Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Tips for Author Signings

Since I have three author events and another (BEA) next month, I thought I'd share a few tips for author signings. I hope you find them helpful.

  • Don't just sit behind a table.  If you have to be behind a table (which I had to be at YA Fest), then stand. One, you're more visible—especially if you are short like I am and you don't clear your books by much when you sit. Two, you're more approachable because you appear closer to the people in attendance. Third, sitting can make you appear bored, which is not a message you want to send.
  • Smile and talk to everyone.  No one wants to approach an author who is blank-faced. Smile and be personable. Ask people where they're from. Ask  how there day is going. Ask what kind of books they like to read. 
  • Talk about more than just your book.  Yes, you are there to sell your books, but you're a human being too. Let people see that. Comment on a clever saying on a T-shirt someone is wearing or a cool color nail polish. Show that you aren't just a salesman. You're a person who cares about more than just making money.
  • Sit when you sign.  Yes, I know I told you to stand, and you should, but when it comes to signing the book, sit down. Your handwriting will be neater. I was so nervous for my first signing that my hand shook. Sitting down helps with that nervous shaking that can make your signature look like an elementary-school student wrote it. Once you're finished signing, stand back up and engage the reader again.
  • Offer to take a picture.  This one I learned from the very awesome Jennifer Armentrout. She offered to take pictures with everyone, which was great because sometimes fans are too shy or nervous to ask you for a picture. This takes the pressure off them.
  • Bring SWAG.  Offering something extra to readers, whether it's a bookmark, candy, stickers, tattoos, etc, goes a long way. I went through two huge bags of zombie limb candy at YA Fest. And... it brought people to my table because they wanted to know what it was. Also, those who liked zombies, then asked me what my books were about. See how that worked? ;)
  • Have a sign-up sheet for your newsletter.  This is one I forgot to do, but will definitely do in the future. Business cards get lost (or put through the wash if people leave them in their pockets), so even if people take them, you don't know that they'll use them. However, if they leave their email address, you can sign them up for your newsletters and know that they are getting the info about your books.

Those are my top tips for author signings. Do you have any other tips you want to mention?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Mishmash 4/21/14

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

1. YA Fest  On Saturday, I attended YA Fest with 49 other authors. It was crazy awesome. I got to meet my Month9Books family who I've talked to online but never met in person before.
Pab Sungenis, Jackie Kessler, Me, Jen McConnel, Janice Bashman, and Donna Gallanti

I also finally met Jennifer Armentrout in person, which was awesome since she blurbed my Touch of Death series for me.

Kate Kaynak photo bombed a picture, giving Lisa Amowitz bunny ears. ;)

So, I took a picture with Kate.

The lovely Kimberly Miller was nice enough to take a picture of me at my table.

I got a nice surprise when my friend and fellow author, Beth Consugar, showed up. We'd never met in person before.

Here's me with YA Fest founder, Jennifer Murgia, who happened to blurb The Monster Within for me.

And here I am with the totally sweet Jen McConnel. Seriously, what a sweetheart!

And that's probably way more pictures than you wanted to see, but I had an absolute blast and had to share. 

2.  Monroe County Book Expo  I'll be at the Hughes branch of the Eastern Monroe County Library on Saturday from 10am-3pm signing copies of all my books, PB through YA, and my Ashelyn Drake title, Campus Crush.

3.  Editing  I'm editing for clients this week along with working on revisions for two of my books. April has been such a busy month for me.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Feature: A Whisper in Time by Elizabeth Langston

"I have never been useless in my life…"

Rescued from a life of servitude by the boy she loves, Susanna Marsh escapes across two centuries, only to be plunged into a world she's ill-prepared to face. Unable to work or go to school, Susanna finds herself dependent on others to survive.

Immersed in the fun and demands of his senior year of high school, Mark Lewis longs to share his world with the girl who's captured his heart. But first he must tackle government bureaucracy to prove Susanna's identity.

Overwhelmed by her new home, Susanna seeks refuge in history and in news of the people she left behind. But when she learns that danger stalks her sister, Susanna must weigh whether to risk her own future in order to save Phoebe's happiness.

If you haven't read Whisper Falls yet, the first book in this series, you should. I loved it. Mark and Susanna are from different times, yet that doesn't stop them from falling for each other and their story is both touching and exciting to read. Elizabeth was nice enough to share a scene from A Whisper In Time, which releases April 8, 2014 through Spencer Hill Press. I'm really looking forward to it.

Setting up the scene: A Whisper In Time begins five weeks after Whisper Falls ends.  Susanna has immigrated across two centuries and doesn't understand how modern America works. One weekday, left alone at Mark's house, she finds herself locked out.

It took very few moments to discover that every door at Mark's house was locked.

I tried the garage last. It had a keypad that could raise the garage door, if only I could remember the correct numbers.

Mark said that the numbers changed each month and reflected a special occasion. What was the holiday for September? Had it not occurred this Sunday?

9-1-1. Yes, that had to be it. I pressed the three buttons.

Nothing happened. 

I tried again. There was no difference. Perhaps I should abandon the keypad and seek an open window instead.

I walked to the driveway and then assessed the distance from the ground to the window of the studio apartment over the garage.

A vehicle rolled behind me on the lane and stopped. A car door shut slowly with a deep ker-thunk. I glanced over my shoulder. A man in a dark uniform approached. He must be a member of law enforcement. An unfortunate circumstance.

"Hello," I said, clasping my hands before me. "Are you a police officer?"

"I am," he said, his voice clipped. "Who are you?"

"Susanna. How may I help you?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing."

Were there not crimes to manage in this city? My problem seemed entirely too mundane to concern the police. "I cannot get into the house."

"Why not?"

"It ís locked, and the keypad doesn't work."

"Ah. Do you know the combination?"

"Apparently not, else I should be inside now."

His eyes narrowed. "Is this your house?"

"No, indeed. It belongs to the Lewis family, but I do sleep here."

"Where do you sleep?"

"In the space over the garage."

"Miss, Iíll need to see some ID."

"I do not have any."

"Is your ID in the space over the garage too?"

Had he not heard me? "I have no identification card. The government will not give me one." I shook my head. America was far too concerned with identification.

"Miss, why don't you come with me?" He caught my elbow and tried to tug me down the driveway.

"Pardon me, sir," I said, pulling my arm from his grasp. "It isn't proper for you to touch me so."

He reached for me again. "Okay, that ís enough."

Have you read Whisper Falls yet? What do you think of this excerpt?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Beware the Repetition

If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.

Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.

Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After see where I'm going with this.

Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.

I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Mishmash 4/14/14

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. YA Fest  I'll be at YA Fest this Saturday (April 19th) signing copies of Touch of Death, Stalked by Death, and Face of Death. I'll also have plenty of SWAG including bookmarks, zombie limb candy, and buttons. I'm excited.
  2. Revisions  I'm currently revising three of my novels all on deadlines ranging from tomorrow to May 15th. I love revising. It's when I really get attached to my characters.
  3. Client edits  I'm also editing for clients. I have several edits scheduled through this month and May, which always makes me happy.
  4. Spring pictures  I'm working at my daughter's school on Wednesday for spring pictures. It's always fun to see the kids dressed up.
  5. Happy Holidays!  I wish you all a very happy Easter and Passover. 

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Feature: Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters

My name is Alyson Joanne Devlin, but everyone calls me AJ. I have two best friends, Julie and Jaime, a champion mare, and a great family. Then Celine Carroll came to town, and brought disaster with her. Celine took over my life. Celine took over Julie and Jaime, who aren’t my BFFs any more. Celine caused me to get hurt in cheerleading. 

Speaking of cheerleading, my new partners are Lisa and Amberley, (thanks to Celine), who are the most disliked girls in school. And that’s not all. My parents are divorcing. My mare got hurt. There’s a new woman in my dad’s life. My whole world is upside down. I mean, you’d think Celine was some kind of evil omen, wouldn’t you? Although, Amberley becomes the one bright light in…well, I guess you’ll have to read my story to learn about Amberley, and what happens to her, to me, and to Celine.

Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters by Mikki Sadil
Genre Tween Contemporary Fiction
Pages  231

Celine led us into the open kitchen/family room. A large gold-framed painting of Celine sitting astride a Thoroughbred and holding a silver trophy hung over the fireplace. Other framed paintings of horses, some with Celine, hung all over the walls. Most of them had blue ribbons next to them. I looked over at Julie, and she mouthed silently, “Wow!”
None of my friends’ family rooms looked like this. Ours always looked lived in, with dust on the coffee table, a few books lying around, and one of the twins’ games left forgotten on the floor. We had pictures of the twins and Andrew on their horses, and several of Sunni and me, but none of them were in gold frames. Ours was a real family room, not an art gallery like this. And it sure didn’t smell like fresh roses, either; more like…well, horses and whatever we had for dinner the night before.
Celine said, “Come on into the kitchen. You can sit at the bar, and I’ll get some snacks.”
A few minutes later, Julie, Jaime, and Celine were laughing and talking like they’d been friends forever, while I nibbled on chips and sipped my soda. I licked my lips, savoring the salty rim the chips left. The soda was cold and crisp going down my sore throat, but I almost choked on it when I heard some of the things Celine told the Js. The way they ate up all the stuff she told them about her very rich life in New York made them look as if they were hypnotized. I wasn’t buying it.
I felt neglected and angry. The Js and I were best friends. Now this Celine chick popped up out of nowhere, and they were acting like I wasn’t even in the same room.
I slipped off the stool and looked at the horse pictures. Across the hall was an open door leading to another large room. Since no one had even noticed I wasn’t at the bar, I walked over and peered inside. There were two big desks covered with computers, monitors, and more telephones than we had in our whole house.
Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed my shoulder. It hurt so bad I thought someone had put me in a vice.
A rough voice said, “Who are you and what are you doing snooping around? Answer me!”
I struggled to turn around and wished I hadn’t. The woman holding me looked positively evil. She was tall and skinny, with blunt cut black hair that barely touched her shoulders, and the meanest eyes I’d ever seen. Her face was broad and covered by acne pits. A long scar ran from the corner of her left eye, across her nose, down her right cheek and disappeared somewhere under her shoulder-length hair.
For the first time in my life, I knew exactly what that old cliché meant about something “making your skin crawl.”
She grabbed my other shoulder and shook me. Her hands were big, almost like a man’s, and they felt like steel.
I cleared my throat and tried not to sound as scared as I felt. “Uh, my friends and I…we…uh…we’re here with Celine. I was just looking at all the horse pictures and saw this room. I’m sorry if I did anything wrong.”
The woman looked me over from head to toe, then gave me a hard push. “Go back to your friends, and don’t ever let me catch you anywhere near this room again. You hear me?”
I felt like saying, “Or what?” but figured that might not be such a good idea. I nodded and backed away. Still scowling, she went into the room and slammed the door.
I walked back to where the Js and Celine were sitting. They were still laughing and talking. Obviously, they hadn’t even noticed I’d been gone.
“Hey,” I said abruptly, “it’s been fun, but I have homework and barn chores to do. Julie and Jaime, we still have more work to do on the history project. What time do you want to come over tonight so we can work on it?”
The Js looked at each other. “Um, AJ, since Celine is new and doesn’t have a science partner, she’s going to work with us. We’re coming back here tonight. That way we can show her what we are doing, so she can catch up.” Julie didn’t look at me.
It got real quiet all of a sudden. The Js had funny little half-smiles on their faces, but Celine definitely had a smirk on hers. Yeah, they were hypnotized all right.
“Fine, do what you want. I have to go.” I strolled out of the kitchen, deliberately brushing some chip crumbs from my shirt on the snowy white carpet. I slammed the front door, pulled on my shoes,, and ran down the driveway.

Find Mikki on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writer Wednesday: My Writing Process Blog Tour

I've been tagged by the lovely Fiona Phillips to talk about my writing process. So, here I go!

I primarily write young adult speculative fiction, but I also write middle grade and picture books because I love children's books in general. I'm the author of the Touch of Death series through Spencer Hill Press, which can be found here.

What am I working on?
Lots of stuff, as always. I'm revising three sequels right now, all set to come out in 2015. I'm also writing a new book that is so top secret I can't talk about it yet. ;) And I'm getting ready for the release of The Monster Within in June.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I love to find ways to twist plots so they aren't just more of what's already been done. So far I've written about descendants of Medusa, psychic vampires, and Phoenixes. I love anything out of the ordinary and that helps as far as making sure my work is unique.

Why do I write what I do?
I've always felt that paranormal and fantasy are like the real world only better. I find writing this genre is a great way to escape from life for a little while and step into something a little more interesting.

How does my writing process work?
I spend a lot of time plotting books before I start drafting, but then I typically let my characters take over and throw out my original planning because my characters are much smarter than I am. I also like to fast draft, writing as much as 18K in one day. I find the story flows better when I write that quickly.

Here's who's up next week for the My Writing Process Blog Hop:

Beth Fred: Beth Fred is the author of Fate of a Marlowe Girl, The Other Marlowe Girl, and A Missing Peace.

Kym BrunnerKym Brunner dreams entire books in her head, but then needs about a year to write the whole thing down. She wishes there was an app for this. When she's not writing, she's teaching 7th grade or watching movies, reality TV, or scoping out the social media scene. Friend her at Author Kym Brunner or find her on Goodreads.