Tips for YA Lit: The Juggling Act

Tips for YA Lit: 
The Juggling Act

A long time ago, before I revamped this blog, I wrote about how it is difficult to write on top of being
a mother and a full-time career. It's a topic I see often floating around on social media and websites. I feel a lot of us in these modern times are forced--or perhaps choose--to wear so many hats (or roles) in life that it becomes a juggling act, one difficult to handle.

I am a mother. For instance, I have been interrupted by my one child five times before I got to this line. I may only have one, but as a special needs child who is extremely hyper, sometimes it feels like two kids and an animal wrapped up in one little body (like a young child-teenager-Tigger combination). People lament over how hard a stay-at-home mom life can be and I agree until I remember I do that AND more.

I'm a professor. Technically a Lecturer of English, but not many non academics know what that means. I'm a almost-professor, a step lower. but not the bottom. I absolutely love teaching college level young adults; they are part of my audience after all. But it gets hard dealing with grading at home while raising a child who needs more help than other children. And then I remember, there is MORE.

I'm a writer, a YA novelist, and part of the that entails being a blogger. Finding time to write is extremely difficult. I usually pound out a couple books each summer and spend time over the semesters revising and editing, honing them into something better with stolen time when the kid's in bed or school and everything is graded.

It's gotten easier, most of the time. Recently, I was put through the ringer though. I had to turn down interest in a third novel because I was already over booked and worked. First, there was my son and trying to battle the system to get him help--paperwork, denials, interviews, tests, doctor visits, new diagnoses, etc. Second, I had work to do on my debut novel, mainly we're at the editing and marketing demands part. Third, there was a hurricane in my area followed by a flood which canceled school for my child and me and my students. This meant grading was put off for weeks and I had to shift an entire course to being online all while the wild child was home 24/7. Fourth, I got a couple publishers interested in two of my manuscripts back to back. There were video meetings with the first publisher and contracts to sign. There was too much cropping up, despite my amazing support system (thanks hubby and parents). I soon would be playing catch up in work revamping lesson plans, grading back to back assignments and papers. I would be finishing up one novel and have to market it, while negotiating and starting a new venture. There was no way I could start another project in the midst of this because I'm ALWAYS writing new novels too.

I'm a writer and I'll give up a publication and wait for another chance so that I have time to write, to be a good mother, to be a professor my students truly learn from. It's okay to say no and to put something off. After all, if you're juggling too many things, something will end up falling.

Tales in Publishing: I'm expecting...a book!

Tales in Publishing: 
I'm expecting...a book!

I'm thrilled to announce the upcoming publication of my debut novel, but I'm holding off on too many details until it's in print. At this time, I'm pleased to give you some of the behind the scenes process thus far. My novel Apidae will come out most likely towards the end of next month although the exact date is not yet finalized. I don't want to give too much away, but I'll give you the pitch of the book that got publishers interested:
Artwork by Krista Gargano (not official cover)

What happens if bees go extinct? In the not so distant future, scientifically modified Emlyn and Ace find themselves thrown into the role of saviors on a perilous mission where their tenuous relationship could save or destroy mankind.

In the beginning, I pitched on Twitter and got a lead from the publishers of my novella (TIP: #Pit2Pub Path).  Next,the publisher requested my query and manuscript, and then I waited. This is normal. Some publishers ask for anywhere from four weeks to six months to peruse your manuscript and sometimes they want exclusivity, meaning you cannot send it off anywhere else. My publishers wanted twelve weeks and boy was I happy to hear back in two! I got commendations for my premise which honestly was born of a conversation with a neighbor at the pool one day about the honey bee being endangered. A plot instantly hatched in my head. A lot of research later, I changed my mind about bees (still hate the useless evil wasps and hornets though). The plight of bees gave me a backdrop and plot device for my novel. Although this book will have romance, and it's in a possible dystopian future, there is a little bit of altruistic eco-fiction buried in, and a touch of sci-fi. I'm hoping it raises a bit of awareness while entertaining people.

Forgive me, I digress. Thus far, I've signed my contract and sent in info about possible ideas for the cover artist to show me some options. Then it really was a waiting game to get the novel back from the editors, fix what they said, fix additional things I found as well, and soon I'll be turning in a large amount of info from dedication, thanks, and marketing materials. 

And now again, we wait until they pull it all magically together for me and start promoting the novel. So stay tuned for the upcoming cover reveal and my first attempt at making a book trailer.

I hope it entices you to stay tuned and grab your own copy. And after the book is out, I'll release my query letter as a model for aspiring authors.

If you'd like to read my novella with six other amazing authors, buy Kissed anthology here

Tips for YA Lit: How you can help a writer (aside from buying the book)

Tips for YA Lit: 

How you can help a
writer (aside from 
buying the book)

Recently, I came across two things that just seemed to coincide with each other, so I thought I'd discuss it in a post. The first, a friend asked me what it really does if she clicks "like" on social media. The second was a writer begging for help to boost book sales. How do these relate? Well, clicking that like button (a very valid question for us not-so computer savy folks) ends up doing just that. It can help a writer boost sales. I explain it below and discuss further ways you can help out a author with a few simple clicks of a mouse.

1. Like everything of theirs. When you click like, your friends can see the like, so if the author shares it with let's say 500 friends, you click like and you have 500 friends, now the post can be seen by 1000 friends. Note for authors, make sure you set the privacy settings to "public" so it can be seen by everyone.

2. Share/retweet etc. The same as above. People will see your friend's post (as long as it's public). This spreads their post to more people. Sharing is caring people, so share from one account to another for them as well. Takes less than a minute and you might help the author sell a few books by getting it to an interested audience.

3. Follow them. But not just on social media. Go on Goodreads and Amazon and follow them. The more people who follow, the more strangers might be interested. It gives an author validity if people support that author. It makes others read their books.

4. Leave a review. Okay, so this one might take you more than a minute but if you really want to help the author, this might be the best way. All avid readers scour reviews before they buy, afraid to waste their money. This is essential for an author's success. Remember, you can reuse the same review on various websites like Goodreads and Amazon. If you end up doing this frequently and have a little spare time, you could start your own blog. It's a great way share your passion and score free copies of books in exchange for a review.

5. Show up to their book launch and book signing parties. There's comfort in numbers. If there's a small crowd, whether virtual or in person, it will attract strangers. It will get people talking. People you know will see you're going and this might make them ask you about it. You never know. You might win some prizes too.

6. Word of mouth. The age old telling people about it can work as well. It's not your job as a friend to advertise, but make every opportunity that arises to promote it. If someone says something about a writer or a good book, simply bring up your friend's. They would love to be friends with someone who knows a published writer. You could be forging a new friendship between them as well.

There are more ways to obviously help authors, but I wanted to limit it to the easiest ways possible that won't infringe on your time. Please feel free to comment on more ways to help below.

YA Book Review: The Hidden Legacy (Book 1)

YA Book Review: 
The Hidden Legacy 

The Hidden Legacy, by Christine Rees, has unique and engaging storytelling, with well-developed characters and plot which make it worth reading.

Faye Lithyer is cursed by premonitions of strangers dying, so when she moves in with her grandmother in a new town, she is surprised to have one about her new friend, Rachel. For the first time in her life Faye fits in, but soon learns it’s because Rachel’s clique is “different” too. Together they race the clock to bring their enemies to light in hopes to prevent Rachel’s murder, but how will they succeed if they cannot master their powers and the answers they seek are so deeply hidden?

The narrator, Faye, was a great character overall. I loved how she was socially inept because she'd always been bullied and never had any friends because she was different. However, at times, Faye over explained clues that gave away too much--repetitiously in conversations, thoughts, and observations. I think it was done to lend realism to the story, but it didn't make Faye appear very clever and allowed perceptive readers to surmise events before they happen. I think had the narrative been cut down, since it is fairly long, it would give the plot and character due justice while lessening the predictability of the novel.

That being said, the strengths of the novel outweigh the predictability aspect. It is still an interesting and enjoyable read. Overall, each character was unique, yet identifiable, and completely believable as high school students. Faye’s friends and her grandmother all show a great bond that improves her life and makes readers emotionally vested. I found the premise itself noteworthy, not having read a YA story that involved the paranormal present with a historical motif. The plot is complex yet easy to follow, and the author gives a lot of detail which transports readers into Faye’s story, making us truly envision being there. Even with the fantastical elements, there is an equal mix of everyday high school realism which suspends our disbelief. The action is well told—particularly the descriptions of characters using powers—making a large portion of the book a page turner. The cliffhanger ending leaves readers wanting more, as well as yearning to see possible blossoming relationships fulfilled.

Despite the predictability, this was a successful first book to a series due to its strong characters, overall plot, and how it leaves readers wanting more. I'm looking forward to the next one, but for now, you can purchase the first book at the link below.

Buy book 1 here

Tales in Publishing: The #Pit2Pub Path

Tales in Publishing: 
The #Pit2Pub Path

Every aspiring author wants to know the secret to getting published, as if there is some close-held pact between published writers to keep it away from the rising competition. Honestly, it's not that way at all. I've found other writers are my best champions, in fact. Why published authors most likely don't share with aspiring authors is because there is no magic formula for getting published. There are many different paths authors have taken to become published, from self-publishing and getting picked up that way, to entering contests, publishing smaller works to build up a resume, going to writing conferences, pitching to agents and publishers directly, querying agents, querying publishers, etc.

So here is my story into getting published. A while back, with a book that honestly needed work, I tried to query to agents and got some feedback, but once they read the manuscript they lost interest. The book needed work, but I also knew I needed a resume of some sort. I published a short story but happens...and I finally got back to it. I searched for submission calls in my YA genre and found one that was utterly perfect. I wrote the piece, submitted, and got my novella in an anthology (see TIP: Acceptance here). It was an amazing experience, but I wanted more. I wanted a novel of my very own.

Feeling as though I had an "in" with a publisher, I sent in one of my manuscripts. It was denied. I was deflated. I had to boost my confidence up by reminding myself that there are highs and lows in life (see TIP: Peaks and Troughs here). I took to editing my second manuscript one more time when something came up in my twitter feed. It was called #Pit2Pub day. I Googled it.

It stands for "pitch to publish" and is a Twitter hashtag campaign where writers pitch their books to get published. It seems to happen twice a year usually, but that depends on whether there are enough publishers in it for the event. This is also not the only pitching event on Twitter. The deal is, you do a blurb under 280 characters with the hashtag Pit2Pub and then the genre your book is. You can do each manuscript twice an hour (but no more) throughout the day. If a publishing company likes your book blurb, you send it to them. They may even comment details of how to submit. When you submit to the publisher, you need to include Pit2Pub in the subject line of your email so they pay special attention to it. The official details and steps can be found here.

I had three books and I had to do some variations to my blurbs. Just hearing about this late in the game (there really isn't a lot about it out there on the web), I only had time to post all three books--including the denied one--twice late in the day. Out of my measley five entries, considering I could've done it all day had I known prior, one instantly got picked up by my publishers. They wanted to read my second manuscript, and unlike the first one they accepted it within two weeks of me submitting it.

I know writers who have gotten published by pitching at conferences, who self-published and are successful without representation, but my path was an anthology submission call and #Pit2Pub.

Comment below about your path whether it was successful or not. I'd love to hear.


Tales in Publishing: Query example

Tales in Publishing:  Query example I'm sharing my successful query to others in hopes it exemplifies what to do and helps other au...