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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I have a fantastic interview with debut author Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen to share about their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING. It sounds like a real page turner that has gotten great reviews. Before that I have my IWSG Post and awesome Follower News!

Follower News

I'm excited to share about Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, the new IWSG anthology. Many followers have stories in the anthology. A special congrats to Gwen Gardner, Rebecca Douglass, Jemi Fraser, Yolanda Renée,  and C. Lee McKenzie who are followers and everyone else in the anthology!
Here's a blurb:

The clock is ticking...
Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a
killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...
Release date: May 1, 2018
And here's Buy links: 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are:  E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose,C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!

I'm going to skip the question and just say that I know that I am going through those frustrating times when you have to take care of your family and accept there isn't time to write. My mom just moved to her apartment in independent living from Florida the end of last week. And I've just had to focus on all the details of her move and now getting her adjusted. 

It's frustrating because my contract writing job is slower but all my extra time is sucked up with the details of my mom's move. Soon, soon, I tell myself, I will have time to write. That's my mantra this month. What about you? Are you getting lots of inspiring time to write?

Now onto my interview with Laurie and Cordelia.

Here’s a blurb of EVERY SHINY THING from Goodreads

In this beautifully constructed middle-grade novel, told half in prose and half in verse, Lauren prides herself on being a good sister, and Sierra is used to taking care of her mom. When Lauren’s parents send her brother to a therapeutic boarding school for teens on the autism spectrum and Sierra moves to a foster home in Lauren’s wealthy neighborhood, both girls are lost until they find a deep bond with each other. But when Lauren recruits Sierra to help with a Robin Hood scheme to raise money for autistic kids who don’t have her family’s resources, Sierra has a lot to lose if the plan goes wrong. Lauren must learn that having good intentions isn’t all that matters when you battle injustice, and Sierra needs to realize that sometimes, the person you need to take care of is yourself.

Hi Laurie and Cordelia! Thanks for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourselves and how you became writers.

Cordelia: Thanks for having us! I have always been a writer. I wrote lots of stories and poems growing up and then majored in Creative Writing at Kenyon College, where I mostly wrote poetry. After working with kids as a counselor, I decided to try writing stories for young readers. This led me to Vermont College of Fine Arts to earn my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and there I worked on a manuscript that became my first published book.This is also how Laurie and I met!

Laurie: I always loved to read, but I didn’t think of myself as a writer until I was in my twenties. During my first year of teaching middle school English, I re-read a lot of the books I’d loved as a kid and discovered some wonderful new MG and YA novels. Over my summer break that first year, I was inspired to try writing a middle grade novel of my own, and I’ve been writing ever since. I was eager to develop my writing craft since I’d never really studied creative writing, so I went to VCFA, where I grew so much as a writer and made some incredible friends, including Cordelia!

2. Where did you get the idea for EVERY SHINY THING and what made you decide to write it together?

In 2015, Cordelia was on a panel for her first novel, and two of the other panelists had co-authored their book. Laurie was at the event, and Cordelia remembers looking into the audience and thinking, “Laurie and I could write a book together!” Laurie thought that sounded amazing, and, just a few days later, we had come up with an idea and had written the first chapters. Our characters came to us first: Cordelia envisioned Sierra and then Laurie worked off of that vision to create Lauren. We already both lived in Philadelphia, shared the same agent, and were great friends and critique partners, so all of that helped to make the process run smoothly. 

3. That's just such a great story of how you started writing together and getting the idea for your book. Your book is told in alternating POV and in both prose and verse. Did you always plan to write the story in prose and verse and what were the challenges in writing your story this way?

We always planned to write the story this way, in part because Cordelia was already a verse novelist
and Laurie writes in prose, and in part because those styles fit our two characters. Sierra is going through a hard time emotionally, and verse is a great form to gently guide readers through a character’s intense emotional journey. Lauren’s chapters carry the bulk of the plot of the story and it made sense to give her as many words as possible! Using these two forms helped us make the girls’ voices easily distinguishable from each other, but in early versions we did have trouble making the transitions between sections smooth enough. They were kind of jarring in places, so we had to work hard to finesse them.

4. I’m always curious how co-authors write a manuscript together. Share what that process was like for you.

Well, Laurie wrote Lauren’s sections and Cordelia wrote Sierra’s sections. We wrote in chronological order in a shared Google doc. One of us would write a chapter and then the other person would write and so on. We had some big brainstorming and planning sessions throughout, so we knew which plot points would come up in each chapter. And each time we revised, we made a plan together but then took turns making the edits to our individual character’s sections,.

5. Sounds like a really organized way to work together. Tell us a bit about your two main characters—Lauren and Sierra. They both sound like compelling characters that have really drawn readers into your story. What are your tips for developing characters that make the reader want to turn the page?

Lauren is a compassionate, determined seventh grader who is just beginning to examine her own privilege and see the injustice in the world. Her new neighbor and classmate Sierra is a loyal daughter and friend who is resilient and used to being a caretaker for her mom and, now, her new friend. In terms of developing characters that will draw in readers, one thing we recommend is to think about the situations that would be hardest for your characters and put them in those situations and see how they react. At the start of our novel, both of our girls have temporarily lost someone they care about greatly, and these losses fuel their emotional journeys and lead readers to feel empathy for them. It also helps to give characters a clear desire, even if that desire is misguided, so that readers will understand what’s driving them.

6. That's great advice to put your characters in challenging situations. Your agent is Sara Crowe. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Cordelia: Sara became my agent soon after graduating from VCFA in 2012. Although she was the first agent I queried, acquiring an editor for my first book took ten months. It also took about that long to find the right editor for EVERY SHINY THING. Being an author means being patient!

Laurie: I signed with Sara in 2013, soon after I finished the novel I’d started during my time at VCFA. Cordelia recommended that I query Sara, and Sara immediately requested my full manuscript and then very enthusiastically offered representation within 24 hours of my query. I was so excited and so hopeful that my book would soon sell after what seemed like such an auspicious start! But unfortunately that book didn’t sell, and neither did the next two books I wrote. EVERY SHINY THING was the fourth book I had on submission to editors. I was basically on sub for two and a half full years with three different books before I got my first book deal! So, yeah. Being an author means being patient...and persistent!

7. Awesome how you both had separate journeys to the same agent. Cordelia has a YA book in verse, SKYSCRAPING, that was published in 2015 and was an ALA best book for young adults in 2016. Congrats! How have you drawn on Cordelia’s experience as a debut author in terms of planning the release of this book and your marketing?

Thanks! Cordelia knew some about event planning and swag and social media, and we were able to get the ball rolling on things like ordering bookmarks and reaching out to bookstores pretty early on thanks to her prior experience. But a lot has changed in just three years, and some things are different for MG than YA. Laurie also learned a lot from participating in her own 2018 debut group and could draw upon her experiences and connections from teaching middle school for ten years, so she does a lot of social media outreach with educators and librarians.

8. What are your marketing plans for EVERY SHINY THING and what advice do you have for other authors debuting about marketing their 

We’re doing a lot of interviews, guest posts, bookstore events, and school visits! We also made an educators’ guide and some fun swag that we love sharing with readers. Through the Electric 18s debut group, Laurie has connected with some other MG debuts, and those connections have led to some great opportunities for us. Our book is part of an exciting 2018 MG Scavenger Hunt that we’re just beginning to share with kids, librarians, and teachers, and it’s also the May selection for the Middle Grade at Heart book club That means the MG @ Heart team, which Laurie is part of, is creating a newsletter with some great content about the book, posting about the book on mgbookvillage.org, and hosting a Twitter chat about the book, and we’ll also be guests on Corrina Allen’s Books Between 

Our advice is to develop a strong network of other writers. They are your best allies in this business that is quite competitive but also can be quite supportive. Also, decide what’s most rewarding and important to you, and prioritize those things. For us, that’s been anything that connects us directly with teachers, librarians, and kids.

9. You both have other books that you are writing alone that have been just released or will be released in the next year. Share a bit about them and how you worked on them while also working together on EVERY SHINY THING.

Cordelia: My second YA verse novel, THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS, just came out in March. It is a bit dizzying having the books come out almost simultaneously. Fortunately, however, in terms of the editing process I managed to not have to work on them both at the same time very much. Mostly (by some stroke of luck) it would flip flop and I would have to work on one and then turn it in and work on the other. THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS was also sold on proposal, so I was starting with a first draft from the beginning of the editorial process. So, overall, that project was more time consuming than EVERY SHINY THING. 

Laurie: I have a middle grade novel called UP FOR AIR coming out in spring 2019. It’s about Annabelle, a thirteen-year-old struggling student and swimming star, who is thrilled when she gets called up to swim on the high school team and gets a lot of attention from older teens, but has to navigate some social situations she isn’t quite prepared for. I wrote some of it before EVERY SHINY THING sold and some of it between rounds of edits for EVERY SHINY THING. The only tricky part has been working on edits for that book right around the launch time for EVERY SHINY THING, but I’ve mostly been able to spend some days focused on one and some days on the other, and it’s energizing to be doing two very different types of work (revising one while promoting the other). As you can imagine, after all those months on submission with close calls and kind passes but no book deal, I’m extremely excited and appreciative to be juggling two books now!

Thanks for sharing your advice, Laurie and Cordelia. You can find Laurie here: https://twitter.com/LaurieLMorrison

And you can find Cordelia here:

Cordelia and Laurie have generously offered a hardback of EVERY SHINY THING 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 May 19th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

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 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 7th I have an interview with debut author Kristin Perez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!


Jennifer Hawes said...

Sorry to hear about your mom! Glad she is getting settled. Great interview. The book sounds amazing. I've always been a bit curious how co-authoring works.

Crystal Collier said...

Family first, eh? I totally get your frustration. Seasons of life...

Wonderful to meet Cordelia and Laurie!

Jennifer Lane said...

Moving is hell, Natalie--glad you're through it.

Congratulations to Laurie and Cordelia on their new novel. Cordelia, I attended Kenyon College as well! Small world. Balancing care for self and others is a challenge for many of us (especially women).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad your mom is moved. Just focus on her now. Time will come back to you.
Thanks for mentioning the IWSG anthology!

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations to Cordelia and Laurie! I am amazed when I read two authors working so well together.

Glad your mom is getting settled. I know how time consuming that can be. Hopefully things will quiet down soon.

Yolanda Renée said...

Thanks, Natalie, for the Tick Tock shout out!
Sounds like you're getting things sorted, moving is never easy! Writing time will come.
Congratulations, Cordelia and Laurie!

Jemi Fraser said...

EVERY SHINY THING sounds fabulous!
Thanks so much for featuring our anthology - I'm so excited to see it out in the world! :)
Glad your mom is getting settled - it takes a lot of time and energy

dolorah said...

I hope all goes well with the move. Its tough to be so distracted from writing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I remember moving my mom into assisted living and wow, so much to take care of.

I love how they wrote the book together using Google Docs.

TL said...

I'm so excited to read the anthology!

Best of luck to you and your mother on getting settled.

Congrats to Cordelia and Laurie!

Sandi said...

Buttheads From Outer Space! How have I not heard of this book already??

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congrats to Laurie and Cordelia! It sounds like you had a well-organized and intense writing process and a hard-working path to success.
Natalie - best wishes with your mom's move, life, and writing in May!

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks for sharing your journey, Laurie and Cordelia, and congrats on all of your books!
Natalie, good luck with your mom and take care.

cleemckenzie said...

Moving Mom is one of the biggest challenges, isn't it? Very emotional time for both of you, and such a responsibility for the daughter. But you did it, and I hope your mom's happy and settled.

Thanks again for the shout out and for introducing us to Laurie and Cordelia. I'm once again green with envy because I'd love to have a writing partner--someone to create with and share the ups and downs of this business. Congrats to them both.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've been in that position, but in hindsight, taking time to take care of my family was well worth delaying the writing for- although it didn't feel that way at the time!

Olga Godim said...

I hope your mom adjusts to her new situation soon. A move is always hard, at any age, but it's harder as we grow older.
A fascinating interview. I always wondered how two people could write the same story. I think it is the best way, when they write from different POVs.

Pat Hatt said...

Real life has to take priority. Hopefully your Mom settles in and enjoys her new spot.

One sure has to be organized to write a book with two authors. Sure got it down by the sounds of it.

Diane Burton said...

There are times when you have to accept life's changes. It's hard, esp. when you want/need to work on your own projects. Accept that this is the right thing to do. Your mom won't be with you forever.

Nancy said...

EVERY SHINY THING is one of my "LOVE" books for 2018 so far. Guys, it's stunning. I would love my own copy so the library can have theirs back.

Chrys Fey said...

I haven’t had time to write in the past month either. I hope we both find the time this month!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Dang real life. It's such a time suck.

Brenda said...

Natalie hope your mom is getting happily settled in her new place. Congratulations to Cordelia and Laurie and the upcoming release of EVERY SHINY THING!

Denise Covey said...

Natalie, this reminds me of Crystal's IWSG post. There are times when we just don't have the time/inclination to write. I took many years off when my children were small. But I think experiences are good for informing our writing. All the best with your mom!

Angie Quantrell said...

Oh, boy! We live near most of our family, so family responsibility really fills up my hours...I can totally empathize! And congratulations on the book EVERY SHINY THING! It sounds great!

Sarah said...

Been trying to get a copy of this forever! Would be an incredible addition to my classroom library. The kind of story my Ss would trip over eachother to read!

Raimey Gallant said...

I hope everything goes well with your mom's move! Sounds like you have a lot on your plate. Also, the blurb for Every Shiny Thing sounds fantastic!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Yep, I can thoroughly relate. Sometimes necessities of life will have to take priority.

VERY SHINY THING sounds great!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I'm glad the move is over for your mom. Although family matters like this do take precedence, I hope you soon will have your writing time back. I've ordered a copy of the mystery anthology, Tick Tock. My husband and I are still on vacation, but I'm looking forward to reading it when we get home.

nashvillecats2 said...

I hope all goes well for your mother Natilie. When I moved three years ago I was.....and still am alone.
A great post to read.


Gwen Gardner said...

Hang in there Natalie! Just keep up with your mantra and you'll get there. I hope your mom is settling in. You're a good daughter!

Thanks for hosting Tick Tock today!

Juneta key said...

Moving is tough. Wishing you smooth move and getting your mom settle. Book sound great. Enjoyed the interview.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Wonderful interview. Thanks.
I hope your mother enjoys her new home. You are blessed for taking care of her.
Looking forward to reading Tick Tock.
Have a lovely day.

Carol Kilgore said...

Wishing everyone lots of success with TICK TOCK and EVERY SHINY THING.

I've not had much writing time the last few weeks either as we've had a downpour of family activities. Like you... soon, soon.

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the interview today! I enjoy reading about how authors got their start and the road to publication. I shared on tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/173551868782/laurie-morrison-and-cordelia-jensen-interview-and

Victoria Marie Lees said...

All the luck with the new releases, Natalie. Your mother is so lucky to have you help her move. You are a wonderful daughter.

I always enjoy learning how other authors get their start and how they got published. Thanks so much for sharing this with your followers.

Angela Brown said...

Wishing you all the best regarding getting things settled with your family. Family first.

I enjoyed the interview. Thank you.

Greg Pattridge said...

I can't imagine co-writing a story but these two authors sure made it work. Thanks for the superb interview and good luck with your family.

Rosi said...

The idea of co-writing anything is mind-boggling to me, but they seem to have found a winning way to do it. Thanks for the interview. Interesting as yours always are.

DMS said...

As someone who writes with someone else- I always love hearing how other authors write together. Awesome to hear they use Google Docs. My co-author, Stephanie, and I couldn't do it without Google Docs!

I have been seeing this book everywhere so I really enjoyed the interview. Best of luck to Laurie and Cordelia. I'd love to win a copy. :)

Unknown said...

Great interview! I've mentioned the contest on Twitter. monicachess26(@)gmail(.)com

Nick Wilford said...

Hope your mum settles in well and you can get back to writing soon.

It's always interesting to hear about how authors co-write and it's cool that this book is partly in verse. Not sure I can remember reading any novel like that. Congrats to Cordelia and Laurie!

Loni Townsend said...

I totally hear you about family life sucking up writing time. That is my life as well, taking care of everyone else. But maybe we'll get lucky and get some time to work on our own writing this month!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Natalie,

So sorry to hear about your mom and having to relocate her. That is sooo stressful. But you are doing the right thing and it will all settle down soon.

Thanks for interviewing Cordelia and Laurie. Congrats ladies! What a fascinating premise. And you other books sound amazing as well. How exciting to have two books out at the same time! All the best and thanks for sharing your stories with all of us!

Suzanne Warr said...

My deepest sympathy in your situation right now, Natalie, with the struggles in finding time to write. My winter was like that, as I helped my daughter deal with sinus surgery and dealt with various family things that needed management. Thankfully my writing time is coming together now, so here's holding out hope yours is just around the corner! And in the mean time, may I recommend you indulge in a little flash fiction, as you're able?

Loved the interview, and the writing advice to put our characters in whatever circumstances would be most challenging for them! Thank you so much!

susansmoaks said...

hang in there - you will make it. susansmoaks at gmail dot com

Leela said...

I'm a follower.

saturdaynightfever said...

Happy Thursday!


Christal said...

Thank you for the chance. I'm a follower

yellowlabs said...

I follow and would love a chance to read this book!

Buddy Garrett said...

It sounds like an interesting book. Thanks.

Janet Boyanton said...

I am looking forward to reading this book. Sounds interesting.

ms-texas said...

This sounds like a good book! I would enjoy reading it

Trisha McKee said...

This sounds like a great book! I am following.