CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Weronika Janczuk Query Critique through December 8th
OUTRUN THE WIND through December 22nd

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways



REBECCA CAPRARA INTERVIEW AND THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD GIVEAWAY

 Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Rebecca Caprara here to share about her MG fantasy THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD. It sounds really interesting because it combines some elements of fantasy with really contemporary MG themes.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

After more moves than they can count, Isa's family finally puts down roots. People in town are afraid of the abandoned orchard behind their home, but Isa and her sister Junie are happy to have acres of land to explore.

But when Junie gets sick, Isa's mom falls into a depression, and medical bills force Isa's dad to work more. No one notices that Isa's clothes are falling apart and her stomach is empty.

Out of frustration, Isa buries her out-grown sneakers in the orchard. The next day a sapling sprouts buds that bloom to reveal new shoes. Can Isa use this magical tree to save her family?
 

Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me!

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

I came to writing from a background in design. I studied architecture at Cornell and went on to design schools and libraries, which happen to be wonderful places full of books! I always wanted to write, but it took a while to work up the nerve to give that dream a fair shot. During a travel sabbatical in 2010, I finally had the time and space to focus on writing. Once I started, there was no turning back. It’s been a long and circuitous route transitioning from architect to author, but there are a lot of similarities between the two disciplines. Basic principles of structure, tension, rhythm, etc. are important when creating both buildings and books, although the medium is obviously very different. Architecture school teaches you to push creative boundaries, to think critically, to be open to constructive criticism. All these things inform and enrich the way I write.

2. That's cool how you see the similarities between architecture and writing. Where did you get the idea for THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD?

The idea for this story came to me when I was in Big Sur, California six years ago. I was at a writing retreat and I was stuck on another project. I went for a hike through a Redwood forest to clear my head. All of a sudden, this silvery fog rolled through those massive trees and POOF! A new idea sprouted about an invisible girl and a magical tree. I ran back to my cabin and typed up what became the first chapter of The Magic of Melwick Orchard.

3. Your book deals with issues of childhood cancer without being preachy. Share how you weaved this into your story in a realistic fashion without being preachy.

This piece of the book was inspired by family members who were coping with a serious childhood illness. They bravely shared parts of their medical and emotional journey, and I was struck by the way a diagnosis of this magnitude affects not just the patient, but the entire family. I also asked a sensitivity reader named Kati Gardner to look at the manuscript. Kati is a childhood cancer survivor, a gifted writer, and a dear friend. Her feedback was critical, and helped me shape the story in an accurate and sensitive manner.

4. I love the magic of the tree that blooms shoes. What made you decide on this magical element and what was the magical aspect world building like for you?

This magical element was inspired by my own childhood. When I was a kid, I used to plant things at the base of a huge pine tree in my backyard, hoping it would sprout candies, jewels, and other goodies. Of course, it never did. So creating the chance seedling in Melwick was a bit of wish fulfillment. In addition to shoes, the tree yields all sorts of interesting (and unexpected) crops. It was so fun to imagine the possibilities! One of my favorite questions to ask kids who have read the book is what “seed” they would plant. So far, the number one response is money, followed by potato chips—haha!

I set the book in an orchard because I grew up in a small New England town that had more apple trees than people. I loved exploring the orchards around my home, and have always felt a special connection to trees. There is a calmness and a beauty to that landscape that helped me balance some of the heavier things going on in Isa’s life, and also helped reinforce a subtle thread about environmental stewardship that runs through the book.

5. I love where your inspiration for the magical tree came from. From reading reviews, it sounds like you have a great MG voice and the way you’ve dealt with the issues of sister love, family, and friendship pulls at readers’ hearts. What has helped you develop these aspects of your writing?

Thank you! I read voraciously—everything from MG to picture books, YA, nonfiction, poetry and
more. I think reading is one of the most important things to do as a writer at any stage. I also work with kids from time to time, teaching creative movement classes and storytelling, which helps me tap into that very specific and delightful MG voice.

When I started this book, I knew I wanted to tell a story about sisterhood, even though I never had a sister of my own. During the course of writing and editing, I had my first daughter, and then a second. Watching the bond my girls share definitely impacted my writing, and helped me deepen some of the family dynamics in the story.

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

I queried a MG adventure series, plus countless picture books before signing with Christa. I amassed 50+ rejections over a few years. There were definitely times when I doubted my sanity, and wanted to give up, but instead I took a break from querying and focused on learning—honing my craft, connecting with other writers, understanding the publishing industry. I worked hard and finally felt ready to dive back in. When I sent out Melwick (which was originally titled Chance Seedling) I quickly got several offers of representation, but Christa’s editorial eye is what sealed the deal. We have a collaborative relationship, and she is very supportive of her authors trying new things, experimenting, and growing in new directions. It took nearly a year to sell Melwick, but Christa believed we would find it the right home eventually, and I’m so thankful that we did!

7. Glad you and Christa persevered. Your book was released on September 1, 2018. What have you been doing to promote your book? How do you think your marketing plans worked out? Would you have done anything differently?
I’ve been trying a little bit of everything! During the 3 months leading up to publication, my publisher and I reached out to teachers, librarians, reviewers and other readers, circulating ARCs and eARCs of the book. Connecting with ARC tour groups such as #BookPosse through Twitter was great, as well as my debut author group, the Electric18s. I attended BookExpo in NYC, pitched articles to various bloggers and websites, and connected with a few booktubers. I ran a charity preorder campaign to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for childhood cancer research and care. This caught the eye of actress and activist Italia Ricci, who graciously helped spread the word.

We celebrated release day with a launch party at a local independent bookstore in my area. I also lined up a variety of events during the months following release date. These ranged from bookstore signings, to panels with a group of authors, and larger book festival appearances. Two of the highlights were participating in nErDcamp in Maine and Long Island, as well as presenting at NCTE’s annual convention in Houston a few weeks ago. I left those events buzzing with inspiration and deeply grateful to be a part of such a vibrant and supportive community of book-enthusiasts.

I don’t think I would have done much differently—it’s been a fun ride so far, and I’m soaking it all up. I’ve learned that it can be hard to say no to things, but being selective with your time and energy is important, especially when juggling work and family and everything else going on in life. I’m glad the book tour was spread out over several months, so I’ve had time to recharge and “introvert” a little between events. 

8. Great to see what you did. What do you think has worked and not worked in your gearing up for the release of your book? What advice do you have to other writers who just signed their book contract on how to prepare for their debut?

It’s still so early, so it’s hard to say what has worked with regard to sales. I place a lot of value in the connections and relationships that I’ve made, especially with educators and young readers.

As for debut advice, try your best to keep things in perspective to avoid burning out. Give your debut novel its best shot, but don’t stress over the things you can’t control (granted, this is much easier said than done). Cultivate a community of fellow writers. My critique partners, debut group pals, and other writing friends have been absolute lifesavers. Keep writing, keep reading. Take time to celebrate the small victories along the way.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m hoping the news will be officially announced soon, but for now I can say that I have 2 forthcoming MG novels. Both are contemporary, written in verse, and tentatively scheduled for 2020 and 2021. I also have several picture books making the rounds with editors. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Rebecca. 
You can find Rebecca at https://www.rebeccacaprara.com/
Twitter & Instagram @RebeccaCaprara

Rebecca has generously offered a hardback of THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD 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 December 22nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either 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.

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

Here's what's coming up:

Friday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop--my last post of the year

Wednesday, January 2nd I'll start 2019 with an interview with debut author Gita Trelease and a giveaway of her YA historical fantasy ENCHANTEE and my IWSG post

Hope to see you on Friday! And have a Happy Holiday Season!







ELIZABETH TAMMI INTERVIEW AND OUTRUN THE WIND GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST

ELIZABETH TAMMI INTERVIEW AND OUTRUN THE WIND GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Elizabeth Tammi here to share about her debut YA fantasy OUTRUN THE WIND. It’s based on Greek mythology, and the rules of the world sound very intriguing.



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 is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

Optional Question: What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

My writing space moves around a lot so I don't have much in it. I only use a laptop. My work area  could be in my bedroom, at writing stand on my dining room table, on the kitchen counter, or at my boyfriend's. All I have is a laptop and thumb drive. Sometimes I need a pad of paper and pen. A coffee cup sits nearby often. That's it!

What's your writing space like?


Now back to my interview with Elizabeth. Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.
 

Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for joining us. 

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

Thanks so much for having me! So, I’m currently studying journalism and creative writing at Mercer University in Georgia, though I’ve previously lived in California, Florida, and England (briefly). I remember that my very first answer when adults asked me as a young child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, was always an author. My parents read to me very often from the day I was born, and I don’t know a time in my life where I haven’t been enamored by books. They’re pure magic, and I’ve always wanted to attempt to write one of my own. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I started writing seriously, and Outrun the Wind is the second manuscript I’ve completed.

2. Awesome that you always knew that you wanted to be a writer. Where did you get the idea for OUTRUN THE WIND? 

When I read about the life of Atalanta before I left for college, I was instantly smitten by her story. I adored her ancient badassery and assertiveness, but felt just irately angry by how her story ended up in the old myths. Married to a dude that used divine trickery to trap her? No way. I was so confounded that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, weeks later. Other questions and frustrations I’d long held about Greek mythology also started popping up, and slowly but surely, they found a way to connect themselves, and that premise became Outrun the Wind.

3. This is based loosely on Greek mythology. How did you find the balance between keeping your story true to the mythology and creating a story that was your own? 

It’s definitely a balancing act! I wanted to honor the original stories of her, but also wanted to offer a spin that was unique enough that I wouldn’t feel I was just plagiarizing Ovid, haha. It definitely helped that half of the book is told from my other main character, Kahina’s, perspective. In general, adding new characters and motivations allowed me to offer a different interpretation of the same story, if that makes sense. From an external perspective, Outrun the Wind technically follows many of the original events, but when read through my characters’ points-of-view, new considerations and desires help change the story’s meaning.

4. Yes, I'm sure changing the POV of part of the story helped. I love the two rules of your world: obey the goddess always and never fall in love. Such hard ones to keep. What made you decide on these two and what was your world building process like in general. 

Well, I’ve long been fascinated by the group of followers of Artemis. Rick Riordan has an awesome
interpretation of them that he dubbed the “Hunters of Artemis” in his Greek-inspired stories, which is how I initially found out about them. Anyway, I was just very interested to explore what it would actually be like to be in Artemis’s following. As cool as she is, Artemis is still an Olympian, and none of the Olympians—in my opinion—are genuinely good. I was curious to see how the benefits of being in her hunt, such as protection and companionship, would mix with some of the potential drawbacks, including an extreme expectation of obedience and no allowance of romantic or sexual inclinations, since Artemis is the goddess of maidenhood. As for worldbuilding in general, I took a lot of time to consider what it would actually feel like to be a mortal in the world of mythological Greece. The myths and stories often depict life as a sweeping epic, but there’s so much cruelty and pain wrapped up in it. I don’t think the Olympians are ‘good’, but they are ‘gray’, and I tried to imagine as best as I could how girls like Kahina and Atalanta might get caught in their crosshairs, while also dealing with very human issues like parental expectations and finding independence.

5. I love Rick Riordan's stories. Tell us a bit about Kahina and how her character developed as you wrote her story. Was there anything that surprised you about her? 

Kahina was a joy to write, since she’s an original character, so I didn’t have to stress about making an already-established figure my own. Kahina is a teenaged girl that finds herself bound to serve Artmis after the goddess saves Kahina from working as an oracle for her brother Apollo. Her story goes back further, and she grew up with her father’s sailing fleet in Corinth—but I don’t want to spoil anything big. Anyway, the most surprising aspect of writing Kahina was realizing just how many ‘lives’ she’s had—that’ll make more sense to those who have read OTW, but she’s kind of the ancient Greek equivalent of an Army brat, from the aspect that she’s had to change locations and roles so many times in her life, and each one adds another layer to her personality and development. I hadn’t even really considered it until my editor pointed it out to me one day. That was sometimes hard to wrap my brain around, but it also made her a very interesting character to write.

6. You are also a college student and are also very involved in acting and singing. How do you balance all these demands on your time and find the time that you need to write? 

Well, there’s plenty of coffee and late nights involved. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t say I have it any worse than, say, a full-time employee who’s also raising kids, or something like that. Right now, I have the ability to only have to worry about my own responsibilities, and in a way, my writing actually helps a lot with my time management. It drives me to complete my schoolwork as quickly and carefully as I can, so I have enough time to write at the end of the day, usually. As for my other activities, I’m involved with my campus’s newspaper, literary magazine, and acapella group. It gets hectic, but I’ve never been one to put all my eggs in one basket. I need other activities, passions, and friends outside of the writing world, because I don’t want to be defined by just one thing, if that makes sense.

7. That's a good way to look at being so busy. What was your road to publication like?

It involved a terrible first book, some excellent luck with Twitter, and lots of workshops. By talking with other people in my debut group of traditionally-published YA and MG authors, I can see that we all had somewhat differing paths and different levels of deals, of course. I wrote a really bad first book back in high school, and after querying some agents, quickly realized how rough it was. As crushing as that was, I got so much out of it—I learned how to finish a book! I connected with some incredible critique partners that I still work with today, and learned the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry by connecting with other writers online and at workshops. During my freshman year of college, I started writing Outrun the Wind with the end goal of traditional publication. When I had a solid draft, I had my critique partners give feedback, and I attacked the querying process from as many angles as I could. I pitched agents at a conference, I sent query emails, and I participated in the now-renowned Twitter contest #PitMad, where agents and editors can essentially request a query based on a Tweet-length pitch of your book. It was the last option that ultimately got me my book deal. I crossed paths with Kelsy Thompson, an absolutely incredible acquisitions editor at Flux who shared my love for mythology and female-driven stories. She invited me to query her, which turned into a full request, and later, a book deal. I’ve had a fabulous experience with Flux, and couldn’t have asked for a better debut experience. For those who think they have a query-ready manuscript, I’d definitely suggest to take on the industry from more than one approach. At the very least, it helped me feel like I was using different strategies and that I wasn’t in a ‘rut’. But at its core, all traditional publishing deals boil down to querying, even if you get a foot-in-the-door from a conference or Twitter contest, so make sure you’ve got a solid query letter and that you do plenty of research on the agents and houses you reach out to!

8. I think many of us have one of those bad first books. How are you planning to promote your book? What are some of the considerations that went into your plans? 

Flux has been a great help with this, and so has the creative writing department at my university. Flux helped get OTW into bookstores and book subscription boxes, and did a nice job at sending out advanced copies. I also reached out to some bloggers and reviewers for promotion in the months leading up to release. I tried to accept as many interview opportunities as I could, as well as hosting some giveaways of ARCs. My writing department here at school was kind enough to write up a press release and host a launch event for me. When I was considering what I wanted to do as far as promotions, I had to remind myself that nothing I do is really going to tip the scale that much. In traditional publishing, so much is in the control of your house—I have a helpful publicist, and the Flux team has been a great champion of my work both onscreen and behind-the-scenes. At the end of the day, nothing I do will make a huge difference in the book’s sales, so I had to make peace with that and focus on doing things that I actually enjoy, like coordinating with book bloggers and running giveaways! I didn’t bother with a blog tour, or a ‘street team’, or a pre-order campaign, though I know other authors who have successfully completed these. I just knew I wouldn’t have the time or energy to spearhead those, and I didn’t let myself feel bad about it. The best thing I can do to ensure my success in this industry is to keep writing the next thing, so I have to remind myself that writing is the top priority.

9. I love your philosophy on marketing. Okay, I don’t totally get Tumblr blogs. Share about your blog, http://annabethisterrified.tumblr.com/, that you describe as a leading YA fiction/writing blog. How do you connect with your followers and promote it? 

I started my Tumblr blog back in 2012, when I was in middle school and utterly obsessed with Percy Jackson. I mostly founded it as a way to get in contact with other Riordan fans out there, to exchange predictions and thoughts on upcoming books. But it evolved over the next few years into a blog that celebrated YA fiction in general, and I started posting my reviews of books and even working with publishing houses including Penguin Random House on some promotions work. When I started writing seriously, I’d share snippets every now and again, and I remain floored by the amount of support and community I find there. I didn’t do anything specific to gain my following, though I suspect the bulk of my followers joined in the heyday of the ‘Riordanverse’ world, preceding the release of his final book in the Heroes of Olympus series. I’d definitely made a name for myself of being a big source of headcanons and theories, and thankfully, my followers seemed to stick around after I evolved into a broader blog that focused on YA.

10. What are you working on now? 

I’ve got another myth-inspired story in the works, though nothing I can share officially until the end of the year. Stay tuned!

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


Elizabeth has generously offered a hardback of OUTRUN THE WIND 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 December 22nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either 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 international.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, December 10th I have an interview with debut author Rebecca Caprara and a giveaway of THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD

Friday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop--my last post of the year

Wednesday, January 2nd I'll start 2019 with an interview with debut author Gita Trelease and a giveaway of her YA historical fantasy ENCHANTEE and my IWSG post

Hope to see you on Monday!