Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pay It Forward Interviews - Kiera Stewart!

Pay It Forward Week continues with our third guest, a pretty rocking woman who is my editor-mate, the fabulous...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)
FETCHING, December 2011, Disney-Hyperion.
(Stealing the PM description here: A crew of middle school nobodies secretly use dog training techniques on their classmates to go from eighth-grade underdogs to leaders of the pack, only to discover being top dog isn't all they expected it to be. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?
*lays down on couch and prepares to re-live harrowing journey*
It started innocently enough. I made my lists, devised a strategy (three or so agents at a time), got all chuffed up about my query letter, told myself I wouldn't let the rejections get me down, and then BLAM! The first rejection stung more than I expected. The second had me questioning my writing ability, my story, and myself as a whole. And the third? Well, the third brought me to tears because it wasn't just a standard rejection. It was a request for a full, which overinflated my heart with hope, and only THEN turned into a polite rejection, therefore effectively sticking a pin into that overfull heart. 
The following months saw much of the same cycle of hope and despair -- both speedy rejections and requests for fulls. Then, one day, an agent emailed me to schedule a call. We talked for a long time, and she said all sorts of fantastic things about my writing, nearly causing me to faint with joy. She asked me to tweak a few things in the story, and I did, quite happily. But then a month later, the crushing pain arrived via email. The revision didn't move her, she said, and the market sucked even more than it did the month before. STAB! It felt like a terrible breakup, and I was tempted to take to my bed for about a month, waking only to write a few lines of bad poetry here and there.
Thank God for the Verla Kay blueboards. Very few people outside of the writing world really understand the misery. After a few days of whining, crying, and okay, posting anonymously about my strife, I forced myself back into the game. The upside to this? I became a little jaded. Rejections were like paper cuts rather than the full-on assaults they used to be, and interest felt more like little snack-bites of hope rather than organ-altering, head-swelling promises. And then, when I least expected it, I got THE CALL. One of the best memories of this whole experience was being able to send an email to other interested agents with the words, "I HAVE AN OFFER" in the subject line. And yes, in all caps. 
And then it got even better. People wanted to buy my book! And we had a sale! I feel so fortunate that things worked out the way they did. I have both a wonderful agent and a fantastic editor, and all that angst along the way? Was totally worth it.

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
For a while, querying did seem like an "all signs to point to no," type of situation. But my best friend/chief beta reader kept saying, "I can't imagine someone not loving this book." And she's the type of friend who will tell me (and often does) when I'm being stupid, clueless, naive, or basically any form of ass clown. The Verla Kay boards, like I said, were also an infinite source of support from smart, experienced, helpful people who really know what they're talking about. And I think stubborness played a small role in it too.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)
Now, this changes from time to time, but I can say that I can really, really appreciate a really well-done vanilla. *ducks* But hang on! I'm not talking about let's-just-add-sugar-and-a-teaspoon-of-the-synthetic-stuff and pass it off as vanilla, but the really, really GOOD stuff. The kind of cupcake you can huff and actually start hallucinating about warm, exotic places. Pure Ugandan Gold.
Or, wait. Do they make ice-cream cupcakes? Because that would totally work as well.


Kiera, thank you so, so much for sharing your fabulous answers, and everyone, be sure to check out Kiera's BLOG!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The title says it all!! I have for you TWO AWESOME THINGS.

1. This week on the YA Rebels, we're having guest authors. And mine is...

2. It's time for my next Pay It Forward Interview!! It's none other than the witty, talented, pixie-haired...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

BLOOD MAGIC is a contemporary gothic horror love story insane Frankenstein amalgam of a book about two teens who meet in a cemetery and plunge into a dangerous world of dark magic, first love, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood.  It comes out Summer 2011 with Random House Children’s Books, and the sequel CROW MAGIC comes out in 2012. More here:


2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

WELL. I did this weird thing where I would write a book, query 5 agents, and when they would read 50 pages or a full only to say “sorry, nice, but no,” I’d write a whole new book.  Instead of, ya know, trying more than 5 agents.

I did this three times. And finally I had this YA book that I was really happy with and my crit partners (Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff) said, “TESSA THIS IS THE ONE.”  So I wrote a query to Laura Rennert of ABLA, who was also Maggie’s agent, saying that I was Maggie’s bloodier doppelganger and that we should have literary babies (half of this clause is absolutely true). I only sent the book to her, and because she knew who I was through working with Maggie and our fiction website The Merry Sisters of Fate (, she asked for and I gave her an exclusive.

Three weeks later we signed together.  We did some revisions after that, sent Blood Magic out to editors, were slowly and achingly rejected, revised again, sent out again, and then in August 2009 Blood Magic went to auction while I was at a wedding in England. WHEW

It was almost exactly one year from writing the first words to getting the first offer.


3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

Only one time. I mentioned above that our first round of submissions failed.  My book went to THREE acquisitions meetings, and still the final answer was no.  I worked with my agent, my crit partners, and my SO to figure out what was drawing everybody in so well, but then ultimately causing them to reject.  It came down to the fact that in the last third of my book I was dealing with to pretty major taboos; queerness and necromancy/suicide/grief.

The queer issues/gender issues were what had caused me to write the book in the first place, but the way the book developed over 6 complete rewrites made those issues less of the focus (to the betterment of the story, I assure you). It became painfully clear that I was trying to do too much. To say too much.  The queer/gender issue had to go. It was too big for the role I’d given it.  

When I quit graduate school to write, I promised myself I’d always try to make a difference with my stories. And I still believe that. But removing that theme from Blood Magic was the hardest thing I’ve ever done with my writing, emotionally and spiritually.  But I truly believe that it is better suited to another story.

The morning I finally made the decision, I shut myself up in a bathroom stall and balled my eyes out. For about 2 minutes I considered quitting.

But I knew if I did, I’d never find the right chance to tell all the stories I’m meant to tell.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

Red Velvet. Or lemon. Or… red lemon velvet. Does that exist? I should experiment.

Thank you, Tessa! Loved those answers. Everyone, make sure you check out Tessa's

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pay It Forward Interviews - Myra McEntire

This week is made of EPIC.

First, the YA Rebels are having GUEST REBEL WEEK, and oh man, oh man, we have some AMAZING guests. Check in each day to see who we've snagged!!

Second, there's a movement happening in the writer blog world this week. It came from the frightening and wonderful minds of Elana Johnson and Lisa and Laura Roecker (where my own interview will be up Thursday!). It is called...Pay It Forward Author Interviews.

The point: To inspire.

For the next five days, I'll be spotlighting five up-and-coming authors! Just a quick glimpse at some truly talented writers. They made it, or they're well on their way. Interviews will be going up all over the interwebs. Some authors with agents, others with deals. All have found their way through part of the maze to publication!

Here's the lineup:

Monday: Myra McEntire
Tuesday: Tessa Gratton
Wednesday: Kiera Stewart
Thursday: Dawn Metcalf
Friday: Karen Mahoney

Up first, the incredible, astonishing, charming...


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

HOURGLASS will be released in Summer 2011 by Egmont USA. It's a time slip romance about a girl named Emerson who can "see" people from the past, and the boy who knows what her ability really means. Romance! Murder! Intrigue!

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

I entered a query letter contest that set things in motion. An agent expressed interest - I sent out letters to my top ten picks - and the third offer was a charm. I am with my DREAM agent, Holly Root at Waxman Literary. Absolutely adore her.

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

Five minutes ago? Yes. Part of the purpose of my creation is to tell stories - I know this in my bones. It's a gift and it's a job (and as Holly says the job part "isn't always sunshine and kittens"). Some days the work surprises me with yummy goodness, and some days it's utter crap. But I don't know what the day will produce if I don't put my bum in the chair and try. So I do - every day.

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

I'm usually a chocolate gal, but I'm a huge fan of the "Miss Princess" at Gigi's Cupcakes. Also? It comes with a tiny little crown that I can wear when I take over the world.


Thank you so much, Myra, for stopping in. You can find Ms. McEntire at her BLOG, and on TWITTER.

And check back tomorrow for another awesome author!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers...
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Tiffany Schmidt,
Kim Harrington, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I feel like I should say something of consequence.

Instead, it being Sunday, I'll offer a bit of a medley of random and mostly useless information.

1. I'm reading LINGER right now, by Maggie Stiefvater, and loving it.

2. I'm writing a new book. This new book is taking up a lot of my brain power, not just in the writing, which is going painfully slow, but in the planning, because I want to do it right. I alternate between excitement and nervous terror with this project. We'll see what happens.

3. I got my first email about the NW cover! No idea what it will look like yet, but this was very exciting :)

4. This is my TBR stack right now:

5. I'm going to ATL to get my author photos done this week! The incredible Vania Stoyanova, who is quickly becoming quite the rock star, is taking them. There will be photos, cupcakes, vlogs, and other shenanigans, I'm sure.

6. This upcoming week on the YA Rebels is ZOMG VERY EXCITING. That's all I can say, but you MUST tune in.

7. I needed a 7th because I hate even numbers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

YA Rebels - Wednesday Looks at the Query that Landed her THE AGENT

Hey guys.

Today on the YA Rebels I look at the query letter that first got me my agent.

And the query:

Dear Ms. Tipton,

I understand from your agency's website that you enjoy young adult fiction, and so I hope you'll consider representing my 56,000 word YA novel, "The Shadow Mile."

When their car hit the river three years ago, Nell's mother died, and Nell went to sleep. A deep, dreamless, sleep. The doctors called it a coma. She called it coping. But when Nell woke up a week later, something stayed behind. Since the accident, shadows have begun to bend the wrong way, the seams of the world glinting on the edges of her sight. One day a shadow peels itself straight off the wall and flutters away, like a moth. Even to Nell, this is a bit peculiar.

A world away, Death is growing restless. Bound to the Shadow Mile, the place between the living world and the one beyond, the reaper has grown sick of its mundane occupation. When the reaper decides it wants out, it calls in a professional. Death enlists recently departed scholar Lucas Bradley Link to devise a plan that could not only free the reaper, but ultimately lead to the downfall of the living world. Step one: Lure a living soul into the Shadow Mile, and steal their life

When Nell stumbles into Death's trap, she finds herself in the dreamlike Mile, where doors are one-way, people are shadows, and when it rains, the sky actually falls. A shifting space where getting out is much harder than falling in, and the price for staying too long is steep.

"The Shadow Mile" is a cat-and-mouse-game that forces Nell to confront her mother's death and her own disconnection as she tries to find her way back home before the reaper steals her life.

I am a rising senior in college, and this is my first novel. Thank you in advance for your time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting Your MC/Narrator to TALK.

So, over the past few days I took a course to get my scooter/motorcycle license,got hit by a motorcycle, and then proceeded to crash my own scooter during a drill on a very, very rainy Sunday. Front wheel locked and went straight over the handle bars.

I also started writing a new book (yay, new book, but won't be saying word 1 about WHAT it is).

The thing about a new book is it means a new MC, and in the case of a first person narration, a new VOICE.

I have a few tactics for starting books, one of my favorite being to create a list of shots, essentially vivid still frames from the book. But no matter how much info I know about plot, or how many vivid moments I've got jotted down, I can't really get into a rhythm until my MC decides to TALK, to tell me the story in his/her own words. Once that happens, the book finally begins.

THANKFULLY, my new MC took pity on me.

If your MC won't start chatting, here are two things that work for me:

-Think about how your MC would describe the other characters in the book. This tells you about their voice, but also about relationships and dynamics and other things that tend to come in handy when building a story.

-Sometimes you can "interview" your MC, or any character in your book, but I prefer to take a walk with mine. As I walk and let my eyes wander onto different things, paying attention to the way thoughts trickle in, that is when I start to make progress. I start to think of where my MC's mind goes when they wander. And the seemingly innocuous thoughts are often very telling. I recommend not confining your MC to a list of questions, but letting them ramble.

I'm sure there are many more ways, but these are the two that seem to work for me. Do you have any techniques?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YA Rebels - Wednesday Q&A + QUERY CONTEST

Hey guys.

This week at the YA Rebels we're doing a Q&A session, and we're also holding a query contest. Anyone who wants a query critique can enter, just by leaving their favorite line of the WIP in comments section on the youtube page.

Today, I talk about how I start books, pseudo-outlining, being inspired by other authors, and my hatred of waiting...

As usual, you can also view HERE.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Critique Partners

Do you have critique partners?

They're a funny thing for me. Up until about six months ago...

I'd never had one.

They kind of scared me.


See, I'd gotten used to being judged by my agent, by editors, then by my editor, but not by my peers. Part of me justified by saying I got this far without one, but let me tell you, crit partners are INVALUABLE.

First I should say that my mother is my ultimate reader. No story makes it past our front door and out into the pub world without crossing her desk. She's incredibly intelligent, and honest, and if others are beta readers, she's the alpha.

So I didn't really know if I wanted crit partners, or how to go about getting them, and then one day a good writing friend of mine offered to read NEAR WITCH. I was TERRIFIED, because I didn't want this person's opinion of me to decrease if they didn't like the ms. I feel like our stories are clothes, and people judge other people by how they dress.

But I sucked it up and gave it to her.

And the feedback this person came back with was so thorough! So HELPFUL. I was in shock.


The shock led to the realization of how much better my books would be, and I got braver and extended the circle of critique partners.

Now I have 4-5. All of them are authors at or around the same part in the publishing process. All of them are people I know and trust.


That last part is VERY IMPORTANT. These people are handling material that is private and precious (to me) until it makes its way onto the shelf.

Get to know your crit partners, choose wisely, test the marriage, do everything you need to, because if it's a good fit, it can be an incredibly fruitful, and hopefully fun, relationship.

Oh, and make sure I have a spectrum of NICE to EVIL. So I have 1-2 who are gentler, and 1-2 who will tear me a new one without fail.

Wherever your crit partners fall on the spectrum of mean, having them is great practice for letting your book out into the real world, and because of them, it will look a lot better when it gets there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Forgive Me.

So I've been sparse, and I'm really sorry. I have a MAJOR deadline this upcoming Friday, and several things I'm trying to juggle, in addition to figuring out a PLAN B since I'm not getting into any MFA programs (and it's okay) and I have to remember to shower and sleep...

But I will resurface soon with an ACTUAL post full of yummy content. I promise. Please stick with me.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

YARebels Vlog - Wednesday...

...hopes for residues, fears lunch tables, and announces a contest winner!!

As usual, if the above isn't working, you can click HERE.


Next week the YA Rebels are answering questions, so if you have any, either for me personally or someone else in the group, or the group as a whole, ask them now!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Makes Me a Rebel??

This week the topic on the YA Rebels was just that, what makes us Rebels? The answers will vary from the silly to the sincere, of course, but this one is actually really important to me.

It's about not being afraid to try.

As always, if you can't see, you can go HERE.