Thursday, July 31, 2014

Things I Would Do

Image courtesy of

I am a planner. I love to make lists. And I've come to the conclusion that I'm also fascinated by self-promotion. Especially when it comes to book marketing. I love seeing how debut(and non-debut) novelists go about getting their book 'out there'. My biggest dream in life is to one day have a book published. So I've been taking note of marketing/self-promo ideas that I think I'd like to try one day.

LAUNCH PARTY: Whoo, boy. I can't even tell you how often I've dreamed about my someday *fingers crossed* launch party(loved seeing pics of this one). Decorating and planning finger food menus is my thing, so yeah, a book launch party is a must for me. As far as the marketing aspect, I'd contact my local newspaper, as well as make flyers to place in pertinent places. And invite all my family and friends from far and wide. In the standpoint of book sales, I'm not sure how much it would pay off. I think the real pay off w/a physical launch is simply getting to celebrate a major achievement in your life, surrounded by family and friends.

VIRTUAL LAUNCH PARTY: Great for if you can't do a physical one. And great even if you can. A virtual launch lets all the friends you've made online celebrate your big day too. I'd enjoy picking out goodies to giveaway, sharing behind-the-scenes info on my book, and maybe scheduling a guest post or two.

TWITTER PARTIES: I've attended one of these so far, and it was fun. It was set for an hour and had a specific hashtag to go along w/it(initials of the book title). I enjoyed interacting w/the author in real time and getting to ask questions about the book. Plus, I won a copy of the book!

BLOG TOURS/BLASTS: Tours generally extend a week to two weeks(that I've seen anyway). I imagine anything much longer than that and the author would be wrapped in a bed sheet muttering incomprehensibly in a corner somewhere. Blasts are a quick cannon boom in one day, where blogs all over the internet are talking about you and your book.

BOOK SIGNINGS: Going to bookstores, libraries, festivals, etc to sign books. If I'm honest this one sounds a little scary. Like booking them. Do you just call places & say, "I've written a book, can I come chillax at your place w/some nice writing pens?" Though scary or not, I'd still like to experience it!

VIDEO INTERVIEW: I recently saw this on Anna Soliveres's blog. I thought it was very cool to see her talking about her writing, and decided I would love to do this one day. I really liked the black and white format too, very professional.

FREE SHORT STORY: I got one of these when I marked Midnight Thief to read on Goodreads. The author, Livia Blackburne, contacted me and let me know that if I was interested she'd send me an electronic copy of Poison Dance, a short story which showcased James, a character in Midnight Thief. It made me feel like a special cookie! ;) And I loved going into MT knowing more about James. I knew secrets about him that the mc, Kyra, didn't know. Which makes me a super special cookie! If possible, I definitely want to do this in my someday *fingers crossed* career as an author.

POSTCARDS TO LIBRARIES: I heard of this through a blog post by Erin Bowman. When she has a book coming out she orders postcards w/her book cover on them and sends them to local libraries. She leaves the backside blank so she can write a handwritten note.

BOOKMARKS: Goes w/out sayin'! You can send them out for swag, give them to ppl you meet in real life, & stick them under windshield wipers at the grocery store. Right, not that one.

MAGNETS: I'm not sure if you can buy these w/out breaking the bank, but I imagine there's some cheaper ones available. I, for one, can never have enough magnets. I'm always making them do double duty on the fridge to hold just one more thing. And in daily life, walking by the fridge, it just might prompt a reminder of: 'Oh, yeah. That book's out now. I want to read that.' At least you can hope. =)

And last but not least-- BEING NICE: I have bought books before where I'm not that interested in the genre. Not that I don't think the writing's good, but it's just not something that I'm drawn to in my reading preferences. But I buy the book because I've interacted w/the author online, had a good experience, and want to support them. Being nice goes a long way. If you're a crotchety curmudgeon? I'm not going to be as hipped on helping you out. Maybe that makes me less nice, but that's generally how it works. *insert sweet candy-coated smile(sprinkles!)*

What do you all think? Are there any marketing/self-promo tips/ideas/tricks that you've tried/want to try? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 8)

1. How I did on last week's goals: Great! I set my word count for 2,500 and made it to 7000. 

2. My goals for this week: To try and focus more on my YA WIP, Chain Gang. The MG and the short are fun, but I really want to be finished w/Chain Gang by the end of August. Totally doable if I can just focus and stop letting an apartment complex and a space station pull me away(settings for the MG and short).  

3. A fav line from my WIP: Lets go w/the sci-fi short this week:
The boy's hair was on the unkempt side and hid the neuro-transmitter at the base of his skull quite beautifully. Mindful of his injuries, Viala worked with careful fingers.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: I rewrote the same scene in Chain Gang three times. Frustrating! But I've finally gotten it sorted and I'm about ready to segue way into a scene I'm super excited about. Hot boys being protective for the win! 

5. Something I love about my WIP: Still feeling the love for my MG so much stronger right now. And the things I'm currently loving in it are numerous. So this week I'll go with: Twins! One snarky and one sweet. And I might or might not have posted this pic of them on my secret storyboard on Pinterest...

Okay, yes I did! 

And I'm also so in love w/this Mary Oliver quote I pinned, which plays a special part in my MG.

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of these lovely ladies' blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Have a great week of writing everyone!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Interview w/Charlie Holmberg + Giveaways!

I'm excited to welcome, Charlie Holmberg  First things first! That cover. It makes my visual-loving heart happy. The diagrams, the flow of the dress, the font(I could stare at that 'the' 4evah), and the way the font fits just so into the dress. Yeah. I love it. Now where was I? Oh, yes!

I'm excited to welcome, Charlie Holmber to the blog today! =) 

1. While writing TPM, did you attempt any paper magic of your own? Origami, paper cutting, strange rituals at midnight...?

Ha! Unfortunately nothing I fold actually works. ;) I know a small amount of origami and paper weirdness, all of which I used in the book (well, one is in the sequel, The Glass Magician. It’s a weird jellyfish thing I learned how to do in elementary school). Anytime I go into detail about how a spell is done, you know I’ve actually created it at some point in my life. (None at midnight, mind you.)

And yes, the book has paper airplanes. (Well, “gliders,” since airplanes haven’t been invented yet.)

2. If you could wear only one color for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh gosh. My first instinct is pink because it’s my favorite, but I’d probably wear black. People would think I have a dark soul and I’d always look skinny.

3. Besides your main character, which character in TPM is dearest to your heart?

Definitely the male lead! I may or may not be secretly in love with him. That’s a good thing, right? Emery Thane can teach me magic any day.

4. Snack attack-- what do you grab?

Chocolate chips!

5. When writing, what sort of scenes do you enjoy crafting the most-- action, romance, witty dialogue?

I’d have to say “reveal” scenes—any scene where I get to showcase a secret. I tend to get the most excited for those and look forward to them weeks in advance. I love witty dialogue, but I feel like my characters tend to be wittier than me, and that’s stressful. I definitely like reading romantic scenes the most, but it takes me years to write them because I nitpick every movement and word.

6. What is one of your fav lines from THE PAPER MAGICIAN?

Hmm… the first that came to mind was, “I have a personal motto to never Fold on one’s lap.”

* * *

Homegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She's a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses.

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Release date: September 1st, 2014
Preorder: Amazon

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And Charlie has very awesomely offered a copy of THE PAPER MAGICIAN to one lucky commenter! The winner will be announced on 7/28 on Twitter and updated in the comments. The winner will receive their prize once Charlie has her copies. So, yay, something to be surprised w/in the mail! 

There's also a $5 Amazon gift card up for grabs. As always, comment to be entered and please follow Charlie at one or more of her social media links above. Also, guys, you've totally got to check out her website header- I LOVE IT! I would like to steal it.  

Congrats, Charlie, on your imminent release of THE PAPER MAGICIAN! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summertime Magic

Playing in the grass,
sun warm on my back.
See-through circles
that pop,
making me laugh.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 7)

1. How I did on last week's goals: Goal was 3000. I made 2,900 on my WIP. And then on a short story and a MG I wrote a combined amount of 1,860. {So total: 4760} Which reminds me! The short I'm working on is for this anthology. If any of you have a short sci-fi story in you featuring a female protagonist, you might want to check it out. It's for a good cause!

2. My goals for this week: 2, 500 wordy-words. 

3. A fav line from my WIP: This comes from my MG:

Their apartment bordered the parking lot and she wove past dented minivans, trucks with cans littering the bed, and endless cars in candy colors. 

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: A big ol' lack of motivation. Most of my writing on my WIP got done on Sunday as I was desperately cramming to try and hit my goal. 

5. Something I love about my WIP: Heh, right now, not much. Ask me again next week! ;)

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of these lovely ladies' blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Have a great week of writing everyone!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Post by Kell Andrews— The Lost Squirrel: Losing a Character and Gaining Depth

When I first had the idea for my middle-grade fantasy/mystery Deadwood (Spencer Hill, 2014), I knew it was about a cursed tree with messages carved in its bark. But one of the challenges of this scenario is that trees are not the most active characters. Sure, they’re great at photosynthesis, removing pollutants from the air, and providing the oxygen we breathe, but they’re terrible communicators and they tend to be, well, rooted. They don’t get around much.

So when I began writing the story, I introduced a talking squirrel character who acts as the tree’s representative – its Watcher. That makes sense, right? A squirrel is much more likely to be able to talk than a tree because they actually have mouths. They are scrappy little critters, able to leap from tree to rooftop in a single bound, probably excellent at eavesdropping, which is handy in a mystery. And who doesn’t love talking animals?

Apparently, many people do not, beginning with my agent at the time. When I told her about the story I was working on, she was lukewarm. Lose the squirrel, she said.

But but but. How could I lose the squirrel? Without him, the story seemed so drab, so colorless, so rodent-free.

And then I came up with a better way for the tree to communicate – through the carvings on its bark. It couldn’t talk, but it could light up the letters to write text messages. And once the tree had a voice, the story – and the Spirit Tree itself as a character – came into focus.

Then in honor of my cruelly deleted squirrel character, the town high school mascot became the Black Squirrels. About 25% of the Eastern gray squirrels in the Philadelphia lower Main Line suburbs are actually black, and Haverford College also uses the nickname Black Squirrels for some sports teams. So the black squirrel helps place the story in a very specific geography.

But was my former agent right? Maybe. She closed off one avenue, and I had to rethink the entire story. And that made it better – tighter, maybe scarier, with more focus on my main characters Hannah and Martin and on the tree itself as a living entity. I like having the tree speak for itself – it may be a plant, but it still has agency.

Then again, a squirrel character didn’t hurt Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses, or Daisy Whitney’s Ben Fox, Zombie Squirrel Hunter, another middle grade book from Spencer Hill.

You can judge for yourself whether the squirrel deserved a place in the story before I so brutally wrote him out. Here’s a deleted scene where the squirrel first showed up.

First Draft: The Squirrel

Crack! Splintered branches and wet leaves rained down on them, and Martin was engulfed in a whirlwind of sharp claws, white teeth, and wet fur. He beat the animal off, screaming manfully, until his arms were beating at empty air.
“Stop, stop!” Hannah cried, taking his arm. “It’s just a squirrel.”
Martin peered through his arms. A small black squirrel stared back, twitching its tail.
“I never saw a squirrel fall out of a tree. Maybe the lightning or fire hurt him.” Hannah bent down, moving in slow motion, to take a closer look. “Easy, little guy.”
Martin jumped behind her. “Watch out! It could be rabid. I think it even bit me!”
The squirrel sniffed banefully. Then it said, “I most certainly am not rabid.”
Hannah leapt to her feet, stumbling backward into Martin.
The squirrel worried its hands and continued creakily, “I wouldn’t have bitten you if you had been more polite. This is my home, you know.” The squirrel chewed its words, spitting them out with great concentration.
Hannah reached out again, looking as if she meant to pass her hand straight through the little animal. The squirrel hopped backward. “You … you talk.”
“I do now. I didn’t until that lightning struck. Pardon me if I’m a little hoarse, but. I understand English well enough after listening to you humans jabbering on for the past twenty-five years. You all talk entirely too much.”
“What are you?” Hannah asked, wide-eyed and unsure. Martin couldn’t bring himself to address the pointy little creature yet. “You can’t be a squirrel. You can’t be talking.”
“What else would I be? In fact I’m the animal watcher for this tree. You call it the spirit tree, I believe, but its spirit has existed far longer than your destructive school traditions. Violent creatures, you are. Stomping and crashing, slashing with your knives and shouting with loud voices. All the same.”
Angry, Martin found his voice. “I’m not one of them. I tried to help!”
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
“Me? Some watcher you are. I was trying to stop those kids from carving it. You should have bit them!”
“I watch. I don’t guard. The curse will bite them harder than I ever could.”
“The curse?”
“Yes, the curse. The moment this tree was defaced, this town was cursed. The curse follows all who are complicit.”
“You cursed them?”
“Not I. The witch. I was cursed along with the tree to be its watcher. And not them.”
Hannah waved her arms. “Hold on. Talking squirrels, a curse, now a witch?”
“Yes. A witch cursed the town, and the curse remains until the tree is healed.”
“You mean my brother is cursed? We’re cursed?”
The squirrel paused. “Unless you can heal the tree. The tree has spoken – maybe you’re the ones meant to lift the enchantment. And I’ll help you. Twenty-five years of acorns is far too many. I am as cursed as the rest of you.”
“No.” Hannah closed her eyes and shook her head. “This can’t be happening. I must be dreaming.”
“Then I’m dreaming too,” Martin said.
“This can’t be real. I’ve got to get out of here.”
“You can’t leave me with this creepy little thing!” Martin called after her, but Hannah had already swung a leg over her bike. She hurtled down the hill in a spray of mud. He lost sight of her in the trees and driving rain before she reached the bottom.

About Kell Andrews: Kell always wanted to be a writer, but before she rediscovered her love of children’s books, she mostly wrote and edited trade magazines, websites, textbooks, and marketing copy. That was fine except that magic is frowned upon in math textbooks and business press. Today she writes fiction for children and nonfiction for adults. Her first novel, Deadwood (Spencer Hill Press), was published in 2014, and her short fiction will appear in an upcoming issue of Spider Magazine. A member of SCBWI, Kell holds a humanities degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

Contact Kell here. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Goodreads.

Deadwood, by Kell Andrews
Spencer Hill Press
Ages 9 and up

Sometimes a lucky ritual becomes a curse.

Seventh-grader Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town, Lower Brynwood, but with his mom fighting a war in Afghanistan, he has no other choice but to live with his crazy aunt. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed—and so is he.

It’s not just any tree either, it’s the Spirit Tree, an ancient beech the football team carves for good luck before the season opener. But every year they lose.

Now the Spirit Tree is dying, and the other trees in the park are toppling around it like dominoes. The town is plagued with unexplainable accidents and people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin must team up with a know-it-all soccer star, Hannah Vaughan, if he has any chance of breaking the curse. If they fail to save the Spirit Tree, it could mean the destruction of Lower Brynwood and a permanent case of bad luck.

Order from Deadwood, Barnes and Noble, BAM, or from your favorite independent bookstore.

* * * 
Thanks so much for a wonderful guest post, Kell! I loved getting to meet this plucky little squirrel. =) 
Wishing you and DEADWOOD much success!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE!(Week 6) + SOULLESS Cover Reveal

1. How I did on last week's goals: My goal was 2,500 words. I wrote 7,300! And the majority of those was written on Tues, when I wrote 6300 words. In a day!! I never do that. So it was pretty cool. =)

2. My goals for this week: 3000 words.

3. A fav line from my WIP: 

She and Lauren have stepped back and are considering me. Then Lauren snaps her fingers. “I know! How about that long tank top tee you got at the market last time we were out. She’s short enough it could be a dress on her."

Florida dives for her closet and emerges with something that is definitely not a dress.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Laziness(the usual w/me!). Busting out my goal in  one day meant I just wanted to surf the Internet the rest of the time.

5. Something I love about my WIP: My villain. So far, she's probably one of the most complex I've ever attempted. I got to see a little more into her background this past week.

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of their blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Happy writing everyone!

* * * 

Have you met the Soulless and Passionate? In the world of 1770 where supernatural beings mix with humanity, Alexia is playing a deadly game.

SOULLESS, Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

What people are saying about this series: 

"With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations." --SC, Amazon reviewer

"It's clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic." --Jill Jennings, TX

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend†(a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

COMING October 13, 2014

PREORDER your print copy
Sign up for Crystal Collier's newsletter to receive release news and freebies.

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SOULLESS looks beautiful, and I love how great  it goes w/the first book in the series, MOONLESS. And there's a flight of steps that make my architectural-loving heart happy, and a sword, which makes my uh...blood-loving heart happy? ;) Congrats to Crystal!

P.S. There's still time to get your name in to win a cupcake pin! If you haven't checked out Tara Dairman's interview, go here.

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