Monday, August 27, 2012

EASY Review & interview with Tammara Webber

Awesome writer-friend Jolene Perry (link) told me about Tammara Webber (link)'s mature YA/New Adult novel EASY back in July, and I ran and got it at once. I knew Jolene and I share a similar taste in books and a crazy-love of contemporary YA.

Get it!
What I didn't know is that EASY is an indie book, and since July it has become a New York Times bestseller! Rock On, Tammara!

It's well-deserved. Not even a pending beach trip could tear me away from this book. JRM arrived ready to load up the car, and I looked like the cat who'd eaten the canary. I'd spent the entire morning clicking at lightening speed and hadn't packed a thing. I couldn't stop reading!

EASY is exciting, romantic, H-O-T!, heartbreaking, it has a great message... It's so good, I sent a silly, fan-girl email to Tammara, and she's just as cool as you'd expect.

Here's the Brief Summary: Jacqueline follows her high school boyfriend to the college of his choice, and then he dumps her, basically so he'll be free to bang coeds. (Loved that line!) Then leaving a frat party one night, she's attacked and almost raped until a mystery guy shows up and beats up her attacker. (Nice.) She's pretty shook up, then she realizes her "hero" Lucas is in one of her classes. Ultimately, they start talking, then they run into each other out, then they swap telephone numbers...

But Lucas has a few secrets of his own that could seriously throw a wrench in their budding romance.

I'll say no more. Except here are the links where you can buy it for $3.99 (a steal!):

And I'm so excited to have Tammara here today. Now for our Interview!

1-So I discovered EASY via word of mouth, but this is not your first book! Tell us a little bit about how long you've been writing and your other books.

I've been writing forever, but I didn't attempt a novel until age 19. I wrote three "shelf novels" (including that first, not-quite-finished novel) before I wrote Between the Lines (link). I went the typical querying/pitching at conferences route with that manuscript, and was unsuccessful.

In the meantime, I wrote a second book in the series. At that point, I decided I didn't have anything to lose by self-pubbing through Amazon, which I was urged (read: nagged endlessly) to do by my best friend, who isn't a writer. Eventually, I added Barnes & Noble, then iBookstore, and most recently, Kobo. There are three books in the Between the Lines series, and I'm writing a fourth (final) book that should be out in spring 2013.

2-EASY deals with a tough topic--rape, or in this case, attempted rape--and the story incorporates teaching girls to protect themselves through the main character's search for ways to protect herself. What made you decide to tackle this subject?

I've spent most of my adult life on a college campus, so I'm more aware than the general public seems to be about how prevalent this type of rape is. It is seldom reported, and when it is reported, it seldom makes it to prosecution. Of the instances I know of, not a single person reported. In every case, this was because the victim believed that she was at fault, when really, at most, there was faulty judgment.

There is no excuse, ever. I want girls and women to stop blaming themselves (and worse, each other) for something that is the fault of the perpetrator alone.

3-With EASY, you've become a New York Times bestselling indie author. And I say Super-congrats to you! I know you have an agent now to handle your foreign and subsidiary rights, but tell us about going independent. Would you recommend it? Any big tip(s) for those considering it? 

The reasons for indie publishing vary from author to author. What works for one might not work for another. I used Amanda Hocking's experience as a sort of guide, but the landscape of indie publishing has changed a lot in the 2.5 years since she began publishing her books online. I had to tailor what had worked for her to the different landscape I encountered a little over a year after she'd done it, and authors now can use what I did loosely, but it has changed since then, and is constantly changing.

There's luck and timing involved, too, and those are difficult or impossible to nail, even with careful planning. I would say be prepared to work hard, to change what doesn't work for your book/books, and to invest what you can to produce a professional product. Don't assume that because you don't have the same resources as traditionally published authors or because you charge less, you can get away with a lesser product. Readers don't care. They just want good books.

4-There's been heaps of debate recently over the changing face of publishing. Commentators like to note how bestselling indies like Amanda Hocking end up signing traditional contracts once they "make it." What are your thoughts on all this and that? Do you see yourself going traditional now or in the future?

As for traditional v. indie, I seriously doubt that Amanda Hocking was the first to accept a traditional contract after self-pubbing. She's just the first to get a major publishing contract. I've never, ever been on one side of this debate or the other. The point is to create a career for yourself as an author however you see fit and in whatever way is comfortable for you. For me, that means any and all combinations as I see fit. Standing staunchly on one side or the other is shooting yourself in the foot, in my opinion. The key is that there are now options -- and how cool is that?

Yes, Amanda Hocking got a seven-figure advance (and her agent got a cut of that). Everyone seems to forget that at the beginning of her career, she obviously wanted to see her books on a bookstore shelf. She queried like crazy, and like most writers, she couldn't get a taker. But she was smart enough to compromise when it looked like it was self-publish or nothing. The first "compromise" she made WAS self-publishing. The best part is that before she got that big contract with St. Martin's, she'd already made an amount of money equal to that contract all by herself! THAT is her biggest success. It's awesome that she was able to say to a Big Six publisher, "Oh, now you want to pay me seven figures to give me what I wanted a couple of years ago? Okay."

Publishers haven't survived as long as they have without gaining enough market savvy to figure out the value of a writer who is capable of finding a willing, paying market without the backing of a publisher. What they do after finding and retaining that someone is the do-or-die point. Successful indie authors play with all sorts of factors. We change covers, descriptions, price. We know that what sells books is word of mouth. We use those factors, along with good writing and good presentation, to our best selling advantage, hopefully.

When publishers take over the product, they must be careful of messing too much with what is working. If they change the cover, revise the story, and increase the price too much, all the product recognition the author has worked for -- successfully -- is tossed out the window.

Very awesome information, and great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by, Tammara! And best to you in your continued writing career!

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends~ <3

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Old Schedules and Old Attitudes

Hey, so I'm still knee deep in editing, but I realized when I looked at the calendar... Summer's over!

That's kind of sad. But it means I'll have more time to write, make the rounds, and I'll be returning to my usual (old) blog schedule of Monday posts.

I switched to Wednesdays for the summer so I could take part in The Kindness Project, led by awesome bloggy friend Carol Miller (link).

TKP is actually on the verge of an interesting transformation that I'm excited to join, but for now, I'll be back to Mondays with some good info, some new authors, some thoughts, some randomness.

In the meantime, I was thinking about all the hullabaloo over Sue Grafton's comments about indie authors (link). Basically, she compared them to amateur pianists who learned Five Easy Pieces and then expected to be allowed to play Carnegie Hall.

She was coming down on the side of traditional publishing, talking about learning the craft, and pretty much saying indie authors had no validity in the literary world.

I used to have that (old) attitude. I used to think self-publishing was for people who didn't know what they were doing, who didn't understand the importance of editors and quality control, and who just wanted to skip the dues-paying and go straight to the head of the class. I used to think it didn't "count."

I don't feel that way anymore.

I've read too many really good indie books in the past year, and I know too many indie authors who are smart, who are committed to craft, who are hiring editors, and who are invested in putting out quality products.

They're also making a living, and they're remembering why they love what we do: getting their books into the hands of readers.

A few writer-friends and I were chatting yesterday, and we discussed how novel writing seems to be the one creative field that punishes the independent artist. In music, movies, painting, etc., indies are praised as revolutionary. Visionary. Somehow more creative than their traditional counterparts.

It's interesting. Our world is evolving. What do you guys think?

See you Monday! Have a great weekend, reader- and writer-friends! <3

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Awesome client, awesome new book!

Y'all know I'm an editor by trade. For now, that's still the job that pays the bills, and I'm so excited to help promote a book by one of my first clients and our good bloggy friend Elle Strauss (link).

After being agented a while, Elle decided to take the leap into self-publishing, and now she's one of the Indelibles (link) and has a slew of amazing books for readers of all ages.

Her latest book, which I had the pleasure of editing, PERCEPTION is due out in September, and today I'm thrilled to take part in the cover reveal.

PERCEPTION is a young adult science fiction-romance, and I've got to tell you guys, it is awesome. It's one of those books that I had to remind myself I was working on. (I kept wanting to race ahead to see what would happen next. Good stuff!)

Here's the scoop:

Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime waterfront property alongside other equally beautiful people with extended life spans. 
Her brother Liam is missing. 

Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they've created between those who have and those who don’t. He doesn't like girls like Zoe, and he has good reason not to like her specifically. 

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn. She’s in trouble and it turns out Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.

PERCEPTION is a (SF/mystery/romance) Young Adult novel that takes place in the not too distant future in a world changed by climate extremes, natural disasters and impending wars, and where scientific breakthroughs cause class divisions—both financially and philosophically. It explores the clash between faith and science and how differences can separate us as enemies or ally us as friends. And in some cases, even in the midst of betrayal and personal crisis, there’s room to fall in love. This is the first book in a planned three-book series.

 You can "like" Lee Strauss on facebook and mark PERCEPTION to read on Goodreads.

Lee Strauss is also known as Elle Strauss (for her lighter YA titles) You can find her at

PERCEPTION will be for sale on Amazon and at other e-retailer stores SEPTEMBER 12!

So keep your eyes out for this one, reader- and writer-friends! And have a great weekend~ <3

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Same Bat Channel...

Tune in tomorrow for a special post. In the meantime, I #amediting.

But there's so much happening this week. Be sure and stop by WRiTE CLUB on DL's blog (link)! Get feedback on the first 500 words of any writing sample by going head to head against another writer.

And don't forget the largest, free online Kidlit writing convention is happening right now.

Have your query critiqued, first pages reviewed, get feedback from real ninja agents and participate in online chats... Did I mention it's FREE?

I'm back tomorrow; have a great day, reader- and writer-friends! <3

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TKP: Yoda and Being Available

It's time for another The Kindness Project post!

Lately, I've been thinking about something that I think falls under the heading of "kindness." It's the concept of being Available.

What does that mean? Well, let me tell ya!

I've got two daughters, and they take up a lot of my time. A lot. Both when they're with me and when they're not.

I think about them, analyze how I've handled situations, how I could've handled situations differently. Beat myself up a lot...

I also have this publishing career I'm trying to build. Writer-friends, you know how much mental and emotional investment that requires.

Recently, I was asked, "How do you balance it all?" My answer was, "Not very well." (But I'm trying!)

If I'm going to write, edit, revise, and make deadlines, I've got to be able to spend big chunks of time being unavailable to people--including my family. And that bothers me.

So I've been thinking about those times when I am available. And I've been trying to focus very hard on really being available, 100 percent.

That means not letting my mind drift to my email inbox or to the next scene in my WIP when, for example, my daughter is describing all the different characters and their relationships in Fairy World. (Her make-believe play world.)

Or not letting my brain obsess over whether I should even bother with finding a new agent right now, or whether I should just go with the book deal, see what happens, and then decide... or whether I should self-publish the MS my critters/betas loved but editors didn't buy...  or whether I should (insert obsessive publishing conundrum here) when, for example, JRM is describing a legal situation that's on his mind.

In other words, during those times when I'm physically available (or claim to be), I've been trying very hard to stay mentally available as well. To focus on the people I love and to give the book biz a rest.

Once again, it all circles back around to Yoda and being a good Jedi. A Jedi is not always looking to the future, right? S/he focuses on the here and now.

"Do or do not. There is no try."

(Am I the only one who has this problem?)

Either way, that's my contribution for this month: When we're with our friends or loved ones, do them a kindness and BE with them. Who knows, it might even turn out to be a kindness to ourselves!

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! Be sure to visit the other TKP posters listed below~ <3

Thursday, August 2, 2012

MSFV Winner: J. Anderson Coats

Hi, guys! Welcome to a special edition blog tour to help spread the word about the Miss Snark's First Victim blog contests and do a little publicity for the winners.

J. Anderson Coats (link) is another writer who credits MSFV with giving her publishing career a boost. (My story was on David Kazzie's blog yesterday, link.)

Coats's debut novel The Wicked and the Just was published in April 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The MSFV Secret Agent contests are free and open to all writers (link). We hope you'll visit, participate, and we we wish you much success on your path to publication.

Now for the interview!

J. Anderson Coats has dug for crystals, held Lewis and Clark’s original hand-written journal and been a mile underground. She writes historical fiction set in the middle ages that routinely includes too much violence, name-calling and petty vandalism perpetrated by badly behaved young people. Her work is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. The Wicked and the Just (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) is her first book.

How did participating with MSFV blog get you where you are now?

For the longest time, I admired the Erin Murphy Literary Agency from afar, but since they’re closed to unsolicited queries, I never got the chance to approach them.  However, my stalking of MSFV paid off one day when Ammi-Joan Paquette opened submissions just for readers of Authoress’s blog for a two-week window at the end of February 2010. I leaped at the chance and emailed her a query within ten minutes.

What followed was a nine-month courtship of sorts in which I made revisions with the full expectation that it would end in the “thanks but no thanks” email.  But that “no” never came, and the ink wasn’t quite dry on my agency contract when W/J sold to Harcourt.  It was something like ten days between being unagented and my first sale--quite a whirlwind!

Now I’m part of this rapidly-growing and friendly cohort of other MSFV success stories, and I’m sure glad to have the company as we all move forward in our careers.

Who are your biggest literary influences, and/or what are a couple of your favorite reads?

I love Margaret Atwood’s world-building and Terry Pratchett’s playful, clever voice. I love Toni Morrison’s intense, rhythmic prose and Umberto Eco’s eye for detail.  I’m in awe of Laurie Halse Anderson’s ability to tap into the lived experience of young people.

Some awesome things I’ve read lately are AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield, THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex, and PREGNANT PAUSE by Han Nolan.  I read like a buzz saw, and I’ll stick with just about anything that can surprise me.

Your book, The Wicked and the Just, came out Spring 2012. Congratulations! Tell us about it!

The Wicked and the Just takes place in 1293-1294 in north Wales, ten years into English rule. Cecily is an unwilling transplant to the English walled town of Caernarvon, and she’d like nothing better than to go home.  Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh servant in Cecily’s new house, would like nothing better than to see all the English go home. The ruling English impose harsh restrictions and taxation on the Welsh, and conditions in the countryside are growing desperate. The rumors of rebellion might be Gwenhwyfar’s only salvation--and the last thing Cecily ever hears.

The book is set in 13th-century Wales. What attracted you to this time and place?

Medieval Wales doesn’t get a lot of attention despite the fact that it was a complicated, dynamic place. The native rulers managed to resist outright conquest by their English neighbors until 1283, but then the victorious English fast-tracked a series of castles and walled towns to maintain control of the area and the people.

What interested me was this question: Even when granted a lot of special privileges--including significant tax breaks--how did English settlers live in a place where they were outnumbered twenty to one by a hostile, recently subjugated population, and how did the Welsh live so close to people who’d done the subjugating, especially given the burdens placed on them by their new masters?

What's next for you? Do you have another book in the works or coming soon?

I’m working on several projects right now. One is a companion novel to The Wicked and the Just, which follows Maredydd ap Madog, whose father is the ringleader of the rebellion of 1294, as he negotiates the future his father wants for him and the future he wants for himself.  Then there’s a standalone book that’s set in twelfth-century Wales about a girl con-artist, a warband, an abduction, a badly-timed war, and a charismatic but mercurial king’s son.

I don't know about you guys, but I think the 13th Century has never sounded so cool! Thanks, Jillian! And here's where you can buy The Wicked and the Just:

Tomorrow, Jillian will interview J.M. Frey, author of The Dark Side of the Glass (which I read and loved), on her blog (link). We hope you'll join us, and catch the whole tour!

@angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! <3

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gratitude, Goodreads, & Interviews

I couldn't think of another G-word...

Anyway, I dropped the bomb and then went out of town/offline for a week! But I'm back now with Three things:

#1-HUGE THANKS! And big hugs and squeezes to everyone who said congratulations, tweeted, sent Facebook messages, squee-ed, and otherwise made me feel all warm and fuzzy these last few weeks about my book deal.

It didn't really feel real until...

#2-The awesome and multi-talented Lydia Kang (link) set up a Goodreads page for my first book ROUGE! (link) Then she told me how to make an author page (link), and suddenly I felt officially official. (!)

If you want to, *kicks the dirt* you could maybe add my book to your TBR list. (Yes? Click here. Or in the sidebar -->)

#3-I'm not here today! I'm being interviewed as one of the Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent contest winners. So I'm over on fellow winner David Kazzie's blog (link).

It's a short interview, I promise. Run over and say Hi! (What's MSFV Secret Agent contest you ask? Here's the link.)

Finally (4?), tomorrow I will be here with a special-edition post!

As part of the MSFV winners' blog tour, I'll be interviewing J. Anderson Coats (link), who writes about 13th century Wales. She's very cool like that.

Be sure to come back and check it out!

Again, I can't thank you all enough. Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! <3