Hi Everyone! Happy Monday! This is the last week of school here. My daughter and I can't wait until the end of week. She's taking the ACT one last time on Saturday and then we can relax and get a few projects done. The summer is already looking busy with lots of swimming.
As the last pieces of information about the Healing Caves fall into place, Clara is attacked by an assassin. Clara won the battle for Septily, but her fight isn't over yet. Champion in Flight is the second novel in The Champion Trilogy.
And Donna's Weaver's new adult contemporary TORN CANVAS also just
released. Here's a tagline: Even a hero needs rescuing sometimes. And here's some links:
And I have a winner to announce.
The winner of a book in The Book of Elsewhere series is Manju Howard!
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 Bethany Neal here to share about her YA ghost story/mystery MY LAST KISS that releases tomorrow. I’m especially excited because Bethany and I were critique partners for a very short time so I saw a bit of her road to publication. And I’m hoping to go to her release party tomorrow. How cool is that?
I loved the combination ghost story and mystery in MY LAST KISS. And even though Cassidy’s made mistakes, I couldn’t help really liking her as she forced herself to face hard truths. I felt like I was trying to figure out her death right with her. And Bethany did a fantastic job planting just enough seeds about that fatal night that I wanted to keep reading. I really recommend this.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.
Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.
Hi Bethany! Happy Debut and thanks for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
First off, thank you for the happy debut wishes. I simply cannot wait for everyone to read MY LAST KISS! As for little old me, I am a lifelong pop culture obsessive. So I’ve always known I’d end up somewhere in the entertainment industry, but I can’t act to save my cat, so I decided to write. Plus, telling fictional stories seemed like the best way to take advantage of my champion lying skills. It’s not a lie if you believe it!
In all seriousness though, it took me awhile to get bitten by the writing bug. After I graduated college with a sadly useless degree in interior design, I opened my own photography business then shortly after decided to tell my stories on paper instead of film (er, digital files). People sometimes cringe when I say this, but it was actually reading The Twilight Saga that got my writerly cogs turning. I love sparkly vampires and I don’t care who knows it!
2. Awesome how you were always artistic. Where did you get the idea for your story?
I got the idea for MY LAST KISS while driving to my mom’s house over Thanksgiving break a couple years ago. I was at the beginning stages of a few different writing projects and couldn’t decide which to run with. Trying to clear my mind, I popped in a CD of one of my favorite bands Metric and while listening to ‘Help, I'm Alive’ it came to me. What if you were alive, but you weren’t supposed to be? What if something horrible happened and you were sent back to right the wrong? What if your dead(ish) heart was “beating like a hammer” for the love you left behind? I jotted down the beginnings of the idea on a napkin while I was driving—not recommended—and then spent the entire holiday weekend ignoring my family and writing.
3. What a cool way to come up with a story idea. I loved how you gave Cassidy and us just enough little details/clues to keep us reading. Share some tips on this and writing mysteries in general.
I think the most important thing about writing mysteries—and really any genre—is to keep the reader asking a question that only you [the author] can answer, but you must also reward them along the way for patiently waiting for the big reveal at the end. If you do it right, you’ll accomplish both with one clue. The key to accomplishing this is to make sure your tasty clue-reward is nice and salty. In other words, the clue should make them reach deeper into the bag for more and more! The clue should reveal and prompt more questions.
4. That’s a fantastic tool. And not that easy to put into practice. Cassidy has definitely made some mistakes, some that could make her unsympathetic. Yet, I really liked her as a character and had empathy for her and why she did what she did. What was her character development like and did you have any struggles with finding the right balance so she remained such a great character?
I have a soft spot for “unlikeable” main characters. Maybe I was a sadistic alpha mean girl in another life,
With Cassidy, I think her steadfast devotion to Ethan is why she manages to stay on the green side of the Likeable vs. Unlikeable spectrum. Her actions weren’t always the epitome of a faithful girlfriend, but her heart never faltered. Ethan is literally the only boy she will ever love. Ever. And I made sure that every word I wrote underlined that infallible truth. Plus, one of my favorite tricks is to create likeability through other characters. If your protagonist doesn’t have any friends who care about her, why should I? There should be at least one person who can showcase for the reader why the main character is likeable.
5. I liked that part of her too. And in general, I find myself sympathetic to these not so perfect characters because none of us are perfect in real life. What was it like editing your story with your editor and what did you learn from the process?
Well, I finally learned what a dangling participle is. Spoiler alert: I use them a lot. The most important and empowering thing I learned while working with my fantabulous editor Janine O’Malley though was that the story, at the end of the day, is mine to tell how I see fit. She will always make suggestions that she thinks will strengthen the plot or characters and if I’m not being an airhead, I will most likely take her advice, but writing isn’t like every other job I’ve had where your boss tells you what you have to do and if you don’t you’re in trouble. As long as I could justify my reasons, the decisions were mine to make.
It made me realize how indescribably important it is to believe in your own writing. You need that confidence in order to make those kinds of decisions.
6. I never thought about writing that way. Your agent is Stacey Glick. Share how she became your agent and about your road to publication.
Everyone I know who writes tells me I’m weird because of this, but I love writing query letters. So, the process of querying agents wasn’t as painful for me as one might assume. Though there was a speed bump in my road to publication. I landed Stacey as my agent for a different YA novel that didn’t end up selling, but the positive rejections (yes, I just said that and it’s true!) led to selling MY LAST KISS. My editor remembered reading the other manuscript and was eager to read MLK because of it. See, it pays to keep at it!
Total I queried approximately 17 agents and got eight passes, but I also got three requests for a full. (In publishing speak that means you’ve properly wooed an agent with your pitch and sample chapters and he/she wants to read the whole manuscript. *insert YAY! here*) Stacey is a wonderfully supportive, smiley little pit bull warrior of an agent and I am so happy she dug me out of the slush pile!
7. Yes, you are a bit weird to love query letters. Tell us how your blog tour was organized and what you’ve learned as an author from your blog tour. Did you hire a book review blogger to organize it? If so, how did decide who to use?
I started planning this blog tour by my lonesome, contacting Michigan-based bloggers that I know from years of attending local YA author events and then broadened my invites to include suggestions from my publicist at Macmillan. About mid-way through The Fantastic Flying Book Club asked if I’d like to partner with them for a review-based tour. So the lil’ tour that could morphed into a 16 day tour/reviewpalooza.
Getting to know all the amazing YA bloggers has been the best part. You guys are such a quirky-cool group of book goddesses. I want to invite you all over for a book-themed sleepover so we can prank call John Green and use my glow-in-the-dark Ouija board to channel Mara Dyer.
Thank you to all the readers and bloggers that’ve been groupies on my tour and for your support for MY LAST KISS!
8. Awesome that you connected with The Fantastic Flying Book Club. What are you working on now?
Ooo, I have something creepy brewing that I have my fingers, toes, arms, legs, and whatever else crossed that you all will be able to read it soon. I’ll just say that it involves an antique camera, a spooky Victorian house, and a shirtless boy with icy blue eyes. What else could you need to know, right?!
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Bethany. You can find Bethany online at www.bethanyneal.com or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @
Michigan Author EventWhen
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Barnes & Noble
3311 Tittabawassee Rd.
Saginaw, MI 48604
Visit Bethany and fellow YAer Aimee Carter in the Teen section during this store wide event featuring Michigan authors from varying genres.
Up North 2-Day Event: Signing/Writing Workshop
Friday, June 20, 2014
McLean & Eakin Bookstore
307 E. Lake St.
Petoskey, MI 49770
Saturday, June 21, 2014
McLean & Eakin Bookstore
307 E. Lake St.
Petoskey, MI 49770
Call McLean & Eakin for more information (231) 347-1180.
Benthany has generously donated an ARC of MY LAST KISS 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 June 21st. I’ll announce the winner on June 23rd. 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 and Canada residents.
Here’s what’s coming up:
Next Monday I have an ASK THE EXPERT interview with a high school student and will be offering a number of MG and YA books for a giveaway to get you started on your summer reading.
Next Wednesday I have a guest post by Pam Torres and a giveaway of her MG book IT’S NOT JUST A DOG.
The following Monday I have an interview with Lindsay Cummings and a giveaway of THE MURDER COMPLEX, her YA futurist thriller that I really enjoyed.
Wednesday that week I’m interviewing debut author and follower Jessica Lawson and a giveaway of her MG historical fiction book THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER. This is a fun read and I loved Becky, the adventurous middle grader who has a great voice you can’t help loving.
And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!