• Happy Holidays and Free Holiday Short Story
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    Happy holidays my bloggerinos! (Do you think that bloggerinos is the Italian word for blog readers? It should be.)

    Anyways, wishing you and yours love and peace during the holiday season!

    (Also, did he just say “alligators?” If so, major improvement.)

    I have an exciting announcement for 2012, but for now, I want to let you all know that George & Ophelia’s First Christmas is free on Amazon US (UK/DE/FR/ES/IT) from today until December 26th.

    Also, I don’t know how long this will be true, but Effie At The Wedding is still free on Amazon UK and Haunting at Heidelburgh Mansion is still free at Amazon US.

    I hope you enjoy! See you in the New Year!

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  • George and Ophelia’s First Christmas – Free Today Only!

    Hello my lovely bloggerinos. There’s much in the works and I’m keeping the amount of fingers-to-keyboard time rather steady, but I wanted to pop in and let you know that:

    1.) I’m Trying KDP Select with One Title
    I like experimentation. I like being able to control free promotions. And I like staring at my computer screen like an addict, watching numbers move in ways they typically don’t on a normal sales day. Refresh! Refresh! Mmmmaaaaarrrrhhhh! I need MORE!

    But, I’m not crazy about exclusivity, and I’m not sure that being in the lending library is really a benefit to moi at this point in my career. (At least, not in the KDP Select terms. Overdrive or anyone that wants to pay me per circ, please feel free to give me a holla’!)


    George and Ophelias First Christmas2.) George & Ophelia’s First Christmas is free TODAY ONLY
    Today only, you can download George & Ophelia’s First Christmas on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon FR, Amazon ES and Amazon IT.

    3.) BUT…
    You can also now buy the first story that started it all, Effie At The Wedding at Xin Xii. (For my fellow Americans, Xin Xii is a German-based company that is like the Smashwords of Europe.)

    Also, big “THANK YOU!” to Ereader News Today and Daily Cheap Reads, Jr. for featuring The Effie Stories!

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  • Responding To Book Reviews

    I’ve been on tour for Effie At The Wedding, which has been a ton of fun. (The guest post ideas that The Teen Book Scene has come up with are great. Even if you’re not interested in YA fiction, I’d check out the guest posts below to use as ideas for your own character guest posts! Also, don’t miss out on the ebook giveaway.)

    But it has also made me think about how I do or don’t respond to book reviews. Usually if an author receives a bad review, it is best not to respond at all. No amount of “explaining” will change anybody’s mind, and frankly, it never turns out well for the author. But what about a good review?

    During this tour, I haven’t been responding to the reviews (though they’re positive), because I’d like the blog’s readership to feel like they can have an honest discussion of the story without feeling like they’re going to offend me as the author. I feel the tone of the discussion changes when the author is ready to get involved, similar to how a book group’s discussion of a book would change if the author was sitting with them in the room or not.

    But then I started to wonder… as a book blogger, would you want the author involved in the review post comments? What do you think, authors and book bloggers? What is your policy if you stumble upon a review of your book? Do you jump in? Book bloggers, do you wish more authors would jump in, or would you rather they keep out?

    The Teen Book Scene Tour for Effie At The Wedding:
    July 4th- When I’m Not Writing at Dog-Eared & Bookmarked
    July 5th- An awesome review from tween reader Melina at Reading Vacation. (I’m seriously impressed that she’s got such a popular book blog already. When I was her age, I think I was using my computer time to play Acrophobia.)
    July 6th- Character Interview with Ophelia and ebook giveaway over at Mel’s Books and Info.
    July 7th- Book recommendations from my past self at Just Another Book Addict
    July 8th- Another awesome review at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
    July 9th- A great review at Dreaming of Books
    July 11th- The Top Five Wedding Songs Effie Is Glad To Be Missing at Dreaming of Books
    July 12th- An excellent review at CA Marshall’s blog.
    July 13th- Character tweets from Effie, Ophelia, their mother and George at My Reading Room
    July 14th- A great review at Mel’s Books and Info
    July 15th- A giveaway and character interview with Effie over at Lost For Words.

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  • Some Things to Consider When Making Your Submissions List

    This morning, I was helping someone with their potential submission list, and I thought it’d be helpful to write out some of my thoughts for you as well. So, while you’re researching editors and agents, consider the following:

    Nobody wants to compete with themselves.
    If a publishing house just bought a book or series about a girl who spontaneously turns into a chicken nugget, they will (unfortunately) not need your book about a girl who spontaneously turns into a french fry. Likewise, I’m sure that anybody pitching a vampire series to Little, Brown between 2005 and 2009/2010 had a very hard time, since they’d be competing with the house’s already ridiculously bestselling Twilight series. (That said, other houses were filling the vampire-voids in their list at the time.)

    Some imprints don’t “talk” to each other when making editorial decisions, but before an offer is made for a book, most publishing houses will look at what they’ve already signed up in the coming seasons so that they’re not competing with their own imprints. (Yes, this means that your rejection may very well be an “It’s not you, it’s me!” situation.)

    Likewise, an agent that’s just sold a huge series about spontaneously combusting girls, isn’t going to be in the market for a second.

    Really? Nobody’s had that idea before?
    If you can’t find any editor or agent that’s ever bought or signed on an idea like yours, this could mean one of two things:

    1.) You managed to come up with the one idea that is unique among the millions of books already published.

    2.) There’s a reason nobody’s publishing/represented that idea.

    Everybody can tell their own unique story, but most stories still fall into archetypes, genres, etc. that help a publisher/editor/agent market it. If you can’t find an editor or agent that’s ever been interested in an idea like yours, it could mean that there is just no market for it. If you’re having trouble finding editors or agents for you manuscript, ask yourself the following:

    1.) Is this age-appropriate? For example, have you written a picture book about how to use a blender? A middle-grade about what it’s like to potty train? It seems like it should be a no brainer, but when I was reading the slush pile, I would see plenty of children’s manuscripts that wouldn’t appeal to children. Or, in the case of picture books, the character would do something that no parent would let their five-year-old do by themselves (like cook on the stove.)

    2.) Has this been done before in another medium? Contemporary remakes of the classics tend to do well, but writing a novel based on someone else’s movie is a no-go. The right to write a novelization of a movie does already belong to somebody, be it the original screenplay writer, the producers, or (eventually/potentially) a publishing house that’s bought that right. Sometimes I would read a query letter, and it would immediately remind me of a movie that had come out. It would be so similar, in fact, that I’d have to wonder if the person was trying to write a novelization of somebody else’s work.

    If you’re giving the plot synopsis of your book to a friend, and their first response is, “Wasn’t there a movie like that? I think it had Freddie Printz Jr. in it,” then it’s time to watch that movie and see if you are too close to that particular piece of pop culture. You may not be consciously trying to write a book based on a movie or any other previously produced work, but no publisher is going to want to put themselves at risk for a lawsuit because there are too many similarities.

    3.) Is this too expensive to produce? You might have an idea for a gorgeous, full-color replica of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral that is a marvel of paper engineering. It pops up and the bell tower chimes, the next page plays organ music, and if you shake the book left to right, you can even see people rush by on Fifth Avenue. In other words, your idea is expensive to produce, would be expensive for the consumer, and may have a limited audience.

    Lastly, some editors have more flexibility than others.
    Some editors are hired specifically to edit in one particular genre, so if you notice that Editor X only buys picture books, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be interested in your YA (no matter how wonderful it is.) Some editors (especially those that are higher in the ranks) will have more flexibility, but do still have to work within their imprint’s editorial philosophy. For example, while Walter the Farting Dog was very successful, Philomel wouldn’t publish it because they are looking for more literary works.

    So, while it’s true that associate and assistant editors are working on growing their own stable of authors to work with, they may also be limited by the imprint in what they can acquire.

    Hope that helps — happy subbing!

    In Personal News…

    I have zero Photoshop skills, so I have to tell you that the above banner makes me incredibly happy! Today at Mel’s Books and Info you can read a character interview with Ophelia and enter for a chance to win one of two Amazon copies of Effie at the Wedding! In case you’d like to follow along, here’s an updated tour list:

    The Teen Book Scene Tour for Effie At The Wedding:
    July 4th- When I’m Not Writing at Dog-Eared & Bookmarked
    July 5th- An awesome review from tween reader Melina at Reading Vacation. (I’m seriously impressed that she’s got such a popular book blog already. When I was her age, I think I was using my computer time to play Acrophobia.)
    July 6th- Character Interview with Ophelia and ebook giveaway over at Mel’s Books and Info.

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  • ChLA Recap and Teen Book Scene Tour for Effie At The Wedding
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    I’m back from the Children’s Literature Association Conference (Well, I’ve been back for a week. Lots to catch up on!) My presentation went well, though I have learned that my laptop secretly hates me. Ah-hem.

    I started my presentation (which I renamed “We’re All Groupies Here: Music As Catalyst in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) with a joke that, no matter how nervous I appeared, I promised not to “pull a Troy Billings” all over the audience. I definitely relaxed a bit when the audience laughed. (You are my people! You like punk rock YA books! Also, it proves that vomit jokes are an excellent ice breaker in any setting.) I decided to read from my computer, since I had made some last minute edits. Just as I finished talking about how Tris was actually the most punk rock of all the characters in Nick and Norah, my screen blanked out and I found myself saying the words, “…and where did my paper go?”

    Thank goodness I was able to bring it up again quickly, but if I was going to pull a Troy on the audience, it probably would have been right then! The rest of the paper went off without a hitch, and the audience asked some great questions which I’ll be putting into the next reiteration of the paper.

    I attended some really interesting panels, including one on digital storytelling (Have you seen Inanimate Alice?) and quite a few on The Hunger Games. There was also a great paper on the culture of fear, and how it’s affected picture books. (Think in terms of “stranger danger,” even though most strangers are not potential abductors.)

    I had the opportunity to visit Foamhenge, which I will now be adding to my bucket list, just so I can cross it off. However, we did not have time to see Dinosaur Kingdom, where union soldiers are eaten by dinosaurs. (Yep, you read that right.)

    The Teen Book Scene Booktour

    I’m super excited that the lovely ladies of The Teen Book Scene have put together an amazing tour for Effie At The Wedding! There’s a lot of fun posts coming up, including character interviews (with giveaways!), book recommendations from my younger self (why am I having an easier time remembering what I read at five than what I read at twenty?) and some reviews of Effie that’ll be a surprise to me and you (crosses fingers!)

    The tour kicks off today at Dog-Eared & Bookmaked with a look at what I’m up to when I’m not writing, and tomorrow the first review will be posted at Reading Vacation. You can follow the whole tour through this blog, or at The Teen Book Scene’s Tour Round-up!

    I hope everyone’s enjoying their Fourth!

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