When a Writer Doesn't Want to Write

I experienced something for the first time this year. 

After turning in my second book to my editor, I found that I didn't want to write. Oh, I get lazy once in a while. Choosing to watch an episode of The Vampire Diaries or stalking Ian Somerhalder on Twitter instead of opening that Word document. But something about this was different, and I knew it. I had finished a contracted manuscript, there was still some summer left, and there was all this time to start something new. And I didn't. Because when I thought about beginning a new project, I came up with a complete and blinding blank.

It was a sensation that was worrying and awful, because ever since I could pick up a pen - or, in my case, a marker - I have been writing. I have had ideas. I have had this almost overwhelming need to create stories and get words down into something palpable. This August, though, I closed Microsoft Word and it stayed closed. There was utterly no desire to try again. 

It led to sleepless nights and anxious messages to my fellow Lucky 13 members. Was I the only one dealing with this? Was it permanent? Had I finally run out of creative juices? Writing may not define me as a person, but up until that point it had been a huge part in who I was. Without it, I felt lost. Yet something kept me from actually doing it. Some part of me may have sought distractions, in new hobbies and spending time with friends and working.

Well, that's good, isn't it? someone might ask. Actually, yes, it was. Because I had been so consumed with finishing book two, these were things I hadn't done much of for weeks. Maybe months. I realize this makes writing sound like soul-sucking work. Honestly, some days, it can be. I've talked before about how grateful I am and how amazing it is to have a publisher. But with this comes the point where you don't get to write just when you feel like it or when inspiration hits, you write because your deadline is coming up and you have to make it.

So there I was, weeks of summer left. Normally I would seize this time and hurry to finish another manuscript before school started. Instead, I did everything but. After a while, the guilt and the fear got tiring, and I let it go.

Eventually I did figure it out. There wasn't an exact date or time that the answer occurred to me. It came gradually, in pieces and parts and feelings. I returned to the laptop and typed a few words. I did it again a few days later. And a few days after that. And now it's October and I'm so excited about a manuscript that I'm over halfway through. 

So why didn't I want to write? What was the big answer? Simple: I was tired.

That's it. There was no deeper meaning to my lack of desire to write. I had put everything I had into book two and I was a battery that needed recharging. Maybe writers are prone to panic, or maybe it's just a select few of us. Several other of my fellow Lucky 13 friends felt the same way. So if I learned anything in all this, one lesson over the summer, it's that writers need breaks. We feel like we should be constantly creating or striving for a word count or typing "the end". And most months out of the year, that's true. If we go a stretch of time where we just watch TV and binge with friends, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There should be no guilt. We are human, and though we are writers, it shouldn't be everything. It shouldn't suck us dry. It could be about balance, or it could be about taking that much-needed break.

And now I'm off to have lunch with some friends. Have a great week, everyone!

Trying to Do Everything

As a debut author, it's my first instinct to say yes. To every single interview, all the guest post requests, each and every giveaway. As a new writer with a new book, in a flood of well-established writers and books, I want to get SOME QUIET PLACE out there as much as possible. Which is why it was a hard-learned lesson, the fact that I can't do everything.

Sometimes we have to say no.

For a few weeks, it was chaos. I was attempting to respond to anyone mentioning me on Twitter, trying to say "yes" to all those e-mails, and all the while juggling school and work and having a life beyond my laptop. Then there was BEA and signings. Near the end of my trip, everything sort of buried me, and I cried. Actually cried. 

This may seem dramatic or, frankly, idiotic. "Why not just say no in the beginning, or when things got to be too much?" you might be asking. Honestly, I have been. It was hard and I hate disappointing anyone, but it's necessary. I came to the realization that - though it's important to be available and get exposure for the book - there needs to be a limit. There needs to be time for me to actually write the next book and maybe watch a Vampire Diaries rerun. There needs to be time for Kelsey the person, along with Kelsey the author. Don't get me wrong, I adore being both. At separate times, simultaneously, every day. It's when I forgot to pause and take a breath that things got gnarly.

So if you did send me a request, and I turned you down, I do apologize. It didn't feel good to say no. But it was right. Because when we try to do everything, we end up wanting to do nothing. And that's not fun for anyone. 

Cross-posted from The Secret Life of Writers.

Happy Birthday, SOME QUIET PLACE

This is the day I've been working towards ever since I was, oh, maybe five years old. Even then, I was writing stories. Granted, the handwriting was horrible and the plot was pretty much nonexistent, but I kept at it. And now, all these years later, I can walk into a Barnes & Noble and find a story I actually wrote on the shelf. It's an overwhelming feeling, seeing that. Surreal and wonderful and terrifying all at once. I won't tell you guys about my path to publication - it's been told so many times before - so I'll just leave you with this:

Don't give up on your dreams. Even when it seems like it's never going to happen, it's just too far out of reach, keep going. Keep fighting and hoping and believing that something amazing will occur and the impossible is possible. Because something like this could come out of it.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them in human form. Longing hovers around the shy, adoring boy at school. Courage materializes beside her dying friend. Fury and Resentment visit her abusive home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, except beautiful Fear, who sometimes torments her and other times plays her compassionate savior. He’s obsessed with finding the answer to one question: What happened to Elizabeth to make her this way?

They both sense that the key to Elizabeth’s condition is somehow connected to the paintings of her dreams, which show visions of death and grief that raise more questions than answers. But as a shadowy menace begins to stalk her, Elizabeth’s very survival depends on discovering the truth about herself. When it matters most, she may not be able to rely on Fear to save her.


Starred Review

“Haunting, chilling and achingly romantic.”—

Kirkus Reviews

 (starred review)

"An utterly original, compelling story—with maybe the most irresistible love interest of all."—

Claudia Gray, 

New York Times

bestselling author of the Evernight series

"...teens will find this a haunting and fresh psychological thriller."—

Publishers Weekly

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Review and Author Interview With J.J. Howard on THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS

Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose. A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake - and facing a terrible tragedy - Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. 

Rumor has it that Lexi's mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn't there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus's fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi's ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it's Lexi's own future that's thrown into question.

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

A few weeks ago I was at the bookstore, and I bought THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS because, admittedly, I was so captivated by the cover. I brought it home and put it on the to-read pile. It was one of the first books I decided to dive into. And I'm so glad I did, guys. This book is so well-written. Lexi is a main character you can relate to, cheer for, mourn and celebrate with. The circus setting is enchanting and captivating. And everything that happens within the story resonated with me. By the time I turned the last page, I may have cried once or twice.

So of course I had to have the author of this fabulous book stop by the blog. Without further ado, J.J. Howard. Thank you so much for your time and awesomeness, J.J.!

Tell us a little about your writing process!

Headphones and the project playlist help me tune out the world, although lately I’ve been experimenting with Pandora, because I need some new music! I go for a walk when I’m stuck and need a plot idea—it usually works.

What was the hardest part of writing THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS?

The circus setting itself was the biggest challenge, because I’ve never actually joined the circus myself! The book also goes back and forth in time from the present to the recent past. I didn’t have any trouble the first time or so through, but once you get in to really revising, it becomes harder to make sure everything fits together.

And (of course) how did you come up with the idea for this story?

I think I may have a pretty contemporary voice—but I am also very attracted to magic and fantasy elements in stories. The circus seemed like one of the most magical places you can go and still be in the real world.

How many stories did you write before you finished this one?

I finished a non-YA book—it’s very long and took about four years to write. It was amazing practice, but I also still plan to revisit it at some point! It’s a historical mystery—so that one called for a lot of research.

What was your journey to publication like?

Long! In all seriousness, it was pretty long. I started writing my first book in 1996. I put writing and querying aside for a number of years at one point, but when you turn and look backwards it still seems like a pretty long road. I didn’t take the traditional road, either (which is pretty typical of me!) I sold CIRCUS and then got an agent. I like to say I have this habit of doing things backwards.

What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?

Just the pure writing the story—the first time through. It’s so much fun to see where the characters take you. My favorite part of that is “mushroom” characters—it’s an analogy Diana Gabaldon (one of my favorite writers) uses. They are the characters who pop up out of nowhere and take over the plot! 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t know if I’m at the advice for other writers stage of the game ;) –but if there are any young writers out there wondering if they can do it, I say—if you have the urge, you probably can! People who love stories are going to read stories. Read a lot of excellent books by other people and then write. A lot. Write whatever you want without worrying about who will read it. Just like playing a musical instrument, you learn by practicing.  

What is your favorite quote, and why is it your favorite?

Oh, wow—I’m a quote maniac! That’s really hard. One of my all-time favorites is Hamlet’s line “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” It’s just so incredibly true that it’s almost upsetting!

Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?

I don’t have anything official—but I have written two more books, and they’re both contemporary YA. So fingers—and toes—are firmly crossed!

J.J. Howard is wearing headphones right now, most likely. She grew up in York, Pennsylvania, obsessed with music, movies, television, and pop culture. You can call her if you ever need to phone a friend for trivia on any of the above topics, but don't ask about sports, because she is hopeless at those (along with math). J.J. graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in English and Tiffin University with an MH in Humanities. She has been some of her students' favorite English teacher for a quite a few years (she even has a mug somewhere to prove it). That Time I Joined the Circus is her first young adult novel. J.J. would love to hear from her readers and is always ready to trade playlists:


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Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

I was recently e-mailing with one of my friends, and it came up in the conversation that she felt things seemed so easy for authors once they have a book deal. Which I completely understand. It really does appear that way most of the time, doesn't it? Once a writer gets the ball rolling, it's like they have three more books coming out in the next few years. 

But the truth is, not everything is perfect behind the curtain. 

Because we can't blog about our specific problems or tweet for advice, authors often go to each other. Sometimes it's to vent, other times it's to find a solution. What problems could these possibly be, you ask? Honestly, I've seen a variety of them. Authors whose second book wasn't accepted by their publisher, authors who were stressing about deadlines, authors who wished they had a better relationship with their editors. Of course, these may seem like good problems to have. But to the author who's tearing her hair out and losing sleep, it's just as serious as getting another agent rejection. 

I've already blogged about my own difficulties in getting a book deal. Maybe it seems like everything is perfect now. Which, okay, I'm pretty happy with everything that's going on in my life. However, there have still been difficulties. No one knows that I sent my agent an entire manuscript - I'd worked on it for months, and it was a monster at over 100,000 words - and she ultimately helped me see that it just wasn't working. Since then I've dived into other projects and moved on, but at the time, it was so hard to give up. 

See, authors don't usually share things like that.

It's not always sunshine and rainbows, whatever it looks like. Sometimes it rains.

The purpose of this post isn't to whine, or seek sympathy. It may even seem unfair to those who are still struggling in the query or submission trenches. The simple purpose of this post is to assure - if that's the right word - my friend and all of you that even after the dreams come true, there are battles. Authors don't write flawless manuscripts and have a deal within days. It's hard work. Always, continually, constantly. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don't.

Just like that time we sent out a single query, and that one agent replied with those terrifying-wonderful words. 

I want more.

Interview with Author Carly Anne West: The Murmurings

I recently stumbled across a book on Goodreads. First the cover caught my eye, and then I read the summary. It was the first time I ever looked up the author and e-mailed her instantly. I need to do an interview, I said. Not want, you guys. Need. That's how excited I am about this book. And Carly Anne forever cemented a friendship with me by being obliging and even offering me a copy of the book. Which, rest assured, you will be hearing about sometime in the near future.

And onto the interview! Thank you so much for doing this, Carly!

Carly Anne West is a freelance writer with an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College. She lives with her husband and son in Seattle, Washington. Visit her at

So of course I have to ask you how you came up with the premise for THE MURMURINGS.

I'll just put it out there: I lived in a haunted apartment. It wasn't a possession/poltergeist type of thing, but yeah, I heard murmurings. I dismissed it the first time it happened, but then the same thing happened to my husband the next morning. We each thought we were imagining it, so when he told me what had happened to him, I shared my experience, too. 

It was this weird sort of indistinguishable muttering or mumbling, and it only happened in this particular place in the apartment. It was around that same place that my cats would sort of freak out. They wouldn't go near that area of the living room (near a closet), and if they did venture in that direction, often they would back away really slowly with their ears back, and then they'd dash off. I heard and felt various things over the three years we lived there, and when we finally moved away, the property manager confirmed that other tenants had reported the same thing. It might have been nice to have that info prior to signing the lease, but hey, I got a book out of it!

That is so... cool. Oh my gosh. Best inspiration story ever.

What was the most difficult part about writing it?

Besides scaring myself? Let's see. Well, anytime I've ever written a story that involved an element of mystery, it's required a significant amount of revision. Clues need to be planted like little seeds throughout the story, and continuity is critical. You don't want to reveal too much too soon, yet you need to be conscious of pacing throughout. It's a labor of love for sure! It helps that I really enjoy a good scare, so I try to make sure the reader gets the same experience.  

Oh, I know what you mean with revisions. I'm sure you did a fantastic job, and I can't wait to be terrified!

Along that vein, I'd love to know more about your writing process! How long it took you to finish the first draft, do you outline, any habits or quirks you have, etc. 

My process has varied depending upon the project. For THE MURMURINGS, I honestly can't count the number of revisions. I started writing it as an adult novel while I was in grad school, but after setting it aside for some time, I returned to the book and realized that it was screaming to be YA. Once I changed that direction and embraced the temptation I had all along to move in the horror direction, things started to come together. 

I've tried both outlining and writing by whatever scene seemed to be calling to me on that particular day. For me, I think it helps to start with a character - my protagonist - and let her/him tell me a little story. Once I understand that struggle, I can usually form at least a loose outline (or timeline, or sketch). By no means do I adhere to that outline. It usually changes a billion times before I've reached the end of the story. But it helps me to at least see the trajectory. 

As far as habits ... especially when I'm writing an intense or scary scene, I get up and pace around every twenty minutes or so. I'm sort of a fidgety writer. I also munch a lot, so it would be wise for me to keep more carrots handy.

Outlines. Sigh. And maybe I should try the pacing; it certainly wouldn't hurt the waistline, considering how many snacks I scarf down. Yes. Carrots. We should eat those. After I finish this chocolate bar.

Have you always been a writer?

I guess I have! I might have denied that until recently. I was over at my parents' house, and my niece asked me to read her a book. I told her to pull a book from the shelf behind us, and she brought me "Susan and the Old Johnson House." Construction paper and plastic binder-bound, it was a book I wrote in fifth grade as part of a semester-long writing project for English, complete with illustrations and an author's bio (and my fifth grade class picture, crimped hair and all). It was, of course, a haunted house story. I had completely forgotten about it, and obviously I was really into this story at the time of its authorship because that thing was long. I started going hoarse when I was reading it and tried to skip some pages, but my niece caught on. Apparently, she's familiar with the story. So yes, since at least the fifth grade, I have been a writer.

I used to do the same thing! So cute. Clearly you were meant to write something scary.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do not, under any circumstances, give up. Ever ever ever. The writing industry is full of rejection, but that's the case with a lot of industries. If you want it, work hard at your craft, read a ton, follow the authors you admire, and keep putting yourself out there. Someone will say yes, and there's an agent/editor/reader out there for you.

Very true. Couldn't have said it better.

I'm always curious about the submission process. Care you share the experience of your sale?

The day I found out about it is a pretty great story. I was working at my office job in San Francisco, and I knew my agent was shopping the book. I have an awesome, awesome agent (Steven Chudney) who is really good about keeping his clients posted on the latest and greatest when it comes to their manuscripts during the submission process. Well, he was getting ready to head out of town for a book fair but emailed me to ask if he could touch base before he left. He made it sound like it would be a housekeeping type of call, tying up loose ends, etc. 

So when he called, I just grabbed an empty conference room on my floor and sat down for what I thought would be a pretty standard chat. He started the conversation by going over the feedback and responses he'd received, and then he got to Simon Pulse. I was still pretty lax about the conversation because I thought he was going to tell me we were still waiting. And then he says "And Carly, they loved it! They'd like to make an offer!" I think my first response was "Wait, what?" Then I told him I thought I was going to pass out, to which he kindly asked that I not because he had some important details yet to discuss with me. 

At the time, I was actually pregnant, but Steven didn't know (actually, nobody outside of my family knew), so I really did start to feel a little woozy. After I thanked him so much for the call, he told me I could make it up to him by naming my first-born after him. A few weeks later, I told him I was pregnant. Meanwhile, the day he told me, I was trying to keep my voice down while I was in the conference room, as it was right next to the offices of a couple of high ranking folks at the company. 

I'm pretty sure I didn't succeed there. I got some looks.

Love this. Your agent sounds like he was messing with you! So I assume your child's name is Steven? Haha.

I see you have a book coming out in 2014, as well. Can you tell us anything about it?

Ha! A girl has to keep some secrets! I promise to make it worth the wait. It's another spooky one, though.

Sigh. Well, I tried.

About the book

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

Guest Post by Author Nick James: Writing a Sequel vs. Writing the Follow-up

When I was first working on the manuscript that would eventually become Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars, I knew from the start that the story I wanted to tell was too big for only one book. In fact, halfway through the draft, I’d determined that the series would have to be a trilogy - very much a beginning, a middle and an end. The struggle, then, was to make the first book stand on its own in order to interest agents and publishers. Luckily, when the manuscript did find a publisher, I signed a two-book deal, which meant that at least two thirds of my trilogy was secured. 

When it came to writing the sequel, Crimson Rising, I approached the book thinking that it was going to be much easier to finish than the first. I mean, I’d already established the world and characters. I’d mapped out the overarching story, at least generally. I knew much more than I did coming into that first book. It should be easy, right?

Well, I was selling the process short. I’ve learned now, having written both the second and third in the trilogy, that it really only gets more challenging. That’s not to say that the process is unpleasant, because there are so many upsides, but it was, for me, a very different process than The Pearl Wars.

It seems like so many series, both in print and on screen, take a nosedive with that second installment. I did not want to be one of those series, which meant I not only had to match the quality of the first book, but I had to surpass it. This was a constant goal (and sometimes bane) when I was writing Crimson Rising. I wanted to include everything that made the first book great, but make it bigger, tighter and more rewarding for the reader. I also didn’t want to repeat myself. I’d already pulled readers into the world of Skyship Academy with the first book, so there wasn’t that initial hook available to me anymore. I needed to do something a little different--take things in a new direction while still moving the overarching story forward. 

Okay, great… right? It all sounded so easy in my head, but the practice of it was a constant struggle to one-up myself, develop my characters further, and add to the mythos of the universe that I’d created. Luckily, the ending of The Pearl Wars gave me a great jumping off point. For those of you who have read the first book, you'll know that the ending adds a philosophical/moral undertone to the series that wasn't necessarily there before. I definitely wanted to explore that and go a little bit "darker" in the second book. 

Going in, I also knew that while the first book was a lot of necessary build-up, Crimson Rising would blow things wide open. It would start off with a bang and keep going full-throttle from there. That’s what really kept me going. When I think of sequels that really worked, I always go back to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Not a book, I know, but to me it’s really a beacon of what it looks like to improve upon an original in the sci-fi world. This was a huge inspiration in the crafting of this book and something that I kept returning to. Having that inspiration was a great help.

I could never pick a favorite between the first two books in the Skyship Academy trilogy, but I can say that those who enjoyed the more action-oriented parts of The Pearl Wars will love Crimson Rising. Now onto the third and final entry! And here’s an exclusive preview: take everything I just wrote and multiply it times three. Now there's a challenge!

Nick can be found on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also e-mail him if you have more burning questions about the Skyship Academy trilogy!

When he was a young boy, Nick James’ collection of battle-scarred action figures became the characters in epic storylines with cliffhangers, double crosses and an unending supply of imaginary explosions. Not much has changed. The toys are gone (most of them), but the love of fast-paced storytelling remains. Working in schools from Washington State to England, Nick has met thousands of diverse students since graduating from Western Washington University and braving the most dangerous job in the world: substitute teaching. Luckily, being dubbed the “rock star teacher” has granted him some immunity. He currently lives and teaches in Bellingham, Washington.

Buy Nick's books on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Crimson Rising Blog Tour Schedule

9/10 The Busy Bibliophelic: This or That With Nick James 
9/11 The Readinista: Review 
9/12 Kelsey Sutton: Guest Blog
9/13 The Book Cellar: Interview 
9/14 Kindle and Me: This or That
9/15 Death, Books & Tea: Interview 
9/18 The Mod Podge Bookshelf: Giveaway 
9/20 Coffee, Books & Me: Giveaway 
9/21 Books, Sweets & Other Treats: Interview 
9/22 Fire & Ice: Interview & Giveaway 
9/23 Joyous Books: Shelf Envy 
9/26 A Little Bit Of R&R: Review 
9/27 The Book Smugglers: Guest Blog 
9/28 I Am A Reader, Not A Writer: Guest Blog & Giveaway 

Interview with YA Writer Chantele Sedgwick

Today I'm excited to introduce you all to YA writer Chantele Sedgwick. Chantele and I met in the blogosphere and my favorite thing about her is how supportive she is. We're lucky to have her as a part of the community!

From Chantele's bio: I am a wife, mother of three silly kids, a harp player and an avid reader of books. I enjoy reading and writing YA fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal. I'm repped by Uwe Stender at TriadaUS Literary.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Kelsey! I love your blog! I'm a stay-at-home-mom to three cute kids and I've been married 8 years to the love of my life. I've played the harp for a very long time, love to sing alone or with my sisters and I can play the piano a little, but not really well.

I've always wanted to play the harp. I'm a piano girl, myself. Hey, maybe we can give each other lessons!

2. Are you allowed to tell us anything about your book?

It's about a teenage guy who gets stuck being a fairy godmother for his last assignment at the Academy of Magical Beings. He has to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl to get his diploma and become a Sandman. There is humor, some mystery and a little bit of love!

What a unique premise! Can't wait to get my hands on it...

3. Have you always wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you remember writing?

Actually, no. I've always had stories in my head but never thought about writing them down until high school. I think the first story I wrote was about a bunch of high school kids stuck in a cabin with a bear trying to break in and eat them. Yes. I was very creative back then, haha.

Love it!

4. Will you share something about your writing style? Music, plotter/pantser, etc.

I used to write in complete silence, but having 3 kids and a hubby who likes to watch movies really loud I've had to adapt to noise. I love writing to music. It gets my creativity moving. Movie scores are the best to write to. As for how I write, I'm a total pantser. I do outline a little, but never the whole book. I know what I want to happen before I start writing my books, but things always change as I go along. I wish I could plot a little more, but I've gotten used to the fact that pantsing is just how I roll.

Don't worry, I'm a pantser too. And I love movie soundtracks; Lord of the Rings is the best.

5. What do you do when you are not writing?

Chase kids around most of the time! Read if I can. And I love watching movies with my hubby.

6. What was the last book you read?

Witch Song by Amber Argyle. Loved.

7. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Never give up. Truly. And write because you love it. You have to be the first one to love and believe in your work. If you can do that, you'll make it someday.

8. How did you find your agent?

I found him on querytracker. He was in the very last batch of agents I queried. He called me two days after I sent it to offer representation! Again, never give up!

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla all the way!
Sweet or spicy? Sweet. Although I do like a little spice in life.
Dogs or cats? I'm a dog person.
It's been great having you on the blog today, Chantele. For those of you who would like to stalk get to know this lady even better, Chantele can be found on her blog or on Twitter.

Interview with YA Writer Monica B.W.

For those of you who haven't met her yet, I have here today - for the first time! - Monica B.W. Monica is a YA writer represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Lit. Thanks for stopping by, Mon!

Oh, thank YOU for thinking about me! I feel honored to be here, on your blog. =)

Tell us a little about your awesome self.

Geez, I’m not sure about the awesome part, but I’ll still tell you about me.

I’m a YA fiction writer, represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary. I live in Chile with my hubby, my three little boys, and a bunch of hens.

Are you allowed to tell us anything about your book?

Sure! The book my agent signed me with is about a girl who has uncontrolled out-of-body experiences, and she has to find her mom’s soul, which has gone MIA.

(This sounds amazing! Can't wait to read it...)

Have you always wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you remember writing?

Ha! No. When I was like 20, I had NO idea I’d want to be an author. In fact, I studied business.

The first thing I remember writing was a short Christmas story for a little contest in a newspaper or something. I think I did it because I was bored. I don’t even remember if I participated in the end or not.

Will you share something about your writing style? Music, plotter/pantser, etc.

I can’t hear music when writing. I get highly distracted.

I’m a plotter, and sometimes I’d like to be a pantser, since that way characters surprise you. (I love when characters surprise me!)

Some days, I can’t write a word if I don’t have a pack of cookies by my side.

(This is me when it comes to coffee.)

What do you do when you are not writing?

Besides reading? Playing or doing homework with my kids, or chauffeuring them. And feeding my hens!

During the weekends, we do stuff with my hubby, like visiting my in-laws or going on picnics.

What was the last book you read?

Fury by Elizabeth Miles.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Ask yourself this question before doing anything: What would love do?

(I like that! It's something I haven't heard before.)

Speed round questions!

Choclate or vanilla? I’d like to say chocolate. Sounds more bad-assy? But I’m a vanilla girl. ;)

Sweet or spicy? Are you kidding? SWEET! 100000 times!

Dogs or cats? Oh, cats. I love cats. When I was little, I wanted to have a cat, but my dad hates cats, and that’s why he said no. So I thought, “Okay, I’ll have plenty of cats when I grow up.” Turns out my hubby’s allergic. So, you know, I’ve never had a cat =(

Isn't she great, guys? Monica can be found on her blog, her website, and on Twitter. She's so nice she'll respond to pretty much anything, even if it's random or even a little strange.

Guest Post by Author Eileen Cook: What I Know

In interviews I’m often asked what I know now about writing/publishing that I didn’t know before I sold my first book. I can’t tell if I should be flattered that there is the feeling that I now know what I’m doing, or be distressed that they figured out I didn’t know what I was doing before.

Things I Know:

I can’t tell you how to be published: This isn’t because I’m holding out on you, but rather because there isn’t one way. Every writer has to make their own journey, some will take years to reach their goal and another will have success immediately. Don’t stress about how you compare to others, keep your eye on your own target.

You will never please everyone: You’ll never make every reader happy. JK Rowling could collaborate with Jane Austen, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and Hemmingway there would still be someone who would post a review on Amazon that said “Meh, wasn’t that great.” If your goal is to make everyone love you and your writing, you will end up swilling bourbon in between periods of beating your head on the desk.

Use your team: Surround yourself with smart, positive people and then listen to them. Your agent, editor, critique group, and your entire publishing team (sales, marketing, booksellers, etc) can provide you with guidance, support, and kick you in the ass when you need it. Appreciate the time and effort they give you and say thank you. Smart people know they don’t know everything and aren’t afraid to ask questions.

Remember this is your career: Yes, always listen to advice, but don’t forget this is your career. Educate yourself on what is happening in the business. Read your contracts and royalty statements and make sure you understand them. Don’t complain that others aren’t doing enough to promote your career, ask yourself what else you can be doing.

You can always do better: Is your next book your best? Are you still trying to learn more about your craft? Do you push yourself to do your best? Don’t your readers deserve that? Don’t you deserve that? What I love best about writing is that there is always more to learn.

It’s about the writing: There are a million things that can’t be controlled in publishing, but you can control the writing. Make sure writing is your priority. Remember that writing is supposed to be fun. Is there anything better than creating an imaginary world, filling it with people, and then making it come alive? This is the best job in the world and the one thing I know for certain is that I never want to forget how fortunate I am to be doing it.

Happy Writing!

Eileen Cook