by Christine Kohler
When my Merit Press editor Jackie Mitchard e-mailed me the cover of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER, without hesitation I e-mailed back, “I love it!” What I loved about the cover is the perspective. I don’t know who is the illustrator of my cover, but he or she understood both the duel perspective—two alternate point of views—and the artist’s perspective of showing the WWII Japanese soldier underground looking up at the 15-year-old Chamorro boy in the Guam jungle. I am not an artist, but my dad is an amateur artist so I understand a bit about drawing and perspective, that’s why I loved that my cover illustration has spatial and dimensional perspective.
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I was also tremendously relieved when I first saw my cover. I was relieved for what was not on it. I did not get any say on my cover or book description or, initially, my author bio. NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is set on Guam during 1972 with two characters—the protagonist is a 15-year-old Chamorro boy and the antagonist is a WWII Japanese soldier. It has made me anxious in the production of this book and marketing materials, such as a trailer or audio recording, that any images or vocals or representations will accurately reflect the indigenous Pacific-Islanders—Chamorros—in the Marianas, which includes Guam. (I lived in Japan and Guam.) Because of this concern of authenticity, I have not even had a trailer made. I want to hire someone on Guam to make it. I’ve also recommended to my publisher that they hire someone from the University of Guam to record the audio book because of the pidgin English and Japanese dialects in NO SURRENDER SOLDIER. But, in the end, the publisher selects, not the author. So you can imagine my relief when my cover did not show faces or clothing. The only person on the cover is a black silhouette of the Chamorro teen as the hidden soldier might see him from the underground tunnel.
My book description has been problematic in writing because it is easy to give away too many spoilers. I wondered if the book cover would prove the same—needing a description, including spoilers, to explain what is going on in this collage of greens. However, something happened after I gave a bookmark to a teen that reminded me to trust the intelligence of my readers. The teen boy looked at the cover of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER and asked, “Did a bomb go off?” I realized that he could tell there was a big hole in the ground. (See, the illustrator was successful creating dimensional and spatial perspective!) I hesitated, not wanting to give away a spoiler, and said, “This hole was not caused by a bomb; it was caused by a WWII soldier who dug an underground tunnel with a cannon shell. However, there is a bomb in the story.”
Hopefully from the readers’ perspective the cover of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER will pique their interest and draw them in to read the story.
Preorder NO SURRENDER SOLDER:
Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound
**This post first appeared 12/13/13 on UnCommonYA**
by Beth Fehlbaum
Colby Denton, whose story, BIG FAT DISASTER, will be thrust into the limelight in March/April 2014, asked if she could introduce herself to UncommonYA readers. Colby told me that she’s had enough of hiding in the shadows, and she’d rather speak for herself. She says she’s been silent long enough.
I’m Colby Denton. I’m fifteen years old, and I live in Texas. I used to live in the Dallas area until my dad cheated on my mom and stole from his campaign and investment firm clients. He was a candidate for senate, running on a family values platform. . . The irony is not lost on me, either, so go ahead and laugh. I’ll join you.
The F.B.I. seized our house as evidence of Dad’s crimes, since he paid it off with stolen money. My mom, sisters, and I would be homeless if my dad’s sister, Leah, hadn’t offered to let us use an old mobile home that’s behind her house.
Now, I live in this little bitty town in East Texas called Piney Creek. This place is so tiny that K-12 grades are in the same school building. I wish there was no Internet here. If there weren’t, maybe what happened to me—that video of me dressing that showed up on Facebook. . . <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”" normal”=”">man. Anybody got a Rewind button for my life?
I’ve been standing on stages, smiling, and waving at strangers for as long as I can remember, but the truth is, I hate the limelight with a passion, which is one reason that I don’t fit with my family. I mean, honestly, there are so many reasons I don’t fit in, at least a hundred of which are the extra pounds I carry, but hating the limelight is a biggie when your mom is a former Miss Texas.
I’ve always been pretty much alone, even when I was surrounded by people who wanted something from my parents. I’ve hidden behind a smile while rapid-fire thoughts seemed to be propelling me toward a binge, and I counted the moments until I could get behind closed doors with my Snack Stash to try to stop the feelings that felt as if they would swallow me whole.
When I found a photo of my dad kissing another woman, then found out about his crimes, I didn’t think my life could become more disastrous than it was.
Then, I moved to Piney Creek.
And the video happened.
And tragedy struck.
And there was no “Rewind” button for my life.
And. . .
Read my story to find out what happened.
Find Beth Fehlbaum, the author of BIG FAT DISASTER, online!
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Preorder BIG FAT DISASTER, and check out Beth’s other books!
Big Fat Disaster, Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience:
Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound
** This post first appeared 12/16/13 on UnCommon YA*
You guys. It’s here. Carina Press gave me the okay to share and I’m super very major excited. My debut cozy mystery, Murder by the Seaside, arrived from Carina Press in October 2013. It was an exhilarating and terrifying experience. My stories skirt the edges of traditional “cozy” with lots of humor, hijinks and sexy love interest, but hey, what can I say? I’m a sucker for the guy next door AND unattainable FBI Special Agents in black board shorts. What? Was that too specific?
I like to drag out a good reveal, so I’ll give you some background on the awesomeness that is Carina’s cover designers.
THIS is the first cover in my series. Murder by the Seaside and the quick deets about content. Below this….is my new cover!
Art by Harlequin 2013
Armed with a new counseling degree, Patience Price is eager to move back home to Chincoteague Island to help folks with their problems. But she finds the streets awash in more than East Coast charm. There’s been a murder, and Adrian Davis, the town golden boy who once stomped her heart into a zillion pieces, is the main suspect. Now he’s on the run, claiming he’s innocent. Patience finds this…poetic. Not that she holds a grudge.
Adrian’s mom is sure that with her FBI background Patience can find the truth. Yes, she was at the FBI—in human resources. Still, she looks into it, but not everyone is happy with her snooping. Either that, or the welcome wagon has some bold new policies involving drive-by shootings.
Things really heat up when a hunky former coworker, an actual FBI agent, arrives to help. But he may be too late; the quaint island harbors deadly secrets—and Patience is running out of time.
And THIS *drum roll* Is the official Murder Comes Ashore Cover!
It’s glorious. I died. I’m blogging this love from the dead.
Art by Harlequin 2014
Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.
Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.
When the body count rises and Patience’s parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It’s not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she’s determined to clear her family’s name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer’s next victim.
So there it is folks. What do you think? A fabulous new cozy mystery cover from Carina Press & Harlequin. Am I a lucky lady today or what?
OH! ALSO…..I’m planning a month long promo tour for the release of Murder Comes Ashore, so please stop and see me at one of the blogs I visit. I’m giving away copies of book one and two throughout the month and on March 31st, a FaceBook Party with fun facts, stories, pictures and *Prizes!* Don’t miss my March-long shenanigans! Stop back here for a list of stops. I’ll post it March 1st and leave it until the end of the tour.
See you then!
by Steven Parlato, Author of THE NAMESAKE
One Thing. When I saw this blog assignment title, I immediately thought of that One Direction song. Admit it, you’re humming it right now. “I need that one thing. And you’ve got that ONE THING.” (Full disclosure: I’m dad to a Brit-obsessed pre-teen daughter.)
Well, for me, writing successfully typically involves three things. Okay, there are a bunch (Rolling Rock and my wife’s potato salad were integral to completing THE NAMESAKE), but my big three are: Observation, Imagination and Persistence. I preach these to my students as keys to process, and I use them when creating poetry and fiction. Observation involves incorporating real-world elements and experience, and imagination’s a given for making up stories. So these first two have to do with creating the work. Anyone who writes—or opens his or her eyes daily—knows persistence is all about self-propelled forward motion.
But this post is about selling one’s creation, and as it turns out, persistence is pretty essential there, too; it’s most effective paired with pushing past self-imposed limitations. Here’s what I mean. In regular life, I’m generally a nice guy. Colleagues at the college where I teach coached me in the art of saying no, fearing I’d be capsized by tasks I agreed to undertake. That’s me, agreeable. I’m also a believer in meant-to-be, and even in “whatever-will-be”. This has sometimes led to taking the path of least resistance, the path of not making waves, not sending back the overcooked steak, the path to inertia.
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When it came to my novel, I forged a different path. On some gut-deep level, THE NAMESAKEmattered to me so intensely I had to persist. And several twists in the road to publication seemed to indicate it would never happen. I won’t bore you with details of the high-powered senior executive editor who liked my book, but unfortunately also wanted to live life (Life = having twins, earning an MLS; quitting her house to be an agent; then abandoning publishing altogether to become a librarian—librarians rock, btw). And I won’t go into the countless rejections from agents, some who loved the voice but didn’t love the story. Every author, published or un, can tell a similar tale.
You get the picture. Many times it would’ve been easier to quit. To be the quiet, nice guy, seemingly okay taking no for the final answer. But the toughest moment involved my agent. Well, my former agent. Remember the high-powered editor? When she took an interest in my early chapters, I knew I’d need representation. So I did some homework. I researched YA novels she’d edited, particularly those of debut novelists. I read some, and I queried agents who’d been acknowledged by their appreciative authors. And with one of these, I struck gold. Real-life, invited-to-New-York, office-elevator-bigger-than-our-kitchen, fancy-lunch-and-drinks, swept-me-off-my-feet gold. This agent was a SOMEBODY. He’d worked for years as an editor. Founded a well-known press. Was seemingly gaga for mymanuscript? I signed on the dotted line, and rode the train home starry-eyed.
Sadly, our instantaneous click almost as instantaneously fizzled. Nothing happened with my novel for over two years. At that point, I made one of the boldest decisions of my life. I made waves. I sent back the steak. I (amicably) dumped that agent. We both knew we made a bad match, but I took the necessary—and difficult—step. Although that was a definite low point, I actually felt pretty good (Well, after plunging into a deep-but-brief bout of despair); you see, somehow, I still believed in THE NAMESAKE. And, having spent those two-plus, agented-limbo years reworking independently, I began submitting right away (well, after the mandated thirty days). It turned out the second agent who fell for my book, the fantastic Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider, was really THE ONE. Speaking of persistence, Victoria was THE NAMESAKE’s Fairy Godmother of Persistence—but in a non-flighty, totally professional way— and her persistence led me to Jacquelyn Mitchard and Merit Press. Huzzah!
Anyway, when it came to selling my book, like anyone’s, there were many factors. Observation and imagination were essential in creating a saleable product. However, in that home stretch, persistence was definitely that one thing I needed most. And somehow (The grace of God? The prayers of a 90-something-year-old nun? An army of supportive friends and relatives, and one amazingly encouraging wife?), I realized—to paraphrase 1D–I’ve got that one thing.
Buy The Namesake: Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound
** This post first appeared 12/27.13 on UnCommon YA**
Oh, that elusive feeling: contentment.
It’s a brand new year and I’m feeling daunted already. I add challenges and goals to my list faster than I cross them off and as a result, I’m always a bit twitchy. Jumpy. Over-caffeinated. I’m always working and rarely satisfied. My mind runs on black coffee and sleep deprivation. It’s not a peaceful place in there.
It wasn’t always this way. In 2012, everything about writing was shiny and new. The possibilities were endlessly lovely and I was happy. My small press even gave me an award for my enthusiasm at the annual Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together. Those were good times, but the feeling didn’t last. I soon started to struggle with knowing when I’d done enough and when it was okay to relax and enjoy what I’d accomplished.
As I sat down to write my 2014 reading and writing resolutions this week, I realized I was nervous. Jittery even. Faced with a brand new year of possibilities, I panicked. I realized anything can happen. Anything. Look. There are 363 more days where I can fall on my face and 363 more days of obstacles to conquer. I’m exhausted just thinking of everything I need to do. I wrung my hands together and put my head between my knees a while. While I was folded over, it occurred to me this wasn’t normal.
In the interest of being transparent and taking full advantage of this blog as my personal therapist, (you don’t mind do you?), I will confess that I feel like a failure as an author. Daily. It was only five short years ago I jostled a newborn in one arm, opened a search engine with the other and Googled “How to write a book.” I signed a contract eighteen months later with a small press for a romance novella and I was so super happy… for five minutes. Then I wrote a bunch more sweet romance stories for them, but I was never really satisfied. The books came out. I celebrated and I kept writing. I kicked myself for not selling more copies or for not climbing the publishing ladder faster. I should have been happy with the progress I was making, but I wasn’t. I was anxious. Worried. Frustrated. It wasn’t enough.
I kept writing. I branched out. In fall 2012, I landed contracts with Carina Press for a cozy series and with Merit Press for a YA suspense. Both those contracts were a BIG deal for me. I’d moved up a baby-writer-rung on the industry ladder and I was elated. … for five minutes.
I’ve continued writing and submitting new manuscripts, hoping for another contract. I spend hours online and weekends away seeking name recognition and praying readers will find my books among the millions available. It’s overwhelming. I’m tired.
So, this year I’m not writing any resolutions. This year I’m setting my sights on inner peace and I’m making time to be thankful for the journey so far. In 2014 I want to write because it’s my passion – not because I’m on a quest to climb ladders. I want to read because it’s fun – not because I took the GoodReads challenge and set my bar unreasonably high. No more guilt in reading. No more guilt in writing. Somewhere along the way, my perspective tilted and I lost the joy.
I’ve had enough of the unnecessary pressure I put on myself. I miss my family. I’m taking back the good stuff.
This year I’ve given myself permission to relax. To breathe. To be content with where I am. If I never get another contract or sell another copy of anything I’ve written, that’s okay too. The world won’t end. I won’t die and honestly, my kids probably wouldn’t know the difference.
My singular 2014 resolution is contentment.
Three days in and I’m sleeping better already.
Anyone else need permission to breathe? I’ve got lots of room for company.
** This post first appeared January 3, 2014 on Not Your Usual Suspects**