Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carving Angels Blog Tour + Giveaway


***UPDATE***
WINNER:  Diane Estrella!!

~~~~~~~

Carving Angels Blog Tour



Goodreads Blurb:
Papa Adam, the North Pole's oldest elf and Santa's former chief carver, has given up. Blind, frail, and feeling useless, he counts the minutes in every day as he waits to die -- until his youngest granddaughter challenges him to carve again. Together they prove that the most beautiful creations can come from the most unlikely sources and with the right love and encouragement, anything is possible. 


Guest Post: The Story Behind the Story
Carving Angels - Behind the Wood Shavings


I love a background story.
Just as I love the secondary characters in a movie.
Each adds . . . substance.
And, let's face it, the lead story and the lead characters have all been done to death. The world is looking for something fresh and new.
But who says that fresh and new can't be siphoned off of the old and overdone?
Carving Angels came from just such an idea.
I was looking at a picture of Santa Claus, riding in his famous sleigh.
Pulled by his equally famous reindeer.
And the thought struck me - 'Huh. I wonder where he got his sleigh?' It is such an integral part of the whole 'Santa' story, but no one has ever explained where it came from.
Did he mail order it?
The number of stamps alone would be mind-boggling.
Visit 'Sleighs R Us' on one of his weekend getaways to New York or places south?
Possible, but doubtful. For one thing, I've never seen a 'Sleighs R Us' store.
Even in Edmonton.
I sincerely doubt that one could find a Sears or Costco at the North Pole.
The only other solutions seemed to be either union-made (elves), or non-union 'constructed in someone's shop' (also elves).
Bingo.
I had my premise.

Santa's sleigh was constructed by elves.
Or more particularly, by an elf.
A very gifted elf.
But what kind of gifts?
A metal worker/welder?
I'm sure they have them in abundance at the North Pole. After all, who else could construct the plethora of things metal that appear under our tree on Christmas morning?
Okay, that's one possibility.
Computer whiz.
Handy, especially when it came to interior bells and whistles.
But, let's face it, a virtual sleigh, though it might look good on the silver screen, really couldn't pass muster when it came to actually carrying the big guy and serving as a repository for the all-important toys and gifts.
Computer whizzes - out.
Wait. What about a wood carver?
We're talking about a night spent in an open sleigh in sub-zero temperatures.
Okay, yes, I know that many of Santa's deliveries are to tropical and sub-tropical locales, but we should plan for the frozen-est, rather than the warm-est, right?
Moving on . . .
Hmm. Wood vs. metal.
Wood is so much warmer than metal.
Anyone who has done the all important/stupid frozen metal-tongue test (and I'm not saying I have) knows that wood, even when frozen solid, simply does not have the sticking power of super-cooled metal.
A definite plus for the wood argument.
Let's go with that.
So. A wood-carving elf.

Now, how can we make him (or her) special.
And at the same time make his (all right, I've decided he's a guy) accomplishment just a bit . . . tougher. Harder to imagine.
Or believe.
We'll give him a handicap.
Something to overcome.
Something that will make his achievement that much more astounding.
Age?
Good.
Infirmity?
Better.
Blind?
Perfect.
And we'll drag in his tiny little granddaughter because she is so sweet and cute and because she is equally handicapped by age.
And because we need someone to help on the rare occasions when our carver actually needs to 'see'.
So now, all we need is a bit of background: A former career as Santa's chief carver, followed by ten years of despair.

And the story is set.
Carving Angels is born.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Just in time for the Christmas season, Diane Tolley's lovely and deeply touching Carving Angels was released by Cedar Fort Publishing. I loved this story. The bond between Amy and her grandfather is wonderful, and the fact that he is one of Santa's elves doesn't hurt either. 

I recommend reading this one together as a family. It's full of love, hope, friendship, determination, and the joy of Christmas. I felt the emotional tug on my heart from the very first chapter. This is an absolutely beautiful Christmas story.

Cedar Fort has generously offered to give away one copy of Carving Angels. Their giveaway policy is that giveaways are open to International entries, and if someone outside North America wins, they'll send them an ebook, inside North America they'll send them a hard copy, unless the winner would prefer an ebook. 

Just leave a comment and be a follower to enter. Winner announced on Friday.

Does your family have an annual must-read Christmas story?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Steer by the Stars

"There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion."
~ E. B. White
 
 
So true.
 
If you want to see how to play with the rules we writers do have, read SHATTER ME, by Tahereh Mafi. Wow . . . that girl can write! And she does it while following her own rules. Delicious, every word. 
 
In The Underneath, Kathi Appelt does the same thing with equally delicious results.
Are you willing to write by your own rules? 
Or do you play it safe? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Girls Got Game



Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Girls Got Game
Edited by Sue Macy

Goodreads Blurb:
Millions of girls are now running, swinging bats and shooting hoops. Here's the first young readers' anthology of new fiction that tells their stories.

"Girls Got Game features a new breed of heroines who are not afraid to sweat. Young athletes will see themselves in these stories; their mothers will wish they'd had books like this when they were growing up."
--Sue Macy

Sue Macy, author of three popular nonfiction books on women in sports, has gathered the best fiction writers and poets to describe the in-the-moment experiences of the millions of girls who are now competing. Here's the first anthology to describe being on the field the way girls are enjoying it today -- as a regular part of their lives that is allowing them to compete, to excel, to feel their own power and potential, and to face defeat and emerge stronger for the next contest. From basketball to soccer, tetherball to swimming to horseback riding, Girls Got Game breaks new ground. This all-star lineup of authors and poets includes Virginia Euwer Wolff, Jacqueline Woodson, and Sue Macy herself in her fictional debut, creating a book that is a great read, as well as an affirmation of what girls are doing every day.

Last week I reviewed GUYS WRITE FOR GUYS READ, so I thought a collection for girls would be appropriate this week. GIRLS GOT GAME is a popular collection of writing about girls in sports--18 stories and poems by a variety of authors.

If you know reluctant girl readers or female sport lovers, this is a great book. It's a quick and easy read, filled to bursting with friendship, family, romance, and sports, sports, sports!


** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday Break




I'll be back on Monday with a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post! Until then, have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Untraceable Blog Tour + Guest Post



 Untraceable
by
Shelli Johannes-Wells
 
Today, I am honored to host Shelli from Market My Words and her awesome book tour. I have read Untraceable, and it's good, people. I gave it 4/5 stars! 

Shelli was kind enough to write a guest post for us, chronicling her rocky road to this dream moment. How she and her fantastic agent  worked so hard. How and why she and her agent parted ways. How Untraceable came to be published. It's quite a tale and very worth the time to read it. I promise.


Shelli's Author Journey

It’s been a long road for me. And indie publishing was not the easiest decision or the easy way out. It is actually the faster way to publish but an uphill battle. Between the stigma and the work – doing everything on your own with no support. That is hard.

When I got an agent 2 years – I had already had two books go to Acquisitions, only to fall through at the last minute. It always seemed like I was up against one other book for the slot. If I had a dime for how many times I’ve heard – “it’s down to you and another book, but we can only take one.” It was hard always coming in 2nd. And 2nd is not even bad – it’s the silver medal, the top 2. But for me – it was a curse.

When I signed with a top agent from a top agency – I thought everything was downhill from there.  I actually remember saying to someone – “now that I have an agent - it’s a matter of who will buy it and for how much.” HA! (This is where you laugh at me) Was I a sucker (a little too overconfident.) or what?

I didn’t know then that getting an agent is a small part of the overall battle. I would still have to get a publisher, sell well, and then get another book out and sold.

When I was with my agent, my 3rd book went to acquisitions at a couple of houses. I still have not seen a book like my tween story. Over three loooonnnnggg rounds – I completed 2 or 3 noncontractual revisions, went to several editorial meetings, and a few acquisition meetings. After a year of back and forth, ups and downs, and to be honest – compromises on my part in changing the book - the book ended up not selling. Needless to say - I was devastated – and so was my agent– but she was supportive and encouraged me to move on to my YA book (which is the book she actually picked me up on - Untraceable).

After 6 months of revisions, Untraceable went out on submission. This time to only a handful of houses. It was considered at one house - but once again – fell through. The feedback was mostly around this: “We don’t know if a tough girl survival thriller will do well unless it has a dystopic environment like the Hunger Games. What? I could not understand if people loved the book, and the characters, and the writing -why a tough girl in the real world – in today’s world – would not get a chance.

My agent was equally surprised and frustrated – I think at this point she didn’t know how to get me to the next level. I think because she couldn’t understand WHY I wasn’t already there.

We had a tough conversation about Untraceable. She talked to me about moving on to another book. But I felt there was life in Untraceable and didn’t want to give up.She said if I wanted to continue on with it – she wanted me to get a fresh perspective because she wasn’t sure what wasn’t working. I decided I wasn’t ready to give up on Untraceable so we decided to part.

That time was one of the hardest parts of this whole process. You see, I loved my agent and thought she was awesome. WE worked well together, we had the same sense of humor, and she pushed me.

I just loved my book more and felt it deserved a full shot.

Something broke in me during that time. I lost my love for writing. I lost my faith that I would ever get published. I contacted a few agents I knew about taking me on - but none of them were willing to touch Untraceable because it had gone out on a round and wasn’t their project. I guess Untraceable was “too tainted”. They all loved my WIP and told me to come back when that book was done.

At this point, I had written 4 books that had all gone to acquisitions and I was in the same place I was years before.

Meanwhile, I’d hear authors complaining about how they had no marketing, upset because they didn’t like their cover, horrified that they weren’t getting any support from their publisher, and terrified they weren’t going to sell again. A few authors were dumped by their agents even after they sold and I even had some author friends upset b/c they were told marketing was going to handle everything for them - only to end up doing nothing which hurt their book sales.

Something broke in me during the summer when I realized that there was always going to be someone holding me back. And I am not one to hang my dreams on someone else. I never have been that person.

My husband and I sat down and talked about all the things publishers do for authors. With my business and marketing background combined with finding the right distribution, I realized there was nothing holding me back. I could do everything myself. The book was done and had been edited by a well-known editor. Making the book was easy for me and marketing stuff is one of my strengths. I know who to contact and where and how and why – it’s one thing – besides writing - I do well.

So I decided to try it out and see. I had nothing to lose right? I mean, Untraceable was already dead in the water as far as the traditional process was concerned I had nothing to lose.

My pride got in the way for a while. I was worried about what everyone would think. Honestly – that ego thing held me back for an additional 6 months or this book would have been out in the summer. I finally just decided to go for it. Put it all out there. And if I fail, I fail and I’ll pick up and go on – like I have done with other things I’ve failed out. It would not break me.

Now, as I have embarked on this journey. I realize I have done the right thing for myself -  for now. The book I put out will be 150% mine. My cover concept, my copy, my characters uncompromised, and my heart, soul, blood, sweat, fears, and tears.

My book is like me on a platter.

I have loved the process but it’s been harder than I expected. I will say I do have an advantage b/c I don’t have to pay people to layout my book or my marketing materials. I do have a solid platform and solid relationships and people have stepped up to support me. I also know where to go and what to look for in marketing. I know what sells books and what doesn’t. I’ve been in marketing my whole life. I’m not saying I know everything because I definitely don’t. But when I don’t’ know something - I am not afraid to dig around and find out how to do it. I have a good instinct for marketing. And I think that helps me find my way through this muddled process.

So is indie publishing for everyone? NO! I love doing marketing and reaching out to people. It does not intimidate me. But I have spent the last 2 months preparing everything myself. Making my own decisions and mistakes. I am not afraid of mistakes. I’m more afraid of not knowing when I make one than actually making them. If you don’t like to market your books, if you don’t like to reach out to people and get rejected, or if you just want to write - this might be a much harder journey.

I have not given up on traditional publishing; I respect the industry, love all the people, and would love to take that journey someday.

For now, I’m interested to see if me – a total underdog – can make it on my own. And if I don’t, at least I will know that I put out the best book I could in every way – from design to plot to character.  That I am happy about everything I have done and would not change a thing.

At least, I will know I did it on my own, my way, with no regrets.

Contact information:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/srjohannes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop


This hop is HUGE, which means an amazing number of opportunities to win.  Participating blogs are all featuring book related giveaways

The window of time to enter is from November 17th - November 27th. You can find the linky at either of the hosting blogs. It is seriously TOO HUGE to post here.

MY GIVEAWAY:

An ARC of Shatter Me 
by Tahereh Mafi 


You know you want that! 

This is meant to be all about thanking our followers, so I wanted to make it something worth winning, something to show just how much I love you all... my ARC of Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi. Now that's A LOT of love, people!

How to enter:
  1. Be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post by Nov. 27th with an email so I can contact you. That's it!

Now go check out the list of 
over 300
other participating blogs at:
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&

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Launch into Chaos and I Will Follow


"The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



I have read four books in the past week, all written by online blog friends. Let me tell you, I have read them with wild delight!  

Become by Ali Cross
Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn
Untraceable by Shelli Johannes
Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper


DO. NOT. MISS. THESE.

Plus, some good news: a special promotion: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton is $2.99 for the e-book - an even better price than the paperback- for the next two weeks through Amazon, Apple, B&N and Google. Check out my review of this awesome book HERE.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Done O'Clock or Half-Past Through?


"The time of day I do not tell,
As some do, by the clock,
Or by the distant chiming bells
Set on some steeple rock,
But by the progress that I see
In what I have to do.
It's either Done O'Clock to me,
Or only Half-Past Through."
~ John Kendrick Bangs
 

 For all my NaNoing writer friends! 

And for the rest of us:

meeting deadlines
racing revisions
hurrying to critique
and
wishing for "The End"


P.S. I just finished reading TANGLED TIDES, and O-M-G was it good! Sooooo freaking good!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Guys Write For Guys Read



Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Guys Write For Guys Read
Edited by Jon Scieszka


Goodreads Blurb:
What is a typical guy moment, anyhow? Daniel Pinkwater remembers thedisappointment of meeting his Lone Star Ranger hero up close and personal. Gordon Korman relishes the goofy ultra violence of the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Stephen King realizes that having your two hundred- pound babysitter fart on your five-year-old head prepares you for any literary criticism. And that's just a sampling from Guys Write for Guys Read, a fast-paced, high energy collection of short works: stories, essays, columns, cartoons, anecdotes, and artwork by today's most popular writers and illustrators.
Guys Write features work from Brian Jacques, Jerry Spinelli, Chris Crutcher, Mo Willems, Chris Van Allsburg, Matt Groening, Neil Gaiman, the editors and columnists from Sports Illustrated,The Onion and Esquire magazines, and more. Selected by voters at the Guys Read Web site and compiled by Jon Scieszka, this wide-ranging collection of authors and illustrators shows that guys do read . . . and will read more if given things they enjoy reading.

This is a wonderful resource for reluctant boy readers. The selections and amazing variety of popular author voices will hook them. Voracious readers will recognize and enjoy the all-star line-up of both authors and works. I have two copies in my classroom (purchased myself) and they are well-loved.


** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!
 

Friday, November 11, 2011

String Bridge Chart Rush



Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrack, Melody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to:

jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com

She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

* To purchase the paperback:

* To purchase the eBook:

* To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are
not familiar with String Bridge,
check out the book trailer:


Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion
Thrust
and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her
next novel, and next and next.” 
~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Calling All Bloggers . . .

 
Okay, folks, I need your help!

In October, when I went to see James Dashner, I met a young author--Jenna Gustafson. She's only 15 years old!! This girl really impressed me--a lot. She began a story as a class assignment in 7th grade, then decided to turn it into a book. 

She wrote, revised, researched the process, found Tate Publishing . . . they accepted her story, assigned her an editor and an illustrator, and she revised some more. Now, she has a book. What she doesn't have is any help or experience with marketing. And that's where we come in.

Goodreads Blurb:
There's only one hope for Fort Smoky to survive. After a devastating fire ravages the homes of Fort Smoky, it's up to young Ben Clearwater and his sister and friends to help the residents and get to Fort Futureland to save the people before the harsh, cold winter sets in. To get there, they will have to trek through unknown mountains, relying on Running Wind's compass and Big Jim's maps of the land while struggling against the harsh forces of Mother Nature.
Fort Futureland is a place of new and interesting contraptions, like cars and computers, the four children have never seen, and they are captivated. But the children soon uncover a sinister plot to destroy their beloved Fort Smoky. Will they be able to stop the evil leaders of Fort Futureland? Will they ever make it home? Will they be heroes for Saving Fort Smoky?
* Jenna Gustafson lives happily in Montana with her parents and brother. While she has won local short story contests, this is her first book. She hopes to inspire other children to chase their dreams and understand that they are never too young to accomplish something.

SAVING FORT SMOKY is a cute story. While the writing is not as mature or polished as we might be used to, my second grade daughter really enjoyed it. Kids don't care as much as we do, and the younger ones are Jenna's audience.

******

I would like us to help Jenna promote her book. She is willing to offer giveaways and signed swag as part of your posts. You don't even have to do a review--just a post to help spread the word.  Link to SAVING FORT SMOKY on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads. Link to Jenna's author page. Anything is welcomed and appreciated. 

If you are willing to do a post for Jenna or are interested in interviewing her for a post, please let me know, either in the comments or via email. 

******

She's a wonderful girl. At only fifteen, she has managed to make her dreams a reality. She's a Goodreads author!! What an inspiration to other young writers out there. Let's help her get the word out!

 So, who wants to help me?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Wish for You Today


“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”
~ unknown


Today, my heart is full of good wishes for all you . . . 

my support system
my cheering section
my motivation providers
my friends
 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - 39 Clues

 
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

39 Clues: Maze of Bones
by Rick Riordan
 
 
Goodreads Blurb:
Instead of 39 steps, billionaire Grace Cahill left her heirs 39 clues scattered around the world. At the end of this circuitous trail are the answers to a great family mystery, but Amy and Dan must decide whether any prize can be more important than the rescue of their missing parents. The beginning of an enthralling ten-book arc.

I know many of you are probable already familiar with these books, but I had to plug them in case some of you have been missing out. They are too good to miss.
 
I used this book as a read-aloud for part of a mystery unit I've been doing in a couple of my classes. The kids and I had so much fun! I love Rick Riordan's sense of humor, and my students begged me to read book 2, too. 

Each book in the series has a different author, but they are all big names in MG literature, like Gordan Korman and Patrick Carmen. And they are all full of adventure, suspense, and MG humor. The brother and sister team make them equally appealing to boys and girls. These books are perfect MG reads!
 
 
** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!
 

Friday, November 4, 2011

We Have a Winner!




According to Random.Org, 
the oh-so-VERY-lucky winner of Ali Cross's YA novel BECOME is . . .


#4 
aka 
Meredith

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ali Cross Blog Tour of BECOME + GIVEAWAY


BECOME
by Ali Cross


Goodreads Blurb:
Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she’s never had before—a friend.
This book is every bit as awesome as its cover! Wow, wow, wow!! I absolutely LOVED this story. Ali did a fantastic job with characterization, which is especially impressive considering how many key players there are. Desi is alive--she lives and breathes on the pages. And Michael?? Let's just say, I want one! He is *sigh* perfect.

I have NO IDEA how this book slipped through the fingers of the supposed experts, because it should have been scooped up in a heartbeat. I would rank this story up there with Angel Fire and Paranormalcy. It's THAT good!!

Ali has generously agreed to give away
one paperback copy of BECOME.

How to enter: 

+1 for following my blog
+1 for leaving a comment w/ email
+1 for following ALI'S BLOG
+1 for adding Ali as a friend on Goodreads
+10 for purchasing a copy of Become and emailing me the receipt
+1 for adding up your points in the comments

This is a 5 star read! Don't miss it!! 
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Open Minds Virtual Launch Party


Virtual Launch Blog Tour
Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn 

Guest Post
 
The Writer’s Journey - 
Deciding to Self-Publish Open Minds (Part One)
by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds 
(Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)


I’ve talked about my decision to self-publish my paranormal/SF young adult novel Open Minds (you can read the whole post here), but in short I made a calculated career decision to self-publish for three reasons:

1) Publisher interest in paranormal is waning, even though paranormal YA novels are still burning up the charts

2) Price control

3) Writing investment diversification

 (Plus I have to admit to a certain desire to try the shiny new gadget of self-publishing.)

My Logic Brain loves those three reasons, and they are truly the decision points that made me take the leap into self-publishing.

But finding the courage to make the leap was a whole different story. The theme of my writer’s journey to date has really been about overcoming fear, and that journey has taught me many lessons.


Fear of Sharing My Work

All good stories start at the beginning. For me, the beginning was December of 2008, when I decided to write fiction for the first time since I was a high school student passing serialized stories as furtive notes to my friends in class. But as an adult, I was terrified to share my work. It took me two months and a very encouraging phone call from my brother before I was willing to post my first stabs at writing online. For real people to actually read. The horrors! I quickly realized that in spite of the horrid quality of my craft, people didn’t care. They wanted to read the story. I also learned that having readers rocked my socks.

Lesson #1: Story matters more than craft and readers matter most of all.

Fear of Being Serious about Creative Work

Once the writing bug bit me, I was completely entranced. It was like discovering a new addiction, only more so. Writing had tapped into a creative side of me that had been dormant for many years, jolting my Creative Brain to life and sending it on a headlong rush of delirious creative work. I’m not saying the work was good, but my heavens, there was a lot of it. 

I wrote day and night. My husband wondered what had happened to me. But I couldn’t stop; didn’t want to stop. I wanted to do this writing thing full-time, forever. I had a serious identity crisis for a while: how could someone with a Ph.D. in Engineering even consider writing as a career? I had always planned to go back to work in engineering, and now I was going to be a children’s writer?? I wrestled long and hard with that decision, but Creative Brain—once unleashed—was a force to be reckoned with. 

Once again, my brother (the writer) came to my aid and said with no sarcasm that I had a moral obligation to write. That people who are capable of creating original work have an obligation to the world to do so. I completely thought he was joking. He wasn’t. It took me a long time before I finally understood what he meant. In fact, my understanding of that simple statement continues to evolve (my brother should run for Dalai Lama, in case the Dalai decides to make it an elected position).

Lesson #2: Creative work is as valuable in the world as “practical” work.

Fear of Publishing

Once I took the leap to being serious about writing, I started a novel with the intent of trying to get it published (this was Clone Runners). I got all serious about plotting and craft. I read agent and writer’s blogs. I started my own blog. And I continued to write like crazy. I entered that phase where you learn enough to know how much you REALLY don’t know. It was painful and long and arduous. And exhilarating and amazing. And mostly terrifying.

I was getting close to querying my middle grade science fiction story and was half-way through the first draft of Open Minds, when the unthinkable happened: someone (my publisher Omnific) wanted me to submit the first real novel I had written, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit (a teen love story). What? That wasn’t part of the plan, at all. I was going to be a SF writer, primarily MG, not a romance writer for young adults. And did I really want to take the risk of publishing with a small publisher? I had read all the blogs that said to be wary of small publishers, especially NEW small publishers (I was Omnfic’s 9th title). 

I hurriedly revised and polished this novel I had never intended to publish, submitted it, and before too long they were offering me a contract. Meanwhile, I consulted my Mission Statement (#GeekAlert), the one that I had created for my writing career, and this popped out at me:

To create a body of work ... that reaches a large number of young readers, to provide the greatest impact on young lives.

This was what I really wanted: to connect with readers. To have readers, I needed to put work out where they could buy it. I decided to take the leap and publish Life, Liberty, and Pursuit.

Lesson #3: You can’t reach readers if you don’t publish.

These lessons were just the start of finding my Writerly Path. Read on to Part Two to see the rest of the journey (and see the full story below).

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When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn is available in e-book (Amazon US (also UK, France and Germany), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords) and print (Amazon, Createspace, also autographed copies available from the author).

The Story of Open Minds (linked posts)


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PRIZES!
Susan Kaye Quinn is giving away an Open Books/Open Minds t-shirt, mug, and some fun wristbands to celebrate the Virtual Launch Party of Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)! (Check out the prizes here.)


Three ways to enter (you can have multiple entries):
1)      Leave a comment here or at the Virtual Launch Party post
2)      Tweet (with tag #keepingOPENMINDS)
Example: When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. #keepingOPENMINDS @susankayequinn #SF #YA avail NOW http://bit.ly/SKQOpenMinds

Example: Celebrate the launch of OPEN MINDS by @susankayequinn #keepingOPENMINDS #SciFi #paranormal #YA avail NOW http://bit.ly/SKQOpenMinds

3)     Facebook (tag @AuthorSusanKayeQuinn) 
Example: Celebrate the launch of paranormal/SF novel OPEN MINDS by @AuthorSusanKayeQuinn for a chance to win Open Books/Open Minds prizes! http://bit.ly/SKQOpenMinds

There's a lot of partying go on today! 
Follow the links and join in the celebrating! 
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