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Tip Tuesday #175 - Sue Copsey on Booktrack

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.

I recently learned about Booktrack (soundtracks for books!) and, knowing countless of writers who combine music with writing, thought our readers might be interested in learning more. As such, please welcome author Sue Copsey who's here to share a bit about her experience with the company.

Back in prehistoric times (2009), when I finished writing The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head, ebooks were hovering on the horizon, like UFOs ready to swoop in and take over the book world, nobody quite sure whether their intentions were hostile or friendly. Around about then, a good friend in the publishing industry declared that in five years’ time, people would be reading books on their phones. And there would be sound and pictures, making ‘books’ a whole new type of experience. I think she even said ‘The concept of a page is so outdated.’

On your phone? I thought she was away with the fairies.

But … what if? Over glasses of wine at our favourite hostelry, we would talk about what I could do with my ghost story if ever (‘when!’ said Anna) the technology became available. I could make readers jump, I could have doors creaking as my heroes entered the haunted house, I could have spooky music, and things actually going bump in the night.

Fast-forward a few years to 2013, and my book has been published and, although it’s doing okay in New Zealand (its home town, sorry, country – we’re only small, you know) what I really want is to connect with a lot more readers. Anna and I are still having those glasses of wine (she reads a book on her phone, with only a hint of smugness, while she waits for me) and she tells me about this innovative new company Booktrack, which has just launched software that allows you to make soundtracks for ebooks. The publisher of my book has closed down (zapped by those darned UFOs) and I now have my rights back – I can do what I like with my book. What was I waiting for? So I created a Booktrack account and off I went.

It was as though it had been made just for me. I typed in ‘thunderclap’ and I got a choice of eight. Anything I threw at it, it would come up with multiple suggestions, whether atmospheric music, ambient background noise, or a sound effect. Sometimes I tried to catch it out. Ha, bet you can’t do this one: windy clifftop. It gave me a choice of two. And if I was stuck for inspiration, I could just type in random words: ‘foreboding; excited children; going on vacation in a car’, and it would give me plenty of suggestions.

The software was pretty much idiotproof. On the computer illiterate–geek scale, I’d fall somewhere in the middle. Okay, maybe a third along from the ‘idiot’ end. I did come unstuck a couple of times, but the Booktrack people are standout when it comes to helping. (Not once did they say, ‘Have you tried switching your computer off and on again?’) I sent them a couple of ‘Help!’ emails, and for a company which is technologically out there, and which you’d therefore suspect might be staffed by people with questionable social skills, I received immediate superfriendly help with easy-to-follow instructions. And when I’d completed my book, I received an email saying they loved my soundtrack and was there anything I’d not been able to find. ‘A whining dog,’ I said. I bet it’s there now. (I have requested an erupting volcano for my next book; they seem unphased.)

So I published to the Booktrack library, and in the space of a couple of months, more than 800 people have read my ‘enhanced’ book, as Anna might put it.

‘But … you don’t get any money!’ said an author friend. Yes, I’ve been called a ‘kamikaze author’ for making my book available for free, but these days it’s all about having an online presence and connecting with your readers. Booktrack has given me the opportunity to do just that, have heaps of fun, and hopefully help build a readership for my sequel, which I’ve just finished. And they tell me the paid-for platform will be coming soon. In the meantime, those who have read it might go and buy a print copy or the ebook for their friends. Really, it’s a classic win-win for Booktrack and authors. So what are you waiting for? Go make a Booktrack!
Sue Copsey is an award-winning children’s author and book editor. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two children.

If you're keen to try out Booktrack for yourself you'll need to use Chrome on a PC or Mac (Booktrack Studio isn't on mobile/tablet). Head to www.booktrack.com/writers for more info and instructions.


 Today I'm thrilled to have Martina Boone here from Adventures in YA Publishing to share news about a great new author blog focusing on great teen series. Just seeing all the authors participating, I want to follow it. And I really recommend you follow Martina's fantastic blog Adventures in YA Publishing HERE.

Before I turn this over to Martina, I want to wish you all Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have a fantastic holiday filled with good food, relaxing, and time with your family. I'll be back next Monday with an interview with follower and debut author Lydia Kang and a giveaway of CONTROL, a fantastic new dystopian book. Lydia's also a doctor and she brings her medical expertise into her story. I loved it and can't wait to share it with you.

And I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of UNTHINKABLE is David King!

The winner of EARTHBOUND is Beth Pollack!

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

So here's Martina!

Hi, Everyone! It's Martina from over at Adventures in YA Publishing, visiting to share some great news with one of my favorite blogs. I love the community here at Literary Rambles and the joy everyone shares in reading and writing. I've been working on a secret project with a group of other authors for a while now, putting together a brand new Tumblr blog. The group and I are thrilled to have Literary Rambles participate in our launch celebration for YASeriesInsiders.com. Thank you for letting us visit, Natalie and Casey!

YA Series Insiders (YASI) is all about series fiction, and it's put together by authors who believe that books, and especially book series, can change hearts and form relationships with readers that last a lifetime. With that in mind, YASeriesInsiders.com is a blog about the discovery, celebration, and shared experience of the worlds and characters of the great teen series.

While each of the eleven authors involved have young adult series starting in 2014 from major publishers, this blog is about all teen series fiction—past, present, and future. As series authors ourselves, we have a unique experience in that we can look at the books we love both as authors and readers. We also have the opportunity to reach out to the authors of these great books (or to run into them at book events), so we want to be able take advantage of that to make YA Series Insiders a place where readers and authors come together.

The Tumblr blog is launching today, 11/23/14, with interviews and lots of secrets from great series authors including:

  • Melissa de la Cruz
  • Tahereh Mafi
  • Marie Lu
  • Lauren Oliver
  • Leigh Bardugo
  • Tamora Pierce
  • Ann Aguirre
  • Beth Revis
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Nancy Holder
  • Gennifer Albin
  • Jessica Brody
  • Susan Dennard

And many, many more!

Plus we'll keep adding new secrets about authors, characters, and books, not to mention great series news, book trailers, cover reveals and, of course, more giveaways of the hottest series books.

To celebrate the YASI launch, we are having a HUGE giveaway, including more than $1,000 of signed box sets or hardcover sets of our favorite YA series, plus jewelry, DVDs, and fun, handpicked items from each of the eleven YASI authors, at http://YASeriesInsiders.com.

We are also hosting smaller giveaways, including MORE jewelry, unique gifts, and swag from each of us on the following four blogs:

  • Adventures in YA Publishing - Gifts plus signed hardcovers of LEGEND, PRODIGY, CHAMPION by Marie Lu
  • Mundie Moms - Gifts plus signed hardcovers of INSURGENT, DIVERGENT, ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth
  • YA Books Central - Gifts plus signed hardcovers of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE CROWN OF EMBERS, THE BITTER KINGDOM by Rae Carson
  • Page Turners Blog - Gifts plus signed hardcovers of SHATTER ME and UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi and a signed hardcover of ICONS by Margaret Stohl

Also stop by the following places to win more great, signed books:

The giveaways all start today, November 23rd, and run through the end of the year. We'll announce all winners at YASeriesInsiders.com on January 1, 2014. There is only one winner per giveaway, eleven winners in all, so winners will be taking home boatloads of literary loot. :)

Please enter by completing the form in this post to win here, and then stop by the above sites and YASeriesInsiders.com for more chances to win.

We hope you'll be as excited about this project as we are!

The YASI Team:

Jennifer L. Armentrout, Nina Berry, Anne Blankman, Martina Boone, Lanie Bross, Tracy Clark, Bree Despain, Claudia Gray, S. E. Green, Kimberley Griffiths Little, and Sara Raasch.

The Giveaway

Win a SIGNED hardcover of THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab!

WANTED: Beta Readers for STAR RACERS

Happy Friday, Friends!

Today I have a "wanted ad" for a writer seeking beta readers. Martin's written a YA sci-fi called STAR RACERS that sounds pretty cool, and he's looking for detailed feedback.

If you've got the time, please read his summary and excerpt as follows and consider getting in touch!

Star Racers by Martin Felando
It’s not just about a race. Star Racers is a fantasy space opera full of sci-fi action with a young space pilot named Rev Arden falling in love with his racing sponsor Sashi Oon. The fate of their planets depend on the two of them working together to win a dangerous, obstacle-filled race called Grand Battle. But Rev, Sashi and their adventurous friends Stepp Gro and Krissy Hott (and their numerous, adorable action figure dolls), Dupaon, and Stepp’s boyfriend Kaedn have to battle their way off Earth and across the galaxy just to get to the race at the Milky Way Grand Hotel.  Once there, Rev has to compete against a hundred other hypersonic scramjet pilots, including Scrap Meat and Betsy’s Lover, all wanting to save their endangered planet, and the Xx-scarred Maelae of the Injurious will do everything in his power to stop all of them, especially Rev.  
Appropriate for children ages 12 and up, Star Racers was written for teens and young adults.   

Deep space.  The Milky Way Grand Hotel.  Verus Live!

Verus Live! appeared on billions of screens across millions of galaxies.  The show often started with Verus head and shoulders in shadow, a black silhouette against a backlight of midnight blue.  So it was this night, with Verus wearing another perfectly tailored suit, smoothly and politely asking, “Are you like me?  Do you like putting a smile on your face?  A smile that isn’t an empty smile?”

Floating cameras blinked like tiny stars, leading and following Verus as he rose from his broadcast studio chair and walked past his showrunner and assistants.  Verus remained in shadow as he sauntered down a dark corridor, cameras crisscrossing like fireflies.

Outlines of people, creatures, and robots could be seen crowded against the corridor walls waving and reaching out to Verus like giddy teens.  

“You’ve rooted for someone to win something, haven’t you?  What are you rooting for?  Why?  What’s the most important thing in your life right now?  A game?  A song?  A calling?  Is there something in your life you’d risk everything for?  Do you feel like you have all the answers, or are you like me?  Do you feel like you’re often walking in the dark?”

Verus turned a corner and headed down another corridor drenched in bumpy shadows.  Further ahead, something bright was glowing.

“Now, maybe where you’re from you couldn’t do this, but if I or something else wanted to show up on your planet’s doorstep, we could do it in a day.  The problem is too many of our neighbors aren’t acting neighborly.  Which is why we’re all here, and maybe why you are here.  Now, where am I?” 
Hundreds of star-studded, spiral galaxy holographs appeared in the blue corridor, and Verus gently waded through them with both hands.  Identifying air text graphics materialized next to every galaxy he touched.   

“I’m sure you’re in here somewhere, but what about me?  Here I am.  The Milky Way Galaxy.”

Verus expanded the holograph, and a galaxy of solar systems with planets, moons, comets, and colorful cloud nebulas filled the blue hall.  Expanded further by Verus, spaceship armadas could be seen attacking space station defenses and invading planets.  The air text graphics auto expanded, revealing war crime statistics rising in the billions.           

“The Milky Way Galaxy has over thirty billion inhabited planets, and too many bullies in their galaxy are showing up unannounced.  Look here though at these galaxies.”

Verus shrunk the Milky Way Galaxy and displayed other galaxy holographs.

“Here are galaxies with no bullies, no invasions, no wars.  Neighbors acting neighborly.”
Verus magnified one of these peaceful galaxies to reveal that orbiting nearly every planet were four Defender hyper-cruisers.   
“See these?  These are Defenders.  Someone from this galaxy and these planets won a race called Grand Battle.  Win the race, save your planet.  How do you win Grand Battle?  How do you live in peace for all time?  Well, first you need a watch.”             

Interested in beta-reading for Martin? Please e-mail him directly at martinfelando(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Today I’m thrilled to have Jean Alicia Elster here to share about her new middle grade story THE COLORED CAR that released on September 8, 2013. It’s the story of 12-year-old Patsy’s journey from Detroit to Tennessee to visit her grandmother in the summer of 1937 and what she learns that summer about how African Americans were treated. Just reading the blurb makes me want to read it. And Jean is also the author of the award-winning WHO’S JIM HINES?

Here’s a blurb about THE COLORED CAR from Goodreads:

In The Colored Car, Jean Alicia Elster, author of the award-winning Who's Jim Hines?, follows another
member of the Ford family coming of age in Depression-era Detroit. In the hot summer of 1937, twelve-year-old Patsy takes care of her three younger sisters and helps her mother put up fresh fruits and vegetables in the family's summer kitchen, adjacent to the wood yard that her father, Douglas Ford, owns. Times are tough, and Patsy's mother, May Ford, helps neighborhood families by sharing the food that she preserves. But May's decision to take a break from canning to take her daughters for a visit to their grandmother's home in Clarksville, Tennessee, sets in motion a series of events that prove to be life-changing for Patsy.

After boarding the first-class train car at Michigan Central Station in Detroit and riding comfortably to Cincinnati, Patsy is shocked when her family is led from their seats to change cars. In the dirty, cramped "colored car," Patsy finds that the life she has known in Detroit is very different from life down south, and she can hardly get the experience out of her mind when she returns home-like the soot stain on her finely made dress or the smear on the quilt squares her grandmother taught her to sew. As summer wears on, Patsy must find a way to understand her experience in the colored car and also deal with the more subtle injustices that her family faces in Detroit. By the end of the story, Patsy will never see the world in the same way that she did before.

Elster's engaging narrative illustrates the personal impact of segregation and discrimination and reveals powerful glimpses of everyday life in 1930s Detroit. For young readers interested in American history, The Colored Car is engrossing and informative reading.(

Hi Jean. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor (I’m licensed to practice law in the state of Michigan) from the University of Detroit. I no longer practice law but, rather, am a full-time professional writer. In my “day job,” I am a grant writer for a nonprofit organization that serves homeless teens and young adults. In addition to The Colored Car and Who’s Jim Hines? (a 2009 Michigan Notable Book), both published by Wayne State University Press, I am also the author of the children’s book series Joe Joe in the City, which includes the books Just Call Me Joe Joe (2001), I Have A Dream, Too! (2002), I’ll Fly My Own Plane (2002), and I’ll Do the Right Thing (2003). I was awarded the 2002 Governors’ Emerging Artist Award by ArtServe Michigan in recognition of the series. I was awarded residencies at the internationally acclaimed Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, in 2001, 2003, and 2005. In 2012, I was selected as the inaugural visiting author for The Lori Lutz Visiting Artist Series at The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

My interest in writing started when I was a youngster, watching my Grandmother Ford— who was a prodigious letter writer—writing long letters using an ink pen which she dipped in an inkwell. The process fascinated me. I’ve been writing stories since I was 6 years old, old enough to know how to write and construct a sentence.

2. I’m an attorney too. And I’m hoping for a job change like you’ve done. Share how you came up with the idea for your story.

In the acknowledgement page of The Colored Car, I thank my mother and her oldest sister “for their willingness to share more tales from their youth” because listening to them and gathering their oral histories about their family life in 1930s Detroit gave me the crux of the story that became this book. In particular, I was singularly struck by the intensity of emotion my aunt still felt as she shared with me that fateful train ride to Clarksville, Tennessee and her first experience on the colored car.

3. That’s awesome how your aunt’s experiences inspired this story. THE COLORED CAR is set in 1937 during the Depression. And the setting moves from Detroit to a journey to Tennessee, which were very different places during that time period. What historical research did you do for this book? Do you have any tips for authors considering writing historical fiction?

In addition to the oral histories from my mother and my aunt, I also visited the Burton Historical
Collection that is housed in the Detroit Public Library. The Burton Collection contains a wealth of information on Detroit’s history, and I was able to zero in on the era of the 1930s. I looked at the archives of the Michigan Central Station which included train schedules and cancelled train tickets. I consulted books on historical costumes to make sure the clothing worn by May Ford and her daughters was authentic. Would there have been zipper or button closures on the dresses? What kind of fabric was available? What kid of collars would have been worn on the dresses? These kinds of details are important to make the story authentic and the plot believable.

My advice for any author wanting to write historical fiction is to research both the big picture as well as the mundane details of the story. One incorrect fact can taint the entire book and cause the reader to question the basic premise of the story.

4. That’s great advice to focus on researching the big picture and the small details. Voice is so important in any story and especially in middle grade stories. You had the extra challenge of getting the voice right of a girl in 1937. What are your tips on getting the voice of your characters right?

The primary way for a writer to maintain a consistent, authentic voice for each character is to know each of those characters inside and out. I particularly made a note of verbal tics or favorite expressions. Consistency in expression is so important! In addition, I was fortunate to have found, in my parents’ personal library, a dictionary that was published in the 1930s. I consulted that dictionary regularly to see if certain words had the same meaning or even existed in that decade.

5. That’s a great idea to make lists of character physical traits. Tell us three things you love about Patsy.

Though her innate sense of fairness has been shaken, Patsy still wants desperately to believe that there is justice in this world.

Patsy embodies the core of adolescence: a child testing the waters of an adult world.

Patsy loves her sisters and enjoys being around them, even though she has the heavy responsibility of being the “big sister.”

6. Patsy sounds awesome. And she has no many challenges to overcome. What has your road to publication been like?

I have been very fortunate in the fact that for much of my writing career, publishers have been the ones to approach me about creating various books or embarking upon different writing projects. When I have made “cold calls,” publishers have been very open to my ideas. This was especially true in the beginning of my career as a freelance writer when I was submitting memoir/essays to various national publications.
I have also been blessed to have, for each of my book projects, very excellent editors. I think most writers will agree that an editor can make the tasks of writing and creating either a positive experience or a hellish pursuit!

7. That must have felt so good to have the publishers contacting you. Your books have been published by smaller publishers. What has your experience been working with them? What should authors look for in considering signing with a smaller publishing company?

I am always quick to encourage writers to consider a small to mid-size publisher or a university press for this reason: My publishers have been willing to give my books time to develop a following and find a niche readership. They have also been very generous, to a fault, in marketing and promoting my books. I would advise anyone considering a smaller publishing house to look at their current list of authors and titles, as well as the backlist, as a good indication of the stature of that publisher within the broader publishing community.

8. Share your advice on marketing a middle grade book both online and reaching readers in other ways.

One of the first questions my webmaster asked me in our initial discussions was, “Who are you trying to reach with this website?” I decided early on that my marketing efforts would be focused on the gatekeepers—those who purchase books for or, at least, make recommendations on behalf of the middle grade audience. I also maintain a full calendar of visits to libraries and schools and those gatekeepers are the very ones who reach out to me to schedule presentations and appearances.

9. That’s great advice to consider who you’re trying to reach. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the first book of a three-volume teen series. However, all of the action in this series takes place in the 21st century!

Thanks for sharing your advice, Jean. You can find Jean at http://www.jeanaliciaelster.com and http://thecoloredcar.com

Jean’s publisher, Wayne State University Press, has generously offered a copy of THE COLORED CAR 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 November 30th. I’ll announce the winner on December 2nd. 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.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday I’ll have a guest post by Martina Boone, a blogger friends who blogs at Adventures in YA Publishing, a fantastic blog. She’ll be talking about a new Tumblr blog being started by her and other YA authors. Her debut gothic YA story BEHOLDEN will be released Fall, 2014. And I can't wait to interview her about it!

Next Monday, I’m interviewing Lydia Kang and giving away a copy of CONTROL, her fantastic YA dystopian story about kids with powers because of gene mutations. Lydia is also a doctor and it adds a whole fantastic element to her story.

The following Monday I’ll be off. I’m going to Florida to see my mom for a few days.

The Monday after that 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.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Monday! I'm excited because I finally got my raking done. And the high school state swim meet is next weekend. Anna Li is doing the backstroke in the medley relay. I'm excited for her. And after this weekend with no raking and swim meets, I'll have more time on the weekends for awhile. Yay!


First before I get to our fantastic interview, I want to share an exciting new feature I announced on Wednesday to help our author followers. On Mondays, I'll be shouting out about your good news! If you have signed with an agent, signed a publishing contract, decided to self-publish a book, have a cover reveal or book release to announce, I'm happy to give a shout out about it for you. And I'm not limiting this to MG and YA books. Please note this is for regular followers. This doesn't mean you have to stop by for every post, but it is for regular followers. If you have news, e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com.

And be sure to check out all the 10 awesome books I'm giving away by followers that I also shared in Wednesday's post and enter the contest. The link is at the top of the blog.  

My first follower news is for Christina Lee. I interviewed her when her debut NA story ALL OF YOU released this Fall. She just sold a new NA book to NAL (Penguin Imprint). A huge congrats to Christina! You can go HERE to congratulate her.

Next I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of THESE BROKEN STARS is Crystal Collier!

The winner of DREAM GIRL is Danielle H!

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 debut author, follower, and friend Crystal Collier here to share about MOONLESS, her fantasy she describes as “Jane Eyre meets supernatural.” It was released on November 13, 2013. I loved Jane Eyre as a kid and can’t wait to read this.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
MOONLESS is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they are echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Hi Crystal! I’m so excited to have you here. And congrats on your book!

Thank you, and I brought cheese platter to keep us company while we chat. *grin*

1. Yum! BTW, for those of you who aren't friends with Crystal, she loves cheese. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

When I was little, I told stories through pictures, and eventually with words, gradually with music too. I’m a cheese lover with an overactive imagination. *shrugs*

2. Fun that you have three different ways of telling stories. Where did you get the idea for your story?

*rubbing hands* After a Dickens reading binge, I had a dream. A week later I was staring at a girl’s coming of age story based on two words: blue eyes. But that was only the beginning… *dun, dun, dun*

3. Wow! That’s an awesome way to come up with a story idea. MOONLESS is set in 1768
England. What research did you do to get your setting right and do you have any sources you recommend for people wanting to write in this era?

Do I ever! If you want to write for a time period, read era-written books. Period. The details of how people live are almost as important as they way they would think. I studied numerous essays, pamphlets, and novels from my time period, supplementing with JSTOR, Pinterest/google images for visuals, etymology dictionaries, and a thousand other online resources.

4. That’s a great idea to read books written in your time period. Sounds like you did a lot of research. 
What was the hardest part of writing your story—plot, voice, or character development? What did you learn craft-wise from the experience?

Stopping. But in all seriousness, there is so much story layered into Moonless that I had a difficult time deciding which parts to reveal, and which to keep for sequels.

5. That's great you could think it out while writing the first book in the series. Share three things you love about Alexia.

1. Her big heart. As an only child, she values life and how others feel. (Except the nasty old men trying to win her over.) Granted, she’s still young and learning how to see through other’s eyes.
2. She’s got moxie. She’s not the type to hide when the boogeyman is just around the corner—especially if a loved one is in danger.
3. She assumes the best of others.

6. I love that she’ brave. How did Rayborne Publishing become your publisher? What’s it been like working with them?

Raybourne is a newer publishing house with a unique model. They approached me after my success with Pitch Wars 2012, and I love their flexible structuring.

7. That must have felt incredible when they contacted you. It is becoming much more common for authors to decide that small publishers are a good fit for themselves and their books. What advice do you have for others considering a small press?

Look at what they’ve published. If it’s the caliber of work you hope to produce, they’re probably a good fit. Have open discussions about what will be expected, and where they’re willing to compromise. Remember you’ll be giving away significant amounts of your profits and control, so choose wisely.

8. Those seem like really important considerations. I want to talk about marketing for a bit. Wow! You’re in the midst of a 52 stop blog tour in 19 days. How did you set it up and decide on the blogs for your tour? Do you recommend other debut authors doing a big tour like yours?

Organization is the key. I started 2.5 months early and never anticipated so many blogging friends would want to participate. People just have to be asked. (And most are honored by the request.)

For debut authors, only take on what you can handle. As the president of a children’s organization, a home schooling mom, a freelance composer and an author, I have some pretty broad shoulders. As long as I can calendar a project out, it’s doable.

9. I agree that it’s best to keep it to what you personally can handle. Are you planning to share about your book on any book review blogs? If so, how are you deciding on which ones are a good fit for your book?

Moonless will appear on review blogs over the next many months. As a voracious reader, I look for places with books I adore and reviews that reflect my own feelings on the material.

10. I hope you’ll keep us posted on the book review blogs you find helpful. What are you working on now?

The blog tour. Oh, you mean book wise? ;) I’m in the middle of revisions for SOULLESS, book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy with an anticipated release of spring, 2014.

Good luck with it. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Crystal.

Thank you for having me!

You can find Crystal at:

Crystal has generously donated an e-book 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 telling me what book you’d like through November 30th. I’ll announce the winner on December 2nd. 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.

And Crystal has a big blog tour giveaway. Enter the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday I’m interviewing Jean Alicia Elster and giving away a copy of THE COLORED CAR, a historical novel about an African American girl’s journey from the North to the South one summer in the Depression era. It sounds like a fantastic story.
Next Monday I’ll have a guest post by Martina Boone, a blogger friends who blogs at Adventures in YA Publishing, a fantastic blog. She’ll be talking about a new Tumblr blog being started by her and other YA authors. Her debut gothic YA story BEHOLDEN will be released Fall, 2014.
And then the following Monday, I’m interviewing Lydia Kang and giving away a copy of CONTROL, her fantastic YA dystopian story about kids with powers because of gene mutations. Lydia is also a doctor and it adds a whole fantastic element to her story.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Hi Everyone! In case you're not expecting a post from me before midnight, I wanted to remind you of my Gratitude Giveaway Hop. I've got lots of great choices of books I've read or am dying to read. You can find my post HERE.


Today I’m thrilled to be part of the Gratitude Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer. This is my first time joining it. I love the opportunity to thank all of you awesome followers who follow our blog. I appreciate you all whether you stop by regularly or just for my monthly giveaway hops. And I think this is a good reminder that what’s going on in our lives and what challenges we face that we always have much to be grateful for.

There are SO many fantastic books that have been released or are going to be released soon. I’ve picked some favorites I’ve already read and loved and some new releases I’m dying to read. I hope you’ll find at least one book from my list you want to read too.

Here are my choices. Click on the title to read a blurb from Goodreads.



CONTROL (Pre-order)

So there will be one winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower any way you like and leave a comment through November 30th telling me what book you want. I’ll announce the winner on December 2nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments. I’d love if you’d let me know what hot YA books you’re looking forward to so I can consider them for future blog hops.

You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome as long as you live where The Book Depository ships for free.

And don't forget to enter my other giveaways at the top of the blog.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday I’m interviewing debut author and follower Crystal Collier and giving away a copy of MOONLESS, her fantasy she describes as “Jane Eyre meets supernatural.”

Next Wednesday I’m interviewing Jean Alicia Elster and giving away a copy of THE COLORED CAR, a historical novel about an African American girl’s journey from the North to the South one summer in the Depression era. It sounds like a fantastic story.

The following Monday I’ll have a guest post by Martina Boone, a blogger friends who blogs at Adventures in YA Publishing, a fantastic blog. She’ll be talking about a new Tumblr blog being started by her and other YA authors. Her debut gothic YA story BEHOLDEN will be released Fall, 2014.

And then the following Monday, I’m interviewing Lydia Kang and giving away a copy of CONTROL, her fantastic YA dystopian story about kids with powers because of gene mutations. Lydia is also a doctor and it adds a whole fantastic element to her story.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here's all the other blogs participating in this blog hop.


Hi Everyone! Today I want to share an exciting new feature I’ll be starting and get some advice from you all. And I’m doing a huge giveaway to promote the books of our fantastic followers.

First, I’ve been feeling bad that I can’t contribute to all the cover reveals and book release news for many of our self-published followers. As you know, I don’t really do cover reveal posts and tend to get booked up with posts months in advance which makes it hard to join blog tours for book releases. Plus with self-published authors releasing more than one book a year (and I know this is important for self-published authors), I couldn’t promote all the books. But I do want to help more.

So first I want to share a new feature I’ll be starting. It’s Follower News and will be at the top of my Monday posts. I got this idea from Alex Cavanaugh’s Ninja News and asked him if it was okay to do this. He was kind enough to say yes. If you don’t follow Alex’s blog, I highly recommend you do. I made a lot of great friends through his community of blogger friends. You can find his blog HERE.

So if you have a cover reveal, book release news, agent news, or book signing news, and are a regular follower, I’m glad to post a small blurb about it on Mondays. I’ll be posting like Alex does. For example, for a cover reveal, I’d post a small cover with one or two sentences about the author and the book.
This will be for regular followers only. It doesn’t mean you have to stop by and comment on all our posts. But it is for people who come by regularly. I read all the comments so I have a good idea who are regular followers are. E-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com by the Thursday before you want your news posted. I’ll try to keep my eyes out for it too.

Next I need some advice on how best to help you given what I feel I can offer. I’m planning on a every other month feature on Mondays for now. Because the other thing going on is that I’ll be cutting down my blogging next year. It’ll be my 4th year of blogging and it’s gone from taking most of my writing time to pretty much all of it since I work full-time and have less time to write in general. Also, next year I have a lot of other things going on—taking an online course to up my skills for a career change when I’m laid off, helping Anna Li with college and scholarship searches, a job search and hopefully new job, and most likely being swim mom for the high school swim team next fall. So I’ll be blogging on Mondays and hopefully no more than 2 Wednesdays a month and doing my monthly book giveaway hops. And I want to take some weeks off. I’ve only taken two weeks off this year.

So I could do more of these big giveaways. Or I could feature 3-4 authors with a few questions each. Or I could reserve that for a self-published author’s blog tour. Personally, I like one of the first two choices best because I can spotlight more authors and their books. And it wouldn’t mean I’d never join a blog tour. But I want to be sure I do this in a way we all enjoy and think helps the most. So share your advice in the comments. And give me some ideas of authors you’d like me to promote. I’m looking for middle grade, YA and NA authors. My next post will be on Wednesday January 15th because I already set some of the schedule for next year before I thought of this. That month I want to feature some of our newer followers and friends who I haven’t featured yet. But I’m looking for ideas for my posts starting in March.

So here are the awesome authors and their books I chose to spotlight this time. While I’m planning to share about MG, YA, and a few NA books in the future, I’m going to add adult books today because I have a few fantastic followers who are writing adult books. Click on the titles for a blurb of the books from Goodreads. I wanted to include blurbs of all the books but it would make the post too long.

This is a space fantasy that includes three novelettes.

Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction author living in Virginia. For more information, please visit her website at http://cheriereich.webs.com.

 A CHANGE OF PLANS by Donna Weaver. This is an adult romantic adventure story set on a cruise.

Donna Weaver is the author of adventure romance A Change of Plans with Emerald Arch Publishing. Army veteran, karate black belt, Harry Potter nerd. You can find Donna at:

THE MISTAKEN by Nancy Thompson. This is an adult thriller that involves the Mafia.

Nancy S. Thompson is a California transplant currently living in Seattle, Washington with her husband of 23 years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor for her publisher and writer friends and also has her own interior design business within the model home merchandising industry. You can find Nancy at:

THEY ALL FALL DOWN by Angela Brown. This is a YA paranormal story and includes a hot love story.

Author Angela Brown is a lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered delicious-ness. Steampunk, fantasy and paranormal to contemporary - mostly young adult - fill her growing library of books and list of story ideas. Single mom to a rambunctious girl aptly nicknamed Chipmunk, life stays busy.

They All Fall Down buy links:

You can also find Angela at:

Angela Brown in Pursuit of Publishness
Angela L Brown writes

ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD by C. Lee McKenzie. This is middle grade story that includes alligators, witche and a spooky mansion.

C. Lee McKenzie is a published author: Sliding on the Edge is a cross-generational story that tackles the issue of cutting and suicide. The Princess of Las Pulgas is a story about a girl who has everything, and then suddenly almost nothing. Alligators Overhead is my first Middle Grade fantasy, but I hope it won't be my last; I'm already working on the sequel.

THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL by Heather McCorkle. This is a YA urban fantasy.

Heather is the author of the paranormal Earth-conscious channeler series: Born of Fire (FREE novella), The Secret of Spruce KnollChanneler's ChoiceRise of a Rector, the historical fantasy, To Ride A Puca, and the epic fantasy The Dragon Empire. Heather also has stories in the following anthologies: In His Eyes (FREE) and Winter Wonders. You can find her on her blog, or website

CHAMPION IN THE DARKNESS by Tyrean Martinson This is a YA fantasy with a teenage girl who's trying to become a master swordswoman.

Tyrean Martinson lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, encouraged by her multi-talented husband and daughters. She loves to laugh, bicycle, ski, teach, read, and write. You can find her online at:

Tyrean's Writing Spot -  http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/
Twitter - @TyreanMartinson

BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC. by P.K. Hrezo. This is an YA/NA time travel story.

PK Hrezo writes NA and YA speculative fiction and can be found here:

PK HREZO can be found at:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PKHrezo  @pkhrezo
Website http://down-the-rabbithole.com/

THE FAERIE GUARDIAN by Rachel Morgan. This is a YA urban fantasy involving faeries protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures.

Rachel Morgan lives in South Africa where she spends most of her time creating fictional worlds for young adults.

When she isn't writing, she's reading (duh!), catching up on addictive TV series, and baking things that almost always include chocolate.

 A SPY LIKE ME by Laura Pauling. This is a YA spy story set in Paris.

Laura Pauling is the author of the exciting Circle of Spies Series and the time travel mystery, Heist. She writes to entertain and experience a great story…and be able to work in her pajamas and slippers.

A GUILTY GHOST SURPRISED by Gwen Gardner. This is a YA ghost story and includes a mystery that must be solved.

Gwen Gardner is a native Californian living in sunny San Diego, where her love of reading and writing led to a BA in English literature. Life is now complete with her husband, two dogs and a daily call from her daughter.

You can find Gwen at:

 So I’m giving away a e-book of all these books. There will be 10 winners. A special thanks to C. Lee McKenzie, Nancy Thompson, Donna Weaver, Angela Brown,, Tyrean Martinson, Cherie Reich, PK Hrezo, Gwen Gardner, and Rachel Morgan for donating an e-book for a giveaway and enabling me to offer all these books 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 telling me your three top books you’d like to win and sharing your advice on my question through November 30th. I’ll announce the winner on December 2nd. 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:

On Friday I'll be doing a Gratitude Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great choices of YA books I've either read or am dying to read.

Next Monday I’m interviewing debut author and follower Crystal Collier and giving away a copy of MOONLESS,, her fantasy she describes as “Jane Eyre meets supernatural.”

Then next Wednesday I’m interviewing Jean Alicia Elster and giving away a copy of THE COLORED CAR, a historical novel about an African American girl’s journey from the North to the South one summer in the Depression era. It sounds like a fantastic story.

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

Hope to see you on Friday!