Category Archives: Business

Book events are the best events.


Had a great time last night at @misterkristoff & @amiekaufmanauthor’s signing in Miami! They were absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend taking the time to meet them if they come to your area. ?

Via:: Tumblr to WordPress

Apparently, Twitter approves of my new agent


Today I announced that I am officially represented by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary! And then both of our Twitter notifications exploded and didn’t stop for hours. I’m floored by the love, guys! Thank you so much! I never expected this much excitement over this news, but I’m ecstatic that everyone else is as happy with my new agent as i am! ?

It’s been a while since my previous agent and I split, but I had so much going on with my Entangled and Riptide books that I didn’t have the time to query. Or anything to query with, really. When both of those houses began asking me “What’s next?” though, I realized that I needed help. I started querying, and Eric Smith was one of the first I sent an email to.

I’d been following him on Twitter for a while, and he’s geeky, kind, and hilarious on social media, so when a wonderful friend of mine, Tristina Wright, added her recommendation to all the other things I already liked about Eric, it was hard not to hope that he’d say yes.

Then I got an email, a request for materials. All I had to send was a proposal package for the project I planned on writing next, so I sent that out and crossed my fingers. It only took a few days for me to get another email, and this one started with, “So I devoured that sampling today. Did you… did you finish anymore of it by any chance? That was such a tease! It’s SO GOOD I WANNA FINISH IT. :-)”

One phone call and week for me to field requests from other agentsย later, I officially accepted the offer from Eric Smith and P.S. Literary and signed to be represented by them. I am so happy about this decision, and I’m extremely excited to begin working with Eric! And apparently Twitter approves of my decision, too, because there was far more excitement and enthusiasm for my announcement than I ever expected. So, thank you for that, and be sure to look for more news from Eric and me soon! (hopefully ;))

Sing Sweet Nightingale is now up for preorder!!

I come home from work today and it’s a typical Monday. When I check Facebook, however, things suddenly get a little more interesting. My day went from blegh to OMG REALLY?! in about three seconds all because of this post:

SingSweetNightingale-PreorderLinkPost-09092013

I had no clue! It’s true, though! My book is now up for preorder (paperback only so far; ebook links to come!!). It’s not only up, it’s up all over the internet! Have a favorite store? You can probably preorder it there. For the sake of convenience, though, LINKS!

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books A Million |

Now I’m going to go try to forget I know it’s possible for people to buy my book. Really. The less I think about it, the saner I’ll be in March when it actually releases! ๐Ÿ˜‰

*runs off flinging glitter*

Writing, professionalism, and qualifications.

Yesterday, I hovered somewhere between amused and annoyed as Twitter reacted to a post (2-5-14: Sorry… post no longer exists) on the Horror Writers of America’s (HWA) LA site titled Ten Questions To Know If You’re A Pro.

Originally, I found the site from a link by John Scalzi along with the comment that he answered no to almost every one of the questions on this list. Intrigued, I took a look for myself. The article itself was a tad off-putting, but not extreme. Then I saw the questions. Honestly, when I read them I kind of thought it was a joke. For reference, I put my answers in brackets.

1. Is your home/work place messy because that time youโ€™d put into cleaning it is better spent writing? [Uh, no? Once my house hits a degree of messiness above mildly disorganized, I clean. no matter what deadline I’m on]

2. Do you routinely turn down evenings out with friends because you need to be home writing instead? [No. Partially because most of my friends live in other parts of the country so they don’t offer nights out all too often for me to turn down, but the answer would remain the same anyway. You won’t have friends soon enough if you never see them]

3. Do you turn off the television in order to write? [TV, yes. But I have to have something in the background. If I’m at home it’s either a movie or music. If I’m out in the world the white noise of conversation around me is enough]

4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise? [Yes. This is definitely part of treating your writing professionally]

5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunities (either research or networking potential)? [No! That is NOT the point of a VACATION]

6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than exchanging small talk with a good friend? [Nope. I often chat about writing with my friends because they ask how things are going, but I’m equally interested in what’s going on in their non-writing lives]

7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid less money because it would give you more time/energy/material to write? [I haven’t been faced with this choice yet, but depending on the circumstances I might say yes. Especially right now when I have so many writing projects in the works]

8. Are you willing to give up the nice home you know you could have if you devoted that time you spend writing to a more lucrative career? [Really? Way to assume that a) my writing won’t be successful or lucrative and b) that I have an alternative career option that would be better for me. I don’t. It’s not like I can just fall back on my law degree to make money. I don’t have one]

9. Have you done all these things for at least five years? [Uh, yeah? I’ve held all these views for the past five years]

10. Are you willing to live knowing that you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold to those ambitions nonetheless? [What?! Look, it’s one thing to continuously give yourself new goals and dreams as you achieve your ambitions, but to live doubting on your own ability to meet ANY of your ambitions? What kind of life is that? Why would anyone want to live like that?!]

If you answer yes to every one of those questions, chances aren’t that your a professional writer. Chances are that you’re on the verge of being committed by concerned family and friends. Or the police are about to bust through your door and find a dark, dingy apartment full of newspaper clippings and scary ramblings pinned to the walls like wallpaper.

Author Brian Keene has already done an in depth discussion of the article on HWA and I suggest reading his post to make yourself feel better about what it means to be a professional. But I do have my own little bit of opinion to tag on to this conversation.

If you want to be a writer, you have to treat your writing professionally. There’s no doubt about that. You have to network and promote and write when you’d rather be doing almost anything else. To make a career out of telling stories, you have to do all of those things. However, never, ever get so sucked into writing that the rest of your life disappears. What are you writing about if not life? If you disappear into your writing cave from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you’ll wring yourself dry within a year. Being professional means meeting your deadlines, producing quality work, being considerate to other writers, and collecting money in some form for the books/stories/articles/scripts you create. That’s it. Everything you do in between doesn’t count when asked “Are you a professional writer?”

One of things I love about writing is that there AREN’T RULES. Sure there are grammar rules and storytelling rules and whatever. I’m not talking about that. What I mean is that there aren’t rules for how you have to work to make this writing thing happen. Want to only write one book a year and write it only on the weekends? Go for it. Want to produce three novels, four novellas, and a screen play in twelve months? More power to you if you can manage it without cracking. Enjoy writing while playing Disney movies on loop in the background? Great! Or do you prefer writing with pen and paper in the middle of a forest with not another human in sight? That works too.

One of the fabulous things about this industry is that the HOW doesn’t matter. What you do in between book releases DOESN’T MATTER. The fact that you have book releases? That’s what counts. The only qualification you need to meet to be considered professional is your work. Everything else is meaningless.

/end rant/

Keep Calm and Write On.

Stepping Down (c) Craig Lucas

Stepping Down (c) Craig Lucas

I’m finished with this round of edits on Sing Sweet Nightingale.

I’ve turned in the first draft of The Dream War Saga Book 2.

I’m waiting on revision notes on a project from my agent.

I’m on hold with my co-authored series while things happen. Good things.

Basically, I’m suddenly like an airplane that wants to come in to land but keeps being told by air traffic control to circle. It’s awesome because it means I have a lot going on and people who are willing to help me, but it also means I’m kind of at loose ends right now. Between projects. So… what do you do?

Start a new one. ๐Ÿ™‚

The best thing to do in these situations is let a new idea take center stage for a little while or go back to an idea you maybe didn’t have the time to develop earlier. I have more than enough of the latter to keep me occupied, so right now I’m tinkering with a story involving a death, a conspiracy, and a lot of mystery. I’ve never written anything like it before, so it’s both difficult and fun to force my brain down meandering paths I’ve never traveled. I don’t know if this project will ever see THE END or if anyone except me will ever read it, but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable.

One thing I think can be forgotten in the press to get published and to make a career of it and all that is that writers need to play. We need to write drafts that don’t work to figure out what does work. We need to meet characters we hate so we know how to write ones we’ll love. And we need to create stories for ourselves sometimes. Just because it seems like fun.

Maybe this book will one day sit on a shelf next to all my other ones. Maybe not. Right now, I’m not worried about that. Right now, I just want to see what happens next.

 

An interview and a little bit of news!

Microphone (c) Acuzio

A while back, I received an email from the wonderfully sweet Amy Trueblood over at Chasing the Crazies. Which is an awesome title for a site. Amy asked if I would be interested in participating in a series of interviews she has been doing called Writer Odyssey Wednesday (W.O.W. for short). Of course, my answer was, “YES, PLS. WHERE DO I SIGN?”

The idea that I’ve finally reached the point where I can legitimately be included in a series like this is still a little strange. My debut release is nine months away (250 days, but who’s counting?). It feels like forever. In fact, it’s so far away that it still doesn’t seem real. But that’s just in my head, apparently. To other people, I’m already there. I made the deal, signed the contract, and am officially an author with credits to my name. Wow is right.

So, I agreed! Amy sent me a list of great questions and now you can read both those questions and my answers! I talk about my strange relationship with querying, how I found my glorious editors at Spencer Hill and my wonderful agent Danielle Chiotti, as well as a little bit about Sing Sweet Nightingale and the process of writing it and finding it a home. Click here to see!

In other news, this morning I sent a new book to my wonderful agent Danielle! It’s the second in a contemp series I co-wrote with my bestie Lani Woodland and I cannot wait until these books find a home and I get to share more details about them. I adore these characters and this world and everything about writing them. It’s FUN. There’s a lot to be said about partnering on a book with someone, too. Especially someone I get along with and work with as well as Lani. co-writing is probably not for everyone, but if you find the right partner, it’s divine.

In other other news, I’m heading back to Manhattan next week!! For the first time ever, I’m going to spend the Fourth of July in the Big City. Of course, that’s not the purpose of the trip, but it’s still convenient timing. I’m actually going in celebration of my sister’s 25th birthday and my cousin’s wedding (she’s getting married at the BRONX ZOO! How freaking cool is that?!). The reason for the trip doesn’t matter, though. I still get to spend an awesome week in New York City with people I love. I even get to drop by the Upstart Crow offices and meet some more of the interns and agents in person. So many fantabulous things packed into one trip! If you’re not already following me on Twitter or Facebook, go fix that! I’ll be posting about my trip on those two places more often than on my blog. Easier to access on the go!

That’s all for now! I’ll check in again soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

I HAVE AN AGENT: Part 2

I should be working on revisions right now. So, obviously, I’m writing the second part of my I HAVE AN AGENT story instead. You know, AS YOU DO. Also, a warning: this is long.

A journey (c) L. Emerson

Strange as it may seem, this story actually starts in 2008. I was querying my first book Fallen (which will never ever see the light of day again). On my shortlist of agents was a guy named Ted Malawer who worked at an agency called Firebrand. I submitted and then, lo and behold, he wanted to see more! He read more and enjoyed it enough to bring it to his company’s acquisitions meeting only to find out someone had just signed a similar project. He couldn’t represent the book.

Disappointed, but also hopeful, I went back out into the world. Until I finally realized that I had written myself into so many corners with the structure of the plot and the world and the characters that the only way to fix it was to scrap the whole project and start over. Which I tried to do. And it got even worse.

That book went away. I worked on other things, projects that may or may not ever see the light of day. I haven’t decided yet. Also, not the point of this story.

THEN, I wrote Sing Sweet Nightingale. This book spoke to me. It possessed me for an entire month and forced me to write it all down. I won an award. I met the editors from Spencer Hill. With this interest, I sent out a round of queries.

Ted Malawer had left Firebrand and now worked at an agency called Upstart Crow. He was also closed to submissions. However, someone else at his agency was accepting queries and she was interested in young adult! Yay! So, I put Danielle Chiotti on my list and queried her along with a few others.

They ALL rejected the book. In very polite, nice ways. But…

I STILL didn’t have an agent.

HOWEVER, Danielle Ellison and Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill loved Sing. They wanted it. I was more than thrilled to let them buy it.

Happy and slightly confused, I tried to figure out what to do from here. I had a book deal, but no agent. Did I need an agent anymore? Did I want one? At this point I knew I could survive without one for a while, but I did want representation in the long run. I want to be a full-time author. I want to be able to support myself and whatever size family I end up one day having from the sales of my novels. I want to write in a wide range of YA subgenres and I want someone to help me navigate the market to make the best decisions I can both for my books and my career. I want an agent.

I just didn’t know how to get one. How do you query someone with a book that’s already sold? I didn’t have any other projects completed and I highly doubted anyone would want to sign an author who didn’t have anything they could sell in the near future.

Bruce Coville, Me, and Michael Stearns

In the meantime, I revised a ton based on Danielle and Patricia’s suggestions. Entire subplots and even a character was removed from the story. It was a lot of work, but I came back with a better version of the book when I was done. Didn’t think it would be possible to get an agent with it, though. Because, you know, it’s still been sold.

Then, in January, I went to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Miami. While waiting on my edit letter for Sing Sweet Nightingale, I’d started writing this fantasy novel. Totally different from anything I’d ever tried, I wasn’t sure if the story was working or not. So I signed up for a 10 page critique. Luck and fate paired me with Michael Stearns, co-founder of Upstart Crow Literary where–for those who’ve lost track–both Ted and Danielle work.

He loved the pages. He said only kind things, gave me a couple of notes for expansion/revision, but generally just kept telling me how much he enjoyed the pages and that he would have willingly read more. He asked me about where I was in my career and I explained my slightly odd predicament.

“Send me your book,” he said. “I’ll take a look at it and maybe I can pass it along to one of my agents.”

Literally grinning from ear to ear (seriously. Ask some of the people who saw me that night. Muppet flailing ensued!), I went to the end of the night party and sat down while the music was blaring to email Michael my book. I was giddy enough to ignore the little voice in my head telling me, “Shouldn’t you wait until the morning when the adrenaline wears off?”

I didn’t listen to that little voice. I emailed away and sent out several other queries the next day. And then I waited.

In the next couple of weeks, I gathered a couple of rejections (all very polite ones). I kept Michael up to date on some news I received while I was waiting and he promised to get back in touch soon.

And then I got an email from Danielle Chiotti. Michael had passed the book to her and she’d started reading it immediately. Fifty pages in, she emailed me to set up a call. Four days later, we had an hour and a half-long phone call during my lunch break and talked about everything book and career and agent related. She was awesome. She even laughed when I told her she’d actually rejected this very same book last year.

“Really?” she said. “I can only think it may have been one of the interns who read this one because I don’t remember seeing it.”

So an old draft of the book couldn’t get past her intern gauntlet, but my new version she loved. Which I was totally okay with! Possible moment of awkward passed by without a blink and in the middle of the conversation she assured me that this was an official offer of representation.

“I would love to work with you!” Danielle said. “I think you have a very strong career ahead of you.”

Considering that those words were almost verbatim what I’d always hoped my future agent would say to me, I was hooked.

It’s only been a few weeks, but in that short space of time Danielle has already proven herself invaluable. Not only for career things, but for sanity things. Talking me down from crisis moments and making sure I kept my eye on the important things. I’ve heard it said that agents are part therapist and I can only say YES. They are. And I couldn’t be happier with mine!

So, there you have it. We’ve caught up with today and now the world knows my very strange story of how I queried and cajoled my was through almost an entire agency. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What my experience with everyone at Upstart has taught me over the past couple of years, though, is that they’re all knowledgeable, passionate, funny, and kind. And I am lucky to be working with them all! It also goes to show you that you never know how things may work out and that just because you get rejected by an agent doesn’t mean the doors leading to that path is closed forever. You may just have to figure out how to jimmy open a window! ๐Ÿ˜€

I HAVE AN AGENT: Part 1

Lovelies, I have been sitting on this news since February 11. That may not seem like such an extraordinarily long time, but OMG IT IS. Because all I wanted to do is tell the whole wide internet exactly what I can finally say right now:

I HAVE AN AGENT!
And…ย 
She is AMAZING!

I would like to introduce everyone to Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary:ย 

Danielle has been working in publishing for nearly a decade. Formerly a Senior Editor at both Kensington Publishing and Adams Media, she has worked on a wide variety of books ranging from contemporary womenโ€™s fiction to narrative nonfiction, from romance to relationship stories, humorous tales and young adult fiction. Thanks to her extensive editorial background, she enjoys working closely with authors to develop projects.

Just this morning, I was finally granted permission to share the news. The conversation (via email) was literally as follows:

Me: Does that mean I can officially announce soon?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Danielle: You can announce right this very second if you like!

Me: If I like?! IF I LIKE?! *runs to twitter*

And then I did exactly what I warned her I would do and ran to Twitter. SQUEEING ensued and it was awesome!

When I have a little more time and a little less piercing headache behind my left eye (seriously. OWW), I will come back and post part two of this awesome news which will include the actual story of how this partnership was born. Like my tale of a magical night in NY when I met my editors, this one is a little out of the usual. Which makes it perfect for me! ๐Ÿ˜€

So, until then, loves! Have a glass of your favorite beverage and raise it high in toast tonight. I know I’ll be doing the same with my pretty pink Starbucks Refresher while buried in my editing cave. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The view from my side of the fence.

In an industry where change has occurred rarely and at a slow pace, the past decade has brought an avalanche of new ideas, technology, and problems. Publishing as a whole has dealt with all this in ways both good and bad and, honestly, I don’t know enough about the details of those decisions to even begin to tell you which is which. One of the things I do know has happened because of these changes has been the rise of the small press both in number and in prestige.

Despite this, many people within (and outside) the publishing industry don’t know much about small presses. Or equate them all with the vanity presses of old. This is just not the case. And my editor (and fellow small press author) Danielle Ellison has teamed up with the girls from Tangled up in Words as well as various industry professionals to help shed more light on the pros and cons of publishing with a small press.

They’re calling the series Small Press 411 and it started with a post yesterday. And now? Now there’s already a post with questions answered by agent Julia Weber! I’m thrilled by this blog series because the information needs to be out there for those still doing their research on the publishing industry–and even for those already in the industry.

Simply based on my own experiences, small presses are awesome! Granted, I’m still at the beginning of the process, but the most important part of publishing–to me–was finding an editor who understood my vision for my book and was willing to take the time to help me get there. I ended up with TWO! I call that lucky and I’m more than happy that Danielle is now taking the time to spread the small press love.

Take the time to check out what’s already up and look for a LOT more posts over the next three weeks. Even if you already know about small presses, you may be surprised by what you’ll learn!

Money, debt, writing, and priorities.

Reflectors (c) Jing Villareal

I might have said this before (or, you know, a million bazillion times), but I really want to be a full-time writer. The goal is possible and I’m doing everything I can to make it happen sooner rather than later, but things get in the way. Things like money and fear of falling into debt again and the stress of having too much on my plate and not enough time to give the things I care about the time they deserve.

So what should I do in a situation like this? I see the end getting closer and I see the things standing in my way and I see the huge gaping chasm I could fall into if I take a step in the wrong direction…

This is where priorities come in handy. What is truly important to me and is my fear strong enough to keep me from getting them? The more I think about it, the more I realize my priorities look something like this:ย 

1. Family/Friends
2. Writing/Creative time
3. Necessities of life (house/food/air/etc)
4. Money
5. Fear of debt

There are a bunch of other things on that list in random places, but for the purposes of this post, those are my priorities. I’ve been in debt before and I got myself out of it. I’ve never had a ton of money and although it’s nice right now to be able to afford things like trips to BEA and writing conferences, I could survive without them. More and more, though, I’m realizing that I’m miserable when I have to spend five days a week (and some weekends) working on things that, honestly, don’t matter to me AT ALL. I have a growing number of opportunities in the writing world lining up in front of me and I won’t be able to take them all (or take them on and do them justice) unless I make some sacrifices as far as money goes. At least in the short term. Honestly, I’m hoping that my sacrifices now will pay off over time.

It’s a scary thing, though, to be standing on the edge of that cliff. I’m not entirely sure I can see the other side, so, if I jump, I very well might fall. And I don’t think there’s a safety net.

The thing is, even with the fear of falling, the possibility of flying still seems worth the risk.