Thursday, May 8, 2014

Writing Stand-alones vs. Series: YA Author Jessa Russo on her newest novel, DIVIDE!

Hi, sweet readers!

My friend Jessa Russo has a new book out! I first met her years ago when we were both working toward publication. Her debut was the first in a trilogy, but DIVIDE, her latest release, is a stand-alone! So of course I asked her to blog about the difference between her experiences writing a standalone vs. a series.

I'll be giving not one, but TWO e-copies of DIVIDE away at 8:00 EST tomorrow! (May 9) All you have to do is comment for a chance to win! 

For five (5!) extra entries, tweet about it using this text: I'm dying for a chance to read DIVIDE by @JessaRusso! http://goo.gl/h3NDZL #giveaway #amreading 

 But first, look at this stunning cover and blurb! (And don't forget to stick around for the excerpt at the end!)


From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.
After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.
As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson. 
Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish. 
Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her. 
Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.
***

What are the differences between planning a standalone (DIVIDE) and planning a trilogy (The Ever Trilogy)?

Well, I have to admit that you lost me at ‘planning’. I've never been a plotter, so I can’t tell you the difference between planning a series and planning a standalone. Because I don’t actually plan for any of it.
What I can tell you is this: for a pantser, or at least, for me specifically, the standalone was so much easier to write than the series. With a trilogy, I really think plotting would have been extremely helpful, as even now, I’m up against the quickly-decreasing timeline of releasing the third installment of The Ever Trilogy, and I have no idea how the story will end. With a standalone, I wrote the book, revised a few times, tied up all the loose ends—or tried to—and I’m done. With the series, there’s so much more to think about, from keeping plot holes from popping up halfway through (which, I guess, essentially makes me a bit of a planner, since I do have to look to the future), to making sure characters stay consistent in their actions and habits, while also growing over the arc of the series . . . and so on and so forth . . . it’s a lot more work. In my humble opinion.

I can’t say I love one more than the other, but I tend to favor series-writing. Even after I finished DIVIDE (and soon after, CHLORINE&CHAOS), my brain keeps trying to find a way to throw a curve ball and continue on with these characters. I’ve become so attached to them and their stories—it’s hard to let go.

EXCERPT:

“She told me the stories about you, as I’m sure you guessed, and obviously I remember the news and everything.” He shook his head. “But seriously, I’m a bit perplexed that you have to deal with it even though no one actually died, and they couldn’t prove you did anything.”
I shrugged. “Well, I guess that’s high school for you.”
“Yeah, I don’t miss it. But, hey, at least you’re almost out. What are you doing after you graduate?”
“I—well—I don’t really have a plan.”
Anymore. I didn’t have a plan anymore. “I imagine Rod and Leslie are still headed off to ASU together in the fall, but I’ll no longer be completing that trifecta of doom.”
I’d never considered much else because that had been our plan for as long as I could remember. Graduate high school, move to Tempe, go to ASU. The three of us had it all figured out. Or so I’d thought.
“Wow. So, Rod and Leslie, those are the people you supposedly killed?”
Shoot. How much of that had I voiced out loud? Way to go, Holland. I cleared my throat. Might as well talk to him. He probably already knew everything anyway, so what could it hurt?
“Yeah. Leslie was my best friend. Rod was my boyfriend. We’d all been best friends since we were in diapers, basically, but sometime in middle school . . . well, Rod and I became more.”
I took a breath, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach that always accompanied this story. I wished I could change it, but the ending was always the same.
“So, just barely into our senior year—what should have been the most important and memorable year of our lives thus far—after the three of us have been best friends our entire lives, and Rod and I had been together for almost five years, something changed.”
“He cheated on you. With her, right?”
I hated that word. Cheated. He didn’t cheat on me. This wasn’t a pop quiz during third period Biology. He betrayed me. It could have been anyone else. He could have hooked up with one of the other cheerleaders on the squad. Or even Sana, Cam’s ex-girlfriend. But no. He chose the one person in the world—aside from him—who I trusted more than anyone.
He didn’t cheat on me.

He destroyed me. 


Don't forget to comment to enter to win a copy, sweeties! For five extra entries, tweet about the giveaway using this text: I'm dying for a chance to read DIVIDE by @JessaRusso! http://goo.gl/h3NDZL #giveaway #amreading 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Working Writer



About  one week and one day ago, I became a full-time writer.

This past year, I found myself in the very best of problematic situations – having two jobs I loved, but enough time to do only one.  I’ll miss my college students more than I can say, but in the end, writing was the best choice for me in terms of flexibility, long-term sustainability, and, yes, even income. So at the end of the year I packed up the office I’d spent so many wonderful years in, boxing up hundreds of books I’d collected during five years of grad school and five more years of work, and lowering my hard-earned diplomas from their places on the wall.  

Now, every weekday, four hours are dedicated to writing books and preparing them for publication.
Feeling like a “real” writer has crept on me slowly, so quietly that it’s hard to pinpoint when I felt the title really fit me. (I do know for sure it wasn’t when I published my first book, or even when I started earning money.) 

When I started testing out the title, telling people, “I’m a writer,” it felt like a terrifying leap of faith. It felt like a commitment to something I wasn’t sure I could follow up on, a promise of some brilliance I knew I hadn’t uncovered, nor was I sure I ever would.  

Now, with six books published (three under a pen name,) I've instilled in myself a sense of expertise, of “knowing the ropes,” of familiarity with the roller-coaster ride that is drafting, editing, and publishing a book. But as I settle into this new career, I keep reminding myself to be careful. As much as outlines are essential, deadlines are helpful, and polished books are absolutely necessary, being a working writer is, and always will be, about something completely different.

I started this work because it helped me in a way that nothing else could. Even though my hard work and dedication has turned that hobby into a career, I know now more than ever that every book I write has to be born of excitement and love. You see, in my best writing experiences, I feel like the story is a train I’m chasing around and around my brain, trying to look at the car that represents each character, plot point, or theme in every way possible, and grab onto it long enough to translate that into words. Sometimes it’s a smooth ride, other times it’s fraught with obstacles. No matter what, I can’t really relax until I've managed to write the story well enough to wrestle that train to a stop.

That feeling is the reason I became addicted to writing, and now that creating stories is my job – my real, honest-to-God paying profession – I’m determined never to let it go. It’s what keeps me going, and I know my readers can tell that I genuinely love each book I put out into the world. The connection between author and story translates into something that, in turn, connects the reader to the writer.

So, as I begin my life as a working writer, I’m making a promise to myself and to anyone who reads my work: I will never publish anything that I didn't work on as hard as I could, that I didn't believe in, that I didn't love. Otherwise, to me, no other perk of the writer’s life I've worked so hard to build is worth it.

 I'm so grateful to all of you for coming along for the ride. 



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ONE is a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Spark Award Honor Book!


Well, this is a pretty surreal announcement for me to be making.

Last fall, on a long shot, I submitted ONE, my Young Adult debut about a girl with only half a superpower, for a SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Spark Award an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.



Well, I got news late yesterday that ONE was selected as one of two Spark Award Honor Books in the Young Adult category. I'm not only honored, but I'm so, so proud. 

It's not often I say that about my own work, but you guys. SCBWI is the organization for anyone who writes books for children and teens. They set up a top-notch decision process for the Award, with judging in two rounds by agents, editors, booksellers, and other publishing industry professionals. 

Besides, I never thought that my self-published debut novel would ever be eligible for any awards. Ever.



So yes, I'll get a plaque, and yes, I'll get a shiny gold sticker to put on ONE's cover (eee!)  But to me, the real sweetness in winning this award is feeling like, on one more way, I've earned my chops as a Young Adult author. 

And, as always, I wouldn't have ever kept writing or published a single thing if it hadn't been for the love and support of all of you, sweet readers. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you. 


Monday, February 24, 2014

It's an Honor to Be Nominated...



...and it would be awesome to win!

Back when I announced my book deal for ONE, my debut novel, I knew (and accepted!) that my decision to self-publish it meant that I would never get a few things for it: widespread distribution in brick-and-mortar stores, reviews from major publications, and book award nominations.

Not that awards are all that important - the fact that readers love ONE has always been the most important to me, and the greatest award I could ask for. BUT - it would still be really, really, REALLY cool to win an award for the novel that made me brave enough to publish myself.

That's why it's so exciting that ONE has been nominated for IndieReCon Best Indie Novel of 2013!!!! 



Seriously, I'm still grinning over this. I don't know who nominated ONE, but I'd like to hug them and turn my silly grin on them and buy them a latte and then hug them again.

So please, if you liked ONE or if you like me or if you believe in indie-publishing with a whole lot of hard work, time, and love invested in it, VOTE HERE. 

Anyone can vote. You, your critique partners, your co-workers, your siblings, your spouse. Anyone you know who you've recommended ONE to who's liked it (thank you!) can vote and share the link with all their friends so they can vote too. You know, if they want to.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've said it before and I'll say it a million times again - I owe every ounce of my success to my readers, especially those who recommend and share with even more readers. You all make my world go 'round. <3 nbsp="" p="">

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Solving for Ex's Release Day!


Hey, sweet readers!
I feel like there's been a low buzz around Solving for Ex since I first announced the book deal , and I have you to thank. From the very beginning you've cheered me on, asked how you can help, and helped  the word spread like wildfire.

I'm so proud to be releasing this YA contemporary retelling of Mansfield Park out into the world on its 200th anniversary of publication (give or take a few months.) It's funny to think that the publishing world was just as wild and crazy in the 21st century as it was in the 19th. Thomas Egerton was a small indie publisher (who published books "on commission," which was sort of a weird hybrid of self-publishing and the royalty model,) of a seriously interesting collection of stuff, but none of it was romance - until he encountered Jane Austen.

Wouldn't you know? She made a splash in British publishing like no other woman ever had, or ever would again, and it was all because a handful of people believed in her.

In whatever small way I'm carrying on her legacy by publishing this retelling, I'm honored to do it.

How can you help me celebrate Solving for Ex's release? By helping me spread the word, of course!

Here's where people can buy it:

Solving for Ex on Amazon
Solving for Ex on Barnes and Noble

And here are some little ads you're more than welcome to grab for Instagram/Twitter/Facebook purposes:

 

 

If you'd like to put yourself on the super-chill blog tour I put together, you can use these banners and head here to grab the embed code for the giveaway.



And finally, here's the summary, if you'd like to post that!

1 crush on your best friend +
1 gorgeous, scheming new girl +
1 Mathletics competition =
1 big mess

SIMPLIFY.

Ashley Price doesn’t have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable. Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy. 

But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley's place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn’t count on is Sofia’s sexy twin brother Vincent.

Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There's no real reason Ashley shouldn't like Vincent, but with the
battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on.

She does know Sofia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.

SOLVING FOR EX is a YA contemporary romance that remixes Mansfield Park as Clueless meets Mean Girls in a crazy mix of high school society, mathletic competition, and teenage romance.

As always, thank you a million times a million for all your love, support, and enthusiasm for me and for Solving for Ex. It means the world to me. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Three Things I Believe About Publishing



1. Every publishing path has its drawbacks, and no drawback is ultimately worse than any other. 

I chose self-publishing after knowing, and accepting, the drawbacks, one of which was the unavailability of many discoverability channels. The fact that my book will never be in Wal-Mart or in a magazine is something that I made peace with a long time ago. I published my books anyway, because I thought they could succeed despite that. And they have, modestly.

The drawbacks in self publishing are different than those in small or traditional publishing (some people say low royalties and lack of creative control are drawbacks, for example), and I decided to self publish because, despite those drawbacks, I decided the benefits more than canceled them out. One week before publishing my third book, I'm very happy with my decision, drawbacks and all.

2. Other books are not a reflection on mine just because we have a publishing path in common.

Before I publish a book, I work hard to make sure it's edited, nicely formatted, and professionally presented. I have two editors work on it, plus proofreaders and a formatter. I also have a professionally designed cover.

Then I solicit reviews from book bloggers and Goodreads reviewers. I set up a blog tour comprised, in large part, of those bloggers. When my book publishes, they post their review on Amazon, because I approached them professionally with a polished product, and they want to post the review. Besides the blog tour, I have a multi-tiered marketing plan designed to create buzz about the book months before it's published.

All these things, together, set my book apart from sub-par self-published books. Readers don't need an official seal of approval or a publisher name or a special tag in the Kindle store to tell that my book is a high quality publication, and that's because...

3. Readers are smart.

They're smart enough to set up their own channels of discoverability. They know how to follow book bloggers they trust, and ask friends for book recommendations, and navigate their way through online retailers, and remember the names of authors whose previous work they've loved, and check for things like great covers, good reviews, compelling descriptions, and they do all these things because they want to buy and read books that are exactly what they're looking for.

Some people are looking for highly-vetted, traditionally published literary fiction, and they know to look at certain review lists to find them. Some people want to read dinosaur erotica, and they know how to look for that. People have unique, specific tastes, and they know what they want to read, and I believe they're better at finding books for themselves than any large third party could be.

I believe that readers are smart enough to find the books/authors they're interested in reading. They're smart enough to download a sample, read a page or two, and discern whether the writing is unsatisfactory to them in any way. They really are.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why I Self-Published, and Why I'm Going to Keep Doing It

Disclaimer: I wrote this post to share my reasons for self publishing. I am not trying to say that these should or should not be anyone else’s reasons. In short, this post is not about you – but if any part of it happens to speak to you, maybe you should take it under consideration.

Before I begin, I want to share an incredible post that Jennifer Armentrout wrote yesterday entitled, “Stockholm Syndrome.”  In it, she expresses her desire for us to end the which-way-is-best-to-publish wars, and I applaud her for that.  Go read.  

My self-published books have enjoyed a very modest amount of success in the nine months I've been published. Because of that, or their presentation/packaging, or because someone read a sample and thought my writing was good, or a dozen other reasons I can’t imagine, a lot of people have assumed I decided to self-publish “for the right reasons.”  

From what I can gather, “right reasons” to self publish fall in the category of making the right business decision for me and my book, independent of any other factors, and “wrong reasons” include self-publishing because my book couldn't sell traditionally. Because I gave up.

So I wanted to write this post to clear that up.

Why I self-published, originally:

1. Traditional publishing was too hard.

Yep, I said it. My book wasn't selling for what seemed to be, according to my rejection letters, completely arbitrary and inconsistent reasons. Neither I nor my agent knew how to make it ‘good enough’ to sell, and worst, I didn't even know how to improve when I wrote my next book so THAT one might sell.

My agent told me that some clients of her agency had been on submission for four, five, and six years with multiple books before they finally got that prized offer from a Big Five publisher.

I knew my limits, and I knew that if I continued down that road, I would wither and die as a writer. I just couldn't stomach the idea of writing books that were, by all accounts, good, but which would never be read, never be loved, because the Big Five didn't think they were marketable.

Sure, I threw in the towel. I very consciously gave up on traditional publishing. But I didn't give up on my book finding readers and, with them, success.

2. I believed my book was good.

If I hadn't believed that my manuscript was well written and crafted, I would never have been able to move forward with self-publishing confidently.

For me, that belief came from one shelved ‘training wheels’ draft plus years of writing, learning, and honing my craft, awesome feedback from dozens of critique partners and readers, high agent interest, and eventually multiple agent offers on the book. Not only that, the Big Five editors’ feedback on the concept, writing, and story were all glowing.

I knew in my gut that I had a publishable book on my hands.

3. I had the money to lose.

I had my ideal picture of what my book and its release would look like. I drew up a budget, and I had the cash to fund it. Moreover, it was okay if I didn't make that money back within a month, or a year, or two years, or ever.

Just like with any other kind of publishing, I knew I couldn't count on my book doing well enough to make a single cent. Publishing isn't a science, and it’s barely an art – it’s more like a well-informed, super-prepared lottery. I wanted to know that, even if I lost the money it took to publish the book, I would be okay. (Maybe a little sad and ashamed, but still okay.)



Why I will continue to self-publish:

1. I know that every story I labor over will be published.

At minimum, a novel takes me six weeks of intense work to write. I don’t have time, energy, or resolve to put my heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, and every second of free time into writing a novel that won’t sell because the market is horrible.

2. At final publication, my book is exactly what I want it to be.

From cover to content editing to layout to bonus chapters in the back, I am one hundred percent behind every aspect of the product with my name on the front that I’m releasing out into the world. For me, there is tremendous peace and pride in that.

3. I can do whatever I want.

If I can afford it, or have the right contacts, I can make it happen. 

Send a paperback ARC to that random blogger in France? Write side stories and novellas and poems and haikus related to the novel and post them for free on Wattpad?  Give away an ARC every week on Goodreads until release?  Publish the novel as a serial in ten parts over three months? Make a humungous magnet of the book’s cover and put it on the side of my car? Price my book at $3.14 just because it’s about math? Cultivate a street team of 65 people and give them all swag and put them all in the book’s acknowledgements? Commission a photo shoot for the cover? Do a month-long book tour? Do NO book tour? Create five different trailers? Commission an original song to go along with my book? Make and publish an audio book? Publish five books a year? 

Yes, yes, yes to all of it. There is no standard in self-publishing – we are creating and re-creating it with every single book we publish. It’s innovative, it’s exciting, and business-wise, it’s exactly where I want to be.

4. The royalties are good, and I like my chances of making money.

Online retailers pay 65-70% royalties which, on a $3.99 book, works out to around $2.69 on each copy sold.  Money is a touchy subject, but I’ll just say I've far more than “earned out” on my initial investment in publishing my YA books, and I've only been published for about nine months.


So, if you’re thinking about self-publishing, don’t worry about “the right reasons” and “the wrong reasons.”  What other writers and people in publishing think about why you published your book the way you did matters not at all to the hundreds of people who will pay you to read your book, enjoy it, and leave you a nice review.

If you, like me, are doing it for the readers; if you know in your gut your book is good; if you've been rejected for no reason that makes sense to you;  if you have the resources to present in a way that will make you proud; and if you have initiative and a head for business and marketing - maybe self-publishing is right for you too. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are You Ready to Fall for THE ART OF FALLING?



Hey, sweet readers.

By this point in my writing career, I've been fortunate enough to see a handful of books from first draft all the way through publication. I'm so happy that my friend Jenny Kaczorowski's debut, THE ART OF FALLING, is one of them. It was picked up by Bloomsbury Spark for its debut line, and they couldn't have made a more perfect choice to introduce us to the awesome books they have to offer.

I love this book so much that I couldn't help but convince Jenny that she really needed to give this book the star treatment in terms of promotion. Our amazing network of book bloggers jumped at the chance to help Jenny get the word out, and I'm so grateful, because I want you to meet these incredible, selfless bloggers, and I want them, and you, to hear about this awesome book!

But before we get to the blogging schedule, there's MORE to The #12DaysofFalling!

Jenny's doing a giveaway of 10 (TEN!) Awesome swag packs, including Skittles. You'll see why. (Ben = SWOON!) She's also offering up 5 copies of THE ART OF FALLING, and that's international to boot! I'll put the entry form at the end of this post - throw your hat in the ring!

In addition, every tweet OR Instagram anything about THE ART OF FALLING using the hashtag #12DaysofFALLING will get their name put in a drawing for MORE copies of the e-book (you could even give it as a late Christmas present to someone who just got an e-reader!)

If you want to Instagram about THE ART OF FALLING, here are a couple of conveniently square-sized images we worked up just for you to grab and re-post:


Finally, here's the mini-tour schedule of bloggers, who will be posting EXCLUSIVE excerpts from the book over the next couple weeks:

12/17 - Sam at The Book Corner
12/23 - Hafsah at Icey Books (with a review roundup!)
12/24 - Michelle at Much Loved Books
12/24 - Ava at The (brand-spankin' new!) Bibliobelles
12/26 - Laura at Literature and Laura 

And, of course, be sure to follow the #12DaysofFalling for more awesomeness over the next couple weeks. 

Here's the giveaway entry! Go crazy!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'm in the #NILtribe!

 Listen. Being part of a tribe is pretty cool. (Take it from someone who's a member of the Tribe. It's awesome.)

I'm super excited to report that I'm a new member in the #NILtribe. What does this tribe do? Well, it spreads the word about Lynne Matson's awesome 2014 debut, NIL... There's a weird island and murder and intrigue and it's pure awesomeness! 

Here's how to join the #NILtribe, from Lynne's blog: 

 
If you love books, especially thrillers, packed with mysteries, islands, secrets and ALL THE FEELS, then #NILtribe may be for you! All you have to do is tweet . . . or post to Facebook . . . or post on your blog . . . or comment on my blog: “I joined the tribe!” and add the #NILtribe hashtag. And that’s it! You’re in.:)

Over the three months, follow the #NILtribe hashtag on Twitter and Facebook for chances to win galleys of NIL, copies of other YA books I love and sweet NIL swag . . . and to discover NIL sekrits. Each day I’ll tweet using the #NILtribe hashtag. I’ll share cool facts about the characters, island sekrits, author interviews, giveaway links, etc. Each week I'll share new goodies that will be up for grabs by members of the #NILtribe in upcoming giveaways (spoiler: creepy bone cuff bracelet anyone?!) Each month will bring more opportunities to win NIL galleys, NIL swag, and after NIL’s release, signed hardbacks.:) And in the last month before release, all #NILtribe members will get swag-to-be-revealed… just by joining the #NILtribe.:)

And to all those readers-who-love-thrillers-and-islands-and-sekrits-and swoon? Feel free to use the #NILtribe hashtag as often as you like! Post anytime using the hashtag! You can countdown to Nil’s release, repost any of my posts, or post about why you're excited for NIL, Waiting on Wednesday style. Just remember to use the #NILtribe hashtag, and you’re golden. :) Welcome to the tribe.:)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Where I've Been

It's been a whirlwind of a year, this debut year of mine. I've learned so much, decided so much, and I'll write about all of that once the waters of my life, and of the self-publishing boom, have calmed a bit more.

Right now, I want to tell you all where I've been. It's nothing earth-shattering, but there have been changes which affect my writing.

For most of the last two years, I had been working at my day job (which I love) 30 hours a week while my kids went to full-time preschool - 45-ish hours a week. I wrote in the margins - after I dropped them off, for 45 minutes in a coffee shop near campus; for half an hour after my last meeting of the day, before the 5:00 dash struck; half the day I took off once a week for cleaning the house and self-care. Yes, writing is my self-care. Was my self-care, I should say.

Everything changed when Kindergarten started. My oldest is now in school for just 28 hours a week. I can't stomach paying for before-and-after care for him, and he wouldn't deal with it well anyway. I'm still working 30 hours a week at my day job (which I LOVE!!!) To give me enough hours to work, a Hebrew tutor/sitter helps us one night a week and David takes care of all four kids on another.  These Herculean efforts of juggling and time-apportioning leave just enough time for my day job and for me to take care of my family, but not much time for me to take care of myself. Not any time, actually.

To compensate for this, I started to wake at 3:30 so I could exercise (crucial to help keep my clinical depression to a manageable level) and write a bit.

3:30 is early. Very early, even with my 9:00 bedtime. But my kids wake by 5:00. What else can I do?

Most of the time, when I manage to drag myself out of bed at this time, I don't actually want to write. I sit at my desk clutching a mug of coffee. I want to curl up with a book, or mindlessly click through internet videos, or just...go back to sleep. But I do want to have written. I always feel better when I do.

So I force myself through the words, coaching my fingers at each keystroke. Since the beginning of November, I've managed almost 15,000 words. It's an okay number, but I'm so far behind on my goals I want to cry and, besides, I don't know if the words are any good.

I know that nothing will change unless I change something first. I know adjustments must be  made - big ones. But the process is full of trial and error and worry and doubt and tears. And it takes time.

I've thought about giving up writing altogether, at least for a time. It became quite clear to me, though, that I'm addicted to it. My heart twists and hurts and my eyes well up with tears when I think that I might have to give up making stories. It may be addiction, or it may be infatuation. All I know is that it's a legal thing that makes me happy, and produces something beautiful. Things like that are hard to come by.

So, that's where I've been. I'm not leaving writing, but honestly, I'm not doing so well with it either. I can't make promises (except that Solving for Ex will be out on time - it's been finished and ready to go for months!) but I can tell you that I'm not giving up - not even close - just sort of floundering for the moment.

As always, thanks for your love, cheerleading, and support. It means the world to me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

TWO's release day!

Hi, sweet readers.

Well, it's been nearly a year since I decided to self publish my books.

A year ago, I wouldn't have even said "self-publish," because the phrase was so loaded with nasty stigma. I would have said "make available to readers myself" or "indie publish." Things have changed so much in just a year, and my life as a writer has changed right along with them.

As of today, I have two YA novels out in the world. It's TWO's release day today, and for some reason, I'm even more emotional - in all ways - than I was for ONE's book birthday.




I think a lot of it has to do with TWO's narrator - Elias. As opposed to Merrin, who is headstrong, tough, and, often, inconsiderate, Elias is quiet, patient, and absolutely wrapped up in the health and happiness of the people he loves. He's easily wounded, and desperate for everything to be normal and for life to be calm. When things get tough, even though he feels desperate, he steps up to the plate, but his natural place is not the center of drama and excitement.

I know what that feels like.  I knew, while writing, that Elias was the only character I've ever cried for. I've realized, in the post-production of TWO that Elias is a lot like me.

The rest of the unexpected emotion is the fact that this is my second book out in the world, and it feels GOOD. To me, it means I feel comfortable calling myself "author," delighted and proud to share my stories with you. 

In short, this was my goal since I wrote the first word of my first novel ever. 

So, that's what it feels like to share this book with you:
 Deep connection. Pride. Peace. 

Thank you so, so much for reading. I hope you like it.

Buy TWO


Amazon Kindle ($3.99)
Barnes and Noble Nook ($3.99)
Amazon Paperback ($12.81*) 
Barnes and Noble Paperback ($12.08*)






Buy the One Universe Box Set (including those awesome comics

Amazon Kindle ($6.99)
Barnes and Noble Nook ($6.99)










*Amazon and B&N paperback pricing can change on a dime, but will never be more than $13.99.

Monday, July 29, 2013

REAPER'S RHYTHM blog tour - Interview with Author Clare Davidson!

Hello, sweet readers! I'm so so so excited today because it's finally my turn for a stop on Clare Davidson's Reaper's Rhythm blog tour!!! *confetti*






When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered.


Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger.

The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.



Hi Leigh Ann! I’m really excited to be gatecrashing visiting your blog again. I love it here AND I brought cookies.

And since they're virtual, they're calorie free! Wonderful! So let's start with a writer's question. Tell me your favorite part about writing a book.  Really, ANY part. 

Those moments when you’re completely in the flow of writing and the words come easily. So easily, that when you read back your completed draft, it’s like you’re reading an unknown book. Do you ever get that feeling? It’s great.

YES, I do! I like it especially when I thought it would be horrible and then it wasn't. :) So, I'm a bit obsessed with your cover art. Can you tell me a little bit about your illustrator? What drew you to him? 

He was recommended to me by a Ruth Parlour. I checked out his work on Deviant Art and fell in love with his style. I knew I wanted him to do the cover for Trinity and he did such a great job, that I enlisted him to do the cover for Reaper’s Rhythm, too.

That's so awesome that you have that continuity between books one and two! How was publishing a non-debut novel different from your first time? 

I’ve learnt A LOT since I published Trinity. I kind of rushed Trinity out, because I could and because it was too exciting not to. I’ve taken a lot more time with Reaper’s Rhythm, in a bid to do the launch “just right” (you’ll all have to tell me if I’ve succeeded!). I think it also helps that I have another book out, as I’ve met a lot of readers because of Trinity.

Okay, now let's switch to talking about the book's subject matter. Do you have a sister, or siblings? If so, did that inform your writing of REAPER'S RHYTHM in any way, since it deals with sibling death?

I have an older brother (who the book is partly dedicated to). I wouldn’t say he informed my writing of Reaper’s Rhythm, because he’s very much alive and well. However I know how much it would hurt if I lost him.

Losing someone so close to me is the stuff of my nightmares. It’s one of the things I’m most afraid of, which is why I explored it in Reaper’s Rhythm. I think I would probably have a similar reaction to Kim: DENIAL.

Now for some rapid-fire questions:

Coffee or Tea? Neither. Give me a hot chocolate and I’m happy. 

(^oooh, very nice!)

Star Wars or Star Trek? Trek.
TV or Movies? Movies.
Marvel or DC comics? Marvel. 

(^That is correct.)

Sweet or Savory? Sweet.
Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Fantasy.



********************

About Clare:

Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten.

She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK.

Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.

Ways to connect with Clare Davidson:

Website: http://claredavidson.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClareMDavidson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClareMDavidson
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6445758.Clare_Davidson
New releases mailing list: http://eepurl.com/zpjGf

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Reaper's Rhythm teaser!!!


You guys! Remember just a couple days ago when I helped reveal the cover for Clare Davidson's Reaper's Rhythm? Well today I'm sharing a snippet with you, and even better, it has accompanying artwork! Amazing!

Here it is.....

Two phones in hand—mine and Charley’s—I lay on my bed. I switch Charley’s phone on. It chimes and the telecom company’s logo pops onto the screen. It fades to black and a photograph of me and Charley materialises. It was taken on a rare sunny day on the promenade. We have our backs to the calm sea. Our heads, which fill the entire photo, are knocked together. I’m smiling and Charley is pursing her lips, like she’s about to give someone a huge kiss.

I frown as I check her messages. I can’t find the text she received the night she died. I heard it come through. Charley’s message tone was the riff from her favourite song. Whatever the text said, it’s gone. I doubt the police would have deleted it. Charley must have. But why?

********************

When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered.

Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger.

The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.







About Clare:

Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten.

She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK.

Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.

Ways to connect with Clare Davidson:

Website: http://claredavidson.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClareMDavidson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClareMDavidson
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6445758.Clare_Davidson
New releases mailing list: http://eepurl.com/zpjGf

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cover Reveal - Clare Davidson's REAPER'S RHYTHM!!!!

Hi sweethearts! I'm so excited that I get to be part of the cover reveal for my friend Clare Davidson's REAPER'S RHYTHM!!!!

Here's the blurb:

When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered.

Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger.


The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.

I've read a bit of it already, and,  yeah - it's as spooky as it sounds. I know I'm excited for it to come out....
and ALMOST as excited to show you the cover! Are you ready? 



Awesome, right? So run over and add it to your Goodreads here!


Author Bio:

Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten.

She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK.

Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.

Ways to connect with Clare Davidson:

Website: http://claredavidson.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClareMDavidson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClareMDavidson
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6445758.Clare_Davidson
New releases mailing list: http://eepurl.com/zpjGf

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Book Deal - YA Romance SOLVING FOR EX!

Hey, sweet readers! 

Whew! Can't believe it was six months ago that I was announcing my first book deal. It looked a little something like this (in my head:)

Leigh Ann Kopans's ONE, about a girl with only half a superpower and her struggle to make herself whole, to Her Own Bad Self, in a freaking sweet deal, in a two-book deal, for publication beginning June 2013. This deal was brokered by wine, ice cream, and the best friends on the planet.

So, you know, that deal did, indeed, end up being "freaking sweet," true to promise. ONE has been out for one month and five days, and just yesterday earned back all the money I invested in it. I'm really excited for TWO to be out in October (and you can see its cover revealed over at Hafsah's site today!)

Today, I'm really excited to announce a NEW book deal! Here's the (in-my-head) announcement:

Leigh Ann Kopans's SOLVING FOR EX, a Young Adult romance that remixes Jane Austen's classic Mansfield Park as Clueless meets Mean Girls in a crazy mix of high school society, mathletic competition, and teenage romance, to Her Own Bad Self, in an incredibly awesome deal, for publication in February 2014, the 200th anniversary of Mansfield Park's publication. This deal was brokered by supportive friends, more wine, and a genuine love for self-publishing.

And here's the full blurb: 

Ashley Price doesn't have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable. Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy. 


But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley's place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn't count on is Sophia’s sexy twin brother Vincent.

Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There's no real reason Ashley shouldn't like Vincent, but with the
battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on.

She does know Sophia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.

Go ahead and add it on Goodreads right here! 

Now, since I know you're wondering, traditional publication was not an option for SOLVING FOR EX for a couple reasons:

1. I'm pretty set on the book publishing in 2014, since it marks the 200-year anniversary of publication for MANSFIELD PARK, the Jane Austen classic on which it's based. I love the original, and this book is like my love letter to one of my greatest literary heroes, thanking her for all she's done. 

Even if my agent were able to sell it tomorrow, it most likely would not publish until 2015 - and I'm sentimental. 

2. Another, completely adorable-looking Mansfield Park redux came out this past Spring, and since there's already one on the market, we wouldn't have high hopes for this one being acquired by a big house.

But, hey. It really doesn't matter to me HOW this book is published, especially since I feel even more confident about the whole self-publishing gig now. 

Most importantly, I'm SO excited for SOLVING FOR EX to come out and for you all to (hopefully) read it! Thanks for reading, my loves! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

ONE's release day!!!

ONE is now live and available for purchase!

Amazon Kindle
Paperback (from Amazon)
Special Edition Paperback with comics (from Amazon)
Barnes and Noble Nook
iBookstore
Signed (from my site)
Createspace


Nearly five months ago, I told you all about ONE - a book that I'd written, that I loved, and that I thought deserved to be published. I told you that I'd be self-publishing it.

You all proved me wrong.




I didn't publish ONE by myself. I published this book with every ounce of energy, love, and hope I had in me, yes. But just as importantly, more importantly, I published it with the help of each and every one of you who had a hand in, supporting it, planning for it, and crafting it into the final product it is today.

So, to all of you who ever tweeted, commented, and cheered - to all of you who took the time to read this book once, twice, or eight times already - to all of you who poured your creative energy into promoting it through blog posts, music, video and art - and to all of you who held my hand tight and my head high, in so many different ways - thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is just as much your book as it is mine. I think we did a really good job. 



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