Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The New Young Adult: Cross Genre, Multi Layered Storylines

It’s Tuesday and after 10 days abroad I needed a day to myself, to coop from the time change, to not be “on” for a few hours, to just relax and catch up on the publishing world.
Reading through the agent blogs covering the BEA YA Buzz Panel made me giddy with excitement because my works actually fit the hot categories this year. I’ve been pitching my historical fantasy interlaced with magic for the past two years and no one seemed to bite but maybe, just maybe, this is my year. Publishers Weekly says this year is all about combination, multi-layered genres, dystopian futures layered with magic, witchcraft and magic with historical ties, and steampunk with romantic storylines. This has me dancing in my socks because I’ve got 2 witchcraft/historical/mystery manuscripts and one steampunk /adventure in the works. I’ve always heard it’s all about timing and hopefully mine is coming.
Multi genre makes so much sense to me because I don’t think any piece of work is purely one genre. No one writes a mystery without an element of romance, or a fantasy without a tie to historical events; it’s human nature to combine these elements. Jane Austen’s romances would not have been complete without their tie to mystery, Dickens told of misfortune that was tied directly to social demons, and more recently Stephanie Meyer entranced her readers with a fantasy so laden with romance that even I got caught up in it. As an author I think we all live and write in multi-layered, cross genre worlds and I’m so glad to see it becoming a recognized, valued segment of popular fiction.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

7 Hours of Witches

Yesterday I flew back from London and on the plane I took advantage of two things, an economy plus seat and the ticking clock. I figured since I was flying from East to West I would use my extra 5 hours to think about A Marked Past and of course the sequel. I may have mentioned a few hundred times that I am about ¾ of the way through book 2. So in mid flight, armed with my laptop, a bottle of Coca-Cola, and my iTouch I settled in for 7 hours of self induced writing cocoon.
To be honest I think I’m struggling a bit to figure out the closing chapters. So far I’ve written 270 pages and about 85,000 words, but I’m still not sure how it’s going to play out in the end. Will the good girl win or the bad guys? Will my readers shake their heads in relief that the good guys walked away or shake them in defeat? No one wants to write a cliché but will the readers return if their hero is squashed like a bug? I have to think back to JK Rowling’s demise of Dumbledore and how she took that chance and killed our hero, Harry’s hero. I cried for him, literally wept so I believe that sometimes defeat is just as rewarding an experience as winning.
This dilemma haunted me in A Marked Past too and not until I actually wrote the closing chapter did I truly know how the book would end. So there I sat in 27C blinking cursor illuminating the tray table in front of me letting my mind wander as the British man next to me read every word that I typed on the screen. Probably even the words of this blog, he even chuckled at some of the high jinks I was writing so I maybe I’m on the right track after all. I guess we’ll know in 8 months or so when Book 2 is polished and released.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Part time writer, full time obsession: BEA’s NY Book Week

BookExpo America (BEA)’s NY Book Week - BEA - BookExpo America

I'm so jealous to be missing all the fun but alas, this is just one of those weeks when my "real" job must trump my fantasy world.

There’s a Teen Author Carnival going on at the Mulberry Street Library in NY. They’ve got giveaways, panels, Q&A and more with and more than 25 Young Adult authors are onsite to sign their books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so deluded to think that I would have a line of people awaiting signatures, but I would love to be part of the action. Meeting fellow authors, exchanging experiences, tips, advice, and supporting an event that promotes teen lit is a perfect event for me. I’d love to spend some time with other teen lit enthusiasts and meet some of the new authors on the scene.

That said, I am blogging from my hotel room, wishing I had a bit more time to work on Book 2 while A Marked Past is in review with the proofreader. I suppose, I fancy myself a bit of Halfling, not a hobbit, but instead, a well-dressed consultant with a set of fairy wings etched on her back. If you see my head bowed this week seeming in consideration of a new technical solution, or a system enhancement, and my lips are laced with a crooked smile, my mind might just be wandering beyond the spreadsheets and into to the streets of New York to the Carnival quietly longing to be part of the action.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Ghosts of Salem

It’s funny how when I actually began writing everything just started unfolding in my head, then traveled down from my mind to my hands, then to the keyboard and so on, until I had a draft. The concept was good enough to win over a literary agent, but after reading my manuscript she said something was missing. When she read the descriptions of Salem she felt like I was lacking a personal connection to Salem. So I kicked around her comments, reading every webpage I could find on historic Salem, and still I felt like maybe she was right. If I wanted to bring the world around Lyla to life then I needed a personal connection to the pictures and stories I’d seen online. So I went to Salem.
A year and a half ago I went to Salem with my sister Sarah and roamed through the cobblestone streets of the small town. We walked past all of the historical homes and buildings that I thought I had visited. The cool air wrapped around us and pushed us through the town, slowing when we approached the old cemetery, and stopping altogether when we found the memorial to the fallen “witches”.
Rough cut cold grey stones lined a cobblestoned rectangle, displaying the names of all of the people who were said to be witches and died at the hands of paranoia and fear. History says a young girl pointed the finger at an Irish wash woman rumored to have powers and so began the hangings of the witches of Salem. Their names are etched on the old stone slabs and still linger in the town, whispering their stories on the coastal wind.
She was right, the agent, after I went to Salem my work changed. I could feel the chill in the air when I wrote about the eerie dark streets of Salem after that visit. Lyla’s world had become part of my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Own GoodReads

Today I created my own GoodReads page to rate the books I’ve read. It’s actually a lot of fun to flip through the book lists and rate (in stars) the ones that you enjoyed most. Since I’m interested in Young Adult fiction I started listing my faves from Junior High and High School, and of course the recent YA series that I’ve been cruising through for the past two years. There are a lot of good books out there right now.
Take a look, build your own bookshelf page and friend me!
Leslie Deaton Good Reads page

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Making a Book Trailer

I’m currently unraveling the mystery behind the newest marketing tool for authors, the Book Trailer. I saw my first one last summer for a book called Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl. As my first experience I thought the trailer was amazing, after some critiques from some art peeps I was later informed that it’s meh. J
 Beautiful Creatures
But, I’m not deterred, especially with the help of Ed and Erin. The publishing industry says book trailers are the new preview, and YouTube is our free passport to them. Lots of authors like me, with no film or movie-making experience are using basic applications to create their own masterpieces (i.e., MovieMaker or iMaker). The basic rules are choose a theme, keep it short (30-90 seconds), and entice the reader by sticking to our stories, give the readers a sense of what to expect when they open the cover. And most importantly, include the book cover and release date, website, and story snippets.
I’m working on pulling some plot revealing lines from A Marked Past that will lay out the story line without revealing the entire plot. Author, Amanda Hocking, does this extremely well in her book trailers (Switched, Letters to Elise). Take a look and let me know what you think of these.  I'm going to working with E2 Iover the next month or so and I'll share mine here too! 
Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella (My Blood Approves)
Here are some other links that I’m using to get ideas and advice:

Friday, May 13, 2011

For the Love of...

I guess I already knew that by choosing ePublishing I was probably going to have to forgo the unbelievably successful and lucrative career status of authors like Stephen King and JK Rowling but I’m ok with it. After all, what I really want is to get my book out there, isn’t it? It’s a delicate balance between value and art, between black and white, a topic I’ve heard my brother spout endlessly about.
Black. As a business woman I find myself reading articles like the Sister’s in Crime blog and tossing around ideas like, what is my price point, how many books to I realistically think I am going to sell, but more importantly, should it matter?
White. Aren’t I considered some kind of artist by nature and therefore I should be above worrying about the bottom line? Does my success have to be measured by the number of copies I sell, or simply by the fact that I am sharing my work with someone besides those of you whom I suckered into reading for me? - (my wonderful little sister and my amazing friends) Yes, this is bribery because I am working on book 2 and will be soliciting your help again.
Black. I’ve delivered the manuscript to my Proofreader Diane and am anxiously awaiting her response (ETA Aug 1) and in the meantime I am diligently working to finish Book2. I’m also waiting for my brother to graduate so he can create me a killer book trailer, and for my favorite photographer to finish up classes and catch up on her missing sleep so I can talk business with her.
White. You see, I’m planning on making her “famous” right along with me in this whole book endeavor. She was one of my first readers, offered me encouragement when I needed it most, and Erin E, if I haven’t mentioned this before, I love your work. Feel better soon.
Black. I’ve done the research and trust me I am not going to be a millionaire anytime soon, but that doesn’t diminish my excitement over the process.
White. But really, how many of you are really going to buy my book?  J

Sisters in Crime: Braving the New World of E-book Pricing, Part 1 of...

Sisters in Crime: Braving the New World of E-book Pricing, Part 1 of...: "By Lori L. Lake Nathan Bransford recently wrote a timely and insightful piece called “99 Cent E-Books and the Tragedy of the Commons” in w..."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Learning About ePublishing

This afternoon I spent some researching a website called GoodReads. This is quite possibly the best website ever for a nerdy writers and avid readers because it brings us all together in one place to enjoy books! You can create your own account and use it to rate books that you’ve read, write reviews, and even register for free book give always. As a new author I will definitely be posting my book on the site in a free give away contest and will also be begging all of you to create an account and write a review for me!

Something else that caught my eye (10 minutes of my time to be exact) was the Trivia section. You can play trivia games based on your favorite books. And yes, I did take the Twilight Quiz. I got an 8 out of 10; and later I’m going to try the Harry Potter ones too. I guess this means when I’m published I’m going to have to create a trivia game for A Marked Past.
I’m reviewing the publishing process to find out where to post, advertise, and sell my book. I’ve been following other self publishers on their blogs and they are all using sites like Smashwords to get their work out there. You should take a look; most of the books are priced at under $5. It’s a great place to get started a self publisher.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Touch

On Mother’s day I have to take a few seconds to honor my mom; she is a huge reason why I write in the first place. My mom was very young when she had me but she didn’t let that stand in her way of a wonderful, supportive, and loving mom. When I was little I loved to read, and be read to, enter my mom, who read to me night after night, even when I chose the same books over and over again. The Monster At The End of This Book with Grover was my favorite for a while, and I can still remember the suspense she would build up as she flipped each page, growing ever closer to the monster….
She later told me that I made her read that book so often that she hid it under the couch cushion just to get me to pick something else to read. From Grover, to Ramona, to Dear Mr. Henshaw, to the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, to Sweet Valley High, then Christopher Pike, then Dickens, then Hemingway, then Austen, then two English degrees later, none of it would be possible without my mom.  So Mom, this is for you.
In my first drafts of A Marked Past I wrote Leah, Lyla’s Mom, in as a major character, mirroring her after my own mom. I gave her a positive outlook, an outgoing, bubbly personality, and a forgiving heart. Leah was front and center in the action, teaching Lyla about the importance of family, loyalty, and honor; but my literary agent told me she had to go. She advised me that “teens do not want to read about parents, cool or not” so Leah’s role changed; I cut it to one of a static character, removing her from the main storyline, pushing her to the background, but still being careful to keep her as part of the larger story. She may not be part of the everyday action, but she appears when Lyla is at a crossroads and needs to be reminded of what she’s fighting for. Most of our moms are probably in the same situation. They may not star in the everyday drama we call our lives, but they were there in the beginning shaping us in to the people we are today, and even now, they always seem to make an appearance when we need them most.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there, especially mine!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic

I’ve always known that I wanted to write about magic, but not the kind with a magician and a top hat. I was interested in the kind that came from within, the kind that lived in the hands and hearts of ordinary people. Maybe it was because I always wanted to be magical, or maybe it was because I always thought my grandma was a witch. And, trust me, I mean that in the best way. She was a beautiful, amazing woman with a spirit that just wouldn’t quit.
Always the embodiment of magic to me, her house was filled with mystical pieces mixed in with the usual kitsch. If you looked closely you might find a tiny copper kettle that she never used for creamer, an old wine bottle with a dripping candle that lived in it, and a triangular prism wrapped with a small blue bead hanging from a long chain. These are all things that she gave to me over the years, trinkets to carry with me, to keep me safe. And thankfully, I was never so far away from home that she wasn’t with me in some way. Even now.
When A Marked Past is published, you’ll see little pieces of her in my novel. Her dark hair, fair skin, and bright blue eyes inspired me as a kid so I gave them to Lyla. Her brooding spirit, quiet intelligence, and her undying dedication to family inspired me to write a tale of a suffering family. The Mercer family, like our own, is one who has experienced tremendous loss, one who must overcome their differences to learn to trust one another again, and ultimately one who must find the will and strength to fight to save one another. We may not actually be witches, but my grandma had the power to make each one of us feel like we were the most important thing in the universe when we were with her, and if that’s not magic then I don’t know what is.
Trust me, don't ever turn your back on these two...             

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This is my personal journey through the wild and terrifying world of publishing. Three years ago I sat at a table a friend and answered the question he posed...Why aren't you writing if that's what you want to do? I paused, embarrassed, and said. I guess I'm afraid, and I was. Justin smiled and said it's a blank page, there's nothing scary about that. What do you want to write about, let's map it out. And from that lunch, in a room with a hundred strangers, surrounded by the smell of pizza and French fries we mapped out my first novel. What I learned from this: Sometimes we meet amazing people in mundane settings and they have the power to change our lives.

It's laughable now, how different the story line became, all the changes, advice, and comments I've gotten over the past three years have changed the concept completely. But my lead character Lyla has always been there, evolving with the flow of the story, waiting for three long years to find an audience. In the next few months I hope she will, with the help of some amazing people (both friends and family) I'm working to finally give Lyla Mercer a voice.

I've hired a proofreader, requested some help to create a book trailer, and will be hitting up an amazing photographer for some help on a cover. When it's all done I'm doing it. I'm going to publish my book online. I'm learning everything I can about ePublishing for Kindle, eBook, Nook, iPhone, iPad, and any other format that’s available. I'll keep you posted on my progress and will ask for your input along the way. From blurbs, to covers, to trailers, I'll share it all with you.

Here's the original map, enjoy the chuckle!