Interview: Sara Baysinger, author of THE VANISHING SPARK OF DUSK

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Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I only read adult fiction in high school, so when I sat down to write The Vanishing Spark of Dusk, I wanted to write *that* book that I always wanted to read. When I started shopping this story around, the main feedback I got was that it should be geared toward the young adult market. I had no idea what they meant by that, so I started picking up YA books to see, and, MAN, I didn’t know what I was missing! I read YA book after YA book, and realized they were right. I was writing what I wanted to read, and what I wanted to read was YA fantasy/scifi/dystopia, etc. I didn’t even know half those books were out there. So I guess you could say I didn’t pick the field/genre, it sort of picked me. 🙂

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My parents are booknerds, and so me and my sisters didn’t really stand a chance. 😉 When I discovered Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine, all the books by Bruce Coville, and of course the Harry Potter books, that’s when I first realized that I wanted to tell wild stories as well.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been *seriously* writing for about ten years. I’d written poetry and journaled long before that, but that’s when I decided I wanted to make a career out of writing.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

The hardest part was creating the politics and culture, and being consistent with them throughout the story.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved, LOVED creating a new exotic world with fantasy creatures and scifi technology.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in your book?  If so, discuss them.

I have a few queer characters in The Vanishing Spark of Dusk. I’ve honestly found it hard to find many books out there that represent the queer community without the fact that they’re queer being the main plot. I feel like the more the lgbtqiap (etc) people group are represented in books, the quicker their lifestyles will be accepted and normalized in society.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

Tahereh Mafi influenced my writing. When I read her Shatter Me series—THAT’S when it clicked about how to show and not tell a character’s feelings/emotions/actions. Sarah J Maas inspired me to include more queer characters in my book without making a big deal about their lifestyles, but rather showing that they’re just like anybody else.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

Most useful: Reading. I’ve found that the more I read, the better my writing.

Least useful (And I’m going to get into trouble for this): Rules. I mean, rules are great and necessary, but MAN. They held me back as a writer for SO. LONG. Grammar rules, plot rules, character rules, POV rules, I couldn’t nail any of them down, and was hugely discouraged by them. Then I finally decided to write just for ME and not let the rules hold me back, and this book happened. My advice to new writers is always to just to WRITE the darn thing, and worry about rules later.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

Part time, since I’m a full time stay-at-home-mom. 🙂 It affects me in that parenting really limits my time. I remember before kids, when I had a *normal* job, I could come home and spend the entire afternoon writing with no interruptions. It was bliss. Now with kids, my time is really limited and constantly interrupted by my toddlers. The only way I can get any writing done is to set a chunk of time aside after the kids go to bed, and dedicate it to writing.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I taught English in China for  a year, and traveling around China during that time has provided excellent world-building material. I also worked in a baby-wipe-making factory. That hasn’t impacted my writing, I just like telling people I worked there because it’s such a weird job. 😀

What do you like to read in your free time?

I love to read what I write, which is YA fantasy/scifi/dystopia—basically anything futuristic and/or with magic. 😉

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

I read a lot of Christian/historical fiction when I was  teen, so my main inspirations were Francine Rivers with her Mark of the Lion series, Angela Hunt with her Dreamers series, and Lynn Austin with her Fire by Night series. These books moved and changed me as a teen, and made me want to write life-changing stories for others.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

The main characters’ names are always important, and especially my main heroines’ names—which often set the theme of my books. I choose my characters names both on the way they sound and their meanings. 🙂

What literary character is most like you?

Can I choose my own?  If so, I choose Lark from The Vanishing Spark of Dusk. I basically fashioned her off of my former self. She’s shy, quiet, and has trouble speaking out or defending herself. A few readers had trouble with her because they want the badass heroine, (And don’t get me wrong—Lark grows into that), but I feel like YA fiction needs more of those quiet and reserved heroines who become strong. We’re not *all* naturally brave, extroverted, take-no-shit-from-anyone type of people, after all.  😉

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

Rome. I would love to visit the ruins that are still standing from the ancient roman empire.

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About The Vanishing Spark of Dusk:

Stand up.

When Lark is stolen from Earth to be a slave on the planet Tavdora, she’s determined to find her way back home to her family, no matter the cost. Placed in the household of a notorious slave trader, Lark quickly learns her best assets are her eyes and ears. And if she’s brave enough, her voice.

Be heard.

Kalen is the Tavdorian son of a slave trader and in line to inherit his father’s business. But his growing feelings for Lark, the new house slave who dares to speak of freedom, compel him to reveal his new plan for the slave ships returning to Earth—escape. Together, they just might spark a change that flares across the universe.

Fight back.

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sara-baysinger

Sara was born in the heart of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador where she spent her early life exploring uncharted lands and raising chickens. She now makes her home among the endless cornfields of Indiana with her husband and two children…and she still raises chickens. Her dystopian novel BLACK TIGER was self-published in 2016. When not getting lost in a book, Sara can be found gardening, devouring chocolate, and running off the sugar-high from said chocolate. You can visit her online at www.sarabaysinger.com.

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Interview: Amber Hart, author of WICKED CHARM

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Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Many frequent trips to the library as a kid, where I would tuck myself into a corner nook and disappear between the pages. I read for hours on end. It was my second home.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

Storytelling has been passed down through generations, and I think there’s something magical about that, the ability for a story to stand the test of time. It’s how we know about different time periods and myths and mysteries. It’s how we uphold cultures and traditions. I hope it never ends.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The storyline for Wicked Charm was completely stripped and started anew. The characters stayed the same. The setting, too. A few murders. Many secrets. But beyond that, I had to start over, which was definitely the hardest…and most rewarding…aspect.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I love, love, love that the swampy setting is nearly a character of its own. A living, breathing thing. The southern accents, cadence, and shadowy woods. The romance, mystery, and intrigue in such an eerie setting makes for an interesting read.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book?  If so, discuss them.

All of my novels feature diversity. The hero and his twin are Filipino. The heroine’s best friend is creole and African American. I think it’s incredibly important to feature minorities in novels. Everyone deserves to see themselves in books.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

The most useful thing I learned is how not to hold too tightly to first drafts. They are raw and messy and unrealistic. There’s always room for growth. Many times, the outcome is merely the bones of an original story.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

Yes! I was a waitress throughout college and in my first book, the hero worked in a restaurant. I also used to pet sit, which helped my love of animals transfer to the page in my second series. I think real life influences and experiences often times make their way into an author’s stories.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read broadly. Picture books through adult novels. I tend to lean towards young adult because I love the freshness of firsts—first romance, first friendships, first hardships—and adult because I love the complexity of characters and families. Also, I will never say no to a great fantasy book. Or a book with a brooding hero.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently in the middle of writing a novel set in a small town where nothing is as it seems and secrets are the most guarded possessions. There’s a troublemaker, a rule follower, and a past that could ruin them both.

What do your plans for future projects include?

An adult suspense set in the mountains where running from the past only lasts for so long and romance sizzles.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

Ha! Actually, I do get many ideas in the shower. It’s the one place I can escape to in my house where no one can follow, and I can’t get distracted with a million things going on around me, and the sound of rushing water drowns out everything but my thoughts.

What book do you wish you could have written?

The Harry Potter series. Hands down. But, let’s be honest, I’d never due it justice. I don’t have the talent to invent entire magical worlds. I’m glad someone did.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Invisibility. The things I could do and see. Plus I could open a book and begin reading, and no one could bother me or find me for hours.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

Ireland. I grew up on my great grandma’s stories of the countryside, cobbled paths, and adventure. Plus, there’s something magical about the place, like maybe the enchanted myths aren’t so far-fetched.    

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

Oh! What a neat question. I adore British and Scottish accents. I’m incredibly terrible at mimicking them, and embarrass myself horribly each time I try, but it’s so fun!

Thanks for the great interview, and I hope readers enjoy Wicked Charm!

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Nothing good comes from living in the Devil’s swamp.

Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn’t half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.

Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.

Everyone warns Willow to stay away from Beau Cadwell—the bad boy at the top of their suspect list as the serial killer tormenting the small town. 

But beneath his wicked, depthless eyes, there’s something else that draws Willow to him. 

When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they’re leading to her own death.

 

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Amber Hart

Amber Hart resides on the Florida coastline with family and a plethora of animals she affectionately refers to as her urban farm. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She’s the author of several novels for teens and adults, including Wicked Charm, the Before and After series for teens, and the Untamed series for adults.

 

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Guest Post: Molly E. Lee, author of LOVE BETWEEN ENEMIES

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Writing for the Young Adult Audience

Thanks so much for having me to talk about audience!

This is always a fun topic to discuss because I’m lucky enough to write in both genres of Young Adult and Adult.

It’s always crucial to have your audience in mind when sitting down to write a new novel, but young adult is extremely important. Yes, the market trends for all genres are always changing, but the young adult audience in particular is on a constant evolution. The young readers who pick the books off the shelves are sharp, selective, and expect quality and authenticity from the author.

There is a balance the author has to possess when writing young adult novels. Teenagers are constantly revolutionizing the way they speak and interact with their peers as well as their preferred forms of entertainment. It’s the author’s responsibility to stay plugged in to these changes and be sure to incorporate them into the pages. The books teens loved even two years ago won’t be the same as the ones they’re craving today. But, on the same note, the current trends can’t be overdone, either. Young readers can spot falsehoods or ‘talking down’ to them in an instant. And they aren’t afraid to call you out on it either. That is the beauty of the young adult audience—they won’t give an inch and they shouldn’t have to. That’s why it’s such an honor and great responsibility to write for them.

It’s up to us to simply give them the best story possible; one they can get lost in without being kicked out of the story because they realize an adult is entering a world that the young reader owns. We must become invisible. We have to take the privilege of creating worlds they want to fall into and shape it with their gaze in mind. We can’t have scenes where characters react like adults would—they have to react the way the young reader would. And yes, that is true in all writing, but I find that teen readers are rapidly changing their tastes in a way that demands we as young adult authors keep up. I love the challenge the fast-pace market presents, and I appreciate the work that goes into creating the most authentic world possible. Research and balance is paramount in young adult writing, and I love being a part of it. Plus, there is something magical about writing for readers who are still shaping who they want to be as adults. Books helped make me who I am today, so it is amazing to be even a tiny part of that experience.

Thank you for having me at The Librarian Talks! It was so much fun chatting with you!

 

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About Love Between Enemies:

Zoey Handler is ready to put an end to her decade-long rivalry with Gordon Meyers. They’ve traded top spot between valedictorian and salutatorian for years, but all that’s over now. Right? But after a crazy graduation speech prank gets out of hand, suddenly their rivalry turns into all-out war. Time to make peace with a little friendly payback.

Step one? Make him believe they’re now friends.

Step two? Show him the time of his life at an epic graduation party.

Step three? Don’t fall for his tricks.

Step four? Absolutely, positively, do not kiss him again.

So what if he’s cute? (Okay, hot.) So what if he’s charming? (Heaven help her, tempting.) So what if he apologizes? (That has to be fake.) She knows the real Gordon. And no matter how much her heart begs her to stop, there’s no turning back.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two rivals who discover maybe they could be something much more…if only they’d stop fighting long enough to notice it.

Buy link: https://entangledpublishing.com/love-between-enemies.html

 

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About Molly E. Lee:

Molly E. Lee is an author best known for her debut novel EDGE OF CHAOS, and as a mentor at Pitch Wars – a program which connects promising writers to established authors in the community. Molly writes New Adult and Young Adult contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English Bulldog, Molly loves watching storms from her back porch at her Midwest home, and digging for treasures in antique stores.

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Interview: Danielle Ellison, author of the new YA Romance, THE SWEETHEART SHAM

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What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Fiction is my heartbeat, especially YA.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I love teenagers. I’m all about them. I think they are full of this spark, sometimes it’s bright and happy, other times it’s dangerous. They’re blunt and real and they have a respect for that. It’s such an important time, full of high highs and the lowest lows. This is not to say they are always the best at decision making or right, but I really respect them. I love writing for them—sharing stories about teens for teens. I think it’s important to show them that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, and I hope that comes across in my writing.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I wish I knew. I’ve always been into stories and my own head, even as a kid. No one in my family really enjoys reading, so it’s something none of us are sure of. I watched a LOT of TV as a kid (still do) and I’ve always had a flair for escapism. Maybe it’s that. All I know is I’m grateful for it.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

Our culture is entirely made up of stories. I mean, not to get nerdy, but our entire history as humans on earth is stories that people passed down until they became facts; history, faith, culture—the definition of how we came to be, why we exist, all of it—is based in storytelling. I think we live for stories in any form, be that gossip, television, movies, video games, twitter. We like to imagine that life is something more than it is, that someone out there is going through or has gone through a similar experience to us.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

It’s my characters. Some authors are beautiful wordsmiths (like Jennifer Donnelly, Jason Reynolds, Laini Taylor) and others are brilliant minds with incredible worlds they’ve built (like Victoria Schwab, Holly Black.) I used to think I had to be one of Those Kinds of writers in order to be a real writer. But then I’ve learned and grown over the years, and my biggest lesson has been to take what you do best and make it your selling point. For me, that’s characters. I strive to write real people, as real as you and me, who are relatable and have distinct voices. That’s what I loved about my favourite shows, movies and books, and there’s real value in that – so that’s what I try to do.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

It was really important to me show the friendship between these characters and I felt (in the beginning) it was truly Will and Georgie’s story, and I had to figure out how Beau and Georgie’s romance could fit in and be the story, without taking away Will’s voice. It tripped me up a lot. As an LGBTQ+ ally, as someone who works with teens, who was writing a book with a gay character, I really wanted to do his story justice. I wanted to represent him, but at the same time, his wasn’t the central love story. I think I really accomplished what I wanted to in this book. It’s truly a story about love, both romantic and that between best friends.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

From the beginning, I loved Georgie. She had such a fantastic voice and she was really very fun. I love getting into her head and viewing her world. I also love Culler itself, which I wanted to feel like a southern Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls) and I think it turned out very colourful. I wanted a town that you wanted to come back to over and over, and I personally love spending time there.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve had so many jobs, y’all. I’ve worked at Wendy’s (my first job), movie theaters, churches, as a nanny, teaching theater to children, offices, bookstores, libraries, taught online undergraduate courses. I’ve done more than most people. I think the best way to show that they have impacted my writing is just by the exposure to experiences and people.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read YA. Current reads (well as soon as I get to) are The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson and then Children of Blood and Bone by TomiAdeyemi.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on the next book in the Southern Charmed series.

What do your plans for future projects include?

More Southern Charmed books – and a secret we’ve-been-plotting-for-years project with my best friend, who is also a writer.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

The names come with the characters, especially for my MCs, so I have no say really in what they tell me their names are. If they are minor characters, I’ll just brainstorm ideas until something feels right and then I’ll try to make sure it’s not something I’ve used in a recent book.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation! It’d save so much on travel expenses and really help me keep my wanderlust at bay.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

I’ve always thought I was a panda: cute, cuddly, but fierce and powerful. It’s pretty apt.

But I’ve got a friend who tells me I’m a cat. At first, I was resistant to this analogy but as time goes on I realize I am a cat. I like what I want when I want it, I do what I want, I love attention (but only sometimes), I could take or leave people depending on my mood, I’m a little needy, super affectionate and I have fallen asleep to having my hair petted.

What literary character is most like you?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.

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About The Sweetheart Sham:

In a small town like Culler, South Carolina, you guard your secrets like you guard your cobbler recipe: with your life. Georgia Ann Monroe knows a thing or two about secrets: she’s been guarding the truth that her best friend Will is gay for years now. But what happens when a little white lie to protect him gets her into a fake relationship…and then the boy of her dreams shows up?

Enter Beau Montgomery: Georgie’s first love, hotter than ever, and much too much of a southern gentleman to ever pursue someone else’s girl. There’s no way to come clean to Beau while still protecting Will. But bless their hearts, they live in Culler—where secrets always have a way of revealing themselves.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hilarious “fakeship,” a scorching-hot impossible relationship, and a heartwarming best-friendship that will make you want to call your best friend right here, right now. 

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About Danielle Ellison:

Danielle Ellison is a nomad, always on the lookout for an adventure and the next story. In addition to writing, she’s the founder and coordinator of the NoVa TEEN Book Festival. When she’s not busy with books, she’s probably watching her favorite shows, drinking coffee, or fighting her nomadic urges. She is newly settled in Oklahoma (for now) with her cat, Simon, but you can always find her on twitter @DanielleEWrites.

Connect with Danielle online:

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Guest Post: Erica Cameron, author of the new YA release, SEA OF STRANGERS

How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Conference or Convention

Since I started writing in 2007, I have queried agents, gone on submission to editors, and attended dozens of conferences. Each experience has its own set of rules and expectations, and conference and conventions can be the hardest of them all to navigate if only because there’s far less information available online for them. Today, I have four points to help you make the most out of your next conference or convention.

 

Be aware.

 

There are hundreds of writing-related events all across the country. Some have particular focuses—SCBWI, for example, is a wonderful organization for those writing for children and teens—and others are going to be broader in scope and scale. Research organizations that match the genre you write in and see if they host any annual conferences. Pick the one that will help you learn and grow in your genre as much as possible. Those will also be the events that put you in contact with the people you need to meet.

 

Be prepared.

 

Once you’ve picked which conference you’re attending, start doing research on the attendees. Who’s speaking? Are any agents or editors taking pitches? What does each agent or editor specialize in? What were their recent sales or acquisitions? It doesn’t usually do much good to try selling a dark sci-fi series to someone who specializes in light-hearted women’s fiction. For agents, check out their submission guidelines and create a printout you can bring with you. If you’re meeting with editors and can’t find any submission guidelines, having one chapter and a one-page summary of your book is usually a good place to start. However, it’s expensive to travel. Agents and editors usually have to cram everything they need for the conference or convention into a small bag. It’s hard for them to carry stacks of printed pages and materials home with them again. A business card, though? That’s absolutely doable. Even if you’re coming as an aspiring author, it’s not a bad idea to have business cards. They should include your name, email address, the genre you write in, and any applicable website or social media information.

 

Be respectful.

 

Agents and editors come to conferences to find new talent. That is specifically why they’re there, so it’s okay to approach them with questions or to start a conversation. The thing to remember is respect. It’s business, yes, but they’re also people with lives outside of publishing. Don’t expect hours of attention. Try not to interrupt if they’re in conversation with someone else, though joining a conversation with a group is often fine if you have something to contribute. Whatever you do, don’t try to pitch a book in the bathroom. It sounds obvious, but it happens far more often than it should. I know this because industry professionals talk. They tell stories at events about all of the ridiculous, rude, and outlandish interactions they have had with authors in the past. Good stories won’t be passed around like office gossip, but a bad interaction absolutely will.

 

Be open.

 

Opportunity slips up beside you unexpectedly sometimes, but the only way to take advantage of the moment is to take every chance offered. In 2015, a group of young adult authors organized a lunch during RT, and I ended up sitting next to a debut author named Kate Brauning. What I didn’t realize at the time was that she was also an editor with Entangled Teen. That casual conversation sparked a second, more in-depth discussion, and eventually turned into a three-book deal for my young adult fantasy series, The Ryogan Chronicles. At the same convention, a panel appearance I did attracted interest from another publisher, and after another conversation and a proposal, I sold the Assassins duology to Riptide’s YA imprint Triton Books. The point is that you may go to an event intending to pitch to one person, but you never know who you might end up talking to. Be open to talking to those around you and ready to discuss what you’re writing, and you never know what a single conversation could bring.

 

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About Sea of Strangers (The Ryogan Chronicles, #2):

Know your enemy if you want to survive…

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.
Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

 

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About Erica Cameron:

Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.

 

Author Links:

Author Website: ByEricaCameron.com

Author Blog: ByEricaCameron.com/wp/blog/

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ByEricaCameron

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Interview: Ally Matthews, YA Romance author, OFFSETTING PENALTIES

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My mom. She stayed home with us when we were little, and she was always reading. My parents also made sure there were plenty of books in the house for us to explore and read.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Strictly fiction. I write YA romance and also historical romance under a different pen name.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

Trying to balance the conflict between Izzy and Garret so it was realistic, but wouldn’t make readers dislike either of the characters. I hope I succeeded.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

These two characters were a dream to write. This is going to sound weird, but there were times when they were dictating their dialogue to me so quickly that I could barely type fast enough to keep up.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I consider my writing a full-time job, but also work twenty hours per week as a reading and writing tutor at the local community college. I frequently try to remind myself that I’m a full-time writer to keep me on track with my deadlines. I have mixed results.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I worked as the librarian at a small, pre-K to 8th grade Montessori school, and being surrounded by books and kids all day was a dream come true. I was tasked with reading the middle grade and YA books to make sure they fit with the Montessori pedagogy, and during that process, I came to the realization that I could write a book. So I did. That first book was a mess structurally, but the second book I wrote was published.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working on a proposal for two sequels to Offsetting Penalties, and I’m writing a YA speculative fiction romance.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have so many things I want to write, but there just isn’t enough time in the day. I’m planning to write a YA book based on a Russian fairy tale, and I also have plans for a YA horror romance set inside the Hermitage Museum (I studied a lot of Russian history and culture in college and have visited Russia three times).

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Madeliene L’Engle. She wrote in many different genres, and for children, teens, and adults. My favorite book when I was a teenager was A Ring of Endless Light. As an adult, I find myself delving into her Crosswicks Journals over and over again to bask in her skill and wisdom.

John Green has also inspired me. He never shies away from difficult subjects or awkward situations in his books, and he’s been very forthcoming about his struggles with anxiety and OCD.

The book I’m working on now has a protagonist that suffers from social anxiety disorder. I wanted to write this book because there are so many children and teens battling with both big and small mental health issues today, and I have more than one family member who suffers from depression. Though I started writing my book before I knew anything about Turtles All the Way Down, I was excited to read this book and be able to study how a master storyteller handles the difficult subject of mental illness.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I would choose relatively unknown actors because I wouldn’t be able to picture my characters as someone really famous. I think Australian actress Maia Mitchell would make a great Izzy, and she even has some dance experience. For Garret, I like Leo Howard, who was in the movies Logan and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He also gets bonus points for being an animal lover and volunteering at shelters.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

It depends on the story, but I usually choose character names based on how they sound. Since I primarily write romance, I like to make sure the names of the hero and heroine sound good together. If I get stuck and just can’t come up with the right name, I peruse baby name websites until I find one I like.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Forgive me. I did my best.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to heal.

What literary character is most like you?

Vicky Austin from Madeliene L’Engle’s Austin Family series.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

Austria. Since the first time I saw The Sound of Music as a small child, I’ve wanted to go there.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I’m debating between Russian, so I can scare my kids into listening to me, or British, so I can speak like all of Jane Austen’s swoon-worthy heroes.

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About Offsetting Penalties:

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.

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About Ally Mathews:

Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head waiting for the opportunity to escape onto paper. 

When she’s not writing, you can find her reading or binge watching Psych, Scream, Younger, and superhero movies. She loves to cook but hates to clean up afterwards, and strongly believes that Disney World is truly magical. You can find Ally on her website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.

Guest Post: Mary Lindsay, author of the new YA PNR Release, HAVEN

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Writing is my Haven (See what I did there?)

I’m so excited to be on The Librarian Talks today! It’s been a crazy week for me answering interviews and doing a couple of podcasts for my new novel, HAVEN.

(releasing TODAY, November 7, 2017 in hardcover and ebook)

One of the most common questions I receive is, “Have you always wanted to be a writer?”

Short answer: No.

I never wanted to be a writer growing up. I successfully avoided all creative writing classes and projects all the way through college, even faking sick in grade school on poetry days. Creating something original terrified me.

Becoming a writer happened unexpectedly as the result of my losing a game of “Chicken” with my eleven-year-old daughter. Losing was one of the best things to happen to me. She was complaining about how heroes in young adult books she’d read believed themselves to be evil or cursed. Her rant morphed into how she believed heroes should be written and finally, to make her feel better, I bluffed and said, “Hey, tell you what… I’ll write that book for you.” I never expected to carry through. I mean, that’s the stuff of nightmares for me. I figured she’d be satisfied and we’d forget all about it.

Nope. She called my bluff.

She looked at me with those trusting, huge eyes and said, “Really? You would really write a book for me?”

Well, crap. Busted. I had no choice but to go through with it…sort of. Surely, after a chapter of the certain garbage I’d produce, she’d beg me to stop and I’d be off the hook. Instead, she loved the first chapter and asked for more.

After that, I was hooked. Completely and totally obsessed with writing—the very thing I’d avoided my entire life. Thirty days later, I handed her the last chapter of the seven-hundred-page manuscript, which, needless to say was not my finest work. But, it was my first work and led to where I am right now, celebrating my tenth published book.

Writing, once my personal hell, became my safe haven. << Look at that blatantly obvious segue into telling you about my book.

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About HAVEN:

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart. 

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

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BOOK IS AVAILABLE ON ALL PLATFORMS, AS WELL AS IN HARDBACK AT THE ABOVE LINK

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All About Mary:

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Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. Her books Shattered Souls and Fragile Spirits have been selected for the 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program. 

Mary lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband. Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 “pet” Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the “pet” roaches found a home… somewhere else.

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Interview: CC Hunter, author of YA Paranormal, THE MORTICIAN’S DAUGHTER

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I didn’t actually choose the young adult genre. I started my writing career by writing romantic suspense novels. I was contacted by an editor at St. Martin’s Press in 2010, She’d read several of my romances and thought my voice and snarky sense of humor would translate well to the young adult genre. So, she asked me if I’d like to try my hand at a YA series. She even said she had an idea: paranormal camp. That was it, that was all she said, but I went home and thought about it. The thought of changing genres scared the bejeezus out of me. But I love a challenge, and before I knew it, my imagination took over and Shadow Falls Camp was born.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I grew up in Alabama, and the South has a strong tradition of storytelling. When we sat down to dinner, we were encouraged to talk about things going on in our lives. And if that meant exaggerating a story to make it more interesting, well, all the better. Also, being dyslexic, I wasn’t a good reader in school, but I made up tales in my head. I’d go off into the woods, lie down in the grass, and tell myself stories. Sometimes those stories continued for days, and those characters became my friends. I’m still talking to characters in my head, but now I know I’m not crazy, I’m just a writer.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I think there are three things.  Friendships.  In every book I write, there isn’t just a romance, I have friendships.  In The Mortician’s Daughter, Riley meets Kelsey.  The bond they find is inspiring. I also think all my books have both humor and heart.  I love to laugh and I create characters who love to laugh.  So while the characters in my books have difficult challenges to overcome, I also have them healing through laughter.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read across all genres.  I just read Everything, Everything.  I love Susan E. Phillips romances.  I recently read,  The Dogs Purpose.

What projects are you working on at the present?

Well, I’m in “finish the book mode.” I’m trying to get my next Christie Craig book to my publisher, so that’s meant early mornings and late nights. But it’s been fun to write. I’ve also got a CC Hunter YA coming out the end of October called The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave. It’s the first in a series of 3, and I’m really eager for its release. I’m hoping all my devoted Shadow Falls fans will read it, because it has a lot of the same elements in it. On Feb. 27th, I’m very excited to have my first hard cover book releasing. Again, it’s a CC Hunter book and this one is very close to my heart. It’s about a teenage girl that gets a heart transplant. I know something about transplants as my hubby got a liver transplant a year ago. It was an emotional book to write, very cathartic.

FUN STUFF

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I write while in my hot tub.  That’s where I do my brainstorming.  When things are flowing, I’m usually all wrinkled from sitting too long in the hot tub.

How many donuts are you capable of eating in one sitting?

I have eaten two, but I regretted it.

Say there’s like a whole box of your favorite snack in a room all by themselves. Say I left them there and told you not to eat any until I got back. How long would it take you to disobey my wishes?

Depends on my mood and how hungry I am.  And the reasoning behind why you said I couldn’t eat them until you got back.  If you were just testing me, I’d probably eat them right away.  I hate tests.  LOL.  

What is your go-to method for getting rid of hiccups?

Take a deep breath, then cover your ears and nose and drink a big, long sip of water.  You need someone to hold the glass to your lips.

If I gave you a pencil and piece of paper and told you to draw something funny, what would you draw?  

I love to scribble.  I always draw a cartoon cat.  And I draw a lot of hearts.  

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout Cookie?  

Peanut butter.

How many times does it take for you to listen to a song that you love before you actually hate it instead?  

A lot.  If I love a song, I listen to it so much that it drives my hubby crazy.

Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention What do you think cats dream about?  

Controlling the world.  

This or That?

Dogs or Cats? Both since I have both

Tea or Coffee? Coffee with cream

Winter or Summer? I live in SE Texas, and summer here is HOT! But the trade off is the pleasant winters, so definitely winter.

TexMex or Italian? Tough one, but I’d have to say TexMex.

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate all the way!

abouttheauthor

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C.C. Hunter, an Alabama native, is a New York Times Best-Selling author of more than 30 books. Her paranormal Shadow Falls series gained phenomenal critical success. She is looking forward to the October 31,2017 release of the first book in The Mortician’s Daughter series, One Foot in the Grave. She is also excited about the Feb. 27, 2018 release of her first hard cover, contemporary young adult novel, This Heart of Mine. She currently resides in Texas.

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The first exciting novel in a brand-new series from New York Times bestselling author C. C. Hunter!

Her dad’s job is with the dead . . . and he’s bringing his work home with him.

Once again, seventeen-year-old Riley Smith is the new kid in school and her dad’s career has her back to being dubbed a freak. Truth is, she’s a much bigger freak than her classmates think. The only company she keeps these days is the dead who follow Dad home from work. She can see them. She can speak to them. And Fate seems to think she can help them solve their last problems so that they can move on to the other side. Which is odd, because with the loss of her mother and her father’s alcoholism, she’s got enough problems of her own.

But nothing could prepare her for the next tormented young spirit who darkens Riley’s door. The young woman’s death wasn’t the accident everyone believes. Soon Riley finds herself face-to-face with the killer and her only protection comes in the form of another spirit, Hayden, a boy her age with a heart-melting smile and understanding eyes that make her feel safe. If she can escape becoming the killer’s next victim, Riley knows she’ll have to help Hayden move on too, but what if she can’t let him go?

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READ AN EXCERPT HERE

For thrills, chills, romance and laughter…

PREORDER The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave today.

LIVE on Tuesday, October 31st!
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COMING SOON FROM THE MORTICIAN’S DAUGHTER SERIES

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Praise for C. C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series:

“C. C. Hunter has an amazing talent to make you laugh, cry, and laugh again all in the same chapter!” —Crossroad Review

“Jam-packed with action and romance . . . Hunter’s lifelike characters and paranormal creatures populate a plot that will keep you guessing till the very end. A perfect mesh of mystery, thriller, and romance.” —Romantic Times on Taken at Dusk

 

Interview: Sara Jade Alan, Author of A MESSY BEAUTIFUL LIFE

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

After college, I moved to New York City with my college improv group. I got a job working for a bestselling author of YA fantasy books, Tamora Pierce. She was so inspiring, and her fans were so inspiring. She introduced me to this whole world of YA lit that I hadn’t known about before. I worked for her for seven years and fell in love with the YA community and the books. So when my first book idea came to me, I knew it would be YA.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My parents would take my sister and I to the library every week to get a giant stack of books, so that fostered my love of books and reading. Also, my older sister Theresa is an author, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She was always talking about books and writing, and I would edit early versions of her manuscripts, so all of that nurtured my love for the process of writing.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing in some form or another since elementary school, but A Messy, Beautiful Life is my first novel, and I started writing it eleven years ago, in 2006.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Through my teens and twenties I mostly wrote (and performed) sketch comedy, standup comedy, two-women shows, and a one-woman show. I still write sketches for The Novelistas—a comedy show about the highs and lows of writing and publishing. But now I’m most passionate about writing YA novels, and that’s been my main writing focus for the last decade.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

Learning how to write a book while writing it. I think writing characters, emotion, and dialogue came more easily to me because of my background in performance. But learning how to plot and structure the story arc took a long time. It really took my editor Candace guiding me on how to rearrange the beats to make the story come together.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book?  If so, discuss them.

It’s not necessarily an underrepresented group, but I haven’t read any YA books about teens who love improv before. I’ve believed for a long time that if all kids learned improv and yoga in school, the world would be a better place. Improv is a fun, playful way for young adults to develop emotional awareness, confidence, and empathy, as well as a low-risk way to practice taking risks. Especially for girls, there’s such a focus on being pretty and perfect, and I don’t want to see them lose their silly. So, I’m happy my book might have the chance to introduce teens to improv if they haven’t thought about it before. Also, sarcomas are a rare cancer that can often be misdiagnosed, and I hope Ellie’s story might bring a bit of awareness to this form of cancer.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

Tamora Pierce: As I mentioned above she introduced to me to the world of YA lit I was missing out on, and she inspired me to write girls with grit. Also, her heroes have amazing friends that can count on each other and support each other, like Ellie in A Messy, Beautiful Life. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write fantasy, but I love reading it and admire authors who can world-build like Tammy.

Sarah Dessen: She was my first introduction to YA contemporary as an adult reader. I wish I’d had her books when I was a teen. I think her tackling real issues that teens face in a way that still makes for a compelling story has been an influence in my writing.

I have many other favorite authors, and I think what they all have in common are smart, empathetic characters with heart and a sense of humor. Those are the kind of characters I’m interested in reading about and interested in writing about.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

There are many craft lessons that have helped me along the way, but I think learning how vital good critique partners are (and finding great ones!) has made the biggest difference in my writing. I think I’m lucky that I can’t think of anything destructive I’ve learned.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I write part-time. I’m already a pretty slow writer, so having a limited amount of time to focus on writing makes progress feel glacial sometimes. But, I’m in this for the long haul and believe in steady, committed action over time, so I will continue on that path. (Well, you know, at least until the giant movie deal comes in and I can write full time.)

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve had a ton of different jobs including:being a business manager to an author of YA books (which eventually inspired me to write YA); delivering sushi to grocery stores at 4:30am; working the door staff a comedy club; working stage crew in community theater; being a server in an Irish pub in Times Square; community organizing with Clean Water Action; dressing up as a flapper and giving out coupons outside of a casino in Black Hawk; plus many office jobs. These experiences have given me the chance to meet and observe different people and provided insights into a variety of industries. In my next book, I pull more from a few work experiences than I did with this one.  

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read mostly YA books, but I’m obsessed with the wiring of the human brain and our potential to change our thoughts and habits, so I always have some kind of book in this vein to listen to on Audible. Most recently I listened to Grit by Angela Duckworth, and I always have one of Pema Chödrön’s books at the ready.

What projects are you working on at the present?

It’s another YA contemporary called LOVE AND OTHER PUNCHLINES. It also features comedy, mostly standup. The story is told in dual-perspective from two clashing teen comediennes who are the only girls in a nationwide comedy contest. One needs the grand-prize to afford college, the other must win to support herself and her dream. Along the way the two young women learn there are other valuable prizes at stake—like self-discovery and sisterhood. It’s like PITCH PERFECT meets LAST COMIC STANDING.

What do your plans for future projects include?

When I was 19, I did a summer internship with an environmental activism organization in DC. We were all staying in dorms, and when I went to my dorm to meet my roommates, there were two guys in my room, Matt and Seamus. At first I thought, oh, maybe this organization is very progressive and the rooms are co-ed, but then we realized we were the only co-ed room. Since our names were pretty straightforward gender-wise, we were confused at how the mix up happened. I’m sure I could have gotten my room switched if I’d asked, but I ended up liking and trusting them both pretty quickly and I’m glad I stayed bunking with them, because we had a blast during the internship and stayed friends for years after. So, I want to use that idea for how the two main characters meet in another YA romance…but I only have the first page right now. I have no idea yet what will happen next.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Being able to teleport myself anywhere, anytime, so that I could visit my friends who live all over the world. I would love to just be able to pop up in Oaxaca for a night and take my best friend out for dinner, or in Brussels to see my friend’s new apartment, then pop over to LA or NYC to see my friends in a show.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

There are so many places I want to visit! But I’ll go with Australia. When I started college I thought I was going to major in biology and wanted to do a semester abroad to study marine biology in Australia. I soon learned that while I found science interesting, I didn’t have a knack for it, and somehow I abandoned my studying abroad vision, too. But I would still love to travel there someday.

abouttheauthor

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Sara Jade Alan wrote her first comedy sketch during second grade recess, then cast it, directed it, and made costumes out of garbage bags. Since then, she has performed in over a thousand improvised and scripted shows all over the country. When she lived in New York City with her college improv group, she worked as an assistant to a best-selling author of young adult novels featuring strong female heroes and was completely inspired by her books and the awesomeness of her teen fans. Spending a year on crutches, Sara turned to writing her own young adult stories and was hooked. Currently, she is one-half of the comedy duo, The Novelistas, who perform about writing and teach performance to writers. Hailing from a suburb of Chicago, Sara now lives in Colorado with her husband—who she met in that college improv group—and daughter, who they waited a bunch of years to make. She is a member of and guest instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

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Print

Life is funny sometimes. 

And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer. 
I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom. 

And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die. 

So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop. 

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Guest Post: REJECTION & MY ROAD TO PUBLICATION by Meg Kassel

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Rejection and My Road to Publication

When looking at an authors published book, its easy to only see what they accomplished and to forget that there were likely many failures before publication. I only know of a few authors who enjoyed success straight off with the first book they wrote. Those rare, fortunate birds are the exception to the rule. Most of the time, the road to publication is a long, bumpy one, with plenty of stops and starts. My journey was like this, complete with crushing disappointments and hundreds of rejections. I wouldnt change a single thing about it.

No one will ever read my first book. It was a dreadful adult paranormal romance with a vampire and C4 explosives and a weirdly awkward love scene that told me very clearly: you are not an adult romance writer. Message received, but not after a few more failed attempts. My first young adult novel, on the other hand, was the first manuscript I wrote where I felt like my writing, storytelling and voice, all leveled up. My critique partners loved the book. My mom loved the book. I started querying. Rejections came, but so did requests for the full, and then came a delightful little thing in publishing called a revise and resubmit. It was an edit letter, essentially, which if you make the suggested changes, the agent will consider your manuscript again. I dug in and revised the crap out of that manuscript. That agent passed, but the revisions paid off when another agent offered and I signed with her. At that point, I was so naive, I thought for sure the book would sell. I mean, the agent wouldnt have signed me if it wasnt a sure thing, right?

The book did not sell. It came close three times, but didnt make it through the acquisition meetings. This was the first time I felt the rejection as more than brief, generalized disappointment. My mistake was thinking this whole process was easier than it was. Let me back up a moment and explain my thing with rejection letters: They are form letters sent from a person who doesnt know you, essentially telling you that your book isnt what theyre looking for. Ive never taken this personally because there is nothing remotely personal about them. I have known writers who do take them to heart and it seems like a terrific expenditure of energy. Maybe I was sleep deprived, or maybe Im missing a brain component, but either way, when rejection letters came, I checked off that agent and went back to work.

Several books later, a manuscript did sell, but I wasnt out of the rejection waters yet. My hardest trial was to come several months later when the publisher closed its U.S. division, orphaning over fifty projects and five debut novels, including mine. Not long afterward, I began to realize that my agent and I werent the perfect fit any longer. After another failed submission on a new project, my agent and I parted ways on good terms and I took the first break from writing I had since Id begun writing in earnest, five years earlier. This was the first and only time I felt defeated. Maybe Id made a mistake, thinking I could do this. Maybe I should find something more productive to do with my time. I took up soap making as a hobbywhy, I dont know. I think I made about fifty pounds of soap, but while weighing out oils and water and lye, my brain started incubating a new story idea. Not long after that, I was back at the computer, doing what I loved most (although, I DO miss smelling like sandalwood and lavender).

The summer after my Soap Adventure, I received an offer on the orphaned book AND signed with a new agent. That book is my debut, Black Bird of the Gallows, and when I hold it, I feel my whole history as a writer under my fingers. Its all therethe triumphs and the disappointments; the hope and the anxiety. All the rejected manuscripts that perished in order to push me to write better, plot better, tell the story better, served a purpose. Im sure I havent seen my last rejection letter. Im not so naive anymore, and I am still not the writer I know I can be. Rejection can be a crushing blow, or it can steel your resolve. You really do have a choice in the matter. Then again, no one has ever rejected a pleasantly scented bar of handmade soap.

 

abouttheauthor

 

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Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.

Author Links: 

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Entangled Publishing

 

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Black Bird of the Gallows 

Young Adult Romantic Fantasy/Entangled Teen – Entangled Publishing

 

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. 

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

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