Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In which I sign with Etopia Press!

I'm extremely happy to share that my novel Affairs of the Dead has been contracted by Etopia Press!

So how did it come about? Well, I actually have WriteOnCon to thank. When it was going on, I was checking out the forums and posting a little bit, but because I knew it was a YA oriented Con I didn't delve too deeply into it. I knew agents and editors would be lurking and people were encouraged to post their queries and opening words, but there wasn't even a section for Adult so I wasn't going to bother. However, I saw in their "other" section that adult authors were chatting and posting their work, so I thought, why not, even if no agents or editors saw it maybe I'd get some feedback. So up went the query and first 250 for Affairs, and I was happily surprised when I got a message from my now editor Narelle, who introduced herself and asked me to send her the full. I had honestly never pursued small presses before, but being in contact with Narelle and researching Etopia opened my eyes more to small presses, and I think it came at a good time because I was becoming highly discouraged with the agent/query route, as well as the contest route. I was starting to feel like I was running on fumes, and it didn't help that I was starting to hear more and more about how difficult selling an Urban Fantasy was becoming with traditional publishing.

So off went the full manuscript, and then came the waiting game, always my least favorite part. Anyway, about a month later I got an email with the offer, and I was only too happy to accept. So now Affairs and I will be in the editing trenches, and I am very much looking forward to sending it out into the world sometime next year. It will first be released as an E-book, then print. Excitement!

Watch this space for more updates!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Raven Boys - Book Club Discussion

The Raven Boys is out, and Shanella, Alexa, and I had a little BEA Book Club discussion about it: (Warning, our Q&A is a little spoilery)

Did you wish the story focused more on Blue and her "curse"?

Shanella: I didn't really miss Blue when she wasn't in the story. I know that the synopsis set it up with her as the main attraction, even the beginning seemed to center around her, but I found Gansey's feverish quest a bit more interesting than Blue's cursed romantic life.

AJ: I think if the book had focused more on Blue it would have satisfied my expectations, but it would not have been the unique book that it was, because I think there are a lot of books out there that focus on the romantic dilemma between the main characters. Once Gansey's quest started to unfold I was completely caught up in it and I think it was a good thing that the book didn't just focus on Blue and Gansey.

Alexa: To me, the curse was a convenient way to throw Blue into the path of the raven boys. I'm being pretty blunt about it, but I think it's the truth. The story would have come off completely different if Blue was the main focus, and not just another element of the story. It's fascinating that she has to deal with that curse, of course, and I'm curious as to what the curse will mean, but I'm actually okay with it not being the major focus of the story.

What did you think about the romantic set up? Do you feel there was enough set up for Gansey and Blue?

Shanella: I was wondering why Adam was even added to this mix! I mean, it's a bit obvious - from the book itself - that Gansey is Blue's true love and though the little romance between Blue and Adam was cute, I kept wondering what it's grander purpose would be. I hope it's not to have a love triangle where Blue and Gansey would be angst ridden because they are falling in love and they don't want to hurt Adam; that would be too cheap!

AJ: I was also wondering why the book focused more on Adam and Blue and it made me wonder if I was wrong in assuming Gansey was the romantic lead. But of course we all know it's ultimately going to be Gansey and Blue, and I wish there was a little more set up for them for the next book, and I'm interested to see how far Adam and Blue go.

Alexa: I feel like Maggie was hinting towards a love triangle, what with her mention of Adam and Blue as...well, something. It was weird to me, actually, to read it (Adam and Blue), knowing in my brain that there was supposed to be Blue and Gansey! I was actually hoping there'd be more set up for them, since at the moment they appear to just tolerate each other...

For more questions and answers head over to Shanella and Alexa's sites!

Shanella asks: Is there some part of the story that you wished there was more of?

Alexa asks: Which Raven boy did you feel like you could relate to the most and why?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ARC Review - The Raven Boys

 Release date: 09/18/12

Description (From Amazon):

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


Raven Boys did not turn out to be exactly what I expected, but I am not saying this in a bad way. From the book description I had the expectation that the book would follow Blue as she met Gansey and tried to resist kissing him because of the premonition that she would kill her true love. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that even though Blue has importance in the novel, the story was mainly about the Raven Boys and their quest, which also didn’t turn out to be anything I was expecting but I found to be quite intriguing.

After reading Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, I realized that one of the things I enjoy about her novels is the way she is able to meld supernatural elements into an extremely realistic world setting so I am left feeling completely grounded in a world that is just like the one I live in, yet different because there is magic or werewolves or ghosts involved. Normally, fantasy books don’t make me feel this way, but Stiefvater is able to so seamlessly blend fantasy with reality that I am both in awe of it and sometimes thrown off by it. Sometimes I felt as though the character’s reactions should have been more somehow, more disbelief before accepting a supernatural element they didn’t know before, but I realize that’s not necessarily what Stiefvater is after with her novels. She wants these things to be so absolutely normal and accepted by her characters.

Blue and the Raven Boys find themselves on an adventure at which Gansey is at the helm. He is chasing something with an almost feverish passion, and his friends, as different as they are, are invested in it with him, and each bring something different to the table. In a novel with switching perspectives, Stiefvater doesn’t disappoint with writing interesting characters with their own complexities. It’s not easy to develop five characters within the space of one novel, but Stiefvater is able to do that. There is character building and depth as the story moves along, and the relationships that build between the characters doesn’t feel rushed.

I will say that I wished there had been more involving Blue and her “curse.” The romance aspect, in my opinion, is very light, but of course this is a book that will have sequels, and I can see how book one started to set things in place. Despite the lack of romance, the book was engrossing enough for me to not be too disappointed. I enjoyed Blue’s interaction with the boys but also with her family, which is a family of real psychics who each have their particular quirks. It made me feel like this was a house I could walk into and find these women.

Overall, I enjoyed the Raven Boys a lot, it’s a book I thought about after I was finished because the way the story unfolds and the actual plot of the novel is one I’ve never read before, and I am left wondering where it will go from here. I am definitely looking forward to continuing the series.

The Raven Boys gets four out of five stars.

Shanella's Review
Alexa's Review

Sunday, September 2, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet

Hello! I'm excited to be part of Deana's GUTGAA Blogfest for the second year. I'm excited to meet everyone and I look forward to having fun. So here are my answers to the meet and greet questions: 
-Where do you write? Primarily on my couch in the living room with my feet up on the coffee table. Sometimes the television is on, but I have been known to find the strength to take it off.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? My pretty living room curtains.

-Favorite time to write? When I first started writing books I only wrote at night because I felt it best suited the mood of my books (oh angsty, teenage me), which were dark and full of vampires and whatnot. Nowadays I can write at any time of day. As soon as I wake up, I can sit down and write all day. I also tend to write into the wee hours of the morning, which messes up my sleeping pattern, but the story has to be written right?

-Drink of choice while writing? Nothing really exciting here, I have a bottle of water with me all the time.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? I don't usually listen to music, but I don't need complete silence either. I actually don't like complete silence in general, so if I haven't turned the T.V. off I'm usually writing to whatever it's showing.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? For my latest MS, Affairs of the Dead, I remember having a random thought about "helping the dead"; I thought about ghosts sticking around because they had unfinished business, and the main character being one of those whose job it was to help them. It wasn't until someone mentioned it that I realized the idea was similar to the T.V. show Ghost Whisperer, but what Affairs grew into made me feel secure about it standing apart since it encompasses a lot of other unique elements.

-What's your most valuable writing tip? Make sure your story has a solid structure. It's one thing to have a fabulous idea, but it won't work well if you don't have a strong plot to center it around. For example, if your MC is a cursed vampire who will die if she drinks blood, that's great, but what is the story that revolves around the cursed MC? I think if you can pinpoint the beginning, middle, and end of your novel, you'll be in a good place. After I finish a book I always like to sit back and see if I can identify the climax of my novel because it's usually the pivotal point where something major happens that drives the story to it's conclusion.

(Other than blogging here, I can be found on Twitter, and on my other blog Requiem Words)