CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

EVERY STOLEN BREATH through November 23rd
Gratitude Giveaway Hop through November 30th
TIGER QUEEN through November 30th

Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Kari Sutherland Query Critique & GRAVEMAIDENS Giveaway on 12/9/2019

Katelyn Detweiler Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 1/20/2020

Hilary Jacobson Query Critique & ALL THE STARS AND TEETH Giveaway on 2/5/2020

Megan Manzano Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 2/24/2020

ANNIE SULLIVAN INTERVIEW AND TIGER QUEEN GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have Annie Sullivan here to share about her new YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN. It’s set somewhere we don’t really see in fantasies that much—the desert—and sounds like a real page turner. I also interviewed Annie when she was a debut author last year and A TOUCH OF GOLD released. I’m excited to learn what it’s like to transition that first year of being an author.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Hi Annie! Thanks so much for visiting again!


1. For people who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’m the author of fantasy and fairytale retelling young adult novels. I love writing about strong female protagonists and characters who deserve their own story. I’ve been writing little stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t seriously start considering becoming a writer until college. I loved the creative writing classes I took, and from there, the rest is history.

2. TIGER QUEEN is a retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” What made you decide to retell this story?

I read this short story in middle school, and the infamous cliffhanger ending always made me wonder what the true ending to the story might be. From there, I knew I had to retell this story and give it the ending that it always should have had. But in my version, I focus on a warrior princess who fights suitors in an arena to win her right to rule, but when her last opponent is announced as the one man she’s never been able to beat in fight, she has to scramble to keep her throne. But if she’s not careful, she’ll end up facing a tiger in the arena instead of her next opponent.

3. Your story is set in the desert. I’ve read that you did a really good job grounding your story in your setting. What research did you do in creating your world? Was there anything about it that surprised you as you created it?

Surprisingly, I wrote most of Tiger Queen while I was in Antarctica, which is actually one of the largest deserts because of how dry it is. So I turned the stretches of endless white and the spiraling snow into endless sand dunes and stinging sand blowing. But I also did a lot of research into desert creatures and desert characteristics so the desert felt real despite being a fantastical setting. Finally, I did work with a sensitivity reader just to be sure I wasn’t portraying any harmful stereotypes of desert cultures.

4. That's so funny that you wrote this in Antarctica. Kateri sounds like a strong protagonist determined to do what she has to for herself and her people. What was her character development like for you?

Kateri is one of the hardest characters I’ve ever written because she is so strong and stubborn. Her character arc really became one of showing that she could still keep her strength while opening up to people and asking for help. So I really enjoyed going on that journey with her, and I can’t wait for others to see how she grows through the story.

5. When did you write this story in relation to the release of A TOUCH OF GOLD? Was it challenging writing this on more of a deadline and while you at least had marketing to do for your first book?

I already had a draft of Tiger Queen written before A Touch of Gold ever came out. But I was revising while waiting for A Touch of Gold to release, and it’s hard to really put all your marketing on hold as you enter a whole new world and try to make it as perfect as you can. Plus, I was writing the sequel to A Touch of Gold in there too. So you really have to learn how to manage deadlines while still giving yourself time to have a life.

6. That would be challenging. Was the process of working with your editor the same or different for your second book than your debut book? Why?

I had a new editor for Tiger Queen, but I loved working with her. I think every editor brings something different to the table, and I took what I learned from my first editor and what my new editor taught me and combined them to create the best story I possibly could. So in the end, I think the book turned out even stronger because of that.

7. Looking back on your debut year, what are things that you think worked and didn’t work in terms of building your social media platform and marketing your book? What advice do you have to debut authors?

My best advice is to be where your readers are, so I try to reach people where they’re primed to be
thinking about books. And a lot of my readers are on Facebook and Instagram, so that’s where I focus my time, content, and ads on hashtags like #bookstagram and book groups on Facebook. I’ve tried sitting in local bookstores hoping I’ll sell books, but that doesn’t always work if the crowd just isn’t coming in that day.

My advice for debut authors is to build up your following by giving away books that are similar to yours. Build up a fan base of people who like similar things to your style and genre. Have entrants follow you and tag a friend or two to be entered—and hopefully those friends will come follow you too. Also, form a street team. Get them to start posting for you and helping spread the word because you can’t do it all yourself no matter how hard you try.

8. That's great advice. TIGER QUEEN released September 10, 2019. What have you been doing to promote it and what made you decide to this marketing plan?

I’ve been doing a lot of ads on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve always heard it takes someone seeing your book cover seven to eight times before they stop and take notice. So you really need them to see it over and over again, which you can do with targeted ads. My publisher also sent me on a tour this year, so it helps to get the word out that way as well. Otherwise, I’ve just been shouting from the rooftops about my book because you never know who might see it when you post about it.

9. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing up the sequel to A Touch of Gold called A CURSE OF GOLD. It’s full of even more mythology and heart-pounding action! I can’t wait for readers to dive in when it releases in 2020. Plus, I’m working on a few new things, so stay tuned!

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



Annie has generously offered a hardback of TIGER QUEEN 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 30th. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 to wherever Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday, December 4th. Happy Thanksgiving!

GRATITUDE GIVEAWAY HOP


Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Gratitude Giveway Hop hosted by by BookHounds. I am so grateful to Mary at BookHounds for continuing to host these giveaways because I know they take time for her organize. And I'm grateful to all of my followers because I would not enjoy my blog without your support. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, read my posts, and comment.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA books and recent books by followers 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 of this blog and leave a comment telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through November 30th. 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. I will also give you an extra entry if you follow me on Twitter and let me know this. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International as long as the Book Depository ships there for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari and my IWSG post

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here's all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:




KIMBERLY GABRIEL INTERVIEW AND EVERY STOLEN BREATH GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Kimberly Gabriel here to share about her YA thriller EVERY STOLEN BREATH. It sounds like a real page turner, and I can’t wait to read it. Not sure if any of you remember Kimberly. She used to have a blog and was a part of this group.




IWSG POST AND FOLLOWER NEWS

Before I get to Kimberly's post, 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 Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!


I'm going to skip the optional question. I don't have much to report writing-wise because I've been
taking care of necessary things like figuring out my mom's and my health insurance for next year. I'm almost done with all my business and then I can thankfully focus on writing.

Instead, I'm going to shout out about C. Lee McKenzie's new contemporary YA NOT GUILTY that just released. I was lucky to read an ARC and really enjoyed it. Devon is a compelling character that my heart was with from page 1 of the story. This is a real page turner, and I found Devon's time in the Juvenile Hall realistic and riveting. The characters and mystery make this story fantastic. It was a real fast read for me, which doesn't always happen for me these  days. I highly recommend it. Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed.

The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel Devon’s found guilty of assault. The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is.

Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life.
Angry? Hell, yes.

He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.

And here are some links:

Now onto Kimberly's interview. Can't wait to read her book!!!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the master puppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target.

Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you so much for having me, Natalie. I’ve been a fan of Literary Rambles for over a decade, and I’m so thrilled to be here with you today!

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of it is from fourth grade, when I decided to make a mini-anthology of poems I’d written to give as a holiday gift to everyone I knew. I vividly remember spreading out sheets of poetry on the floor of my mom’s bedroom and binding them together with those sliding bar report covers that were really big in the eighties. Titled It’s Nice to Be Free, my bound “books” featured a poem about vampire babies and included the kind of laughable poetry only my mom could be proud of. But it sparked my dream to be a writer and publish a book one day. I didn’t take my writing seriously though until decades later. In 2010, I queried my first book, a 100,000 word YA paranormal with eight characters and eight (yes, eight) POVs. I made all the “first-book mistakes” writing it. When I queried it, however, it got some attention from agents—enough that I decided to write a second manuscript, which became EVERY STOLEN BREATH. 

2. My first book with all those first-book mistakes actually made it to acquisitions at a major publisher years ago. Then I realized it needed major revisions. Where did you get the idea for EVERY STOLEN BREATH?

I’ve always been drawn to sad books—the harder I cried, the more I enjoyed what I was reading. But then after experiencing my own trauma, I suddenly couldn’t handle sad books or even sad news stories, and I became drawn to thrillers and any story packed with tension. Then in 2011, a series of “flash-mob” attacks broke out in proclaimed safe areas of Chicago very close to where I lived. I remember reading stories where dozens of teenagers would suddenly emerge from the crowd and descend on one tourist to mug and attack. The stories terrified me so much that I eventually took that concept, made it worse, added elements of mystery and romance to it, and turned it into the basis of EVERY STOLEN BREATH.

3. My reading tastes changed too after I experienced a major trauma. Your book has been described as a real page turn with lots of plot twists. How did you plot out your story? What advice do you have for other writers on how to create such a good plot-driven story?

When I started EVERY STOLEN BREATH, I was still writing for me. I drafted the first half of it as a pantser with no idea where the story was going. Then when I hit the middle, my vision became very clear, and I plotted the rest of the book. For the longest time, I thought this was definitely the “wrong” way to write a book until I recently sat on a panel with Scott Westerfeld, a writer I’ve admired for years. After writing 28 books, he said he still writes this way. For my second book, I had to put together a proposal, which included a twenty-page synopsis. I’ve found that outline helps me stay on track for deadlines, but I find myself straying from it all the time.  

4. I hope I can get more into outlining like you. EVERY STOLEN BREATH is based in part on the mob violence in Chicago in 2011. How did you balance the truth of this event with creating your own story? Did you have to do research on the event?

The real attacks from 2011 had about twenty participants. Using texting and social media to communicate, the assailants would emerge from the crowd and descend upon a single victim to beat and mug. Those attacks were scary enough, but they really only sparked the idea in my story. From there, I started asking what if questions. What if the attacks were even bigger (50-100)? What if they became an epidemic? What if these attacks were organized and premeditated? For research, I read about attacks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and wove in facts from those attacks into my writing.

5. It also sounds like Lia and the other characters in your story are really ones that pull at readers’ hearts. Share about Lia and how she developed as a character for you.

It took me a long time to figure out who Lia was and find her voice. My first drafts tend to focus on
the action of each scene. Then I flesh out voice and characterization during the revision process. For Lia, it took several stages of revisions before she really started to come alive on the page, but now she’s such a defined character in my head. Because of the physical violence in the book, I wanted a character who was mentally strong. Being a teacher, I see all types of strength, and very often, I see strength in my students who have struggles and push through them daily. Lia has asthma, anxiety, and PTSD, which she perceives are weaknesses. But her strength lies in her determination and her ability to persevere despite her challenges.

6. Jenny Herrera is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I found Jenny through querying. She set up a call after starting my manuscript, and I knew during that first phone conversation that she was the agent I wanted to work with. I ended up getting multiple offers, but Jenny’s vision for my manuscript and my career aligned so well with mine. Once I accepted representation from Jenny, she had me revise—she has a fantastic editorial eye. Then we went on sub a few months later. Luckily, Blink showed interest pretty early on in that process.

7. Good to know querying works. Besides being an author, you are a teacher, wife, and mother. I know you may have your summers off, but you still must have to work on your author career during the school year. How do you juggle it all and what advice do you have for others who work and want to get published?

I’ve become very good at compartmentalizing and staying present in the moment. I wake up every morning between 4 and 4:30, and I write for two hours. During that time, I try to stay focused on writing, and I try not to think about teaching or worry about my kids. Then, when I head to work for the day, I don’t think about writing. I stay focused on teaching. When I’m with my kids and husband in the evening, I stay present with them. That time, of course, is most important. Being a successful a writer, teacher, or mom, takes time and hard work, and I’m not willing to neglect any one of those three parts of my life. Luckily, I’m become very good at getting a lot done in a short amount of time. If I had any advice, it would be to make sure you’re still enjoying life. Hard work is only worth it in the end if you’re able to find joy and balance in what you’re doing.

8. That's great advice on how to stay productive. From your website, I see that you have already started going to events to promote your book. How did you get invited to the ALA Conference and the other events you have scheduled this fall?

My publisher set up my signing at ALA. I just spent back to back weekends at Heartland Fall Forum and Anderson’s YA Literature Conference and YA Fandom Frenzy. Later in November, I’ll be at the Alan Conference as part of NCTE. My publisher has been really great about sending me to conferences, and I’ve loved the opportunity to be a part of them.

9. How else are you planning to market your book?

In addition to conferences and festivals, I’ll be at book store events near Chicago, New York, Cleveland, and Baltimore in November and December. I’ll be giving a few school presentations throughout the year. I also remain active on Twitter and Instagram.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently juggling two projects. One of them is a new thriller that begins with a dead girl, a gamer, and a bus stop bench. And from there it spirals out of control with secrets, revenge, social media, regret, denial, and, of course, murder. Set in Chicago, this one has a slight paranormal twist to it, which I’m excited about.

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyGabrielAuthor/

Kimberly is generously offering a hardback of EVERY STOLEN BREATH 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 23rd. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 to wherever Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Thursday, November 14th I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Thursday!