Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Pub Day!


Tomorrow is the pub day for Meghan Masterson’s debut, THE WARDROBE MISTRESS!  This a book that is near and dear to my heart, partially because I love historical fiction and partially because it was a long (but richly deserved!) road to publication.





Tell us about the book!

The Wardrobe Mistress is historical fiction that takes place during the French revolution. My main character, Giselle Aubry, works in Marie Antoinette’s household as one of her wardrobe women. She had so many clothes and had to dress for so many different functions that taking care of all these garments was a real job. Giselle is asked to spy on the queen, but as the revolution escalates, she becomes torn between her loyalty to the queen and her sympathy for the revolutionaries.

You had such an interesting journey to publication…tell us all about how this book came to be!

The first spark of the idea came from a discussion I had with you, Carrie. I’d just finished my second novel since signing with you, and was casting about for a new idea while those other two were still on submission. I remember we started talking about Marie Antoinette, sharing excitement over how glamorous and tragic her life was, and I started to think I could write about her. Plus, we were talking about me writing something a bit more commercial this time, and a well-known historical figure like her seemed like a good fit.

I knew I wanted my narrator to be someone close to the queen, and at first I thought Giselle would work in the kitchen at Versailles. But as I continued researching the French revolution, I discovered that fashion and colour were key signifiers of revolutionary or royalist sympathies. Eventually, it became a law for citizens to wear tricolor rosettes to show their support for the revolution, but even before that, one could hint their support by wearing red, white and blue – or studiously avoiding it. I also read Madame Campan’s memoirs as part of my research, and since she was the first femme de chambre to the queen, she had a lot of fascinating detail about the queen’s wardrobe and household. As soon as I read that, I knew Giselle worked there instead of the kitchen.

I think the most important lesson for me in this book’s journey is to be persistent. It’s the third book that you and I submitted, so at times all the submissions could feel discouraging, but in the end we got a deal with a Big Five publisher! I still love the first two books we worked on, but I believe The Wardrobe Mistress really was the best one for a debut.

What part of the publication process has been the most interesting/fun? What part has been the hardest?

It’s all been interesting and exciting. I think seeing the cover for the first time might have been one of the best parts – it made it feel real. And getting to hold a copy of the book for the first time was amazing! I had to do a fair amount of revisions – I cut down about 15K words from the original draft – and that was a lot of work, but still interesting and I think the book is better for it.

I guess the hardest is that it’s too late to change anything now. Sometimes I glance through the pages and wish I could swap a word or polish a scene a little differently. Publication is also quite a long process, so sometimes it was tough to be patient. We sold the book in April of 2016 but it didn’t come out until August of 2017, so there’s a lot of waiting in between bursts of things happening. At first it was hard to shift between writing a new book and jumping back to working on edits or promotional things for this one, but it does get easier with practice.

What is some fun promotion you've done for the book?  Anything upcoming we should be keeping our eyes or ears out for?

I wrote a short story called “The Diamond Deception”, which takes place a couple of years prior to the start of The Wardrobe Mistress and is about the Diamond Necklace Affair, which involved the theft of a diamond necklace under pretense that the Marie Antoinette was buying it in secret, when in fact she knew nothing about it. It’s a free story for my newsletter subscribers, and you can sign up at this link.

I’m also sharing 18th Century fashion items on Instagram (and cross-posting to Facebook and Twitter), so anyone who follows me there can see what kind of garments the characters would be wearing. So many of the items are so intricate and beautiful, but also so impractical compared to what we wear today. I might match some of the outfits up to specific characters, too. I’ve also got lots of Marie Antoinette themed posts on my blog. If you’ve ever wondered if Marie Antoinette really said ‘let them eat cake’, I’ve got the answer to that and lots more!

There’s a Goodreads giveaway coming up later this month too – stay tuned for that! I will post about it on social media when it’s live.

People (me included!) always talk about the difference between publishing with a smaller press vs. one of the Big Five.  How do you think having this book with St. Martin’s or with your particular editor has made this journey unique?

I’d always hoped to be with one of the Big Five – I guess probably most authors going the traditional pub route do! St. Martin’s was actually always right at the top of my list since so many of my favourite books have been published by them. Obviously I was over the moon when they wanted to acquire my book! In my experience, being with one of the Big Five has a lot of benefits for marketing support. For example, I know some small press authors who had to do a lot of the legwork, like building a street team to mail books to in exchange for early reviews, etc, and I didn’t have to do much in that area since St. Martin’s handled distribution of early copies, both through Netgalley and in galley format. They also managed an early Goodreads giveaway. I think sometimes there’s the worry that a Big Five publisher won’t have time to give every author much individual attention, but I’ve never felt like that – everyone is really professional and helpful.  

My particular editor is absolutely amazing. Lauren Jablonski is so wonderful to work with, and is endlessly patient with all my debut author questions. Her vision for the book made it easier for me to do all those revisions, and the book is so much stronger now because of her editorial expertise. Plus, we both love Harry Potter!

Now fun question!  If these books were turned in to a movie (or movies ::salivates::) who would you cast to play the main characters?

First, I must admit this was the most difficult question to answer. Even though this is imaginary, it’s a good thing I’m a writer and not a casting director because I had no idea! I spent a lot of time going over random IMDB lists and sending my mom snapshots of celebrities, which was really weird because that’s not our usual conversation style.
Anyway, I picture my main character, Giselle, as looking kind of like Anna Popplewell. Her love interest, Léon, has dark eyes and hair like Tyler Blackburn. Giselle’s best friend Geneviève looks exactly like Eleanor Tomlinson. This one might be a bit surprising, but I would absolutely want Sarah Michelle Gellar to play Marie Antoinette. And for Robespierre, I’d go with Eddie Redmayne.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for Alana Delacroix's MASKED POSSESSION!  I love, love, love this book and am so excited to have Alana talk to you about it!  It is such a unique premise--it is about a half-shifter named Caro Yeats, who works at a supernatural PR firm and the steamy romance and adventure that occurs when she is assigned to work for the shifter king!  Be sure to pick up your copy ASAP!




Tell us about the book!

Set in modern Toronto, MASKED POSSESSION is a paranormal romance about Caro, a half-masquerada who wants nothing to do with her supernatural side. Through her PR job she meets Eric, a masquerada king facing deadly problems, and the two need to trust enough to fight against a vicious enemy who threatens them both. Masquerada are beings who can shift into any human form.
It’s the first in my Masked Arcana series. Masked Desire, which tells the story of masquerada council leader Michaela Chui and the very attractive exiled fey Cormac Redoak, comes out in 2018.

How did you come up with the idea for this series and where do you draw inspiration for characters and plot?

Most of my ideas begin with a “What if?”. For MASKED POSSESSION, it was, “What if there was a PR agency for supernatural beings?” I was also in the middle of reading Frank Herbert’s Dune series and was fascinated by the Face Dancers, mimics who can take on the appearance of other people. The two ideas melded to form the basic sense of the story.

I knew I wanted both Caro and Eric to be a mix of tough and vulnerable, but I really don’t know where I draw inspiration for my characters! I have a bad habit of staring at people in public and wondering what they’re doing and why, so I think I pull little bits of personality from what I imagine.

As for the plot, I’m a pantser who’s trying hard to be more of a plotter. For MASKED POSSESSION, I knew the general idea of what I wanted, wrote a half-page summary, and then started drafting. It took longer for me to edit than write it!

What was the hardest part of getting your book published that most people don’t realize?

Definitely the waiting. It was about a year from signing the contract with Kensington (thank you, Carrie!) until getting the book published. This was also my first time working on multiple projects at once: editing MASKED POSSESSION; writing MASKED DESIRE (the second of the trilogy); editing two other books I want to sell; and coming up with a new proposal. Plus the day job. I have multiple to-do lists.

How do you think your manuscript has changed since you started working with your editor?

Esi asked me to delve much deeper into the emotional aspects of the characters, wanting to know more about how they would feel in specific situations. Her comments resulted in far more compelling characters. I also realized too many filler words, particularly “just”. She definitely helped me become more aware of those writing tics.

What have you had to do to promote your book?  What kind of social media do you think has been the most important in publicizing MASKED POSSESSION?

Kensington provided a very comprehensive marketing plan for me to follow, which was amazing. I also did some of my own, such as creating bookmarks and postcards for events.


I think it’s best to promote on the channels you’re most comfortable with. For me, those are Twitter and Instagram – I was never a big Facebook user. I send out information to groups I belong to, such as RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal group, the Kensington romance group and other authors I know. They’re a huge support. And I updated my website, so check it out at alanadelacroix.com

Monday, July 31, 2017

What I Learned at Yale

I got a great suggestion via Twitter to share what I learned when I was at the Yale Writers Conference in mid-June.  Sorry this is coming so late, but there has been a lot going on this summer!  First off, I have to say, this was probably the most impressive conference I have ever been to (not a surprise).  I was so bowled over by the quality of the writing that I saw in pitch sessions and the detailed questions asked during the panel.  There were a few questions in particular I thought would be really helpful to share with you!




What is more important: voice or plot?
One attendee asked which of these things was more important.  The answer is that both are essential to crafting an excellent manuscript!  However, in terms of what you can work on improving with your agent and editor, it is MUCH easier to fix problems with plot than problems with voice.  Voice is something (to a certain extent) that can't be taught.  In my opinion, it's also harder for agents to pin down.  I can easily tell where a plot is weak and think of suggestions to fix it, but if the voice isn't quite right, it is harder for me to advise an author on how to change that.

As a side note, when I was listening to pitches at the conference, there was one pitch that I wasn't fully excited about plot-wise, but when she read me her opening paragraph, the voice was so incredible that I immediately changed my mind!

How important is genre distinction?
Another thing that came up is the important of getting your genre right when querying.  This is something that we thought was not essential.  You don't want to be wildly off the mark and call yourself book club when you are literary, but if you're worrying about the distinctions between literary and women's fiction, you don't need to panic when querying.  It is something, however to discuss with your agent once you have one, since the way you decide to brand the novel will determine what kind of editors will look at it.

How important is having your writing published in literary magazines, etc. and how often do you find authors this way?
This is such an interesting question and one I had an awful answer to.  Having your writing published in journals or online can be a great way to build an audience and your platform (my author Nicole Trilivas first had her work appear on Wattpad and was a Marian Keyes contest winner), although is not essential for fiction writers to do this.  I have personally reached out to self-published authors, such as my author (and NYT bestseller!) Suzy Quinn, but it's something that I only do once in a blue moon.  

So if you're planning on submitting your work to magazines or publish it on online, keep in mind that you'll most likely still have to do the legwork when it comes to finding an agent.  We're a pretty busy group and even though it's the smart thing to do, many of us don't have time to scour these places to look for new clients.  

There were some other standard questions about agenting and our role in the publishing process that I won't share, but I hope these were interesting and helpful to read about!  If you have any questions about the conference or questions in general, let me know in the comments section with hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cat Birthday

Ivan and Nori are 1-year-old!! I can’t believe we’ve had these little guys for under a year—it feels like they have been a part of our family forever.  Because I love my kittens, this week, I have made a cat timeline photo collage for all of you.  Enjoy! 😺😺




Monday, July 17, 2017

Query Critique

Query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  

ALSO, please be aware: because I have two books publishing in August, the Query Critique winner will not be announced for about a month!  Thanks, everyone!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day of the third book in Shana Figueroa's Valentine Shepherd seriesRECKONING.  I just love this quirky, kick-ass romance--and if you've read the other two books, you know just how crazy awesome these books are!  I'm so happy to have Shana here to talk to us about this book and you all should be sure to pre-order your copy today!!


Tell us a bit about this book and its relationship to the first two books in the series.

This is the third book in the Valentine Shepherd series starring Val and Max—the same couple from the first two books, which I know is rare for a romance series. The first two books focused on the initial relationship between Val and Max, and how they overcame both internal and external obstacles to grow as people and be able to love one another. The third book jumps ahead five years to find the couple settled into marital bliss with two children. The story explores how they’ve changed, and what happens when their bond is tested to its limit.

What is one of your favorite plot twists in the book?
Many characters in this series have motivations they hold close to the chest, so there are oodles of plot twists throughout the story as various plans unfold. So many to choose from! However, my favorite is the one on the very last page of the book, where you learn that one initially despicable character is more noble than he seems.

How has it been writing about these characters for three books?  Are you ready to move on to something new or would you be happy to continue the series?

I’ve loved creating characters that are so complicated! I enjoy writing in the gray zone where nobody’s totally good or totally evil, and I’ll continue to do that with each book I write. Though I’ve loved every second creating the Valentine Shepherd universe, I’m ready to move on to something new.
In fact, I’m almost done with the first draft of a totally new novel, a science fiction YA(ish) story about two battled-hardened soldiers from the future who are thrown back in time into their teenaged bodies in our present day. As they try to figure out what’s going on—and grapple with their growing attraction to each other—they begin receiving orders to kill. Should they obey like the good soldiers they’re supposed to be, or resist and risk destroying the future?

What are some of your favorite romance novels?  Were any of them an inspiration when writing this series?

One of my favorite romance stories is Traveling Light by Carole Matthews. In it, a British woman hooks up with an American guy while she’s on a trip through Asia a few weeks before her wedding. It has a beautiful one-paragraph description of when they first make love in a monastery, which is an example of masterful writing achieving what pages of explanation could not. I adore the idea of finding love on an exotic road trip with someone you just click with—which is basically what happens in VENGEANCE—and cheered when the heroine finally called off her wedding.

Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process (e.g. do you have to write at night or while wearing lucky socks)?

I have this habit where I twirl my hair a lot when I’m thinking. My mom says it makes me look crazy, so I try not to do it in public. It’s just so soft!

Anything you want your readers to know?

I’ve got a bunch of amazing deals going on right now!
·         Sign up for my newsletter, and receive a FREE e-copy of VENGEANCE!
·         Write an honest review of one of the books in the Valentine Shepherd Series, e-mail me (shanafigueroaauthor@gmail.com) a link to the review, and receive an e-copy of the NEXT BOOK IN THE SERIES for free!
·         Pre-order RECKONING, e-mail me (shanafigueroaauthor@gmail.com) the receipt, and receive an e-copy of both VENGEANCE and RETRIBUTION for free!
·         From now until the release of RECKONING on July 11, I’ll be giving away goodies and posting exclusive content with chapter previews and “character portraits” on my website!
o   Each Friday leading up to RECKONING’s release, I’ll give away a $10 Amazon gift card to a random person who comments on any of the previous week’s blog content (hateful trolls and spambots excluded)
o   Join me for a RECKONING Release Party on Facebook on July 11th, where I’ll give away even more books, including signed hardcopies!
Also, check out my upcoming Blog Tour! Here’s my schedule of “appearances:”
·         June 14: Guest Blog on Night Owl Reviews – How to Write a Good Fight/Sex Scene
·         July 1: Guest Blog on Romance Junkie
·         July 3-4: Guest Blog on Just Romantic Suspense
·         July 10: Guest Blog on I Smell Sheep
·         July 11: Guest Blog on Long and Short Romance Reviews
·         August 1 (est): Author Interview on Coffee Time Romance
·         August 2 (est): Guest Blog on Rabid Reads

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for Brianna DuMont's WEIRD BUT TRUE KNOW-IT-ALL: US PRESIDENTS!  Brianna also write another quirky nonfiction kids' series for Sky Pony, called The Changed History series.  The School Library Journal said of the series, "Prepare to be disillusioned as independent historian DuMont debunks many of history’s legends...[Her] lively, breezy style often descends to the snarky and sarcastic and may spark a healthy skepticism about textbook history. DuMont lists sources for each chapter, most of which are reliable, even excellent."  

With all this in mind, I'm super excited to have Brianna talk to us about her project with National Geographic!



First off, tell us about this project!

National Geographic Kids approached me to write a book about the U.S. Presidents because of my unique approach to history—humor! It was a spin-off of their popular Weird But True series, which is all about the weird, fun facts of the world. We wanted to cover every president with a short bio, big pictures (as Nat Geo is known for), and a scattering of weird but true facts to break up the text. Informative but funny!

What was researching this book like?  What was the funniest discovery you made? 

I fell even more in love with American history thanks to this project. I dug into so many biographies and even read Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography, which is considered one of the finest presidential autobiographies. We also had the White House historian look over the book! How cool!

Did you know: Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electricity in the White House but was so scared of it that he had the staff turn on and off the lights?

(I’m *super* fun at parties.)

Was it different to write a book that you were brought on to do, rather than create your own project?

Before I started PRESIDENTS, I thought it would be different. But I tend to throw myself fully into any project and especially research—my favorite part. That’s the only way to produce a good book; you have to really love what you’re writing so I treated this book baby like any other book baby concept I come up with myself.

Which president is your favorite?  Did it change after writing this book?

I’d always appreciated super intelligent Pres. Garfield before writing this book—he could write ancient Greek with one hand and Latin with the other at the same time—but I came to appreciate Herbert Hoover after. A rags-to-riches story, Hoover was a self-made man that got his start in engineering. He became a dedicated humanitarian during WWI, instituted the original meatless Mondays and wheatless Wednesdays to help with food shortage, and secretly spoke Mandarin with his wife during boring state dinners. Unfortunately, some of his bad rep is justifiable. As president, he saw the economic woes as a small recession, but it wasn’t. It was the Great Depression.

How do you feel nonfiction for kids differs from nonfiction for adults, besides hiding more salacious facts?

It can be more lighthearted. You’re right that adult nonfiction doesn’t shy away from the scandalous, but it can sometimes feel like that’s what it mainly focuses on for the shock factor. Kids’ nonfiction can’t rely on that, so we rely on things like humor.

What are you working on now?  

A middle-grade fantasy adventure story about estranged twins unleashing ancient Mesopotamian gods. I love mythology and quests!

What's a fun fact about yourself?

I can read three variations of Ancient Greek. I am so confused about modern Greek. 

And Happy Fourth of July!