Friday, January 10, 2014

This Blog is Moving!

Hi Friends!

My blog is being integrated into a new website. Come check it out here! There are prizes and links to click and new things to see.

I'll shut this web address in the next few weeks, so come soon!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Joined the NIL Tribe!

You guys.  YOU GUYS!!  My friend and critique partner, Lynne Matson, will be published in less than three months!

Not only is Lynne one of the sweetest, most thoughtful people in the history of the world, she's also an incredible writer.  Her book, NIL, will knock your socks off, especially if you like things such as Survivor, or Lost, or that awesome little book called The Maze Runner. 

I know lots of authors say nice things about other authors' books, and I could find dozens of positive things to say about NIL. But, there is one thing that Lynne does better than just about anyone in YA today....


Or more correctly, she writes teenager. Her two main characters, Charley and Thad, sound like real, living people.  Their conversations sound exactly like the ones I eavesdrop on at Panera (Have I become that nosy lady who pretends not to be listening to your chat with your BFF but totally is?  Yes. I believe I have.) 

Now, on to the business of the #NILtribe:

Do you like books?  Reading books? Winning free books and other book-related goodness?  Then you should join the #NILtribe too! It's super simple! All you have to do is tweet, or post to Facebook, or post on your blog, or comment on Lynne's blog: “I joined the tribe!” and add the #NILtribe hashtag. And that’s it! You’re in.:)
Do this, my friends. You want to. You want to read NIL.You want to win awesome books and prizes. I promise.

And check back during NIL's launch week for an interview with Lynne!  It will be all the things awesome. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finding Thankful

We're moving to Texas.

I don't have all the details yet. I haven't even heard from the relocation company, but I know my husband is supposed to start in January. I'm excited about the move, but the timing absolutely sucks.

We've got a ton of family coming in this week for Thanksgiving and a big church-related event and party on Saturday. I'm supposed to get my home on the market. And my FINAL deadline is Dec. 2.

I'm stressed to the max, but as I type this I'm holding the most beautiful baby. Yeah, it sucks to type one-handed but I'm so grateful for her sweet smiles and easy going temperament.

My pregnancy with her was by far one of the worst experiences of my life. Being on bed rest for a month was not fun.  But my dad came and babysat me (and my kids) for that month. While he was here he did a ton of tasks that would have been on my Get-the-House-Ready-to-Sell List. I'm so grateful for my dad and his sheer awesomeness. I'm grateful for the things I don't have to do because he already did them.

I don't really want to host a party on Saturday. It's hard enough to keep your house clean without dozens of people tromping through it and eating food. But I'm grateful for a friend who called this morning to offer her baking and organizing skills. I don't know what I'd do without good friends.

Sometimes it's so easy to focus on all the craziness that's going on, but I'm grateful Thanksgiving is here to force me to find things to be thankful for. I need Thanksgiving to happen a little more often. ;)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: ELECTED by Rori Shay

Today I get to help with something a little bit awesome!  I'm helping reveal the cover of Rori Shay's ELECTED!

WAIT!  Don't scroll yet!  You want to know a bit about this book.  I promise! 

In the year 2185, Aloy must masquerade as a boy to claim her country's presidential role and save her people.

Aloy’s father is the current Elected, the leader of the country, just as her grandfather and great-grandfather were before. Her older brother should fulfill the role, but he disappeared eighteen years ago. Without an Elected, East Country would fall into civil war. With no one else to take his place, Aloy’s parents cut her hair and told her that she could never be a girl again. To assume the role, she must conceal her gender at all costs. If discovered, she risks execution.

In two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place. She hopes to govern as he did, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is boldly stepping out of the shadows and, as turmoil grows within East Country, cryptic threats arrive from beyond their borders. After generations of isolation, Aloy knows nothing about their only neighbor, Mid Country. And, East Country doesn’t have the resources to defend itself.

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, Vienne, but battles with feelings for Griffin, the boy who knows her secret - the boy who is somehow connected to East Country's upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust.

Aloy knows leadership requires sacrifice. She just didn't expect that the sacrifice might be her life.
See!  It sounds goooood, huh? 
Now for the dramatic reveal...
TADAAA!!!  I love how only part of Aloy's face is showing, leaving her slightly unidentifiable. And the colors give it a dark, almost creepy factor too! 
And to make this even more awesome, you can enter this fabulous giveaway below for all sorts of goodness!
Cover Reveal Giveaway:" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats Rori!

About the author:
Rori Shay's debut novel, ELECTED, is book one of a young adult sci-fi trilogy, which challenges the notion of duty above desire. Rori is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Rori lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and two proficient hair shedders: Misch the cat and Gerry the 90-lbs black lab. Rori studied public relations and marketing at the University of Maryland and received an MBA from George Washington University. She enjoys travelling, running, reading, pumpkin-picking and snow-shoeing!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview with author Steve Kozeniewski

Two years ago, I hosted a contest for critiques on this little blog.  The top two finalists were Jess Lawson and Steve Kozeniewski (for those of you who have followed for awhile his alias was Redleg). And, they both have book deals! 

Jess and Steve's novels couldn't have been more different -- a light-hearted middle grade versus an adult zombie-mystery -- but both authors have incredible, memorable voices.  Steve's book BRAINEATER JONES pubbed this month and would be a great Halloween read for anyone with a taste for dark mysteries, great narrators, and flesh. *snickers*  That was a zombie joke. The synopsis for Steve's book is after the interview.

Me: Your book is very unlike other zombie books, primarily because your undead main character still thinks.  How did you get inside Braineater Jones' head?  (I will refrain from the obvious missing flesh jokes here).
Steve: Awww, I wanted to say with a hacksaw.  :)  Umm, the real answer, I guess, is that Braineater Jones is me but on crack.  I actually wrote the first draft of this book during National Novel Writing Month in 2009.  It was my first time participating in NaNo, and having no idea what went into it, I determined that I would write in first person and not shy away from stream-of-consciousness nonsense-talk, since it really burns up the wordcount.  Just before I started BRAINEATER JONES I had completed a manuscript which I had written in a deliberately detached, unemotional style, almost like a non-fiction piece.  So, I was sick of writing like that and vowed that JONES would feature the purplest prose this side of the 19th century.  It was that mish-mash of time constraints, deliberate gibberish-writing, and an over-the-top premise that gave unbirth to Jones and his unique style.  Oh, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that my content editor, Michelle Rever, also sent me back with a '30s slang dictionary to make sure it was as slangtastic as possible. 

Me:  Your story has a great mystery to it.  Are you an avid mystery reader?  Who are your favorite mystery writers and how did reading other books help you cement the plot of your own?
Steve:  Hoo, boy, I was all ready to drop the dime on myself and say I've never read a mystery in my life when I remembered that's not true AT ALL.  When I was a kid I DEVOURED Sherlock Holmes.  My parents still talk about how clever I was [eyeroll] because I used to walk around wearing two baseball caps pointing in opposite directions to approximate a deerstalker.  So I guess I learned from the best.  This past year I just finally read THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and THE MALTESE FALCON, so, sadly, I am woefully illiterate on noir.  All of my impressions of noir that I used for BRAINEATER JONES mostly came from cultural osmosis - cartoons and that sort of thing.  Which probably explains why it's so over the top.  :)  Oh, and Justified.  That show is crazy good.  And Veronica Mars, I guess.  So...TV? 
Me: Shut up. You watch Veronica Mars?
Steve:  Not sure how to gauge the sarcasm level on that question, but if you're asking whether I cry every time I hear "Crimson and Clover" because Veronica never showed up to the boat, then yes, yes I do.

Me:  Do you have other stories in the work?  
Steve:  Yup.  I just signed a contract with Severed Press for my magnum opus, THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, which I consider to be the BROTHERS KARAMAZOV of horror.  So look for that soon.  I already mentioned the very stilted novel I was worked on just before JONES, which is kind of a political satire/dystopian apocalypse story that I've never been able to settle on a good title for.  I'm shopping that around now.  I have three manuscripts that are in the can, waiting to be author-edited and beta-read.  One is a thing about clones, one is a roman à clef about my time in the army, and one is the sidequel to GHOUL.  And my work-in-progress right now is pioneering a new genre of space operas starring ballerinas.  I call it "balletpunk."  (100% true.)  So I guess you could say I'm either a Rennaissance Man or I really need to buckle down and get my [expletive deleted] straight.
Me: I love it when interviewees radio-edit themselves. *winks* Thanks for being my first victim, Steve!! I'm so excited BRAINEATER JONES has found a publishing home!
About the book:

Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.

As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.

Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity

About the author:
Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife of 9 years and cat of 22 pounds in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of "Boogie With Stu" even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn't even really want to get into right now.

During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor's degree is in German.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Five Things I Wasn't Prepared for When I Got My Book Deal

Getting a book deal is a magical, dream-fulfilling thing.  You cheer, you dance, and then you get down to work.  But this 'work' may not be the work you anticipated. Here are a few things I wish I would have been a little more knowledgeable about:

1.  Revision. This is where you say, "Becky, you are an idiot. You knew you'd have to revise." I did know, but I wasn't prepared for the difference between an editor-guided revision versus a critique partner revision. I'm actually planning an entire post on what I've learned from my editor because there is just SO MUCH STUFF.  But to keep this short, an editorial revision is deep.  You look at your characters, their interactions, their motivations, their world, their interaction with the world, their history, how their history effects their decisions, etc., etc., etc.  If you thought you knew your characters before, well, by the time you're through with an editor-guided revision, you will know the color of their pocket lint. 

2.  How much I suck as a writer.  I felt like I had a pretty good handle on my writing ticks. I least the ones I knew about.  But apparently, I cheat on transitions between paragraphs and I overuse similes. I think the only way to identify your ticks (most of them) is to have a lot of people read your work before you query or submit.

3.  Promotion.  I thought promotion was something you did six to eight months before your pub date.  It is.  But it takes months to plan, build, and execute a promotional campaign, and there are a LOT of platforms to consider like Facebook, Twitter, author websites, Pinterest, Goodreads, and so forth.  Getting the same message with a consistent look is a tricky process too!

4.  Taxes.  I felt lucky to get an advance. Until I tried to figure out how to pay taxes on it.  I took my agent's advice and hired an accountant who is familiar with artists, authors, and small businesses. After that, there wasn't very much advance left.  For more information, I found these articles really helpful: here and here. Now I'm looking for write-offs.  I totally wish I was kidding. 

5. Expectations. As soon as you have a blurb in Publisher's Weekly, people begin voicing expectations. It's awesome and it's scary. Your mom is sure it's going to be on the NYT Bestseller list (haha). Your cousin wants to buy a copy for a friend's neighbor's son because she's sure he'll love it.  Strangers say they are excited to read it (hooray!) OR say they've read it and hated it (wha?!?).  You want to deliver on all the positive expectations and exceed the negative ones.

And (see that's me cheating on a transition),when I come across anything else, I'll be sure to post it here. 

Monday, September 23, 2013


You know how you write, revise, edit, rewrite, revise, edit, revise, edit, rewrite, edit, edit, and revise a story? Yeah.  I've been doing that since like March.  And honestly, sometimes you get a wee bit tired of working the same story over and over again. 

BUT, BUT, BUT then you find out your book is on Goodreads and you do a dance that looks a bit like this:

"My book is on Goodreads!  I can't believe it.  It's real! Someone's going to read my book!" 

Then you realize what you just said.

"OH CRAP.  People who I don't know and who may not like me or my characters are going to read my book.  And they might hate it." 

Suddenly, you're very motivated to rewrite, revise, and edit ten thousand more times. Which is exactly what I'm doing right now because if you click here you'll see that my book is on Goodreads!  AHHHHHH!!!