Monday, August 28, 2017

GIVEAWAY!!!

Hi, everyone!  So it's almost the end of August, which means that it's almost back-to-school time!  I wanted to do a fun giveaway of one of my MG nonfiction books: I AM A SECRET SERVICE AGENT: MY LIFE SPENT PROTECTING THE PRESIDENT by Dan Emmett and Charles Maynard, in case any of you have kids who are dreaming of being in the CIA someday😀

I'll be giving away two copies--to enter, email me at carrie(at)prospectagency(dot)com with the subject SECRET SERVICE GIVEAWAY and your mailing address in the body of the email (US residents only, please!).  I'll pick two winners randomly!

This book came out this past June and so here to do a belated interview about it is one of the authors, Charles Maynard!



Tell us about the project!

Working on I Am a Secret Service Agent – My Life Spent Protecting the President was a blast! I got to know a real behind- the-scenes hero in Dan Emmett. I enjoyed the conversations and email with Dan. Dan’s experiences in the Marines, the Secret Service, and the CIA gave me a renewed respect for all who serve our country.

You adapted this story from Dan's adult memoir, WITHIN ARM'S REACH.  Can you tell us what it was like to adapt an adult book for an MG audience and what you had to do?

Within Arm’s Length is a good book that I enjoyed. I just loved the title because it is so descriptive of Dan’s life and work, but it was not what the editor chose for the MG book. Obviously, an MG book is shorter than an adult memoir, so there was a winnowing/editing process. It was fun to find the story that would captivate a MG reader while retaining Dan’s original thoughts and experiences.
Also, there were certain points where Dan used references that an adult would know but a Middle Grade reader would not – “June Cleaver” and “Opie Taylor” and others. Nothing major, but some historical references that sometimes needed explanation and other times needed to be cut.
Some of the fun was to put Dan’s work into the grade level of the audience. I actually enjoyed this part. It was a challenge at the end of a chapter to see if it was still on grade level. Dan checked each chapter as we went along to make sure I had not missed anything crucial and that it was all correct.

What was one of your favorite things that you learned from talking with Dan or reading his memoir?

My favorite thing was simply getting to know Dan better. He is an interesting person with many rich (and a little wild) experiences. There were moments when he remembered some details he had not included in Within Arm’s Length, so we got to have a little new material. I was amazed at all that Secret Service agents do. I was surprised to learn that most of the early career of an agent is pretty mundane work. Also, I did homework on the history of the agency itself to put Dan’s service in a wider context of the Secret Service.

I know you love learning about American Presidents and US History--what was it like examining their lives from a different angle?

I knew the public history of the presidents Dan worked with, but his perspective gave me new insights into the person, not just the official persona. Dan’s experiences humanized these presidents. His is not a tell-all approach. Dan is respectful of the office and the person occupying that office, but he still worked with a person. I liked looking behind the curtain to see the inner workings of the daily life of the president. It is amazing that the president is surrounded by Secret Service at all times. So many people work behind the scenes to make everything happen.

What do you think kids will enjoy about this book?

My eleven-year-old granddaughter wrote the best review so far. She sent me a text the night after I had given her a copy. The text came after her usual bedtime. “I love your new book! I can’t put it down!” Dan’s story moves along from his own childhood to his years as a Secret Service agent. I believe that one thing kids will like is reading about a kid who grew up to become a Secret Service agent – his childhood dream from the time he was in the third grade.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I have found some reviewers who did not seem to understand that this was a book for MG readers. That tells me the life of a Secret Service agent is fascinating to all ages. Dan Emmett is a truly interesting person whose life exemplifies following a dream at all costs. He trained hard and sacrificed much to be a part of the elite team that surrounds the President of the United States. I hope all readers catch some of my own excitement for this wonderful autobiography.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Query Critique Winner

Loretta is lucky #8 this time around!  Congrats, Loretta!  Here is her original query:

Dear Carrie,

Fifteen-year-old Annora Genn already knows about curses; dyspraxia is one she’s stuck with for life. Bruises, bumps, falls, spills, and other accidental blunders are daily par for the course. Until she receives an anonymous gift: a pair of magic red shoes that transform her from uncoordinated klutz to graceful swan just in time to impress Holmes, a cute practitioner of the urban movement sport parkour, at the homecoming dance.

The more Annora wears the shoes, the more she explains away things like eerie dreams, strange scratches on her skin, and ghostly apparitions, with increasingly thin rationalizations. One more time, she tells herself as she gives in and wears them again and again. Now that Holmes thinks she’s a veritable ninja like him, she can’t let him find out how clumsy she really is.

When bloody footprints follow her around school and her locker mysteriously catches fire, Annora finally steels her nerves to investigate the shoes’ haunting origins—and unearths a curse. The ghost girl attached to the shoes is using them to possess her, and if Annora can’t solve the mystery surrounding the angry spirit, she will lose her soul to the temptation of becoming someone else.

ACCIDENTALLY CURSED is a 70,000 word YA retelling of The Red Shoes combining the sweet romance of Everything Everything with the ghostly chills of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. Both myself and my son have dyspraxia, a neurological condition that causes problems with movement, coordination, planning, judgment, processing, memory, and some other cognitive skills.The disorder is well known in the UK, but often goes undiagnosed in the US where it is still gaining awareness. Thank you for your time and consideration.


And here is my critque:

Dear Carrie,

Fifteen-year-old Annora Genn already knows about curses; dyspraxia is one she’s stuck with for life. Bruises, bumps, falls, spills, and other accidental blunders are daily par for the course. Until she receives an anonymous gift: a pair of magic red shoes that transform her from uncoordinated klutz to graceful swan just in time to impress Holmes, a cute practitioner of the urban movement sport parkour, at the homecoming dance. [I would love to read a little bit more about Annora and Holmes here so we can really relate to them better.  Tell us more about who Annora is, and what she goes through (e.g. is she teased because of her dyspraxia or do people treat her like she is a child?) and WHY she likes Holmes.]

The more Annora wears the shoes, the more she explains away things like eerie dreams, strange scratches on her skin, and ghostly apparitions, with increasingly thin rationalizations. One more time, she tells herself as she gives in and wears them again and again. Now that Holmes thinks she’s a veritable ninja like him, she can’t let him find out how clumsy she really is.  [I'm guessing there is something more than her ability to move well that is motivating her to look past all these scary occurrences, such as being popular or being treated like a star.  Hint at that here, too!]

When bloody footprints follow her around school and her locker mysteriously catches fire, Annora finally steels her nerves to investigate the shoes’ haunting origins—and unearths a curse. The ghost girl attached to the shoes is using them to possess her, and if Annora can’t solve the mystery surrounding the angry spirit, she will lose her soul to the temptation of becoming someone else.

ACCIDENTALLY CURSED is a 70,000 word YA retelling of The Red Shoes combining the sweet romance of Everything Everything with the ghostly chills of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. Both myself and my son have dyspraxia, a neurological condition that causes problems with movement, coordination, planning, judgment, processing, memory, and some other cognitive skills.The disorder is well known in the UK, but often goes undiagnosed in the US where it is still gaining awareness. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Thanks for being so patient waiting for the winner's post, everyone.  Loretta, I think you have the start of a GREAT query here and I love the comps you use in the last paragraph.  As you can see, I really don't have many notes for you, because with a few minor tweaks, I think this will be perfect!  This is such a cool, intriguing idea for a story and I was excited to read the query.  When it's ready to go out, I'd love for you to send it to me!  

And everyone else, if you have comments you want to share, chime in below!

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