The Best Of 2012 – Books by Debut Authors

Hello gentle reader,

I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

As the end of the year draws near, I am looking back at 2012… I already mentioned a few TV shows I watched this year in this post. And today I’d like to give you a list of my favourite 2012 debut authors. I have interviewed a few of them on my blog and you can click on their names to read those interviews.

Leigh-Bardugo-The-Gathering-Dark-UK

The Gathering Dark (aka Shadow and Bone) by Leigh Bardugo (YA High Fantasy)

Something-Strange-and-Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (YA Steampunk/Horror)

Throne of Glass- UK cover

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (YA High Fantasy)

Skylark

Skylark by Meagan Spooner (YA Dystopia)

Hollow-Pike

Hollow Pike by James Dawson (YA Paranormal)

The-Forsaken-UK

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse (YA Dystopia)

Struck-JenniferBosworth

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (YA Paranormal)

Cavendish

The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand (MG Gothic Fantasy)

Black City-Elizabeth Richards

Black City by Elizabeth Richards (YA Dystopia)

What did you read in 2012? Which debut author did you discover? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Waiting On Wednesday – 20

 

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m waiting on A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard (expected publication: July 23rd 2013 by HarperTeen). It will be Book 2 in the Something Strange and Deadly series.

Something Strange and Deadly is one of my favourite books of 2012 and I’m really looking forward to reading what happens next to Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters. This sequel will take place in Paris, which sounds awesome. Also, look at this gorgeous cover!

From Goodreads:

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

What do you think? Have you read Something Strange and Deadly? Is Book 2 on your TBR list?

And what are you waiting on this week?

ROW80 Check-In 4 : Jay Kristoff’s Query tips

Hello gentle reader,

And it is time for another ROW80 check-in! My goals for this fourth round are as follows:

Write or edit every day DONE!

Editing – Finish my current round of editing for The Last Queen, get my manuscript critiqued and beat-read, then edit some more.

DONE: I heard back from my CPs and beta readers at the beginning of the week and I have been editing all week.

Writing – Write a short story, and continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King

I didn’t do any writing per se this week since I was focused on editing The Last Queen.

So this was again a good writing week for me and I’m still happy with my goals. However I was so focused on my editing that I neglected my inbox and blog comments. I apologise if you’re waiting to hear back from me, I’ll get to this today. I didn’t have the time for any reading either. The only thing I did manage to do this week beside editing was keeping my blog alive with a Halloween book giveaway (you can enter here to win THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman if you wish). Also my blog received the Liebster Award!

Now, on to an inspiring story to keep us going this coming week. Today I’m sharing SF/F author Jay Kristoff’s 13 Steps to Getting an Agent. Jay’s first trilogy, THE LOTUS WAR, was purchased in a three-way auction by US publishing houses in 2011. The first installment, STORMDANCER, is out now. It is “a dystopian Japanese-inspired Steampunk Fantasy”. I have found the following tips on the Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing blog.

“The agent search. You pick up your manuscript, nurtured from a tiny seed, and send it out into the world. It’s perfect. You love it. Surely, everyone else will too.

And then you watch agents curbstomp it, or worse, ignore it, months on end, until you look at this thing you once loved and question whether it has any redeeming features at all.

That pretty much sums up what it was like for me. Brief periods of giddy excitement. Disappointment. Intense self-doubt. Feigned apathy. Resentment. Months on end. Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to representation. And nothing anybody says makes it easier. You can have your betas say your MS is the next Harry Potter, you can repeat the absolute, perfect truth “It only takes one yes” until your voice fails, but ultimately, you’re still getting rejected. And rejection is a fun as funerals.

The thing that made it easier for me was mechanizing the process. Routine and ritual. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert. But I share my thirteen steps here, in the hope it might help somebody else out on that long hard road.

Step 1 – Write a book. Make it the best you can possibly make it. This is kinda the easy part, and I’m not kidding when I say that. By no means is it easy. But it’s easier than what comes after.

Step 2 – Finish the book. Really finish it. Don’t just finish your third edit and say “done!”. Scour the pages until they bleed. No truer words were ever spoken to me than this – “Your first chapter better be stonkingly awesome. Because that’s all most agents are ever gonna read.”

Step 3 – Stop finishing the book. You’re just ruining it now. There comes a time when you need to say “Enough, this thing is ready to go out”. Some people spend years polishing, and never get around to actually querying. That’s fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Say it with me and Muad’dib and send that puppy out to slaughter.

Step 4 – Do your homework – Go to Querytracker. Go to Agentquery. Subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. Visit agent websites, read interviews. Learn everything you can about them. Check outPreditors and Editors. Pay no money to an agent upfront, EVER. Do not let your desire to get published blind you to the realities. Do not let your hard work go to waste at the hands of a hustler. Do not be a sucker.

Do. Your. Homework.

Note – there’s a fine line between research and stalking. If you find yourself rifling through an agent’s trash or standing outside their apartment in the rain, you’re doing it wrong.

Step 5 – Prioritize your list. Who’s your dream agent? Do you put them top of list or midlist? Do you acknowledge your query is going to suck at first (because it will), or do you think it’s as awesome as it’s ever going to be (it isn’t) and blow your shots at your dream agents by using them as guinea pigs?

Step 6 – Forge a prescription for some quality painkillers, then write your query letter. There are entire websites devoted to this (writing the query, not forging a prescription). I won’t elaborate on it, but there are faaaaaaaabulous resources online, darling, and you should take advantage.

You can find my query on my blog if you’re interested. The version you’ll be reading was my third iteration. The first one blew more goat than wow I don’t even want to finish that thought…

Step 7 – Read the submission guidelines. This can’t be stressed enough. The brownie points I’m racking up by mentioning this fact will be enough to get me repped in my next seventeen lives.

Every agent is different. Some like you to send your query solo (which is why your letter needs to sing like Amanda Palmer). Some like a synopsis. Some like a sample. Some like watching episodes of House wearing only an old “Spice Girls” T-shirt and bunny slippers, but you don’t know that because you’re not standing outside her apartment in the rain, are you?

Are you?

Step 8 – Send it. Cross your fingers. Pray to whatever flavor of Flying Spaghetti Monster you prefer. Sacrifice a cat to the blood god. Seriously, cats are vermin, the less we have of them, the better.

I had around 15 queries in the air at any given moment. As soon as a rejection came in, I’d send out another. Some folks will tell you this is too many queries to run at the one time. Some will say it’s not enough. There are no absolutes here. You are stepping beyond the rim.

Step 9 – Wait.

Then wait some more.

You can choose to spend your waiting time however you wish. Writing your next book is a good way to go. Whatever you do, it had best be something you enjoy, because you’re going to doing a lot of it.

STORMDANCER is a rulebreaker –it really only took three months for me to land an agent on it, which is nothing. To put it in perspective, I waited three months for replies on some queries for my first ms. I spent five months waiting to hear back on a full (which incidentally, was a rejection).

So writing your next book while you wait? Probably a good idea.

Step 10 – Wait.

I realize I said this already, but it’s worth mentioning twice.

Step 11 – Learn from your rejections. My wife used to say to me “Stephanie Meyer got rejected nine times before Twilight got bought. J.K Rowling got canned a dozen times too”. I will say this now – those ladies had it easy. I took twenty two kicks to the baby maker on STORMDANCER. I took seventy on my previous MS. I had it easy. I know writers who got rejected over three hundred times before they got repped. Three. Hundred.

Most of your rejections will be forms. An automated, boiler-plate “thanks but no thanks”. If you’re lucky enough to receive feedback from an agent with your rejection, treat this like a nugget of gold. It’s a true rarity, and that agent is taking time out of an unimaginably busy schedule to offer it. Say “thank you” and be on your way.

When you get rejected, don’t ask why. You’ll be sorely tempted to. But sadly, it’s not the agent’s job to tell you what’s wrong with your ms. It’s your job to be telepathic. Yay!

Step 12 – Revise.

My query letter got better as I went along (hence you should consider the order in which you query your “dream picks” very seriously). If you’re getting lots of rejections, something is wrong. Of course, trying to fix it when you’re getting nothing but boiler-plate is difficult unless you have mutant powers. It’s maddening, but this is the status-quo.

Step 13 – Believe

I’ll depart from my wise-cracking, tall dark and scary routine long enough to give a little group hug now. Everyone needs a hug once in a while, especially querying writers. Here it is:

The only belief that matters in this equation is your own. It’s nice to have the support of betas or trusted friends, but it’s not necessary (the only person who had any idea that I was writing a book until I got repped was my wife). The only person who needs to believe you can do this is you. Everything else is window dressing. If you’re meant to be doing this, you can, and you will.

Believe in yourself. Keep the faith. At the end of the day, it’s all any of us have.”

How are you other ROWers doing? Here is the Linky to support each other!

A Writer in the Spotlight – Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly, a YA historical novel with zombies and a steampunk vibe, is out TODAY! And I have the pleasure to interview debut author Susan Dennard about the release and her writing process. As a reminder, the idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers.

Author : Susan Dennard

Genre : Young Adult, Fantasy

Location: Germany

Website: http://susandennard.com

Official Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnQuHXPTUP0&feature=youtu.be

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4499623.Susan_Dennard

Twitter: www.twitter.com/stdennard

Books : Something Strange and Deadly series: Something Strange and Deadly (2012), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (2013) from Harper Teen.

My interview (22/07/2012):

On writing

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t say that I ALWAYS knew. I didn’t start putting my daydreams onto paper until I was around 13 or so. After that, all my dreams of a becoming a marine biologist vanished in my obsession with writing (though I was a TERRIBLE writer). Of course, I was such a snotty teen, though, that I refused to be taught–I didn’t want to learn to write since I thought I was already amazing. Ha! Then, when I went off to school to major in creative writing, I got side-tracked by marine biology. Funny how those things work!

I still love science and the marine world. College and graduate school were amazing experiences. In fact, the only reason I returned to writing was because my husband and I would have to live apart if I pursued my PhD. So–rather than separate–I moved with him to Germany, started writing (and studying the craft of writing) full-time, and the rest is history! 😉

When and where do you write?

I write in my office everyday. Or…I do something writing-related everyday. I’m very strict about this. My rule is that if my husband is working, I ought to be too! So either I’m BICHOK-ing (butt-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard), revising, or working on “administrative stuff” (emails, blogging, self-promotion, etc.).

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

Do it! Sit down and write. That’s the only way to achieve your dreams–but make sure you dream big too! I think success is three-part: aiming high, working hard, and not giving up. It’s so EASY to let dreams slide away when things take a while or don’t work out as you’d hoped. But you CAN’T give up. My mantra before I was published and to this day is: “It’s not a race. You know what you want, Sooz, so just keep on plugging away until you get there.”

I want to share my stories with as many people as possible, and so that’s what I’m trying to do!

On Something Strange and Deadly

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from? (How did you come up with a historical novel with zombies?!)

Well, the initial premise came from a dream. My brother was missing; I knew I’d do anything to save him; and the only people who could help  mewere a ragtag team of outcasts. I took that idea and fleshed it out. I knew I wanted a paranormal/creepy element, and I settled on ghosts and corpses after rummaging through what scared me most! It sounds so silly, but honestly, I scanned my shelves trying to pick out which books made my skin crawl. If I was scared, then surely I could transfer that fear onto the page–and nothing creeps me out more than ghouls and zombies!

The historical aspect–specifically 1876–came about because I knew I wanted a steampunk vibe (but not 100% steampunk). I adore 19th century literature and history, and after some preliminary research, I discovered the Centennial Exhibition (the first American World’s Fair). I thought, “Whoa! What a great place for walking corpses! What if…what if my team of outcasts are actually zombie-fighters brought in to protect the Exhibition?”

And that, my friends, is how Something Strange and Deadly came to be.

Why did you choose to write for young adults?

I’m not sure I ever consciously set out to write YA…I just knew I wanted to write a book that I would love. And of all the books I’ve read, the ones that stay with me the most are the books I enjoyed growing up and during my teen years. I knew I wanted to write THAT sort of book, and so…I did! 🙂

 What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m writing the third book in the Something Strange and Deadly series (so weird to work on it when book 1 isn’t even out yet!) as well as a novella set before the events in the trilogy. I’m also working on some other projects–Screechers, an epic fantasy in a desert world; an untitled space opera with author Sarah Maas (Throne of Glass, Bloomsbury 2012); and a fluffy, fun contemporary.

You can buy Something Strange and Deadly on Amazon here. And you can enter the Something Strange and Deadly Outbreak giveaway here.

Waiting On Wednesday – 7

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Today I have chosen Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (Expected publication: July 24th 2012 by HarperTeen). It is a 2012 debut and a YA/historical/steampunk novel with zombies. Doesn’t it sound awesome?

From Goodreads:

“The years is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.”

Visit Susan’s website here.

What are you waiting for this week?