Archive | April 2012

Relaxing Today

After signing all my publishing forms and contracts, we’re taking a well deserved break today and visiting with family. My sister is visiting from Seattle, and it’s lovely to see her, even if my little boy did offend her by telling her she was a little boy. Of course, he then told her she was Winnie the Pooh, and called her Pooh all day. She said it was less offensive then being called a little boy!

As soon as I start working with an editor or artist on the cover, I’ll be sure to update you all! I guess now I’ll go play with my little boy and the other not-so-little boy who is actually a girl!

Interview and Discussion with YA Author, Cindy M Hogan: Violence in YA Literature

Today, I’d like to welcome Cindy M. Hogan to The Literary Mom. Cindy is the author of two YA thrillers, Watched and Protected. Not only is she here to discuss writing, but also the idea of violence in YA literature as well. Cindy has agreed to return to the blog and answer some of your questions later tonight! So just post your question as a comment and hopefully she’ll get to yours!

*Note: these books contain graphically violent images that may be inappropriate for some readers. Please use your own discretion.

Thanks so much for being here today, Cindy!


Me: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

Cindy: Since Protected hit the shelves, I’ve had a very sporadic writing schedule. It’s frustrating because book 3, Created needs to be done by the end of this month. My distributor has me signing at Costcos every day from 11-6 except a few when I spoke at a writer’s conference and signed at Barnes and Noble and The King’s English Bookshop. It’s a good thing I wake with the birds at 5 am. I usually get an hour in then and when I get home around 8, another hour. I write in a room that is full of windows. I love having the feel of being outside while I write. I actually brainstorm my stories as I walk in the mornings. I talk into a recorder and then type away when I get home. I’m a pantser. I never outline.


Me: Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be a self-published author?

Cindy: I self-published myself. I found a distributor who asked to distribute my books. I found a printer to print them. The hardest part about self-publishing is finding the money to print your books. The first print run of my books flew off the shelves, so I had to come up with more money to print again. You might be thinking, “But your books flew off the shelves. Didn’t you make anything?” The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!” However, you do not get paid for those sales for four months after they happen. I had to do 3 printings before I got paid. Finding that kind of money was a challenge.


Me: In your first YA thriller, Protected, you chose to portray the violence “on camera” in a graphically descriptive scene, instead of just alluding to the fact that your character had been a witness to a violent act, or even using a less descriptive scene. How did you come to this decision?

Cindy: In truth, I my first draft of the scene was quite tame. Not because I didn’t want to show the violence, just because it came out that way. When my critique groups got a hold of it, the nurses in my group described how it would really happen, so, I took their instruction and rewrote the scene. Now it is as realistic as possible.


Me: It has been said that Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, wrote her books in an effort to show that our culture has become so soaked in violence that we’ve become immune to it. One of the most notable discussions about this is found on the ABC news website. You can find the whole article here. Here’s a small quote from the article:

“But “The Hunger Games” is much heavier than most young adult fare, and some people have complained that it is too violent for kids. But Collins, whose father served in Vietnam when she was a little girl, wants young people to think critically about the brutality of war and culture’s desensitization to violence.”

How do you feel about that statement?

Cindy: I didn’t realize she had made that social comment. I think that to a great extent she is right. If you watch prime time TV, which I rarely get a chance to do, it is saturated with violence.


Me:  Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, before you had any success, what would you say?

Cindy: Funny. For Nanowrimo this year, I wrote a self-publishing book because I didn’t want any other writer’s to have to slog through the mess I had to. I wanted to give-back, alas, I haven’t had any time to edit it, yet. One day. I do, however, suggest you pick 3-4 popular “how to self-publish” ebooks and read them before you decide to go this route. It is not for the faint of heart. While many of my traditionally published friends have been shocked at the meager performance of their books, still many more of my indie published friends have felt the same way. It’s hard work to make it either route you choose. While luck does play a role, there is a strategy to be learned. Some of that learning comes from trial and error. I would never go back, though. I love being a self-published author. It suits me.


Thanks so much for being here today, Cindy!

 Remember, everyone, Cindy has agreed to answer some questions tonight, so if you have one for her, please leave it in the comment section!

You can find Cindy on the web at

I Signed with a Publisher: the Details

Okay, everyone. The contract has been signed by both parties and I’m free to make as many announcements as I want! I signed with Etopia Press! My book should come out sometime in August or September. It will be in e-book format first, with the print book to be released no later than three months after the e-book.

As I’m sure you’ve already realized, I decided to go with a small press. I actually feel very confident about the decision for several reasons. One, this particular small press has a strong name, with a good sales record. I talked to several of their authors and they are all very happy. Two, they have an award-winning cover art department. Three, they have a reputation for having excellent editors. Four, they were willing to make changes to the contract to make me happy. And five, they expressed interest in publishing the entire series that I have planned.

I also talked with one of the agents I am friendly with, and she urged me to take the offer. She said not only would it be a publishing credit, which might help me land an agent for my next book, but I would also gain experience working with an editor and publishing company, which could prove to be invaluable.

So, all in all, I think I made the right decision! In fact, I couldn’t be more excited! Etopia is already setting me up to do publicity interviews, as well as getting me started on edits. And you already know I’ve been working on the art and marketing forms. I think I’ve got my short blurb just about done. Now it’s on to the long blurb!

I would like a little advice from you guys though… One of the questions on the art form asks if there is anything I specifically DON’T want on my cover. This is a YA fantasy (an epic fantasy) and I am toying with the idea of saying I don’t want any of the characters on the cover, or at least any of their faces. What do you think? Do you like to have a character depicted on the cover of the book you’re reading? Or would you rather have it left to your imagination?

Vote on Your Favorite Tagline for the Cover of My Book!

Okay, I can’t promise it will be on the cover, but I can promise that I will submit it to my editor! My book is a YA fantasy, titled Drive Back the Darkness. The tagline will be on the front cover somewhere below the title. Which one do you think would make you most likely to want to read it?

Could Use a Little Help; Filling out Cover Art and Marketing Forms Today…

And let me tell you, they are NOT easy. I always thought writing a synopsis was tough, but it is nothing, NOTHING, to writing a tagline. My tagline can only be sixty CHARACTERS long. And yes, that includes spaces and punctuation. *Sigh* I think I was dreaming about taglines last night.

I also have to write two blurbs; one long (200-300 words) and one short (100-150 words). The long one may be used for the back cover blurb, and while they told me an editor would help me with it, I’m being my usual perfectionist self and stressing about every little detail…

Other than that, the forms are kind of fun. They ask a bunch of questions about my book that I hadn’t really thought about, like: what words would you use to tag your book for a search engine? Are there any interesting visual elements in your book that might make a good cover? What scene in your book is most representative of the unique personality of you book? It’s fun to think about and imagine what the cover is going to looks like.

Now back to taglines and blurbs. If anyone has some helpful advice on how to distill the essence of my story down to 60 characters, 150 words, and 300 words without giving away the plot, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, someone might have to get me a wig after I pull all my hair out…

I Just Signed with a Publisher!

There is no saturday poll today, because I’ve been busy signing my publishing contract! That’s right! I did it. I signed the contract and sent it back. My YA fantasy, Drive Back the Darkness, will be published in both print and e-book form, hopefully in August/September. I’m going to be a published author!

When the publisher sends back their signed copy of the contract, I’ll give you a little more information! This is so exciting!

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m making some big decisions over here! Sorry, I don’t have a post today, but hopefully I’ll have one for tomorrow. 😉 In the meantime, if you have any questions for our violence in YA literature forum, I’d love to hear them. Remember, we’ll be interviewing Cindy M. Hogan about her YA thriller next Thursday, the 26th, and she’ll be stopping by to answer your questions at the end of the day.

Also, I had a quick question. Does anyone belong to any of the big writer’s societies, like the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators or Romance Writers of America? If so, have you found it worthwhile to be a member? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Interview with Stacy Abrams, Editor at Entangled Publishing

Today we’re interviewing Stacy C. Abrams, Editorial Director at Entangled Publishing. Entangled is a growing publishing company, who still accepts submissions from un-agented authors. One of their books is currently on both the USA Best Seller List and The New York Times Bestseller List. Please welcome Stacy Abrams to The Literary Mom. Thanks for being here, Stacy!


Me: Let¹s say you receive a query letter that you love. Can you tell us a little bit about what happens between receiving the query letter and the book being published by Entangled Publishing?

Stacy: First, I’ll request the full manuscript. If after reading it I’m still in love, then I share it with my publisher and managing editor, along with an APF (acquisition proposal form) that details all the reasons why I think the book will succeed in the marketplace, as well as the author’s track record, his/her platform, comparison titles with sales numbers, etc. We discuss the potential acquisition once they’ve had a chance to read it, and once all three of us are on board, we offer a contract and the book is signed up!


Me: I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about how Entangled is different from other publishing houses and eBook publishers. Can you tell me about those differences?

Stacy: The largest difference about Entangled is that it’s essentially a profit-sharing model in a way that no other publisher really is right now, and this makes for a really exciting and supportive environment for everyone involved. Basically every person who touches your book, be it your editor, publicist, copy editor, designer, typesetter, managing editor, etc. do not make a salary–instead, we all make a royalty based on the sale of your book. It’s a very strong motivator, and it essentially guarantees that everyone working on your book is as passionate about you book as you are, and as willing as possible to do whatever it takes to make your book succeed.

For example, one of my books that publishes in May, PRETTY AMY by Lisa Burstein, is being showcased at next month’s RT convention. Since the book is a teen novel about a horrible prom gone wrong, Lisa decided to dress up in the most hideous prom dress she could find and go around the convention asking attendees to offer her their worst date stories. As her editor, I’ve agreed to also don a hideous prom dress and embarrass myself alongside her, all for the sake of the book’s success. Honestly, I don’t think that’s something I would have done back when I was making a base salary to edit. 🙂


Me: When you¹re reading query letters, what makes one jump out at you? Is there anything specific you’d love to receive a query for?

Stacy: Certain categories are an automatic no for me personally, but I’ll often forward them along to my coworkers if it’s something that might be up their alley (vampires are a good example of this). Other than that, automatic no’s tend to be only if it’s a genre we don’t publish at all, such as erotica or inspirational. In terms of what jumps out at me, it has to be something fresh, something high-concept that only takes a sentence or two to hook me. Right now I’d really love to find strong contemporary stories, mostly for adult but also for teens, that are a fresh take on the genre.


Me: So many publishing houses will only accept queries from agented writers. What made you decide to go in the other direction and accept queries from everybody?

Stacy: We feel there are a lot of strong writers out there, and we didn’t want to close ourselves off from finding new talent. Before I came to Entangled I had never (I mean never!) signed up an author who didn’t have an agent. Since I’ve been at Entangled, I’ve signed up two fantastic authors whose books (one YA and one adult contemporary) come out at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, respectively. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on signing these fantastic authors!


Me: What advice do you have for my readers who are aspiring authors? Is there anything they can do to improve their chances of being picked up by a publisher?

Stacy: I think the best advice I can give is to read a ton and work on honing your craft. Don’t query publishers or agents until you feel you have the absolute best possible work you can. Also, be aware of the marketplace. Follow trends and know what else is out there–both what is selling in general and what each publisher is looking for. And never give up! Just because one publisher or editor passes on your work doesn’t mean you won’t be the perfect fit for someone else.


Thanks Stacy, for being here today! We appreciate it very much!


You can find Entangled’s website here.

Their blog, where they post submission calls, is here.

If you’d like to submit to Entangled, you can find their submission guidelines here.

Pen Vs. Computer; Which Do you Prefer?

My son and I are feeling better, but still not great. Plus, it’s cold and snowing, and the bad weather is killing my daffodils. It’s more a tea-with-honey and lay under the blankets morning then a write a post morning, so I’m going to repost one of my older posts today. Hope you enjoy it!

Writers are a superstitious lot and many I know are firmly set in their writing ways. Many have to follow the same routine everyday before they can begin to write, but I think there is some merit in changing it up every now and then.

The thing I find most helpful to change regularly is what I write with. Sometimes I write longhand with pen and paper, and sometimes I use my laptop. I’ve found that there are certain aspects of writing that work better with one or the other

Right now, I‘m using a pen to write this article. I feel the slower pace helps me consider each word, making my writing more clear and in need of fewer revisions. However, it makes my sentences longer, more lyrical, which isn’t great for action scenes or ones that need to have a fast pace.

If I feel like I’m starting to be blocked, or am unsure where I want to go with a scene, I know I need to write it on a computer. Often, the slower pace of writing by hand can make me stall completely as I get caught up in making sure each word is just right. Using the computer can help you bang out the writing, getting the words on the page. You can’t revise a blank page.

A notebook is portable, enabling you to write in places where you can’t take a laptop. But then there is the biggest drawback of writing by hand: typing up page after page of your own semi-legible handwriting.