A Glimpse at The Truth About Alice Book Launch

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The Truth About Alice is…you will have to read the book to find out. Here is the  description to wet your appetite.

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

~ Goodreads

On May 30th, 2014 a crowd of eager readers, writers, friends, colleagues and family members crowded into the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX to buy a copy of this beautiful novel and congratulate Jennifer Mathieu on the singular achievement of debuting as an author.

I am not local to Houston, but after connecting with Jennifer last fall at Austin Teen Book Fest and becoming friends, I was thrilled to drive down for the book launch and do my part to promote her fabulous work. I received an ARC of the book from Macmillan back in March and devoured my copy in less than a day. The voices and subject matter gripped me from the first line, but it was the desire to uncover Alice’s truth, or to come to an agreement with her that the truth could never fully be ascertained, that pushed me forward at such a manic pace.

By the show of support at the bookstore that Friday night, I was not the only one rabid to get my hands on a copy. The store was packed to the brim.

A look at the crowd
A look at the crowd

Jennifer opened the evening by giving thanks to her husband for encouraging her on the long road to publication, for being her partner and her friend, and for taking care of their son when she needed “just a few hours to write.” She went on to talk about that journey, which was not short nor smooth — as the road to publication rarely is — and cheering others in pursuit to keep on.

She discussed the hot button issue that is the driving force in the plot, but said she didn’t set out to write the “slut-shaming” book. She wanted to write about a girl who was ostracized in a small town, and she wanted to work in multiple points of view. Jennifer closed by reading a small snippet from one of the four POVs — and my very favorite character — Kurt. During the reading, it was evident by glancing at the faces around me that I was not alone in being totally in love. In feeling and swooning and dying for more.

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Which is exactly why you should pick up your own copy as soon as possible. This book is wildly entertaining, but beyond its readability, it carries a weight and relevance that makes it a can’t miss read, no matter your age or walk of life.

Jennifer Mathieu 300dpi, credit George HixsonJennifer Mathieu started writing stories when she was in kindergarten and now teaches English to middle and high schoolers. She lives in Texas with her husband, her son, her dog, and two cats. Nothing bad has ever been written on the bathroom stall about Jennifer. At least she doesn’t think so. This is Jennifer’s debut novel.

Twitter :: Website

Check out the other stops on the tour if you haven’t already! And Macmillan has put together some fun Instagram videos you should definitely watch and share. They can be viewed here and here!

 

5 Steps to Handling Query Rejections Like a Boss

photo courtesy I Believe in Story
photo courtesy I Believe in Story

The life of an aspiring author is often likened to living on a rollercoaster. We are inspired to write a shiny new idea, we spend months pouring over said idea, writing and deleting, outlining, drafting, romancing the characters and their story, until we have a complete manuscript. We send it to critique partners or friends or husbands or wives who have no choice but to read. We revise our very soul onto the page and then we seal it in blood.

When all that has been accomplished, and a polished manuscript stares brightly back at us, we write our query. If we’re smart, we spit shine that baby as much as our manuscript. We pour over literary blogs for agent interviews, follow the #MSWL hashtag, make spreadsheets of agents we love who might love our book. Then, and hopefully only then, do we hit send.

More often than not querying results in rejection. Google query stats and you will find numerous blog posts on the subject. It will make you want to delete your query letter and go have a stiff drink in the afternoon.

Don’t do that. Read my guide instead.

Handling Rejection Like a Boss Step #1

Recognize that your query and the manuscript it’s pitching are not perfect, not right for everyone, and in the end, not the only thing in an agent’s inbox that needs attention. Agents have no obligation to you. Accept that and stop feeling entitled. Acceptance is the first step to almost anything. Really, it’s not that hard. Don’t be a whiner.

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To read the full post check out I Believe in Story, the stellar literary blog I contribute to, by clicking on the link below!

5 Steps to Handling Query Rejections Like a Boss

Literary Agent Interview : Kirsten Carleton of Sobel Weber Associates, Inc.

Everyone join me in a warm blog welcome to, Kirsten! I hope you guys enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.

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Q: Let’s get the basics out of the way. How long have you been an agent and what was it that first attracted you to this profession in the first place?

Kirsten: I started at Sobel Weber in 2009. I’ve always been a huge reader, and for a long time, I thought I wanted to be a writer. After taking tons of writing workshops, I gradually realized that the part I liked best was giving feedback on other writers’ work, which led me to publishing. As an agent, I get to be completely in the author’s corner – his/her success is my success, so we’re working together for the same thing.

Q: Many reading this interview will be writers looking to query you with their novel. Tell us what you represent and what tops your submission wish list?

Kirsten: Right now, I’m looking for both YA and Adult fiction, literary and speculative. I love when those things overlap: novels that are both literary and speculative, for example, like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell or The Magicians. Good writing is a must, and I look for strong storytelling, with a plot that moves.

Q: If there were one part of being an agent that made you want to happy dance under confetti, what would it be?

Kirsten: I love sharing a vision with a writer, and giving criticism that brings that vision to light. A lot of time, it’s just a matter of getting the author out of his/her own way. The best is when I send notes and the author responds by saying, “I knew this, I just didn’t know that I knew this.”

Q: What are a few things that will make you reject a query, hands down? What makes you jump for joy when you see it in a query?

Kirsten: Do your research. Make sure you’ve got the name of both the agency and the agent right, and that you’re querying a genre we represent. Follow the rules and treat it as professional correspondence. Tell me enough about your book that I have an idea of the story, but don’t give away the ending. Show me how well you write, but avoid gimmicks like writing the query as the main character. If you have blurbs or writing credits, include them, but I don’t need to know that God told you to write this book or that your mother really loves it. Please please please include contact information!

Q: What does a normal day look like in the life of a literary agent?

Kirsten: People always answer this by saying that there is no “normal” day, and that it varies depending on what’s on the docket. Unfortunately for the interview (but not for me), that’s basically the truth! A lot of the day is fielding email from authors and editors. I also report on and respond to submissions, and get in touch with writers whose short stories I’ve read. I don’t read or take notes at the office though – there’s no time!

Now, you’re not just a literary agent, but also a person with feelings and interests, a human being not a robot, a girl not yet a woman…you get the idea.

For some fun:

Q: If you could pick three literary, television, or film characters to travel with, who would they be and where would you go together?

Kirsten: Oh man, difficult. How about: Maddie from Code Name Verity for her sense of direction. Tyrion from Game of Thrones to talk us out of tricky situations and provide colorful commentary. And of course the Doctor, who can take us anywhere in time and space in his TARDIS.

Q: What’s a TV show you’re obsessed with? Book you wouldn’t put down even if Tom Hiddleston came in the room?

Kirsten: Right now, I’m reworking my way through Veronica Mars. I gave money to the Kickstarter, but lost track of the release date, so it’s a race to catch up before someone spoils the movie for me! I also just started Broken Harbor. I’m loving it, which is no surprise, since I’m a big fan of Tana French’s previous books.

Q: What do you do for fun that doesn’t involve books, movies, or the internet?

Kirsten: Since the weather’s finally nice today, I’m going to say hitting an outdoor happy hour with some friends. Dear weather: please stay nice!

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Bio:

As an agent, I get to be a champion for the author throughout the challenging publishing process. I love sharing an author’s vision for the book, working to help him or her uncover it, and finding a home for it with editors and readers who also feel that connection. Beyond the individual book, I want to develop satisfying and successful careers that celebrate great talent.

I’m currently seeking upmarket young adult, speculative, and literary fiction with strong characters and storytelling. I’m drawn to books that capture my attention early on with a dynamic plot, and innovative storytelling that blends or crosses genres.

Before joining Prospect Agency, I worked at Waxman Leavell and Sobel Weber Associates. I hold a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing concentration from Amherst College, and a Graduate Certificate in Publishing from the Columbia Publishing Course.

Prospect Agency :: Twitter

kirsten [at] prospectagency [dot] com

A hearty thanks to Kirsten for chatting with me, and to you guys for reading! If you feel your work will connect with Kirsten, learn more about how to submit to her by visiting Waxman Leavell’s website. 

Farewell, Psych

 

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This past Wednesday night my family gathered together to say goodbye to our beloved friends, co-conspirators in irreverence, fellow pop culture referencers, and long-time supporters of the pineapple industry.

The menu for the wake was easy to coordinate. A simple spread, largely orange and unhealthy, high in sodium, sugar, and preservatives.

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The dress was casual, because knowing our friends, they wouldn’t want us to be the stick up Principal Richard Vernon’s ass during Saturday detention.

Sad Gus
Sad Gus

They had given us time to process the loss, to grieve for the years we’d spent hearing it both ways while sucking it until we couldn’t any longer. It wasn’t really over, they’d claimed. Imagine them carrying on in their antics and goodwill, riding off into the sunset in the blueberry.

Only, the blueberry had died long before, her carcass split in two by that assassin that time.

We had to trust them, our friends who once serenaded us to Tears For Fears “Shout” while moonwalking, that they were leaving us with a legacy, a hope…obscure 80s references on a never-ending loop.

Eight years. Eight years ago, I was about to marry my husband. I was 21, a size zero, a girl not yet a woman, eight years ago I was young.

So were they.

My entire marriage thus far we have watched these characters, and I don’t think I’m being dramatic (psh) when I say, this loss is significant. It really is like saying goodbye to friends you learned to lean on, that you feel you’ve shared something — and no, not like I actually think they are real or we know each other or have made them my sons co-Godfather’s —so special and singular it can never be duplicated.

Over the eight seasons, Shawn and Gus have slowly shed their adolescence. Do they still eat like fourteen-year-old athletes, make juvenile jokes and alienate with obscure trivia only they understand? Yes. Thank God. There is a realness to their prolonged adolescence that speaks to my generation. Kids raising kids, or Shawn and Gus being raised by the Santa Barbara Police Department. There is an honesty to the trajectory many of us find ourselves on.

If the series finale is any indication, they aren’t just kids anymore.

And neither am I. The bittersweet sentiment of my goodbye to characters I have, myself, grown up with, is met with my own revelations. My own tentative acceptance of aging and maturity and admittance that I’m not the twenty-one-year-old I was when the show aired in one of the less awkward Pilots ever put on TV.

As Shawn said, in the final moments of the final episode, “I am done cowering from the big decisions.” That statement sums up his internal conflict, his character’s ultimate, overreaching arc. And there is nothing more satisfying for a viewer to see their hero (he’s really co-hero with Gus. Come on, son!) achieve his goal. In terms of closure, this finale delivered.

We leave these character in a good place. We leave them with a future.

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So, even though we say goodbye, and we admit we sort of think you guys are being like “Topher Grace in In Good Company“, we say thank you.

Thank you for eight years of your lives.

Thank you for growing up with us.

Thank you for being our friends.

Thank you for teaching us about the 80s.

We won’t forget about you.

 

Side Effects of Making a Bucket List

side effects

This coming week, March 18th to be precise, Side Effects May Vary releases from HarperCollins / Balzer & Bray. Debut author Julie Murphy has enlisted friends, bloggers, and her future readers to help with her online launch by sharing snippets from their own Bucket Lists.

Why? In Side Effects May Vary the main character, Alice, is diagnosed with leukemia and decides to spend her remaining months righting wrongs. This results in an unusual Bucket List of sorts that ends up having surprising consequences for Alice when she goes into remission.

When Julie asked us to share our own Bucket List, I’ll admit I was a bit flummoxed. I have never given this subject any real consideration. I haven’t even given my own I’m about to turn 30 list much thought. I am not much of a life planner at all, actually.

This may take a while. I leave you in good hands until I return.

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And….back. These are in no discernible order other than they were jotted down first.

Item #1 —

Get a book Published. I have written one book. Am 90% done with a second. Writing a book never gets easy, but it is something I have done and never thought I would actually do, therefor had I made a previous Bucket List it would be totally crossed off now. (May see the appeal to this phenomenon, now. Am a big fan of crossing things out in general.) Seeing my book in a library, on a booksellers shelf, in the hand of a reader while she waits for the train — that would be pretty sweet.

Item #2 —

Go to San Diego Comic Con. I would ideally like to go before Game of Thrones ends so I can see Jon Snow. I figure that show will be on for a few more years, so  I have some time to make this happen. Hopefully, Jon Snow doesn’t die beforehand.  As a card-carrying member of multiple fandoms, SDCC is like the mothership of Cons, a place where being a fan, a nerd, a person more comfortable with fantasy worlds than real ones, is totally acceptable. I want to see it once. That’s it. Once would be enough.

Item #3 —

Travel to the UK. I have never been to Britain, Scotland, or Ireland. My family roots go straight back there. As a girl, I was pretty much hardwired to love all things British thanks to books (and the amazing movie adaptations) like The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so many more. I want to have a real high tea, to drink in a pub, to walk a moor, to stay in a castle. Be it one trip or many, this needs to happen.

Item #4 —

Teach my son to read. I have a four year old who is right on the cusp of learning to read. There is something magical about watching your child begin to recognize not only the language they speak written out, but the joy those words can bring when you discover them for yourself. I want to be there with him as he does. I’m not the most maternal individual. I don’t gush over babies, I don’t feel the urge to nurture, and am in no real danger of overcommitting myself to the PTA or Sunday school. For me, the magic of motherhood is found in the relationship I have with my son, in watching him learn and grow and become who he’s going to be. And what could be more powerful than words?

Item #5 —

Go skydiving. Not that indoor nonsense where you hover in the air for ten minutes inside a giant, concrete building. I want to jump from an airplane, screaming, crying, but flying. If there is one thing I can honestly say I have to do before I die (and hopefully it won’t be the thing that kills me) it’s jumping from an airplane.

Item #6 —

Be involved in a feature film. As a screenwriter, I dream of seeing a script I’ve written on spec turned into a film. As an actor, I have always wanted to be in a film doing some actual acting. As a control freak, I am afraid of all of the above. So, maybe conquer that fear first and then shoot for the stars? Right. This last year, I produced one of my short film scripts through Kickstarter, and it was an incredible learning experience. So more of that, but bigger, longer, and so on.

Item #7 —

I believe every bucket list should have one vague item. One thing to achieve, maybe for the good of mankind, maybe just so, should all else fail, you can say you did something you set out to. Mine? Not take the ones I love for granted. Life is risky, and busy, a jumble of tasks to tick off and dreams to strive for. In the hubbub of everyday life, or because we need to get shit done so we just don’t think about it, it’s easy to forget what’s most important. I want to say thank you, at least once a day, for the people who make my life meaningful, possible, sustainable.

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I realized as I compiled this list that it was merely the tip of the iceberg, the scratch on the surface of all the living I’d like to do, have already done, and can’t begin to imagine I”ll do.  A few years ago we moved to New York City (a place I never planned on living), I wrote a book (a thing I wanted but didn’t think I could achieve), and so, as a side effect of making this list I acknowledge its state of utter incompleteness. It is less a Bucket List and more a To Do Sooner Rather Than Later List. It is a Get Up Off Your Ass and Do List.

It is an If Not Now When List.

For more about Julie’s stunning debut novel follow the links below!

Amazon

The description and link to add it to your Goodreads:

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Julie Murphy Author PhotoJulie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel.

Website :: Tumblr :: Twitter

 

Christa Desir is the Shiz : A Goal for the Week

https://twitter.com/ChristaDesir/status/440140746780200960

This is not the first time I’ve shared what Christa is doing. This morning I composed my own Tweet telling my fellow Twitter addicts to spread the word. But I didn’t feel it was enough.  Christa already donates half of everything she earns from Fault Line to rape survivors all the time, but for a stretch of forty days, she will make nothing from the sales of her book. And I want everyone to know it because the reason is an amazing one.

Writers work for years on manuscripts before they ever reach the shelves. Sometimes, we work for years on manuscripts that will never be published. Sometimes we never make any money on the hours of labor, and most writers will tell you, it’s not about the money anyway. (If you want to be rich, this is not the profession for you.) When the time comes for publication, and you actually begin making a profit on your book sales, I can only imagine that the taste of victory is sweet, must be savored, and probably makes your stomach hurt a little.

It is so easy for us as consumers to lose sight of what it is we’re investing in. We’ll spend $6.50 on a coffee, but dammit that ebook for $8.99, that thing that was someone’s life for two years, that thing that just might change our day, month, year, perspective, that thing I’ll buy when it goes on sale, or if it makes it to paperback, or maybe I’ll borrow it from my friend who already has it.

I am not saying we don’t share books. We absolutely share books, in every form and fashion, we give them away so someone else can read them. We gush about them on Twitter or Goodreads or from the rooftops. I am not saying buying a cheaper version of a book makes you a villain. Books are expensive, and the economy is not improving. I get that, I feel it just like you. Anyway it gets into your hands is good.

Books are almost always a wise investment, no matter your method or means, but if there ever was a time to buy the full-cost version a book, this would be it.

Lent begins on March 5 and ends on April 17. (I am providing handy links below to Christa on Twitter and her blog, where I am sure she will talk more about this.) During that time, pick up a few copies of Fault Line. I plan to pick up a handful to donate to libraries in my area (there are several). I plan to give a copy to a friend who might not otherwise pick one up herself. I plan to make my friends who are readers buy at least one copy for themselves.

I plan to do this because it feels right to me. All we can do is what feels right to us. That’s all I’m asking of you here. So, if you’re feeling it, here are some links to get you started!

faultline

Fault Line on Goodreads:

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

Christa’s Blog :: Twitter :: Facebook

Links to where you can buy online or find it in your area:

IndieBound

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

The Balance Keepers — The Fires of Calderon COVER REVEAL

Here’s the description:

The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile….

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Sounds pretty fantastic, right? Lindsay posted the cover on her blog this morning, many of you may have already seen it, but as a friend and registered Booknerdigan I was too excited. I had to share it!

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balance keepers

It publishes September 23, 2014 from Katherine Tegen/ Harper Collins and is the first book in a trilogy.

Buy a copy:

International at The Book Depository

Go add it on Goodreads:

The Balance Keepers — The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings

Can’t wait to read my copy!