CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

THE LIGHTHOUSE BETWEEN THE WORLDS through November 24th
THE PROPHET CALLS through November 24th
Gratitude Giveaway Hop through November 30th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Weronika Janczuk Agent Spotlight Interview on 11/26

STUCK IN A GOOD BOOK GIVEAWAY HOP


Happy Friday Everyone! I'm excited to participate in the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop hosted by Stuck In Books. Can you believe summer is about over? I can't believe how fast it went. I have to say that this was my best one since I lost my husband four years ago. Not enough reading time, but I was busy. That's good.

Anyway I hope you find a book you like for yourself, a family member, or a friend in the choices offered. Don’t see a book you like? You can win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card instead. I hope you'll all enter to win a book or gift card for yourself or as a gift for someone.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA books that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Remember, if you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead as long as it doesn't cost more than the book here. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through September 14th telling me the book you want to win or if you want to win the Gift Card instead. 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. The book giveaway is international as long as Book Depository ships to you for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, September 5th I've got an interview with debut author Rebecca Shaeffer and a giveaway of her YA science fiction NOT EVEN BONES and my IWSG post

Monday, September 10th I've got an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Larissa Helena

Friday, September 14th I'm participating in the Clean Your Shelf Giveaway Hop

Monday, September 17th I have an interview with debut author Amanda Rawson Hill and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC

Monday, September 24th I have a guest post by debut author Laura Weymouth with her agent Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway by Lauren and a giveaway of Laura's YA fantasy THE VANISHING KINGDOM

Hope to see you on Wednesday, September 5th!

And here's the rest of the blogs participating in this blog hop:























BRIGIT YOUNG INTERVIEW AND WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Brigit Young here to share about her MG contemporary mystery WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. I’m really into mysteries these days so am looking forward to reading this.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


Whether it’s earrings, homework, or love notes, Tillie “Lost and Found” Green and her camera can find any lost thing—until a search for a missing person forces her to step out from behind the lens.

Ever since a car accident left Tillie Green with lasting painful injuries, she's hidden behind her camera. Through the lenses, she watches her family and classmates, tracking down misplaced items and spotting the small details that tell a much bigger story than the one people usually see. But she isn’t prepared for class clown Jake Hausmann’s request: to find his father. In a matter of days, Tillie goes from silent observer to one half of a detective duo, searching for clues to the mystery of Jake’s dad’s disappearance. When the truth isn’t what Jake wants it to be, and taking photographs starts exposing people’s secrets, Tillie has to decide what—and who—is truly important to her.

Hi Brigit! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

Thank you for having me here! As a kid, I always wrote, but I never considered myself “good enough” for things like the fabulous local Ann Arbor Poetry Slam team or writing awards in school. To be honest, I didn’t even think I was smart. But I did have a writing teacher back then who believed in me: Tracy Andersen of Community High School. Her support gave me confidence, and even though I didn’t immediately focus on writing when high school ended, in retrospect, her encouragement gave me a place to always come back to: the word. Consequently, when I was an aspiring young actress in New York City without a college degree and I experienced a painful heartbreak, I dove into writing as a way to heal. It soon became a way to entertain myself, and a way to speak out, and a craft to master. Eventually, I was publishing poetry and short stories on a steady basis and, after a big push from fellow writer Jacob M. Appel, I went back to school to get my Bachelor’s! I’d always worked with children, first as a nanny and then as a creative writing instructor, and when I began to work on the longer form of the novel, writing for kids was a natural fit.

2. That's great that you had your teacher's support. Where did you get the idea for your story?

The initial inspiration for the book came from a conversation with my lifelong friend, Tillie Spencer, an eternally creative spirit. I told her I wanted to write a book for kids and she said, sort of offhandedly, “I’ve always thought it would be neat to read about a girl who finds lost things.” And although my friend pictured that scenario in a fantasy setting (involving a magical Laundromat!), her “girl who finds lost things” became my contemporary realistic middle grade fiction muse. This girl, vivid and fully imagined, began to swirl around in my head. She had a camera on a ratty strap around her neck. She hid behind long, ashy brown hair. She’d experienced trauma. She was looking for something, for a way through the trauma, and also searching for her true self. I named this girl after my friend Tillie, introduced her to a slightly goofy boy named Jake who I’d formed in my head as well, and the story grew from there.

3. This is in part a mystery. How did you plot this out and what tips do you have for an aspiring mystery writer?

Although I love mysteries (shout out to Tana French), when I began Worth a Thousand Words I had never written one before. I look at mystery writers with the utmost admiration for their specialized skill. Mysteries are not easy! Before I began to write, I plotted out the entire mystery by getting to the answer first and working backward. I added in seemingly insignificant details throughout the story, trying to find those little moments that stick in a reader’s head but don’t raise any alarm bells. That way, when the reveal comes, the whole story retells itself in the reader’s mind with those objects, images and pieces of information gaining significance. My advice is to discover the ending, those details, and also– crucially - to let the protagonist’s personal fears inform the tension. When writing a mystery in the middle grade realm, my advice is to try to see the adult world through a child’s eyes and allow that to drive the plot. Kids can wildly misinterpret the actions of adults, and those misunderstandings can play a large role in any middle grade mystery.

4. I love your really practical advice on this. It sounds like Tillie goes through a lot of personal growth too. Share a bit about how she developed as a character for you.

As I mentioned earlier, Tillie appeared to me fully formed, and I instinctively felt a lot of her “what”
and “how” but I didn’t know her “why.” Yes, she’d been injured in a car accident, but why exactly did she retreat from the world behind her camera? When I began to play around with her relationship with her father, who blames himself for his role in the accident, I discovered the real reason for that retreat. Ultimately, Tillie’s physical trauma affects her day-to-day routine, but her father’s debilitating guilt is the most difficult wound for her to navigate. Sometimes it’s not the traumatic event itself that lingers, but the disappointing or maddening responses of those around us to said event. That aspect of trauma featured strongly in my development of Tillie.

5. What was a challenge that you faced in writing this story and how did you overcome it?

One of my greatest challenges in writing Worth a Thousand Words was my depiction of Tillie’s physicality and her own relationship to it. My vision of Tillie’s complicated experience with her body, specifically her right leg, sprung from my own intense chronic pain and my own “unusual” right leg. Now I know that I have fibromyalgia, but at the time I was writing the book my pain was a mystery. This mystery pain resulted in huge lifestyle and life choice changes, and for a while I felt devastated by the alterations in my plans (despite knowing I had so much to be grateful for). As I wrote about Tillie, I tried to put those emotions into the mind state of a younger me, of my mind as a child. How would this pain have changed me then, particularly if it had been significantly heightened, as it is in the book? And what if it sprung from physical trauma? I had to have a conversation with myself about that and work from there (as well as interview multiple physical therapists and people who share Tillie’s particular walk).

Although I was in a fairly angsty place with regard to my own chronic pain as I wrote, it was extremely important to me that Tillie have no self-pity. I wanted Tillie to have her own complex feelings about all aspects of her life, including her physical challenges, but to never wallow. Her body is just her body and that’s that. It’s really her father that wallows in the self-pity, and I wanted that contrast between them to be a lesson in itself, so I struggled to finesse that contrast.

6. Your agent is Melissa Edwards. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

It took me many years to get an agent. I wrote another book before this and it was rejected everywhere, and probably rightly so. I didn’t quite understand the market at that time, and I hadn’t read enough middle grade fiction. Once I began to read more middle grade, particularly Rebecca Stead and Hilary McKay, my own writing blossomed.

I sent out Worth a Thousand Words in two rounds. In the first, no one bit. I did what I thought was a minor rewrite, and in my next round I received real interest. Apparently the rewrite had not been so minor after all! In that second round, I queried agents who were actively seeking work that very much fit my book’s description, and who expressed a similar sensibility to me, like the types of characters they loved. When I received interest from Melissa, I knew immediately that I’d work with her. She spoke about my book with deep affection, which made it clear that she’d work hard to get it out into the world, and she also happened to be a witty and kind human being. She’s since proven to be a dedicated agent who is an incredible advocate for my work.

7. That's great that your rewrite had such an effect on the response to your query. Your book has already been published in Italy and you’re now just debuting in the United States. How have you promoted your book in Italy and connected with readers there?

I didn’t do any pre-promotion in Italy, and it was exciting to see how the ball can just roll somewhere even when you haven’t done interviews or tweeted or done giveaways! Worth a Thousand Words even received an Andersen Prize, which was a delightful surprise. I learned from that experience that there is truly so much that is out of a writer’s control, and a book will have a life of its own in ways you don’t expect. When the book came out in Italy, I made sure to re-tweet and repost as many reviews as I could on both Twitter and Instagram. This allowed me to promote the book as well as to make a connection with reviewers/readers. Fun fact: my dad can read in Italian, so he read the reviews in the original language. He could then impart the reviewers’ thoughts about the book to me so that I could see beyond the confines of Google Translate. That was nice!

8. That is a fun fact about your dad. What are you doing to market your book here and what advice do you have for other debut authors about promoting their first book?

Postcards, postcards, postcards! I strongly adhere to the advice of Caroline Starr Rose. I sent postcards to libraries, bookstores, and schools. Even if not as much comes from the postcards as I hope, it’s given me a task that I can control in the face of so much that is beyond my control! Additionally, I have tried to become more active on social media in the past two years and connect with people in a genuine way (the genuine part is key!). I’ve tried to engage in Twitter chats and Instagram challenges as well. They’re fun!

If you’re totally lost about all of this, which I was only a few months ago, I recommend Paper Hearts: Some Marketing Advice by Beth Revis. That book helped me get a handle on the world of promotion. And lastly, my lovely agent reminded me a few months ago that I’m my own best advocate. I should re-tweet reviews and proudly self-promote. That’s easier said than done when you’re a Midwesterner used to apologizing for yourself, but I’ve taken it to heart!

9. Great advice about the postcards. And I really found Beth's book helpful too. What are you working on now?

I’m revising my next novel, The Prettiest, out in winter 2020! It tells the tale of three very different eighth grade girls navigating the after-effects of an anonymously written list announcing the “Top 50 prettiest girls” in school. Banding together, the three girls attempt to resist the superficiality that has been hoisted upon them. Additionally, I’m scribbling away on the beginnings of another middle grade book, and I continue to try to get a poetry collection out there! One day…
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Brigit. You can find Brigit at:
Twitter: @brigityoung
Instagram: @brigityoungbooks
Website: brigityoung.com

Brigit has generously offered an ARC of WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS 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 September 1st. 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. The giveaway is U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm on my summer schedule.):


Friday, August 31st I'm participating in the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, September 5th I've got an interview with debut author Rebecca Shaeffer and a giveaway of her YA science fiction NOT EVEN BONES and my IWSG post

Monday, September 10th I've got an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Larissa Helena

Friday, September 14th I'm participating in the Clean Your Shelf Giveaway Hop

Monday, September 17th I have an interview with debut author Amanda Rawson Hill and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC

Monday, September 24th I have a guest post by debut author Laura Weymouth with her agent Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway by Lauren and a giveaway of Laura's YA fantasy THE VANISHING KINGDOM


Hope to see you on  Friday, August 31st!


ANNIE SULLIVAN INTERVIEW AND A TOUCH OF GOLD GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST



Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Annie Sullivan here to share about her YA fairytale retelling A TOUCH OF GOLD. It sounds like a great retelling of King Midas that has been described as fast-paced and beautifully written. Can’t wait to read it.

IWSG POST


Before I get to my interview, I have my IWSG post.

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 (Tuesday this month)of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!

Optional Question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I am not published, so I am looking forward to learning about pitfalls from you all. But I do think one pitfall is not being realistic about how hard this journey is. It can take a long time and many different manuscripts to write one worthy of publication, to get an agent if you want to go that route, to sign a publishing contract, and to be successful once you publish. And the road isn't always easier once you debut. That's what I've seen and come to know from watching authors debut and grow in their careers.

What pitfalls do you think we need to be aware of?

Now back to Annie’s interview. Here’s a blurb of A TOUCH OF GOLD from Goodreads:

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?


Hi Annie! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, but I love to travel. I’ve been to every continent and
over 50 countries! I also love fairytales. Growing up, I watched pretty much every Disney movie, and my mom would read to me all the time. I think that sparked my interest in becoming a writer because I loved hearing about far-off places and dreaming up my own fantasy worlds.

2. Wow! You did travel a lot. Where did you get the idea for A TOUCH OF GOLD?

I came up with the idea for A TOUCH OF GOLD after watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It seemed so inconvenient to track down every piece of the cursed treasure. That got me thinking about cursed gold, which led to King Midas. But, I typically write about strong female characters, so that led me to King Midas’ daughter. None of the myths ever say what happened to her after her father turned her to gold. I wanted to explore her story—her curse!

3. What was your world building process like?

Anytime I’m writing about magic, I like to deal with that first. You want the magic to feel consistent, believable, and ingrained in the story. After I knew how the more fantastic elements worked, I set about creating the landscapes and the mythological creatures that belonged in them. Overall, it was a really fun process because I wanted to pay homage to the Greek myths while also infusing them with a bit of new life. So readers will see some familiar elements with a few new surprises along the way.

4. Yes, getting the world right is important but not always easy to set right away. Your story sounds like a real page turner. How did you keep the pace fast and what was your plotting process like?

I like to keep a fast pace because I know if I’m bored as the author, then the readers will be bored too. Keeping a high amount of energy subtly reminds readers there’s a lot at stake if the characters don’t complete what they need to in time. I do also like to throw in a few slower, more calm moments where you really get to know the characters because it’s just as important for the characters to have a chance to rest as it is for the reader.  

As for plotting, I’m a total pantster—meaning I fly by the seat of my pants when I’m writing. I don’t have a full outline. I have several guideposts along the way, but I like to leave the plot open to whatever crazy ideas occur to me while I’m writing. I get some of my best ideas by just letting the characters take the reins instead of forcing them to do what I dreamed up before I even got a chance to see them on the page.

5. Share a bit about Kora as a character. Did she come to you as a fully-developed character or did she develop more fully as you wrote her story?

Kora developed over time. She is the daughter of King Midas, and her father turned her to gold for three days when she was seven years old. Now that she’s seventeen and been turned back into a living, breathing human being, she has some lasting side effects of being turned to gold—like golden skin and abilities that are getting harder and harder to hide.

I always knew she was going to have golden skin and certain abilities, but the rumors that follow her around were an unintended consequence of that. And as a result of those rumors, Kora is a bit of an outcast. No one wants to touch the girl with the golden skin. This really shaped Kora’s whole character arc and how she interacts with others. So Kora’s character was definitely shaped as the book went on.

6. Your agent is Christa Heschke. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

When I was looking for an agent, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of agents I submitted to. I actually used www.literaryrambles.com as my main of hub of finding agents to query. Christa was on that list, but before I sent her an official query, I saw on Twitter that she was having a contest on her blog. Participants had to post the first 250 words of their novel and a winner would be randomly selected. I didn’t win, but Christa read my first 250 words and loved them. Then she asked for more pages and more pages until she had the full manuscript. I ended up getting two offers from agents (and Christa’s offer even came while I was on vacation in Antarctica and didn’t have good Wi-Fi to respond!). Thankfully, my sister was monitoring my email account for me and was able to let Christa know I’d respond soon. I hopped on the phone with Christa, and I knew she was the agent for me because she and I had similar visions for not just my book, but my career too. We ended up going on submission with a different book while I completely overhauled A TOUCH OF GOLD. When I was done with revisions, Christa thought that A TOUCH OF GOLD was really strong, so we pulled the book that was out on submission and ended up getting a deal for A TOUCH OF GOLD! It was definitely a long, winding process to get published—but it’s been so worth it! 

7. Glad my blog helped. And so funny that you were in Antarctica when Christa e-mailed you. You also teach writing and are a copy specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. How do you balance these jobs with your job as an author? What advice do you have for the rest of us who still work and have other commitments but want to be productive as a writer?

Sometimes it can be hard to balance, but my best advice is to find the moments where you’re wasting time or not using your time wisely. For example, I use my lunch break at work to get some writing in or do other book related tasks. I also honestly stay in a lot—weekend nights are great quiet writing time. If you want writing to be your career, then you have to treat it like a job. This means carving out time and making it a priority. Maybe get up an hour earlier or turn off the television one episode sooner.

8. I saw on your blog that you are participating in My Favorite Fairytale Blog Hop with 12 other fairytale writers. How did that blog hop come about and how did you connect with these writers?

That blog hop came about from a group of authors who found each other through a really great Facebook group dedicated to fairytales! An author named Shonna Slayton brought us together because she knew we all had similar audiences and could reach a wider group together. If you love fairytales, I highly recommend the group!



9. What else are you doing to promote your book?

As a debut author, I am expected to do a lot of marketing, and I have to try to draw readers in any way that I can. This is a grassroots movement, and it starts with me telling others. My family and Facebook friends have been great about getting the word out there too. I’m also going to be doing a preorder incentive in addition to having a street team help spread the word about the book. I’m doing giveaways, ads, Instagram pictures, and anything else I can think of to get my book noticed online. I’m also trying to go to as many in-person events as I can. This includes conferences like BookExpo and BookCon because these are great places to interact with both readers and writers.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a sequel for A TOUCH OF GOLD. We’re going to meet some really cool new creatures and encounter even more Greek mythology in this next book, so I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Outside of that, there are a few other retellings that I’m working on, so I’m busy at work bringing readers fun new fairytale and fantasy books.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Annie. You can find Annie at:

Instagram: @annsulliva
Twitter: @annsulliva

Preorder/Buy links:

Annie has generously offered an ARC of A TOUCH OF GOLD for a giveaway. o 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 August 18th. 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. The giveaway is international.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm on my summer schedule.):

Tuesday, August 14th I'm participating in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, August 20th, I have an interview with debut author Brigit Young and a giveaway of her MG contemporary mystery WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Friday, August 31st I'm participating in the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on  Tuesday, August 14th!