Thursday, May 31, 2012

GLITCH, by Heather Anastasiu

This week's featured author is Heather Anastasiu. I discovered Heather through the Dear Teen Me website, and her entry blew me away--I contacted her and found out she wrote this awesome book called GLITCH, and the premise was so compelling I had to feature it. GLITCH will debut this August. See below for more:

From Goodreads:
 In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.
Below are some questions I asked Heather:

GLITCH is your first published novel (congratulations!). Can you tell us a bit about your journey toward becoming a writer?
I started writing about seven years ago after my son was born and I had some chronic health problems that put me in bed for half a year. There wasn’t much to do except watch tv, read, or fritter away time on the internet, none of which was very fulfilling. So I went back to an old childhood dream—one of the few things I could do from bed—writing. I’d wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, but other concerns and career goals had redirected my focus, so I’d never seriously written before.

I started writing a book, finished about half of it before I decided to rewrite it for a young adult audience. After I finished, I fired off query letters but got only one request for a partial, then never heard from the agent again. I applied to MFA programs and got rejected. Message received: my writing wasn’t quite there yet. So I rewrote the novel again, getting a little better at pacing and dialogue and writing scenes each time. More query letters sent, and this time I even got a handful of manuscripts request. Followed by—you guessed it—rejection! After trying three times with the same story idea, I decided to finally start something completely new—the book that turned out to be Glitch. I wrote it in about a month in the summer of 2010, and when the query letters went out, I got more requests than ever before. I’d finally created a unique voice in my main character, figured out how to tell a compelling story, and frankly, I had good timing. I’d written a dystopia at a time when dystopias were hot.

One agent in particular, Charlie Olsen at Inkwell Management, wrote that he’d read the first hundred pages and loved it and wanted to set up a phone call. A phone call! With an actual agent! I literally jumped out of my chair when I read his email. When we finally talked, he wasn’t ready to offer representation because the second half of the novel had some problems, so we talked revisions. I reworked the second half and a couple of revision rounds later, he took me on as a client. We did a couple more rounds of revisions together, then we went on submission to editors in January of 2011 and got a pre-empt offer from St. Martin’s Press a few weeks later.

Your journey shows that perseverance definitely pays off! On your website page "The Science behind GLITCH", you talk about how you got the idea for the book. What other scientific elements did you use, and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading it?

I had fun with all the tech I created for the world of Glitch, and I think some of the trends today in our dependence on technology might create unique ethical problems in the future. At the same time, I certainly don’t think that being heavily dependent on technology is inherently bad. I tend not to go for more than a few hours with checking my email, can’t imagine going back to a world without text messaging, and do a good deal of my shopping online. But any good dystopian writer will try to imagine the ways that things that start out as beneficial can turn sideways, especially if they are used as a means of manipulation and control by those who are in power.

Really, what I was most interested in exploring in Glitch is the way that the human spirit can overcome external attempts at control. Even without a dystopian setting, we can fall into certain patterns of living that are drone-like. Commute back and forth to work, come home with only enough energy to watch tv, fall into bed, then wake up the next day and do it all over again. But I believe what makes life meaningful are the relationships we have with family and loved ones that bring a sense of connection and joy that can transcend any circumstances. In writing Glitch, I was excited to explore what it would be like to watch a person wake up from a lifetime of emotionless monotony and discover those connections for the first time.

Such a universal theme--and a completely relatable one.Your "On Writing" page gives a lot of useful advice to aspiring authors. Is there any other advice you'd like to add to supplement what's already there?

DON’T GIVE UP. Writing and publishing is a wicked hard business, and every step along the way—from writing a draft to querying to writing the next book on deadline—brings its own highs and lows. I faced piles of rejection throughout every stage of the process, and it was definitely disheartening at moments. Okay, disheartening is too tame a word. Sometimes it has been soul-crushingly difficult!

I imagine it’s the same with anything that’s worth doing. The trick is, after every rejection, especially the ones that hurt the most, to give yourself a wallowing pity-party period, then when you are able to, start moving forward again. Sometimes this means more critical revisions of an existing project, other times it means starting over from scratch or letting an idea go completely and writing a different story. Even after the book deal, I wrote the second book in the series and the first draft was horrible, though my editor tip-toed around saying so directly, bless her. I had to rewrite most of it from scratch in a couple of months on tight deadline earlier this year, and that was one of the most difficult things I’ve done yet. The trick of being a writer, I’ve come to believe, is getting back up again after one thing or another knocks you on your butt. 

It's great you were able to learn from your rejections to figure out what was/wasn't working instead of giving up. Aspiring writers, take note! 
I love the look and feel of your website. Where did you come up with the designs, and what advice to you have for aspiring writers building an online platform?

Lol, my website, like my writing, has been a series of trials and errors. I’ve done the design work myself, fiddling around with Photoshop and a semi-user-friendly website service (GoDaddy). I studied the things I liked and didn’t like in other author websites. I wanted my site to be bright and colorful, and while I wanted the basic block layout with tabs up top of many author sites, I didn’t want it to have such rigid square lines. So I used one of the website program’s premade layouts, then put in my own banner and background (background image was one in the free GoDaddy image library that I tweaked in Photoshop to match my color scheme). I redid the banner about twenty times before I finally got familiar enough with Photoshop to know what I was doing. I’m not sure I would exactly recommend GoDaddy, because there are a lot of bugs in it and sometimes it makes me curse and want to pull my hair out in frustration. A couple times I’ve relied on my programmer husband to rewrite some of the code so I could make the site do what I wanted it to do. At the same time, it was a fairly inexpensive way to create the website myself without relying on (or paying) someone else to build and maintain it for me.

It's true--web design, like writing, takes perseverance and an ability to work through frustrations! What other projects are you working on? Will GLITCH have a sequel?

Yes! It’s the first in a trilogy. I just finished writing the first draft of book 3. The books will be releasing about every six months, so it’s been a tight writing timeline. I have daydreams about what project I’ll work on next, but the foreseeable future will be taken up with edits on book 2 and 3.

Thanks, Heather! Keep on the lookout for GLITCH, debuting August 7. You can also pre-order it from Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

365 Days of the Query: What Keeps You Going?

Anything we strive for always comes with barriers to success. This is especially true in writing. The mountain gets tougher the higher we climb--and if we fall from near the top, it gets all the more difficult to pick ourselves up.

But we must dust ourselves off and keep climbing if we want to reach our dreams. Take this post from Eliza Green  as a prime example of why we should all keep going. And, as Neil Gaiman said in a recent speech, "If you don't know it's impossible, it's easier to do." (For the full speech, go here.)

So what keeps us going when times get tough? Below are four things I always try to remember (and try to remember to do) whenever I feel discouraged.

1. Write what you love.
Right now I'm drafting Book 2 in my series because it's calling out to me (screaming, more like it--probably because it's been waiting on the sidelines to get written ever since I started and finished Book 1). As I write it, and as the story further unfolds, I'm falling even more in love with it. Even if other things in my writing life (or work life) don't go as well, I have this book to come back to. It helps me remember why I started writing in the first place--and why I should keep going. So if you're unpublished, and not on deadline--write what you want, and write what you love.

 2. Don't lose the fun.
When I'm caught up in the throes of a project (especially among bulks of revisions) it helps to not put too much pressure on myself to be perfect if I remember to have fun (and my prose tends to come out better that way anyway). Besides, why should one spend so much time on something that doesn't end up being fun? If you've lost the fun, try to find a way to obtain it again.

3. Believe.
 When the rejections start coming, it becomes more difficult to believe in our work. But we must--writing is a very subjective business, but as long as you write what you love (see #1), and continually have a willingness to improve, then all the rejections in the world won't stop your writing from finding an audience. This also goes hand in hand with the kinds of rejections you receive--if you're told to scrap the beginning of your novel, think long and hard about whether doing so will add to your story. Because, at the end of the day, it's your story--and it's up to you to find the potential it holds inside.

4. Find inspiration wherever you can.
As cheesy as it sounds, I sometimes find inspiration from Disney movies (Pixar in particular). Two quotes I can think of off the top of my head are "Keep moving forward." (Meet the Robinsons) and "Just keep swimming." (Finding Nemo). Whenever I'm reminded of these, I always feel better about the journey I'm on. (Beware: the below video contains spoilers.)

Meet the Robinsons (be sure to listen to the song lyrics too):


So if you're feeling discouraged today, whether it's because of your writing or some other reason, remember to find the love, and embrace the fun. And believe. Always.

What keeps you going? Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ZERO, by Tom Leveen

I had the fortune of hearing Tom Leveen speak at the Desert Dreams conference last month. Not only was his talk inspiring, but incredibly funny! Tom will also be at this year's Comi Con in Phoenix (which starts today).

Tom's new book, ZERO, is absolute must-read. If you liked his first book, PARTY, you should snatch this one up right away!

From Goodreads:
For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn't materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero's parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she's so much more than a name.

Here's some more about Tom:

Is there anything you wish you’d been told as an aspiring writer, something you wished you learned sooner?

Yes! Your protagonist must WANT something so badly she will stop at nothing to obtain it. It sounds so simple, but I didn’t learn this until just a year or two before PARTY was published. What that “Want” is varies enormously depending on the story, of course; for ZERO—and Zero—it was getting into the SAIC art school; or stated simply, “be an artist.” But how do you, the reader, as well as the protagonist know for sure she’s obtained that? It’s better, I think, to make it concrete, something that can be answered Yes or No by the end of the book. Whether that happens in ZERO or not, I’ll let the reader decide… J

I'm running into this with my protagonist as we speak! I not only need to be thinking about what she wants, but what she wants to be.
ZERO had a very different title when it first started! Can you tell us more about how the story evolved?

Ha! Yeah. ZERO used to be called GOTHIC RAINBOW, which is the name of the band her boyfriend is in. I changed the title when I revised—excuse me, rewrote—the novel from third-person to first-person. Changing it to ZERO, since it was about her and from her point of view, made more sense. And Gothic Rainbow started striking me as a misleading title (Zero even makes fun of it in the first chapter).  This was all well and good until I spoke at a Romance Writers Association conference, and had about ten people come up and tell me GOTHIC RAINBOW is a better title! So you just never know. There is a certain accuracy to the original title, I think, but it just didn’t sound right to me by the time we were pitching the finished novel.

I was at that conference and heard much of the same thing--but I kind of like ZERO myself. Just goes to show that aspiring writers shouldn't worry too much about titles!
Your other book, PARTY, has one of the best opening lines I’ve ever seen. Do you spend a lot of time tweaking sentences after you’ve drafted them? What is your usual revision process?

Thank you so much. I really love that line, too. (Historical sidebar, that chapter used to be in the middle of the book. My agent recommended moving it, and I fought her on it for awhile until I made the change just to show her how wrong she was. Oops. I honestly think had we not moved Beckett to chapter one, the book never would’ve sold.)

I don’t tweak sentences too much, but I wish I did; I tend to revise as I go now, which is a bad idea. Don’t do it. I need to break that habit. Having said that, though, I do tend to revise the novel’s first and last lines a lot. They’re kind of the most important, aren’t they? But usually those two lines come very early in the process. You feel it like a jolt of electricity: This is it, this is the best line to open the story. Such a great feeling!

 My revision is all over the place lately. I’m trying to settle down and do fresh, original writing in the morning and then revisions or editing in the afternoon, not necessarily on the project I worked on that morning. But my personal revisions, those I do before I give a manuscript to my agent, are different than the ones I do from my editors. When I get an editorial letter, I usually put all my energy into that project first and foremost; I’ve never missed a deadline and don’t want to start now.  

 I’ve discovered it’s best for me to write a first draft like it’s NaNoWriMo (in fact my third book with Random House began as a NaNo project, which I didn’t complete at the time). Just get it out. Forget all, and I mean *all* the writing tips and tricks and techniques and “On Writing” and “This is what Tom said in his dialogue seminar” (I never take my own advice for some reason) and just write the thing as quickly as possible. Otherwise you won’t *have* anything to revise.

Now that ZERO is out, what other projects are you working on?

I’ve got a lot of pots and pans boiling at the moment. My agent has two contemporary YA manuscripts right now that are I suppose “thrillers” in a way. Meanwhile I’m working hard on a middle-grade adventure story, one of several; and I’ve always got a couple of other YA contemporaries simmering. One, I swear, is looking to be another ZERO, in that it’ll take me 19 years to finish the damn thing. I think I’m on rewrite number five or six now. And when I say “rewrite,” I mean page one to the end. Now it’s a vendetta.

I can't wait to see what you come up with! If you were stuck on a desert island with five books, what would they be?

Wow. Unfair!

Okay, here’s my best shot, subject to change if you ask me again tomorrow:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Maudie and Me and the Dirty Book by Betty Miles

More Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

The Long Walk by Stephen King

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Thank you, Karen! And thank you, Tom, not only for your speech at Desert Dreams, but for this awesome interview!

Both ZERO and PARTY are available for purchase. Go and get your copies!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

365 Days of the Query: Be a Squeaky Wheel, But...

While querying, I've always tried to err on the side of courtesy, mostly because agents tend to get bombarded--and I'm sure the last thing they want is more people banging on their door (or email inbox). And, thanks to Janet Reid, I have one more example of how not to get an agent's attention.

However, there is danger in being too much of a quiet mouse--bending over backwards until you get trampled (much like the mosh pit of the Rammstein concert I attended last Friday). So there's got to be a balance between the two.

One of the biggest lessons I took away from Desert Dreams is the importance of being bold; not just in my writing but in marketing myself as a writer. I'm pretty good about sending out email correspondence, but if I don't get a response I usually give up.

But there's no shame in sending a friendly reminder if you haven't heard from someone in a while. Don't be afraid to be a squeaky wheel.

Just don't get to the point where the squeaky noise annoys the recipient. The last thing you want is a potential author or agent contact wincing when they see your name in their inbox.

And this doesn't just have to do with email correspondence--leaving a friendly post on an agent or author blog (one that doesn't go out of its way to market your book) is also encouraged.

Because essentially, the main objective is to start a conversation. Conversations are give-and-take--two-sided. If your correspondence is a monologue on your side, it may be time to readjust your strategy.

 So go ahead and see where those darts land. But also know when to stop throwing them.

Question for all: Has being a squeaky wheel paid off for you? If so, how?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NARC, by Crissa-Jean Chappell

Crissa-Jean Chappell wrote the award-winning YA book TOTAL CONSTANT ORDER. This coming August will mark the debut of her her second book, NARC. I chose to interview Crissa based on NARC's incredibly intriguing premise (especially the opening line!):

NARC (Synopsis from Goodreads)

"You're going to hate me forever when you learn my secret."

Seventeen-year-old stoner Aaron Foster was offered a choice: go to jail or turn undercover narc to find the dealer who's funneling drugs into Miami's Palm Hammock High School. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He's human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase who's obsessed with video games and street magic.

With a cop from Narcotics breathing down his neck, Aaron gets himself invited to parties where the deals go down. To get close to the school's biggest players, Aaron lies to everyone--most of all, the cute but troubled Morgan Baskin. With the Everglades party on Halloween night--and a planned drug bust there--just days away, Aaron realizes that he's falling hard for Morgan . . . and trying to protect her could cost him everything.


Crissa's answers to my questions are below:

What made you decide to pursue writing, and where do you draw inspiration for your stories?

When I was little, I used to steal my dad’s pen out of his pocket. I’d try to “draw” the story on notebook paper (stapled backwards to make a “book”). Today I still begin every new story with doodles. As I sketch, I think about the characters and listen to their voices.

Inspiration strikes in unlikely places: riding my bike and finding a Santeria statue in the woods, the old hermit’s chimney that sunk into Biscayne Bay, the suburban house with an air boat rusting in the backyard. Miami is filled with ghosts and secrets.

Great idea for character development--I'd try that too if I could draw! 
NARC has a very unique premise--where the idea for the book come from and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading it?

Growing up in South Florida, I heard stories about narcs planted in schools. I was drawn to the idea of double identities. However, in my book, the main character is not an undercover cop. He’s just Aaron Foster, “human wallpaper,” a seventeen-year-old boy who has always been on the fringe of the social scene. Now he’s in his senior year of high school. He is given a chance to fit in (by faking his way into parties and pretending to be more extroverted). He grows to like this new persona. Unfortunately, it comes with a price.

School often feels like a battleground. Aaron believes that everybody is wearing a mask. As he grows closer to Morgan and Skully, he learns that the popular girls are sometimes the loneliest of all.

I love how Aaron's character develops--a great way to show the dangers of assumptions and stereotypes.
You wrote a chapter in DEAR BULLY (2011, HarperTeen).  What do you want others to learn from your bullying experience? Did it influence your writing in any way?

 I felt a lot like Aaron, the shy kid who hid in the library. My way of coping was to look inward for answers. I spent a lot of time observing people and scribbling notes in class. I promised myself that I would write about these experiences…and I did. It’s all about finding a way to shield yourself from the noise. For me, the escape was in writing.

What a great way to describe the microcosm of high school: noise. I'm sure your teenage readers feel the same way!
What other projects are you currently working on?

 Right now I’m working on more YA novels set in Florida. I’m often disappointed by the way my city is represented in movies and TV. It usually looks nothing like the place where I climbed banyan trees and hid from wild boars. I want to keep telling stories about kids who are on the outside. They’re the ones launching firecrackers on the rooftop, just waiting for somebody to listen.

For more information about Crissa and her books, go to

Monday, May 14, 2012

365 Days of the Query: The In-Person Pitch

Since it's conference season, a lot of people are preparing in-person pitches. I did some at Desert Dreams, but before I share what I learned, be sure to read this post from Meredith Barnes' blog, La Vie en Prose.

Here's what I have to add:

1. You don't (necessarily) need a script.

A lot of people bring index cards with a fully-written pitch written out. That's fine if that works for you, but if you work better with bullet-points, use those instead.

However, you should at least have your one-line hook memorized (including word-count, title and genre). Also have basic plot points ready when the agent asks you questions about your book.

2. Be yourself.

For my first pitch, I was unnecessarily formal, and it didn't work in my favor. One way to stand out is to demonstrate your personality, and individuality. Remember, agents are people too. Just talk to them like you would anyone else--not just about books or writing--but any topic that is of interest to both of you.

3. Use the opportunity well.

Getting pages or requests from an agent is a good goal, but it shouldn't be the only one. Agents are a wealth of knowledge about the publishing industry--use this to your advantage and ask questions.

Do you have tips for  in-person pitches? Add them in the comments section!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


GRETA AND THE GOBLIN KING will debut this November, but I've decided to feature it early because it sounds like such a fantastic read.


While trying to save her brother four years ago, Greta was thrown into the witch’s fire herself, falling through a portal to a dangerous world where humans are the enemy, and every ogre, goblin, and ghoul has a dark side that comes out with the full moon.

To survive, seventeen-year-old Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young Goblin King, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her determination to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. The full moon is mere days away, and an ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back…
Here are Chloe's answers to some of my questions:
Your website bio states you have a day job while still carving out time to write. What would you recommend to full-time workers pursing a writing career?

Invest in psychotropic meds? LOL – forget I said that. *shaking head* No No No. Don’t go out trying to buy drugs. Seriously. I was kidding.


I think that the most important things when working a full time day job and trying to write are to put everything on a schedule, stick to it religiously, and be realistic. I bring my laptop to the day job 3 out of 5 days per week, and write during my lunch hour. In that time, I can consistently get at least 500-750 words. Then, in the evenings, I know that I won’t be writing until 8:30 pm after dinner and cleaning up is done, and my son has gone to bed. I turn off the internet so I don’t have any distractions, and I don’t stop until I’ve reached my goal for the day (which is usually 1000-1500 words). And nope, it’s not a ton of writing, but I have to be realistic about it. I can’t write 3000 words a day and still get any sleep (or keep a happy marriage and family).

Great advice--especially the part about turning off the internet. I'll definitely try to incorporate some of these tips into my writing.
GRETA AND THE GOBLIN KING has a great premise. What inspired the story and what do you want readers to take away when they're done reading it?

I LOVE this story! The idea for Greta came to me out of a love of fairy tales, and this one is kind of a twist on Hansel and Gretel / Alice in Wonderland … and that old ‘80’s movie, Labyrinth. Throw in a kick-ass heroine and a dangerous hero, and it all comes together!

I hope that readers will love it as much as I do. It’s really a story about home. What is home? What makes a home? Who makes a home? … and how far would you go to find home again if you became lost?

That's a great theme, and one that a lot of people can relate to. I can't wait to read it!
Entangled seems like a great publisher. Can you tell us more about your decision to publish with them and what you've learned along the way?

Entangled is a FANTASTIC publisher. I’ve had only wonderful experiences with everyone, especially my editor Heather Howland. And because Greta is my first young adult book, I’ve learned so much about the YA blogging and reviewing community. It’s been so exciting to meet so many people who are excited about reading and really get involved in the books.

It sounds like you've done a lot of successful networking!
GRETA AND THE GOBLIN KING is part of a series. What can readers expect in subsequent books, and what other projects are you currently working on?

Well, I can’t say too much about the second book just yet, but things between Greta and Isaac (the goblin king) really heat up as they get embroiled in a whole new adventure!

Thanks so much for having me as a guest. I really appreciate the opportunity and it was great visiting! Thank you, Chloe, for passing along your wisdom!
I'll feature GRETA AND THE GOBLIN KING again when it comes out...until then, here's some more information about Chloe:
Chloe Jacobs is a native of nowhere and everywhere, having jumped around to practically every Province of Canada before finally settling in Ontario where she has now been living for a respectable number of years. Her husband and son are the two best people in the entire world, but they also make her wish she'd at least gotten a female cat. No such luck. And although the day job keeps her busy, she carves out as much time as possible to write. Bringing new characters to life and finding out what makes them tick and how badly she can make them suffer is one of her greatest pleasures, almost better than chocolate and fuzzy pink bunny slippers. Find her online at and on Twitter at

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

365 Days of the Query: Do What Works for You

The winner of the Linda Poitevin tote bag is Elaine! Congratulations!

Here's what Elaine asked Linda:

And here was Linda's response:

Linda's advice provides a great segue into my post--the importance of adapting and finding what works.

As I mentioned last week, I went to the Desert Dreams conference. Here's a picture of me in the Hospitality Suite (carrying too much stuff as usual). I'm the one in blue.

I picked up a lot of useful nuggets at the conference, which I referenced in a previous post. I'll be going over all them all in coming weeks. Last week was loglines. This week is how to follow the rules (and then break them as needed).

Here's an overall overview of what I learned, from last week's post:
  • Write not only because you love it, but to make others' lives better.
  • How to compose a logline that's more likely to land.
  • You can be a squeaky wheel without being an obnoxious one (don't be afraid to put yourself out there, and be smart about it).
  • Learn the rules--of writing, of querying, etc. But then customize to what works for you (a formula for one person won't work for everyone). 
Bob Mayer conducted a great workshop at the conference--he has a lot of wisdom to impart. (Bob has a great blog and book series called Write it Forward. Be sure to check it out.) In his workshop, he talked about rule-breaking (referenced here).

I've adapted what Bob said about rule-breaking to suit my own needs, seen below:

1. Know the rule

Rules cannot be broken unless you know them first. One example of a commonly known rule is to have index cards handy when pitching to agents. Grammar is another good example. A lot of authors break grammatical rules in their writing--but they're only successful when they know the rules they're breaking in the first place.

2. Break the rule

Once you know the rule, you can break it. If you figure out overall sentence structure, you can adapt it to make your dialogue more realistic. If fully written index cards don't work for you, you can outline your main points instead.

3. Accept the consequences

Be prepared in case the rule-breaking doesn't work. Your dialogue might fall flat. Your agent may not be interested in your material. Dust yourself off, and try again tomorrow.

Another writer at the conference said that there's no magic bullet in how to get published. And this is absolutely true. You have to find what works for you. Attend workshops, and stay as informed as possible, and always take advice--only the flexible survive, as they say. But at the end of the day, you alone know what's best for you and your writing. And sometimes that might involve a little informed rule-breaking.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Entry for Cupid's Literary Connection: The Writer's Voice!

Genre: YA sci-fi/fantasy
Word Count: 92,000 words

Fifteen-year-old Marnie Sayebrooke is one of the last known Momenta--with the unique ability to manipulate time and space. When an ancient book transports her to the magical realm of Anderli, she must use her newfound powers to save the land from Terrsarah, who has unnaturally re-created the Great Famine.

 First 250:
The bookstore bell dinged, but Marnie didn’t hear it. She was too busy studying the tower of un-shelved books. A mottled cover at the very bottom stood out amid the store’s stained glass windows, narrow doorways, and low ceilings. Its gold interlace and Celtic designs mesmerized her.  She wanted the book more than anything—even more than getting away from her step-mom, which surprised her.
With a shaking hand, she grabbed the cracked spine. It tingled under her fingers. Wincing, she pulled the aged leather until the book popped into her hands, leaving the books above teetering precariously. Her fingertips grazed the gold-edged pages. She traced the cover’s etchings until she reached the title, Anderli, engraved in laced script, surrounded by a triangle of knots. The author’s name, “Feverish Poppenjay,” was written at the center.
Marnie barely glanced up before the other books collapsed over her, crashing and thundering to the floor.
She unearthed herself, dumbfounded, and found the clerk glaring at her through wire-rimmed glasses. Giving him a sheepish smile, she gripped Anderli under her arm, and handed him some bills from her jean pocket. As soon as she heard the ding from the cash register, she ran out as fast as she could.


This week's featured author is Linda Poitevin, author of SINS OF THE ANGELS and SINS OF THE SON, in The Grigori Legacy series. Those who like dark urban fantasy should snap these up quick!

If you'd like enter to win a free tote bag, please include questions for Linda in the comments section below. I'll bet she'll have good advice for aspiring writers!

From Goodreads:

A detective with a secret lineage. An undercover Hunter with a bullet-proof soul. And a world made to pay for the sins of an angel…

Homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis answers to no one. Especially not to the new partner assigned to her in the middle of a gruesome serial killer case—a partner who is obstructive, irritatingly magnetic, and arrogant as hell.

Aramael is a Power—a hunter of the Fallen Angels. A millennium ago, he sentenced his own brother to eternal exile for crimes against humanity. Now his brother is back and wreaking murderous havoc in the mortal realm. To find him, Aramael must play second to a human police officer who wants nothing to do with him and whose very bloodline threatens both his mission and his soul.

Now, faced with a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse, Alex and Aramael have no choice but to join forces, because only together can they stop the end of days.

 When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis sees a photo of Seth Benjamin on a police bulletin, she knows that Heaven's plan to halt Armageddon has gone terribly wrong. As the only mortal who knows of Seth's true nature, only she can save him. Aramael was a hunter of Fallen Angels until a traitor forced him into earthly exile. Now, with no powers and only a faint memory of Alex, his mortal soulmate, he will stop at nothing to redeem himself-even if it means destroying Seth in the name of the Creator...

Thank you for the invitation to appear on your blog, Karen! I'm thrilled to be here. :) Thrilled to have you, Linda! 

On your website bio, it says you "continue to live [your] dream of being a cop vicariously through [your] characters." Can you elaborate on this, and tell us more about what makes your characters unique?

I had actually applied to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) when I was 20. At that time they still had height restrictions in place and when the recruiter measured me, he made a mistake and I was a half inch too short. I went on to become a civilian member of the force (a dispatcher), but I would have loved to be an officer. I think my experience working with a police force -- and the fact that I married a cop! -- has really helped give my heroine, Alex, an air of authenticity. Having my husband and his female partner as beta readers played a huge role as well, particularly with the finer details of police procedure.

It's great when writing can be derived from experience--and it sounds like you have a lot to draw from! SINS OF THE ANGELS, the first book in the GRIGORI LEGACY series combines angel lore with murder. Can you elaborate on how this affects the plot? What do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading it?

The angel mythology puts a real spin on the usual police procedural, I think. Alex is faced with what seems to be an 'ordinary' serial killer, but the presence of angels takes the case to a whole other level for her -- and for the reader. Having her whole perception of reality altered means a serious paradigm shift -- Alex has to change not just how she does her job, but how she thinks.

I'll bet that makes for some unexpected plot twists! SINS OF THE SON the second book in the series, debuted in March. Does your protagonist, Alexandra Jarvis, play a simliar or different role in the new book?

While Alex remains a cop in SINS OF THE SON, the story focuses less on the police aspect and more on Alex's role as a protector. She still thinks like a cop, but she's forced to make some decisions that fly in the face of her training and the law she's sworn to uphold.

Definitely not a typical "angels" series! What are some other projects you're working on?
I'm currently working on book 3 of the series, SINS OF THE RIGHTEOUS. I have a fourth book planned after that, and then -- a year or so down the road! -- I have another series idea in mind (also in the urban fantasy genre). Apart from that, it's spring and garden season, so I'm hoping to spend a good chunk of time working in my yard. :)

SINS OF THE ANGELS and SINS OF THE SON are both available on Barnes and Noble and! Please post questions for Linda below.