Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My FAITHFUL Cover and Video Trailer!

I'm so excited - I can introduce the cover for FAITHFUL, my debut novel! It will be out in mid-May; right now it's in copy-edits. My fabulous editor, Jen Bonnell, is amazing. I can't thank her enough.

And my son: I'm so proud of the trailer he's produced for FAITHFUL, which I can now premiere, thanks to his friend Gabriel Carrasco, who wrote the background music.

Here's the link to the trailer:
Faithful Trailer

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Launch: Nothing Like You

I'm happy to be able to introduce Lauren Strasnick and her debut novel NOTHING LIKE YOU.

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, NOTHING LIKE YOU. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

Thanks, Janet! NOTHING LIKE YOU is about high school senior, Holly Hirsh. Holly’s mom dies and Holly gets involved with the wrong guy. He’s got a girlfriend. She and Holly develop a friendship. Badness ensues!
A few things inspired the story. I wanted to write about a girl who is flawed, yet still really relatable and sympathetic. I was interested in exploring teen infidelity. When I started the book, I was obsessed with the Billy Joel song “Vienna.” Its lyrics helped shape the character of Holly.

How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

I wrote one other book before this one. It was my MFA thesis project. But prior to that I’d written a ton of short fiction, all with teen protags.

Can you describe your path to the publication of NOTHING LIKE YOU?

I spent the year after grad school sending that first book out to agents. After a ton of rejection (some upbeat and encouraging, but still), I set that book aside and started NOTHING LIKE YOU. I had a draft in six weeks, spent three months revising, then started the querying process all over again. After about a month I signed with Michelle Andelman, then of ABLA, and together we started the revision process. Two months of rewrites, and she was subbing the book. Two weeks after that, it sold to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

The best bit of writing advice I ever got? Be fearless.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

This, writing books, is my absolute dream – so I hope to continue doing it.

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?

Yes! Right now I’m working on a second book for Simon Pulse. Twins! Thwarted love! Rural Connecticut!

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about NOTHING LIKE YOU?

I do, yes! Readers can reach me at www.laurenstrasnick.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Launch: Haven

I'm so pleased to introduce Beverly Patt and her debut novel HAVEN.

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, HAVEN. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

Thank you :) Sure, here's the basic plot:
Rural Illinois teen Rudy Morris meets Chicagoan Latonya Dennison on Christmas day, when Latonya ends up being the annual "orphan' at the Morris household. But Latonya doesn't disappear the day after Christmas like the other visiting orphans have. She pulls Rudy and his best friend, Stark, into a scheme to fix up and use a rusty ATV to help her run away from her group home, The Haven. Rudy reluctantly agrees but as the day draws near, his own feelings for her get in the way. What’s a getaway driver to do?

The inspiration came from a time when my husband and I wanted to take in a foster child but were continually denied because we were white and the child was not. Like Latonya, the child ended up going from group home to group home instead of getting a stable family. Fortunately, the laws have changed. But in the 80's and 90's, foster children in Illinois could only to a foster family of their same race, which ended up with a LOT of children in group homes.

How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

I started writing for children in the 90's. I wrote mostly magazine articles and stories for several years. HAVEN was actually my second effort at a novel. Before that, I wrote what I thought was a picture book but it slowly grew until it became my upcoming April release, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: A WWII SCRAPBOOK (Marshall Cavendish) -
not a novel but not a picture book either!

Can you describe your path to the publication of HAVEN?

It's all very long and boring, I'm afraid! I wrote the whole story probably in 8 months but then went through years of revisions, thanks to my trusty writer's group. It was sold to Blooming Tree Press in August 2006. They asked for a total rewrite which I turned in Nov 2007. In November of 2008, the publisher decided she liked the original version better! I'm not really sure what to attribute that to - there had been some changes in personnel, it's still a new company getting it's sea legs, I guess. So now, in a few days, it will finally be out. Phew!

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Be patient. Be persistent. Be forgiving. Don't compare yourself to others. Never stop learning. Never give up.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

Well, I have a wonderful husband and four wonderful kids who inspire me and make me laugh every day. I could not do what I do without them. Plans for the future include more of the same! More writing, more books (published, hopefully!) and more laughter.

I struggle with guilt sometimes when I'm not writing. I have to remind myself that non-writing is good too. Not only does it pull you out of your hole and make you more sociable, it gives you new experiences to include in your writing. Traveling, even if it's just to a museum in your own town, can light new fires within. Plays, movies, walks, tours, your kid's soccer games - all can provide little nuggets of inspiration. Then repetitive activities like (dare I say it?) housework or gardening or knitting can help those ideas to percolate.

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?


I've got a finished novel I'm tweaking, 3 chapters of a new novel and a handful of humorous picture books.
When I get time, I'm going to query some agents as well.

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about HAVEN?

Absolutely! www.beverlypatt.com
And we'll be doing a giveaway on our class website, www.classof2k9.com
There will be a teacher's guide to HAVEN on the Class of 2k9 website very shortly as well.
I hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Series: HAUNTED by Chris Eboch

I'm pleased to introduce Chris Eboch, author of a new novel series for middle grade readers, HAUNTED.

Congratulations on the publication of your novel series, HAUNTED. Can you tell us a bit about the series and what inspired it?

HAUNTED follows a brother and sister who travel with their parents’ ghost hunter TV show. In each book, the TV show researches a new ghost at a new location. The kids try to help the ghosts, while keeping their activities secret from meddling grownups. The series, for ages 8-12, will feature three books per year. I started the first book over 10 years ago -- I can't even remember how I got the idea. But paranormal is popular right now, so the market finally caught up with my idea!

What are the two books and how are they alike and different?

The first two books are THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS and THE RIVERBOAT PHANTOM. In THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS, we meet 13-year-old Jon, our narrator, and his 11-year-old sister, Tania. Their mother has married a man who hosts a ghost hunter TV show, and they travel with the show to a Colorado hotel. Jon is a skeptic, so he doesn't believe in the ghost bride who supposedly haunts the hotel, mourning for her lost husband. When Tania claims that she can see the ghost, Jon has to decide if he believes her -- and what to do about it.

In THE RIVERBOAT PHANTOM, the show is traveling on a Mississippi steamboat. The ghost is a steamboat pilot who caused a crash a century ago, and is still trying to make things right. Tania has decided her mission in life is helping ghosts, and she drags Jon into all sorts of trouble in the process. As an added complication, a fake psychic figures out Tania's gift and tries to exploit it.

How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

My first book, a middle grade historical adventure, came out in 1999. THE WELL OF SACRIFICE is used in many schools when they teach about the Maya. I've also done work for hire, including two books in Simon & Schuster's Childhood of Famous Americans series. JESSE OWENS: YOUNG RECORD BREAKER and MILTON HERSHEY: YOUNG CHOCOLATIER are inspirational, fictionalized biographies, with lots of action and dialogue. I wrote them under the name M.M. Eboch to separate my work for hire from my original novels. I've also written a bunch of unpublished novels, but we don't need to go into detail about those.

Can you describe your path to the publication of HAUNTED?

It took me a long time to get the concept right, with enough backstory to sustain an entire series. I also needed to develop my writing skills -- the work for hire jobs helped a lot with that. When I was confident in the story, I sent it to an editor I knew at Aladdin. He said he loved the manuscript, but it needed to be twice as long to fit their series standards. I made sure I added plot twists and complications, to keep the fast pace. Aladdin offered me a three book contract, based on a series proposal, the manuscript for book 1, and outlines for the next two books.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Take your time and work on your education. Plan to spend 1,000 hours learning about writing and children's book publishing, and developing your craft, before you even try to submit your work. That way you won't be disappointed by early rejections, and bog down the system by sending work that isn't ready. It takes time and hard work to start any new career -- writing for children is no exception.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

I love what I do, so I want to keep doing it! I hope the Haunted series has a long life, but I also have a couple of other series ideas, plus a mystery novel I want to write. I'm giving a lot of writing workshops in the next year, something I enjoy -- which I never would have expected when I was younger. I think it's important to keep pushing yourself and trying new things, as a writer and as a person. I got scuba certified this year, which was horribly hard and scary, but I'm glad I stuck with it until it got to the point where it can be fun. Learning to skateboard is also on my "to do" list, though not until I get all the proper protective padding.

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about HAUNTED?

Yes, readers can learn more, and read the first chapter online, at http://www.chriseboch.com

They can also see the YouTube video, which I produced locally with the help of friends, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfcdY7tNH1k

Friday, October 9, 2009

So, What Happens During the Editorial Process?

I’m in the middle of my first experience with book editing, and I thought I’d share the process. My excellent editor at Puffin, Jen Bonnell, gave me a detailed plan so that I could follow along as the book made its way from manuscript printout to actual print.

The entire thing is a great deal more complicated than I’d thought. I knew there would be revisions – I love revisions! I’d already made a bunch of revisions with my agent. But this was something else. So here’s what happens:

1. Initial editorial stage. This is where the editor asks for this big change or that big change – “structural changes” was the way Jen put it. We moved big blocks of text, we deleted scenes, we added scenes. I say “we” because she made suggestions (great ones) and I did the work. And then I sent it back to her. We went through this a couple of times. Then I had the manuscript for about 3 weeks of intense editing until I felt it met her ideas and my own standards.
2. Line edits. Jen took the manuscript and gave it her own close line editing.
3. Copy edits. The manuscript goes to your high school English teacher. Or my high school English teacher (this is where my manuscript is right now. And I’m kidding – copy editors are really important to the process.) All the little punctuation problems, sentence structure errors, confusing internal inconsistencies – these are rectified by the copy editor.
4. Review of copy edits. Copy edits are fabulous for catching grammar errors but sometimes you want a sentence fragment or a dropped clause. You and your editor have the chance to add them back.
5. Design stage. The pages are set in semi-final format.
6. First pass pages. The copy editor looks over the design pages again, then passes them to the editor, and then a bound galley is sent to the author. This is where you break out the champagne or other celebratory beverage and feel both excited and nervous. Changes can be made, but not many.
7. Second and third passes. Editors in house pass over the manuscript to make sure it’s clean. One of my teachers recently mentioned the technique of using a ruler and reading the manuscript from back to front to catch minor errors – I used it and I recommend it.
8. ARCs (“advance reader copies”.) These paper-covered editions allow the publisher to circulate your work for advance publicity to librarians, bloggers, etc. They are not guaranteed error-free, having been made during the design stage.
9. But at last everyone has had a chance to pass on the text and you have…
10. A book. A real book. Now you can share your celebratory beverage – and your book – with the world.

All this time the designers are creating the perfect cover; the library and school market people are looking at the novel; the publicity and marketing people are framing a campaign; and you, the author, are having your picture taken on a good hair day and writing dedications and acknowledgements and getting permissions for any cited notes.

It's fun and exciting and a great deal of work!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jungle Crossing - Debut Middle Grade

Sydney Salter published her debut young adult novel, MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, last spring. Now she's the proud debut author of a middle grade, JUNGLE CROSSING. Wow! How did she do that? Read my interview to find out.

Congratulations on the publication of JUNGLE CROSSING. Please tell us a bit about the novel.

Thank you! JUNGLE CROSSING is a contemporary/historical adventure story for readers age 10 and up.

Thirteen-year-old Kat can think of dozens of good reasons not to go on a boring family vacation to hot, grungy Mexico. Number one: missing her friend Fiona’s mini-camp. If she’s not there, she’ll begin eighth grade as a social reject.

And it looks like she’s the odd girl out on vacation, too. When Kat’s parents arrange for her and her younger sister, Barb, to go on a teen adventure tour, Barb makes more friends than she does. The only person who will talk to Kat is Nando, a young Mayan guide (who happens to be quite a cutie). Each day as they travel to different Mayan ruins, Nando tells Kat and Barb another installment in the original legend of Muluc, a girl who lived in the time of the Ancient Maya. The dangerous, dramatic world in which Muluc lives is as full of rivalry, betrayal, jealousy, and sacrifice as Kat’s world at school. And as she makes new friends and discovers new treasures in Mexico, Kat begins to wonder: Is she willing to keep sacrificing her self in exchange for popularity?

This is your second novel this year! How did that come about?

JUNGLE CROSSING is actually the first novel I ever wrote, but like most first manuscripts it needed a lot of revision. But I didn’t know that back then. So I submitted the story, received rejections, and kept writing new novels. One lovely editor scrawled a comment on the bottom of her form letter rejection: Promising. Kat’s voice could be stronger. It took me two years of writing to figure out how to fix that!

In the meantime, I’d written MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, a humorous teen novel (and my fourth manuscript). I submitted this one only to agents—and snagged one! Once MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS sold to Harcourt, my agent read through my other work and really liked JUNGLE CROSSING. Together, we worked hard on another revision before he submitted the story to my editor at Harcourt. And she bought it!

So the real secret is to keep writing! Don’t just write that first novel and wait for it to sell. Write the second one, the third—you get the idea.

What's up next for you?

My next teen novel, called SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK, comes out in April 2010. It’s about a girl with five ex-boyfriends who is afraid to fall in love again, but, of course, there is this one guy… Oh, and her grandmother, a famous man-crazy syndicated advice columnist, has moved in for the summer.

What's the best place to learn more about you and your books?

You can read more about me at www.sydneysalter.com, follow my blog at www.mybignose.blogspot.com (I give out prizes!) or find me on Facebook (I love making new friends).