Monday, February 28, 2011

Featured Author - Jacquelyn Mitchard

I think the world of Jacquelyn Mitchard. And it's not just because she kept trying to write out something for my blog in the midst of everything else she was doing this month (although in my book she gets a gold star for fabulousness for that). Jacquelyn is a gifted writer and has written many books including Deep End of the Ocean - you know, the one that was made into a movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Whoopi Goldberg and was an Oprah Book Club choice...yes, that's the one ;) She also has a great blog which I highly recommend, and she is wonderful about sharing her wisdom with new authors.


By: Jacquelyn Mitchard

MYTH: If my book is published by a large press, such as Harper Collins, I’ll only be a face in the crowd to my editor.

TRUTH: A good editor at a large publishing house, a small independent or a copying machine in your basement will give you professional treatment, understanding and support. Your book’s success matters to your editor and your publisher.

MTYH: Agents are crooks and the best writers don’t need them.

TRUTH: Bad agents are bad and bad lawyers are bad and bad doctors are bad and bad singers are bad. A professional, powerful, thoughtful, determined agent is the angel in your corner. Make sure that agent is a member in good standing of the Association of Author Representatives and then, trust your gut. But negotiating the world of e-rights, not to mention a, b, c and d rights, is a full time job and not yours.

MYTH: No one can get published anymore. The market is too tough. You have to be an established “name.”

TRUTH: It is much more difficult to get a novel published now than it was a decade ago. Many doors are at least opened to “name” authors. That said, Charles Bock’s ‘Beautiful Children’ Kathryn Casey’s ‘Minotaur’ James Syrie’s ‘The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen’ and Ann Wentz Garvin’s ‘On Maggie’s Watch,’ were all first novels that generated lots of buzz and, in some cases, lots of $.

MYTH: I need an advanced degree to write fiction.

TRUTH: You may wish to sturdy for your MFA to do deeper into your fiction and poetry. In teaching, an advanced degree is an enormous advantage. In being published, it is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.

MYTH: The biggest of the big writers don’t write their own books.

TRUTH: A few (such as James Patterson) produce detailed outlines that are then written in first draft form by a salon of newer writers whom Patterson encourages and nurture in their own work as well. Most writers whose names you know as important, however, write every page just as I am writing this blog.

MYTH: You have to be under the age of 30 to really make it. Editors want to have a long term relationship with the writers they “raise” from their first books.

FACT: If you write a great book, no one cares about your age. Many authors (such as Lisa Genova, ‘Still Alice,’ and ‘Left Neglected’) are 40 or older and have been very successful in other fields before their first novels are published. Orange Prize short lister Patricia Kesling Woods was 53 when ‘Lottery!’ was published. Editors do want a long- term relationship, so walk two miles every day and eat your bran flakes. They do not want to hold hands with a neurotic adolescent. Being a person who has found herself as well has her voice is no disadvantage.

MYTH: a professional editing job, pre-submission will mess up my book’s vision.

TRUTH: Good editing before an agent ever sees your first 50 pages is a wonderful idea if you can afford it. Professional editors with proven track records probably do the best job but the “second eyes” of a friend in the craft is a terrific boost.

MYTH: All top-notch writers live on the east or west coats.

TRUTH: Elizabeth Berg lives near Chicago. Jane Hamilton lives in Wisconsin. Billy Bryson lives in England and Carl Hiassen lives in Florida. Chris Bohjalian lives in Vermont and Jodi Picoult lives in New Hampshire. A very famous writer once told me that living in New York City actually kept him from writing because there was so much more temptation to participate in social and cultural events.

MYTH: Other writers will steal your ideas. Agents will steal your ideas and give them to more established authors.

TRUTH: This is called paranoia and results from extraordinary stress and pre-publication blues. While I have never personally known a situation in which this happened, the lawsuit based on the PROOF of its happening would set you up for life and let your write your first ten books without having to wait tables.

MYTH: I have young kids. I cannot write. I have a job. I cannot write.

TRUTH: When I wrote my first novel, I had four kids under the age of ten, and was a widow, and had three day jobs .I had no money. I was besieged by grief. As Jane Hamilton said to me at the time, “These are very good excuses. However, they are excused.” You are barking up the wrong writer with this song. The truth is that children do better if they pay more attention to you than you pay to them. The truth is that you don’t have to be a bad parent to be a good writer. And you do not have to be a woman. Andre Dubus III (‘House of Sand and Fog,’ ‘Townie’) is one of the best family men and one of the best writers I know. He also is a full-time professor.

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the author of ten novels for adults, including The Deep End of the Ocean and the upcoming Second Nature: A Love Story. she also is a frequent contributor to magazines such as Parade and Real Simple and adjust professor of Creative Writing in the MFA program at Fairfield University.

Featured Author - Chelsea Cain

Chelsea Cain has published 12 novels, her first in 1996 at the age of 22. Her newest novel The Night Season will be released in March 2011. Her novel Heartsick made it on NPR's 100 Best Killer Thrillers list. What's great about Chelsea is her sense of humor which translates into her books. To get a good idea of what I mean, here's what she sent me for all of you:

What I Wish I Knew About Getting Published Before it Happened To Me
By Chelsea Cain,
Author of The Night Season

•Travel with a corkscrew. Otherwise you will end up having to buy one every time you want to take a bottle of wine back to the hotel room.
•Never get photographed holding a glass of wine. The glass always looks askew, and you will look drunk.
•When an agent/editor says they "don't love it," it means they hate it.
•Every copy counts. You'd be amazed how few copies you have to sell to get on the bestseller list.
•Don't tell people you will read their manuscripts. You won't, and then they'll think you're an asshole.
•If there is a mistake in your book, readers will find it and they will mention it over and over again.
•The Oregon State Bird is the Western Meadowlark.
•Sometimes you will give readings, and no one will come. The resulting crushing despair will pass.
•The best signing pen is the extra fine tip Sharpie. The regular tip Sharpie emits more fumes and will make you high after about a half hour.
•Always ask people how they spell their names before you write an inscription, even if you are certain that there is only one way to spell "Pat."
•Protect your writing time at all costs. When you are published at a certain level, you will find that you have very little time to write, among all the events, social networking, interviews, book tours travel and endless online Q&As. Marketing is important, but only if you have a book to promote.
•Get a really good accountant.
•Make friends with booksellers, they are some of your most important allies.
•No red wine before photo shoots -- it stains your teeth.
•Don't put a heart on the cover of your book if you want lots of men to buy it.
•On a related note, don't put the word "heart" in the title of your book if you want lots of men to buy it.
•If you have any say, go with trade paperback, as opposed to mass market.
•When you start to panic because of a publishing issue, wait 24 hours before you send the frantic email to your agent/editor/publisher. This will save you having to write the second email where you apologize for the first.
•People like it when you look like your author photo, so don't go dying your hair platinum right after the book comes out.
•Get a P.O. Box.
•Few of your friends or family will ever truly understand exactly what you do. Tell people you are a nurse or a ballerina.
•It is perfectly natural to hate your copy editor.
•If you have to sign 1000 tip-in sheets, you probably want to do this over time rather than waiting until the night before.
•Trust your translators. They are collaborators and they know their cultural markets way better than you do.
•If you happen to know a language your book is translated into, never ever read it.
•Some people like to see their names in books; some people do not.
•Do not, under any circumstances, start checking your sales ranking on Amazon.
•If you go to Book Expo America, wear really comfortable shoes. Even then, bring band-aids.
•Sign stock anytime anyone asks you to.
•Norwegians are awesome.
•At some point you will be doing an event, and someone will bring you a used copy of your book to sign and you will open it only to find that you have already signed it to some dear friends who immediately unloaded it at the used books desk at Powell's. Do not feed sad. It will make a funny story later.
Copyright © 2011 Chelsea Cain, author of The Night Season

Author Bio
Chelsea Cain's, author of The Night Season, first three novels featuring Archie Sheridan -- Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart -- have all been New York Times bestsellers. Also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, a parody based on the life of Nancy Drew, and several nonfiction titles, Chelsea was born in Iowa, raised in Bellingham, Washington and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.

Chelsea Cain's newest thriller, The Night Season, is out March 1, 2011.

For more information about the author please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, February 25, 2011

Featured Author - Lisa Gardner

One of the things I like about Lisa Gardner's website is that she includes a link for aspiring writers called WRITER'S TOOLBOX. There's some great stuff on there, so take some time to check it out. She has published many books (both romance and thrillers). She sold her first novel when she was just 20, and her latest novel Love You More comes out next month, March 2011. She has 12 New York Times bestsellers and won The International Thriller Writers award for her novel The Neighbor.

She sent along some advice that's short and sweet but certainly relevant:

My best advice is to sit at your computer and write. Every day. Get to know your market and go for it. You can’t get rejected if you never submit. Those rejection letters are just more steps on your path to publication.


Lisa Gardner

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Featured Author - Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury has written over 40 novels and has made it both on the USA and New York Times Bestseller list. Her novel Like Dandelion Dust was released in theaters in 2010 and she has three others that are either in production and scheduled for production. She has also written music and wrote on an upcoming album for Marie Osmond - the song is called Tell me to Breathe. Her books include series books and childrens books, and what's refreshing about her books is that they are uplifting.

Karen's mother, Anne, was kind enough to respond to my request and her comments are below:

"Thanks for asking about writing tips. Karen has put together a list of "Writing Tips" on her web site. We have heard from many writers that these were helpful to them. Click HERE for her tips.

Additionally, if you search the Internet under "Christian writing tips" loads of information comes up from many well known authors. There are also online writer's associations such as the Christian Writer's Guild - which will lead you through a course that helps you write your book. If you're interested in this, that's something Karen recommends. It is run by a good friend of hers - author Jerry Jenkins.

Here's another author's blog with writing tips: by Randy Ingemanson

Here's a website that has very good information on how to submit a manuscript to an agent:
Then click on "Submission Guidelines".

Karen didn't struggle to get published like most authors do. A New York agent discovered her because she was a news reporter for the LA Times and was covering a trial. The agent asked her if she could make the story into a book and she did and received a four book contract from a big publisher. The rest is history as they say!

When you get time please stop by Karen's Facebook page. Karen posts there almost every day! There's a link on her website.

"Unlocked" which is Karen's new "stand alone" book released on October 12th. You can also watch her new talk show on her website. Karen interviews those who have inspired this story. She also introduces "Cody Coleman" who is a character in her "Above The Line Series"!

Thanks so much again for your letter, and for taking time to share your thoughts."


Anne Kingsbury
Karen's Mother and Assistant

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Featured Author - Marta Perry

Marta Perry aspired to write from the tender age of eight. She has several different series of books in the romance and suspense genre and writes an Amish series as well. She is also a New York Times bestseller. She has written and published over 40 books and I was honored to have her do a guest blog this month.

"When I was getting started in writing, the internet didn't exist, I hadn't heard about organizations like RWA, and I'd never even met another oddball person like me! Aspiring writers today have so many wonderful opportunities to network with other writers and to learn from the best, and I would urge them to take full advantage of that. Seek out groups, either in your community or online, who have the same aspirations you do, and who have the same level of commitment. (Beware the group which turns into a coffeeklatch, talking about writing instead of actually doing it!) I think it's also helpful if the other folks in the group are at your skill and experience level or a little farther along. Remember, you need honest critiquing and encouragement, not criticism.

Above all, aspiring writers must read, read, read, especially in the genre in which you want to write. Know what the classics are; know what the bestsellers are; know what's selling now, not what sold last year.

And write, write, write. It's my personal belief that all of us have a certain amount of dreck that we have to write before we can get down to the real stuff--the things that only we can write, the stories only we can tell."

Wishing each of you all the best in your own writing journeys,

Marta Perry

Visit me on Facebook at Marta Perry Books
MURDER IN PLAIN SIGHT, Amish suspense, HQN Books, Dec., 2010
SARAH'S GIFT, Pleasant Valley Amish Book 4, Berkley Books, March, 2011
VANISH IN PLAIN SIGHT, Amish suspense book 2, HQN Books, June, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Featured Author - D.B. Henson

One of the reasons I chose D.B. Henson is because of her story. It's not typical like those who went the usual route trying to get an agent as far as being rejected and then plugging along like this for a time before becoming published.

D.B. took advantage of what the new era has to offer - the power of the internet. She published herself, and in doing so, landed an agent. Her first novel Deed to Death is an Amazon Kindle bestseller, and I'm sure this is just the beginning of a long and prosperous career. For those of you toying with the idea of self-publishing, this is for you.

"My story is not typical; I did not choose a route to publication that would lead to rejections. When I was finishing Deed to Death, my first novel, I read about Joe Konrath’s success self-publishing on Amazon. Rather than querying agents which could take months, I decided to follow Joe’s lead and upload the book to Amazon myself. I reasoned that if the book sold, it would help me to secure an agent for my next novel. I had no idea Deed to Death would become so popular. It caught the attention of Noah Lukeman, president of Lukeman Literary Management. He just recently sold the book to Simon & Schuster.

The best advice I received was from Joe Konrath – to self-publish. Had I not gone that route, I would probably be sitting amidst a pile of rejection letters.

Question: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers about the industry?

Answer: The industry is rapidly changing. I believe the future lies in e-books, however, I think there will still be a market for paper books for several years to come.

Question: What books did you read that you feel are must reads for new writers?

My agent, Noah Lukeman, has written three books I feel are must reads for writers."

They are:

The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life

A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation

My other favorites are:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

On Writing by Stephen King

- D.B. Henson

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Featured Author - Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich has her own unique style of writing that is unlike anything I've seen before, and that makes her stand out among other authors. She has three different series of mystery novels and has written romance as well (she actually got her start when her romance novel was published). I asked her a few questions about her experiences and this is what she had to say:

1. In the beginning of her career when she was rejected, what motivated her to keep going instead of giving up?

I actually did give up. I wrote three books and just couldn't seem to get published. I burned all my rejection letters and went out an got a temp job. But four months into my new secretarial career I got a call from an editor wanting to buy my last manuscript.

2. Was there one piece of advice she received from an agent or someone in the business in the early days that improved her writing or helped her to eventually get published, and if so what?

There wasn't one piece of advice that helped me get published, but after I was published an editor told me to never hold anything back for the next book. Always put all your good stuff in the book you're writing. I think that's good advice.

3. When her first books were rejected, did she do anything to different with the next book (the first one to be published) that made all the difference, and if so what?

Those first books were mostly about me teaching myself. Typically, a rejection letter doesn't come with a lot of criticism, constructive or otherwise. It's usually pretty much just a "no."