Unagented debut authors of YA fiction, I will open the submission window for one week in January. I will look at any debut YA attached to an email dated between 1/6/2014 and 1/12/2014.
- I consider a debut to be a first book-length work in any category.
- Please take a look at what I’ve published in the past. I’m not going to set any sub-genre specifications, but you might draw some conclusions based on what Lab has done before. It’s a small list.
- No “New Adult.”
Warning: Ask anyone. I’m slow as hell with these, and thus I do not require any sort of exclusivity.
Submission specifics are here: http://carolrhoda.blogspot.com/2007/11/s
Oh, and after we finally had a curly-haired princess in Brave, we have Norwegian (well, a fictional Norway-like kingdom) princesses here. I actually feel represented!
And then it was time for the annual visit to the town that calls itself The Christmas Capital of Texas. It looks like the towns in those made-for-TV Christmas movies often look, as one forum poster said, "like Christmas threw up all over town." Lots of lights, music being piped in along Main Street, a big animated light show in the park with the gazebo, North Pole Express trains pulling into the railway depot, you get the idea.
That brings me to a topic for today's seasonal post: traditions. While I probably fall more to the traditional side of things -- I'm not exactly a pink feather tree, Thai food for Christmas dinner and hip-hop versions of Christmas songs kind of gal -- I don't have a lot of real traditions. There isn't anything my family has to do every year because we do it every year. In fact, within the past five or so years, we've changed just about everything about how we do Christmas. We agreed that we don't really like turkey that much, so we started doing Christmas ham. I've started staying here for Christmas Eve and driving over to my parents' house on Christmas morning, so now we have Christmas dinner and then open presents in the afternoon, and then we watch Doctor Who at night.
I've made a few things kind of traditional since changing things, like I usually spend the evening before Christmas Eve watching The Holiday and other holiday movies, then I make pecan waffles on Christmas Eve morning so I have something to reheat quickly for Christmas morning, and I drive home from church on Christmas Eve via a certain route to maximize light viewing. But those things fall more into the category of "I liked it when I did it last year, so I think I'll do it again this year" than into being a tradition.
A friend and I have made a habit of visiting this one little town to see the lights every year, but that's because it's really cool. I like the overall atmosphere, he likes analyzing the animated light show, and there are good places to eat in town. If a year comes up when we can't fit it into our schedules or we're not in the mood, I won't feel like Christmas is ruined.
I suspect a lot of this comes from coming from a military family. When you move every few years, it's hard to maintain a lot of traditions because you may not be able to do the same things in each location. The climate is different, the things available are different, the houses are different. Christmas in Germany was different from Christmas in Oklahoma, and Christmas in El Paso was different from either of those. You just find things in each location that work and that seem like fun, and if you're able to carry them over to the next place, then great, and if you can't, you find new things. It would have been difficult to maintain the tradition of hiking up the hill to the castle in El Paso or in a small town in East Texas.
Now today I plan to do significant work on the screenplay. I may make another batch of cookies. Tonight, some "research" by watching TV movies while knitting. For the weekend, I think Saturday will be more TV movies while doing a bit of a spa day in preparation for a party at night. Sunday we're singing the Christmas portions of Messiah for both services, which means a Sunday-afternoon collapse.
In you, and scrawled their manuscript!
Have shared their secrets, told their cares,
Their curious and quaint affairs!
Your pool of ink, your scratchy pen,
Have moved the lives of unborn men,
And watched young people, breathing hard,
Put Heaven on a postal card.
- To a Post-Office Inkwell by Christopher Morley
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
- Current Mood: grateful
- :These Shoes by Maria Mena
I've been querying my novel and not having a lot of luck. I know I shouldn't give up yet, there are lots of fish in the sea, etc, but if worse comes to worst and I exhaust all of the agents on my list... would publishing on my own with a digital-first press (assuming for the moment that THEY accept my query) ruin my chances of having a traditional writing career?
I've seen all over the Internet that self-publishing is only a positive thing to list on a bio if the book sells something like 20,000 copies. Does the same thing apply to digital-first? If I choose to try digital-first with this novel, will I be a digital-first author forever, unless I sell an absurd number of those ebooks?
Would it matter at all if I went digital first with a pen name, or is that still ruining my debut? I am afraid to even ask such a thing on Twitter, for fear that the fact that I'm even *thinking* about it may make me seem less serious about a long-term career.
I'm glad you realize that self-publishing and digital publishing are NOT the same thing, although many people who self publish do so via digital means. You are NOT "on your own" if you publish with a digital first press that has an acquisitions editor, a copy editor, a marketing person, and plans to take over the best seller lists sometime soon.
Digital first publishing with a reputable publisher (be VERY careful about this because it's damn easy to set yourself up as a digital publisher these days) is a very good way to build a career. If you're with a publisher that knows their stuff, you can get some very nice sales numbers that will attract the beady eye of many a mercantile-minded shark.
A lot of bigger publishers are trying digital-first for authors too. I don't have any authors doing that but some of my colleagues do and it seems to be working just fine.
Once, long ago, a great artist made a small number of living gargoyles. They were scattered, and some feared lost, but slowly they have been gathered back together by the descendant of their creator, who protects them in his English garden (with trips to the local churchyard). Two ended up in Canada, where they were befriend by a human girl, Katherine, as told in the first books of this series (The Gargoyle in My Yard, and The Gargoyle Overhead).
By the time this book begins, Gargoth and Ambergine, the two Canadian gargoyles are living in a small city park, pretending, on occasion, to be real stone gargoyles. A boy named Christopher, new to town, and seeking respite from his happy crowded home, finds the little park....and meets the gargoyles. Unfortunately, the gargoyles are being hunted down by a ruthless collector (who is a bit too foggy and unequivocally evil to quite work for me). Christopher and Katherine must try to save the gargoyles from his ruthless clutches, and save the little park they call home.
I wish that I had read the first two books before reading this one, because the beginning would have worked better if I had known more of the backstory, but after that initial roughness, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The two urban gargoyles are charming and interesting, and it was a pleasure spending time with them. The growth of the friendship between Christopher and Katherine balanced the fantastical nicely.
If I ever encounter the first two books, I'll snap them up. I think my personal target audience member, and any young fan of the "mythical creatures living among us" sub-genre would enjoy them lots. Though originally published in Canada, they are available at Amazon in the US.
Review copy received from the publisher for Cybils consideration.
1. I gave my last school visit of 2013 this week in beautiful Brookfield, Connecticut. This was my third time visiting Whisconier Middle School, and every time I go, the kids are fabulous.
2. My daughter comes home today for Christmas! I'm so excited to see her and have her home.
3. While I was in Connecticut, I found out that Half A Chance (Feb 2014) was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection! This is my first JLG book, and I'm thrilled. :)
4. Also, Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania (March 2014) received a glowing and fun review in Kirkus! https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-revi
5. My family is hosting two Christmas parties this weekend and now the weather says freezing rain on both days. Nooooooo! We have lobster (which is how we lure our families to make the drive to Maine!), but now I'm thinking if the weather is bad, there may be no one here to eat it!
- Current Mood: busy
Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. A brilliant professor develops early-onset Alzheimer’s. As she loses her memory and her career, what remains of her identity? This story has stayed with me—and based on conversations I’ve had with other readers, I’m not the only one.
Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O’Brien. Gaia works as a midwife just outside the Enclave, the protected community she serves. But when officers of the Enclave imprison her parents, she starts to question the rigid rules of her society, especially the forced reassignment of children to new parents. A good book about power and the possible consequences of environmental destruction. Also includes some code-breaking!
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. Two boys trying to set a record for the world’s longest kiss form the central story, but the plotlines weave through several characters’ lives, tying together the generation of men lost to AIDS and the generation for whom coming out is more common—but not necessarily easy.
Plume, by Kathleen Flenniken. This is a book about betrayal, loss, and invisible dangers made visible. Centering on the community of Hanford, Washington, and the various forms of radiation exposure its citizens experienced, it’s a horror story and a discovery story and a love-of-family story. I reread it almost immediately; it still grips me, weeks later.
Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams. Vivian Maier was a nanny who spent most of her free time perfecting her amateur-photography skills, capturing the world around her. When she died, she left behind thousands of photographs and negatives, a small fraction of which were assembled in this collection. The images are stories in themselves.
The Test: Living in the Shadow of Huntington’s Disease, by Jean Barema. There was a 50-50 chance the author had inherited the incurable, degenerative disease known as Huntington’s. This book chronicles his agonizing over whether to get the genetic test, his siblings’ and mother’s experience with the disease, and his countdown to his own test and receipt of the results. Even those of us who don’t fact Huntington’s confront many of the same questions about mortality, and the physical losses that may come with age.
Days That I’ll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, by Jonathan Cott. This book captures Lennon in his post-Beatles life, dealing with couplehood and parenthood, exploring new creative frontiers. It’s a relief to see a book that doesn’t vilify Ono as the woman who “broke up the Beatles,” but rather explores the artistic and political views that she and Lennon shared and kindled in one another.
Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler. Hartzler grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household. But much of what he was drawn to (partying, rock music, dating), his family viewed as sinful. This book records his ever-more-painful attempts to please the family he loves, while unable to resist exploring the music and relationships that call to him.
Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Boylan shares her own experience parenting before, during, and after her transition from male to female, and she also interviews so many other parents that the result is a rich and diverse exploration of what it means to be a parent, what it means to be a child, and how gender does (or doesn’t) affect parent-child relationships. Plenty of food for thought here.
Stories from Jonestown, by Leigh Fondakowski. I blogged about this book here—an unforgettable look at a movement that started out in hope, peace, and brotherhood, and ended in the tragedy of murder and suicide.
Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter, by Beth Kephart. Kephart explores all kinds of friendships: how those bonds form, and how they strengthen, and how and why they sometimes dissipate. And it’s as beautifully written as all her books.
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A. J. Jacobs. Jacobs attempts to follow the Bible literally. He immediately confronts a few problems: which version of the Bible? How to interpret passages that are unclear or conflicting? What to do about actions that are now illegal (like stoning people)? But in studying and trying to live the Bible, he discovers plenty about both God and humankind.
Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Concise, poetic, and meditative, this is a book that’s meant to be savored and reread. It records the kind of deep pondering, the questions and discoveries, that can come to mind when we let ourselves stop and think and reconnect with the natural world.
source of recommended reads: all from library, except Gift from the Sea, Plume, and Two Boys Kissing, which were purchased.
Edited by Christopher Golden, DARK DUETS features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. Here are the duos and the titles of their tales:
TRIP TRAP by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson
WELDED by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright
DARK WITNESS by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine
REPLACING MAX by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie
T. RHYMER by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry
SHE, DOOMED GIRL by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan
HAND JOB by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch
HOLLOW CHOICES by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss
AMUSE-BOUCHE by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
BRANCHES, CURVING by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith
RENASCENCE by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson
BLIND LOVE by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale
TRAPPER BOY by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala
STEWARD OF THE BLOOD by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore
CALCULATING ROUTE by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene
SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, & Holly Black
SINS LIKE SCARLET by Mark Morris & Rio Youers
Dark Duets will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2014.
If you're connected with a bookstore, please pass along that Dark Duets is not canceled. In the words of editor Christopher Golden, "Apparently there is some confusion because it was originally announced as a hardcover and will now be a trade paperback. Distributors are notifying stores that the hardcover is canceled without explaining that it's been replaced by the trade. This could be very detrimental to sales, so any help spreading the word to stores is deeply appreciated." Spread the word, booksellers!
- Current Mood: thankful
- :Interesting by Maria Mena
Here's what I expected: I knew (mainly from the EW review) that the main character, a Mexican American teenager named Shy, who had a summer job working on a luxury cruise ship, was going to end up on a life boat with a rich white babe, Addison. And I knew that survival was going to be an Issue. I assumed I was going to get a whole "let's dispel prejudice" love story along with my disaster...but I didn't know how Epic the disaster part was going to be, and how it would propel the story into the realm of speculative fiction...and I didn't know that the whole bit on the boat would be a relatively minor note in what proved to be a more character-rich, action-packed adventure than I had anticipated.
I figured it out pretty quickly though. The Living may be a gripping page-turner, the sort of book one might read in a single sitting with dishes unwashed, suitcase unpacked, and general let the kids play in the traffic way, but subtle it is not. Right at the beginning we learn about a horrible (mercifully fictional) disease, and it's hard for even a relatively dim reader like me not to think Pandemic! And when Shy, dispensing free water to the rich strolling the decks, hears the guilt-filled ramblings of man who's about to jump off the ship (and succeeds in making it to the water, despite Shy's efforts to pull him back), it's hard not to suspect that there are Bad Plot Things afoot.
And then you have the whole major earthquake devastating the West Coast thing....and the concomitant tsunami hitting the cruise ship...and there's a nice sinking ship of doom bit before finally the reader (along with Shy and Addison) gets a bit of a breather from action and intrigue (though there is a bit of a shark issue) while almost dying of thirst, hunger, and exposure (with bonus overcoming prejudice, although I must say that Addison is such a racist little snot that such rehabilitation of her character as occurs is unbelievable).
But in any event, along the way we are introduced to a bevy of interesting characters (the death toll is high, so don't get too attached), and the characters reflect on class and race, and though one of them is a Magical Negro type (the shoeshine man, who calls himself just Shoeshine), he clearly has lots of interesting backstory and rises above M. N. status. Basically, it is all just as riveting as all get out, even though I totally guessed what was up on the Mysterious Island.
Short answer--it was great fun to read, and I still haven't packed (except for the books I'm taking with me). And if the sequel comes out the week before I go away again, I probably won't pack then either. Speaking of travel, if you yourself have packed, instead of reading The Living, and are flying in the next few days, it would make a really really good airplane book....cruise ship book, not so much.
Now, for a holiday post. Every year, I talk about my struggle to find Christmassy reading materials. This goes back to something that started accidentally. In my first year to be freelancing, I joked about how I needed to have an office party. At the med school, our office party had been a nice lunch outing. At PR agencies, it was mandatory "fun" in which we had to go out to some place on a Friday or Saturday night, being thanked and "rewarded" by having to give up our free time, which I always hated because those parties were seldom really fun. I decided that I would take an afternoon to put on Christmas music, have hot cocoa and cookies, and read something just for fun, and that would be my office party. I bought a new book just for the occasion. I hadn't planned it this way, but the book turned out to take place at Christmas time. It wasn't marketed as a "Christmas" book. It was just a book that happened to be set against that backdrop. I enjoyed that so much that I set out to try to repeat the experience, only it's very hard to find books like that. I'm not really a fan of romance novels, let alone the (usually trying too hard) designated Christmas romances. I don't want Christmas to be a central theme, just part of the setting. I guess you could say I want something like The Holiday in book form. It could have taken place at any time, but putting it at Christmas added some conflict and atmosphere.
That first book I found was A Promising Man by Elizabeth Young and was about a woman who meets what seems like the perfect man, until she learns that he might be the new boyfriend of her high school nemesis. Does that "don't steal your friends' boyfriends" thing apply to people who tormented you but now stay in touch as frenemies? The heroine and the guy meet when she's out Christmas shopping, then she's planning an "orphans" Christmas in the city with her roommates and other friends, since her parents are going to be out of the country, but then everyone else gets other plans and she ends up going with the guy to his family's dinner. We get London shopping and an English village. Yay!
I've been less successful since then. When I've found books that seem to be set at the right time of year, the authors have the nasty habit of skipping past Christmas entirely. Or there's something else about the book that annoys me.
Some others that have worked:
The Rose Revived by Katie Fforde -- there's an extended sequence in which one of the three heroines helps a guy who inherited his family's farm (and it's practically medieval farmhouse) get ready to host his extended family for Christmas, though the book takes place over a longer span of time.
Life Skills also by Katie Fforde has some pivotal scenes taking place at Christmas (and bonus, at Oxford, so I can easily visualize it), but there are some things that irk me enough that it doesn't entirely work as a Christmas book.
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos is beautifully atmospheric and seasonal, but has some sad, depressing stuff, too, and it makes me cry, so it takes the proper mood.
Bridget Jones's Diary can also work because it has some pivotal holiday moments.
It's a lot harder to check for seasonality when I have no local bookstores and can't flip through a few pages to see when a book takes place, and the library's selection is rather random.
I do re-read A Christmas Carol and the Christmas section of The Wind in the Willows every so often.
Connie Willis has some good Christmas material in some of her novels. The Christmas portions of Doomsday Book are lovely, but the rest of the book gets pretty grim. There are also some nice Christmas bits in the Blackout/All Clear two-parter, but again, there's a lot of other stuff that doesn't quite fit the mood. Her short story collection, Miracle makes for good seasonal reading. I particularly like the story about Dickens' ghosts getting seasonal jobs at a bookstore.