Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cyberstalking 101. (Advice for aspiring writers: Part 4)

Today, we wrap up my series on advice for writers by talking about stalking agents and the querying process. But before I get to that, I promised you I’d give away one first chapter and query critique a week from now until my two year agent signing anniversary on September 23rd. This prize is fully transferable and never expires, so even if you’re not quite ready for a critique, go ahead and enter. I give good critique. Just ask my crit partner, Andrea Cremer :p To enter, fill out the form at the end of this post by noon (PST) on Friday, September 2nd. You can earn one extra entry for Facebooking or Tweeting a link to this contest and more extra entries for following this blog and following me on Twitter (@LisaDez). One winner will be chosen and posted here after noon on September 2nd. And remember, if you don't win there will be more chances to enter in the coming weeks! =)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...

This is the end of my four-part series on writing and querying for aspiring writers. If you missed any of the previous posts, just click on the link or the blog header above and scroll down to Thursday's post on how to know if you should even be writing.

So, you've written a kickass novel that's polished to a high shine (see Monday's post) and a killer query letter (see yesterday's post). Now you're ready to query. It’s not as easy as downloading a list of agents and sending a bulk email. There’s a lot more to the process. I had a fairly high request rate (12 manuscript requests of 21 queries sent) because I was very careful who I sent my query to. Here’s how to optimize your chances of getting read:

Do your research.
1)      This is one time in your life where internet stalking (to a point) is acceptable. You want to find out everything you can about an agent. (Well…almost everything.) You want to be SURE that they are interesting in representing the genre you’ve written in. DO NOT query an agent with your middle grade project who only reps women’s romance. You are wasting everyone’s time and effort and it demonstrates a basic lack of motivation and professionalism on your part. After all, if you can’t be bothered to spend a reasonable amount of time searching out the right agent for your novel, how much effort did you really put into the novel to start with.
2)      There are several places to find information on agents.
a.      Agency websites will usually have basic information on all their agents, including what genres they rep and what they’ve sold. Also, there are often pictures of the agents, which is helpful if they have a gender neutral first name, such as Pat. You want to make sure your salutation is correct. Ms. for women is always safe. NEVER send a query to "Dear Agent," or "To Whom it May Concern." Ever. You’re totally getting off on the wrong foot.
b.      Sites like,,, and can be helpful in compiling a list of agents, but remember that these sites are not updated frequently and can sometimes contain erroneous information, so don’t rely on them exclusively.
c.      Once you have your list (at least 20), stalk each agent. A google search is always a good place to start. Things you might not find on the agency website sometimes come up, such as blog interviews they’ve done describing what they’re looking for.
d.      Some agents have blogs. Read them if you’re thinking of querying. This is where you’ll find the most updated submission guidelines, as well as get hints at what they're currently looking for.
e.      Many agents also Twitter or Facebook.
3)      Generally, agents don’t want to take on a project too close to something they already rep, so if you’ve written a YA novel about a girl named Stella, who moves to a remote town in, say, the Pacific northwest, and meets a sparkly vampire named Edmund, then maybe you shouldn’t query Jodi Reamer. #justsayin’.
4)      Once you have your list of 20 or so agents, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt they're looking for exactly what you wrote, you’re ready to query.

Do NOT sent out your queries in one big mass emailing.
1)      You’ve done your due diligence and stalked these agents. Now show them you’re a Class A stalker by personalizing your query. A few cautions here:
a.      If you found out on your stalkerish quest that they love chocolate covered espresso beans, restrain yourself. DO NOT sent ANYTHING with your query. That crosses the line from stalker to sociopath.
b.      Do not mention that you think your book is similar to something they sold and gush all over the book unless you actually READ IT. This WILL come back to bite you on the butt. Start off your potential agent/client relationship with honesty and integrity, not just trying to get into their pants…I mean inbox. If you don't have anything meaningful to say on a personal level, just keep it basic. The query I posted yesterday was my standard query. It went out this way to all but three agents, who I'd either met in person, or had spent extensive time on their blogs, which I mentioned.
2)      So, you have this killer manuscript and an awesome list of agents and a totally kickass query letter. It’s soooo tempting to just click that send button over and over and over. Because, lets face it, they’re all going to want to represent you. You ROCK! But the thing is, so do a lot of other people, and these agents get more than 200 queries a week. That’s a lot of queries. So, here’s what I suggest. Pick five. And, honestly, you may not want it to be your top five. Send the query off to them and see what sort of response you get. If you get five manuscript requests, HAZZAH! You truly do have a kickass query. But if you don’t, you may want to consider revising your query (and your first however many pages you sent) before sending it to five more. In other words, if you shoot your wad all at once, you have nowhere to send your new kickasser query when you realize it’s not as kickass as it could have been.
3)      Only send the number of manuscript pages they specify. NEVER send unsolicited manuscripts. Most agents ask for either five or ten manuscript pages to be pasted into your query. They will not open emails with attachments, so don’t attach ANYTHING. And, if they ask for five pages, it’s because that’s how long you have to hook a reader. If you don’t think your first five pages are strong enough to make them HAVE TO OR OH MY GOD I’LL DIE read the rest of your manuscript, you may need to rewrite those first five. (See Monday’s post for my writing advice.) If they don't ask for any pages in their guidelines, I doubt you'll make any enemies by pasting in the first two or so, which is what I did. More than two felt pushy, and honestly, you should really hook your reader in the first page of your mss, so two pages should be plenty.

This is the hardest part. It’s also when you need to STOP stalking. Once you hit the send button on your first batch of queries, it’s out of your hands. But I can tell you a surefire way to get your query deleted, unread: Pester the agent. Please for the love of God, resist the urge to follow up your query with a query as to whether they received it. Some agents/agencies have the “no response is a no” policy, which truly sucks for the aspiring writer, but they’re super busy with their existing clients and they just don’t have time to respond to each of those 200+ queries they get every week. I haven’t queried in a few years, but I found at that time, most agents were still responding. When I sent my first bundle of five queries, I heard back from every one of them (four requests and a rejection—but I love you anyway, Nathan ;p) within four days. If after six weeks, you haven’t heard anything, revise your query letter and move on to the next group on your agent list. While you’re waiting, write something else, revise more tension into your first five pages, or research more agents. Stay busy.

And that’s it. Obviously, there are no guarantees. But, if you’ve written the best novel and query letter you can, and you query responsibly, you’ll know you’ve done everything in your power to make it happen.

So…who wants a first chapter (up to 20 double-spaced pages) and query critique from yours truly? If you or someone you know would like to have your work critiqued, fill out the form below. One winner will be drawn by at noon on Friday and posted here. Good luck!!! And, next week there will be another contest! To celebrate my two year signing anniversary I'm giving one critique away each week between now and September 23rd! :p

Don't forget to spread the word for bonus entries!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to hook an agent. (Advice for aspiring writers: Part 3)

So, after yesterday's post, you know what it takes to make your novel totally kickass. Today, I'll give you my tips on the dreaded query letter. And, don't forget! Tomorrow, a query and first chapter critique will go up for grabs here on the blog. So, to get you ready, here are my pearls of wisdom.

There’s all the stuff on query letters you can find on awesome blogs such as Nathan Bransford's, agent turned author, which I couldn't say any better. Without Nathan, I never would have had the first clue about where to start, so I owe him everything. You can have my first born, Nathan. No, really. Take her. *clears throat* But I digress. Nathan has the basic anatomy of a good query in his sidebar with links to examples. Read as many examples of successful queries as you can find. The only bit of my personal wisdom I can impart here is that, if you’re finding it difficult to find “the hook” for your query letter, maybe your novel doesn't have a strong enough one.

Just like your novel has to hook readers in the first few pages, your query letter has to hook agents in the first few sentences. You want to pick the most intriguing part or parts of your novel to focus on, and write a one to two paragraph catchy description. A good hook needs to allude to the conflict and tension in your novel, BUT…remember the purpose of the query is to get them to read the sample pages, so you don’t need to give everything away. You want to tantalize with the letter. Give them a taste and make them want to read to find out what happens. You definitely need to hint at the outcome, but you don’t need to spell it out. Think of it as a slightly spoilery jacket copy. You pick up a book, turn it over, and read the jacket copy. Based on that, do you want to read the rest of the book? If your answer is yes, there was a hook—something that drew you in. Something you absolutely need to do is avoid getting bogged down in the minutia. This is NOT a synopsis of your novel.

I hemmed and hawed over whether to share my Personal Demons query with you and finally decided I would. I’ve removed one sentence that is major spoilery, but the rest is what I sent to agents. For those of you who have read Personal Demons, you will see that there are major plot points missing, as well as major characters. (Think: Gabe) Again, the query letter is not a synopsis. Only include the most intriguing parts/characters from your novel. So, here goes:

Dear Ms. (Name of Agent),

I hope I can interest you in my young adult novel, Personal Demons.

Lucifer Cain works in Acquisitions—for Hell. Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a wicked streak and a unique skill set that has the king of Hell tingling with anticipation. Luc shouldn't have any trouble tempting her down the fiery path, except she makes him feel things. Things demons aren’t supposed to be able to feel. But, despite how much he wants her, what he feels most is an overwhelming need to protect her—from him.

With the whole of Heaven and Hell doing battle for her soul, the last thing Frannie needs is to be lusting on some demon. But she is. So the big question is: does the mere fact she’s fallen for a demon condemn her to Hell? If it does, is that a bad thing if Luc’s there? But he might not be, because he’s changing. He’s also falling down on the job and the higher-ups are noticing—which generally means dismemberment and the Fiery Pit—unless she can figure out how to save him. But, before she can save him, she needs to save herself.

Personal Demons is a sinfully edgy 80,000 word young adult novel told in alternating first person points of view. It’s got something for everyone: angels, demons, action, love, humor, danger, a sound track and a little hanky-panky. If you’re tempted by Personal Demons, I’d love to forward sample chapters or the full manuscript at your request.

I want to sincerely thank you for your time and consideration. As requested, I have pasted the first (# of pages the agent asks for in submission guidelines) of my manuscript below. My contact information is also listed below.

Warm Regards,


(Side note: Personal Demons was 80K words when I queried agents, and I'm told that's a pretty reasonable YA word count. It grew to 84K after revisions for my agent before we submitted, and to 91K in revisions for my editor. This isn't unusual.)

(Side note #2: It's generally okay to paste a few manuscript pages into your query even if the agent doesn't ask for any in their submission guidelines. I generally pasted in the first two pages in this case. That gave them a flavor, but sending more than that felt pushy to me.)

So, there you have it. My request rate with that letter was over 50%. Once you catch the agents attention enough to ask for the manuscript, the manuscript has to sell itself, so be sure not to query before you've done everything in yesterday's post and you know your manuscript is as killer as it can possibly be.

There are resources online, such as the lovely…I mean sharkly Janet Reid at Queryshark who will rip your query to shreds. Or, you can enter to win a query critique here tomorrow. I’ll also critique your first chapter (up to 20 pages). So, check back tomorrow for my advice on querying and to enter to win the first of four critiques.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How do you know if your novel sucks? (Advice for aspiring writers: Part 2)

I promised to divulge all of my writing/querying secrets, and I am starting today. This advice post got SUPER long, so I’ve broken it down into writing advice, query letter writing advice, and querying advice. Today is the writing post. Tomorrow will be the querying letter post, Wednesday will be the querying post and, if you want to enter to win one of four first chapter and query critiques, the contest entry will be at the bottom of Wednesday’s post. :p

But…writing. Thursday I gave you my basic advice on how to know if you should even be writing at all. Today, I’ll fill you in on some of the things that helped me.

Coming up with the killer idea.
I stand in awe of writers who can outline. I can’t. I’ve tried and it’s a totally wasted effort, because once I start writing, my characters take the story where it needs to go, whether I like it or not. And it’s NEVER where I thought it was going. So, I won’t talk about outlining. But I will talk about the idea, because that’s important.

You have an idea. It might have come from the lyrics of a song, or from watching someone at the grocery store, or from a sign on the front of a building. Wherever it came from, it’s a totally AMAZING idea. What you need to ask yourself is, did the idea evolve organically, or was it something you came up with because you think it’s something agents/publishers want to see? Two things here.
1)      If you’re writing to a current trend, you need to remember the books you see selling like hotcakes were acquired by their editors two years ago. Meaning, the book you’re writing now is, in a perfect world, two to three years from shelves. The trend will have passed and, very likely, editors aren’t going to be acquiring that type of book anymore. The caveat to that (always) is that if you can give that old trope a new twist, and it’s extremely well written, there’ll always be a market for it. Which segues into my next point.
2)      It is easy to spot the story that’s authentic. If the story is coming from your heart and your soul, it will show in the writing. If it’s the story you were meant to tell, it will flow. If you’re forcing it, it won’t. Write for yourself, not for agents or editors. Don’t worry about what’s out there and what’s selling. Set the next trend.

So, you’re writing the book you were meant to write; setting the next trend. Now you need someone (or someones) to read your awesomeness.
It’s tempting to tell no one you’re writing if you’re a newbie (which is what I did) but the truth is, you need readers. If you don’t want your family/friend to know you’re writing, that’s actually okay, because they’d be about the worst readers you could find anyway. They’re not objective. What you need is:
1)      Someone who enjoys reading in the genre you’ve written, but who has no emotional attachment to you and will therefore be brutally honest (in a supportive way) about your writing.
2)      Someone who can see the overall issues and not just pick at the minutia. (ie: rewriting sentences) You want a critique, not a line edit.
There are numerous online groups and resources available these days. If you don’t have any other avenue to cultivate writing friends, use them. The one that comes to mind is where there are chat boards for writers. The thing about critiquing is that we as writers know what it is we’re trying to get across on the page. It makes perfect sense to us as we’re writing it. But the actual words that we’ve written may or may not be getting it across the way we think they are. You need someone objective to tell you the big things, like where your plot falls apart, or that your eighteen year old comes off as thirty, as well as the little things, like everyone in your book is blond/blue, or your dog barks too much.

If it’s your first novel, write it, then rewrite it.
We’ve all heard the stories of authors selling their very first novel for big bucks and going on to fame and fortune. They are the vast minority. Most authors will tell you they have one or ten practice or “trunk” novels. That’s not to say that your first novel doesn’t have a kickass plot and complex characters, but the chances that you totally nailed the writing the first time out are not good. So, if you love your characters and your plot:
1)      Write the novel then close the file. Sit on it for a week or three while you read a whole bunch of other people’s novels, then start over without opening the original file. Or…better yet.
2)      Write something totally different (not a sequel) then come back and write novel one again.
The more you practice, the better you get. #trufax

Revise the crap out of it.
1)      Enlist your critique partner/group to help you see where things need to be fleshed out, where the characters need to be developed, where the transitions need to be smoothed out. Make their changes (if they ring true to you) and send it back for another round or two.
2)      Read it out loud to yourself. This is a great way to catch all the wording/phrasing issues that you automatically smooth over in your head.
3)      If it helps to see a hard copy, print it out and mark the spots you needed to read twice, or anywhere that didn’t flow the way you hoped it would.

I told you this post was getting long, and that’s just writing! Tune in tomorrow for query writing advice. I’m still deciding if I’ll post my actual query letter. I had a fairly high request rate (12 of 20) so I want to, but it’s full of Personal Demons spoilers, so…

Friday, August 26, 2011

Advice for aspiring writers, interrupted.

Yesterday I promised you I'd divulge all my writing/querying secrets today. I lied. By accident. I'm still working on the post, but it's getting SUPER long, cuz there's a lot I've learned over that last three years since I started writing. So, I'm doing a series of posts next week on all my advice or aspiring writers.

AND...the first giveaway will post next week. If you want a chance at a first chapter and query critique from yours truly, I'll be giving one away each week between now and September 23rd, so check back! :p

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Advice for aspiring writers: Part 1

Rejection is a big part of publishing. The honest truth is that there are some really amazing books out there that never sell. I've read some of them. Being the innately lazy person that I am, the prospect of putting months of my life into a project that will probably never go anywhere is depressing at best. But I have two of them. I wrote them before I wrote Personal Demons and they taught me to write. The cold hard truth is, there's no way to know if a novel is good enough until it's completed, revised, revised again, and polished to a high shine. There are no guarantees.

So, does that mean you should give up? Yep! Because that's what every writer of every book you see on the shelves at your local bookstore did. (NOT!!)

The real answer: If you love to write, you should write. If you used to love to write, but don't anymore, then maybe you should stop. We've probably all read books by our favorite New York Times bestselling authors that we thought weren't quite up to par. When a writer isn't loving what they're doing anymore, it shows. It doesn't matter if they're published or not.

The inspiration for this post was a conversation I had with an aspiring writer who said she was so sick of rejection that she thought she might stop writing. The automatic response that sprung to my lips was, "Don't give up!" But when I thought about it, I realized that's not what I'd want to hear if I'd just said that to another author. So, what I told her was, "If you love to write, do it. If you don't, stop." It's the most honest thing I could think to say.

Tomorrow, I'll post my specific tips for aspiring writers, which includes everything from the writing process to querying agents. And, speaking of agents, I've had one for two years next month, so to celebrate, starting tomorrow, I'll be giving away one first chapter and query critique a week between now and September 23rd (my 2 year signing anniversary). So if you do love writing, and you're going to keep doing it, check back tomorrow for my pearls of wisdom and to enter for your chance at a critique by yours truly =)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stick a fork in it already!

So, I have a confession to make. I’m neurotic—sort of. I’m a perfectionist. I hate to make mistakes. Because of that, and the fact that the voices in my head never seem to shut up, I’m a compulsive reviser/editor of my manuscripts. I can pick at a manuscript forever and never be totally happy with it.
Even in Personal Demons and Original Sin, which are a done deal, there are some things I wish I could go back and change. I'll think of some witty line that would have fit perfectly and I'll kick myself. What I find is that the characters develop and flesh out this way for me, sort of one line at a time.

Because of that, I'm the kind of person who drives my lovely critique partner and truly fabulous agent nuts. I'll send them something, then like two days later, I'll send them a frantic, "Wait! I changed something!" email with a revised manuscript. If it takes my agent a week to get to something, she'll probably get at least four of those emails. She never complains (out loud) but I'm sure I'm her most annoying client.

Even when I was querying agents, I did this a few times, even though they warn you not to. The few I did it to were very gracious, and one even represents me now, so I guess it wasn't too big of a black mark =)

So, how do you decide something is good enough? When do you stick a fork in it and call it done?

Friday, August 19, 2011

And, YES! We have a WINNER!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter for Shut Out by the lovely Kody Keplinger and a signed copy of Original Sin!

The entries have been tallied and the randomizer has chosen!

And, the lucky winner is...

Liz. R

Congrats! I will be emailing you soon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chatting it up on Twitter with Kendare Blake and Kiki Hamilton

So, I recently gave away an ARC of one of the coolest books I read this year, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. She's an editor sister at Tor Teen. Kiki Hamilton is also a Tor sister and her debut, The Faerie Ring, releases on September 27. All three of us will be hanging out on Twitter today from 4-5 (EST) in the #TorChat room talking YA books and writing and anything else you want to chat about. Kendare's and my seriously cool editor, Melissa Frain, will be there moderating, so you could even ask her a question if you had one =)

You can click here for more information on today's #TorChat or for information on us or our books. So, if you're hanging out on Twitter this afternoon, come chat with us! Don't forget the #TorChat hashtag! See you there!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hanging out with Kody Keplinger, and another book in my hot little hands that could be YOURS!

Yes, it's true. I have another amazing book in my hot little hands that you most definitely WANT. It releases September 5th, but it could be yours before that, because I'm giving away an ARC RIGHT NOW! It totally rocks socks and it is this:

Yep! Shut Out, by the fabulous Kody Keplinger! Whether you read The DUFF or not (and if not, WHY NOT?) you will love this book. It's all kinds of awesomesauce!

And, the fabulous Kody also answered some questions for me, so, if you want to know which of her characters she's crushing on, read on...

Okay, Kody. Wesley or Cash? (or Randy?)
In my dreams, Wesley. I like to imagine some super sexy bad boy would fall for me. But in reality, I think I'd be more attracted to Cash. Bad boys are great in theory, but in practice, a boy who reads a lot and is sweet is more my speed. 

Who has a better poker face, Bianca or Lissa?
I'd say Lissa. She's pretty good at keeping things to herself. But Bianca has a killer poker face, too, so its a close race.

In a bar fight where should I put my money, Bianca or Lissa?
Oh, Bianca FOR SURE.  She's short, but she'd be scrappy. Lissa's a little too nice to be a good fighter.

In a high school yearbook:
Lissa would be voted most likely to: Drive Her College Roommate Crazy.
Randy would be voted most likely to: Become an Underwear Model.
Cash would be voted most likely to: Be the Next David Beckham.

There is a strong sex-positive message in Shut Out. How has this been received?
So far, so good! Most reviews seem to be really positive, and everyone seems to approve of the message being presented. I'm hoping teens, librarians, and teachers will feel the same way when the book is out in September! 

Had you read Lysistrata before starting Shut Out, or did Cash suggest it too you?
Sadly, Cash didn't recommend Lysistrata to me. I read it a Western Civilizations class my freshman year of college, and halfway into the play I turned to my roommate and said, "This would be a great high school comedy."  Then I emailed my agent with the idea, and her exact response was "DO ITTTTTTT!!!!"  So I did! And I will say, the adorable young professor with a French accent who made us read the play was pretty darn hot. So that's nice.

And, last, but not least, what is the title of the book we’re co-writing? ;p

I was thinking SHIRTLESS SEXY BOYS, BADASS GIRLS, AND SOME ACTUAL PLOT MAYBE, but we can haggle over the details later ;p

Thanks Kody!

So, to enter, all you need to do is comment below by noon (PST) on Friday 7/19. And, because I'm always thinking of you, I'll throw in a signed copy of Original Sin! You must be 13 or older to enter. Open internationally. You also get an extra entry for Tweeting or Facebooking this contest, so spread the word! =)

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are you a book snob?

Something has happened to me. I think it stems from the pure insanity of my life, but I've become a book snob. Between the day job, the night job and the fam, I don’t have time to read nearly as much as I used to. I miss the days when I could read a book and let myself get totally lost in the story, oblivious to the writing.

I’m my previous life (before writing) I’d pick up a book, and even if I wasn’t in love with it, I’d always finish it. After all, I’d already invested time into it and it might get better, right? And, honestly, I can’t remember a single book that I didn’t get some enjoyment out of. After I started writing (3 years ago) I found myself becoming more critical of the books I was reading on a technical level. I even posted about how disappointed I was to discover my favorite author wasn’t nearly as good as I thought he was. It had to do with me noticing things in other manuscripts that I struggled so hard to avoid in my own because they were lazy, or crutches, or just plain bad writing.

Interestingly, I’ve found, for me anyway, it’s the characters the make or break the story. I can forgive small plot chinks if the characters are amazing. (but not visa versa so much) I want characters that sweep me off my feet. I pine for books that leave me thinking about (and caring about) the characters long after I’ve finished them. The books I’ve read in the last three years or so that did that for me are Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers, both Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore, Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr,
 and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. This list is easy to make, because months, and in most cases, years later, I’m still pining for the characters. These are the books that stick with me.

Those are the standards to which I hold up everything I read. And, I’ve started putting books down that don’t measure up. After all, life is short and the TBR pile is tall.

So, do you finish every book you start? What would make you put a book down? What is it that makes a story unforgettable for you?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Who gets to be the star? (aka: How do you choose who narrates?)

I recently interviewed another author for the blog and asked her a question about how she chose her POV character (in this case a male). It made me think about how anyone chooses a POV character, or if it’s even a choice.

For me, it’s never been a matter of choosing a narrator. I don’t outline. I don’t have any clue what my books are going to be about. They all start with a character. The character pops into my head and starts telling me a story, which I type in as fast as I can. So, in reality, I don’t choose a narrator. A narrator chooses me.

I know I just admitted to having voices in my head, which makes me sound like him -->
But I'm mostly not crazy. Really. However, I don’t set daily word counts because I can only write when my characters have something to say. The stories unfold as my characters live them, just as my life unfolds as I live it.

So…this all makes it sound like I don’t even really need to be there…which is almost true. Except my characters would never take the time to actually write their stories down, so that’s where I come in. =)

So now I’m curious. For those of you who outline: You have a cast of characters. You know where your story is going. How do you choose which of your characters takes it there? How do you choose your narrator?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood WINNER!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and entered to win Anna Dressed in Blood and Original Sin!

The entries have been tallied, randomized and I have the name of the winner right here on my fingertips...

Wait for it...



*blows virtual noisemakers* (cuz the real ones hurt my hears)

I will be emailing you SOON!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hanging out with Kendare Blake and giving away a copy of Anna Dressed in Blood!

I have a book in my hot little hands. Yes, I do. And, if you're lucky, even though this book doesn't release until August 30th, it could be in your hot little hands very soon, because I'm giving an ARC away RIGHT NOW! You seriously want this one. Seriously.

It's this:

and it's by my editor sister, Kendare Blake. This book is just bunches of WOW and OMG! You won't be able to put it down! Promise!

Here's the jacket copy:
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

Kendare was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so I thought I'd pass her answers along to you. Here goes...

Okay, so, first off, how much do you love your editor? (Hi Melissa :p *waves*)
I know! We got so lucky. Mel is always on the perfect wavelength editiorially. Her instinct on what to cut, what to soften, what to emphasize or blend is so spot on that whenever I read her notes it feels like I thought of it myself. A definite "Oh yeah. Of course" moment. Now if only she'd stop being such a slave-driver in my nightmares. Have you had those? Apparently me and at least one of her other authors have horrible Mel nightmares, in which she changes our covers and laughs maniacally, or forces us to write in German.

So, I've never had Mel nightmares. Now I sorta feel left out. All right then... Moving right along. What made you want to write from a (totally cool) male POV?
The book I'd just come off of had one male POV, and it was a lot of fun. Cas was the natural narrator, and it wasn't really that much of an adjustment, which I think stems from my 12 year bout of Tomboy-ism.

Tell the truth. Cas is your husband, right? Cuz I met him and he’s pretty cool too.
I may or may not tell him you said that. He gets so conceited! But truth...Cas isn't my husband. The only thing they really have in common is a ridiculous urge to climb rocks that are not safe for climbing. And an inherent fear of sushi. Cas is just...Cas. I have no idea where he came from, and I thought not a lick about his character before I wrote him. He just was.

If I was to try and hang out with Anna, what do you think she’d go after first? Maybe rip my still beating heart out? Or just tear off my head?
Hmm. Well, she really loves dismemberment. So maybe you'd just lose a limb? Hopefully not the arms because you need those for writing!

What’s with the ghosts? (Make of that what you will.)
The ghosts. Ah yes. Little bit of of my best friends is obsessed with serial killers. She wrote her graduate thesis on Bundy and Dahmer. So I've heard a lot of nasty tales over the years. Police accounts of victims, that sort of thing. It's really terrible. Makes you want to live in a bubble. So when I wrote ANNA, and I needed horrible things...I just had to dig around in the back of my many, many repressed memories.

And, last but not least, I love the Wiccan theme of Anna Dressed in Blood. Fess up. You’re a witch, aren’t you?
Crap! The jig is up! Time to throw the cauldron in the back of the Volkswagen van and get out of here. But seriously, I enjoyed the Wiccan theme also. I've been familiar with the religion for most of my life, and though the Wiccan world in ANNA is fictionalized, I wanted it to stay grounded in reality.

Thanks for clearing that up, Kendare!

So, y'all want a copy, don't you? All you have to do to enter for an ARC of Anna Dressed in Blood is leave a comment below before noon on Friday (8/5/11). And, just because I love you, I'll throw in a signed copy of Original Sin. You can earn an additional entry for Tweeting or Facebooking the contest. Must be 13 to enter. Open internationally.

So comment away! And if you have any more questions for Kendare, I'll ask her to check in and we'll hopefully get them answered for you. =)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wolfsbane Birthday WINNER!!

All right... I think I've got this...

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to enter for a copy of my fab critique partner's Wolfsbane and a signed copy of Original Sin. I've finally finished revisions and had time to sort the entries into the randomizer and...WE HAVE A WINNER!

The winner of these:




Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Angel Eyes!! (aka: German Personal Demons)

I've always wanted to go to Germany, but so far, I haven't made it.

But now my book has! The German edition of Personal Demons releases today! Germany was my very first foreign sale. As a matter of fact, when I got the call from my truly fabulous agent that Rowohlt had pre-empted the Personal Demons trilogy, I didn't even know we were on foreign submission, so it was a huge and very happy surprise. I'm thrilled that they've put my baby in such a pretty package!

Now I just need to find someone who speaks German to read it to me =) So, happy birthday Angel Eyes! Squeee!!! If any of you are in Germany and see it on the shelves, snap a shot for me!