I've already applied for a number of jobs and am using my connections to find a new job soon. And I already have an interview today. So excited!
So until December, I'll mostly be blogging on Mondays and not reading blogs as much the other days as usual while I work, apply for jobs, and finish up my swim mom parent duties. I will try to catch those of you who only blog on Wednesdays. I hope you'll understand and keep coming by to support the authors I'm spotlighting. I so appreciate all your support this year as I go through my big challenges. You've all really helped me through this all. And by December 1st, I will start having more time again, especially if I don't have a job yet.
Onto happier things. I have some winners to announce.
The winner of NUTS TO YOU is Jessica Lawson!
The winner of THE SCAVENGERS is Laine Cunningham!
The winner of THE TURTLE OF OMAN is Rosi!
The winner of THE TERROR OF THE SOUTHLANDS is Ophelia L!
And the winner of SNATCHED IN GULLYBROOK is Christina Fiorelli!
Today I’m beyond thrilled to help my good friend and debut author Martina Boone celebrate the release of her YA gothic romance/paranormal story COMPULSION that releases tomorrow. I loved the Southern small town setting, having spent some time in small Southern towns myself. And Martina does a fantastic job bringing her characters and setting to life. They are all so vibrant and unique.
Here’s a blurb about COMPULSION from Goodreads:
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
Hi Martina! Happy Debut! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
Thanks so much for having me, Natalie! I’ve always dreamed of being a writer, but I made the mistake of giving up some years ago when my kids were little and my business was taking off. It wasn’t until my daughter got into YA that I rediscovered my passion. She has a learning disability which makes it really difficult for her to read—and reading for fun wasn’t very fun. Then she discovered a couple of the big YA paranormals and flew through them. I rushed to the bookstore to keep her fired up, and because I was trying to keep up with what she was reading, I got to fall in love with the books at the same time. It was a small step from there to trying my hand at writing again, and many large steps to learning to write a novel, much less to writing a novel that anyone could publish. I’m beyond thrilled to be on the cusp of sharing Compulsion with readers!
2. How awesome that reading with your daughter got you back into writing. Where did you get the idea for your story?
I’ve loved gothic stories like those of Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart all my life, the gentle
About six months before I started Compulsion, I had written an adult short story for a Southern anthology, which was set on a plantation similar to Watson’s Landing. I had so much fun with the location and the characters that I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Then one night, I dreamed about a ball of fire floating through the woods at midnight and setting a river on fire. That gave me the visual I needed for the story—and the hint of paranormal I wanted.
That said, I decided to treat Compulsion more as magical realism than as standard paranormal. As a result, the book is a bit of a hybrid. It’s too romantic and not quite as scary as a true Southern gothic, although it has all the other Southern gothic elements. At the same time, it’s too grounded in reality to be a true paranormal romance, and there is a bit too much magic at the end for it to be true magical realism. It genuinely is best described as a gothic romance with a Southern setting. The School Library Journal called it “A little bit Gone with the Wind and a little bit Romeo and Juliet” wrapped up in “an engrossing mystery.” That’s pretty much what I was going for. : )
3. That’s such a cool quote from The School Library Journal. Glad they got it right. I loved Watson Island and the small town setting for your story. Your setting almost felt like a person. And I read that you did a fair amount of research in picking where you set the story. Share how you decided on your setting and what research you did that helped you shape it into such a unique world.
Thanks, Natalie! That’s how I see the setting too! Watson Island is rooted in the history of the South Carolina lowcountry south of Charleston. The nexus of piracy, Native American lore, beliefs brought from Africa and the West Indies through the tragedy of slavery, and the remnants of English aristocratic traditions combined in that area to create a unique set of events, customs, and magical systems that I find absolutely fascinating.
Doing historical research, I become intrigued by Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who at the age of seventeen, ran three plantations for her father and developed the seeds that became the foundation for the American indigo industry. I had intended to put her into the Heirs of Watson Island as a character, but the books grew around her instead. Still, she brought the area to life for me, and I spent many hours researching how a girl who had done so much could have been forgotten in the history I learned in school. That led me to many more discoveries about the area, which I can’t wait to share with readers.
4. That’s awesome you were able to tap into South Carolina’s history so much in developing your story. The romance between Barrie and Eight is not love at first sight, which I really liked. And I loved how you built up their relationship, increasing the tension between them, through the story. What was the development of their relationship like for you and what tips do you have about writing YA romance?
It’s great to hear that you loved the tension! : ) I worked really hard on that.
Barrie is immediately attracted to Eight by her gift, yet she fights in the way that people often fight attractions that aren’t convenient at that particular moment. She is experiencing her first taste of freedom, she’s grieving, and she knows Eight is leaving. None of those add up to a good expected outcome. She’s also deeply resentful that he seems to know what she wants—which is his gift, though, so he can’t really help it—so she resists him for that reason too. At the same time, she genuinely likes him, and she’s genuinely drawn to him. And because she is new to the island, she sees him for who he is, not who she expects him to be, which is how everyone else has always seen him.
For Eight, that’s empowering and intriguing. In turn, he sees in Barrie the courage, kindness, and inner beauty she doesn’t recognize in herself, and because she’s so different from the girls who have fawned all over him his whole life, he begins to fall for her as well. Neither of them were looking for a relationship, and a relationship isn’t convenient for either of them. That provides the tension that propels the romance.
Tension, I think, is the key to writing romance of any kind. There has to be a compelling reason that the characters don’t just immediately get together, otherwise the romance falls flat. For Barrie and Eight, I wanted the tension to go beyond the physical. The playful—and sometimes not so playful—bickering between them is my favorite part of the book. I wanted to give a nod to the snappy back and forth I’ve always loved in some of the classic romance films.
5. I have to admit that I prefer romances like Barrie’s and Eight’s where they don’t immediately love each other. And bicker like they did. I read that you originally envisioned this as three companion books told from different characters’ POV and that it didn’t become a trilogy until you worked on COMPULSION with your editor. Did it change COMPULSION’s story line at all and how was the plotting of the trilogy like vs. the companion stories?
My editor contacted me to see if I would be willing to write it as a trilogy because the team at Simon Pulse loved the relationship between Eight and Barrie and wanted more of it. I had always planned to share more of their story, I just hadn’t intended to do it from Barrie’s point of view.
As far as changes to Compulsion go? There weren’t many. I think most readers would have guessed that we weren’t done with Cassie or the treasure yet, and of course, there is still the Fire Carrier who wants something from Barrie. I did unwind a couple more threads and plant one new one that is explored in Persuasion, but I would liken the changes to turning a puzzle ninety degrees—the pieces are all still there, but you’re seeing them from a new perspective, so suddenly things that weren’t clear are more in focus.
6. Your agent is Kent Wolf. Share how he became your agent and your road to publication.
I began writing Compulsion at the end of May and submitted it to a few people near the end of the year. The LMQ reader, Amanda Panitch, who is now an agent and also an author with an amazing book coming out soon, gave me a partial request within a matter of hours, and then a full request soon thereafter. I ended up with multiple offers, and I would have been beyond thrilled and fortunate to go with any of the agents. Like the other agents, Kent “got” the characters and loved my writing, and the vision and comps he outlined in a very detailed letter made me confident that he could help me bring the book where I hoped it would go. I’m so happy that ended up being the case, because honestly, one thing I’ve learned through my own experience and watching my friends query and go out on submission is that luck plays a big role. As writers, it’s our responsibility to write a publishable manuscript, but there are many more publishable manuscripts than there are slots on publishers’ lists. The stars have to line up just right, and I’m fortunate that mine truly did.
7. I totally agree with you. Luck does play a big role in the whole getting an agent and publisher process. Glad this was your lucky year. We have to talk about social media because you are SO everywhere. You’ve got your fantastic blog Adventures in YA Publishing and your Tumblr blog YA Series Insiders. And you’re on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. How do you have time for it all and still find time to write? What advice do you have for the rest of us on how to effectively use social media?
Social media can be energizing or it can be draining, and sometimes it’s both. While there was a bit over a year when I was doing Adventures on my own, that was a fraction of the blog’s life. I started it with a partner, and once it was clear that I was going to sell Compulsion, I brought in Jan Lewis as a new partner, and Clara Kensie came back after a hiatus. Then we were beyond lucky to find Alyssa Hamilton, who handles the amazing guest posts. We’ve since brought on Katharyn Sinelli, too, and Lisa Gail Green—who had been involved with the First Five Pages Workshop with me all along. We’ve also recently brought on Erin Cashman, a wonderful YA author in her own right, and now we’re adding Becca Fowler to help us give aspiring YA authors a book blogger’s perspective and provide nutshell views of the industry from that side of the fence. Adventures is a team effort, and apart from my own Tuesday posts and the giveaways, what I mostly do is provide management, strategy, and backup. Which is not to say it doesn’t take time! I have no idea how you and Casey manage Literary Rambles, but it was one of the first blogs I followed and looked up to, so I’m honored and excited to be interviewed here today. That’s truly, truly special.
As far as other social media goes, YASeriesInsiders.com has an author’s assistant to keep us running, but to grow the blog, we’re considering adding some regular contributors and bloggers—if anyone is interested, please email me at ayaplit at gmail dot com.
I also used to do a big round-up of writing links, which I stopped doing because I ran out of time. I recently discovered that I need that fuel and the constant reminders to think of craft, though, so I’ve started a new Google+ page where I’m posting my favorite articles again. I tweet a good portion of those as well. Overall, Twitter is my main social outlet—it’s the place where I interact with readers and other writers as well.
Pinterest and Tumblr are for my own personal visual inspiration as I write.
And that’s really my only piece of advice to anyone: pick what adds to your creativity! I write fin twenty or thirty minute blocks, then do a bit of social media, then go back to writing. If social media becomes a chore, if it drains me instead of energizing me, I cut back, or stop, or change things up to make them work better. Social media is a tool for reader engagement, sure, but it has to be more than self-promotion. It has to be fun.
8. To blog everyday like you do, having a big team sounds like a great idea. I’ve had to cut back my blogging because of my full-time job and realizing that other writers only have so much time to visit our blog. I love the way you write and take breaks for social media.
You’ve got a lot going on with your marketing too. This summer and fall you’ve been running contests celebrating the release of COMPULSION on a number of blogs (thanks for including Literary Rambles) and are going on tour with some fantastic authors when your book releases. And I have no doubt you’ll have an amazing blog tour when your book releases too. Share about your marketing plan and how you feel it’s going so far. Do you have any advice for the debut authors with books releasing after yours?
First, thank you for hosting, Natalie. I have been blessed by the generosity of bloggers like you, who have let me share Compulsion on their blogs.
I honestly don’t know how things are going marketing-wise. I hope people are excited about Compulsion, and I’ve certainly been more than lucky to find readers who have loved the book through the outreach that I’ve done this summer. There are several readers who won giveaways of the book who have since joined my street team and become true friends. There are also several bloggers who did early reviews of Compulsion who loved it enough to join the street team and then thereafter hosted giveaways for me. That’s massively rewarding and heart-warming.
Compulsion is not the “creepy” variety of Southern gothic, and it’s not a paranormal romance. It falls in the between places of gothic romance and mystery and coming-of-age, and it’s about a between place, an island where small magics are real and everyone knows about them. That’s something that’s hard to classify, and books that are hard to classify sometimes need more marketing than other books. My publisher is doing incredible things to get the word out—they really believe in Compulsion—and I’m so gratified and humbled by that. But I want them to know that I truly take my share of the responsibility for marketing seriously, and that’s part of why I started the early giveaways. I think that these days, launching a book is a partnership between author and publisher.
The other reason I started the early giveaways is because I was lucky to get eight incredible endorsements from authors whose work I respect and love: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Claudia Gray, Wendy Higgins, Kimberly Derting, Kendare Blake, Megan Shepherd, Leah Cypess, and Kat Zhang. I wanted a chance to share their books, and books by other authors I love, with readers. I’ve been so blessed that I really just wanted to pay it forward a bit.
I didn’t realize how doing that and getting involved with readers and bloggers early would enrich my experience of these months leading up to publication. It’s been mind-blowingly fantastic and flat AMAZING to have so much support and to have so many readers love it the way they do.
The street team has been a huge boost creatively as well as morally. I’m getting to run ideas past them. They’ve helped me with names for characters in book two, and I’ve gotten two of my favorite ideas for fun character development from members, too. That’s a side effect of the early marketing I would never have envisioned.
Overall, I think my take-away from the marketing efforts is that communication with readers is critical. If I could offer one piece of marketing advice to authors, it would be this. Engage with readers. Respect them. Give to them and they will give back to you a thousand-fold. Readers ROCK!
9. Yes, connecting with readers is critical. And it’s not just readers who are writers that we need to connect to. What are you working on now?
I’m plotting book three, which isn’t titled yet, and I’m waiting for line edits on Persuasion (book two) back from my editor. And of course, I’m preparing for the launch of Compulsion and the incredible thirteen stop, eighteen author tour that we’re kicking off very soon! More information about that is at
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Martina. You can find Martina at:
You can find Compulsion everywhere, including:
Martina’s publisher Simon Pulse generously offered an ARC of COMPULSION 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 8th. I’ll announce the winner on November 10th. 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. This is for US & Canada.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Wednesday I'll have a guest post by debut author M.A. Larson and a giveaway of his MG fantasy PENNYROYAL ACADEMY. M.A. is a television writer so I know he'll have lots of great advice for us.
Next Monday I'm interviewing Kimberley Griffiths Little and giving away her YA romance set in a desert setting FORBIDDEN. I loved the setting and I'm a sucker for forbidden romance.
The Monday after that I'm giving away an ARC of THE ELITES by Marie Lu. I've got one word for this book: Wow!
Friday that week I’m participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop.
And the following Monday I’ll have a guest post by debut author Jennifer Torres and giveaway of THE DISAPPEARING, her MG sci-fi mystery.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!