Discussion: Dream Author Panel(s)

This post was inspired by Eventbrite.

I was emailed asking if I’d like to participate in this discussion and I loved the idea!

So here we are!


Eventbrite online registration page:
Organize and register for conferences in your local area


Note:

For the sake of this dream panel / wishful thinking discussion, we are going to disregard pesky little facts such as logistics of travel and scheduling as well as life or dead status. Alright? Cool.



Fantastical –

 Fantasy Authors Panel

JK Rowling (Author of Harry Potter)

Leigh Bardugo (Author of The Grisha Series)

VE Schwab (Author of A Darker Shade of Magic)

Maggie Steifvater (Author of The Raven Cycle)

Cassandra Clare (Author of The Shadowhunters Books)

George RR Martin (Author of Game of Thrones)

JRR Tolkien (Author of The Lord of the Rings)

Erin Morganstern (Author of The Night Circus)


Fluffy – 

 Romance/Contemporary Panel

Kasie West (Author of PS I Love You)

Katie Kennedy (Author of Learning to Swear In America)

Leah Thomas (Author of Because You’ll Never Meet Me)

Jeff Giles (Author of The Edge of Everything)

Rainbow Rowell (Author of Fangirl)

Jenny Han (Author of To All The Boys I Loved Before)

John Green (Author of The Fault In Our Stars)

Morgan Matson (Author of The Unexpected Everything)


Everyone is Unique –

Diversity and Mental Health Awareness Panel

Adam Silvera (Author of They Both Die at the End)

Becky Albertalli (Author of Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda)

Mackenzie Lee (Author of Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue)

April Daniels (Author of Dreadnought)

Sandhya Menon (Author of When Dimple Met Rishi)

Jennifer Niven (Author of All The Bright Places)

Emery Lord (Author of When We Collided)


Looking To The Future –

Scifi and Dystopian Panel

Rick Yancy (Author of The 5th Wave)

John Scalzi (Author of Redshirts)

Brandon Sanderson (Author of Steelheart)

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Authors of The Illuminae Files)

Marie Lu (Author of The Legend Series)

Tahereh Mafi (Author of the Shatter Me Series)

Alexandra Bracken (Author of The Darkest Minds Series)

Veronica Roth (Author of Divergent)

Suzanne Collins (Author of the Hunger Games)

Andy Weir (Author of The Martian)

JJ Abrams (Author of S. The Ship of Theseus – its a book, it counts!)


New Spins –

Retellings Panel

Rick Riordan (Author of Percy Jackson)

Sarah J Maas (Author of A Court of Thorns and Roses)

Heather W. Petty (Author of Lock & Mori)

Brittany Cavallaro (Author of A Study in Charlotte)

Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton has a book so he counts OKAY!?!)

Marrisa Meyer (Author of the Lunar Chronicles)


Fictional –

Characters Come To Life

There are so many book characters I can picture growing up and becoming authors! So in my mind, when they inevitably do, they can all be part of an author panel together.
ALLOW ME MY IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS ALRIGHT!

Hermoine Granger (from Harry Potter)

Annabeth Chase (from Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

Katy Swartz (from The Lux Series)

Maddy Whittier (from Everything Everything)

Richard Gansey III (from The Raven Cycle)

Klaus Baudelaire (from A Series Of Unfortunate Events)

Cath Avery (from Fangirl)


What do you think? 

 

What you attend any of these panels?

 

What would your dream panel be?

(And remember, these lists are in no way comprehensive to what those panels could be, but if I listed every authors I’d want to meet in every category, there would be over 100 names and that would take far too long).

Buddy Read – Book Review: The Night Circus

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I buddy read this book with the ever amazing Icebreaker694


Original Release Date:

September 13th 2011

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017

Chronology:

Standalone

My Star Rating:

4.5 stars


Official Summary:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.


Discussion Questions/Thoughts:

Icebreaker’s Questions:

1)  What food at the circus would you try first?

Icebreaker: I’d love to try those “cinnamon things”. While I was reading the story, I thought they were churros. They don’t disclose if they are, but I’d still eat them if they’re as good as Widget says they are.

RiverMoose: Oh thats a hard one. Probably the “cinnamon things” as they are called – which in my mind were cinnamon buns. I love them, and I bet the circus has the best ones.

2) Which character do you think grew the most?

Icebreaker:  Isobel. I don’t want to reveal too much, but she changes her views on a matter and becomes satisfied after finally trying to move on. At first she struggles knowing the truth, but later she seems to have accepted everything.

RiverMoose: Well I don’t think the Murray twins count… So I’ll say Isobel, she went through a lot of character growth throughout the novel – though I don’t want to say too much on it for those who haven’t read it.

3) If you could rewrite this book, what would you change?

Icebreaker:  I wouldn’t really change anything. I actually enjoyed the slower pace of The Night Circus, the characters, and the style of writing. It’s a lot better than anything I would write, that’s for certain.

RiverMoose: I’d lengthen the ending. It felt kind of abrupt and too “and now everything is perfect because I wanted it to be” instead of actual resolution being worked towards. But wouldn’t really change anything else. It wasn’t even that I disliked the ending – it just felt too fast.

My Questions:

1) Which point of view was your favorite to read from?

Icebreaker: Bailey’s! It took some time for me to really appreciate his chapters, but he ultimately ended up being my favorite POV to read from.

RiverMoose: Honestly? I really liked reading Bailey’s chapters because, even though for most of the book they felt extraneous and not grounded into the story like the rest, it ties in nicely and I liked the little glimpses of the future you get through his because his chapters ran ahead in the timeline of Celia’s and Marco’s. I also really liked Herr Theissen’s. I liked all the POVs though.

2) What did you think of the writing style/multi-narrative structure?

Icebreaker: Oh, I thought it was all really unique. I don’t see many multi-narrative books, and it was refreshing to learn that this story contained second and third person narratives. As for the writing style, I tend to enjoy lots of descriptions, and The Night Circus contained very detailed ones.

RiverMoose: I liked it. It feels floaty and insubstantial at times – very flowery and descriptive but you’re still at times unclear as to whats happening, but I thought it worked really well with the setting of the story, and I liked how the multi-POVs and stories we get to see make the whole thing come together and come to life because it makes it larger scale.

3) Which tent would you most want to visit at The Night Circus?

Icebreaker: I’d love to see the illusionist’s or the fortune teller’s tent! I’ve always loved watching magic acts when I was little and that has never changed. However I’ve never had my future read before, so I’d like to see what’s in store. (I’d also stick around the circus for Poppet and Widget’s kitten act, haha.)

RiverMoose: I’m the sort of person who gets utterly paralyzed by choice so I’d probably just try to methodically work my way through the circus. Knowing many of the tents though, I think I’d enjoy the labyrinth.


My Review: 

I don’t really know how to review this book without spoilers. So here is a mini-non-spoiler review before we get to the full review: It was great, it relies very heavily on pretty, flowery, writing if thats your thing, and has multiple POVs/stories/timepoints woven together very well. I really liked it.

(Spoilers ahead – just a warning)

(Spoilers ahead – just a warning)

 The Night Circus is a slow-paced, world building extravaganza of a book. The story is the circus itself, and the people in and around it. Celia and Marco are the main story – their competition being the focus the other narratives jump off from and the reason for the circuses creation, though we also see the POV of the others involved in the circuses creation (like the Burgesses), those who love the circus (like Herr Theissen), and others in the circus (the Murray twins, along with Bailey whose story runs a few years ahead of the main story before it alines, it was a bit confusing at first, but it made sense after a while).

Its a very slow build, grand scale kind of story, with large time jumps and beautiful descriptive language. The mystery of the circus extends to the reader, as your left just as in the dark as the characters often are.

Its a bit difficult to get into, but once you start its hard to stop. Its very different from other books I’m read, but I found I really enjoyed. You really get to know the characters.

The end annoyed me just a bit (hence the 4.5 stars rather than 5) because it felt a bit rushed. All the talk of making their own choices, and preserving the circus being draining, needing to make it independent after they are gone, only for it to fall on Bailey? It felt like a copout, and as a resolution in general, it felt a bit rushed. I didn’t dislike it, it just could have been a bit better. I did really like the epilogue and how it was all wrapped up for everyone, I do wish we got a better explanation of why Mr. A. H. and Prospero have their competitions the way they do though.


Favorite Quotes:

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“Stories have changed, my dear boy,” the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. “There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there in no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“The most difficult thing to read is time. Maybe because it changes so many things.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“You’re in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s enough.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

Discussion: Why I Still Love Twilight

twilightsagaIntro:

Hating on Twilight is pretty popular – more popular these days than liking it. A lot of book bloggers have written about how they used to love Twilight but have since learned better or grown out of it. And that’s fine – your tastes change throughout your life. But while I may not be as obsessed as I was when I was younger, Twilight will always have a place in my heart – I still love it.


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The Problem With Twilight:

People hate on Twilight these days for a multitude of reasons.

Because it started a vampires and werewolf trend, because it got more popular than “more worthy” books, because its objectively not wonderfully written, because teenage girls liked it and people like hating on the things teenage girls like. Because it started the YA movie fad.

Pick your poison – I think people just like being crabby.

Twilight isn’t the objectively best written. There are cringe-y moments (Jacob’s imprint, Bella’s “helpless girl who needs a boy” portrayal etc.) but its hardly the worst written or most problematic book to reach this popularity, let alone one existence.


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My History with Twilight:

I read Twilight in the fourth grade – when I was 9 or 10 years old. I read the entire saga that year. My grandma bought me the first book for Christmas because my cousin, a year older than me, loved it. My grandma thought I might like it to.

(My grandma already had an established history of buying me books for Christmas. She bought me the full Harry Potter series when I was 7 (second grade) 0 I trusted her judgement. She bought me the full Ms. Peregrine’s trilogy for Christmas this past year.)

So because she bought me Twilight, I read it. I had no idea what it was about, but I loved it. Made me mom buy me the rest of the books. Read those too.

I got sent to the guidance counselor’s office at one point because they were concerned about a 9 year old reading such mature content, they called my mom and everything. But since my mom was cool with it they had to let me continue reading – even if I got my book taken away a few times for reading during class.

I made my dad rent the movies that were out so far – and made him watch them with me. He hated them – but watched all five. I had all the shirts, posters, and necklaces. I made all my friends read the books and started a shipping war among the fourth graders.


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The moment where I am Bella and Bella is me.

Twilight and Me – Now:

I’d thought my obsession had calmed down. I reread the books in 7th grade – in full for the first time since in 4th grade I skipped all the “weird” (read “sex”) parts – no matter how mild Twilight really is, I was 9 the first time through. The second time around I was firmly Team Edward – the first time I’m pretty sure my loyalty to Jacob was entirely based on the fact that Taylor Lautner was Sharkboy.

But cue the release of Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined and I had it in my hands and read within the week.

I haven’t read the whole series in years – but Twilight itself remains a comfort read for me. The movies are “I’m sick and want to be entertained without thinking” movies.


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Final Thoughts:

I don’t have it in me to hate on Twilight. Flaws and all.

Part of it might be history and rose-tinted glasses rather than objectiveness – but who cares? Enjoying things is nice, reading is meant to be fun. Something doesn’t have to be objectively good to be enjoyed or liked – why do you think people love lifetime movies?

I just don’t see the appeal of critiquing the flaws in every detail of something I once loved – so I just won’t.

Allow yourself the rose tinted glasses sometimes.


What do you think?

Did you like Twilight?

Do you still like it?

Why or why not?

Let me know!

Guest Post: Reading and Success by Andrew Rocha

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 


While reading and success can seem like they are completely different, they are actually quite related. Many people who are considered ‘successful’ are known to be avid readers.  So how are these two seemingly different things intertwined?

Reading a book is like listening to someone during a conversation. When we are listening to someone, we are giving them our attention and learning the story they have to share.

Some people read for fun, or to escape from reality by diving into the realm of fiction. Others use reading as a way to seek advice from the experts.

Either way, reading helps us become successful. No matter the reason for reading, we are gaining knowledge from the words on the page. We learn new words and are exposed to various different writing styles. Best of all, this can all happen from the words written by people who we have never even met, who live overseas, or who have already passed away. Books serve as a time capsule in which we can find their message and learn from it at any point in our lives. Books are a great investment, as they can contain extremely valuable messages presented at very small cost.

As a writer, reading is extremely important. It’s my way to learn from the those who have more experience than I do and to get inspiration on what to write about, and even how to live my life.

Some people find reading boring. If you see yourself in this group, try finding a book about something you are interested in.  Give the book a fair chance and see if it brings joy to your life. You might not find every page fantastic, but we need to be able to read the pages in order to sift through the text and find the gold. The nuggets of inspiration and excitement make it all worthwhile. If you don’t feel like you have the time to read, try reading just a few pages each day. Even just 10 pages a day can add up over time.

If you are looking for some new reads, consider checking out some of my favorites.


 

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard

Motivational trainer Brendon writes a story about second chances. Not only does this book have a fun storyline, but it incorporates important life lessons, and makes the reader think about their own life. It’s a book that kept me entertained from beginning to end.


 

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Have you ever had a mentor or someone who you went to for advice? While memoirs aren’t typically my style, this one is definitely an exception. Author Mitch Albom shares a story about an older man named Morrie, and the wise lessons he has to pass down. This tear-jerker will warm your heart, and inspire you to consider what’s really important in life.


 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

 

This historical fiction novel shares the life of two sisters during World War II in France. Even if history is not one of your main interests, Hannah quickly gets the reader interested, wondering what will happen next. The special story in this book gives you a unique perspective on war, family, love, and resilience.


 

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

 

In an era where we are surrounded by materialistic goods, Marie Kondo helps us take a look at this, and helps us filter out the excess clutter that typically brings us stress and dissatisfaction in order to bring room for happiness and meaning. It’ll make you reconsider what you think you know about tidying up, and reconsider what is really valuable in your life.


What’re some of your favorite books?

Let us know in the comments!


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Author Name:
Andrew Rocha
Author Bio:
Andrew writes for Successful Steps and strongly believes that life is full of lessons to be learned on a daily basis. His passion for personal development and success stems from the desire to be happy and make the most out of life.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Things I Want To See More Of In YA

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Anyone can participate and its a lot of fun, so I highly encourage it!

Let me know if you’re a part too!


Today’s Prompt:

May 9Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist – things you want to see more of in books — tropes, a time period, a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a certain plot, etc. All those things that make you think I WANT MORE OF THIS IN BOOKS!


1 – Involved Parents

Something that happens in virtually every YA novel, no matter the genre. The parents are absent. In fantasy, this generally means dead or conspicuously missing. In contemporary, this means their existence is ignored until the main character is grounded to create drama.

Kids go where they want, when they want, never seem to go home or get caught doing stupid things. Parents just aren’t involved in their kids lives and while unfortunately that is the reality for some kids, it certainly isn’t the most common reality.

The only YA books I’ve seen where the parents role an important role, are ones why the parents are terrible – and if thats the focus of the book you’re writing, if thats the story. Then perfect! All is well!

But don’t make your protagonist a well-rounded character with a good home life, with parents who never talk to them. And not every fantasy heroine needs to be an orphan. Let them have families!

2 – Protagonists That Don’t Live Up To Western Beauty Standards (Where That Isn’t The Focus Of The Plot)

Every YA protagonist is beautiful, and they either KNOW IT or think themselves as plain until a love interest expounds on their beauty. But generally, they are always thin, pale etc. Always adhering to western beauty conventions.

Give me different races and ethnicities. Give me different fashions. Give me unique hair and eyes – or very,very generic ones.

Give me ugly protagonists, protagonists with disabilities and scars. Acne. Different body types. Like a real person, like a real teenager, the ones the protagonists are meant to be embodying – in stories why their looks aren’t the focus.

Why can’t a chubby girl star in a fantasy? Because she’s only ever in contemporaries angst-ing about her weight – like in “Dumplin'” – the entire arc is her accepting her body type. And its a great story, its a great message. That doesn’t mean it should be the only arc afforded to those character types. (Sorry, I got a little heated)

3 – Diverse Sexualities That Aren’t The Plot’s Focus

Diverse reading is a big topic now. And now is when more books featuring lesbian/gay/bisexual characters are coming out, with all sorts of different portrayals and representations. Which is great.

But overwhelmingly these characters star in contemporaries where their main, or even entire story arc revolves around their sexuality. Coming to terms with it, coming out, etc. If they are afforded a place in a fantasy, it is a side characters.

I’d like contemporaries and fantasies with non-straight protagonists whose sexualities aren’t the focus, you can be gay and still have a life not centered on it, you can be a part of another plot.

4 – Asexual Characters

Or any diverse sexuality really, but as I’m ace, I’d love to see more ace characters (especially with the awful erasure of Jughead in Riverdale making me want to stab things).

Here is a list of books with ace characters I found. – As you can see, its pretty sparse, and most of the time its not even explicitly stated. (That’s why I’m dying to get my hands on Tash Hearts Tolstoy).

5 – Books With No Romance

Virtually every YA book, be it contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, or what have you is wither romance centered or has a romance sub-plot. Why?

Not everyone dates in high school. And almost no one finds their true love in high school. And honestly, in all that world saving, is a boyfriend your biggest concern?

Mind you, I love romances, I love the romance subplots. But do they need to be in every book? We can’t just have strong, complex friendships? Friends that live and die for one another? Complex character interactions not revolving about romance?

Is it just me? Because I’d like to see some books without romance.

6 – Redeemable/Complex Villains or Morally Grey Protagonists

I’ve mentioned before that I love the arc of a redeemable villain, because I love the complexity of those characters. Not all evil people are actually evil, and if they are, they often didn’t start out that way. I’d love to see more stories with villains who, even if they aren’t redeemed, have their convictions fully explored. Or even stories from the villain’s point of view – where we’re rooting for them (Think Dr. Horrible or Invader Zim type thing).

Give me unreliable narrators that keep me guessing on who to trust, on what to believe – not knowing who to root for to win.

Morally grey protagonists whose ends justify their means, or so they believe.

It’s more interesting than the generic good-to-the-bone arch-type protagonist every fantasy/action story gets these days.

7 – Retellings of Lesser Known Source Material

Adaptations and retellings are EVERYWHERE in YA. And I love them, love seeing new takes on old favorites. But you can only retell Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast so many times before it gets old.

Don Quixote would make a great YA retelling. Or what about Aesop’s fables? Or one of the less common Shakespeare plays like “Midnight Summer’s Dream” or “Twelfth Night” – all would make great retellings that people won’t know by heart before they’re even picked up.

8 – Magical Realism

I love magical realism, because I like cross-genre fiction. Like contemporary sci-fi. Theres a million different ways to combine things and it isn’t very common to do so.

I want dragons in the real world. Modern day witches. Superheroes going to high school. Soulmate stories. Love potions in chemistry class. Give me time travel.

If its a fanfiction trope, it probably falls under magical realism and I probably want it in YA.

9 – Diverse World Building In Fantasy

I love fantasy. But lately, a lot of fantasy world have begun to feel repetitive. Similar world/caste/magic systems, all mono-cultured.

I want new fantastic worlds. New mythologies and lands and magi systems.

Multiple systems and cultures within the same world.

Maybe a story with different factions having different views on who exactly IS the chosen one.

That would be new and interesting.

There are hundreds of cultures in human history to draw from – no need for the constant use of anglo-saxon culture – while I enjoy it, I also learn enough about it in school.

Give me ancient Greece or Meso-american inspired! Something!

10 – Subverting of Tropes

After a while, tropes get dull, especially when authors rely on the selling of the trope and rather than using it as a single aspect of the story, make it the entire story.

So I love the novels that subvert the tropes, as much as I may love some of them. Like “The Love Interest” which is basically satire of every YA love triangle there is. Or, “The Rest Of Us Just Live Here” which flips the entire “Chosen One” arc. I love that sort of thing.


Do you agree with my list?

Which do you want to see more of?

Are they any you disagree with?

Do you do TTT?

Let me know down in the comments and drop me a link if you do!

 

Guest Post: Meeting a Favorite Author by Chantelle Griffin

Thank you to Sam for letting me on her blog. A couple of years ago I ticked a major item off the bucket list. For anyone who has ever been a big fan of an author I can truly say that it never occurred to me that I would meet mine. I met Garth Nix the author of ‘Sabriel’. By chance Garth Nix and Sean Williams had planned a writers retreat in the area. Garth contacted a local bookshop in advance and arranged a book launch.

The Books

One of the very first books I bought was ‘Sabriel’, the original edition. It was hiding in amongst all these paperbacks with dark covers. There was this little book with a drawing on the front and a bright purple background. It had an interesting blurb on the back. The story had me hooked. When my sister found out she borrowed it and never gave it back. I eventually bought another copy.

The Book Launch

I am fangirling just thinking about it. It was a fantastic moment being able to meet the author of a book I read and re-read. Garth Nix and Sean Williams were launching their new book they had written together. They both took the time to answer any questions and talk to people. It was an event that I could never have imagined.

The Author

I waited in line first and told Garth about my sister taking my first ‘Sabriel’ book. When it was my sister’s turn to have her book signed Garth it held up, opened it and said it was an original. So now my sister has an original ‘Sabriel’ signed by the author. I will treasure my signed copy which sits in the middle of my bookshelf. Have you had the amazing experience of meeting one of your favourite authors?

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P.S. If you would like to know more about me I have a little WordPress blog at chantellegriffin.com.

Guest Post: Writing A Pitch by AM Blaushild

Guest post by AM Blaushild (https://amblaushild.wordpress.com), a book reviewer (https://crowdefeatsbooks.wordpress.com), and author of Angel Radio (https://amblaushild.wordpress.com/books)


Many readers are aspiring writers themselves, and it feels like nearly everyone I’ve met has mentioned they one day dream of publishing a book. I’ve been lately surprised by how little anyone seems to know about the publishing industry, even those who want to get in on it, and wanted to share some quick suggestions on writing a good query letter. Or more specifically, the pitching aspect of it.

Queries are pitches, both for you and your book. And they need to be good. Agents and publishers get too many to count, and only have so much room.

For agents, taking on an author is a large commitment, and they often can only handle so many. A small-press publisher can only afford to sign a few books a year. It is a tight, tight race, made suffocatingly so because you’ll never quite know what you’re up against.

Sometimes books aren’t taken because of trends in the market, or coming changes- your great book about dragon warfare in egypt might be given up on because a mediocre dragon warfare in rome book is currently in the pipeline. A dragon book you’ve never heard of which had a lot of money put in it may have recently flopped, and publishers are nervous to take on anything similar. Maybe the dragon genre is dying out, or too niche. Maybe they just signed a book about dragons, and you have bad timing.
It’s rough, but that’s how these things work.
A good pitch:
-Is selling your book, not talking about it
-Highlights what matters, leaves what doesn’t
-Immediately to the point
-Short
-Thoroughly proof-read
One thing to highlight: A query is the whole ordeal, a query letter, while the pitch is specifically the part about the book. Will cover later on.
Here’s the thing. Publishing is a business. Agents are funny little go-betweens in the business, taking advantage of the breathing room. Both are in it to make money. They will not publish something out of goodwill, or because you seem to really care about it. They will publish what they think will sell, or have lasting appeal, or perhaps simply because it’s the kind of thing that wins awards.
So you need to embrace this, a little bit. You need to make your book sound like something that will sell. Consider your book: what makes it unique? What makes it appealing? X meets Y, my eternal enemy, is a popular format for pitches because of this. Romeo & Juliet meets Die HardShadow and Bone meets Battlestar Galactica. I don’t know, I’m making these up as examples. Publishers eat them up because they sell your book in two tiny, recognizable chunks. I have two manuscripts I’d sum up as ‘Fangirl meets Supernatural‘ and ‘Catcher in the Rye meets Shadowhunters‘. Is that really true? Ish. But it’s close enough.
What matters to you doesn’t always matter to publishers, or even readers. I might really like that my egyptian dragon novel (yes, we’re sticking with that example) features an asexual MC, and want to gush about how important that is. Even a line about this would be too long, and honestly, a direct mention too much for a query.
Why? A line about diversity could work, but romance is the biggest genre of fiction by far, asexuality is a rarely discussed sexuality (they might not know what it means!), and you simply don’t have the space for it. If you’re applying to an lgbt press, you would want to mention it- they would know and care (you probably shouldn’t gush, though). If you’re trying to land in the mainstream, don’t mention it. If it comes up in the manuscript, they will learn about it then. Unless the story is directly about being asexual, it’s not a relevant detail.
It’s important to highlight what matters, and leave what doesn’t, but that can be hard to figure out sometimes. My Egypt Dragon Asexual book: let’s say it has a lot going on. A gay subplot! A lost princess! Magical powers! Ten types of dragon! War! Aliens! A big reveal that it takes place in the future, not the past! What the hell do you highlight when the plot is complex?
Well, you have to leave some things out. Even big things. Even if it feels like a lie. You’re selling the story in a very small place, and bending the truth a bit doesn’t hurt. Using hypotheticals makes this hard, so we’ll jump to something real, and almost as insane sounding-
The Ascension is a manuscript of mine, about a girl who goes on a quest to awaken her country’s patron god with her best friend, and later a thief they meet on the way. But at the mountain, the thief runs off to awaken the god himself (fulfilling his own local quest), and the god actually turns out to be a monster. And everyone dies, but they’ve been immortal since setting out (linked to the sky god’s life force), and then the MC is saved by an alien god of another planet, and chosen to become a god herself. And she starts to lose emotion as she gains strength. And the monster is still running around destroying the world, too. And her BFF/her both have a crush on the thief.
Sounds bonkers, right? There is a LOT going on. Here’s my pitch:
A teenage girl is sent on a quest to awaken her patron god in a deadly local tradition, but in doing so catches the eye of someone grander: The sky god, actually an alien, who wishes to turn her into a god. However, before her powers can properly develop, her two friends accidentally awaken an ancient monster bent on destroying the world, and it’s up to the increasingly inhuman Aster to stop it.
I did just throw that together, so it isn’t perfect, but it’s a good example of what I mean. Technically, the sky god doesn’t notice her because of the quest, and the thief is not one of her best friends, nor do both her friends awaken it, nor is the timeline quite true to canon. But the essence is there, and it frames the story in a cleaner, more appealing narrative than it actually is.
Pitching basics should include the genre (fantasy, but with aliens!), the main character (A teenage girl, her two friends), what they want (traditional quest/be a god), what’s in the way (giant monster/’increasingly inhuman’ implies this will be a future conflict), what are they going to do about it (stop it). A few fun details, too: ‘deadly local tradition’ isn’t very exciting in canon, but does sound like it might be interesting. ‘catches the eye of’ could imply some fun romance, even if it doesn’t. Neither are lies, but they make it sound a lot more intriguing, and step one of landing a contract is getting your contact to read your manuscript.
Most pitches are like this. I usually write full book-blurb style pitches and work down from there, and some (often publishers as opposed to agents) prefer this method. There still should be little excess detail.
Hey, here’s another example- the pitch I used for my book, Angel Radio:
Erika is the last human alive. It’s been weeks since the angels- strange creatures of eyes and wings- arrived and brought with them the death of everyone she ever knew. leaving her to wander her desolate hometown. But the angels have something sinister planned for the world they have emptied, and when a strange radio broadcast sends Erika into the world, she’ll need all the strength she can muster just to survive.
Looking back, I’m fairly embarrassed by my query, but it worked. You ever see mainstream books that are startlingly bad? Yeah. Unless you’re on the inside, you never really know what is going on in the book business (but usually, yeah, it’s about the market, and money).
Oh, and a last point: of course, make sure you avoid any and all errors spelling and grammar wise. These people are hoping you’re a competent writer, and if there’s one mistake, a particularly overloaded agent may have no problem passing on the rest of your query.
 
That about covers a really rough guide. Pitches should be about a paragraph in length. Check with agency sites/publishers before, but my rough guide to pitches is
1. Hello hi
2. Here’s my book right off the bat
3. More info, like wordcount, listed genre, whatever. expanded deets.
4. About me
5. thank you very much
It should be short, about a page. Don’t list anything about yourself that isn’t relevant, but if you have nothing relevant, still try to say something. Otherwise it just looks like you forgot. If you’ve been writing for a while, that works. If you’re doing a book about science and are a scientist, bring that up, or maybe if it’s about mental illness, mention your own struggles. Don’t spend too long here, or get too personal. Business, unfortunately, is business.
Publishers will generally take more than agents. I’ve had many that directly want a full summary of the book, a longer bio (smaller ones especially enjoy if you have good social media/means to advertise, as they have lesser budgets/reach). These things are specified.
A good conclusion to this? I’d scroll up and read my short list again. Here’s what not to do, I suppose:
-Have too much detail (often loses focus of what the main ‘plot’ pitch is)
-Have not enough (makes it sound bland)
-Too personally involved (‘this book means everything to me’)
-Too self confident (‘fantastic, amazing’ just about any adjective you put on character stuff, world, pitch. Use more open ones. You might call a world ‘vast’ instead of ‘incredible’)
When you have a lot of unseen competitors, you can’t assume anyone will want to put up with you. In theory, being passionate about your work is fantastic! In practice, you may come off as a dolt. And it helps to remember: there will always be more besides you, hoping for the same thing.
So turn in your best work!

A M Blaushild is a writerreviewer, and enigma.

March 2017 Wrap Up

 

Finished Books:

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus – 5 Stars

New Americans by Geoffrey C. Scott Harrison – 4 Stars

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…But You Could Have Done It Better – 3 Stars

I didn’t finish many books this month, life has been hectic. School and everything is hard now that the AP tests are only a month away, and I have ACT next week.

I’ve read 19/80 books for my Goodreads challenge, putting me at 24% and “right on track”. No need to panic…yet.

(Reviews for all of the above are written and scheduled.)


Started Reading:

The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

Queens Of Geek by Jen Wilde

These are the books I stared but didn’t get to finish. They’ll be finished for April.


Posts:

NetGalley Review: Waking In Time

Netgalley Review: Superman Science

Published Poetry Spotlight: The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock by TS Elliot

Quote of the Week: #6

Poem: Sagan’s Apple Pie

NetGalley Review: Strong Is The New Pretty

General Study Tips and Tools

Throwback Thursday: V for Vendetta Final Five Page Essay

Quote Of The Week: #7

Study Guide: SAT / ACT / Subject Tests

The Who Am I Tag

St. Patrick’s Day Tag

Book Review: How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast – Live Action

Study Guide: AP Calculus AB

The Cringeworthy Book Tag

Study Guide: AP English Language and Composition

Book Review: The Princess Saves Herself In This One

2016 Year In Review Tag

5 Fidget Toys I Want To Try

Study Guide: AP Chemistry

The Nintendo Book Tag

Songs I’m Listening To This Month #1

Discussion: Reviewing Long After You Read The Book

I published 23 posts this month…that seems a little ridiculous, but alright.

Including 6 reviews and 5 tags done from my seemingly-never-ending backlog of reviews and rags.

I say thats pretty solid.


Life:

I have an absolutely INSANE amount of posts, from reviews to guests posts etc. scheduled for April. I won’t be around much – between AP crunch time, my cousin’s birthday, the fact that I need to sleep…Well, you’ll get me back in midMay. Though I still try and have time to comment/respond etc.

I have mock exams every Saturday of April except the 8th when I am taking the ACT.

I am going to the Panic! concert April 15th. Woo!

I’ll try and keep up with wrap ups, I’ve never really done them before, I think they’re a good idea…

My plans for the blog, after all the school craziness, is so make new graphics, maybe improve the theme/layout, and get on a consistent schedule as well as catch up on all the review copy TBR reviews and my tags. But those are summer goals.

Discussion: Reviewing Long After You Read The Book

One discussion I’ve seen around recently is one whether book bloggers should review books they read a while back – rather than more recent reads.
 –
Personally, I’ve read a lot over the years.
A lot.
I also read faster than I can review usually, and I read a lot of books before I started reviewing them.
 –
So the question is, you can still review books long after you’ve read them, months or even years later? Should you?
 –
I think it comes down to the person, based on your memory and your personal review writing style, how detailed you are if you think you can review a book upwards of a year later.
 –
But I don’t see anything wrong with it, though maybe it should a a disclaimer like “I read this over a year ago, some details are a bit foggy”.
 –
I talking about it, because I want to start backlogged reviews, books I read in the last year or so that I never got around to reviewing, books I read before I started my blog, etc.

What do you think?
 
Is that something we should be able to do, especially when you’re in a reading slump and have no new books to review?
 
Or do you think it’s kind of deceiving to review a book that’s had its flaws dulled by time?

Discussion: Review Copies/ARCs

Review copies are the holy grail of book blogging.

And while I might not be the best source of information on how to get them, as I’m rejected more often then not, I have received a fair amount of them, so I thought I’d give my two cents.


First things first: Before you go requesting books, make sure you can handle it.

Have a system in place to keep track of everything, or you are going to lose your mind.

  • My preferred way of keeping track is a word document.
  • Every book sent to be is written in, along with who sent it/where I got it from, the format, the release date, the date the review is needed by, the title and author, and any requests by the person who sent it to me for the review.
  • Then, anything due in the next month is highlighted for urgency.
  • Physical copies do not leave my desk if I’m not reading them to make sure they stay in my mind.
  • Review copies take precedence over my own books.

Its how I do things.

Find something that works for you.


Before Requesting:

Before requesting books, make sure your blog is running smoothly. You don’t blog to get free books, you get books because you blog well. Remember that.

If you barely post, no one will send you anything. If your content/reviews or terrible (I don’t mean negative, I mean terribly written), you won’t get anything.

  • Post consistently (once a day, once a week, doesn’t matter).
  • Post good content.
  • Make sure your blog is easy to navigate.
  • Have a contact page/email somewhere it can be found. If, like me, you don’t want your personal email online, make an email just for blog contacts like I did.
  • HAVE A REVIEW POLICY. You can see mine here.

 


Where To Get Review Copies:

There are a couple different ways to get review copies.

You can:

  • Go to book fairs and conventions.
  • Wait for a publisher/author to contact you.
  • Email a publisher with a request.
  • Join a blog tour.
  • Join an ARC site like Netgalley, Blogging for Books or Edelweiss.

Book fairs and conventions are great, but if your like me, you have no means to get to them because they are far way/expensive.

Next option: wait. I have been contacted by a few authors (generally self published) to review their books, so it does happen. This is why its important to have contact information and a review policy page. But if this is the only thing you do, your not going to get many books.

Emailing:
The next section is all about this.

Blog tours:
Blog tours are GREAT. You get your blog acknowledged by other bloggers, and you all get to share in the excitement over the same book. I’ve joined two blog tour sites:

I like them both, and have joined blog tours and book blitzes on both. You can always do some research to find tour sites that fit your tastes. But if you want in on the big name book tours (which I have no experience in), I’d say your going to need some groveling and patience.

ARC Sites:
I don’t know what else to call these, but you know what I’m talking about.

This is where I get most of my review copies.

My personal favorite is Netgalley.

Netgalley is a site where any book blogger can sign up. They have both READ NOW and Requestable titles, most prerelease, some old, of all genres. The better your review ratio, the more likely you are to be approved by a publisher, so you are encouraged to actually post your reviews. All books are e-books though, so you either need an Ebook reader or a computer with Adobe Digital Editions installed.

Blogging For Books is also good. This site has both print and ebooks, but you can’t request another book until the review of the last one is posted. Selection is pretty limited, but they have some good ones every once in a while.

The other one I mentioned is Edelweiss, which a lot of people like but I don’t really enjoy using. Its frustrating and not easy to navigate, but go try it out if you’d like.

 


Emailing Publishers:

If you have the guts, you can always email a publisher asking for an ARC. I’ve done this twice. Once, I was ignored. The second time, I got the book. Really, it depends on the publisher, the book you’re requesting, and whether you have enough followers to make it worth the money to ship you the ARC. Don’t get discouraged, your not going to get every book, but try, eventually, you’ll get one (or a lot!).

Just make sure to thank the publisher when you do get a book, post your review on time, send them links, and NEVER be rude about not getting approved. You want to build relationships, not end them.

You are never entitled to an ARC. Don’t act like it.

Here’s a sample email of what I use when emailing publishers. If it helps you., let me know!

Sample Email:

Hello,
My name is Sam, I’m a book blogger and I’d like to request a review copy of:
Book Title
ISBN:
Expected Publication Date:

You can see my blog here: Link
My blog has X followers, and that number seems to be increasing steadily.
I get, on average, between X views a month, and an average of about X unique visitors a month.
I also share my reviews on Goodreads, Tumblr (where I have X followers), and Twitter.
(Info about me/my blog/why I blog)
I want to review BOOK TITLE because ………..
If you want to see some of my other reviews, here are some that I am quite proud of:
  • Links
I also have a review policy page: Link 
This page will give you more in depth information for what you can expect of my reviews.
I also have a directory of my reviews, if needed: Link
I understand you get many requests for Arcs, and that all cannot be answered. But, if you are interested here is my information:
Name 
Shipping Address
My email is X and if it is more convenient for you, I also accept e-arcs.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding my request.
I thank you for your time and your consideration.
Best,
Sam

Other Helpful Resources:

 


So, thats all I have for you today.

If there’s anything I didn’t cover you’d like me to cover, let me know!

Any discussions or topics you’d like me to talk about, any questions you have, shoot them over to me, I’m happy to help/answer in any way I can!

Did this help you? Do you have any thing to add/share? Let me know!