books for young adults

Never Underestimate A 10-Year Idea …

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I’ve known Janci for several years. When I first met her, I had no idea she was a writer, and then when I was informed of the fact by other people around me, I was quite pleased. Not many people top the cool charts the way she does! Like me, Janci writes in several different genres, and what I’ve read of hers so far, I love. She and her husband both do what they love for careers — at home. They are an example to me of following your heart and dreams. Today, I’ve invited Janci here to my blog to talk about her new book, EVERYTHING’S FINE, and how it has stuck around for over 10 years. I know this feeling well, since THE BREAKAWAY was one such similar book for me. Read on! Janci has some great things to say here!

Janci Patterson writes fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary young adult novels. Her first book, CHASING THE SKIP, will be published by Henry Holt in 2012. Janci lives in Orem, Utah, with her husband, Drew Olds. When she’s not writing, she manages Drew’s painting business, and plays geek games of all kinds.

I wrote the first draft of Everything’s Fine in 2004, so this book was ten years in the making. The idea started with this line: “So I stole Haylee’s journal.  We might as well get that out in the open right now.”  As soon as I had that line, I knew it was the beginning of a book. I experimented with it. Why does Kira take Haylee’s journal? What is it that she’s trying to hide?

Across years worth of drafts, a few things stayed the same, but more changed. It got sent out on rounds of submission several times, and always I discovered afterward that the book still wasn’t quite working. Many times I thought about giving up on this book — about just declaring it a trunk novel and leaving it alone. But inevitably as soon as I decided that, I’d have an idea for how to make the book better, and I’d rewrite it again.

Because of its long road to publication, Everything’s Fine is my most re-written novel to date, and anyone who knows me knows I’m not shy about rewriting novels. I started over from scratch at least three times, and heavily revised it dozens of times over. To give you an idea, here are a few of the more recent changes:

  • If you’ve read the book, you know that every other chapter is an in-scene flashback from a different point in Kira and Haylee’s friendship. Those chapters didn’t even make it into the book until January, when I pulled the book out and rewrote it yet again, this time with the intent of sending it to my editor. I was having a hard time getting the reader to connect to Haylee, since she’s already dead when the book begins.  Alaya Dawn Johnson suggested that I take all the flashbacks out of the book and put them in scene, and it turned out to be just what the book needed. So grateful for that critique. Without it, I think the book might have hung out in limbo forever.
  • Kira is now an only child, but from the first draft in 2004 to the first draft that my editor read back in February, she had an older sister who came for Christmas with her college boyfriend. I loved Lainie and Derek. They had a lot of awesome scenes. But in the end, Lainie’s scenes were taking away from the space I had to develop Kira’s relationship with her mother, which was much more important to the arc. So out of the book they went.
  • For a long time, Kira’s secret was that she had an eating disorder. Then I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, and realized I wasn’t doing any kind of justice to that concept. Then I had to give Kira a new secret … and I did, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is.

I almost gave up on this book dozens of times, but now that it’s finished, I’m so glad I didn’t. I was ready to abandon it, Kira’s voice was never ready to abandon me. I think this is a book that wanted to be written. Who was I to stand in its way? It makes me giddy to see it finally done, and in a form that other people are getting to read. Kira’s character took a long journey with me, and getting to share her story is the best of all possible endings.

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Kira thought she knew everything about her best friend, Haylee. But when Haylee commits suicide immediately after her first date with her longtime crush, Bradley Johansen, Kira is left with nothing but questions, and a gaping hole in her life where Haylee used to be. 

Kira is sure that the answers to her questions must be written in Haylee’s journal, but she’s not the only one searching for it. The more Kira learns about Haylee’s past, the more certain she is that other people grieving for Haylee are keeping secrets—especially Bradley, and Haylee’s attractive older cousin Nick. Kira is desperate to get to Haylee’s journal before anyone else finds it—to discover the truth about what happened to Haylee— 

And to hide the things that Haylee wrote down about her. 

From the author of CHASING THE SKIP comes EVERYTHING’S FINE, a new contemporary YA novel about secrets and loss, and the winner of the 2007 Utah Arts Council award for Best Young Adult Novel.

Add Everything’s Fine to your Goodreads shelf.

Purchase Everything’s Fine on Amazon

Find Janci on jancipatterson.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Guest Posts, Writing Process, 8 comments
How To Work With A Cover Designer

How To Work With A Cover Designer

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Today I’m excited to welcome my good friend Natalie Whipple here to the blog to talk about working with a cover designer for her upcoming novel, Relax, I’m a Ninja. Since Natalie has worked with traditional publishers in the past — and this new novel is one she will be independently publishing — this was her first experience working on a cover for one of her novels one-on-one with a designer.

Natalie Whipple, sadly, does not have any cool mutations or magical powers like her characters. Unless you count the ability to watch anime and Korean dramas for hours on end. Or her uncanny knack for sushi consumption. 

She grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU, with a minor in editing. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook Thai curry, pho, and bulgogi.

She is the author of TRANSPARENT, BLINDSIDED (January 2, 2014) and HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW (coming April 15, 2014). In addition to that, she is on the writing team for the cRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera that should be out sometime in 2015.

I’m so proud to show off Michelle’s amazing design for the cover of RELAX, I’M A NINJA (designed under the name Melissa Williams Cover Design). She really captured what I was hoping to in a cover for this book—it’s bold yet simple, cool with a hint of intrigue. So with the revealing of this cover, I thought advice about working with a cover designer would be the perfect fit for a guest post on Michelle’s blog today.

1. Learn About Your Market—Accept Your Market

Your book may be a little different than a certain genre or market, but you still need to learn about the market closest to your novel and what it responds to. If you are writing romance, look at the covers, find the similarities. These are not bad things! This is what an audience takes as a cue. They see a certain type of cover and think, “Oh, this is a insert-this-genre-here book.”

You might think that sucks, but that’s how it is. Books DO suffer when they are packaged wrong, and traditional publishers even redo covers that don’t get a good response. So know your market, embrace it, seek a cover that belongs in that market.

2. Decide What Your Cover Needs To DO, Not What You Want It To Look Like

Covers are marketing tools, first and foremost. When working with a designer, it’s more important to convey what you need your cover to DO versus what you want it to look like. Does it need to appeal to boys? Does it need to hit the YA market but stand out from the other YA Paranormals? Does it need to be gender neutral? These are things your designer wants to know and accomplish for you.

Looks come second, and they need to comply with the doing part. If it gets in the way of what your cover needs to do, then you have to edit just like a novel.

3. Collaborate With Your Designer, Don’t Be A Boss

Designers know stuff. They do what they do because they took classes and have experience. Hopefully they have experience in cover design specifically. It is wise to approach cover design, therefore, as a team effort. Not a “You will create what I exactly picture in my head or I will not be happy and it must be this way or it’s wrong.”

Creative collaboration can create some of the most amazing work out there, while stifling a designer can create … less than amazing. Of course you need to be happy with your cover, but it’s a give and take.

4. Let Your Designer Design

I’ve heard a lot of designers say they do their best work when they are given a lot of leeway to just do their job. Remember that designers are creative sorts as well, and just like writers it can be hard to be inspired with someone breathing down your neck. When they are doing their job, it’s important to be respectful of their ability and needs. Just your basic “be professional.”

5. Learn About Design So You Can Give Informed Opinions

If you really want to collaborate with a designer, you might need to learn the lingo a little. Not that you have to get super educated and take classes and get a degree, but if you offer criticism it would be ideal to verbalize it in a way a designer can understand clearly. A lot of times they have to translate what a writer is saying into design terms, and sometimes that’s hard and they miss the mark.

But if you can say there needs to be more leading or perhaps the kerning on that word should be decreased. If you can talk about san serif fonts versus scripts, if you can identify the photo needs more contrast or deeper saturation … that helps.

And those are my tips for working with a cover designer. It can be such a pleasure, and I hope if you’re thinking of self-pubbing a novel that you find a designer who’s right for you. Magic happens then.

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A Clan of ninjas in San Francisco may sound improbable—but as the son of a ninja master, Tosh Ito knows what lurks in the shadows of his city. Or at least he thought he did. When a killer with a poisoned blade starts cutting down teens, Tosh enlists Amy Sato—newest ninja recruit and his best friend’s crush—and sets out to uncover the killer’s identity. What they find is ninjutsu more evil than they could have ever imagined.

As Amy and Tosh grow closer, they discover their connection unleashes a legendary power that could stop the murders. Problem is, that power may be exactly what the killer is looking for, and wielding it could cost them both their souls.

Relax, I’m a Ninja is slated to release June 3, 2014. Find out more about Relax, I’m a Ninja and Natalie Whipple on her blog at betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Twitter @nataliewhipple.

Add Relax, I’m a Ninja to your Goodreads shelf.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Guest Posts, Self-Publishing, 2 comments

My Affair with Canada Does Not Stop With the Music

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I’m so excited to welcome Sheryll Caulfield to my blog today! I met Sherryl online just a short while ago, but I’m already impressed with her sweet, caring and attentive personality and her professionalism and enthusiasm for everything writing and publishing. Please welcome her today as she talks about country music and all things Canada (which is awesome because she lives in Australia), including her new novel that is just out.

Sherryl Caulfield is an Australian-born marketer, traveller and writer. After twenty years working for some of the world’s leading technology companies and a stint with Outward Bound, she longed to write about the human experience and the redemptive qualities of nature. Her first novel, Seldom Come By, Book 1 of The Iceberg Trilogy, will be released in December 2013.

Michelle is right. Everybody does love country music – even if they don’t admit it. I thought I wasn’t a fan. But you know I grew up listening to a British-born, Australian songstress singing about a river in America, “The Banks of the Old Ohio”. My mother would hum Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”, my brother would sing Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” under his breath while I personally favoured “Canadian Dan Hill” and his “Sometimes when we Touch”.

Then came the other Canadians:

Cowboy Junkies (how country is that name?)

Shania Twain Jane Arden and her Insensitive anthem And the incomparable

k.d. lang who covers practically every genre there is

Love, love the music, but like Michelle’s Maggie from Out of Tune, can’t sing to save myself.

My affair with Canada does not stop with the music though. I’m a fan of Canadian literature as well. When I was twenty I read No Fixed Address, An Amorous Journey about a young, sexually-liberated, travelling lingerie salewoman who drove a Black Mercedes. I became enthralled with Arachne and Canada. And then came the idiosyncratic The Shipping News, followed by the Novia Scotian drama, Fall on Your Knees, leading up my recent fascination with the novels of Joseph Boyden.

Yes, I am truly, madly, deeply in love with Canada. I’ve travelled to many parts and still have many more to visit. But it was on my first trip to Canada that I came across a single woman whose image followed me home and into the pages of a series I’ve called The Iceberg Trilogy – epic adventurous love stories about three irrepressible Canadian women and their remarkable men.

They’re epic because each woman has a disastrous experience that defines their life; each one has a breathtaking, heartbreaking hard-won romance that is the love of their life; and each one celebrates the frail mysteries of families in all their beautiful twisted forms. The Icebook Trilogy also takes you across the stunning land and seascapes of Canada with cinematic, signature moments that you will never forget.

My first book, Seldom Come By (Book 1 of The Iceberg Trilogy) is a about teenage girl, called Rebecca, who feels trapped by her surroundings.

This soon-to-be fifteen-year-old lives on a remote Newfoundland island overlooking Iceberg Alley, which to her is the only redeeming feature about the place. Icebergs are the most exciting spectacle in the months of monotony and mediocrity that mark her year. If it weren’t for icebergs Rebecca doesn’t know what she would have to look forward to. Just the thought of climbing on board one of those frozen forms and seeing where it might take her is magnetic.

To Rebecca icebergs represent something magical; a sign of lightness in darkness, a sign of hope and endless possibilities.

And then one spring, this young woman who lives and breathes longing, is looking out to sea, yearning for an iceberg, multiple icebergs, when she discovers a shipwrecked sailor and her world is never the same again.

Nineteen year old Samuel, near death, with his blonde straggly hair and his out-of-this-world Samuel smile and his far-flung experiences and talk of nude sculptures and the teal waters of the Carribean, is like no one Rebecca has ever imagined, let alone met.

One look at her sister, Rachel, and Rebecca knows they both are in the same boat: Samuel’s boat. The summer Samuel stays with them, recovering from his misadventure at sea, ignoring requests from his brother to come home, is the most exciting summer of Rebecca’s life.

And then one day she casually asks him, ‘Have you ever been up close to an iceberg?’

‘No,’ he tells her, ‘but you know it would be something, to be able to get up close and have a look at one, don’t you think?’

‘Yes,’ she sighs, in a way that is more an inhalation than an exhalation.

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Seldom Come By, named after an actual place in Newfoundland, is Rebecca Crowe’s coming of age story and Samuel and Rebecca’s soaring and unforgettable love story. It’s out on now! Come, meet Samuel and Rebecca and the iceberg that started it all. Visit. www.theicebergtrilogy.com. Oh, did I mention, it’s set in 1914? Don’t let that stop you 😉

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Guest Posts, 1 comment

What is New Adult Fiction and Should You Be Reading It?

There’s a not-so-new emerging genre out there on the market these days called New Adult fiction. Wikipedia states that this genre was coined by St. Martins Press in 2009 when they held a contest. In the contest description, it says:

“Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult — a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”’

1. AGE

When I heard about NA, I had hope. This described what I was writing. New Adult covers the age range of 18 – 26, or in more vague terms (since I think 26 might be too strict of a cut-off age), the age in which a person is no longer in high school, but has not yet established a career or a family. But sometimes NA covers teens in the later years of high school, like Colleen Hoover’s CRASH and HOPELESS series. We’ll get to why down below.

2. THEME

You know? That limbo stage. The party stage. The WHO THE HECK AM I? stage. The newfound I’M INDEPENDENT stage. That’s what I write and it finally has a specific genre publishers seem to be embracing (at least beginning to). The themes of New Adult tend to be structured around living on your own for the first time (or preparing to), learning how to make ends meet, establishing a career, entering or preparing for marriage and maybe even pregnancy, going to college, experiencing sex, experimenting with drinking and drugs (more so than in high school), entering more adult peer groups, and generally exploring any other adult experience that is new to that character.

3. IS NA ONLY ABOUT OVERSEXED/UNDERSEXED TEENS ENTERING ADULTHOOD?

I’ve noticed New Adult is starting to pair up with descriptions like “YA-like stories, but with more sex, and more detailed sex, at that.” When I go on Amazon, I see countless New Adult books that are selling big, especially ones with descriptions that say “For Mature Audiences Only”. You see, this is such a developing genre, and I have a feeling that it will go through some pretty big mood swings and phases before/if it lands into a more solid place.

BUT NO, NA IS NOT JUST ABOUT SEX. Like any other genre, NA can be about many, many, many different things. Story lines featuring a lot of sex or virgins looking for sex or someone recovering from rape, or anything along those lines, seem to be the popular thing at the moment. But there are other NA genres, ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal to dystopian to historical to literary, etc. Take your pick.

I’ve found that Romantic New Adult fiction is fiction that uses the romantic relationships in the story to further the main character’s self-discovery and complete his/her character arc. 

4. CROSSOVER?

I also want to point out that New Adult might have a fancy schmancy name now, but I think some books that neatly fall into its category are still being marketed as YA. Here’s a few.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman — It’s a sequel to a YA novel, sure, but it’s 100% New Adult, in my opinion. Two main characters living separately on their own, establishing their careers, not married yet, looking for who they are. By the way, I adore this book. It’s heavy on the romantic themes, but I wouldn’t call it romance.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman — Can you tell I love Gayle Forman? I think if anyone writes anything close to what I write, it’s her. This book strikes me as NA as well. It’s about a girl who just graduated and is on a trip in Europe. This one felt more romance to me.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard — This is about an 18-year old who travels to Central America looking for independence and no-strings-attached hookups. It felt borderline YA/NA to me, but could easily be NA, I think. It has romantic themes, but I wouldn’t call it romance.

So why are these not NA? I’m not exactly sure, but I think it has to do with many factors. Maybe that author mostly writes YA and the publisher wants to keep all of his/her books in that category. Maybe the book, in its general feel, appeals more to a YA audience despite the age of the characters. Maybe the publisher hasn’t embraced NA yet and they prefer to market to a YA readership. There are a lot of different reasons. Either way, I think NA will probably always be a somewhat blurry category, just like in some areas YA is blurry.

5. WRITING STYLE

I’ve read 32 YA books since January of this year. Most of those 32 books were written in first person. Many of them were first person present. I haven’t read that many NA books so far, but I’ve heard that like YA, they are also mainly written in first person present. As many of you may know, I tried to write my current NA novel in first person present. It didn’t work. This taught me that despite popular trends, you shouldn’t write a book according to what everyone else is doing. Duh. So my NA novel will now be in the apparently unpopular third person past tense. Like any other genre, NA can be written in whatever tense and POV the author wishes and it will still be NA.

6. SHOULD YOU BE READING NA?

That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I’ll say this — like covers, sometimes books shouldn’t be judged by their genre. I think if a book’s description appeals to you, even if it’s in a genre you normally don’t read, give it a try. Like a friend of mine says, don’t be a genre snob. 

I’d like to know how many of you have read anything you might think is New Adult? Have you heard the term before? What do you think of it?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, 4 comments

Bonded Book Club Visit

Bonded; Three Fairy Tales, One BondOn Wednesday night, I went to a book club run by my friend Ilima Todd. It was her month to choose the book, so she chose Bonded, which makes me feel all sorts of special. Thanks, Ilima!

I’ve done a few book club visits now. I think this was my fifth visit, but the first one I’ve done for Bonded. I was a little worried about how it all might work with three different books. Would it be too much to discuss all of those? Turns out several readers didn’t have the chance to finish all three books, but it was still easy to have a great discussion. Everyone was so kind, even when we discussed things not everyone particularly liked. Mostly, the discussion revolved around questions everyone had about the characters or the plot. What I find most interesting is that these questions are ones I’ve heard time and time again (especially when Cinders was first published). It’s fascinating because readers seem to gravitate toward the same issues every single time. At first, I worried this is because I’ve done something wrong in my writing. Did I not spend enough time on certain aspects? Did I leave a few things too vague? Did I do it all WRONG? (That’s like my greatest fear, ever, mind you).

I’ve realized over time, though, that I haven’t written anything wrong. As I’ve discussed before, there are no right answers. Everyone brings different things to a novel when they read it, but that’s why it is so interesting how different readers ask me the same questions over and over. To me, that means I did something right. The story I’ve written obviously begs different questions and different themes that make a large group of readers stop and think about those same things in a critical way. It’s more than entertainment, and that’s something pretty great.

I think attending book groups is one of my favorite things to do as author. It’s not because attention is focused on me and my book. It’s because I get an insight, in person, how my book has affects readers. I’ve heard the highest praise in these book groups and the harshest criticism. I’ve grown a lot because of it. Wouldn’t trade any of it for anything! Book clubs are awesome. I don’t belong to one, but someday I might. Do you belong to one?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Bonded, Books, 7 comments

Bonded Launch Party at The King’s English Bookstore

First, a suspenseful story.

I live about 40 minutes away from the bookstore that hosted me for my launch party. There’s a stretch of freeway between me and Salt Lake City, which means I was looking forward to a nice drive with three friends. Forty minutes of talk-time isn’t anything I’ll ever complain about! Unless, of course, I almost hit a deer on the freeway while we’re talking. It was rolling across the road, apparently just having been hit by a car. I was barreling along at about 68 mph, when my friend in the front seat pointed out that something wasn’t right up ahead (note, “up ahead” means, like, a split second up ahead). Since about six years earlier, I ran over (it was lying in the road, just hit) an entire elk on a backroad on my way to work (in a sports car, mind you), I had that flash through my head as my brain recognized the deer flopping across the road ahead of us. I swerved because I was thinking there is no way I’m running over a huge freaking deer again. I think my brain registered there wasn’t a car next to me, otherwise, I would have caused a nasty accident. Later, we learned the deer did cause a four-car pileup. Probably the people right behind us. I am very lucky to have missed the deer and not hit another car at the same time. Very lucky.

So that out of the way, we made it to my launch party right at the starting time, thank goodness! We could have all been in the hospital, but for the next three months, I’m thanking God in my prayers for keeping me and my friends safe.

The launch party itself was a fantastic, super, amazingly wonderful success! I wasn’t too nervous, I had fun reading my excerpt, and two of my good friends came dressed up as characters from the book. My six-year-old was well-behaved, and even asked a cute question during the Q&A section. There were a lot of people in the signing line (I consider it a total success if at least one book sells!), and I had so many friends and family show up, I went home with tears of gratitude in my eyes.

I want to thank every single person who came, and a huge thank you to The Kings English for hosting me! A launch party is a celebration, and that is exactly what this felt like.

Thank you to Janci Patterson and Lisa Shafer for most of these pics!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Bonded, Books

The Post-Revision Antsy Blues

So I’m not really into post-revision on Pieces yet since I’m waiting for two more readers to get me feedback, but after getting feedback from my other readers, and doing major slit-my-wrist revisions on the book, I’m sitting here staring at my computer and wondering what the heck to do with myself. I’m antsy. I’m nervous. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat. My brain feels like it was a rubberband all stretched out and then somebody let go. Now I’m lying on the floor, helpless. I’d watch a movie, but I’m too antsy. I’d read a book, but I’m so tired of reading after reading through my book like five times, forward and backward and up and down. The worst thing of all is that I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for a long time now because when I do revisions, I DO REVISIONS. I don’t do anything else. I don’t do laundry. I don’t cook (much). I don’t clean (much). I don’t sleep (much). I just revise until I make myself sick, which I’ve done.

Does anyone else get like this?

Also, let me clarify what revisions are. Jennifer Hubbard did a great post about what revisions are for her. She sums it up better than I can.

As Jane Lebak notes, this is about more than fixing commas. This is about deleting entire scenes, moving chapters around, writing new scenes. Bringing in new characters, or getting rid of old ones, or merging two characters who have too-similar reasons for being in the story. Changing the plot: changing what happens or when or in what order. Chopping unnecessary pages from the beginning, or the end, or even the middle. Introducing new subplots. Jane Lebak discusses the most thorough kind of revision: the rewrite that starts from a blank page. Sometimes it does come down to that.

And, yeah, I’ve done the rewrite that starts from a blank page before. More than once. Thankfully, this book does not need that extensive of revisions. I’ve restructured and rewritten and added and deleted and shuffled stuff around. Now I’m onto the line stuff, and then a final read-through for copyedits. Then it all goes to my editor and I get to do all of the edits she sends to me. Then more copyedits.

I guess all I’m saying is when people ask me how hard it is write a book, I honestly don’t even know where to start. It’s definitely a job that goes beyond the mind. It’s physical too. Revisions, for me, are the equivalent of running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I end up burning as many calories.

The post-revision antsy blues get me every time. Like my friend Becca said to me, last time this happened to her, she sat in her office chair in the middle of the room and just spun around forever. Sometimes that’s all your mind can handle! I really just don’t know what to do with myself while my brain gets back to normal. Yoga. Maybe some yoga.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces, 16 comments

Daily Dish Utah | My First Experience on TV

As I spoke about earlier, I was invited to interview on Utah’s Daily Dish show, hosted by Good Things Utah. Nicea and Brianne were wonderful hosts, and I felt at home and comfortable. Let me just say that I wasn’t so nervous to actually talk on television as I was about everything surrounding it. First of all, I was only given two days’ notice, and second, it’s in my nature to worry about little details when it’s something new. I worried about directions and driving and parking and getting into the right place. I worried about what to wear, how to do my hair, which jewelry to pick out, which shoes to put on, how I would answer the questions, etc. On and on. I honestly don’t know how news people do this every day! But then again, it’s not in my blood to just do this sort of thing as a career. But I suppose being an author, you have to have to have some level of comfort-zone with being in the public eye.

My dear friend, Alicia, offered to drive me to Salt Lake City to the news station building, and another friend offered to watch my daughter all morning. So a huge thanks to these two! My poor hubby had to work. I wish he could have been there.

All in all, this was an amazing experience and a wonderful opportunity not to pass up. I had the chance to talk about my work in a professional time and space, and I am honored to have done so. I don’t know if doing this will garner more sales, but that certainly isn’t why this was such a wonderful opportunity. I realized something important today during this interview—in the end, it does not matter what kind of “level” I see myself at in the publishing world, because I often see myself as inferior for so many reasons. But all that really matters was the two lovely hosts interviewing me were genuinely excited about my book and the story it tells.

My friend Alicia took me to a lovely bakery in downtown Salt Lake. I bought some cannolis, my favorite pastry. And we had some breakfast since I was not able to eat before the interview (I was too nervous!) It was an exciting morning and then a relaxing breakfast.

A huge thank you to ABC-4 and the hosts at The Daily Dish for interviewing me today!

To watch the interview, CLICK HERE.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, The Breakaway, 0 comments

How to Stand Out in a World Crammed With Books

Color me surprised. Overall, The Breakaway did so much better than my other books in the first few selling weeks. I think it’s a combination of factors – the first being that the book hits an apparently huge niche market for young adult and adult readers who love kidnapping/captive/Stockholm Syndrome books. I had no idea such a market was out there for this genre, but it’s big. And it’s also picky, I’m finding. This specific niche market loves a certain type of ending, I think, and The Breakaway messes with that type of ending. So I’m really not sure how well it will keep doing. I have no idea. The other reason I think The Breakaway did so well (and will hopefully keep doing well) might have to do with the marketing tactics my publisher took – several that they did not do with Monarch because they hadn’t explored those avenues yet. But Monarch is also adult and a thriller and not really a true thriller, at that. Other reasons for The Breakaway’s success might also have had to do with the fact that it is young adult, the cover people seem to love, marketing tactics I took, or, well, sheer dumb luck.

So all of this one-book-doing-better-than-another thing has me thinking about a lot of publishing points. I have asked myself if I would be as jazzed about publishing more books if The Breakaway’s sales had been the same as Monarch and Cinders in their first few weeks. I worry that I question too many things. I worry that the sheer dumb luck I mentioned above is a bigger factor in all of this than I’m willing to admit. Because, honestly, that’s what it seems like at this point. I did less marketing for The Breakaway than any of my other work. I cared less. Maybe that was important. Or maybe it’s because I have other books out and I’ve built more of a readership. Maybe it’s because I’ve focused more on marketing to readers than writers. Who. The. Heck. Knows.

And I walk into a bookstore and realize that all the books on the shelves are like .0000001% of the books out in the world, and I get short of breath and realize that my books are only a tiny speck in the huge cosmos of stories out there. How … I ask myself … how in the world will I ever make it? How will I ever stand out in a world crammed with books?

My answer to that is: I already do … in certain people’s worlds. And that’s what matters.

But … I don’t write to take over the world in general (hahaha, if only), and I don’t write to stand out everywhere, and I don’t write to be on every shelf in every bookstore, and I don’t write to please everyone, and I don’t write just to make money and sales. I write because I write and want to keep writing. And the small, beautiful success I’ve seen with The Breakaway is a happy perk and something special I treasure right now. But quite honestly, while all those sales will always be awesome, they do not feel as poignant as that first sale I made on my little self-published book, Cinders, when I felt even smaller than I do now. And that’s what makes me stop and think. I look at the authors I love and wonder how small they feel, even if they are big in the publishing world. I wonder if I will always feel insignificant standing in a bookstore or sifting through hundreds of books online.

And I sit here and fret and worry about my next full-length book, Bonded, and how it will fare compared to The Breakaway in its first few weeks. So far, each book I have put out has done better than the last, but I am not sure I can top The Breakaway, and that scares me because beyond hundreds-of-thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on marketing, there’s not much me and my publisher can do beyond what we have done for my other books. At least so far. I am sure my publisher will keep surprising me with their brilliance in marketing! And I know it’s not always about “the first few weeks” … it’s often how your books do overall over a long period of time, but still, the beginning can say a lot.

Everyone says Bonded will do amazing, but I have my doubts. Bonded is completely different, and it’s a collection and fantasy/fairy-tale based. Is that market as big as the market for The Breakaway? The first novella in Bonded has a controversial ending. The second novella, Thirds, is happy, but will people keep reading after Cinders and all the punches I pull in there? Perhaps not. The third novella, Scales, is far from a happy ending, and it’s my very favorite, like a piece of dark chocolate I think should be savored. Some people hate dark chocolate.

I guess this is enough rambling about all my worries and fears. It all reminds me of a post I wrote last year right before Monarch came out. I had cold feet, but I came to a conclusion I need to remember now. I need to staple it to my forehead: So bring on the cold feet. I know I’ll still worry and fret as the release date grows closer, but for me, the best part of the book has already happened – the fact that I finished and got it to a place where I’m 100% happy with it. Nothing will erase that. Ever. Remember, published or unpublished, you are a writer, an author, and a creative person who strives for the ultimate goal of creating something you’re proud of. Don’t ever let the little publication tag get in your way (and I need to add here that sales numbers should not get in your way either), because it doesn’t change anything in the end. It only overshadows the best part.

In the end, the only thing to do is write your next book, and at the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with that. So I’m going to go work on my next book and stop worrying.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Books, The Breakaway, 0 comments

A Sequel for The Breakaway?

michelle-d-argyle-the-breakaway-coverEver since I first wrote The Breakaway years and years ago, I have had friends and family interested in knowing more about how it might end beyond the conclusion I gave it. If you haven’t read the book, the ending is bittersweet and not what you might expect, so I think a lot of readers get very attached to the characters and want some more wrap-up with them at the end. For me, the ending does wrap everything up, but there is definitely more that could happen.

Since The Breakaway’s release, I’ve received dozens of emails and tweets and FB messages asking about a sequel for the book. At first I was a little defensive because I kept thinking that maybe my ending wasn’t enough for people. They were disappointed or it wasn’t written well. That may be the case for some readers, I imagine, but the more I’ve thought about it and talked to my publisher, I’m seeing that it’s more because readers enjoyed the story enough to want more.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there are very few sequels I enjoy, and so far in my writing career, I have had no desire to write a sequel to any of my stories. But with The Breakaway, I have always had in mind what happens to Naomi and Jesse  beyond the ending I give them in the novel … I’ve just never really shared that with many people, and honestly, over the years I’ve altered what has happened in my head. First it was a tragic ending, then very happy, then bittersweet again. The fun thing about writing is that while you have control over the story and your characters, it’s not always as much control as you want to admit. I’m the kind of writer who allows the story to control itself and guide me, the writer, to where it needs to go. The Breakaway has definitely taken its own course.

Because I’ve always had in mind how The Breakaway expands beyond its current borders, I am quite open to sharing that expansion with others. The question is how do I want to share it? The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m comfortable with writing a long short story or novella and sharing it with fans. At the moment, my publisher is open to this idea as well, although the idea may not be cost-effective for them. In that case, other options for publication are available.

Now that I’ve rambled long enough, if you are a fan of The Breakaway and are interested in a somewhat unconventional alternative to a “sequel”, make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be updated when and if this short story will be released. I’ll be open right now and say that it will probably not be available until 2013 because I have to finish my current novel before I can begin anything else. Good things are worth waiting for, right?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Pieces, The Breakaway, 0 comments