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BBC Book Talk - INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 19 July 2012 · 186 views

The first thing people talk about when they talk about [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8573642-incarnate"]INCARNATE[/url] is the cover. And yes, it's pretty gorgeous. I've seen birds fly into it.


[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1307385651l/8573642.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1307385651l/8573642.jpg[/img][/url][/center]But what I find even more stunning about the book is the theme behind the cover, and somehow that never quite makes all the conversations. So I'll go ahead and start my own.

INCARNATE is the story of Ana, the first Newsoul to be born in Range for 5,000 years. For centuries the same people have been reincarnated over and over again, loves finding each other in different bodies, different lifetimes. Friends reinvent their relationships, 9 year olds serve as doctors by drawing on knowledge from their past lives, and everyone keeps journals of their previous deaths so that others can learn how to prevent dying in the same manner.

Into this society of knowledge and reincarnation comes Ana, a squalling, unlearned infant with nothing to contribute, no memories, no past loves to find again, no friendships to rekindle. Ana's father disappears in shame, her mother removes her from the main city of Heart to raise her in solitude and neglect. On her 18th birthday, Ana leaves the home she is not wanted in and heads for Heart, the city where a mysterious beat can be felt in the very walls, determined to discover what her birth means, and who she is.

On her journey Ana is rescued from certain death by Sam, a boy her own age, though behind his eyes she can see the memories of the thousand lifetimes before this one. As she recovers, she reluctantly shares what little she knows about her own life, and hesitantly mentions her great love of music. She later regrets this when she learns that Sam is the current incarnation of her beloved composer Dossam.

Ana is a new thing in an old world, a cigarette burn flash in the corner of a four hour movie. As she puts it - she's a butterfly in their world, a creature that will live only two days in comparison to their thousands of years... and who would bother to befriend a butterfly? Or dare to love her?

[url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1336406778l/13043180.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1336406778l/13043180.jpg[/img][/url]The relationship between Sam and Ana is the heart of the book, and deftly woven. His kind compassion is the only way to draw out her injured and reluctant self; her unsure demeanor and unmitigated love for music is the way to his heart - no matter what life he's on.

For readers looking for a good, clean love story this is a great pick.

For readers looking for the answer to what Ana is and what her existence means, you'll have to wait for [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13043180-asunder"]ASUNDER[/url] :)
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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 18 July 2012 · 175 views

Thoughts this week have been of the natural world. It's effing hot here in Ohio but I know that in January I'll be irritated that I can't go outside because it's freezing. So I've been trekking outdoors anyway.

1) I've got a healthy colony of mockingbirds on my property. They're very attractive birds, and also incredibly intelligent. I recently learned that they [url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/may/18/mockingbirds-human-recognition"]attack people they see as threats[/url] - what if we did that? I'm picturing urban housewives bursting out of front doors and tearing hairs from the jogger's head that's passed by one too many times.

2) You might have noticed this about me already, if you follow me on [url="https://twitter.com/bigblackcat97"]Twitter[/url] or [url="http://pinterest.com/bigblackcat97/not-a-drop-to-drink/"]Pinterest[/url], but I have a weird fascination with buzzards. They are incredibly unattractive birds. Really, really ugly. But, God gave them some weight on the other end of the scale too, because those things can hover forever at incredible altitudes. Since they're not hunters, I can only assume they go way up there and glide for the fun of it. Such interesting, weird, ugly things.

3) If a bug gets inside my car and I drive 30 miles away and it flies out - is it lost? Did it have a real home that it would go back to every night? Or is it just like, "Oh what a relief! That girl [i]cannot [/i]sing."
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A Cover Reveal Interview with Megan Shepherd, Author of THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 16 July 2012 · 173 views

[center][url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1jbb611cYe0/UARa16ypE3I/AAAAAAAAAr4/xtbeGoZ5TAk/s1600/MMD+final+cover+for+web.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1jbb611cYe0/UARa16ypE3I/AAAAAAAAAr4/xtbeGoZ5TAk/s640/MMD+final+cover+for+web.jpg[/img][/url][/center]

[i]Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid and trying to forget the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he's alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she's determined to find out if the accusations were true.[/i]


[i]Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward, Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the secret of her father's new life: he experiments on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.[/i]

[i]Inspired by H.G. Wells's classic The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.[/i]

I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.

Today's guest is my fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky13s[/url] and [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] member Megan Shepherd, to talk about her awesome cover for [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12291438-the-madman-s-daughter"]THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER[/url], available from Balzer & Bray, January 29, 2013. Megan's got a few e-hangouts, find her on her [url="http://www.meganshepherd.com/"]site[/url], [url="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Megan-Shepherd-Author/151819421593279"]Facebook[/url] and [url="http://www.twitter.com/megan_shepherd"]Twitter[/url].

[b]BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?[/b]


MS: You would think a writer might also have a good eye for visual arts, but I don’t. A few cover ideas came to my head for The Madman’s Daughter but they were all pretty terrible, so I was delighted to leave it to the professionals! I actually designed a fake cover for The Madman’s Daughter as part of a blog dare, and this is the train wreck that I produced:
[url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mnz0PsxMEHE/UARb-tlcWEI/AAAAAAAAAsA/Unh1hbHJayg/s1600/coverforweb.jpg"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mnz0PsxMEHE/UARb-tlcWEI/AAAAAAAAAsA/Unh1hbHJayg/s320/coverforweb.jpg[/img][/url]


Though I do think it has a certain, I don’t know, sophistication. Ahem. As far as the real cover, I put all my trust in the HarperCollins designers. I just knew I wanted it to capture the creepy, beautiful, Gothic feel of the book. I also hoped it would appeal to a wide range of readers: boys, girls, adults, librarians. And I think they did a fantastic job with that.


[b]BBC: How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?[/b]


MH: I first heard whispers about the cover design a year before the pub date. My editor kept me up-to-date with the process, which was pretty exciting for a debut author. My publishing house, Balzer + Bray, hired a photographer to do the photo shoot complete with model and outdoor setting. I got to see the model’s headshots, which was an incredible moment—looking at your fictional main character as a real person!


[b]BBC: Did you have any input on your cover?[/b]


MH: The design team at HarperCollins handled everything, thankfully—I’d have just given them some awful advice like “put a shirtless man on the cover” (ie, see my terrible design above). My editor did a great job keeping me informed; she showed me their original design plan, which included color schemes, inspiring images, and sample fonts. Everything was absolutely 100% spot-on; I really felt like they understood the mood of the book. Then she showed me the tentative mock-up and the ARC cover and asked my opinion on each along the way. I just loved everything, right from the start.


[b]BBC: How was your cover revealed to you?[/b]


MH: Thinking of seeing my cover for the first time makes me smile! It was in late April, and I was on a week-long writing retreat in Bat Cave, North Carolina (what better place for a top-secret writers retreat than Bat Cave?) with eight other MG and YA writers: Alan Gratz, Megan Miranda, Tiffany Trent, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Laurel Snyder, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, and Gwenda Bond. I’m dropping their names because they are all so cool, and also inspirations of mine, and now I can tell you what they eat for breakfast ☺ Anyway, as we were winding down for the day, I got an email from my editor with the cover art! Immediately all the other writers crowded around, and there was lots of shrieking and happiness, followed by lots of wine.


[b]BBC: Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?[/b]


MH: Being a part of the Friday the Thirteeners blog, I’ve met some wonderful people. Ellen Oh (whose book Prophecy comes out in January 2013) and I are both with HarperCollins and both had a cover reveal date of June 18. So we thought it would be great to collaborate and have a joint reveal! Mandy at YA Book Central hosted an exclusive cover reveal, where we gave away ARCs and swag, and it was tons of fun.


[b]BBC: How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?[/b]


MH: My cover reveal was June 18, and I saw the tentative cover about six weeks before that. Then there were a few weeks of tweaking fonts and colors, but the basic feel of the cover remained the same.


[b]BBC: Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?[/b]


MH: It wasn’t just hard—it was impossible. Literally. I probably showed it to more people than I was supposed to, but I was just too excited! The “pre-cover-reveal” circle of trust mostly included my husband, the other writers at the Bat Cave retreat, my mom, and this waiter who accidentally saw it over dinner.


I wanted to show it to everyone! To stick it on my website and make postcards of it and generally proclaim to the world that my book has a beautiful cover.


[b]BBC: What surprised you most about the process?[/b]


MH: I had very few expectations about how the cover design process would go. The process itself wasn’t too surprising, but the feeling I got when looking at the finished cover was. It’s so strange and wonderful to put a real person’s face to the character in your head. I love the model they used, and the way she is peeking over her bare shoulder. There’s a hint of madness there, but also strength, and desire, and power. And I love that you only get a glimpse of the face, so readers can still use their imagination to picture Juliet Moreau.


[b]BBC: Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?[/b]


MH: Long before I saw it, I was irrationally worried I would hate my cover art. But once I looked at other Balzer + Bray titles, I realized that there was no reason to be anxious. All their covers are great and do a wonderful job of capturing the spirit and feel of each individual book. Designers are designers for a reason—they are really talented at what they do! I’m so glad that my editor and the design team were able to capture how I felt about the book and convert it into such a perfect, intriguing cover.


Thanks for having me on the blog, Mindy!
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Reading Outside Your Genre & A Non-YA Giveaway

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 16 July 2012 · 293 views

I've talked a little bit before about a phenomenon I call [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2011/07/little-ya-departure-noir-style.html"]voice bleeding[/url], but for those of you who don't feel like clicking I'll re-hash here. We've all ended up with a fake British accent after watching [i]Downton Abbey[/i], or reading JANE EYRE. I think everyone walks with a little bit of a swagger or pretends that they're reading a horse after watching [i]Deadwood[/i]. Heck, some of us even find a way to slip the word "Tutanka" into our casual conversations after watching [i]Dances with Wolves[/i].

And while all these things are perfectly acceptable (if you're capable of doing a decent faux Brit accent, that is), the unique danger that such cultural interactions poses for writers is a voice bleed. When your tough chic starts extending her pinkie and sipping tea, when you picture your bad guy polishing a splintered bar instead of revving his Harley. When the jargon of war-torn upper-class England and the 1800's Black Hills starts infiltrating your contemporary YA... that's a voice bleed.

So how do we avoid this as writers?

One trick is to not read at all while writing. It's kind of like using abstinence to ensure you don't get pregnant. It's the sure-fire, hell-no-that-won't-happen answer.

But some of us aren't capable of keeping our hands off the papery spines, so the second option is to read something so far from your genre that there isn't much of a chance of the boundaries being crossed. I highly recommend a [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2011/09/voice-bleeding-remedy-staunch-it-with.html"]good non-fiction read[/url] for those times, but there are also plenty of fiction options that fit the bill, and I came across one such this past weekend.


[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1336312974l/13513073.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1336312974l/13513073.jpg[/img][/url][/center][url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13513073-fobbit"]FOBBIT[/url] by David Abrams is a fantastic masculine satire set during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For those of you who don't know (and really, if you did you get Mindy-points) a Fobbit is a U.S. soldier stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base. Each chapter sets you solidly in the boots of different soldiers and their perceptions of one another as they move through the sand-covered world of Iraq, with mortars flying overhead and situations so ridiculous they're only eclipsed by the fumbling efforts to control the public perception of them.

It's CATCH-22 for our generation, and I won't be the first person to make that comparison. Granted, there's a sly aside in FOBBIT where one of the narrators is reading Heller poolside, but it's a deserved nod and organic to the situation. I had Heller on my mind while reading FOBBIT for sure, but Chuck Palahniuk as well (another great genre-buster to read, b/c hey - none of us write like him). The writing is masculine and gorgeous at the same time, gut-wrenching and mind numbing. Abrams captures the ridiculous and makes the reader want to put their head in their hands right along with his characters.

So if you're looking for something to break you out of a reading funk, give FOBBIT a shot. But you'll have to wait until September 4th, when it's available from Grove Press. :)

In honor of getting outside your writing comfort zone, I'm giving away two books to a lucky person who wants to read something substantial this summer. [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/77203.The_Kite_Runner"]THE KITE RUNNER[/url] and [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/128029.A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns"]A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS[/url] both by Khaled Hosseini. All you need to do to enter this giveaway is be a follower of my blog and comment below. Giveaway is US only and will run through Sunday, July 22 at 11:59 PM.


[center][url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1deFseB9k9w/UARSt4ntDOI/AAAAAAAAArs/frSjKO0cadM/s1600/IMG_0608.JPG"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1deFseB9k9w/UARSt4ntDOI/AAAAAAAAArs/frSjKO0cadM/s320/IMG_0608.JPG[/img][/url][/center]

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 13 July 2012 · 318 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description [url="http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]RC Lewis[/url] and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.


[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/img][/url]Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
http://femboost.tumblr.com/
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.




Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on [url="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/"]AgentQuery Connect[/url]. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!



And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in [color=yellow]yellow[/color].
A flash of pain is all Jimmy Rickliefs remembers from the night he almost died. [color=yellow]Decent hook, but it does beg the question of how he almost died. [/color]Now he suffers from terrifying seizures and his shattered body can’t keep up with his career as a drummer. Once known for his turquoise hair and outgoing personality, Jimmy turns sullen and withdrawn as depression begins to take its toll. [color=yellow]Nice. So far, it's well written and succinct.[/color]

Through the nightmare of his recovery, Jimmy takes some comfort from his pregnant wife’s survival. [color=yellow]However, the idea of his wife surviving that same night continues to make me wonder what actually happened? Car crash? [/color]But as the stress of his recovery mounts, his daughter is born twelve weeks early. [color=yellow]The stress of his recovery, or the stress of the accident she was also involved in?[/color] She wasn’t breathing for two minutes after her traumatic birth. [color=yellow]Slight tense issue here - we were with "is" and now wepre playing with "was." [/color]Now [color=yellow]and back to present again[/color], seizures are a daily worry and brain damage is always on the horizon. Her chances for survival are slim. [color=yellow]Echo here with "survival." I feel like you got the point across that the infant is in danger without this last sentence, in any case.[/color]

With hospital bills mounting, Jimmy has a decision to make: return to the band despite his injuries, or lose everything. While his income can provide for the family, one misplaced strobe light could trigger a seizure and he could [color=yellow]echo with "could" [/color]be a vegetable. One fall [color=yellow]fall from what? or just fall down? [/color]and his career might truly end. He knows they can’t live on Allison’s [color=yellow]first use of her proper name here[/color] income alone, and could [color=yellow]another "could" echo[/color] be homeless if he doesn’t go back. Jimmy isn’t sure, however, that he wants to go back. [color=yellow]Why not? [/color]

Driven is mainstream fiction, complete at 91,668 words. [color=yellow]Give the a round number, always. But before you query I'd definitely look at shaving off the extras. 90k is high for mainstream breakout. And also, I'm not sure that "mainstream" is really used that much as a genre? I'm honestly not positive on that one to be honest, so look elsewhere for solid advice on that front :)[/color]

[color=yellow]It sounds like you've got an interesting plot but it's a little buried here. First off - we need to know what the accident was. I'm guessing by the title and the fact that the wife was involved is car crash, but you need to be explicit. Also, the idea of both the infant and Jimmy suffering from seizures is a little confusing. You need to be clear about what danger exactly Jimmy is in, what his recovery entails. Why would a strobe light cause a seizure? Why is a fall a concern? Is he losing consciousness periodically or do you just mean a fall caused by a seizure? You mention that he could be a vegetable, but it sounds like the infant is facing the same dangers, so you need to be very clear about what is ailing each of them, and how the two differ. [/color]

[color=yellow]It sounds like the real crux here is the question of Jimmy going back to work, finding his old self again. But we're not seeing this until the last para, and then at the last line. So why isn't he sure that he wants to go back? Is it purely the physical that bothers him? Is he worried about his health? Or does it have to do with your first mention of his "rock star" self with turquoise hair that he needs to recapture and can't quite, after the accident? Be clear about this, and make it happen sooner. We need the obstacles - emotional, physical, mental - tossed out earlier in the query.[/color]
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A Big YA Giveaway!

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 12 July 2012 · 195 views

Today is Friday the 13th, and while that might make some people feel squirmy, there's a group of gals I know who just love it. And I'm one of 'em.

[url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-50O2szGTOOs/Txb_VDigK0I/AAAAAAAAAHM/e_dOQbjGR7s/s1600/fridaythethirteeners_badge.jpg"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-50O2szGTOOs/Txb_VDigK0I/AAAAAAAAAHM/e_dOQbjGR7s/s1600/fridaythethirteeners_badge.jpg[/img][/url]Because today is our name day, the [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] have a lot of fun going on over at the blog. We played with our names and the titles of our books using an anagram program. Some of us even made our own bookcovers for our fake selves and our fake books. It was silly, mindless, and an amazing amount of fun.

So hop on over there and see if you can guess who our fake selves are, and what fake book we wrote. If you do well, we'll give a bunch of real books that we WISH we'd written (as opposed to our fake anagram books which are... well, some of them are less than stellar titles).

What am I giving away that I wish I'd written? THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. And no, I don't just wish it because money is useful and fame is nice. As a librarian I knew about this book before the rest of the world had the name "Katniss" on their tongues, and I was envious as HELL that such an awesome premise wasn't born in my own brainpan.

Sigh. Stupid brainpan.


[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1337857402l/2767052.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1337857402l/2767052.jpg[/img][/url][/center]
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Because Really I Should Be Everywhere

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 11 July 2012 · 153 views

In case you missed it, I took a Truth over at Friday the Thirteeners last week. One of our followers asked if there was anything that scared me more than having NOT A DROP TO DRINK out in the wild for people to read. Well, yes.

Velociraptors. Duh.



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A Cover Reveal Interview with Erin Bowman, Author of TAKEN

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 09 July 2012 · 193 views

[center][url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xGWL0Vd4zCA/T_pKnRYxGgI/AAAAAAAAAqw/NKH9nEAAqtE/s1600/Taken_final_web.jpg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xGWL0Vd4zCA/T_pKnRYxGgI/AAAAAAAAAqw/NKH9nEAAqtE/s640/Taken_final_web.jpg[/img][/url][/center]
[i]There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends . . . and he’s gone.[/i]


[i]They call it the Heist.[/i]

[i]Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate—until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot—a structure that no one can cross and survive. [/i]

[i]Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken—or risk everything on the hope of the other side?[/i]

[left]I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.[/left]

[left]Today's guest is my fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky13s[/url] and [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] member Erin Bowman, to talk about her awesome cover for [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11044367-taken"]TAKEN[/url], available from Harper Teen April 16, 2013.[/left]


[b]BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?[/b]

EB: I didn't know what I wanted TAKEN's cover to [i]look[/i] like so much as I knew how I wanted it to [i]feel[/i]--dark, mysterious, ominous. I think Harper really nailed it.


[b]BBC: How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?[/b]

EB: We started talking about cover art before I even had a pub month! Discussions began in November of 2011, and at the moment, TAKEN is slated to release in April of 2013. So that's a whopping 17 months in advance!


[b]BBC: Did you have any input on your cover?[/b]

EB: I did! My editor, Erica, asked me what I envisioned for the cover and I shared with her the moods I already listed out above. We also talked about how I’m personally not a big fan of faces that are front and center on a cover. I don't mind seeing people, it's just that when they fill 90% of the cover, I feel it takes away from the reader being able to visualize characters for themselves. I mentioned Robison Wells' [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10433900-variant"]VARIANT[/url] as being a great compromise on the people/faces debate, and also pointed out how well I thought it struck that dark/mysterious/ominous mood I envisioned for TAKEN. Erica took all this back to the design team and they handled things from there.


[b]BBC: How was your cover revealed to you?[/b]

EB: Good 'ol email. Erica sent me the initial comp just before Christmas of 2011. While some elements were placeholders at this stage, the overall concept remained the same from initial comps to final cover! (And I must add that while the artwork was not what I was expecting, it absolutely struck the moods I had hoped for. The designer did a fantastic job!)


[b]BBC: Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?[/b]
EB: Harper's winter catalog went live on June 25th, so I was instructed to "reveal" the cover the week prior (June 18-22). I ended up revealing it on [url="http://publishingcrawl.com/"]Pub(lishing) Crawl[/url] on June 19th.


[b]BBC: How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?[/b]
EB: I saw the final version of the cover (with highres photography and updated models) in February, so that's four months before the reveal. (Then again, the cover didn't change drastically between the initial comp and the final, so it felt like I had to wait more like six months. I was so anxious to share the prettiness.)


[b]BBC: Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?[/b]

EB: It was near impossible! I was (and still am) so in love with my cover that I wanted to show it to the world the first day I first saw it.


[b]BBC: What surprised you most about the process?[/b]

EB: How little I was involved. Harper [i]did[/i] ask me for my thoughts before they began designing, and I was allowed to weigh in on the initial comp, but they ultimately owned this process. This shouldn't have surprised me because we hear again and again that authors don't get to pick their covers, but it was still somewhat shocking once I was confronted with it. Being a designer in my past life (web design), it was very hard for me to sit back, relax, and let someone else man the creative process. But publishers know what they are doing. They get the audience and what will sell. They know what causes a person to pluck a book off the shelves. In the end, I'm so happy I didn't design my cover; I wouldn't have created the gorgeousness Harper did, and I’m so grateful for the cover they’ve given my story.


[b]BBC: Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?[/b]

EB: Remember that you’re the expert at writing the book and you publisher is the expert at getting people to pick it up. A cover is a piece of advertising. Yes you want it to accurately reflect your novel, but you also want as many people to pick it up as possible. If you're not in love with your cover art, try to pick one thing to focus on. What is the [i]biggest[/i] thing you dislike or long to have changed? Have an honest conversation with your publisher about [i]that[/i] element. They are more likely to tweak one element than a dozen, so pick your battles. And try to enjoy the whole process. It only happens once for each book, and it's quite a ride!
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Listmaker, Listmaker, Make Me A List

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 08 July 2012 · 133 views

I admit to being a compulsive stressball. I have a ton of energy and goals, but sometimes I need to remind myself where to direct all of that. Making lists has always been my go-to way to organize myself. And wow, lists have paid me back with some love.

I didn't even know NOT A DROP TO DRINK was on Goodreads until a fellow author pointed it out to me - what a neat surprise that was. Not long after that, I noticed that people started shelving DRINK, which is even cooler. But how was everyone finding it? I know my blog is partially to thank, but I think the biggest nod goes to the people who put together and vote on lists over on Goodreads.

DRINK has landed on [url="http://www.goodreads.com/list/book/13112869-not-a-drop-to-drink"]quite a few lists[/url] over there, and I want to give a BIG thank you to everyone who added it to a list, or voted for it. We're still a year out from publication, and DRINK is on nearly 800 shelves. Wow. That's a convincing argument for the power of social networking and word of mouth.

Thanks again to everyone who has helped me out, by reading the blog, following on Twitter, watching my vlogs, or saying to a friend (or hell, an enemy), "Have you heard about this book coming out?"

I say that 10 to 15 times a day, but never about my own book. Thanks to you guys, I don't have to :)
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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 July 2012 · 147 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description [url="http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]RC Lewis[/url] and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.




[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s1600/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s200/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff[/img][/url][/center]
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.


Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!

And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in [color=yellow]yellow[/color].

Ava’s nineteen, but she feels like she’s thirty, and every one of those years has been lonely. [color=yellow]Good hook, I like it.[/color] She never expected to find friends among the Greek gods, and she definitely didn’t expect the Garden of Eden to become home. Ava falls in love with this [color=yellow]I'd use "the" [/color]world of Olympians, fauns, and centaurs, [color=yellow]I'd set the net sentence apart to accentuate it. This is the crux of your plot. [/color] but war looms on Eden’s horizon. Ares, god of war, wants Eden and the rest of Earth as his own. He and his witches are marching on the Middle East, and they vow to remake Earth as one monotheistic nation- where all people worship him. The Muses say only Ava can defeat Ares, but she’s not magical at all. She could barely handle her home life; [color=yellow]Really? Why?[/color]defeating the god of war is hardly a skill on her resume.

When Ares kidnaps her and claims he loves her, Ava gives him a chance. He might not be the evil dictator she was told. In fact, he just might be able to unite humans and bring global peace. Marrying him will make her the enemy of the Olympians she loves, but mediating between Ares and humans might be the only way to stop the war.

When his witches sacrifice a human to raise Haides [color=yellow]Is there an "i" in that name? [/color]from the Underworld, Ava realizes how wrong she’s been about Ares. With Haides as his weapon, Ares could destroy her newfound family and bring the world to its knees. Ava, non-magical [color=yellow]already covered that [/color]but determined, must find a way to stop him, even though it means risking her life just when she found the family that makes her life worthwhile.

THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE is a 101,000-word fantasy novel with series potential. Readers who enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss may enjoy its base in mythology, magic, and history. I’m a high school English teacher and have written three short films, each placing first at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. I earned my B.A. in English writing under James Calvin Schaap, award-winning author. [color=yellow]I'd switch the phrasing here to put "award winning" first. [/color]

[color=yellow]A couple things. The writing here is good and solid, and the query does a good job of portraying a somewhat complicated plot. I would say though that same really key points are missing. How does Ava become a part of this magical world? If she's not magical at all, why is she allowed to live in the Garden of Eden? It doesn't sound like the Muses determine she's the one who can deliver them until after the fact. [/color]

[color=yellow]Also, the hook, while good, is potentially misleading. Ava feels like she's 30 - that immediately makes her different from most teens and makes us wonder if there IS something different bout her, yet you insist (twice) that there's not. I need to know more about how Ava discovers this world, and is admitted into it in order to be really pulled in.[/color]

[color=yellow]Also, you hint that her real life is quite bad. She's lonely, she couldn't handle her real life, etc. Yet, we don't know why. Abuse? Neglect? How can she be so easily absorbed out of the real world and into the magical one? I need to know there's a good reason, and not just authorial convenience.[/color]

[color=yellow]Lastly - It's hard to break in with a book over 100k. You get a little bit of leeway for your genre, but I'm willing to bet you've got a couple thousand words in there you don't need. Same with the query, in a smaller amount. Streamline. In order to get the real world details in here, you're going to have to make some sacrifices. Kill your darlings, and you'll be fine. And last random question - what does the title have to do with the ms?[/color]
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