Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pub Life: Literary Agents and Publishers Seeking Interns 2014 Edition

By far, my most popular Pub Life post was the one I did last year on available publishing internships. I thought I'd do a 2014 edition for all of you looking for an internship this year. If you're looking for an internship, now is the perfect time to start with summer upon us.

I interned remotely with a literary agency for a year and it was a HUGE benefit to me as a writer. I learned so many valuable lessons that helped me land my own agent and ultimately my book deal with Harlequin. 

Below is a list of agents and publishers looking for interns. If you don't find something now, keep looking! The Internet will be your best friend. I found my internship on Bookjobs. Twitter and agency blogs are also useful. Don't worry if you don't live in New York, remote internships are a great option because you can make your own hours and work from home.

Publishing internships can be very competitive, so don't be discouraged if you're initially rejected. Keep at it! It's like querying--you only need one "yes." Good luck! 

W.W. Norton & Company Internship

Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, was released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, on July 7, 2014.  She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.  You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook or on her own website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Author Media: New Book Trailers!

Are you ready for some hot book trailers? The first one is creepy good.


What do you think? There's a dark ambiance and it gives me a great idea on what type of novel this is going to be.  Here's the blurb.

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

This next trailer gave me chills. Also, I need to turn a light on.

I'm too much of a wuss to read a scary book, but I might listen to the audiobook if the guy doing the trailer reads it ; )


Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

And just because I have to go to sleep and need something fun to look at, here's a not so scary trailer.

Okay, who wants a pet sloth, raise your hand! <<< this girl right here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Considerate Craft: Barbed Words

the tops of books, in light and shadow, some pages rough, some smooth
A long time ago, way back in the time of August, Malinda Lo tweeted about reading Cuckoo’s Calling. There was a point where the third person narration described someone as a “flat-faced middle-aged oriental woman.” It pulled Malinda Lo right out of the book then and there.*

Some folks reacted to the tweets by saying that maybe the phrase came from the POV character rather than the author. The thing is, that doesn’t actually change the words. Regardless of whether or not that phrasing was in-character, it is both hurtful and unnecessary. If a character says something reprehensible, particularly if it is treated as a normal, everyday word or phrase, the author is responsible. The author chooses what to write, and they choose what aspects of their characters get put out there.

I’m not the first to say this, of course. Here are a couple blog posts you should read:

Shaun David Hutchinson has a post on why casual sexism and homophobia has no place in books, and focuses particularly on world-building that doesn’t question this bigotry.

Karen Healey has a post on why she would cut an instance of casual racism in her own book even though it was addressed in the text, and crossedwires points out the issue of white gaze.

So yes, it was perfectly in character for Healey’s MC to think that. But if the MC hadn’t thought it, readers would have gone on reading, without two words metaphorically slapping them out of the text.

That’s what happens when you use loaded, hurtful, and/or offensive words in your book. You’re giving the reader a slap that takes them out of the text. They’ll stop reading; maybe for a moment, maybe permanently. And yes, sometimes, such words are intended to slap the reader. The words are part of what is going on, are actually addressed, and/or are specifically chosen for that purpose. Whether or not that is done successfully is up to the reader. But when a writer slaps the reader and then goes on as if nothing has happened, what does that convey?

There’s a line of thinking that since certain types of characters would say something in real life, it means they have to do so in your book, even if those words are hurtful. But no character speaks like a real person. If they did, their dialogue would be full of pauses and ums and conversations that abruptly drop off or go nowhere or pop up apropos of nothing else going on in the scene. Moreover, very little of what they said would tie into their plot or character development or themes of the book.

Writers also alter and skip over a lot of unnecessary matter. No one is upset by a book that has a year pass in a paragraph or doesn’t contain an adequate number of scenes of the protagonist going to the bathroom. A writer should handle dialogue and word choice with no less purpose.

None of this is to tell writers what they can and cannot do. The point is to think very carefully about the impact of your words, which is, after all, the writer’s craft. When your character says or does something hurtful and offensive, it’s not enough to say, “It’s just what that character would do!” Instead, you make the decision. You make that choice. You decide if having the character say or do that is worth slapping your reader.

Just don’t act surprised when readers respond.

* I’m going to assume that most know why such a description is offensive and hurtful. If you don’t, here are some blogs that you might do well to read (far from an exhaustive list): Resist Racism, Angry Asian Man, and Yo, Is This Racist?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Resource Round-Up: Querying Homework

Today for my post, I figured I would cover a round-up of helpful sites when in the querying stage of your writing journey. Since I just entered this stage, a lot of these resources came up for me in my research, so I wanted to pass them along.

Now, these do not include resources for How to Write a Query Letter or anything about what to send when you contact literary agents. This post only covers how to pick the best agents for you and your book.


Absolute Write Forums -
These forums are really awesome for the querying writer. If you have any doubts, questions, or concerns about an agency or even a specific agent, the forums can help you out. Use this to help you to determine if an agency looks like bad-news-bears or if a specific agent has a "no reply means no" policy. Knowing these things ahead of time can help you plan your list of agents to query and be confident and knowledgeable about what to expect after querying them.

Query Tracker -
This source really helped me gather my initial list of agents. There are a lot of things you can do with the free account version, but I went ahead and upgraded to premium because IT'S ONLY $25 FOR A YEAR. The expense is minimal and I think it will really help me track my queries in the future. You can easily sort by your genre and see what agents represent that particular genre. You can also see comments from other querying writers about the specific agent's response times and request rates. These comments sometimes helped me pick one agent over the other at an agency.

Agent Query -
This site was a secondary source to Query Tracker. Sometimes, Query Tracker didn't have that much specific information on an agent when Agent Query did. I went back and forth between these two sites to get the best idea on if an agent would be right for me or not.

Writer Beware
Writer Beware is great for alerts and notifications on publishers, agencies, and agents that have thrown up multiple red flags. Be sure to scan through their lists and updates and compare it to your list of potential agents to query. If any of them are on the Beware notices, you should do just that--be wary.

Publisher’s Marketplace -
Although I haven't caved and purchased a subscription here yet, there is a lot of useful data to be had with a Publisher's Marketplace account. Maybe an agent's bio and interests sound like a perfect match for you, but do you know if they are actually good at being an agent? What if they have been active for two years but still haven't made a single sale? That doesn't sound promising for your career, even if they do end up loving your book and want to represent you. Publisher's Marketplace will give you access to agent data like how many sales they made, what genres they were for, and how big the deal was. This can help you identify the agents that could connect with your work AND are capable of selling it.

Literary agent interviews and
When looking for a little bit more information on agents besides their standard bios, interviews can be great. If an agent is going to be the person you select to be your business partner and greatest advocate, it's nice to know a little bit more about them besides where they went to school and a list of their career milestones. I found these two sites to be the most popular when looking for agent interviews. If you don't find the agent you are looking for in either of these two sources, I suggest Googling the agent's name along with the word "interview".


“by Agent Name at” Google search: I saw this tip on a post in an Absolute Write forum and it did make a lot of sense! If you don't have the money to fork over for a Publisher's Marketplace account, you can still get an idea of what the agent in question might (or might not) be selling. One way to check is to search--in quotes--"by AGENT NAME at". This is the terminology Publisher's Marketplace uses when writing up the deals it reports on. It would appear something like GREATEST BOOK EVER sold by Sally A. Agent at ABC Agency in the write-up. By searching in Google for the term "by AGENT NAME at" you should pick up that Publisher's Marketplace announcements. You won't be able to read the whole deal announcement, but it will give you verification that the agent has sold some projects and approximately when. Keep in mind, though, not all deals are announced via Publisher's Marketplace.

Agency websites have the final word: There are many resources out there to help us identify what an agent is looking for and how to format your query, along with what other samples to send along with it. Using other sources like A Guide to Literary Agents or Query Tracker are fine to create your initial list and set of requirements to query. However, I highly recommend scoping out the agencies website before you query, and use that for your final confirmation on what to send to an agent. Other sites and books can quickly become outdated, whereas an agency's website is usually the most often updated place to look. At least take a peek at their submission guidelines on their own website before hitting the SEND button.

So that's what I've learned so far in my querying quest. What about you guys -- are there querying resources that you live by? Help me expand my list and better prepare for the query trenches myself!

For more from Jessica, visit her blog J.A. Ward Writes and follow @jawardwrites on Twitter!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Consent in YA (and adult) Relationships

Hi, all! It's Kate here. On my personal blog, The Bookshelf, I'm talking about an incredibly important issue: how we model consent and respect in our manuscripts. It's important to me, particularly, because power advantages were a scary part of my high school experience, and I think we really need to slow down and think a bit harder about the finer lines of consent and respect.

Even if you don’t write about young adult relationships, consent and non-consent in fiction needs to be handled intentionally and fairly. Most of us try really hard in our writing to not promote slut-shaming and rape culture and victim-blaming, but writing about healthy, considerate relationships requires more than that.

So what shouldn’t we be doing?

Showing force and manipulation as sexy– sometimes we think hey, isn’t it sexy if he/she wants him/her that badly? And I hope you know the answer there. Selfishness is never sexy.

Allowing our characters to react as if being pressured isn’t a big deal. Power and influence are incredibly strong forces on people, especially young adults, and being pressured for something you’re not ready for is traumatic and frightening. Enough people blow it off already; we shouldn’t let our characters do that, too.

Implying that “no” doesn’t really mean “no.” Playing hard to get can be a fun part of a relationship story, and teasing/flirting can be great. But when you’re building a healthy relationship between your characters and one says no to a date, a call, a text, a kiss, anything– the other one had better respect that. Sometimes we think it’s charming to have the guy take being turned down as an invitation to try harder, and when everyone is well-intentioned and our characters have no ulterior motives, it can be. But in real life, what does that look like? What does that feel like to the person who said no, to know they’re not being taken seriously, that their current wishes aren’t being respected? It’s scary. It’s offensive. We shouldn’t be modeling that as charming. It’s not charming; it’s dangerous.

So what should we be doing?

See the rest of this post. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

BEA 2014

BEA logo

We talk a lot about author events and conferences here at PubHub, so I'd be remiss if I didn't mention BEA. Although not beginning until the end of May, I'm already excited. Why? Because the "sneak peek" of the author signing events has been posted!

This year I will forgo the author breakfast, and instead I purchased an Avid Reader Pass. This way, I'll be guaranteed to get into a few of my favorite autograph lines and won't have to try to get up and in line at 6 AM!

Over the past few years I've attended, I've me many people who continue to be a support in the blogging and writing world. So, please don't be afraid to attend alone. Everyone attending is there for books, to support all things in the writing world. You'll be able to meet your favorite writers and bloggers, too! 

So, if you love books check out the BEA website and make your travel arrangements now. Over the next few posts, I'll be giving tips for attending BEA. If you have any to share with us, please post your comments. 

PS- There's nothing like late spring in New York City!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Which I Bid Pub Hub a Fond Farewell as a Regular Blogger

For those who've read my posts over the past year or so, you might have noticed that last time around I considered the problem of writing time--how to find it, specifically. As that post indicated, a number of recent circumstances have been making it harder and harder for me to find that time.

And this has become particularly problematic now that--good news!--my editor wants to see the second book in my series. I don't have an offer yet, but I have interest, and that's great--if I can find the time to work on the manuscript.

Writing time is precious, and like all precious things, it's fragile and easily lost. Too many other things can get in the way.

And so, I've decided that I need to scale back on the numerous commitments I've made since signing my contract for my debut novel. And one of those commitments is my bi-weekly posts for Pub Hub.

So this is it, folks: my final regular post on this site.

I've loved blogging here. Pub Hub is a great community of writers and readers, and I'll be checking back in regularly to read what others have written. I want to thank all my fellow bloggers for welcoming me, and especially the amazing Kate Brauning for inviting me to join. As the only regular male blogger on the site, it's been an awesome experience to be "one of the girls."

If you'd still like to follow my writing, you can always check out my personal blog, YA Guy, or find me via my website or Facebook.

Thanks for everything, Pub Hub! I've gained so much from this experience, and for that I'll always be grateful.

Now, back to my writing!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Author Event: Kate Brauning and Tonya Kuper!

That's right, two of your Pub Hub hosts, speaking on a panel for their first events as authors!  The panel is at the Sioux Center Library in Sioux Center, Iowa, so if you're in the Iowa/Nebraska/South Dakota/Minnesota area, we'd love to see you!

Tonya and I are thrilled to be at such a wonderful library to talk about HOW WE FALL and ANOMALY. If you live in the area, come say hello! We'd love to chat and have dessert with you.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads Blurb:
Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

I won’t recap the story or gush about how the ending gave me THE FEELS or go over plot details, because this book needs no introduction. Everything about it has been said already and probably said better than I ever could.  This review is more about my thoughts on YA contemporary novels and “edginess”.  

If you’ve been following my reviews you probably noticed that I’m not a fan of hype. It’s not my fault—it just happens I have weird tastes that don’t mesh with that’s popular. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I really fell in love with a popular thing (uh, The Hunger Games counts, I suppose?) and to be honest it’s kind of tough at times. When the whole of Twitter is abuzz about a book or movie or show that you thought was “just okay”… it’s hard not to feel left out. Or like you’re taking crazy pills.

That’s why sometimes I like to read hugely popular books just so I can say, yeah, I read it, and it was all right I guess? Nothing special…

Well, this time was an epic fail.


Yep, I used the F-word in a positive review, because Eleanor & Park first earned my respect when I saw three f-bombs in the very first pages. OMG, I thought. Someone is actually aware of how real teens really talk! In 1986 or 2014, doesn’t matter.

These are real teens!

Contemporary YA is tough to write. There's no magic, spaceships or explosions on every page to distract me from the things that are often lackluster: poor plotting, flat characters, teens who sound and act like they’re 40 (or 4). So I’m super picky about contemporary YA. I have a post on my blog with my contemporary top picks for SFF fans already, but this book is different. There are no high-stakes action scenes, no weird mysteries to unravel—Eleanor and Park aren’t racing to save the world. They’re just trying to stay afloat in it.

And I read it in one breath.

It’s so rare to open a book and see real people on the pages: not carefully smoothed-down, sanitized versions of teens meant to appeal to parents, but REAL PEOPLE, real teens who sometimes think ugly things and who have dark moments, who are irrational and make mistakes, who live and breathe and bleed. I should also mention the censorship attempts against this book, but I think everyone already knows about it and there’s nothing I could add. It just goes to prove how unsettling real teens are to the moralists and puritans. And you know what that means? We need more of them.

More real teens. Because they deserve to open a book and see themselves on the page.

And in this, Eleanor & Park is the ultimate edgy YA novel. 

This is what  a five-star book looks like. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Want A Beta Read? Want A Critique? News and Updates from Pub Hub

Hello, readers!

We love having you visit the site. We really, really do. It's so wonderful to be part of a community that cares enough to comment, share, and give back like all of you writers do so well.

To make sure you're getting the most out of Pub Hub, I want to highlight a few things.

First, look up! See the "Our Beta-Reading Community" tab? There's a whole list of writers who have volunteered their time to offer beta reads for other writers. Check it out, and let a reader know if you need someone to beta read for you! Please follow the guidelines, and let me know if you want to put your name in as a reader, too.

Second, see that second row of tabs up top? Our posts show up on the blog tab, of course, but they're also sorted by category. Want to hear about how bestseller lists work and read up on book contracts and agenting practices? Click "Publishing Talk." Want query tips? Click "querying."

Third, some of you might know I pretty regularly tweet #subtips on Twitter-- advice from an author/editor perspective on writing, revising, querying, and what works or doesn't work for me in pages. As part of #subtips, I've started giving away 1,000-word critiques every Monday. Complete or incomplete, popular genre or not-- it doesn't matter. Follow me there to hear when the giveaways happen!

And finally-- have you seen the "Our Books" tab? If you enjoy our posts, the most wonderful way you can support us is to buy our books and tell others about them.

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Editor's Eyes: 3 Golden Rules of Revising

In March I received my editorial letter for HOW WE FALL (Merit Press, Nov. 2014). I'd been through it with beta readers, critique partners, and my agent, but this was the first time I'd actually gotten a real taste of the author's side of going through edits. Being an editor and having written editorial letters myself, I knew a bit what it would be like, but it's still very different when it's your own book. And it actually wasn't nearly as bad as I was preparing myself for. I thought about the comments for a while, turned the issues into action points, and discussed the notes with my critique partners. It was a pretty light edit and a tight deadline, but I cleared my schedule and was pretty confident I could get it done.

But then I opened up the manuscript and had no idea how to make those changes. Change words? Add sentences? Cut sentences? Combine scenes? I knew those things would be part of it, but I'd done probably five sets of serious revisions on this book, and changing this or that might not actually solve the issues I needed to solve. After all, this was it. Not only did I need to make my editor happy, but after we were through with edits, I wouldn't have future chances to work on the story.

Part of the problem was that even though I had action points to address and I could see how to change most of the issues, often revisions need to go deeper than changing a point or two or the consequences of some action. Good revisions push the book deeper, tighten and focus the plot, and make the characters more compelling and active/reactive. My usual advice to authors who don't know how to approach revisions is to use the specific editorial notes as a launch point for improving whatever issues that problem deals with. Don't just fix the surface, dig deeper.

Once I got into the mindset and wrapped my brain around which elements needed to change and why they needed to change, things went much better. And I met my deadline! The whole process got me thinking, though, about what's behind a solid set of revisions. No matter what plot or character issues you're resolving, here are three main things to keep in mind as you work through your story:

1) Use tension on every page. Even minor frictions pull readers onward, keeping them reading to see how characters deal with the issue and to find out what happens. Plus, family tensions, lack of resources, timing, and everyday frustrations can make the scene's conflict that much more of a problem and will make the scene and the situation more complex.

2) Make every scene a turning point. If nothing has changed by the end of the scene, fix that. Making a decision, receiving information, reaching a breaking point, discovering a problem, etc., are all things that push the story forward.

3) Layer thought, emotion, action, & reaction in every scene. It's how we experience & process the world, and if you're missing one or more of those, your scene will feel flat and limp, or even worse, like a summary of events rather than a story. Without those things, the writing is dry and lacks human connection. Check your scenes, particularly the major scenes, to make sure you have the balance you want of all four.

My main advice on revising is this: don't stop at 90% done. I like to say that final 10% is actually 50% of the story. That last layer of depth and polish is a huge percentage of the reader's experience, so it's definitely worth it to make those changes.

Have you ever had to do revisions for an editor? What tips can you share?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SP Library: NIGHT MOVES with Kristen Strassel - Playlist + Excerpt

There's something you may know about me. 
Confession: I love vampires.*
*Not really fond of the ones that sparkle, because I'm the only one that needs to glitter in a relationship.
Second Confession: I also love traditional rock bands. Think: 80s hairbands. Think: Richie Sambora, CC Deville, and Jani Lane. Think: 3 year old KJ decided she was going to marry Bret Michaels. 

So combine horrific but sexy vampires with rock bands, and what do you get? A happy KJ.

We're talking NIGHT MOVES today, the sequel to BECAUSE THE NIGHT. It can read as a stand alone, although you won't get the dramatic effect of what all the tie ins mean.

We bonded in darkness, over darkness.

Melanie Vaughn’s job ruined everything. Her social life, nonexistent. Her relationship with her boyfriend, a hostile roommate situation. She resolves to fix everything one snowy afternoon, but instead comes home to discover her boyfriend is already exploring other options. Blonder, bustier options. Rage drives Melanie to do the unthinkable.

When Soul Divider was on the top of the world, so was Ryder Maddox. When the band faded into obscurity, Ryder’s luck plummeted with it. In a last ditch effort to rekindle the band’s heyday, Soul Divider teams up with powerful vampire clan leader, Talis de Rancourt. In return for her services, the band pays the ultimate price for never ending fame.

Now on the run, Melanie meets Ryder in a middle of nowhere hotel. She never expected her teenage rock star crush to be as lost and as in need of a companion as she is. Their connection is all consuming, even before they find they share another kinship: murder.

The newly turned vampires in Soul Divider still have a lot to learn. The police and public begin to connect the girls that go missing or die in sync with the band’s tour schedule. Back at home, clues are also adding up against Melanie as well. Between constant media coverage and unrelenting attention from the authorities, Melanie and Ryder find themselves in uncharted territory.

Night Moves to Music with Kristen Strassel
KJ asked me for a playlist from NIGHT MOVES. I don’t know if some of you actually put together a playlist when you are writing a book, but I’m hopeless with this stuff. I just put my iPod on shuffle and take what comes. Although, I find my best stuff comes when I switch it to just Bon Jovi. So like my life, this playlist is a little Bon Jovi heavy.  Because NIGHT MOVES is about a band who’s already seen their heyday, I didn’t put too many new songs on here. If nothing else, just looking at this list makes me want to go on a road trip!

Up in The Air—30 Seconds to Mars
I Used to Love Her But I Had To Kill Her—Guns and Roses
Dance Little Liar—Arctic Monkeys
Older—Bon Jovi
#1 Party Anthem—Arctic Monkeys
Tokyo Road—Bon Jovi
Damned –Bon Jovi

Whiskey in the Jar—Metallica version
27—Fall Out Boy
Crew Slut—Frank Zappa
(We Are) The Road Crew—Motorhead
Sugar, We’re Going Down—Fall Out Boy
Bed of Roses—Bon Jovi
I Want You—Bon Jovi
Starting All Over Again—Bon Jovi
Till We Ain’t Strangers Anymore—Bon Jovi with LeAnn Rimes
Night Moves—Bob Seger ( of course!)

And here’s an excerpt from Melanie’s first day on the road with Soul Divider. Not exactly what she was expecting:

“What the hell is she doing here?” Drake Bonham’s words alarmed me, waking me up better than any cup of coffee could at four in the morning. I tried to hide my shock and act as nonchalant as possible.
Did I really want to explain what I was doing here? As much as I wanted a hole in the head.
 I let Ryder take the lead.

“She’s coming with us.” Ryder didn’t look at Drake when he spoke, unaffected by the tone of his inquisition. His eyes lost in the shadow of the bill of his baseball cap, he continued playing with his phone. I stood nervously next to him as he perched on his suitcase. I wanted desperately to reach out to him for some sort of comfort. I didn’t, in fear that Drake would swat my hand like an old nun with a ruler.

“No. Maddox, you know the rules. You double bag it and forget about the chicks when you leave town.” In Drake’s eyes, I was less important than luggage. I wondered about all the girls who followed the band around, hoping for a second of Drake’s attention would feel listening to him right now, talking about me like I was some cheap souvenir.

Ryder sighed and shoved his phone in the pocket of his motorcycle jacket. “I’ve had enough of the rules. They’ve already cost me my kids and marriage. How much more do you expect me to give up for your band? She’s coming with us.”

“That’s right. My band. As your boss, I’m telling you we don’t need to be transporting groupies all over the country.”

“Don’t worry, she won’t cost you a cent. I’ll take care of her out of my per diem.”

“She’s not coming.”

“Either she comes with us, or I stay here with her.” The tension in the room was electric as Ryder and Drake glared at each other, almost willing each other into a full blown fist fight. The other members of the band hardly reacted, like this was a regular occurrence. Great.

Was I willing to destroy any more lives to enter some sort of parallel witness protection plan universe?
I was still recovering from the shock of learning that Drake regarded the other members of the band like bad children who couldn’t think for themselves. If it wasn’t for Ryder, Drake wouldn’t have ever written all of those songs, or had the success he had enjoyed.

No wonder I always liked Ryder better. I always thought Drake was a pompous ass. What had Erin seen in him?

Even a pretty face couldn’t excuse all that ugly.

I put my hand on Ryder’s shoulder. “Listen, I don’t want to cause any trouble. I can meet you there instead.” It might have been a good idea anyway. Otherwise, my car would be left in the parking lot and I’d have no way to get home from wherever they left me.

Like I could ever go home again.

“No. It’s no trouble at all. I want you to come with me.” He looked up at me but didn’t smile.
I could feel the steam rolling off of Drake as he crossed his arms in front of his chest from the corner of my eye. I didn’t dare make eye contact with him, lest he incinerate me with his glare. “It’s cool, I don’t want to cost you your job or anything.”

Drake scoffed, but we both ignored him.

“You won’t. If you’re going to hang around with me, baby, you need to get used to Drake’s outbursts.” Finally the corners of Ryder’s mouth turned upward. I nodded and smiled, sneaking a look at Drake. He rolled his eyes and shook his head.

An awkward silence spread over the lobby as we waited to board the bus. I tried to distract myself by looking at my phone. Friends back home were wondering how Jamie and I were faring during the storm, with some even asking if we needed anything. A friend with electricity and heat offered her house if the cold was too much to handle. All the kindness overwhelmed me. I could probably still feign being a power outage victim; it bought me some time before I had to start answering their questions.

 How long would it take before someone started looking for us because we didn’t answer them? How long before Angela’s family started searching for her, if not already?

I attempted to focus, hard, on how excited I should be to be going on tour with my favorite band. But all I could see was Angela’s two little girls.

I focused my thoughts again. I’d never been on a tour bus before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We boarded a small kitchen area first, and rows of bunks eerily stacked like coffins, filled the middle.
“This is home.” Ryder stopped at the top bunk off to the right side. He graciously took my bag and slung it up on the bed. “The lounge area is in back, and the bathroom is right here.” He pointed to a door at the entrance to the living area. “You know the rules of the bus, right?”

“No. What rules?” What I thought would be a party bus was turning into a boarding school on wheels.
Ryder chuckled and blushed. “I can’t believe I’m saying this to a lady. Serious business, if you know what I mean, goes in a bag and gets thrown out the window.”

I burst out laughing. “Why on earth would you do that?”

“You don’t want to be traveling on a rolling cow patty.”

“Oh my God.” I pictured myself throwing a bag of crap out of the window onto the side of the road. “That’s so gross. Funny, but gross.”

“That’s kind of what life is like on the road.” Adam, the drummer, piped in as he put his stuff in the bunk below us. “Funny, but gross.”

“I wouldn’t expect much else from five guys living on a bus.” I smiled at him. He winked at me and headed back toward the lounge.

Speaking of Drake, where was he? “There are only four bunks and there are five of you.” I did a head count while looking at Ryder. “Where does Drake sleep?”

“He has his own bus.”

“What? Are you kidding? He’s too good to travel with you guys?” And he was concerned about me costing too much money? Little did he know I could more than pay my own way. And the bastard had his own bus.

“Something like that.” Ryder shrugged.

 Drake was obviously a sore subject. I needed to stop pouring salt on the wound. Time to switch gears. “So what happens on this bus?”

“Oh you know, a little of this, a little of that.” Ryder smiled, leaning against the bunks, making his black T shirt ride up a little on his stomach, and exposing the line of hair that started at his belly button disappeared into his jeans. I forced myself to tear my eyes away.

“Do the mice play while the cat is away?” I traced my finger along his jawbone.

“They do.” He grabbed my hand, putting my finger into his mouth to suck on it. He had some crazy sharp teeth. I thought I had imagined it while we were in bed together, but now it felt like he practically had fangs. I’d never noticed that before. And believe me, I’d spent a lot of time looking at Ryder Maddox in my life.

“Even if it’s against the rules?” I could barely manage the words as Ryder’s lips made their way down my arm, his eyes never leaving mine.

“Especially if it’s against the rules.” He pulled me in close, nuzzling my neck.

“Jesus, if you two are going to fuck, at least come to the common area so we can enjoy the show!” A thick Scottish accent jeered from the couch. Thomas, the bassist who replaced Chaz, had already cracked into a beer and had a game controller in his lap. “I’d rather watch you, lovie, than fight these bloody dragons for the thousandth time.”

“She’s not that kind of girl, Tommy.” Ryder pulled away, looking annoyed.

“They’re all that kind of girl, mate.”

Ryder rolled his eyes and smiled at me, shaking his head. “That’s why your credit card is maxed out on porn. You need to treat a girl like a lady to get them to stick around.” He turned back at me and pulled my face towards his. “I’m ready for a private viewing.”

Thanks for the look into NIGHT MOVES, Kristen! Rock and roll + Vampires? What's not to love?

Kristen is the co-founder of Pen and Muse Press, and mostly writes YA + NA.  You can find her at Twitter (likely discussing author marketing, bacon or book boyfriends), Facebook, or her website

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pub Life: Guest Post with Lia Riley, Author of Upside Down, "How I Got My Deal"

I'm so pleased to be able to introduce you all to Lia Riley, author of the upcoming New Adult contemporary romance, UPSIDE DOWN. Lia's book will be published by Grand Central/Forever on August 5th 2014. I love "How I got my deal" stories and Lia's here to share hers. Take it away, Lia. 

How I Got My Deal

For the last few years, I’ve read “How I got my agent” or “How I got my book deal” posts with broad smiles (and occasional sniffles). The lucky person in question was clearly so awesome and talented. They surely did everything right. Me? I was straight up faking it. Yes, I sat down to write every single day, but did I believe actual people would read my actual words? Yes, sort of. In the same way I believed in Santa Claus until I was ten years old. I wanted it to be true, desperately, fervently, but I’d be lying to say I didn’t harbor doubts.
Last June, my super star agent and I were brainstorming projects. I made an off-the-cuff reference about how my exchange semester to Australia changed my life (and yielded me a husband). I was surprised there weren’t any New Adult study-abroad stories. She went quiet for a second and was like “Maybe go play with that idea.” I sat down for a week and composed an outline (I’m a total pantser). I started writing and within a day had two entirely new characters and a whole different story. Pantsing works for me. I sent my agent three sample chapters and a synopsis.
            Here’s a rough transcript of our next conversation:
            Agent: I couldn’t sleep last night because of this book.
            Me: Woo hoo! Wait. Is that good? Or did I give you nightmares?
            Agent: I loved this. I don’t know what to do with you.
            Me: I don’t know what to do with me either.
            So I kept with the story while she shopped the proposal. I’ve never been published. I ranked my chance for success between slim to none. Still, I had a blast. For the first time in my life, I wrote faster than my internal critic. Some days I’d think, “Oh. Em. Gee. That was the most hilarious scene ever.” And delete it the next morning positive absinthe-swilling zombie monkeys had eaten my brain. Other times I’d stress, “What am I doing? A scene about an art exhibit in an underground museum in Tasmania? I am either drunk or need to be drunk.” But the scene would magically end up working.
            I finished the book while visiting my family in Michigan. It was a crazy cluster storm first draft, but I’d written a book in six weeks. I’d only finished one other book before and that endeavor had taken 1.5 years. The next day my agent called unannounced, the only time that’s ever happened. I feigned calm, but knew there was either big news or she’d decided that I sucked (I think in extremes). She said Lauren Plude, an editor at Grand Central, had read my sample pages and wanted to acquire me for the Forever line.
            That moment I’d imagined five squillion times? Yeah. It’s a vague mess of shaking, tears, and jumping into a lake fully-clothed. Afterward, I scuttled back to recheck my phone because what if I hallucinated everything?
            Turns out sanity was on my side. I landed a three-book deal with my dream house and an editor who has a sincere affection for my book boyfriend, Mr. Edward Rochester.
Does any of this story feel real? Absolutely not.

For the record, I still love listening to other people describe their writing successes and always think, “Wow, they must really know what they’re doing.”

You can connect with Lia on her website,

Monday, March 31, 2014

Diverse Words: March 2014

Diversity is a major topic of discussion in publishing, and so Diverse Words is a monthly link round-up that will highlight some conversations going on in publishing and beyond.

This segment is a work in process, so suggestions are always welcome!

But first of all, if you like link round-ups, I highly suggest heading over to Cynthia Leitich Smith's website for lots of great links about writing, diversity, and more.

Diversity in Writing

Speaking of CLS, she writes at her blog about “Writing, Tonto & The Wise-Cracking Minority Sidekick Who Is the First to Die.” 

At Clarkesworld, Jason Heller writes on growing up geek and poor.

Malinda Lo talks about writing dialogue about race and how “It’s difficult to reach both readers.”

K. Tempest Bradford talks has a modest proposal for Getting More Writers of Color to Workshops.

At Disability in Kidlit, Marieke Nijkamp writes about the problems with the Trope of Curing Disability.

“You Can’t Do That! Stories Have to Be About White People!” A primary school teacher talks about his students of color almost always writing white characters. (via @srtcullen1)

Teen Lit Rocks has an open letter. Dear Author: Learn to Write About Race and Ethnicity. (via @TuBooks)

Diversity in Books

Debbie Reese gives an overview of the CCBC discussion on diversity in Feb 2014 at her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature (many excellent posts to read there as well). More CCBC discussion and links to discussion at Crazy Quilt Edi.

Patrice Caldwell writes on how It's More Than Representation when it comes to the lack of diversity in children's books.

In a 1998 essay in the New York Review of Science Fiction, author Samuel R. Delany writes about “Racism and Science Fiction.”

Nisi Shawl talks about Reviewing the Other.

Christopher Myers at the New York Times writes on the Apartheid of Children's Literature. (via Malinda Lo)

Lee & Low suggests places to find diverse children's books.

Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins, LeUyen Pham, Kathleen Horning, and Nina Lindsay, with host Mina Kim, talk about how People of Color are Underrepresented in Children's Books. (via @jennyhan)

Diversity Beyond Story

Rose Lemberg points out that change is not about age but about power, so we should Replace "Old" with "Hegemonic."

Nico Lang at The Daily Dot discusses the backlash against female actors each awards season.

At Apex Magazine, K. Tempest Bradford talks about Invisible Bisexuality in Torchwood and popular culture.

The International Studio and Curatorial Program has an open call for artists currently living and working in the Middle East and North Africa to apply for a residency in Brooklyn, NY, USA. (via @SaladinAhmed)
Media Diversified had a series called “Complicit No More” on Womanism, Feminism, and Intersectionality. (via @Huma101)

Elon James White explains to the NY Times that talking about the wealth gap isn’t inciting envy, it’s telling the truth.

PolicyMic reports on a study on the diversity gap in TV and movies, despite shows and movies with more diverse casts have more viewers/make more money.

On the other side of the camera, Maureen Ryan reports how few creators of drama TV cable shows are women or people of color. (via @SaladinAhmed)

An article at PS Magazine reports on research that highlights how much of Western academic information is based on only a small cultural slice of humanity.

At Lee & Low, Jill Eisenberg asks Where Do Boys Belong In Women’s History Month.

Police Violence and Peoples With Disabilities is dedicated to recording the stories of people with disabilities that are subjected to police brutality, a fact largely unreported because organizations who monitor police brutality don’t track disability status.

Former Undercover Drug Narc on Why Police Don’t Bust White People and How He Turned Against Drug War.

The video doesn't seem to be available yet, but Mellody Hobson's TED Talk about being color brave instead of color blind is summarized on their blog.

Sana Amanat, an editor at Marvel, talks about Myths, misfits & masks: