CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests


ALMOST PARADISE through July 29th
THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY through August 19th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Danielle Burby Agent Spotlight Interview on 9/25/17
Molly O'Neal Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/23/17
Quressa Robinson Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/30/17

Merry Christmas and UNSTOPPABLE Winners

Hello  all!

I forgot to add the winners of Bethany Hensel's UNSTOPPABLE to Monday's post, so I'll go ahead and announce them here. And the winners are...

... mshatch and Susan from the Pen and Ink Blog.

Congrats! If you don't receive an e-mail from me shortly, please contact me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

To everyone else, you still have time to win a copy of  THE ARCHIVEDSOUL CUTTER, MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING, and your book of choice from the Midwinter Giveaway Hop.

Natalie and I wish you very Happy Holidays and a joyful New Year.

See you in 2014!

MIDWINTER'S EVE GIVEAWAY HOP

Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope you're all having a great start to the holidays. I'm super excited because I am off work until January 2nd. We're having a quiet holiday at home this year. I'm planning to do some fun things with my daughter, write, and start on online Office 10 certification course for a job change I'll be doing in 2014 when my company sadly closes. And of course, I'm planning to read a pile of fantastic books.

Today I'm excited to participate in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader Not A Writer. I've got a great selection of hot YA titles for you to choose from. These are all ones I've alread read and really loved, except for one. THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN is the only one I haven't read yet. My library has the audio book and I'm waiting for it to warm up enough to read while I walk. Click on the title for a blurb from Goodreads:

 


 


 


 
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS
ALLEGIANT
THE BITTER KINGDOM
CHAMPION
THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN
CONTROL
CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
INTO THE STILL BLUE Pre-order
SIEGE AND STORM
TAKEN
THESE BROKEN STARS
THE ENCHANTER HEIR

So one lucky winner will get the book of their choice. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me which book you'd like through December 31st. I’ll announce the winner on January 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.
Here’s what’s coming up:

First, I wish you all a happy holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate, and a Happy New Year! I hope we all have a happy year filled with good news and lots of great book reading.

This is my last post until January 6th.

On January 6th, I’m interviewing debut author Sara Larson and giving away an ARC of DEFY, her YA fantasy about a girl who impersonates a boy in the Prince’s guard to escape being sent to an awful breeding house. I love stories with strong female characters like in DEFY and this is a real page turner.

I've got other great interviews scheduled for January:

Rosamund Hodge and giveaway of CRUEL BEAUTY, a YA fairytale retelling

Stina Lindenblatt and giveaway of TELL ME WHEN, a NA contemporary romance dealing with issues of stalking and rape

Rachel Searles and giveaway of THE LOST PLANET, an upper MG sci-fi

And I'll be giving away other great books, including THE ENCHANTER'S HEIR and INTO THE STILL BLUE

My next giveaway hop will be February 1st.

So I hope to see you back here after the New Year! And thanks for being such fantastic followers. I really appreciate you all!

Here's all the other blogs participating in this Giveaway Hop:

Please visit Bookhounds for a complete list of blogs participating in this Giveaway Hop. Unfortunately Blogger will not cooperate and pull up the list for me.

Tip Tuesday #177 - Tim Johnson on Teaching Children a Second Language

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi everyone! I have something a little different today. Tips on teaching children a second language from children's author Tim Johnson. You can find Tim at his website, and his books on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Remember when your child said their first word?  Maybe you're still waiting for it.  This is a great time in their lives because they are putting sounds together based on what they hear around them and starting to structure their own little vocal chords accordingly.

If you're considering raising your child to speak a second language, you should consider doing it sooner rather than later.  Children who grow up hearing a second language around them are far more likely to speak with a native accent when they get older.  Adult learners may have the ability to learn several languages, but without the developmental stages of hearing these languages and constructing appropriate vocal patterns, you may never speak like a true native.

The first step to getting your children comfortable with a second language is simply, exposure.  This is seemingly a simple concept, but should not be underestimated.  They are spending so much time listening to the sounds around them, even if they are seemingly busy doing a vast magnitude of other things, and contemplating how they might make those sounds when the time comes.

Here are a few things to try to build their exposure to a second language:

Listen to music.  Even though sometimes lyrics are difficult to understand, the intonation and accent are often apparent.  Even better, the cadence and prose with which song lyrics are delivered offer the opportunity for more structured, left-brained, associations to arise.

Read books.  Children’s books are a wonderfully engaging way to encourage exposure to a second language.  Even if children don’t quite understand all of the words in the story, they are easily engaged in the illustrations, and over time they will build correlations between illustrations and the words.  It is also easy and engaging to point to parts of the illustration and use the appropriate vocabulary.

I am the author of several dual-language books which are written in two languages, with side-by-side translations that are actually designed to teach foreign language or English as a second language.  The translations also include highlighted words in both languages so that simple correlations in vocabulary can be made when reading.  Many of the illustrations are labelled in both languages so that children can, in addition to hearing the words when you point to the pictures, can actually SEE the words and letters of the second language and immediately relate them to the picture.

Tim Johnson discovered the power of bilingual books while visiting Japan as a teenager. In 2011 he started writing the Adventures of Bosley Bear series with the hope of reading these books to his own future children and exposing them to new words and sounds.

Now Bosley Bear is recognized around the world and Tim is committed to continuing the series and educating children about foreign language and culture for years to come. Tim works as a mechanical engineer, and author, and lives on the seacoast of Maine with his wonderful wife and two incredible twin boys.


 

ANNA STANIZEWSKI GUEST POST ON MARKETING A SERIES AND MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING 3 BOOK GIVE AWAY

I use Grammarly's plagiarism detection feature because, on days like this, I don't trust the word matter floating around in my brain. #ad

Happy Monday! For me, it's a great day. I'm off today because I had another day I needed to take before the end of the year or I'd lose it. And after Friday, I'm off work until January 2nd. We'll be spending a quiet holiday at home this year. I'm so looking forward to it after being in China during the holidays last year. I'm hoping to do some fun things with my daughter, get some writing done, and start an online office 10 course that will help with my job search next year. Hope you all have fantastic holiday plans.

So, the banquet for the girl's high school swim team was last week and it's official. Anna Li is one of the three captains on the team. I'm excited for her because she's been hoping for this since 9th grade. She wanted to be captain because of who she is as a person, not just because she's a fast swimmer and I think she achieved that goal. This also means I'll be swim mom next year. I'm more nervous about that, but I'm doing it with a friend and a mom who has done it two years in the past so hopefully, it'll be okay.

FOLLOWER NEWS 

Stina Lindenblatt is doing a blog hop the week of January 13th to celebrate the release of her NA contemporary story, TELL ME WHEN. Because the story deals with stalking and kidnapping, she's asking people to post a short blog post about stalking, either a personal story or in general. I'm a friend of Stina's and am excited to participate. If you want to as well, go HERE to join the blog tour.

Kelly Polark just released a new picture book, HOLD THE MUSTARD. Go HERE to congratulate her.

If you are a regular follower and have news, like agent or book contract news, book release news, or a cover for your new book, be sure to let me know so I can shout out about it for you. E-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

And I have a winner to announce.

The winner of CONTROL is Nutshell!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m thrilled to have Anna Stanizewski back as part of her blog tour for MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING, the last book in her MG humorous fantasy series. I’ve been honored to be a part of the blog tours for all three of her fantastic blog tours.

Here’s a description of MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING from Goodreads:

Happily ever after? Yeah, right.

Jenny's search for her parents leads her to Fairyland, a rundown amusement park filled with creepily happy fairies and disgruntled leprechauns. Despite the fairies' kindness, she knows they are keeping her parents from her. If only they would stop being so happy all the time-it's starting to weird her out! With the help of a fairy-boy and some rebellious leprechauns, Jenny finds a way to rescue her parents, but at the expense of putting all magical worlds in danger. Now Jenny must decide how far she is willing to go to put her family back together.

Anna’s got a fantastic post on how to market a series. I learned a lot from reading it and hope you do too. And at the end of the post are details on how you can enter a fantastic giveaway to celebrate the end of her series.

So here’s Anna.


8 Tips for Marketing a Series by Anna Staniszewski

Marketing a series is a tricky business. When the first book comes out, there’s a lot of excitement involved, but there’s also anxiety about finding an audience. When the sequel is released, you have readers looking forward to the second installment, but you also have to find new ways to reach people who haven't even heard of the first one. And finally, when the last book is published (whether it’s the third volume or the seventh), there’s the thrill of wrapping everything up but also the fear of disappointing fans and of leaving them with nothing more to read.

Lots to consider, right? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are some things that I’ve found helpful for marketing a series.

The First Book

Cast a Wide Net
Aim to establish an online presence (blog interviews, book trailers, Facebook pages) as well as an
in-person presence (signings, author panels, school visits). Try as many things as you can to see what you like, what works, and what doesn’t. When you’re just starting out, I think it’s best to try anything; the worst that can happen is that something will bomb and you’ll know never to do it again.

Celebrate!
Have a launch party or another event around your release date. Invite everyone you can think of—you never know who’ll come out of the woodwork to help you celebrate this milestone. The goal here isn’t just about sales; it’s about creating a network of people who feel connected to you and to your work.

The Second Book

Create Bonus Content
Give your readers something to tide them over in between books. Release a short story online that’s related to your books, give readers a sneak peek of the sequel’s first chapter, or create a video in which you answer readers’ questions. Additional content will help make the time between books fly by.

Celebrate!
Yes, have another party! I know some people prefer to be low-key for the release of follow-up books, but remember that you are not the only person who’s excited about your book coming out. Give people a chance to congratulate you. If need be, bribe potential attendees with cookies.

Share, Don’t Promote
Now that you’ve released two books, you’ve probably learned a few things about writing, publishing, etc. Share your wisdom through guest posts, articles, and workshops. Not only will you be able to help other writers and readers, but you’ll have a chance to spread the word about your books in a way that doesn’t feel like self-promotion.

The Last Book

Reach Out
Now that you’ve had plenty of practice with creating your online presence and doing in-person events, step it up and do all the ones that have worked in the past. Even though you’ve already created a fan base, it’s never too late to connect with new readers.

Celebrate!
Are you seeing a pattern? Maybe you don’t need a launch party for every single book you ever publish, but the final installment in a series is a big deal. Give readers a chance to come support you as you say goodbye to your baby.

Look Ahead
If you have a contract for a new book, great! Make sure readers of your first series know about it. If you
haven’t sold a new book yet, don’t panic. Remember that you’ve already written a series. After surviving that crazy rollercoaster, you can do anything!


Bio:
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at http://www.annastan.com.

Anna’s publisher Sourcebooks generously offered all three books in this series to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 4th. I’ll announce the winner on January 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US/Canada residents only.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger and you can find all the blogs participating today HERE.

Here’s what’s coming up:

First, I wish you all a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year! I hope we all have a happy year filled with good news, including book news.

On Saturday, December 21st I’ll be participating in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great YA book choices. It’ll run through December 31st so stop by when you have time. This will be my last post until January 6, 2014.

On January 6th, I’m interviewing debut author Sara Larson and giving away an ARC of DEFY, her YA fantasy about a girl who impersonates a boy in the Prince’s guard to escape being sent to an awful breeding house. I love stories with strong female characters like in DEFY and this is a real page turner.

I have a number of great debut author interviews and giveaways that I’m excited to share with you in January Come back on January 6th to find out about some of them.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Saturday!


LEXA CAIN INTERVIEW AND SOUL CUTTER GIVEAWAY

Today I have follower and debut author Lexa Cain here to share about her debut YA novel, SOUL CUTTER that released December 6, 2013. It’s so awesome to help celebrate another friend’s debut book release. And this sounds so fantastic with the psychic scams, the Egyptian setting, and the mysterious disappearance of Élan’s mom. I can’t wait to read it.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

The Soul Cutter is hunting again.

Seventeen-year-old Élan spends her free time videoing psychic scams and outing them online. Skepticism makes life safe—all the ghosts Élan encounters are fakes. When her estranged mother disappears from a film shoot in Egypt, Élan puts her medium-busting activities on hold and joins the search.

In Egypt, the superstitious film crew sucks at finding her mom. When a hotel guest is killed, whispers start—the locals think their legendary Soul Cutter has come back from the dead. Élan's only ally is Ramsey, a film-crew intern, but he’s arrogant, stubborn—and hiding dangerous secrets.

When Élan discovers the Soul Cutter is no scam, she finds herself locked in a deadly battle against a supernatural killer with more than her mother’s life at stake.

Élan is fighting for her very soul.

Hi Lexa. Happy Debut! Thanks for letting us help celebrate.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Oops. Wrong story. Not too long ago in a much closer galaxy, a little Earth girl became thoroughly entranced with horror on TV (things like “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” which inspired Chris Carter to create the “X-Files”) and books (King, Koontz, McCammon and Rice). When you grow up on a diet like that, you naturally become a horror writer. So eat your veggies.

2. That’s awesome that you loved horror as a kid. And all those TV shows probably taught you a lot about plot. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I was kinda like Goldilocks. I tried writing an MG novel about pixies, but it was too sweet. Next I tried a YA Fantasy with an evil genie, but it was too predictable. Then I tried a YA Horror with an original set of creatures, including the Soul Cutter, and a kick-butt hero and heroine. That one fit just right.

The idea for the book came to me when I happened on a Yahoo article about haunted hotels in the US. There were some creepy stories in there, and I wondered what a haunted hotel in Egypt would be like. Sometimes ignoring work to surf the net pays off!

3. Love the Goldilocks analogy. I know you’ve lived in Egypt for 20 years. How cool! And one of the things I find intriguing is that you set your book there. Share some cool things about your setting. And do the myths in SOUL CUTTER have any roots in Egyptian superstitions?

The abandoned palace in the book is based on a real abandoned palace in Alexandria, which once belonged to Egypt’s kings. There are plenty of ancient places in Egypt to inspire a writer. You can’t throw a rock around here without hitting some kind of historical site! About superstitions, real charms and beliefs are explored in the book, but I took literary license with the main villain, the Soul Cutter. Interestingly, the myths of genies, efreet, and undead ghouls first began in Egypt. According to Arabic legend, a ghoul is an evil demon that dwells in the desert and appears to travelers. It lures them off the road, into the wasteland, and then kills and eats them. Eww!

4. Eww is right! But the Egyptian myths and historical places sound like they could give a writer tons of story ideas. You describe SOUL CUTTER as a romantic horror story. What tips do you have about writing in the horror genre?

There are two very important things about writing horror (or any kind of thriller/suspense). One is to make sure the setting and characters are as realistic as possible. This will make the reader suspend disbelief and be more likely to accept it when unusual things start happening. The other is to focus on character reaction more than frightening descriptions. By showing the characters’ fear, both mentally and physically, you’ll draw the reader into the characters, and they’ll feel as if everything is happening to them.

5. That’s a fantastic tip. Share one of your challenges craft-wise in writing this story and how you overcame it.

Me? Craft challenges? Not me -- I’m perfect! lol Hmm. Where do I begin? I’m not sure your blog is big enough to contain the list of problems. Everything from beginning in the wrong place, to bloated backstories, to time-line confusion trying to balance two POV characters. I only overcame these problems because I have an awesome set of CPs. We met online at writing.com and some of us have now worked together for over four years. Most of us now have book contracts and two have agents. My advice to writers? Join every writing forum and site and look for a like-minded group of people, where you respect each other and genuinely want to improve. That is the best way to get published.

6. You’re making me not feel so bad about all my manuscript problems. And your critique group sounds like it’s helped you all a lot. Your agent is Michelle Johnson. How did she become your agent?

I’m still asking myself that question. Mostly, I was lucky. I’d queried until the cows were not only home, but in the barn sleeping. Despite plenty of requests, no one had made an offer. Refusing to give up, I started subbing small presses, got an immediate offer, and then sent squeals of “Offer Received” to every agent who still had my fulls. By chance, Michelle Johnson had just left an agency to start her own company and was actively looking for new clients. The rest is serendipitous history!

7. We should all remember your experience if we move onto submitting to small presses. What were some of your considerations in signing with MuseItUp Publishing and what do you advise others to look into if they are considering a smaller press?

This topic has a number of pros and cons, but I’ll just give my impression of things. I think that when most of us start writing, we dream of success with one of the big traditional publishers. Small presses aren’t even on our radar. We think if we just work hard enough and grind our computer keys to nubs, we’ll make it. (No seriously, I have rubbed half the letters off my keyboard. It’s a pitiful sight.) But after all that time and effort, the dream doesn’t materialize. And we are so depressed. However, I know people who’ve gotten contracts with the big guys, and it wasn’t all roses and rainbows. There were problems with contracts, e-book rights, reprint rights, no input on covers that end up misrepresenting the book, and not nearly as much marketing help as you’d expect -- to name a few. On the other hand, small pubbers are like families. They’re much more amenable to contract changes, allow input at every stage of the publishing process, give you far more freedom, and a bigger profit share. I value my freedom and peace of mind and wouldn’t hesitate to work with MuseItUp (or another small publisher) again. Just do your homework to be sure the publisher is reputable (see Preditors & Editors: http://pred-ed.com/).

8. Yes, I’ve heard of good and bad experiences with the bigger publishers too. What are you working on now?

That’s a big secret. I’d tell you, but then I’d have to … well, you know. Heh-heh-heh.

Well, hopefully you’ll be able to share it soon in my Monday Follower News. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lexa. You can find Lexa at:

Blog: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexa.cain.1
Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lexa-Cain/504432766289367
Goodreads-Author: http://www.goodreads.com/Lexa_Cain
Goodreads-Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18753339-soul-cutter

And here's the links to purchase her awesome book:


Lexa has generously offered an ARC for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 4th. I’ll announce the winner on January 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’ll be participating in Anna Staniszewski’s blog tour for the last book in her series, MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING. She’ll be doing a guest post on how to market a series and there will be a giveaway of all three of her books in this series.

Then on Saturday, December 21st I’ll be participating in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great YA book choices. This will be my last post until January 6, 2014.

On January 6th, I’m interviewing debut author Sara Larson and giving away an ARC of DEFY, her YA fantasy about a girl who impersonates a boy in the Prince’s guard to escape being sent to an awful breeding house. I love stories with strong female characters like in DEFY and this is a real page turner.

I have a number of great debut author interviews and giveaways that I’m excited to share with you in January. Come back on January 6th to find out about some of them.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!





Guest Blogger Bethany Hensel on Original Ideas and Giveaway of UNSTOPPABLE

Happy Friday, everyone! We have a guest on Lit Rambles today, author, entertainment writer, and all around sweetheart, Bethany Hensel. Not only is she offering some inspiration on original ideas, but she's giving away two e-copies of her book, UNSTOPPABLE, just released this week. Please enjoy Bethany's post, then follow the instructions below for your chance to win.

Before I begin, I just want to thank Casey and Natalie for inviting me to guest blog on their incredible site! It’s an invaluable tool to so many authors (myself included) and I am just beyond flattered to be writing for this stellar audience. I’ve been a fan of the site for years now and read it religiously.

I must confess though: When I got the go ahead from Casey to begin working on a guest post, I looked over past guest posts to see what had been covered and what hadn't. Almost right away, I realized that the many guest authors, illustrators and editors had already gone over a ton of wonderful and timely topics. I panicked and wondered if I had anything new and worthwhile to add. As I racked my brain searching for just the right thing to talk about—feeling like the biggest failure ever—it suddenly occurred to me.:

Original Ideas. Are there any left? And how do you write one?

To answer those questions, I flashbacked to a time not that long ago, when I taught a writing class at the Community College of Allegheny County. The topic of original ideas was something I had broached before. You see, the entire focus of the first session of class was debunking myths about writing so it could free you to work. One of those myths was that all the storylines had already been done, and therefore, there was nothing new for a beginning writer to add. To prove this myth wrong, I gave the class a simple exercise.

Close your eyes. Imagine a young guy running down a long, dark corridor. He’s sweating, he’s panting, his arms are pumping and his feet are slapping against the pavement. People are behind him, running nearly as fast. Suddenly, the young guy runs into a wall.  Now open your eyes.

Next, I told the class to write three scenes that would explain what was happening to this boy. I gave them five minutes. Then, I had each student read aloud what they wrote. Know what I discovered? Not one student—in that class, in that semester, in all the classes I taught—came up with the same situation. Not. A. Single. One.

I remember one girl wrote the scene so it was nothing but a huge game of tag. Another wrote that the guy had super powers and ran right through the wall. Another wrote that the guy hit the wall and was killed by zombies. Some students wrote the scene with complete paragraphs that included actual dialogue. Some just wrote a few key phrases. And some wrote maybe a word or two. See? Not only did everyone come up with different scenarios, they even came up with different ways of doing the exercise!

Everyone has such a different psychology to them. It’s like I handed out a coloring page and they each shaded and filled in the lines with their own colors and experience. Some used colored pencils, some used charcoal, some used paint made from wild flowers. I gave them the exact same picture, but it was each of their unique experiences, likes, dislikes, knowledge and influences filtered through their imaginations that colored it in.

There's only so many storylines, that's true. Let's take a look at a classic: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. It's probably one of the most familiar archetypes around. But does Harlan Coben's Shelter read anything like Lisa Kleypas's Mine Until Midnight? Does Cora Carmack's Losing It read anything like Jackson Pearce's As You Wish? The answer: no they do not. But they all have that archetype in it. But the authors are so different and their stories reflect that.

So many times I run into people who want to write but they’re afraid to. They think that they have nothing to contribute, nothing entertaining or worthwhile enough for others to invest their time and money into. How could you possibly know if you never try? There always comes a time when I write something and think it’s the most ridiculous thing ever. In fact, most authors I’ve interviewed have said a similar sentiment. That feeling of fraudulence is normal. In fact, embrace it. It’ll make you work harder to make sure each character is authentic and each motivation true.

Stories come in all shapes and sizes and writers work in all styles and routines. Just like no two people are alike, no two stories are either. Of course, you have to push yourself and stretch your imagination and take the story to its limit, but when in doubt, always go back to yourself. Always remember how wonderfully different you are from the person beside you. And never doubt that you do have something new and wonderful to offer. 

Since her breakthrough into publishing in 2007, arts and entertainment writer Bethany Hensel has compiled a vast and varied catalogue of work that includes interviews with television personalities, bestselling authors, award-winning singers, and more; as well as reviews of popular books, Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, and beloved musicals. Her debut book, Unstoppable, which readers have called “sexy”, and “sizzling” released December 3, 2013. It is available through most e-tailers. To learn more, visit bethanyhensel.com

***

As mentioned, Bethany is generously giving away two e-books of UNSTOPPABLE.  Here's the description from Goodreads:

Derek Archer’s life is finally beginning. He’s just about to graduate from high school, land the job he’s always wanted, and move in with the girl he’s always loved, Victoria. There’s no reason for him to question or want for anything. …until the day Victoria’s father is shot and killed, setting off a devastating, heartbreaking chain of reactions.

Now, the race is on, and Derek has only three days to right a terrible wrong. With the help of a childhood friend with a penchant for high-tech espionage, they investigate every lead, never imagining their search would take them deep into the heart of a seemingly perfect family, where old ghosts, bitter lies, and agonizing betrayal all collide. It’s then Derek discovers just how unimaginable the truth can be…and how unstoppable.


Eeek! Sounds pretty intense, right?

If you'd like a chance to win UNSTOPPABLE, please be a follower and leave a comment on this post before December 21st. Winners will be announced Monday Dec 23rd.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, leave a link in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter.

Good luck!

Tip Tuesday #176 - Kristin Lenz on #GivingTuesday

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Kristin Lenz is a social worker and writer who blogs at YA Fusion. To gear up for the holiday season, she has a tip about giving. Read on to learn about #GivingTuesday.

Everyone is familiar with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, but there’s a new movement, and it’s all about giving. #GivingTuesday was created last year as an initiative to celebrate and encourage charitable activities.  It’s a day for giving back.
Visit #GivingTuesday for ideas and inspiration about how you can contribute, and be prepared to join the movement next year. Charitable giving is something we tend to be quiet about. We feel like we should be humble. It doesn't feel right to say, "Look what I did!"  But the more people know about your efforts, the more likely they are to join you or support another cause that's important to them.

http://yafusion.blogspot.com/2013/12/givingtuesday-plus-our-book-bounty.html

For more tips about donations, microloans, or volunteering your time, stop by YA Fusion and read Kristin’s post. The blog team is giving a shout out to some of their favorite charities and sharing their book bounty with a giveaway.  They’d love to hear your recommendations, too.

LYDIA KANG INTERVIEW AND CONTROL GIVEAWAY

Hi Everyone! For those of you in the U.S., hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! We went to Toronto to celebrate my husband's 60th birthday. With all his health problems, I'm so grateful he's still alive. Wish I could say it was a fantastic trip, but it involved driving in a snowstorm for over an hour, someone breaking our back passenger side window in our rental car and stealing my husband's backpack with his medicine, and the highway being closed for over an hour on the way back because of an accident. But otherwise, we had fun.

Before I get to my interview, I have lots of winners to announce. Yay!

The winner of THE COLORED CAR is Akoss!
The winner of MOONLES is Carina Olsen!
The winner of BUTTERMAN TIME TRAVEL, INC. is Nicole!
The winner of GRAVITY is Johanna Garth!
The winner of A CHANGE OF PLANS is Sara Bowers!
The winner of MISTAKEN is Pachi!
The winner of THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL is DMS!
The winner of CHAMPION is Medeia Sharif!
The winner of THE FAIRY GUARDIAN is Karen Lange!
The winner of A SPY LIKE ME is Tammy Hudson!
The winner of ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD is Jocelyn!
The winner of A GUILTY GHOST SURPRISED is Marie!
The winner of THEY ALL FALL DOWN is Stephanie Garber!
And the winner of my Gratitude Giveaway is Cherry who picked THE CROWN OF MIDNIGHT!

Congrats to all the winners! Please e-mail me so I can have your books sent to me. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner. And thanks to you all for being such great followers!

Today I’m so thrilled to have debut author and one of our followers Lydia Kang here to share about CONTROL, which releases on December 26, 2013. It’s always so awesome to have a blogger friend here to celebrate their new book. And I loved CONTROL. As I read the first 50-60 pages, I kept on being amazed on how much was happening that was major. And the plot kept moving forward without a dull moment. And right away we know what Zel’s problem is, which helps draw you into the story. I loved the emphasis on gene mutations and the fact that while the characters had an inner beauty, outwardly they wouldn’t be perceived as hot, great looking kids. It gave the book a much more real feel.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:


An un-putdownable thriller for fans of Uglies


When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zel knows she needs to protect her sister, Dyl. But before Zel has a plan, Dyl is taken by strangers using bizarre sensory weapons, and Zel finds herself in a safe house for teens who aren’t like any she’s ever seen before—teens who shouldn't even exist. Using broken-down technology, her new friends’ peculiar gifts, and her own grit, Zel must find a way to get her sister back from the kidnappers who think a powerful secret is encoded in Dyl’s DNA.

A spiraling, intense, romantic story set in 2150—in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms—this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.


Hi Lydia. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Hi Natalie! Wow, it’s weird to be on this blog after being a reader for so many years! Well, I’ve always wanted to write, but I didn’t know what to do. I simply couldn’t comprehend the how of idea generation. Where did authors get these clever premises from? How did they create characters? A few years ago after I got my feet wet writing poetry and non-fiction, I came up with an idea for an urban fantasy. I wrote a tiny outline and just went for it. That was June 2009, and I wrote the book in a month. (It’s now sitting on my hard drive.) I haven’t stopped writing fiction since.

2. OMG! I’m so impressed you wrote a book in a month. Where did you get the idea for your story?

It started with this blog post:

http://lydiakang.blogspot.com/2010/09/medical-mondays-ondines-curse.html

I could almost see this girl with this affliction and wondered...how could I make her into a hero? I knew I’d been wanting to write sci-fi, and soon this got me thinking of mutant teenagers and before long, the idea for CONTROL was born.

3. Funny how a blog post could inspire a story. I loved the gene mutations and the scientific
influence throughout the story. It was so unique! And I know you’re a doctor. Share a bit about how gene mutations fit in your world building and how your medical background influenced your story.

I’m a fan of superheros and X-men and paranormal books, but one thing that always irked me was the believability of all those special powers. So when I created these teens, I decided very firmly that I would do my best to root the origins of their mutations in real science. It wasn’t that hard to dream up, to be honest. That’s where having a background in science came in super handy!

4. Yeah, I bet it really helped you and saved on having to do extensive research. I’ve read that Zel is your favorite character. Me too, though I loved Cy too. Share three things you love about Zel. Are there parts of you in her?

I love her crazy hair. I would love a head full of frizzy hair. No joke.
I love her intense devotion to her family. Her life and her own identity is so entwined with family, and it was fascinating to have her change as these relationships changed through the book.

5. Okay, I used to have terribly frizzy hair. Trust me, you don’t want that part of her. Your plotting is fantastic and I’ve read you’re a plotter. What’s your plotting process like? Do you have any tips for the rest of us on how to keep our plots moving like you have?

Pantsers, I bow down to you. Because I would love that freedom to let go and just let the story happen, but I can’t do it. I have to know exactly where things are going before I lay a finger on the keyboard. A few words of advice: every chapter has to reveal something pretty major about the story or character, and never do fake cliffhangers. If you leave a reader hanging at the end of a chapter, it had better be for a significant reveal. Or else!

6. That’s great advice on what your chapters must do for your story. Your agent is Eric Myers. How did he become your agent? What was your road to publication like?

CONTROL was my third novel written (though I’d plotted a 50 page outline of a dystopian before CONTROL). Once my first draft was done, I’d sent to my betas who told me unequivocally that I’d finally written a shelf-worthy book. So I knew I was going to query until I dropped. I’d received two offers of representation when I finally chose Eric. He was experienced and wise and I felt like I was in very good hands.

7. I’ve seen that you’ve done some pre-release interviews with ARC giveaways and have been going to some conferences like ALA. Share a bit about how you decided where to set up these interviews/giveaways and what conferences to go to. What’s your experiences been going to these conferences?

The ALA panel was set up by members of the Class of 2k13 so I was happy to be included. To be honest, most of the interviews and giveaway opportunities have just fallen into my lap. The good thing about having blogged for several years and finding lots of Twitter friends is that people have just found me. I’m really bad with saying no, so I basically do every interview that’s asked of me. I’m pretty generous with offering swag giveaways when asked. My Goodreads giveaway last month was set up by Penguin. Next year, I won’t be as accessible though—I’m getting swamped with promo work and it’s only going to get busier!

8. That’s awesome how the interviews have just come to you. And great to hear that Twitter can help with that. What are your plans for marketing your book now that it’s being released?

I’ll be doing several school and library visits in the midwest, along with select conferences, like RT and some book festivals. As for online promo, I’ll just be out there. Twittering, Tumbling, and blogging as much as I can handle. One thing I’d like to concentrate more on next year is gathering more subscribers to my newsletter (which I have yet to send!) and Tumblr more often.

9. I’ll have to watch what you do to learn from you. What are you working on now?

I’m in between projects, but I have an idea for another sci-fi that’s very tempting. :)

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lydia. You can find Lydia at:


League of Extraordinary Writers: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/
The Class of 2k13:  http://classof2k13.com/

Lydia and her publisher Dial Books generously offered an ARC for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through December 14th. I’ll announce the winner on December 16th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’ll be off. I’m going to Florida to see my mom for a few days the weekend before so will be offline for a few days.

The following Monday I’m interviewing our follower and debut author Lexa Cain and giving away a copy of SOUL CUTTER, her YA romantic horror story set in Egypt. I'm excited for this book for the setting alone.

The next Monday I’ll be participating in Anna Staniszewski’s blog tour for the last book in her series, MY SORT OF FAIRY TALE ENDING. She’ll be doing a guest post on marketing a series and there will be a giveaway of all three of her books in this series.

Then on Saturday, December 21st I’ll be participating in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great YA book choices. This will be my last post until January 6, 2014.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you in two weeks!