Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blog Award!

Thank you to Dean C. Rich at The Write Time for the lovely Versatile Blogger Award! It's such an honor to receive and be able to pass along this award. Here it is:

So here are the rules for accepting this award:

1. Create a post for the Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, thank the blogger who gave you the award and put a link back to their blog.
3. Nominate 15 other people for this award and let them know.
4. Post seven random things about yourself.
5. Include these rules in your post.

OK, eere are seven random things about myself:

1. Summer is my favorite season.
2. If I could change three things about my appearance, it would be my height, my nose, and my eye color (to green).
3. My blog photo was taken last year in Punta Gorda, Florida.
4.  Walking and swimming are my favorite forms of exercise.
5.  I enjoy searching for writing contests to enter and/or share with others to enter.
6. I wish I were a faster, more prolific writer!
7. My Hogwarts house would probably be Hufflepuff. Can't wait to see what the sorting hat says when Pottermore opens!

The 15 awardees are:
1. Michael Abayoni
2. Colin Smith
3. Eve
4. Daisy Carter
5. Miss Cole
6. Liz Parker
7. Crystal Schubert
8. Elodie
9. Joseph Ramirez
10. Lauren
11. Sara Biren
12. Mandy
13. Bailey
14. Angelica R. Jackson
15. Tarah Dunn

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Moment

Before we get to the post, I just wanted to advertise the two interviews I've posted this past week with fellow AQC'ers  Mindy McGinnis and Matt Sinclair on a new anthology, Spring Fevers.  Don't forget to check them out while you're here.

Yes, it's time for another YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday!

This Week's Topic:
A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision…  these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.

This is a really difficult question, because there are so many of them.  The moment in The Darkangel Trilogy when Aeriel and Irrylath finally get together. The moment when Aeriel confronts the White Witch. The amazingly brilliant first chapter of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE when Amy is frozen, and the jaw-dropping revelation in A MILLION SUNS.  The moment in DIVERGENT when Beatrice chooses her faction. The later scene when Four shows Tris his fear landscape, and she realizes his real name. 

What are your favorite literary moments, the ones that you still remember vividly long after you close the pages of the book? What moments speak to your heart?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blog Tour: Interview with Matt Sinclair

Cover for 'Spring Fevers'

As promised, here is the interview with Matt Sinclair, one of the co-creators of the new Spring Fevers anthology. I'm very excited to have him on the blog today to share more about this fabulous book, which is available for free at Smashwords. Definitely check it out! 

From the extended description on Smashwords:

"An anthology of short stories, Spring Fevers is an exploration of relationships in their varied states: love -- requited and unrequited -- friendships discovered and lost, family in its many guises, and the myriad places in between. Created by Cat Woods and Matt Sinclair, Spring Fevers arose from their work with the Agent Query Connect online writing community, and while membership in the free site was not necessary for inclusion in the anthology, the ten writers whose stories appear are all members. Authors include MarcyKate Connolly, S.Q. Eries, Robb Grindstaff, J. Lea Lopez, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Yvonne Osborne, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Cat Woods. The debut publication of Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, Spring Fevers was edited by the team of Robb Grindstaff, Matt Sinclair, and Cat Woods, with cover design by Calista Taylor, and book design by R.C. Lewis. A new anthology is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012. "

Isn't that cover gorgeous? Calista Taylor did such a beautiful job with that. Now, on to the interview:

1.  So, what inspired all of you to get together to create this wonderful anthology?

It was an idea a few of us at Agent Query Connect bounced around, and Cat Woods and I ran with it. Getting our names out in front of readers is something both agented and unagented writers need to be doing as often as possible. I look at it as an example of having strength in numbers. In the current marketplace, there is so much noise that it’s hard to get noticed. We looked at an anthology as a way to partner with several writers to get a similar message out to our own followings. In that way, we can amplify each other. A person might be familiar with the work of Mindy McGinnis but discover J. Lea Lopez as a result of their being in the same anthology.

2.  How did you select the theme of relationships, and how do each of the stories reflect that theme?

We knew from the outset that we were looking for relationship stories. Right away, we noticed a trend in bittersweet stories rather than romance. There’s certainly some romance in the anthology, but the stories truly take a broad look at relationships. Robb Grindstaff, who copy edited all the stories (aside from his own, which I copy edited) came up with the title Spring Fevers. I really liked it because it encapsulated so much of what we were seeing – the way spring weather, like new love, can change so quickly.

3.  Give us a taste of the genres included.

We really think that everyone can find something they’ll like. You’ll find a few examples of young adult. In fact, we open with First Kiss, an engaging and slightly creepy YA story by Mindy McGinnis (better known among AQC folks as Big Black Cat or BBC). We also have some science fiction and fantasy, literary fiction, and humor. Robb Grindstaff’s story, Dreams, still makes me chuckle no matter how many times I’ve read it.

4.   How did you select the stories for this anthology? Were there any specific criteria you had in mind for the Spring Fevers anthology?

We were looking for strong writing. I also wanted characters who stayed with you after you moved on to another story. I liked the idea of these stories and people popping up in your mind when you’re doing other things. I’ve already had the husband in Cat Woods’ touching tale Annabelle visit me a couple times.

For this first anthology, we only approached writers we knew who we felt confident could submit strong stories that were on topic and engaging. And even in the next one, the quality of the writing will drive what gets accepted.

5.  What was the process of putting it all together like, and how long did the project take?

We had a deadline in mind and worked backwards from that to develop submission deadlines. It was a little tough at times because the winter holidays fell in the middle of it, but we knew that going in. All in all, it was about a six-month process.

6.  I understand there will be another anthology coming out next fall. What will this one be about, and how do we submit something for consideration?

There will indeed! We’ve gotten started with some of the initial footwork. We’re planning to launch the second anthology in October. It’s going to be more of a dystopian collection, with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories, death and destruction and all manner of seemingly overwhelming challenges for characters to overcome. I figure that we’ll need to release it in October so we can all get ready for the end of the world that’s predicted to occur on December 21.  I’m shooting for the Mayan calendar audience! ;-)

Once again, we’ll be looking for excellent writing and memorable characters and settings in any genre except erotica. We’ll be approaching specific writers again, but I think the cat’s out of the bag. I expect we’ll receive a lot more submissions this time. The email address for submissions is which will go directly to me. Please note in the subject line Fall Anthology.

7.  Was there anything I didn’t ask yet about the anthology that you’d like to share?

I want to call attention to the team Cat and I put together. All of us were very involved in the process. Robb was great to work with. He’s an excellent editor and writer. In my opinion, any writer looking for an editor should start with him. And we were fortunate to have Calista Taylor and R.C. Lewis, who, like Cat and myself, are AQC moderators, handling the cover and book design. It’s easy to see the result and say, “Oh, that looks good,” and not realize the work that goes into finding the right cover and making the copy that comes from ten different writers all look like one contiguous entity. Plus, R.C. designed for Smashwords and Kindle and the Print-on-Demand version that we’re almost ready to launch. They deserve so much credit and they didn’t even have any stories in the anthology! It really is a team effort. For the fall anthology, we’ve added Mindy McGinnis, who had a story in Spring Fevers. She’s also a writer the YA dystopian novel Not a Drop to Drink, which will be coming out in 2013. She was incredibly helpful during Spring Fevers as was her agent, Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services. I can’t thank them all enough!

Fabulous interview, Matt, and best of luck with Spring Fevers and the upcoming anthology. I'm so looking forward to reading it as well, especially being a dystopian fan :). Thanks again for being with us on the blog today!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blog Tour: Interview with Mindy McGinnis

Today I'm so excited to bring to you an interview with author Mindy McGinnis! She's got a fabulous story in the new Spring Fevers anthology, put together by a great group of writers at Agent Query Connect. Mindy also has an upcoming YA dystopian novel due out in fall 2013, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, and you can find out all the details at her blog: Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.

Without further ado, here's the interview!

1.  Your short story, "First Kiss," in the new Spring Fevers anthology
is amazing! What inspired this story? 

Great question. I live in a sprawling old farmhouse situated on five acres. I found no less than four uncovered wells when I first moved in. I was just a kid when the famous Baby Jessica incident happened, but it made a lasting impression. A mix of that, and a random idea I had floating around my head about someone who had a Poison Ivy (Batman character) type ability coalesced into this weirdness.

2.  What are some of the challenges of writing short stories vs. novels? 

Less space, less time. You've really got to punch your reader in the face in a nice way that they'll love you for. They know there are other stories behind yours that might appeal to them more, and flicking a couple pages to move away from your story is a lot easier than putting down a whole book and going to pick your next one.

3.  How do you approach writing a short story vs. a novel?

Impact is of utmost importance, always. I think with a book you need to focus on getting that impact into the first page, or paragraph. In a short story, you've gotta get them with the first line.

4.  Is there anything else you wanted to cover on the topic of short
stories vs. novels? 

I love writing shorts. I think they're a wonderful outlet for those stories inside of me that don't have enough meat to them to justify a novel. There are plenty of characters in my head who have *something* to say, just not necessarily a lot. I also think shorts are an important way for a writer to pull readers to them as an author, and sell themselves as a writer as opposed to selling their book, if that makes sense. If I can make you like me, and my style, in a few pages, that's great. A short that draws a reader in to my voice will (hopefully) make them look to see if I have a book. As a reader of short stories myself, I can honestly say I do that all the time, and it's the best avenue I've found to discovering new voices.

Thanks so much for the interview, Mindy! It's great to have you on the blog today. Readers can discover some fantastic new voices in The Spring Fevers anthology, an anthology of short stories with the theme of relationships, available for free at Smashwords.  Be sure to check back here soon for an interview with Matt Sinclair, one of the co-creators of SPRING FEVERS.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Title Your Life

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday Topic: NAME THIS LIFE: What would your memoir be called?

A memoir is probably near the top of the list of things I will not be writing. Ever.  Sure, as a teen, I used to keep a diary, but reading those pages later and reliving those awkward middle and high school moments made me cringe.  Even reading my thoughts from back then was not a fun experience. Fiction is much more fun to write, anyway.

My grandmother, though, says she would have liked to have written her memoirs, and I wish that she had.  She's had an incredible life and has amazing stories to tell. Maybe in years to come, for my family, I'll change my mind and write my story so that they're not left wishing that I had written it. Maybe I'll think back and consider my own amazing stories--because we all have them to tell (or keep to ourselves)--and finally share them in written form.

If I ever did, it would be called Unwritten, because like the song by Natasha Beddingfield, it would be about experiencing life to the fullest, finding and putting down the words I couldn't find before to describe my life, and no matter my age when it's written, this life journey would be just the beginning of the unwritten story to come!