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Guest Post by Author Liz Coley: The Six C’s

It’s not unusual for someone, especially an aspiring writer, to pick up a book in the store and say, “I can write better than that! How come I’m not published?” 

That aspirant is looking at only one of vital C’s of authorship—CRAFT. Writing craft, like pottery or painting, is a skill learned through study, apprenticeship, and practice. Developing facility with words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and story arcs requires a combination of observation, book learning, constructive criticism, and day after day effort. It’s been said that you have to spew a million words of junk before you become a writer or spend 10,000 hours, the usual threshold for expertise. It’s true that strong writing craft is (usually) necessary to becoming a published author, but it’s not sufficient.

COMMUNITY is the second C. Although putting words on paper/screen usually takes place in isolation, it’s essential to join the larger community of writers. First, they understand what you are going through—goals, dreams, setbacks, frustrations, triumphs, etc. In your journey to publication, you’ll need shoulders to cry on and palms to high five (either in person or over the internet). Other writers, whether behind or ahead of you, are qualified to help you improve your own work through thoughtful feedback. And beyond that, they will link you to opportunities—calls for manuscripts, speaking gigs, drinks with an agent or editor at conferences, and eventually guest blogs about your work.

COMMITMENT is the third C. I mentioned the proverbial million words. I mentioned the daunting ten thousand hours. We’re talking years. Besides committing to putting in the time (butt in chair), you need to commit to putting in the dollars to attend conferences, and you need to commit to putting yourself out there for hurt feelings and rejection. I had a writing workshop instructor/role model who set himself the goal of getting 500 rejections. That’s serious commitment.

Originally, I thought those three C’s covered it, until I realized there were more indespensible elements along the route to publication.

Number four: CORRECTIVE LENSES. And by this, I mean you need to have a sustaining vision of why you are putting yourself through this long apprenticeship and where you hope to end up. Corrective emotional lenses will help you see a rejection letter as proof that you finished something and sent it out. You’ll see that form “no thanks” letter with a handwritten positive comment as a huge win—someone has taken an interest in you. You’ll see the “not quite, but do send me something else” as a badge of success for you as a writer instead of a failure for that particular story.

Number five: CHOCOLATE is an absolute requirement—or whatever rewards you give yourself. External rewards from the industry are few and far between. You have to compensate by rewarding yourself—for trying, for losing, for winning. Just for showing up to your blank screen. Just for putting a query in the mail. This is the one case where everyone who plays deserves a trophy. I had a deal with a writer friend that whoever had the most recent rejection was treated to lunch by the other one. Talk about an incentive to submit!

Finally, the sixth C is COFFEE, figuratively speaking. You’ll need to develop ways to recharge a tired soul. It takes a lot of energy to get started in writing, a lot of energy to keep going, and even more energy to break in. And after that? Well, it takes a ton of energy to see it all the way through to the day your first book hits the shelves.

Carpe diem. C’s the day.

As a preteen, Liz Coley was hooked on science fiction thanks to alien Tripods, space-time warping tesseracts, and a Martian maid named Thuvia. Her science fiction short stories appear in Cosmos Magazine and several print anthologies. While self-publishing the time travel/alternate history/Mayan end of the world novel OUT OF XIBALBA, Liz received “The Call” that all aspiring novelists dream of. 

PRETTY GIRL-13, her debut novel with HarperCollins, will be published in the US and in nine translations on five continents in print, ebook, and audiobook formats.

Liz lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband, her teenaged daughter, and an elderly orange tabby by the fire. The older two boys have moved on to college and graduate school. When she isn't writing, Liz enjoys singing, photography, tennis, and cooking.

Find Liz on her website, Twitter, or Facebook.

About the book

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing - and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Find out more on Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

Strands of Bronze and Gold Blog Tour: Interview With Jane Nickerson

I love the title! How did you come up with STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD? 

Because I’ve been straining my brain lately to decide on one of a dozen names for the book I’m working on right now, I realize that the title STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD just came to me as a gift.  Partly I loved the words “bronze” and “gold,” and partly I wanted a reference to Sophie’s hair, since the original story references hair—as in “blue beard.”

So this is your debut. What has surprised you most about the publication process? 

There was so much I didn’t expect. I guess what has surprised me most are the many, many revisions and the time required even after an acceptance by a publisher. I would think I was done with everything, and then another set would come back to me—three different rounds of copyeditors even after Allison Wortche, my editor, was finished.  I’m so glad, though, that other eyes are checking on things because I really want the best possible results. They even caught things like words that were not in use in 1855, which made me happy because I hate anachronism.

Can you share a little bit about your writing process?

I start by filling a big fat notebook, with an outline of what I think is going to happen, the characters, preliminary research, etc. Of course all along the way there are surprises, and even major changes, but I do begin with the basics outlined—sort of like a skeleton to hang the flesh on.  The notebook starts out beautifully organized, but eventually it’s stuffed with scraps of paper where I’ve scribbled ideas as they come to me. I’m always anxious to really start writing, and it’s a relief when I do because I love it. I get quite OCD about it, and have a hard time stopping when I’m really on a roll. Evidently I even think about my story when I’m sleeping because sometimes I’ll wake up at 5:30 a.m. with a perfect scene or bit of dialogue in my head, and I’ll have to get up and go downstairs and write.  Kind of exhausting but interesting.

I adore the fact that this is inspired by "Bluebeard". What makes STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD stand out from other retellings?

For one thing, “Bluebeard” is not your basic princess-y, magical fairytale.  It has a villain and a situation which is apropos to modern times—a charming, abusive serial killer and a girl caught up in his web. Because of this there’s all the psychology of the abuser and his intended victim. There is no magic, actually, but there is a touch of the supernatural—I really love the ghosts of the murdered wives, who are beautiful, shimmery, and wistful, rather than scary. Then too, the historical setting is different from any retellings I’ve read.

What was the easiest and hardest part about writing this story? 

The easiest (and most fun) part was creating the characters of M. Bernard and Sophie. Those  two just seemed to pour out of me. Bringing M. Bernard to life was so interesting, with his charisma, his violent and controlling nature, and yet something a little confused and bewildered inside him—he really doesn’t understand the evil bit of his make-up. Developing Sophie and her voice was a pleasure—vain, naïve, and shallow at first (but light-hearted and sweet--I like her anyway), and then her character deepening and maturing as time goes on. The hardest part was the revisions as I tried to bend and mold the story into what it needed to be—because, if it had been easy to do in the first place, I would have done it to begin with. It was the real work of writing, rather than the fun. (Although it has its fun moments.)

STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD seems to be a unique blend of historical and fantasy. What made you decide to set this in our world, rather than one of your own creation?

Actually I started the story and wrote about a third of it in a western-European-type fantasy world. Then I woke up one morning and knew I had to move it to antebellum Mississippi. Partly, I suppose, it was in my head because we had recently moved from Mississippi and I was homesick for it. And there is still something so dramatic, charming, conflicted, and interesting about the small-town American South. As for the time period, all the years I lived in Aberdeen, I was fascinated by the Civil War—such a tragic time in American history, and the United States is still affected by it to this day. Anyway the setting really lent itself to STRANDS and to the other books in the series.

I was excited to discover this is the first in a trilogy. Is there anything you can share about the books to come? 

THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR, also published by Knopf, will be out in spring 2014. It takes place during the Civil War and is loosely based on the “Ballad of Tam Lin.” The knight in the old Scottish ballad is a captured Union soldier in my retelling, and instead of fairies my story has voodoo practitioners. It has more fantasy/magical elements than STRANDS. I’m only about two-thirds through the first draft of the third book. It’s unsold so far, so wish me luck. A PLACE OF STONE AND SHADOW (which I think might be the title of this one), returns to Wyndriven Abbey (the house that was the setting for STRANDS), but years later, during Reconstruction after the war. The story is original—not a retelling. The abbey has been turned into a girls’ boarding school, and some of the deceased inhabitants of Wyndriven do not rest easy. As I’m now well into writing it, and I’m realizing that I have lots of good material, there may well be a fourth book. What’s the name of a series of four books? Quad-something?

Finally, will you tell us one thing about yourself? (Strange or otherwise!)

I am a constant daydreamer/storyteller to myself. At the grocery store I’ll see strangers and start coming up with a background for them. I wonder if all writers are more-or-less like that?

Falling for You Blog Tour: Lisa Schroeder's Thoughts On Covers

Because Falling For You has lots of different elements to it, there were many ways the publisher could have gone with the cover. There's a strong theme of darkness and light so I thought they'd probably play with that somehow. Because Rae works in a flower shop, I thought they might do something with flowers, and I heard they tried, but nothing stood out enough. In the end, they decided to go with an image that almost looks like a movie poster and one that pushes the romantic elements of the book.

Will it cause teens to pick it up? I hope so! Only time will tell. I do worry a little that some will be turned off by the hot and sexy cover, thinking it's strictly a romance, because there is a lot more to it than just romance. But I do understand that no cover is going to hit on all the elements of a book.

I've come across a few covers lately that I just love, where the publisher is taking a bit of risk, I think, and I thought it would be fun to talk about how readers feel about doing something different.

Here is an upcoming YA novel titled BIRD by Crystal Chan. I love the image within the image, and how it feels like you're looking at a piece of art. I wonder if it takes longer to design something like this? I would love to see more artistic types of covers like this.

Or check out this one, FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, that doesn't have much to it, really, but it says so much with so little. I like the simplicity of it, but I'm curious - what do teens think of something like this? John Greens THE FAULT IN OUR STARS was a pretty simple cover and that book has done all right.

And this one, ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell is also artistic and personally, I would love to see more drawn covers like this one. I think it's fun and different and really stands out in the sea of darker covers that always seems to dominate the shelves.

So tell me, readers, am I alone in liking these different and artistic types of covers? What kind of covers do YOU like? I'm also curious how much of a role the cover plays in you purchasing a book.

Lisa Schroeder is the author of four teen verse novels including I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and its companion, CHASING BROOKLYN, FAR FROM YOU, and the Oregon Book Award finalist, THE DAY BEFORE. Her latest book for teens is a combination of prose and poetry and is titled FALLING FOR YOU. She's also the author of the middle grade novels IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and SPRINKLES AND SECRETS. Her books have been translated into several languages and have been selected for state reading lists. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two sons, and the most adorable dog and cat in the entire world.

About the book:

Rae's always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her...and the less she wants to give.

As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous.

Then a tragedy lands Rae in the ICU. Now, hovering between life and death, Rae must find the light amid the darkness…and the strength to fight for life and the love she deserves.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule:

1/1 Promo Post & Giveaway @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
1/2 Interview & Review @ Book Chic Club
1/3 Guest Blog @ Kelsey Sutton
1/4 Review @ Mundie Moms
1/5 Promo Post @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
1/6 Review @ Hobbitsies
1/7 Interview @ 365 Days of Reading
1/8 Review @ Pure Imagination
1/9 Review @ Good Choice Reading
1/10 Interview & Review @ Kelsey R. Dickson
1/11 Guest Blog @ Girls in the Stacks
1/12 Review @ Reading Angel
1/13 Interview @ Through the Looking Glass Reviews
1/14 Promo Post @ Novel Novice
1/15 Review @ Books Complete Me
1/16 Promo Post @ The Story Siren
1/17 Review @ YA Bliss
1/18 Promo Post @ Acting Up With Books
1/19 Guest Blog @ YA Reads
1/20 Promo Post @ @ Book Hounds YA

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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 

Guest Post by Author Kat Rosenfeld: My Road to Publication in 37 Steps

(Designed by Amber over at Page Turners Blog)

Confession: When I heard that I'd be doing a guest post on my road to publication, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed. Like many writers, the journey from "aspiring writer" to "published author" was long, arduous, and full of false starts and self-doubt — and in the end, it was only through a series of marvelous coincidences, helpful interventions, and some very good luck that I made it there at all. Also, in my case, it took six years, which is a really, ridiculously long period of time to cover in a standard, essay-style blog post.

So, in an attempt to not bore the pants off everyone and/or put you all to sleep, I've instead taken a look back at the whole process and condensed it down into a handy how-to guide -- one that shows how a person might go from laboring in miserable obscurity to having a real, actual book on the shelves at your local bookstore.

And by "handy", I mean "not handy at all", and by "a person", I mean, "one person, who is also me."

How to Become a Published Author in 37 Easy Steps

1. Move to New York with no intentions of being a writer. Work in publishing. Read lots of books. Date various guys until, out of loneliness, you settle for the one who isn't evil.

2. Join the corporate softball team. Meet a tall, handsome managing editor. Tell him you have a non-evil boyfriend. Kick yourself for being so damn committed.

3. Leave your publishing job for a job in PR. Tell everyone how excited you are. Tell yourself that you're really on the road to the career you're meant to have. Tell yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor isn't really that tall and handsome.

4. Begin to suspect that PR is not, in fact, the career you're meant to have. Begin to suspect that PR is kind of awful. Feel angry and stifled.

5. Start a secret blog. Spend your downtime at work writing an essay about that time your dress blew up in the Fulton Street subway station and a bunch of Japanese businessmen laughed at you. Be delighted when people comment and say that they liked it.

6. Begin to suspect that your non-evil boyfriend is kind of awful, too. Meet up every couple of weeks for beers with the tall, handsome managing editor when your boyfriend blows you off.

7. Admit to yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor really is that tall and handsome. Feel guilty.

8. Get blown off by your boyfriend for fantasy football pick night. Vow not to call the tall, handsome managing editor. Go home. Open your laptop. Write a short story out of boredom.

9. Send the short story to a writer friend. Tell her she's crazy when she tells you it should be a novel. Tell her you could never write a novel. Tell everyone you could never write a novel.

10. Start working secretly on a novel.

11. Discover that your crappy-but-at-least-he's-not-evil boyfriend is, in fact, SUPER FREAKING EVIL. And also, cheating on you on the internet. Dump him. Write a blog post about it.

12. Write lots of blog posts. Write a post about Harry Potter. Write a post about elevator conversations. Write a post about having maybe possibly sleepwalked out into the hallway of an apartment building you do not live in wearing nothing but your underwear.

13. Get five comments.

14. Get twenty comments.

15. Get an anonymous email from a person you've never met who tells you to please, please think about being a writer.

16. Feel empowered. Feel crazy. Quit your job in PR to work part-time as a copywriter. Freelance for magazines. Shriek the first time you see your by-line. Tell everyone you're going to be a writer.

17. Marry the tall, handsome managing editor.

18. Lose your job. Be despondent, until you realize that now, you can work on your novel ALL DAY LONG.

19. Finish your novel. Be very excited for one whole day.

20. In the cold light of the day-after-novel-finishing, become completely and totally despondent. Tell your tall, handsome husband that your novel sucks ass.

21. Tell him you're going to delete it.

22. Tell him that no you will not let him bring it in to work because it sucks ass and you're deleting it.

23. Repeat steps 20-22 for the next two weeks. Use the words "sucks" and "ass" as frequently as possible.

24. Well, okay, maybe he can show it to someone at work.

25. But only if he promises to show it only to the lowliest, most bottom-rung-of-the-ladder editorial assistant there is. Make him promise. Make him promise several times.

26. He lied. You are going to kill him.

27. Receive email from the publisher. She has read your draft. She thinks your novel has promise. Agree to do a rewrite. Grudgingly thank husband, but reserve the right to kill him later.

28. Get another copywriting job. Spend your days proofreading manuals for personal electronic devices. Collect freelance gigs. Work on your revision at night.

29. Lose your job again. Believe it's a sign from the writing gods. Become a hermit. Work on the revision all day, every day.

30. Send your completed revision to the publisher.

31. Wait. Wait. Wait.

32. Bandage the small, gnawed-looking stumps where your fingernails used to be.

33. Wait.

34. Run into publisher on the subway. She is going to email you tomorrow.

35. Because she is going to buy your book.

36. And she does.

37. When your crappy, evil ex-boyfriend emails you to say congratulations, tell him to go suck an egg.

Want more of Kat? She can be found on her website, her blog, Twitter, and Facebook

About the Book!

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent.

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

You can find Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble as well as other booksellers.

Tour Schedule

7/9 - Kick-off & Giveaway at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7/10 - Interview at Rescue Reads
7/12 - Review at The Story Siren
7/13 - Guest Blog at author Kelsey Sutton's Blog
7/15 - Debut Author Spotlight Interview & Giveaway at Page Turners Blog
7/16 - Guest Blog at 365 Days of Reading
7/17 - Guest Blog at Magnet For Books
7/18 - Interview at Steph Su Reads
7/19 - Giveaway at YA Bliss
7/20 - Interview & Giveaway at Reading or Breathing
7/21 - Review at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7/22 - Giveaway at Midnight Garden
7/23 - Guest Blog and Giveaway at Reading Away the Days
7/24 - Giveaway at Books to Consider
7/25 - Guest Blog at Words Like Silver
7/26 - Review at Making the Grade
7/27 - Interview at Book Chic
7/28 - Guest Blog at The Mod Podge Bookshelf

For more info on future tours, as well as author info for being hosted on MPB, please check out the new Mod Podge Blog Tour Page on The Mod Podge Bookshelf.

Guest Post by Gabrielle Carolina: What Makes a Good Review Blog?

Is it an exact science, or is it an art form? Psh, it’s both. For the most part, the creation of a fabulous book blog rests in the hands of the personality behind the page.

If you have no interest in starting a brand, a business, or being paid in books or a few bucks, then just go for it without expectation and expect nothing in return. I applaud you, but that was never my vision for MPB. I wanted to make something. I never imagined it would come to mean so much to me, but every moment I’ve been given has been well-worth what I’ve put into The Mod Podge Bookshelf. Your blog can be all that, and a bag of chips, too.

What makes a good book review blog?

One, a blogger who clicks the ‘create’ button understanding the commitment they are making. You must social network. Not just to “make friends,” but because the extent of your ability to publicize the books you receive, the debuts you’re interested in and your thoughts on a recently-released title go farther when you’re Tweeting, Facebooking, Goodreadsing and Instagrmin’ all about it. If you don’t have time for one, you have no time for the other. Blogging is bigger than Blogger, wider than Wordpress.

Two, accept that you want to blog because you want the books. It may sound noble to deny this, but I began my blog because I wanted the books. Of course, along with wanting the books, I wanted to talk about the books and make some sort of impact on the contemporary publishing market. In order to do that, I had to be hands-on with the latest catalogues, or even a step ahead, so at some point it becomes noble, or at least graceful. Now that you’ve accepted that you began your blog to get the books, focus on the fact that you should work for them. And work hard.

Three, great content. Start with memes, get your feet wet. Move onto posts you would like to create. Cover Lover, The Character of Names and Mod Podge Thoughts are all MPB branded. Are they memes? No. Do people use the ideas? Everyone does, and that’s not because I was a genius or a maverick, it’s because my unique incarnation of these popular slants showcase my voice.

Four, voice. Create one, make it authentic and do not borrow, beg or steal, because readers will know. Like a favorite book, a favorite blog speaks to the heart of the reader. Numbers really have nothing to do with it, but quality does.

Five, reviews. Write honest reviews, leave the Gifs on Goodreads and get creative with your format. You should include some information- page numbers, publisher House, title, and Author name to start, you decide on the rest. Did you hate the book? Think about why before you just state your abhorrence with as much integrity as possible. If you don’t, it could reasonably called bashing by any and all. Did you love it? Gather synonyms for the word ‘adoration’ and GO!

Have any questions? Come on over to The Mod Podge Bookshelf and ask away!

My love affair with books began at a very young age, being the only child of two passionate readers, I suppose the seduction was inevitable. As I’ve grown, and read through my local libraries, I kept feeling as if there was an entire world I was missing out on, something grander than liking a book, something more special than owning a bookshelf. I wanted to be heard, and to think, I wanted to know that my love for a character was the same love someone else possessed. I wanted to immerse myself between the pages, and that is how The Mod Podge Bookshelf came to be.

Guest Post by Author Ryan Graudin: Revisions

Today I am so excited to have Ryan Graudin stopping by the blog! Her book sounds amazing and I'm pretty sure she's going to be one popular author. Which is why it is so cool she's doing this guest post, because then I can tell people, "Uh, I know her. She totally did a guest post on my blog." Anyway. Thanks for being here, Ryan!

When she’s not writing and drifting around the globe, Ryan Graudin enjoys hunting through thrift stores and taking pictures of her native Charleston, SC. Her novel LUMINANCE HOUR, the story of a Faery who falls in love with the prince she’s forced to guard, is due out with HarperTeen in 2013. You can learn about all of these things and more at You can also follow her on Twitter at @ryangraudin

When I was a senior in high school, I used to do my homework at my parents’ kitchen table. One afternoon, as I was distinctly exasperated with my workload of Honors Physics and AP English assignment, I looked over at my mom and asked, “Will there be any homework in college?”

She just stared back with a dubious look. Years later, when I was balancing the reading of four separate English classes and a writing fiction class, I would think back on that moment and laugh. How could I ever have thought that there wouldn’t be homework in college?

Well, revisions are kind of like that too. When you first finish the rough draft of your manuscript you probably jump around the house for a day or two in jubilation (I know I do). Somewhere inside those 48 hours the sinister realization sinks in that your manuscript has flaws. Flaws that cannot stay. Flaws that must be fixed.

That’s when the real work begins.

It took me four months to write the first draft of Luminance Hour. It took me two major revisions (as well as countless smaller ones) to find my wonderful agent. Once I signed with Alyssa, I tempted the vain thought that maybe the bulk of the work for the manuscript was behind me. *insert evil laughter here* A few weeks after she signed me, Alyssa sent me a four page revision letter for my manuscript, pointing out the weaknesses of my story and showing me how to fix them. We went through two rounds of this before it was shipped out into the wide world of editors.

Surely. Surely now the majority of labor to snap this story into shape was behind me now.

I was fortunate enough to get my manuscript picked up by HarperTeen and work with editor Alyson Day. My revision letter arrived in my mailbox on December 19th. It wasn’t so long, only four pages (I have friends whose letters are twelve + pages long). But within those four pages was a month and a half worth of work (compared to my agent’s four pages, which took about three weeks to fix).

What was in this letter you ask?

An editor’s first revision letter usually addresses “big picture” issues, such as plot, character arcs and world-building. My letter helped guide me through the development of two separate characters. It also addressed the romance in the book and its pacing. All of these were things I agreed with and was eager to make work.

I finished these revisions on February 10th and sent them back to my editor. She’s reading them now with red pen in hand, getting another letter ready for the second round! From my understanding, the second round of edits focuses on smaller things—individual scenes. There is also a line-edit, where your editor goes through the novel line by line and focuses on language (awkward sentences, repeated words, etc.).

But wait. There’s more!

If you’re lucky and your revisions get approved after the second round, then you will go on to copy-edits. Copy editors check your story for grammatical, cultural and historical accuracy. In my case, they will probably tear my story apart for American words and turns of phrase (my characters are all British).

After copy edits, the author has to read through the galley of the manuscript and look for typos (those pesky things are everywhere!). Then, and only then, is the book finally out of the writer’s hands.


Oh hold on! Don’t forget you just finished the rough draft of your next novel!

I think it’s safe to say, a writer’s work is never done.

Guest Post by Mindy McGinnis: Quality Time in the Query Quagmire

Today I have the fabulous Mindy McGinnis stopping by the blog. Mindy is a YA writer, repped by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services. She also serves as a moderator at Agent Query Connect. This lady knows what she's talking about! Thanks for being here, Mindy!

So the query process kinda sucks, right?

I’d have to say, yes. And I mean say it in the same tone you use to sound your barbaric YAWP. There are plenty of overnight success stories out there, but the majority of us don’t fall into that category. Some of us even fall farther to the left of that category. And then there’s me. I’m somewhere past the guy with the big stick on the evolutionary scale of query process.

At least I was ten years ago. I’m agented now so I can laugh at Mindy-That-Was and her decade of failure, but it’s the kind of laugh that makes your trachea bleed.

Mindy-That-Was made very basic mistakes. Mistakes that Mindy-That-Is wants you to avoid. Namely – don’t assume that you are so God Awfully Talented that you don’t need to do your research.

Yes, research sucks. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it’s not what you had in mind when you decided to be a writer. But it’s what you need to do if you want to become one.

If you want to land an agent you need to know if they rep your genre, (hint – first know what your genre is), if they’re open to queries, and what to send to them.

Some agents want your query. Some want your query and sample pages. Some want your query, sample pages and a (DAMMIT) synopsis. (Hint – don’t do what Mindy-That-Was did and try to slide the query and sample pages past them without including a synopsis. You’ll get an email back asking for that synopsis, then you’ll write one like mad and send it off. And uh, it’ll suck.)

Do your research my friends. There are plenty of resources out there to help you find the answers, and you don’t have to buy a copy of Writer’s Market like Mindy-That-Was did. They’re free, and they’re online. In fact, you can go there right now.

Sites like AgentQuery Connect and QueryTracker were both instrumental to my success. AQC (where I also serve as a site moderator under the screenname bigblackcat97) is a resource and forum. We’re a welcoming community, so stop by. QueryTracker will track your hits and misses for free, but I highly advise dropping the cash for the one-year membership. It’s worth a hell of a lot more than they charge for it.

Also be sure to hit up the websites of agents, or their agencies. Individual submission preferences are usually listed there, along with specific info about what the agent is currently looking for. Agent blogs are a must. Does someone sounds like a good fit just because they rep your genre? Or because you read their blog and now you think you’re probably related? (Hint – don’t actually say that in a query. It makes you sound creepy).

There’s a multitude of resources out there to get that query in shape and into the hands of the right people.

What isn’t there? An excuse.

Want more from Mindy? She can be found on her blog or on Twitter.

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