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It’s Coming. September 18th. Fear the Reaper.

DECEIVED: The awesome, amazing, blowing my mind trailer from Kent State University Student, Matt Petrunak. Enjoy!

 

Controversial Content in my Book: PROVIDENCE, by Lisa Colozza Cocca

When I first read the subject for this blog, How do you deal with controversy in your book?, I thought:

1.     Stock up on rose-colored glasses
2.     Run like the wind!
3.     Bury head deep in the sand.

The truth is I never thought of Providence as controversial when I was writing it. I didn’t seek controversy, that’s for certain. The thing I really wanted readers to walk away with was a sense of the goodness in the world; that it is all around us, if only we open our eyes and hearts to it. Then a short time ago, I went to the NESCBWI conference in Massachusetts. One of my crit buddies, Betsy Reilly, was my roomy there. One night, we went to a panel discussion on edgy YA. When it was over, our discussion went something like this:

Me: My book isn’t at all edgy.

Betsy: You think that because we just heard them describing their edgy books in terms of foul language, sex, drugs, and violence. Your book doesn’t have those elements, but it has an edgy storyline.

Me (staring into space): Hmm, my main character does run away from home and is better off for it. I guess that is a little edgy.

Betsy: And she finds an abandoned baby and takes on the responsibility for her. That’s going to seem edgy to lots of people.

As she so often does, Betsy gave me much to think about. She helped me look at Providence in a new way, through a different lens. My initial reaction to this blog topic was that I haven’t written anything controversial. Then I reflected upon my conversation with Betsy and came up with a real answer to the question.

I was oblivious to it. I let my characters tell their story. I tried to stay out of the way and let the story be as true to the characters as possible. I think most emotions associated with books – joy, concern, excitement, and even contention, come from the interaction between the reader and the words on the page, not from the words alone. So I will leave the judgment of the book as controversial or not to the readers.

About Lisa:

421995Home:
I grew up in Cohoes, NY, a small city between Albany and Saratoga. I have lived most of my adult life in Morris County, NJ. It is a lovely place to live – close enough to and yet far enough away from the ‘big city’ New York.

Family:
I am happy to be the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of one precious little girl, all who bring joy to my life. I am also lucky to have five nephews and a niece who make me proud, three siblings, and in-laws. Life is good.

Work:
I’ve had many jobs in my lifetime. Some were fun; some were not. At the moment I work as a freelance writer/editor of educational materials and, of course, as an author of fiction.

Quirks:
Oh so many! One of my quirks is ironing my money. I have a bad habit of stuffing change into my pockets or into the corners of my purse. This results in wrinkled bills. I feel badly about giving these scrunched up dollars to a store clerk (who must fit it smoothly into the drawer) or a waitress, so I iron my bills to keep them neat.

 

Posted first on Uncommon YA! A great place to meet new voices in YA. 

Killer Nashville, Here I Come! #WARNED

downloadAfter months of anticipation, Killer Nashville is finally here. I am beside myself with giddy enthusiasm. I started packing a week ago. The bookish things were easy: copies of my book, business cards, bookmarks, Sisters in Crime pin. Check. The clothes were another story. First I dragged out everything I own, don’t hate, and still fits. (Writing makes me fat, yo). Then, I narrowed my dresses down to six with heels and accessories, but I will only be in town for 4 days and 3 nights. So, I hung the outfits across my closet door and over furniture while I made the final cut. I never did. Couldn’t. Easier to take it all with me and figure it out in Nashville. While I was making that decision, I sorted the kids outfits into a pile so they can get themselves together easily and with as little drama as possible while grandma helps them to and from school Thursday and Friday. As for the weekend, they’re all on their own. I’m going to Nashville!

I have my hotel addy saved in my GPS app. I have my charger, kindle, laptop, and chargers, plus a stack of paperbacks on standby.

I’ve memorized the notes I have for my panel on Writing Suspense for Teens and Tweens. I will talk about my love of horror despite my fear of everything and also about the Reaper, the serial killer from my novel ie from my mind. Yeah. It scares me too, so I try not to think about it.

I marked a few holes in the conference itinerary where I can slip away and explore the local sights, sounds and food. I have an assignment from Shelf Pleasures to get some local pics. I take my assignments seriously *stage wink*

Killer Nashville is my first 2013 conference geared to mystery and suspense lovers/readers/writers. I love these events. I go to romance conferences, too, but my heart lies in scaring the pants off someone — which is not unlike some very adult romances I read this summer….okay I’m on a bunny trail. Hang on. *regroups* Coagulating with a few hundred mystery lovers is like being at a home away from home. I look around and know they get me. I imagine this is how I’d also feel at Comic Con if I ever get there. *laments*…bunny trail #2.

I better stop while I’m ahead. There will be posts and pics to come and if you follow me on twitter, I plan to tweet the event from my POV. So, good times :) Possibly the long road trip from Ohio, too. A girl’s gotta do something to pass time. Music and license plate lottery only gets me so far.

For more information on Killer Nashville, check out their website here: http://www.killernashville.com/ Maybe I’ll see you next year!

Beta Readers Helped Me Get Published

The one thing that helped me sell my book is…

Good Critique!

I am a big believer in critique partners and beta buddies. I keep them close and love them lots. I think the biggest help I have in getting any manuscript sold is my network of behind the scenes readers. I’m blessed with a fellow Honey Creek writer, Jennifer Anderson, who reads my pages on a daily basis. She adds insight and a reader’s perspective. Our system works like this: I write a chapter. I reread the chapter and clean it up. Then, I send the chapter to Jenni. By the end of the day or sometimes the next afternoon, I get the chapter back from her with suggestions, trouble spots highlighted, general input, reader thoughts etc. She adds anything she thinks will help improve the story. I make the changes and move on. This keeps me writing. My goal is to write one chapter every day based on my very thorough outlines. (I’m an obsessive planner of details). By the time the manuscript is finished, I’ve read it three times and Jenni has read it once. Then, I send the finished work to my friend who is also a dedicated book blogger and another writing friend. I also have two reader friends who read for me. By the time the manuscript gets to my agent, it’s the best manuscript I can create. Then, my agent reads it and gives it back – again- with revision requests. Before my works go on submissions, I hate them completely because I’ve read them so many times.

TEST Art._DECEIVED_SL1000_In the case of my upcoming release, DECEIVED, I really hit the jackpot. I had all the usual help in place, but hadn’t submitted it to my agent yet. I was talking about YA on twitter (I’m also obsessed with twitter. Tweet me! @JulieALindsey) and an editor from a children’s book publisher invited me to send pages her way anytime. Right? *jaw drop*I sent the manuscript. In a few days, the editor returned my manuscript with an editorial letter detailing what she loved and hated, what she’d like to see changed, where I could deepen the impact, thicken the plot, and heighten the suspense. I took every word to heart and made extensive changes, adding more than 10,000 words before sending it on to my agent for submissions. I have no doubt this editor played the biggest role in the sale of my manuscript. She’s since gone from the children’s publisher to a big 6 publisher where she buys MG novels. I adore her forever.

I should add one thing to this. I don’t always agree with feedback I get, but I try to see it their way. Sometimes I’m too close to the story to see the problem, so I choose to trust these ladies. Still, there are times I ignore the input completely because I know reading is very personal.  Now, if more than one person is hung up on the same thing…I need to ask myself if they both are blind or if, perhaps, it’s me. LOL. I never take feedback too hard. I don’t get upset. I get thankful. I know these readers are in place to help me succeed. They give their precious time to read my pages when they could easily read something from their TBR piles instead. And when I feel like they’re picking on me, I remember that they pick on me now so fewer readers will pick on me later, hopefully. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate from the characters we create. This is one more reason critique partners and beta readers are a gold mine, especially ones who love you and know the business. Those are the people who help me sell my story.

Confession: I Don’t Love My Cover.

 

TEST Art._DECEIVED_SL1000_I don’t love my cover. LOL. I don’t. I know. I’m a big jerk. No. Really, I’m very carefree. The cover-art-maker made this for my story. The cover-approvers approved it. So, I say “Huzzah!” It must be me. It must be just right. But, if I’m honest, I still think it’s weird. I’ve never seen anything like this cover, so there’s that. That’s good, right? Yep. Let’s roll with that. Let me start over. *clears throat*


Cover Love: Take 2
My cover is really unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. There are no people or images on the cover to give you an idea about what’s inside, but maybe that’s the beauty of this cover. I don’t know. I’m not an artist. Quite possibly, this is a brilliantly executed, understatement. I like the light blue on black. I’m not sure if those lines are supposed to be tree branches, lightning or brain synapses, but perhaps that’s another intriguing feature of the design. A mystery to unravel. A menacing edge.I guess my cover is open to interpretation.  I wonder what Stephenie Meyer thought when she saw Twilight’s original cover. Two hands and an apple. I bet she thought… “This is an apple. I didn’t write about an apple. What’s happening right now?” That’s kind of what I thought when I saw the cover for that title. See. Covers and I have a history of misunderstandings.

Personally, I might’ve found a picture of a girl running for her life, or standing casually while an ominous shadow rose behind her, but I do words, not art. I probably would’ve used typewriter font or letters ripped from magazines one at a time to hint at the danger, but this font works too. I call it the Scooby Doo font.

What do you guys think? DECEIVED is a suspense. It’s a mystery. It’s dangerous. Would you pick this book up from the shelf?

 

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