CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS
Here are my current Giveaway Contests
THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE through April 22nd
Natalie Lakosil Query Critique and THE STAR THIEF through April 22nd
Happy Easter Giveaway Hop through April 30th
Tracy Marchini Query Critique through April 29th
THE WINGSNATCHERS through May 4th
Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways
Laura Spieller on 4/26/2017
Loren Oberweger on 5/10/2017
Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017
CARRIE HARRIS INTERVIEW ON WRITING HUMOR AND PLATFORM AND GIVEAWAY OF BAD HAIR DAY AND BAD TASTE IN BOYS
Before I get to my interview, I want to announce the winner of DUALED.
The winner is S.P. BOWERS!
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book by midnight on Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m thrilled to have Carrie Harris here to discuss writing humor and platform. I met Carrie at her book signing in November for her new book, BAD HAIR DAY. I was so excited when I discovered an amazing fact about Carrie—She lives in the same town as me! I was happy for days after discovering that.
I bought her first book, BAD TASTE IN BOYS, at her signing. I’d always wanted to read it from the intriguing cover. Her main character Kate is definitely funny in a snarky way. But what I really liked about her was how fully developed she was as a character. She has a strong interest in medicine and Carrie weaved this in throughout the plot, which is also a mystery about zombies.
Here’s a description of Carrie’s new book, BAD HAIR DAY, from Goodreads:
Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school’s pre-med program. Except when he’s arrested for murder, she’s left with the bodies. And when Kate’s brother Jonah stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, she realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone’s murdering kids—something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.
Is it werewolf awesomeness like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate’s supposed to be a butt-kicking zombie killing genius...but if she can’t figure out who’s behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what’s left of them—are going to keep piling up.
It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school.
Hi Carrie. Thanks so much for joining us.
Thank YOU for having me! And for saying nice things about my book. And for coming to my party. And for being AWESOME. I’ll shut up now.
1. OMG, your book signing was the best! I still smile thinking about it. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
Well, I’ve had the writing bug since I was in high school, but I always figured it would be a hobby more than anything else. I thought it was one of those wild dreams that would never happen—like the ones in which I can actually carry a tune and surprise everyone who knows me by sitting down at a piano and breaking out into a rendition of my favorite song that doesn’t make everyone clap their hands to their ears and scream. I figured a writing career was about as likely, so I did a lot of freelance work for fun. I’m not exaggerating when I say a LOT. I wrote roleplaying games and websites and sales copy and flash cards and stage plays and poetry and if someone had been hiring people to write cereal boxes, I’m sure I would have said YES.
I figured I might as well try a book, so I wrote one for NaNo that sucked serious suckables, but at least it proved I knew how to write that many words. And then everything clicked when I found YA—my voice hasn’t really changed at all since high school. Neither has my sense of humor. Finally, I started to think of this as something more than a hobby. My first YA got me an agent, and the second one sold. I sound so calm when I say that, but inside? I’m still squealing like a crazed fangirl.
2. That’s such an inspiring story. For those who haven’t read BAD TASTE IN BOYS, tell us a bit about it.
3. I loved that Kate is a science geek. At your book signing, you said that writing humor is one of the hardest types of writing to do well. Why do you think that?
Gah. I had no idea what was coming out of my mouth at that moment. Could you tell? Writing in general is hard, and I think what I meant is that I’ve heard a lot of people say they find humor to be exceptionally tough. I think the issue is that it’s SO subjective. What’s funny to one person may be yawnsville to another, and if you’re going to write humor, you have to be open to the idea that some people will NOT find it funny simply because their sense of humor is on a different wavelength than yours. When you think about it, there are so many different kinds of funny. I like snarky humor and smart humor and slightly gross humor and ridiculous humor. I’m not a huge fan of potty jokes or really disgusting stuff. I think everyone has those lines, and they’re all in different places.
4. I think it’s true that humor is subjective. But a good humor writer can maybe get the humor right more often, which more people will find funny. Where do you get the inspiration for the humor in your stories and what tips do you have for the rest of us trying to write a humorous story?
I surround myself with people who are funnier than me. You probably think I’m being a smart-alecky douchecanoe, but I’m serious. Any time someone makes a wisecrack, there’s a part of my brain that’s making note of it so I can steal it later. BE WARNED, PEOPLE. I WILL STEAL YOUR JOKES.
(I do ask first, though.)
People frequently ask me how to write funny bits, and I honestly can’t give a straight answer. Inevitably, the parts that crack me up don’t get the big laughs when I read, and the parts that I didn’t find funny do. So one of the most important things I think you need when you’re writing humor is a lot of feedback. Ask people to tell you what made them laugh. LOTS of people. Use that feedback to pick the gags with the widest appeal. Because it’s not something you can break down into an equation. Darn it.
5. That’s great advice to get feedback and surround yourself with people who like humor. Okay, I’ll confess I’m not a funny person and I don’t like watching comedy shows or things like that. But I might like to add a humorous secondary character in one of my stories. Is it hopeless or do you have any suggestions on how serious people like me can learn to create a funny character?
Of course it’s not hopeless! Like any part of the craft, it’s something you can work on and develop if that’s where you want to go. I tend to go over the top in my early drafts, and I find that really helpful. Make that silly character SUPER GRATINGLY SILLY. I had so many boob jokes in the first draft of BTIB that my editor asked me to give the manuscript a breast reduction. (That still cracks me up.) But it gives you a chance to figure out which of those jokes are working for your readers and which ones aren’t. Then you can start to cull them down to a level that doesn’t make people want to hit their head against things.
Kate went on my dream agent list the day I read Maureen Johnson’s DEVILISH. I was on the query widely track—I always had 10-15 queries out—but hers was one of the first I sent. I knew the query was working, because I got lots of full requests, but after about 100 rejections, it still hadn’t clicked with anyone enough for them to offer. You know it only takes one yes, but after that many nos, you start to think it won’t ever happen. Then my critique group dissolved, and I started to think maybe this was a sign from the universe that writing would only be a hobby for me. I got The Email a few days afterwards and found Kate to be exactly what I needed—someone totally knowledgeable who would also talk games and geekery with me.
That first book was on submission for about a year, and it went to acquisitions so many times that I honestly lost count. In the meantime, I was writing this goofy zombie book, and we decided we’d send it out to some of the people who had been interested in that first book. BTIB sold in just a few weeks. Which is CRAAAAZY.
7. I’d like to move onto platform and publicity. In retrospect, what worked well and what didn’t work so well in developing your platform as a debut author and the publicity when your book released?
I tried a whole lot of everything, because you don’t want to be in the position where you wonder “what if I’d done X?!?” So I blogged almost every weekday between when I signed with my agent and when the book hit the shelves, and I commented on blogs, and by the end, I had a tremendous group of awesome bloggery friends who helped spread the word about the book. (I was also admittedly a little burned out.) I did an online charity auction, which I found personally fulfilling, but I’m not sure how much it actually resulted in selling books. I did lots of giveaways and promotions and videos…I get tired just thinking about it, but I’m glad I did it. I felt like I really gave my all, and I had a chance to figure out which types of promotion really resonated with me.
8. That’s important to have a wide range of friends to help you spread the word about your book. And personally, I think it's helpful when you have different circles of friends to tap into more prospective readers. You were part of the Class of 2k11 and were its president. How important is joining a group when you debut and did you feel taking a lead role in the Class of 2k11 was helpful? Why?
I am so so SO glad that I did the Class of 2k11. The people in that group are and always will be my family, and the support alone is worth the effort of joining. It’s scary to put yourself out there, so being able to do it in a group—to combine your strengths and support each other through your weaknesses—is invaluable. I learned a lot from them about publishing and about book promotion, and I made some lifelong friends too. I think when you join a debut group you really get out what you put into it, so they really did me a favor by letting me take a leadership role. I really learned a lot—things I did well and things I will never EVER do again!
9. I think the friendships and support would be so helpful in joining such a group. What have you done to keep your name and your books out there in the world since it was released? What do you recommend other authors do?
I’ve been moving away from deliberate book promotion and more towards trying to be open and engaged with readers in general. There are so many contests and so many authors and so many books—I feel pretty overwhelmed myself with all the choices! So I’ve decided to focus on the things I love most, like meeting new people who love books as much as I do, and talking with them rather than at them. I’m an author, but I’m also a real person. They’re readers, but they’re people too. I think it’s important to keep that in mind regardless of what you do.
10. What’s been different in your marketing approach for BAD HAIR DAY vs. BAD TASTE IN BOYS? What are your thoughts on your approach in retrospect?
For BTIB, I threw everything at the wall to see what stuck. For BHD, I really stuck to what I enjoyed the most. I think it does make a difference. People can tell if you’re having fun or if you’re phoning it in because you think you have to do it.
11. Okay, I promise this is the last question. What are you working on now?
Well, I just finished all the work on my next book with Random House, which is called DEMON DERBY, and I’m putting together a really fun event in relation to that book. I’m SUPER excited about it…like using random capital letters levels of excitement. And I’ve also sold a book to a gaming company. I love games. This will be a pulp adventure—think Indiana Jones for kids—called SALLY SLICK AND THE STEEL SYNDICATE, and it’s tentatively scheduled for the end of 2013, which means I should probably finish writing it. In short, I’m a busy, busy girl!
Sure sounds like it. Thanks Carrie for sharing all your great advice. You can find Carrie at her website, blog and Twitter.
So this is a two book giveaway. One lucky winner will win my signed copy of BAD TASTE IN BOYS and Carrie has generously donated a signed copy of BAD HAIR DAY for another 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 and tell me which book you’d like by midnight on March 9th. I’ll announce the winner on March 11th. I’ll try to match the book to the winner. International entries are welcome, but there will only be one international winner due to postage costs.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome. We'd really love if you'd spread the word about this contest.
And don't forget to enter my contests for CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, THE CADET OF TILDOR, and OBSIDIAN MIRROR, all fantastic books. And be sure to enter our 3000 follower Mega, Mega Giveaway. The links are at the top of the blog.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Wednesday, I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new amazing YA book LET THE SKY FALL, an urban fantasy. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.
Next Monday, I have a guest post by Anna Staniszewski and a giveaway of her new book, MY FAIRY EPIC TALE FAIL, and her first book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.
Next Wednesday, I have a guest post with debut author Liesel Hill and a giveaway of her new adult dystopian, PERSISTENCE OF VISION.
The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Steven dos Santos and giving away an ARC of THE CULLING. It’s an action packed dystopian and trust me, Steven has no problem being hard on his characters.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Monday, February 25, 2013