.) or subgenres (paranormal, urban, steampunk, etc.) and I couldn't find anything. That's pretty much when the YAFG was born.

In case you're wondering, the YAFG gets anywhere from 20,000-30,000 hits per month. If I ever meet Simon again I'll thank him. :-)

What are some of your favourite YA books/series and why?

LOL, how much time do you have?

It's easier for me to tell you authors I love versus books. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I love Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr. I'd buy an encyclopedia if one of those ladies wrote it. From Holly, I love the Tithe series and the Curse Workers series. Holly is a master world builder and probably my favorite writer period. From Cassie, I favor the Infernal Devices series a smidge over her Mortal Instruments series because I have a fetish for steampunk. Cassie's great for creating characters that can make you laugh, and two pages later, make you cry. I love Melissa's Wicked Lovely series. The world she created is so dark and sexy. It gets to a point where you don't even know who you're cheering for because each character is so multifaceted.

I also love to discover new blood and help them promote great new books. I was blown away by Tahereh Mafi when I read Shatter Me a few months ago. A few of the YA fantasy book/authors coming out of Entangled have really impressed me including Touch by Jus Accardo, Hushed by Kelley York, and Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout. Now that I think about it, I actually wrote an article about some of my favorite debuts from the beginning of 2011.
What gives you inspiration for posts?
I attend a ton of conferences and have taken a ton of writing courses. I've also had the opportunity to talk to some fantastic people within the publishing world like successful authors, editors, publicists, literary agents, etc. Usually, the inspiration comes from something I learned that I think might help someone else or something someone told me that helped them during their road to publication. Other times, the inspiration comes from something currently going on in the publishing world or a request from someone online. The post, "How to Get a Blogger to Review Your Book" was a request from a follower on twitter.

You are currently working on a novel that sounds like you'll soon be querying. Would you share with us your writing process?

I'm very organized. I'm not a writer who can just sit down and go without a plan. When I do that I get lost. I always spend weeks writing a detailed outline of each chapter before I start the actual writing process. I try to write everyday even if it's only one page. I prefer to write during the day and usually with some music playing in the background.
In terms of the book I'm writing now, I'm in the middle of revisions. I had the novel professional edited and they came back with a really good suggestion, but it has caused a major rewrite of my first six chapters. Ugh, but that's writing. Most people rewrite their novel several times before it's ready for a publisher to consider.

You are now a publicist with Entangled Publishing, who are publishing our very own YAtopian - Kelley York. What made you decide to apply for the position?
I'm actually Kelley's publicist. :-)
Two Reasons:
#1 - Liz Pelletier and the rest of the EP Staff
I've known of Liz for years because I'm a member of Savvy Authors. When I heard about Entangled Publishing I knew I wanted in. The quality of people involved in EP is extraordinary. The level of talent here has the ability to change the game as we know it. I believe we will remake the e-pub model.

#2 - The EP Authors

Before I started with EP, I had a chance to get a few of the ARC's on Netgalley and I was blown away. Our authors are really talented and it's just getting better and better. I'm like a little kid when I find out that I've been assigned another author. I can't wait to get started with them.

What does a typical day for a publishing publicist entail?
Lots and lots and lots of emails. Most of my time is spent organizing book tours so I spend a tremendous amount of time talking to bloggers which l love because bloggers rock! Think about it - people who love books so much that they create a blog to talk about them. What's not to love about that?
Juggling three jobs within the publishing industry is a tough task. What's your secret to success?
HAHA! Answer - Determination. I'm very competitive and I want to be a successful writer as much as I want to see the writers I represent on the bestsellers list. I love publishing and I feel so blessed that I'm able to make a career out of something I'm so passionate about.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Mermaids or Griffins - Mermaids
Steampunk or SciFi - Steampunk (this one is hard to answer because I also really love SciFi)
Cinema or DVD - Cinema
eBook, hardback or paperback - eBook
Pink or Blue - Blue

Stacey is giving away an e-copy of the YA paranormal, TOUCH, by Jus Accardo and the YA thriller, HUSHED, by Kelley York. Just comment on the post with what type of stories you’d like to see come out of Entangled, or want Entangled release are you hanging out for. The winner will be drawn at random.  Make sure you leave your name and email adress as well so we can let you know if you've won. Entries close December 8.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Must Reads

We just had Thanksgiving and it got me thinking about books and being thankful. If you're visiting this blog, you're obviously a book lover. Books give us SO much. I honestly can't imagine my life without reading. But there are books that are good and books that are incredible. Books that can be life-changing. Books that no matter how many times you've read them, they never get old. You can get something new from them with each read.

That's what I'm curious about today. What are your MUST READS? The fiction book that you think ALL YA readers should read (or adult book)?

Also, if you had to pick one book you're thankful for. A book that pulled you out of a hard time, that changed your life, helped you find your love of reading or writing. Whatever the reason may be, what is the one book you're thankful for?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Chemistry of Strange Fiction: Interview with Amanda Rutter

Last week, YA readers rejoiced at the announcement that Angry Robot is starting a sister imprint for lovers of teen fiction called Strange Chemistry. Launching in September 2012, Strange Chemistry will release five titles, and then a new book each month after that.

Taking the helm of this speculative fiction venture is editor and blogger Amanda Rutter. She took some time with me to talk about what readers can expect from Strange Chemistry and where she sees YA heading in the future.

Sharon: Would you tell us a bit about how the new imprint came into being?

Amanda: Well… Over the last two years, Angry Robot has become more and more recognized for producing very high quality SFF novels – and Marc Gascoigne (being the head honcho and all-round Robot Overlord) started to think about how to achieve world domination in this particular market! In actuality, he saw the massive impact that YA fiction has had, and the superb novels that are being published in this arena already, and figured that it would be a brilliant direction for Angry Robot to move into. He had discussions and meetings with various important people, who agreed that YA was a natural progression for the company, and the result is Strange Chemistry.

Sharon: What type of book submissions are you hoping to come over your desk?

Amanda: The very best in Science Fiction& Fantasy YA, of course! In all seriousness, I am hoping for novels that showcase strong protagonists (both male and female) and explore the issues and themes that concern teens. I would like to see more science fiction oriented submissions. I think we’ve seen a healthy mix of fantasy, horror, dystopia and romance within YA, but where are all the robots and spaceships? If I could introduce more teens, via YA science fiction novels, to fantastic adult authors such as Peter F Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds, I would be more than happy.

Sharon: Strange Chemistry is currently only open to submissions via an agent. Will Strange Chemistry have an 'Open Door Month' like Angry Robots?

Amanda: I hope so! I am in discussions with Marc and Lee about what form their Open Door Month will take in 2012, and whether the YA will be directly included in that or whether we’ll do it completely separately. After the wonderful success of the AR Open Door Month, it really appeals to me to reach out to all those unagented YA authors who potentially have brilliant novels that we can publish.

Sharon: Do you have any books already in the works for the Strange Chemistry imprint?

Amanda: I’m afraid I can’t reveal too much at this stage, thanks to discussions going on behind the scenes and contracts being negotiated, but I can say that I have read some WONDERFUL manuscripts and I’m so excited about bringing more information about these first few titles to you as soon as I am able! The quality has been amazing so far.
Strange Chemistry Editor: Amanda Rutter
Sharon: Tell us a bit about your background and how that helped you land this gig?

Amanda: As the press release for Strange Chemistry mentioned, I have been a blogger for a few years now (on my personal blog Floor to Ceiling Books; on as a contributor to the Malazan re-read; and on Fantasy Literature as a guest reviewer). I also took on a freelance editing gig with Morrigan Books, and was one of the organizers of the Genre for Japan appeal. Basically, I took every opportunity to be a part of the brilliant SFF community, since fantasy and science fiction have always been an interest of mine. During that period, I have had contact a number of times with Marc and Lee – for instance, Angry Robot was one of the first publishers to commit auction lots to Genre for Japan. Interestingly, I do believe it was a negative review of an Angry Robot book that first brought me to their attention, which just goes to show that negative reviews can be useful! I think the real clincher in the role being offered to me was the opportunity I took to become a reader for the AR Open Door Month. I spent a great deal of my own time reading through over half of the 994 submitted manuscripts, and I believe this demonstrated my passion and commitment. It doesn’t hurt that I am a massive advocate of YA novels! In the SFF field, I fear that the role of YA novels is still not entirely understood, and so I welcome the chance to make real connections between those who read SFF and those who read YA. It will be fantastic to see younger readers of Strange Chemistry novels move onto adult SFF novels!

Sharon: You're well known in the blogging community, are you going to feature blogging as part of Strange Chemistry?

Amanda: Definitely! I have already published a post to the Strange Chemistry website, detailing how the imprint was named. In the future, I have plans to blog about the process of picking submitted novels and details about the day-to-day job of being an editor. I will also be showcasing interviews and reviews with Strange Chemistry authors through the website. Most of all, I will be looking to connect with YA bloggers and readers, and inviting them to contribute to the Strange Chemistry website. I want it to be fully interactive! 

Sharon: Is there anything else readers and authors need to know about Strange Chemistry?

Amanda: Basically, Strange Chemistry aims to bring the YA market fantastic books through a variety of exciting mediums. We are embracing the eBook revolution, we are recognizing that bloggers have voices that should be heard in the championing of excellent books, and we are intending to introduce more people to the progressiveness of YA fiction.

Sharon: Where do you see the YA publishing industry heading over the next few years?

Amanda: I see it as a time of great excitement and turbulence. The increasing numbers of people who are using eReaders makes this a fascinating period in the publishing industry. In terms of YA specifically, I believe there will be more award recognition for sterling works (after the success of such authors as Patrick Ness); I think even more adult publishers will look to move into the YA market; and I think there will be an ever-increasing adult readership. Personally, I’m hoping for another massive series (like Twilight or The Hunger Games) to make a splash and lead the YA market in a new direction – it would be even better if Strange Chemistry were to publish it!

Sharon: What creatures and themes would you like to see more of in YA writing?

Amanda: I’m more of a themes person than a creature person. Themes can embrace various different settings, situations and characters, and allow great freedom in publishing. We’ve seen a lot of novels carrying themes such as eternal love, survival, and growing into adult roles – I would love to see now themes such as optimism and hope for the future. The world has become such a dangerous and depressing place that I think YA fiction should provide some escapism. Not to the point of ignoring the fact it is happening, but allowing teens to see that there might be a way out.

I would also like to see fairytales embraced as a means of telling a story. Authors such as Charles de Lint and Robert Holdstock have used this to great effect (in fact, Charles de Lint has also written some novels in the YA arena as well), and I would like to see more of this.
Rapid Fire Questions:

Cats or dogs CATS!

Ghosts or Aliens ALIENS!

E-book, hard back or paperback PAPERBACK!

Salad or veggies SALAD!

Unicorns or centaurs CENTAURS!

You can subscribe via email or follow them on Twitter to keep up to date on Strange Chemistry's news.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Don't Give Up - Unless That's What You Want

Maybe it's the stress of the holidays, but I've seen a lot of writers talking about calling it quits lately. Maybe I shouldn't be so upset by this, seeing as how they're my competition and all, but I can't help myself.

If you want to give up because you genuinely don't enjoy writing any more? OK. That's a good reason to quit. If you want to be an author only because you want to make money, PLEASE go ahead and quit.

But if it's because you got another rejection, heard a published author complain about how hard the industry is, got a bad critique?

If writing is what you truly want to do, if you get a kick out of creating characters you love and putting them through the worst crap possible before they get to their happy (or not) ending, if you know your life wouldn't be the same without writing, if you have something that needs said - Don't Quit. 

Yeah, it's hard. Yeah, we have to suffer quite a bit of rejection before we get a yes. Yeah, not everyone will like everything we write. Sometimes we won't even like what we write. Maybe you need to take a break, but (again: if it's something you truly want to do) don't pack it in all together.

What would our literary world be like if JK Rowling had decided it was too hard? If Shakespeare had buckled to peer pressure and locked his writing away? If Jane Austen believed them when they told her a woman shouldn't write? Aren't you glad they didn't quit? You'll soon be glad that you didn't either.

Have you been thinking about quitting? How do you handle it when you think "maybe it's not worth it?"