Friday, January 29, 2010
Seriously, though, things have changed A LOT since I wrote that first novel:
1) When I first started writing my Horror Masterpiece at the ripe old age of nineteen, I was writing on an old-fashioned electric typewriter. The kind where if you made a mistake you had to unscroll the paper, uncap your white-out, and wait for it to dry before starting again. No computers for us, we were real writers...with the paper cuts to prove it.
I remember getting my first word processor. It was ENORMOUS! And awesome!!! It had this tiny little screen with dot-matrix letters, but I could type my entire manuscript and store it on a floppy disk before printing it out. It was like I'd died and gone to editing heaven.
2) I didn't have agentquery.com. Or the internet at all. I spent hours and hours...and hours...scouring through the pages of The Writer's Market, highlighting agents (and publishers) that would consider both first-time authors AND horror novels.
Again, more paper cuts...
3) Email? What is this E-M-A-I-L you speak of??? We had good old fashioned Snail Mail. Always. No instant gratification for us. I would mail my query letter and wait for days. Weeks. Months, maybe.
Okay, maybe that part's not so different.
4) I couldn't cyber-stalk anyone. I couldn't check the Twitter/Facebook/blogs of the agents and editors I was waiting on to see if their status updates had changed. I couldn't look to see if they'd posted an update that they were reading "the scariest book ever written" by a new author they were planning to "pluck out of obscurity". I couldn't read what they'd eaten for lunch. They were on the East Coast and I was on the West Coast...and there was nothing but a good old-fashioned plane ride to bridge that gap.
So, what hasn't changed? In all the years between my doomed horror novel and today, there are a lot of things that have stayed the same: 1) Like I said before, agents and editors still make you wait. They're buried in those e-queries and submissions, and the wait-time doesn't seem to have changed a whole heck of a lot.
2) Query letters are hard. You need to find that balance between professional and not-boring, stand-out and not-cheesy. Basically, you need to knock their socks off...or at least keep them from nodding off.
3) You want to make sure your manuscript is in its best possible shape. You want a tight, finely tuned draft. You want it as error-free as possible. You want drama/action/intrigue/romance...whatever it is that will keep a reader's attention. You want show-not-tell. Make sure it's ready before submitting.
4) Publishing is still tough. After all these years, that much still hasn't changed. It's tough, tough, tough.
Even the internet couldn't change that.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
New authors, new interviews.
Plus, I can’t believe that (after reading my questions) they actually took me seriously enough to answer them. So, yeah…
Today I’ve invited Tenner Jen Nadol, author of THE MARK, which is an amazing book about…well, I’ll let you read what it’s about, but let me just say that it’s one of those books that totally had me asking: “What would I do?” And I love it when a book makes me question how I would react…especially if I’m still thinking about it days after I’ve finished it.
About THE MARK:
Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?
Okay, here we go, Jen:
1) You get into an elevator and someone immediately asks you what your book is about. What’s your elevator-pitch description? Keep in mind, there are only 3 floors in our imaginary building and you just pushed the button for floor 2.
It’s about a girl who realizes the light she’s always seen around certain people means it’s their day to die. She has to figure out why she sees it and what – if anything – to do about it.
2) Where do you get most of your writing done? Better yet, can you show us a picture (before you clean up) of where all of the magic happens?
(her office is WAY more organized than mine)
3) What book or series do you wish that you wrote? And, no, you can’t say Twilight or Harry Potter because those are my answers.
White Oleander: a great story, beautifully written.
4) Okay, your book just won the SUPERFABLOUSGREATESTBOOKEVER award and you are asked to give an acceptance speech. Who are the top three people you thank and why?
omg, I’d be a puddle of nervousness and forget to thank everyone. But if I actually remembered, it’d have to be my husband, my agent and my editor. Without their support and belief, there’d be no book.
5) Recently, the blogosphere had a day dedicated to all the great things our agents do for us. Can you tell us something you love about your agent? If you don’t have an agent, tell us something great about your editor.
I love my agent’s enthusiasm. When she and I were first talking about The Mark, I knew she’d be able to sell it because she’s one of those people whose conviction is totally contagious.
6) We know you are really, really good at writing, but what is something that you are you really, really bad at?
Lying. I don’t know how I got away with anything in high school, because I am soooo not believable. Maybe my parents just looked the other way.
For more about Jen and her books, check out her website at www.jennadolbooks.com (which I always read in my head as “Jenna doll,” which really says more about my psyche than it does about the spelling of her name).
But how cool would be really if her name really was Jenna Doll???
Monday, January 25, 2010
Almost 170 entrants
Over 750 points!
By my calculations, that is a HUGE success! Thanks to each and every one of you who entered, I am completely overwhelmed.
But you've been patient enough, let's cut to the chase.
The winners of THE BODY FINDER book trailer contest are:
The GRAND PRIZE winner of the signed ARC, a $15 gift card to an online bookseller, and the awesome TBF swag pack, including poster, totebag, and bookmarks and stickers is:
*clap* *cheer* *cartwheels* (Okay, maybe not cartwheels...)
The SECOND PLACE winner, who gets the signed ARC, a $10 gift card, and the swag pack, is:
And the THIRD, FOURTH, and FIFTH place winners, who each get a $10 gift card and a TBF swag pack, are:
Congrats, you guys, I'm so excited to send you your stuff!!! I'll be emailing each of you shortly to find out your preferred bookseller and get mailing info.
In the meantime, I just can't thank the rest of you enough for spreading the word about my new trailer...thankyouthankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!!! You really are the best!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
But here's the deal: People like me shouldn't be allowed to create their own countdown widgets.
Last night when I went to bed, I had 52 days until the release of THE BODY FINDER, and then this morning I did an actual calendar count and realized that my numbers were off! WHAT?!?!?!
I would love to blame the widget program, but here's the flaw in my logic, you have to set the countdown clock to end at midnight at the beginning of the date you want it to stop counting, not at the end of the day it's released. I was adding an entire day. *headsmack*
So, it's official. 50. Days. Till. Launch!
I'm freaking out, people!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Yes, I'm talking about The Body Finder book trailer!!!!
OMG, isn't it gorgeous?!?!?!
Okay, so here's the deal...not only do I have this amazing new trailer, but I'm offering something to you as well (besides this tasty bit of eye-candy).
It's ANOTHER CONTEST!!!!!
And this time the prizes are BIGGER and BETTER!!!
Okay, maybe they're pretty much the same, there are just more of them. This time I'm offering up not one, but two (count 'em) TWO signed ARCs of The Body Finder.
Yeah, that's right, get excited!
So here are the rules:
1) As always, you get an auto-point just for following (new followers welcome!). Leave a comment so I know to enter you!
2) Re-tweet or Facebook a link to the new trailer/contest and receive an extra point. Easy, right?
3) Post about The Body Finder trailer and contest in your blog's sidebar, get another point. Omg, it's like I'm giving points away, isn't it???
4) This is where you earn the BIG POINTS! Post the trailer on your blog and earn FIVE extra points! Not one, but FIVE!!!
*And please, oh please, oh please, add your points up in your comment so I don't have to do it.
**Also, include your email address so I know how to reach you.
The Grand Prize Winner will receive a signed ARC, a $15 gift card to the online bookseller of their choice, and The Body Finder swag pack (including poster, tote bag, bookmarks, and stickers). YAY!!!
Second Place will also receive a signed ARC, a $10 gift card to online bookseller, and a swag pack.
There will also be three winners of the $10 gift card and swag packs!!!!
Contest will run until midnight January 23rd and is open to international entries! So get going, people.
And sorry for the lack of dancing ponies...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Have you ever wondered how the whole mysterious publishing process works? I mean, yes, you write the book, get an agent, make the sale. But how does it all work? What’s really going on behind the scenes?
I’ve posted the timeline of my publication journey before, but have never really outlined the path a manuscript takes on its way through the publication process.
Disclaimer: Just like a snowflake, no two paths are exactly alike, this is just a guideline.
BEFORE THE SALE:
You write a book. You revise, and then you edit. You show your mom…she loves it! You revise and edit again. You show some friends, they tell you (to your face, at least) that it’s genius. And you repeat this process until your manuscript is polished and shiny and perfect.
(Or at least until you think it is.)
Then it’s time to find your Dream Agent. But before you start submitting, do some research. You want an agent that’s right for your book, not just an agent with the best sales record. This is important! Do your homework before blindly submitting. (Need convincing? See my post on why you should have an agent.)
This next step is excruciating, trust me. After some MORE polishing with your agent, he/she submits it to publishers. And you wait.
And wait…and wait…and wait.
Note: Something happens to the Space-Time Continuum during the submission process. Minutes feel like hours. Hours stretch on endlessly. Days become an eternity. Even if it’s only been two days, those two feel more like eighty. You will check your email compulsively, and drive yourself insane.
In order to counteract this effect, you must do some sort of retail therapy (Read: shopping). Or indulge in high quantities of chocolate. No need to thank me for this bit of advice, I’m not a hero, just doing my part for writers everywhere.
AFTER THE SALE (and much celebrating!):
Congratulations, you’ve done it! Now, the real work begins. You will get your revision letter from your editor, and go through what I like to call The Six Stages of Revision Hell. This is where you make the down-and-dirty changes your editor has suggested. Sometimes it’s just minor tweaks, more polishing. Sometimes it’s gutting entire sections, breaking them down and starting from scratch. You realize at this point that maybe your mom wasn’t the best critique partner.
Revising can go anywhere from one to four rounds (back and forth). Basically, you do this until you get it right!
Note: For some insane reason, I LOVE the revision process. (Read: glutton-for-punishment). You can read my posts on revisions here and here.
Finished with revising? Now your book goes off to copyediting. This is where your manuscript undergoes rigorous scrutiny by highly skilled English Majors (Read: people who are WAY smarter than you are) who understand the difference between lay and lie (which, apparently, I still have trouble with), and who will viciously point out that you’ve grossly overused the comma. You may go one or two rounds with your copyeditor, and this can be painstaking since you have to consider (and approve or deny) every single mark they’ve made on every single page you’ve written.
And yet…somewhere in the midst of all the editing chaos, you will probably see your cover design!
This is a magical moment, like seeing a unicorn prancing across a rainbow at sunrise. You may go momentarily blind from the sheer joy of it. There will be shrieks and squees and tears of laughter.
Unless, of course, you hate it. And then you call your Dream Agent and throw a full-on hissy fit. But let me point out, because it needs to be said, Dear Author, that your opinion really does not matter. Sorry!
(And just for the record, so there’s absolutely no confusion on this point…there were indeed rainbows and unicorns and squees when I opened my cover file for the first time. I adore it!)
So then, after copyediting, your manuscript is sent off to the typesetter. At this point, bound galleys or ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are ordered. These are printed in advance of your release date and sent off to the press to gain reviews and generate publicity. And to torture and torment you, The Author, as you watch your Goodreads rating rise and fall.
Note: This might be a good time for more retail therapy or chocolate. Possibly both.
ARCs are sent out, the reviews come in, and the cover is (or is not) accepted by the large chain stores (namely Borders and Barnes & Noble). If the chain stores reject the cover, it will be redesigned.
Do you see how this works?
You = No Power.
Chain Stores = Total VETO Power.
(It's about now that you’re wishing you had chosen the pen name: Sir Noble Barnes Borders, aren’t you? Then you'd have the power! And you could have named your book: The Wicked Twilight Potter Games. Instant Bestseller!)
Next, you get your First Pass Pages. Even though they’re printed on standard 8.5 x 11” paper, they’re actually your first peek at what the final typeset version will look like. Again, you actually shed a tear or two. They. Are. Beautiful!
This is your book, sort of. This is what people will be seeing when they crack the pages of the cover that-has-grown-on-you (again, not me...I loved my cover!). And you get to go through each and every page (one more time) looking for any minor typos, typesetter errors, and making a few teensy-tiny corrections. You mark these in colored pencil and mail them back to the publisher. The goal is to keep the number of changes to, say, under 50.
Mine were closer to 250. (Ouch!)
WAITING FOR YOUR RELEASE (aka. Becoming a Publicity Guru):
(Note: If you want some really good information on promotion, I’m going to point you in the direction of Saundra Mitchell and Shelli Johannes Wells' awesome posts. These ladies rocked the heck out this info as they broke it all down!)
In the meantime, as the author, you will be expected to do a hefty percentage of your own promotion (especially since, in this day and age, much of it will be done online). You will need:
A Website. If you’re even a little tech-savvy, this is something you can do yourself. For free. If you’re like me, you will need to hire someone to do this for you.
A blog. Again, free and easy. You don’t even need that much technical know-how. If I can do it, you can. For me, the hardest part was not to post every mundane thought that popped into my head. I’m the queen of TMI, I had to learn to rein it in a little. For everyone’s sake.
You will Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace (this last one is more important if your target audience is Young Adult). Again, all free, all easy, and all fun.
Using these forums, you will become adept at social networking. You will make online contacts, meet book bloggers and reviewers, set up interviews and guest posts on other blogs. Basically, you will be your own, best publicist.
And, in the process, you will make friends. Real ones.
And, in the end, you will have a shiny, non-comma-riddled novel!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Check out this latest interview at Katie's Book Blog. Plus, enter her contest for The Body Finder swag! (Contest ends January 30th)
But don't forget to check back in the next few days, there may or may not be an announcement. And prizes. And possible dancing ponies.
Probably not dancing ponies.
That's all I'm gonna say for now. ;)
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I call it: The Jinx.
I’ve always been this way, to the point that when I announced that THE BODY FINDER had sold, I got a lot of this from my friends:
Friends: You write?
Friends: For how long?
Me: *shrugs* Forever.
Friends: I didn’t know that.
That’s right, they didn’t know…because of The Jinx.
If I’d told them I was writing, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to finish. And when I was done writing and was querying, telling them might have meant that my query letters would have spontaneously self-combusted in the inboxes of every agent they were sitting in…possibly burning down entire buildings in the process. I couldn’t have lived with that. That’s how The Jinx works.
So I keep it to myself, for the most part, telling only a select few who I know are immune to The Jinx. My husband, of course, my mom, my agent, my editor…even, occasionally, a friend or two who manages to catch me off-guard. And then I have to convince myself that they, too, are impervious to The Jinx’s impressive reach.
I’m awed by the bravery of those of you who are willing to share your work, posting Tuesday Teasers and sneak peeks online. Very, very courageous, flaunting your snippets in the face of danger…like waving a red flag in front of a charging bull. Bravo, I say! Bravo!
Me, I prefer to operate under the radar. Keep my head low and avoid eye contact with The Jinx whenever possible. No Tuesday Teasers from me…
Yeah, that’s the level of crazy I’m living with.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I hear you all talking (especially you, Khy) about your point-of-view preferences…first versus third person. As a reader, I’d never really given it that much thought, a book worked if it worked. Meaning, the point of view didn’t matter to me if the writer was capable of telling the story, no matter which perspective they’d chosen.
But as a writer, I’ve had to consider this, to think about it, to delve deep into my psyche. Okay, really? Maybe not so much with that last part, I mean it’s not that deep a question. But it does spark some (somewhat) heated discussions, and some varied opinions, even (I’ve discovered) within myself.
I’m not sure I have a strong enough opinion to jump on my soapbox and make a broad proclamation that “I” is better than “he” or “she.” Or vice versa. I think there are benefits to both. (And, yes, I realize there is that pesky second person narrative, but, honestly, I don’t really get-it, so for argument’s sake, I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist. Just go with me on this one.)
It really comes down to personal choice, to what works best for you. Some writers prefer one point of view over the other, tending to write all (or at least most) of their work from that perspective. Personally, I like to dabble. Switch hit, you might say. The Body Finder is third person, my current project is first, and I really liked writing both of them. Equally, but in completely different ways.
One thing I’ve noticed about first person is that it’s easier to get inside of your character’s head and flesh out their personality. You’re freer to express their internal dialogue, which can add humor/drama/impact. Sometimes. It can also give you a bad case of TMI, so you have to be careful just how much “sharing” you do (you don’t want your character to come across as whiny or bitchy or just plain unlikeable). Also, I think it would be easy to get stuck in that internal world, leading to far too much telling and not enough showing.
And, in my opinion, a writer can just as easily bring their characters to life (in High-Def & Technicolor) in third person, all while adding a broader view than just that one character’s perspective. Sometimes. If not employed properly, it can also lead to flat, cardboard cutout-type characters, and in some cases allow for too many POVs which can muddy the waters.
So what’s the answer? There isn’t one. There is no clear winner. Don’t believe me? Then check out each of these lists and tell me which list we could do without.
(I triple-dog dare you!)
FIRST PERSON BOOKS:
To Kill a Mockingbird (I have to include this one because it’s one of my all-time faves)
The Hunger Games
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
THIRD PERSON BOOKS:
The Golden Compass
The Graveyard Book
(Oh, and what’s this…?) The Body Finder (Sorry, I had to do it.)
(And, okay, yes, I did not search far and wide for these books; I simply turned and looked at my bookshelves. Clearly, I write YA.)
But here’s what I want to know: As a reader or a writer, do you have a preference? Would you rather be inside (or outside) of the character’s heads? Spying on their innermost thoughts and feelings, or trying to decipher their emotions by gathering clues in their actions and studying their reactions?
And which list could you do without???
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Here’s a little about STUPID CUPID (the first in a trilogy…YAY!):
Felicity Walker believes in true love. That’s why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid’s Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn’t just a matchmaker…she’s a cupid! (There’s more than one of them, you know.)
Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend Maya with three different boys at once, disaster strikes. Felicity needs to come up with a plan to set it all right, pronto, before she gets fired…and before Maya ends up with her heart split in three.
Okay, Rhonda, last Debs' Interview, make it count. (No pressure!):
1) Would you rather be the Bestselling Rockstar Author or an Acclaimed Literary Award Winner?
Bestselling Rockstar Author, for sure!!
2) Make people laugh, cry, or hide under the covers?
I want to make them laugh. A lot.
3) Retire early or just keep writing from your beach house(s)?
Write from the beach house. I don't see me giving this up.
4) FaceBook or MySpace?
FaceBook, hands down.
5) After a period, one space or two?
One space. It used to be two, but I've converted. haha
And your bonus question: What ONE WORD of advice would give to any aspiring writer?
To find out more about her books, or to read of her three (yes, you read that right…THREE) bios, check out her website at http://rhondastapleton.com/!
Friday, January 1, 2010
For the past month I've been on kind of an internet hiatus. I've barely posted, I've ignored Google Reader, Twitter has been sufficiently neglected, and even my email has been all but abandoned. But, it was worth it. Two major writing deadlines were met, I managed to (successfully!) wrap up my first ARC contest, I got my Christmas shopping/wrapping/eating accomplished, and I even managed to stay up *well* past midnight to ring in the new decade. And now, like everything good, my blog-cation must come to an end!
Which is to say...I'M BACK! And there are some pretty cool happenings to tell you about.
First, I forgot to mention some great reviews of THE BODY FINDER that hit publications over the past few months! The first was in October's issue of Booklist, in which they had this to say:
Violet Ambrose can find dead bodies. Their aura of sound, color, or even taste imprints itself on their murderers, and Violet’s extrasensory perception picks up on those elements. It’s an invaluable but deeply troubling talent, especially since a serial killer is plying his trade throughout her small community, and her ability marks her as the next possible victim. Violet finds escape in her growing crush on her longtime childhood friend, Jay, but the tenderness she finds with him is threatened by terror and doubt as she searches for the killer. First-time novelist Derting has written a suspenseful mystery and sensual love story that will captivate readers who enjoy authentic high-school setting, snappy dialogue, sweet romance, and heart-stopping drama. A real page-turner, this will have readers checking behind themselves and refusing to go anywhere alone.
And, second, was in December's issue of VOYA (again, not too shabby!):
Violet Ambrose is starting her junior year in high school and faces problems shared by many teens. She is madly in love with Jay Heaton, her best friend since first grade, but does not know if he feels the same. She is trying to do well at school, but classes do not always hold her interest. Unlike others, however, Violet has the ability—or perhaps the curse—of sensing violent deaths around her. Every demise leaves a hint screaming to be discovered: sometimes a sheen of colors, other times a chorus of bells or even a specific smell. When Violet was eight, she discovered a girl's body in the woods behind her house. This same killer is now striking her community again, kidnapping and murdering teenage girls. He even seems to be getting closer to Violet with every kill. She must deal with her emotions for Jay at the same time as she tries to stop this vicious murderer before it is too late for both. Derting's first novel provides the reader with both Violet's and the killer's perspectives. Violet's fear is palpable and rises as her attempt to find the murderer leads her close to death and as she confronts her feelings for Jay. The explicit and unsettlingly candid tone of the killer reminds one of Robert Cormier's Tenderness (Delacorte, 1997), while several twists and turns keep the pages flipping. Older readers will quickly find themselves pulled into Derting's neighborhood.
Okay, so I don't really know anything about Cormier's Tenderness (sounds like something I might like, though!), so I'm going to assume that was a compliment. All in all, this was some exciting stuff!
In other (not-about-me) news, I also wanted to let you know that beginning January 4th over at The Story Siren, author C. Leigh Purtill is going to be releasing a digital version of her new book THE RISE OF GINNY COOPER in four parts. THE RISE OF GINNY COOPER is about a writer who dreams of seeing her work on the silver screen. It's a companion novel to her ALL ABOUT VEE, and picks up shortly after the first book ends but you don't need to read the first to enjoy the second.
Free content? Free book? How can you go wrong? I can't wait to check it out. You should definitely do the same!!!
What else...what else??? It seems like I have so much to say...
Don't forget, there will definitely be another chance to win an ARC of THE BODY FINDER coming up sometime this month! So check back in now and again!!!
Also, if you have a few minutes, check this out...it's the sweet new Tenner trailer (there's a whole lotta awesome coming up this next year!):