Baby Author Firsts: My first panel!

I've had this post on my To Do list for a couple of weeks now, but I wanted to detail my first experience as a Con panelist! 

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to Nineworlds Geekfest in London to speak on the Writing Queer Characters panel. It was my first experience of speaking on a panel, so I was genuinely really nervous before I went. Luckily, I arranged to meet up with fellow #WO2016 author, Emma Adams, to share accomodation and generally hang out! Despite talking online frequently, Emma and I had never met before. 

 

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On the positive side, I didn't die. Our panel went relatively smoothly, although I do feel that the moderator could have been better prepared and it would have been helpful to have some indication of specific questions prior to the day. It may have helped if I'd been able to arrive earlier, but due to some travel chaos, I *just* made it to the panel in time. However, I was able to discuss polyamory and bisexuality in quite a lot of detail and the audience had some great questions. Our room was packed, which is also a great feeling! I also got to pimp some great Queer YA books like THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US … and the audience seemed pretty wowed by the idea of Lesbians and Seamonsters. 

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Getting down to the panel itself was more than a little bit of a challenge. I caught the train early Saturday morning — and our train HIT A PERSON. Honestly, it was one of those horror stories that you hear about but think are actually really rare. We were delayed for about four hours, and the whole time I was getting more and more anxious with conflicting emotions. I felt terrible for the person as it was ruled a suicide. Even worse for the driver who now has to live with the guilt and the surviving family members. Then, I hated myself for worrying so much over a panel in the light of … death. By the time I actually made it down to Nineworlds to meet Emma, I was pretty worked up and arrived approximately 5 1/2 hours later than I had anticipated. 

Once I arrived, I did have a really great time. I loved seeing all the cosplay at the event and I got some frankly hilarious Loki Tea at the expo. Nineworlds is extremely inclusive and they build in a lot of places for quiet space around the venue. I went to some great panels on Fan Fiction and Fandom culture, as well as one on Plus Sized Heroines. I would have liked to see more YA book panels, but I appreciate that not every event can be focused on this magical category. 

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I’ve Debuted: A Tale of Excitement, Fear, Happiness and Rejection.

On Thursday, Unicorn Tracks will be one month old. It seems surreal. After more than a year of waiting, editing, blurbing, talking to my editors,  bloggers … the fact that it’s actually out doesn’t quite register with me. My mind can’t quite process that my book is in the wild, has been in the wild, for thirty days. At the same time, I’m cherishing the reader photographs and comments, documenting my baby’s first month in pictures like a proud mother.

Last week, I attended BEA/Bookcon and had my first signing. The publisher brought fifty copies of Unicorn Tracks, and we ran out within twenty-five minutes. That was incredible. But perhaps the most incredible and enduring part, for me as an author, was having every single one of those eager readers sign my copy of the book. Each of those signatures represents a copy. A real, physical copy, that has found an eager pair of hands. That signed book is an anchor to reality. My book has debuted. I have debuted. We are out there.

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Amazing Things About Being a Debut

1)      Everyone will listen to you talk about your book. People you barely know will ask about your book. From what I’ve heard from other writers, this newness, this interest from everyone you meet, definitely wears out the longer you’re a writer. Of course, by that point, you hopefully have real fans who ask because they like your work rather than asking because they like the idea of knowing an author. But at the same time, there is something really nice about being asked. Maybe I’m especially sensitive to this. I come from an academic background where no one understood or cared what obscure topic I was working on for my dissertation.

2)      You get to meet lots and lots of authors. Debut authors are excited, terrified and like to stick to each other like Velcro. This is because the experience of being a new author with a book on the horizon, is like no other time in a writer’s career. No one really knows what to expect or how things will go. As a result, debuts bond together and talk to each other. It’s an extended support network and I made so many new friends this year. My #protip on this is to be equally nice to everyone you meet. Don’t be mercantile in your friending. A lot of people will see through it in a heartbeat.

3)      Debut Events! So many blogs and websites host events for Debut Authors. It makes you feel a little bit like a celebrity even though you have no book out yet and nobody knows who you are. There will also be physical firsts. Your first signing, for example. Your first fan encounter. Those firsts are magical!

4)      You learn so much about how the publishing process works with your first book. You learn how editing rounds will go, what it’s like to work through an edit letter and a whole manuscript full of in-text comments from a professional who is not your CP. You learn to negotiate with design teams and how to read royalty statements.

 

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Things I'll Do Differently Next Time

1)      Have some rhyme and reason in the timing of things like cover reveals, teasers, blog tours etc. I think with this book I did my cover reveal waaaaaay too early because I was too excited to share UT’s cover with the world. But I think a lot of the people who got buzzy about the cover in October had forgotten the buzz by April at release. I’ll be doing this tighter for my next book.

 

2)      Spend way less time on GoodReads on the days after release. While I confess to being one of those authors who reads their reviews (and this probably isn’t going to change. I’m realistic about myself and my obsessive nature), reading reviews or following status updates in the days when you’re supposed to be riding the release party high is not a good idea.

 

3)      Make sure that reviewers have their ARCs much further in advance. Some beautiful bloggers managed to complete pre-reviews at a very pushy timescale.

 

4)      Be more clear with my publisher / publicist about the timing of publicity efforts. I think that I didn’t communicate very effectively about what I was doing, which led to a lot of concentration in some areas of the marketing plan, and possibly not enough in others. Like most debuts, I was really really nervous about being perceived as a diva, but going forward, I’ll be more businesslike in working out this timetable/plan.

 

5)      Spend more time really enjoying the editorial process: pouring over my edit letter, dissecting my comments and laughing/crying with them. This time around, I was really panicky about the deadlines. I’ve never missed a deadline on any project. I need to learn to relax and enjoy the ride.

 

Crash and Imposter Syndrome

 

A writer friend of mine and amazing author of The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig, has talked a lot about the crash after the buzz. Publishing is a business of waiting, hope, anticipation and rejection. You query and you wait. You sign a contract and you wait. You get edits, send them back, and wait some more. All the while, the sense of immediacy builds inside you until you’re ready to explode when release day comes. That, and I’m sorry to say, but rejection doesn’t end with the book deal. As a newbie author, you’ll probably worry constantly about rejection – possibly even more constantly than you did while querying or on submission. When you’ve debuted and the anticipation fades, it can leave a vacuum. Knowing where to direct that energy is hard. It’s hard to focus immediately on the next book. It’s hard to focus on going to the gym or hanging out with friends. Really, it’s hard to focus on anything but the void of nervous excitement. There’s something missing inside me where that was and it’s hard not to feel a little bit sad.

I struggle with my mental health. This is something I’m open and honest about. In the weeks after my debut and especially now that BEA is over, managing that void is something I’m still coming to terms with. But knowing that it’s something lots of other debut authors have experienced and overcome

I wrote an extensive blog post about the realities of Imposter Syndrome for Ava Jae’s blog. As a new author – especially an author published by a smaller house without an agent – I definitely felt like I didn’t belong a lot of the time. Sometimes, this had nothing to do with what others said or even how they reacted. It was mostly in my head. I was self-rejecting out of fear of being “not good enough” or being an “imposter author” in the writing community. Yes, there are people who are negative, who look down on other writers, but frankly, the good people so vastly outnumber these bad eggs. It can be too easy to focus on the people who don’t accept you or your books and get depressed about it. It took me a while to find a core group of authors to talk to and interact with. As I said in the article I wrote for Ava, even NYT bestselling author sometimes experience Imposter Syndrome.

 

 

 

A Writer Reflecting on 2015, Looking forward to 2016

As it's already a week into the New year, I made myself finally sit down and write the post I've been thinking about for quite some time. 

 

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But, I decided that since TODAY is, in itself, a special day, I was in a good frame of mind to write a reflective year post. TODAY I signed a 3-book deal for a new YA fantasy trilogy! (if you literally only clicked this link to know what it's about, scroll to the end)

This year has been full of transitions for me. I already wrote a detailed post about my career change (dayjob) and my progress in dealing with two chronic health conditions. This post is going to be entirely about writing. 

In December 2014, I started querying a manuscript about lesbians on safari looking for unicorns while trying not to fall in love. In March 2015, I signed a contract with Harmony Ink Press. 

Unicorn Tracks is such a special story to me for so many reasons. First, despite being an openly bisexual woman who has dated more women than men, I had never written a f/f manuscript. It seems strange to me now. My first love was a woman. The person who broke my heart into the greatest number of pieces, was a woman. But up until I started Unicorn Tracks, I'd only written f/m couples. 

Secondly, it deals with feelings of isolation that victims can feel after an assault in a very visceral way. This is something that unfortunately resonates very powerfully with me, but that's for another post, another day. 

And … it's my first manuscript to see publication! Unicorn Tracks is scheduled for release in April of this year. 

In addition to signing this book, this year has seen a number of things happen: 

1) I completed four rounds of editing with a publisher! And learned a lot about compromise. 

2) I worked with a designer and got a cover that I am in love with!! 

3) Made so many friends in the writing and blogging communities. I am publishing with a small press. The reality of that is that you have to do a lot of your own marketing and strategic career planning. I've been so lucky to have friends who can steer me right and bloggers will to talk to me about my book!

4) Started a series! In February 2015, I began writing a fantasy novel set in a world based losely on my Christmas trip to Bhutan and Myanmar. The Tiger's Watch is an extremely different type of book to Unicorn Tracks. It has a much darker tone, it's much longer and it's for older audience (upper YA as opposed to lower). I sold it, and it's sequels … TODAY. The Tiger's Watch is Book 1 in the Ashes of Gold trilogy and will be released August 2017 from Harmony Ink! 

5) Wrote a couple of shorts! I wrote a few novelettes! One of them is going to be in an Anthology! YAY. 

6) I started writing a bisexual Retelling of the Little Mermaid. I'm literally so in love with his manuscript I can't even begin to try and sum it up. 

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So What's Up for 2016? 

If I'm still alive in August, it may be a miracle. 

Unicorn Tracks releases APRIL 21 2016!! So, I've got lots and lots of release related planning to do. 

I am aiming to finish The Sea Witch by the end of February. 

Book 2 of the Ashes of Gold series is due to the publisher August 1st. 

Book 3 of the Ashes of Gold series is due to the publisher by December 31. 

Beginning the editorial process on The Tiger's Watch 

Publishing a short in an anthology! All details to be posted soon! 

… and trying not to die. Three books to write in a year. One to edit. One short to edit. What could possibly go wrong?

 

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—-> FOR THE SKIMMERS

What is The Tiger's Watch … about? 

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a seargl, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But when the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic but Tashi sees a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander – a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they learned at the academy was a lie, Tashi faces a choice: save their country or the boy they've started to love? But while Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn't question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But a seargl’s bond to their animal is for life – when Katala dies, so will Tashi.

Coming AUGUST 2017 from Harmony Ink!!!

Writer Resources (3): Eight Authors Talk Publication Journey and Writing Process

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Eight Authors Talk Publication and the Writing Process

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It’s easy to get discouraged at the query stage. You’ve written the manuscript, edited it to as near a perfect state as you and your CPs are capable of, written the synopsis … but now comes the dreaded waiting game. Unfortunately, many writers give up after a few rejections, or become jaded by the length of the process. And ultimately, many great writers don’t find agents through the slush pile or if they find one, the relationship doesn’t lead to a successful book sale.

In this blog post, eight writers talk through less traditional routes to print, their experiences, writing routines and what makes their novels unique!

I hope that reading about some different experiences will help encourage you to keep writing.

Participating Authors:

Emily Skrutskie – YA Sci-Fi

KT Hanna – YA/NA Sci-Fi

Nina Rossing – YA Sci-Fi

Ava Jae – YA/NA Sci-Fi

Suzanne Von Rooyen – YA Contemporary, Sci-Fi

Tegan Wren – Romance

Emma Adams – YA/NA Paranormal, Sci-Fi

Chase Night – YA Contemporary

As usual with posts on this blog, if the book in question features a MC who is a person of colour, lgbtqia or both, there will be a “We Need Diverse Books” icon beneath the cover image. READ DIVERSELY! <3

Don’t forget to enter the two Rafflecopter giveaways!

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Emily Skrutskie

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THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US

Flux, February 2016.

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(1) Tell us about your book! What about it makes it so special? 

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US is special in a lot of ways. For one thing, its concept is a real humdinger—giant sea monsters escorting ships and defending them from pirates on the seas of the future. Its protagonist is also a YA rarity—a gay Chinese American girl. But I think what made it really catch was the dilemma the story presents. Cas, a young sea monster trainer, gets captured by pirates and is forced to raise a sea monster pup for them. How’s she going to escape?

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?

The funny thing about my publication path is that a lot of it was the query queue hell. I sent my first query letter at the tender age of fifteen, and I was querying projects off and on in the five years that followed. I racked up a ton of rejections on two projects that, in retrospect, deserved them. Then ABYSS came around. I knew it was special, and I wanted to make sure it shone, so I saved it. I wanted to put the manuscript through Pitch Wars, then query. In the middle of that, I decided to also put my query letter up on WriteOnCon to get some feedback on it.

Then along came my editor. He saw the query, saw the pages I had posted, and asked (and eventually basically begged (sorry Brian, it’s true)) to see the full manuscript. I was hesitant—I didn’t have an agent. Weren’t you supposed to have an agent before you went to editors? Weren’t you not supposed to go to editors if you wanted an agent? But in the end, I decided that the worst thing that could happen was Brian would reject the manuscript, so I submitted.

Brian didn’t reject the manuscript. In fact, he wanted both it and its sequel. And he really got the story and had great ideas for fleshing it out, so less than a month later, I found myself with a two book offer of publication from Flux. Brian and I had talked about the agent thing, and I knew I didn’t want to go into a contract without representation, so I sent out five queries to agents who had read fulls of my previous novel. All five requested, and my phone started ringing twenty minutes later. Four ended up offering representation, and one week later I had signed with the one who I knew was The One. Somehow, I managed to be a senior in college at the same time that all of this was happening.

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?

“Consistent” (I write to a minimum goal of five hundred words every day), “structured” (I outline extensively and pre-plan my writing), and “uninhibited” (My draft mentality is focused on getting words on the page, not on their quality)

(4) What are you working on now?

Right now I’m in the planning stages of my next project and polishing up the sequel to ABYSS. So basically I’m working on a lot of pacing around the house.

(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?

I’d love to say Santa Elena, the pirate queen and villain of ABYSS—she’s confident, theatrical, and absolutely vicious. But I’m probably more like Swift, her apprentice, who’s got blue eyes and bad hair and tries to act tough and cool even though she’s a stressed disaster most of the time.

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?

Know your logline. One of the things I struggled with a lot in my earlier novels was that they couldn’t be boiled down to a simple sentence. A well-structured, sellable story should be pitchable with just one line. And once you have your one line, it’s not that hard to build from it into a single page query letter.

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was just a pure delight. I read it in like six hours and I was grinning for most of it. True feel-good reads are so rare, and I really appreciate them.

(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016?

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US drops on February 8th, 2016

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K.T. Hanna

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CHAMELEON

August 2015 – TODAY

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(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special? 

Chameleon (The Domino Project #1) is set almost 350 years in the future, more than a century after widespread ecological disaster in the form of a meteor shower has transformed earth from what it used to be.

When Sai’s newly awoken psionic powers accidentally destroy her apartment complex, she’s thrown into an intensive training program. Her only options are pass or die.

Surviving means proving her continued existence isn’t a mistake–a task her new mentor, Bastian, takes personally. Her abilities place her in the GNW Enforcer division, and partners her with Domino 12, who is eerily human for an alien-parasite psionic hybrid.

After eliminating an Exiled scientist, she discovers someone is manipulating both sides of the conflict. With each mission more perilous, Sai must figure out who to trust before her next assignment becomes her last.

It’s special because its heroine is vulnerable, yet strong, and works at saving herself and others because she can.

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences? 

Well actually, I had the query queue hell sort of. I got my first agent through a Twitter based competition called: PitchMadness. She loved this book, but dystopian similar stories were on the down by then… She was fantastic, but had to move from NYC and ended up leaving the business.

I got my second agent through my first – and we had some close calls, but ultimately my astounding talent to not write to market trends meant no sales after 3 books. And we started veering in different directions, so we parted ways amicably.

And then I decided. Well. It could be 5 years, it could be 20 years before this comes back in “vogue” again. I’m going to put it out myself. And I did.

 

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be? 

Obsessive. Binge. Frantic.

 

(4) What are you working on now? 

Edits for Hybrid (The Domino Project #2)

Oh alllll the edits.

 

(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why? 

I’m probably more a mix of my characters. There’s a little of me in all of them. I think Sai’s acceptance of people as they are is from me. Dom’s analytical mind and humor, and Bastian’s passion.

Wow, that makes me sound cooler than I think I am though 😉

 

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels? 

Always revise with the endgame in sight. And I don’t mean publication, I mean revise with the story goal – what you want your story to tell. If you can curb it to the market without losing that – then this is awesome.

As for querying? With the internet the way it is today, it’s so easy to get the submission right. It’s also very simple to find out information about agents. Follow their social media and blogs, make sure you’re submitting to the right agent for you. And always do your research.

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?

I’m a little behind in my reading this year. I’ve read a few books that haven’t come out yet but my favorite of the year is probably Seanan McGuire’s The Winter Long. I’m a little biased though. I love that series.

(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016? 

Well, Chameleon comes out August 4th!

Hybrid (The Domino Project #2) is due out in November 2015 – exact date to be determined.

Parasite (The Domino Project #3) Is tentatively due out in February 2016

KT Hanna is currently serving as a #PitchWars Mentor!


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Nina Rossing

SUPERMASSIVE

Harmony Ink Press, 2014.

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(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special?

I currently have one YA novel published. “Supermassive” (2014) is a contemporary LGBT story, parts romance and parts about overcoming grief. What is perhaps special about it is that it’s set in Norway.

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?

My goal while writing my novel was to go down the traditional publishing route by finding an agent first and then take it from there. I quickly realized that this route would be a very difficult and long one since I wrote a story that was a bit marginal.

I researched a long list of agents to query, and I also researched publishers who accepted direct submissions. While gathering this list of agents, I polished my manuscript after some beta feedback, and I kept returning to the site of one particular publisher that specialized in LGBT YA. I really wanted to query them right away, but the desire to find an agent won.

Like most writers, I struggled with the query writing, but eventually I was happy enough with it to start sending out queries to a number of agents. I gave myself a few months, deciding that if all I got was rejections, I’d send my book directly to the publisher I had in mind, because I really liked their philosophy. I got a few rejections from agents real quick, while others I never heard from. I could probably have polished the query and sent out a new batch, but I got restless and decided to send the book to the LGBT publisher. Six weeks later I had a contract, and I decided to venture into publishing without an agent. The publisher was a delight to work with (not that I had much to compare with, but I think I can safely say they are very professional), and my next project I wrote specifically with them in mind. I made the decision not to query any agents with this project, and the result is my upcoming novel, which will also be published by Harmony Ink Press.

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?

Focused, fast and noise-surrounded!
(I work full time as a high school teacher and I have two small boys. Time and a quiet writing space is not something I have an abundance of!)

(4) What are you working on now?

Ha-ha. What am I not working on… 😉 I always have several projects going at the same time. Right now I have one completed novel out with beta readers, I have one story I’m writing on now and then, and one that I can’t wait to start! All of them are YA, and not all of them are LGBT, so I now actually have specific plans to query agents with my next project.

(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?
I try to write main characters that are fundamentally different from me. And by different I don’t mean the fact that so far my main characters have been boys! When my characters have to make choices, I usually have them do the opposite of what I would have done…

I will let characters’s parents have the same taste in music as me, though – and occasionally I’ll share some traits with secondary characters.

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?Believe in yourself! This is so important.

Think about your options before you start querying. Do a lot of research: make lists of agents you’d like to query, and make lists of publishers who take direct submissions in your genre. Be prepared for a long waiting game. Have patience (more than I had), and don’t ever give up. You will receive rejections, so while querying one project, make sure you work on the next, and the next and so on.

Also: revise projects many times, and get over the fear of letting other writers read your material. Join a writer’s forum where you can soak up plenty of useful advice (and learn to ignore the advice you don’t need…)

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?

You think I can choose only one?!

I’ll take my chances and mention three good YAs:
“When Everything Feels Like The Movies” by Raziel Reed
“What You Left Behind” by Jessica Verdi
“Lies We Tell Ourselves” by Robin Talley

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Ava Jae
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BEYOND THE RED
Sky Pony Press, 2016.
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(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special? 
Beyond the Red is a YA SF about an uprising on a distant, alien planet that threatens the reign of a teen alien queen. It has a clash of two cultures (humans and aliens), monarchies, advanced technology, a political power struggle, explosions, and kissing. It releases March 2016, and I can’t wait to share it! 

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?
Well I did query, but that’s not quite exactly how I got my agent. Short version: I entered a randomized blog contest that picked entries out of a lottery, I was not informed that I got in (and so assumed I hadn’t), I found out I not only got in but was chosen as a runner-up, requesting agent loved my book and offered representation, I gave a very enthusiastic yes, eight months (and many revisions) later Sky Pony Press bought Beyond the Red. 🙂

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?
Write, revise, rest.
(4) What are you working on now?
At this very second? I’m between WIPs. But I will very shortly be revising what I’ve been calling the #YAFantasyWIP on Twitter again! So that’s exciting. ^_^
(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?
Um…hmm. While I think both Eros and Kora (my protagonists) resemble me in different ways, I’ll go with Kora. She has a hard character to write because she hides her emotions a lot in order to seem strong and stoic, which is something I’ve been known to do. She also deals with a ton of pressure and responsibility, and she has to navigate that while also trying to work out who she is and what she believes, which is something I also struggle with. So yeah. We have a lot in common. 🙂

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?

Don’t give up! Seriously. I dove into the query trenches six times (yes, really) before signing with my agent. As long as you keep writing, reading, revising and persevering, you’ll make it eventually.

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?
Oh geez. I have to pick just one? I’ve read SO many incredible books this year so far. I guess I’ll go with Half Wild by Sally Green, because I’m obsessed with that series and this book was everything I could have wanted and more in a sequel.

(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016?
My debut releases March 2016!

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 Suzanne Von Rooyen 
I HEART ROBOT
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Month9Books

(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special?

I have two books I can talk about right now, the first being I HEART ROBOT which released in March from Month9Books. This YA science fiction novel is about a girl who loves music and a robot-boy who loves music, and about how that girl and robot-boy accidentally discover they might love each other even when their world conspires against them. What makes this book special is its futuristic Scandinavian setting and the fact that both my main characters love classical music. There are quite a few nerdy references to Beethoven, Scriabin and more.

The other book I’d like to mention is SCARDUST, my New Adult debut coming in 2016 from Entangled. This book, a sci-fi romance, is special because it took me more than two years to write, confronting something only writing this book truly helped me to deal with. This story is about an ex-juvenile delinquent’s dream of becoming an astronaut, which gets derailed when he finds a beat-up amnesiac in the Texas desert. Raleigh is then forced to confront a painful truth that could shatter both his dream of Mars and his heart.

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?

Well my writing career started accidentally when, on a whim, I started submitting my first NaNoWriMo manuscript to indie publishers. When that got picked up for publication, I realized that I needed to start taking things a bit more seriously. I did eventually end up in the query trenches in search of an agent but only after my first YA novel was published by a small press, and only with the novel that made it to the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. Since signing with my agent, I’ve continued to be a hybrid author, published by both small press and traditional houses. I really enjoy being part of both worlds.

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?

When inspiration strikes 😉

(4) What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a YA science fantasy inspired by the mythology I grew up on in South Africa. This story is my own spin on some traditional African folklore.

(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?

There’s a little bit of me in all my characters, but I think Treasa from my novel THE OTHER ME probably comes closest. Although there’s a lot of me in Gabriel from the same novel as well.

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?

Don’t give up, but also be honest with yourself when you think it might be time to move on. Query smartly – learn everything you can from agent blogs and social media like the #TenQueries and #PitchWars tags. Take constructive criticism onboard but don’t revise your novel to suit anyone’s particular tastes. Only make changes that ring true for you and your story.

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?

Gah! I’ve read so many good books, but maybe the best for me has been Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lin Block, a fantastically diverse YA magical realism novel.

I also had the privilege of reading Louise Gornall’s forthcoming Under Rose-Tainted Skies, and I can promise you now you are going to fall in love with that book when it releases next year from Clarion and Chicken House!

(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016?

SCARDUST will be out in 2016 and I cannot wait for readers to meet Raleigh and Crow!

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Tegan Wren 

INCONCEIVABLE

 

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Curiosity Quills Press, 2015.
(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special?
My debut novel is INCONCEIVABLE! It’s an adult contemporary romance. I think it stands out in a very crowded market because it follows a prince and commoner who fall in love and then have their happily ever after interrupted by infertility. I wanted to combine humor, romance, heart, and hope into a book that would give readers all the feels!

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?

Well, let’s not fool ourselves. I definitely went through query queue hell for months. I used a variety of approaches to find the right home for my manuscript. I cold queried agents and entered multiple contests. I strongly considered doing a workshop where you pay to have agents read and give feedback on your first chapter. It seemed like a way to skip to the front of the line, so to speak, and guarantee an agent would see your work. However, the cost was high and I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. In the end, an indie publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, requested pages based on my Pitchmas entry. The initial request got upgraded to a full, and then came an offer! I was ecstatic, but also unsure what to do. At that point, several agents were reviewing my partial and full manuscript. I decided to ask those agents to make a decision about whether or not to represent me, given that I had an offer on the table from a well-respected small publisher. The agents either politely bowed out or didn’t respond to my request for a decision.

CQ is releasing INCONCEIVABLE! as an ebook and paperback under its new romance imprint, Curiosity Thrills. The new imprint has an expanded view of the romance genre, and that makes my book a perfect fit. Several agents really liked my book, but had a hard time seeing how it could fit into the traditional “box” for romance novels. Now that my publication date is nearing (November 16!), I’m still thrilled that I decided to sign with CQ instead of continuing to query agents. It was the right decision for this book. I do plan to query agents when I finish the two manuscripts I’m working on now.

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?

Caffeinated, Revision-obsessed, Plodding

(4) What are you working on now?

I’m so glad you asked. I’ve got two lovelies in the works.I’m well into a young adult novel, which is a major departure for me. But I’m most excited about my next adult romance, CHANDELIERS.CHANDELIERS focuses on Violet, an American who teaches French. She’s attending her first-ever historical re-enactment at Versailles when she experiences a time-slip and finds herself back in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.There she meets Luke, a handsome, quick-witted physician from modern times. Luke experienced a time-slip during an earlier re-enactment and has been trapped in 1777 ever since. Thrown together under such bizarre circumstances, the pair initially clash over what to do and how to get back to the present.Meanwhile, Marie Antoinette is in deep despair over the fact she hasn’t produced an heir. Violet, who experienced infertility herself with her ex-husband, ropes Luke into helping the queen. In ways that are amusing and subtle enough to protect their status as time travellers, they share insights that will help the queen get pregnant. While working together to help Marie Antoinette, Violet and Luke discover they click. Just as the relationship hits a new level of intensity, Luke stumbles upon what he thinks is a mechanism for going back to the present, but he’s unsure if it will work for both of them.Will one of them go while the other one stays behind? Or will they decide not to risk being separated forever?

You’ll have to read CHANDELIERS to discover how they settle on their happily ever after. 😉

(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?

I think I’m a good listener, and that probably makes me most like Tilda, Hatty’s best friend. I’m really blessed to have a life-long best friend and Tilda’s probably a mix of the two of us.

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?

Everyone says this and no one does it: don’t query until you’re confident the revisions are done. Now, if you’re like me, the revisions are NEVER done. But, you should feel pretty darn great about your manuscript before you begin querying. As far as revising, make sure the revisions are tightening and expanding in all the right places. While many writers focus on cutting, and that’s a good thing, don’t forget to look for places where you can flesh out a detail or two to add emotional punch.

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015? 

Tough question! I’ve read some really great books this year: Game of Love by Ara Grigorian, Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant, Missing Pieces by Meredith Tate, Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, and The Rearranged Life by Annika Sharma. You asked for the best…I can’t pick a favorite because each is great in its own way.

(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016?

INCONCEIVABLE! on November 16 is my only book that’s slated for release. I’m really excited about the cover reveal and first Goodreads giveaway on September 16. The few people who have seen the cover have absolutely raved about it. Every time I see it, I fall in love with my characters all over again!

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 Emma Adams
ADAMANT (ALLIANCE SERIES)
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(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special?
My YA paranormal Darkworld series is about eighteen-year-old Ash, a student who can see demons. When she’s drawn into a group of sorcerers at her new university, she discovers the real, sinister reason they’re watching her. The series is published through Curiosity Quills Press.
My other series is adult urban fantasy, and is self-published. The Alliance series is set on an alternative Earth in which our world is one of many in the Multiverse, and the Inter-World Alliance keeps dangerous monsters from attacking Earth. In the first book, Adamant, a brutal murder forces a young Alliance guard to team up with the main suspect before they become the next targets.
(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?
I queried my first two novels with agents, but went direct to small presses with Darkness Watching, because in 2012, YA paranormal was a tough sell. I was lucky enough to land a contract with Curiosity Quills for the book, and I later went on to sign contracts for the rest of the series. I returned to querying with a different manuscript, but when I wrote the Alliance series in 2014, I knew I wanted to be in control of the publishing process. I write fairly quickly, and I wanted the freedom of self-publishing. So I went indie, and I haven’t looked back since!
(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?
Organised-chaos (that’s one word, right? ;)), caffeine-fuelled, plotsing (I’m a plotter/pantser hybrid)
(4) What are you working on now?
 I’m editing the third Alliance book, Collision, which I’m planning to publish at the end of this year. I also have a YA trilogy in edits I’m hoping to announce soon.
(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?
Hmm… I’d say Ash from Darkworld, because we’re both over-analytical perfectionists (and I studied English Literature/Creative Writing at university, too). But I’ve found parts of me end up in all my characters, and I have a lot of fun writing characters who aren’t at all like me.
(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?
In the long waiting phases, always be writing something new!
(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?
This is a difficult one! I loved Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.
…that definitely wasn’t one book. Sorry. 😛
(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016?
My latest release is Delinquent: An Alliance Novella (7th August 2015), and I’ll be publishing the third Alliance book around November. I’m also waiting to find out the release date for the next Darkworld book, Demon Heart. Next year’s going to be busy, because I’ll be publishing more Alliance books andlaunching a new YA series. I’m planning to announce it once I’ve finalised my publishing plan for 2016! 🙂

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Chase Night
CHICKEN
Asymmetrical Press, 2015.
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(1) Tell us about your book(s)! What about it makes it so special?

I used to joke that Chicken is like Titanic if Jack and Rose were both teenage boys, and the ship was a Pentecostal church in Arkansas, and the iceberg was a conservative fried chicken restaurant. But at some point, it stopped being a joke, and start being pretty much the truth. There are many amazing, powerful YA books with queer characters out there now, but it seems to me there’s a dearth in the epic star-crossed romance department. I can name a bunch of excellent queer characters off the top of my head right now, but I can only think of one couple, and they don’t get together until almost the last page of their story. So I never want the fact that Casper and Brant love each other to be treated as a spoiler. If this were a movie, I’d want you to see them kissing in the trailer, I’d want you to know you were paying good money to watch a story about two people trying to take care of each other in an environment hellbent on crushing them. I wanted to write a story that recognizes the very real and sometimes dangerous struggle of growing up queer in the American South, while also honoring the very real and always magical experience of first love, no matter who you are.

(2) Your path to publication has been different than the “query queue hell” writers often go through. Can you talk us through your experiences?

In 2010, I was working as a data entry clerk in Austin, Texas. I was miserable and bored and to pass the time I started reading blogs. I discovered these people who called themselves minimalists. They were living out of bags and traveling the world on money they made selling e-books. I jumped on the bandwagon, took a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, and started a blog called Unbridled Existence. I wrote some good stuff and had a tiny loyal following, but I wasn’t making enough to buy lunch, much less travel the world. The whole thing would have been a disaster had my desire to write fiction not caught the attention of another minimalist who wanted to write fiction.

In 2011, Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of the now widely read blog The Minimalists, was coming to Austin for SXSW and asked if I could show him around. We had tacos, I watched him get a haircut, and then we tried to go to a blogger meetup downtown. But introversion won, and we wound up skipping out and walked around talking about fiction and self-publishing. It was a nice time, but I didn’t expect anything to come of it. Then, later that summer, he asked me to write a short story for a collection he was self-publishing. So I did.

A little more time passed. Joshua published a couple of essay collections with his blog partner Ryan, and I all but closed shop on my blog and moved back to Arkansas to finish college. In early 2012, Joshua asked if I’d be interested in signing on if him and Ryan and another blogger, Colin Wright, started an indie publishing company. I said yes, and by the end of that year I was a signed author with Asymmetrical Press.

There’s a stigma that writers only go indie because they aren’t good enough to get published traditionally. And I’ll be honest–there’s enough truth in that stigma that I mostly read books that have been published traditionally. But I think that can change, and I hope to become part of that change. I went indie because being the sole owner of my work was important to me, having final say in editorial and design decisions was important to me, and making what I believe is a much more fair share of the profits is important to me, even if I ultimately don’t sell as many copies as I might with the weight of a Big Five behind me.

(3) If you had to describe your own writing habits in three words, what would they be?

Daydreams. Playlists. Panic.

(4) What are you working on now?

I’ve gone back to work on The Natural State, the novel I was working on three years ago when Chicken interrupted. It’s set in the same town, and features several of the same characters, but it takes place four years earlier and the protagonist and his peers are in their early twenties. It will answer a lot of questions readers will be left with at the end of Chicken, but it is 100% it’s own story with its own themes, and so I think of it as a companion rather than a prequel. But there will be a third book that serves as a sequel to both books–so it’s a trilogy, but in the shape of a lop-sided triangle rather than a straight line.

(5) Which of your characters do you think most resembles you and why?

I think that Casper is very similar to who I was as a teenager, while Brant is more like who I wanted to be, the charming version of myself who existed in my head but refused to show up in front of other people.

(6) Do you have any advice for writers currently querying or revising their novels?

My advice regarding querying is to keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be that way. At Asymmetrical, we talk about how in publishing, that word “submit” doesn’t just mean “to send in” it also retains it’s original meaning of “to surrender.” It’s the way things have always been done, and it’s what everyone thinks of first when they think about getting published, but it’s not the only route. One reason I wrote Chicken is because I wanted to show queer kids that just because a love story is different, doesn’t make it less, and the same can be said of writers and their publication stories.

(7) What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?

I’ve read so many amazing book this year! I don’t even know how to begin deciding which one is the best, but I think maybe the one I enjoyed on the most levels was The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. The writing is so incredibly lovely, and the story turns so many fantasy cliches on their heads. It’s the book that made me ALL CAPS the most when I described it to my reading group.

(8) Any upcoming releases for the rest of 2015 and 2016? 

I’m hoping The Natural State will be out in 2016, but it’s still too early to call it a certainty.

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