Publishing 101 for Teens

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Publishing is a complicated business that takes time and experience to fully grasp. However, even with these tools, one has to be able to adapt. The market changes often as do the writers and literature that emerge.

Because of this, and the recent discussions on twitter about the lack of listening to teen voices, I decided to open up the door to teens to freely ask any questions they have about publishing. The response has been fantastic and thus I have my first blog post on the issue.

Q1: What should you major/study in college if you want to have a career in publishing?

A: For publishing, I would highly advise a B.A. in English or Creative Writing. When you apply for jobs, these degrees are often the baseline education requirement alongside experience (internships, summer programs you may have taken, previous jobs etc). There is some leeway here. You can major in other arts/humanities courses, but what publishers look for in a potential employee is the ability to write well, analyze and critique a piece of writing, pay attention to detail, and know your way around a computer. What is greatly important, and if anything the number one thing to bring to a job interview, is your passion for the industry. Do you like to read a lot? Have you taken interest in books and research in school? Have you kept up with the market? Even the blog you run can make you stand out. Competition is high for publishing jobs and unfortunately, they’re often centered in major cities. Freelance and remote opportunities do pop up, but the same rules as above apply.

I advise to keep in mind that this answer does not stay the same for what major do you need if you want to be a writer. That question is a little trickier for the answer is anything you want. What you need to be a writer is passion, patience, the desire to work hard, understanding rejection and critique, as well as wanting to learn. These skills do not link up side by side with any major. They are about you and what you want out of your writing. If you want to be published, great! If you don’t, that’s fine too. Success is not merely measured in publication.

Q2: How do you break through and be successful in such a competitive industry like publishing?

A: Following from my answer above, it comes down to what makes you stand out. With the growth of social media, I strongly recommend getting an account on Twitter. This is the number one marketing site for writers. It’s quick, fairly easy to learn, and the writing community is only growing larger. Make connections with others. Hear about their journeys and what they have done. Share what you’re working on. Everyone’s publishing road will be different, but it is important to stay connected and have a presence. You never know what will happen from there.

Q3: How do you find a critique partner around your age and a mentor?

A: I would definitely utilize the twitter community here. There are lots of wonderful people offering to be critique partners or mentors.

For teens, I recommend the following hashtags to find critique partners:

#YATeenSpace
#Teenpit *This happens certain times out of the year, but it is definitely a good way to connect and find other writers, agents, and editors who are willing to help teens.*
#Ontheporch

Note: For the latter, it is not catered for teens, but it is a spot where people post about their WIPs and connect in all things writing related. If I find others, I will definitely add them here!

Another way is to simply post if anyone wants to exchange stories. Most of these posts get a handful of responses as everyone is looking/needs another pair of eyes on their story.

As with any exchange, especially writing, make sure you check out the person beforehand and make sure you’re comfortable with sharing your work. If anything seems off or questionable, don’t follow through or check in with trusted friends/peers.

Q4: Do you know about getting published as a teenager – if it dramatically lowers your chances of getting an agent, if you should disclose that you’re underage in your query? Also, what are the legal requirements for getting published underage?

A: I haven’t had too much experience with agents, but I did do some research on the matter. Putting your age in your query is up to your discretion. If you do get a publishing contract, I would prepare yourself for the work it brings and the steps you’ll need in order to get from your draft to a completed book. I would also research one’s background before you sign with an agent. Unfortunately, there are some who are inexperienced or looking to take advantage of those who are not familiar with the industry.

I can’t entirely say if placing your age into a query will lower your chances. I feel like that would vary by agent and publisher – some not minding/encouraging a younger author while others would shy away from it.

You will have to disclose your age if an agent expresses interest and ultimately decides to represent you. This is important because if you’re under 18, you will likely need a parent or guardian to cosign a contract.

If I find out any more information, I will definitely update this!

Q5: How long does each phase of writing and publishing take? 

A: Writing will always vary based on the individual. Some are able to writer faster than others. Some may need to rethink their plot. Some may have to rework their entire story. There will never be a specific amount of time for any of these stages.

In terms of when you’re signed, you will likely be given a due date for your edits and your final manuscript. Your editor will read them over, give their comments, and you will once again be given edits to complete until the final draft. These will likely take a few weeks to a few months.

I can’t give a specific date for how long the whole process takes, but writing a book is very much a long term gratification experience. You won’t see your book by the end of the week after you submit your manuscript, but in a year, maybe even two, it will be there. If you’re willing to wait and put in the work, it will be worth it.

Q6: What if your manuscript is always rejected?

A: Rejections are probably the hardest part of the writing process, especially when you put so much work into your story only to see the same email over and over again. There are several things that can be done in this situation.

  1. Keep trying. Sometimes, you need to find the right agent or the right publisher to represent you. Even famous authors received hundreds of rejections before success found them. I know that sounds daunting, but trust me, keep trying.
  2. Find beta readers and critique partners. Maybe something in your story isn’t working. Have another set or sets of eyes read over your manuscript. Do the same for your query letter and synopsis. A simple rewording could make all the difference.
  3. Make sure you’re following guidelines when submitting. A handful of publishers and agents will not read your work if it is not properly formatted nor fits the mold of what books they’re searching for.
  4. Step away from the story. If you constantly work on the same piece, you may be overthinking it and have to take a breather. Come back to the story in a while with a clearer head. You may notice something you hadn’t before and be able to strengthen your story.
  5.  Your story may be rejected by publishers and agents due to their schedule or inability to give your story the attention and detail it needs. Don’t take it personally. Not all rejections are about your writing or about you. I can’t stress this enough. Sometimes, it just can’t work out.
  6. Don’t stop writing. This story may not be the one picked up by publishers, but it doesn’t mean your next one will follow the same direction. Write the story you need. Write what feels right. Just keep doing it.

Q6: How much should we write each day?

A: There is no correct amount of words to write per day nor is there a correct way to write. Me personally, I don’t write everyday. I used to as a teen, but life and stubborn muse got in the way so now I write when I can and often in large chunks. This is my method, but you most certainly have to find your own as a writer.

I definitely enforce getting into the habit of writing often, even if it’s not everyday. It’ll keep your thoughts and motivation fresh, but I also understand why this can’t always happen. As long as you’re moving towards your goal, I think that is important.

I would also mention taking into account achievements that may not be writing. For example, reading a good book or watching a movie that inspired you. Taking a long walk through a park or simply having a passionate conversation with a friend or family member. Each of these things can build up to writing and push it forward. Take rewards in both the big and small and finish whatever story you have in your head.

This is the first in what I hope to be more blog posts on this issue. If this has helped you, or you think it would be beneficial to someone else, please share this. It is greatly appreciated. If you’re a teen and have questions, feel free to message or tweet me and I’ll get to your questions in the next post!

Xx

Megan

Daughter of the Burning City: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

It has been a while since I posted a review so here I am, reviewing an ARC of Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody. I won this book in a contest hosted by the editor and I am so happy I did.

Note: There will be no major spoilers in this review so feel free to keep reading past this point. 

The cover was a huge hook. It is a lovely shade of purple with circus tents on the bottom and smoke rising into an ominous sky.

What made me want this book was the buzz it received on twitter. The description was right up my alley – a dark YA fantasy book.

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I liked this book a lot. It follows sixteen year old Sorina, an illusion worker who leads an act like the “freak shows” we have in our world. Each of her illusions possess an odd feature or power. She considers them her family and it was interesting how these bonds were explored as well as how Sorina’s powers work. The descriptions of her powers were absolutely lovely. I pictured them in my head with ease. What I also loved was the Gomorrah Festival and how it had a life of its own. The author did an excellent job of creating a setting that was, at the same time, a character. It gave me vibes of a grittier The Night Circus which I loved.

The main plot is one of Sorina’s illusions, who she believed could not die, is murdered. From there, she launches an investigation while facing obstacles like betrayal, dead ends, false leads, grief and identity. Sorina is not the most active narrator and is easily conflicted, causing a portion of the investigation to be muddled up in her own thoughts and uncertainty. She has to come to terms with who she can trust and if some aspects of the investigation hold merit.

The reason I wouldn’t give this book a five is because it had a few slow chapters, that inch towards the resolution but can act a bit like filler. Once I moved past these however, the journey to the end was a wild ride. I was shocked by the twists and I needed to know who killed Sorina’s illusion and why they would do such a thing by the last few chapters. The ending was worth the parts that dragged.

I think this is a great fantasy story and will draw in those who prefer a bit of dark magic. The main characters are not typical and that is a huge strength of the novel for Amanda creates them as they should be: people. Not freaks or devil spawns as the stereotypes placed on them suggest.

Overall, this gets 4/5 moths from me. You’ll understand this reference once you give it a read.

Xx
Megan

Discussing Other Breakable Things With Kelley York & Rowan Altwood

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelley York & Rowan Altwood, authors of Other Breakable Things from Entangled Teen. This is a rather emotional novel, but one with an incredible premise.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Other Breakable Things:

According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.

Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.

Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.

And now it is.

Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.

And she’s not giving up so easily.

A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.

Right down to the thousandth paper crane.

Q1: Where did the inspiration for Other Breakable Things come from? It’s a rather heavy hearted tale.

Kelley: I think a lot of my books have that heavy quality; even Dirty London, which is overall more light-hearted and optimistic, has some heavy themes, like addiction, tucked beneath the surface. When I talked Rowan into writing something with me, she had the idea for Luc and his ailments, and we decided a book on euthanasia and the Death with Dignity act would be a good one subject to tackle.

Q2: Given the subject matter of the book, did you ever have to take a break to gather your thoughts?

Rowan: Not really. We both thrive on this kind of stuff.

Kelley: For me, it’s therapeutic. It gets emotional at times and you really feel the “character bleed,” but some of my best writing (I think) comes when it gets emotional.

Q3: What made you tie in the Japanese legend behind folding paper cranes?

20657470Kelley: I read a book as a kid called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. It’s a historical fiction about a little girl (who actually existed) in Japan who contracts leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. She starts folding cranes in order to be granted a wish. I first read this book in grade school, and the idea of this legend has stuck with me so strongly ever since. It’s a great kid’s book and I suggest everyone check it out.

 

Q4: What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

Rowan: Nothing is black and white; the hardest decisions in life are made in shades of grey.

Q5: What do you admire most about the characters you created?

Rowan: I like Luc’s sass. I know people think he comes off as a douche a lot of the time, but honestly if you think about how much time he’s spent being sick and in hospitals in his life, he hasn’t had a normal upbringing or socialization. He’s awkward and doesn’t like to admit it. I like his sarcasm probably because a bit of that comes from me.

Kelley: Evelyn’s loyalty, I think, and the growth she displays throughout the story. She starts off pretty meek and go-with- the-flow, and gradually learns to stop letting everyone else’s needs come before her own.

Q6: Describe Other Breakable Things in three words.

Kelley: Painful, hopeful, emotional.

Q7: Where is one place you’d like to go on a road trip to and why?

Rowan: If I only had one stop? Point Reyes National Seashore.

Kelley: Same. It’s our go-to vacation spot.

Q8: What’s your writing process like?

Rowan: I throw words at a page and hope Kelley can make sense of them.

Kelley: I arrange words, throw more words at a page, and hope my editor can make sense of them.

Q9: Do you have any projects in mind for the future?

Kelley: I have a few books in the works, and no idea which I’ll finish first. I have one my editor really wants to see from me, an LGBT dark contemporary, another road trip-esque kind of book (very, very different from OBT), and the beginning to a fantasy series.

Author Bio:

Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of Hushed, Made of Stars, and Modern Monsters, and Other Breakable Things is Rowan’s debut.

Social Media: 

 

Once again, a big thank you to Kelley and Rowan for joining me today. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

Xx

Megan

Writer Chat With Amber Mitchell

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Mitchell, debut author of the novel Garden of Thorns, published by Entangled Teen.  I will have a review of this book up soon, but man, it hooks your attention from the opening scene and I was lucky enough to dive into Amber’s head on the project.

Before I get to the interview, here is the synopsis of Garden of Thorns which is out today! Make sure you grab your copy.

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.
 

Q1: Did you always like to write or was it something you grew into?

Amber: The first time I knew I wanted to be a writer was in 3rd grade. We had to do this presentation on space and I wrote up an entire play for the class to perform. I loved the joy creation brought and I’ve been writing ever since. However, I wasn’t actually serious about writing until my junior year of high school.

Q2: What is your favorite thing about writing?

Amber: The feeling of having written. I always complain when I’m writing, but I love the feeling I get afterwards, of knowing that I put the time in and created something. This is followed closely by the editing process. I’m not a big fan on first drafts but I love getting my hands dirty and improving books during the editing process!

Q3: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Amber: Strict plotter. I think there is a lot of fun in pantsing something, but I’ve found that if I don’t write out paragraph synopsizes for every chapter, I’ll use the excuse “I don’t know what is going to happen next” to not write for the day.

Q4: From what I’ve read so far, Garden of Thorns is one crazy ride. The opening scene alone is intense – let alone sucked me in as a reader. What inspired the story?

Amber: Every time I’d see a movie and there would be a ballroom scene, I’d watch the girls dancing in their big dresses and think about how they looked like flowers as the twirled around the dance floor. I’d always thought that a fantasy novel about a girl who was forced to dance would be a cool idea and the image of flowers kept popping up in my head. I ended up writing Garden of Thorns on accident though. I was editing another book and kept hearing Rose’s voice in my head. I opened up a new word document and wrote what would become the first five pages of the book in less than an hour. The concept of the Flowers and the Garden seemed to jump from the page and I had to figure out where it was going to take me.

Q5: What reactions are you hoping for as readers dive into your book? Are there moments you want them to scream or rave about?

Amber: Of course, I want readers to love it. I guess the biggest thing for me is that the world feels real and the book feels authentic. My biggest pet peeve when reading a book or watching a movie is when I feel like the author or creator is holding their punches. I never like “fake deaths” where you think a character died only to have them come back completely unscathed later. I’ve been getting a lot of comments that Garden of Thorns is brutal and I love it!

Q6: Who’s your favorite character from Garden of Thorns?

Amber: This question isn’t fair! Of course I love Rose and Rayce since they are my two main characters. I’m also really fond of Arlo and Marin. They’re two secondary characters in the rebellion and I love them dearly. I think Arlo adds a good bit of humor to the book and is a great contrast to Rayce and Marin is the breath of fresh air. She’s a girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to fight for it.

Q7: How does it feel to say you have a book out there in the world? I can imagine it’s a bit nerve-wracking.

Amber: It’s definitely an overwhelming feeling. I fluctuate from not believing it’s real to being so excited I could burst. There are also a fair amount of nerves involved. What’s really strange is having people talk to me about my own characters. They’ve been real to me for so long and it’s strange now that other people know them too!

Q8: If you’re not writing, what are some things you love doing?

Amber: My husband and I run a paper-cut shadowbox business that allows us to travel the US. I enjoy crafting things out of paper. I’m also big into escape rooms, I like to read and sometimes I like to pretend I’m a baker. I say pretend because the last three cakes I’ve attempted have turned out lopsided!

Q9: What’s your favorite book and genre to read?

Amber: This question should be illegal! I love so many books! One of the series that will always be a favorite for me though is Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I can read it anytime! In general, I read a lot of YA. I used to stick to YA fantasy and historical, and while they are still my favorite, I read pretty much everything YA now!

Q10: Describe Garden of Thorns in three words.

Amber: Intense. Romantic. Brutal.

Biography:

Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative author-picWriting. She likes crazy hair styles, reading, D&D, k-dramas, good puns and great food.

When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is using cardstock to craft 3D artwork or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their four cats where she is still waiting for a madman in a blue box to show up on her doorstep.

Garden of Thorns is her debut novel from Entangled Teen.

If this book sounds like something you would read, and if you’d like to keep up with what Amber is doing, follow her here.

If you’d like to see my review of this book, check back soon.
Xx
Megan

From the Editor’s Desk

Being an editor is weird.

I never thought I would find myself in the field until I entered college and my interests moved more and more towards said line of work. Satisfaction filled me every time I corrected a misplaced punctuation mark or noted an error in tense. I was soon being asked by my friends to help them out with their upcoming essays. My passion grew once I entered the publishing world.

There is a particular attitude you need as an editor, that being you want to make a story the best it can be. When someone sends in a manuscript or is getting a book published, you must remember that not only are they a person, but this is something they poured time and creativity into. There must be a balance between critique and respect. Being a writer myself, I understand the bond authors not only have with their story but with their characters. It makes my job both easier and harder. I know how important their story is to them while simultaneously understanding that no manuscript is perfect. The key is to make sure your comments are helping the story and are not outright statements with no background or drawn from personal feelings.

An editor-author bond is a delicate one. It involves placing something important into the hands of someone you may not always know. A bad editor can ruin an author’s experience, making them hesitant to submit their work again as well as wary of any comments made down the line. That is the last thing I want to happen. I want to be able to give critique that is in the best interest of the story as well as open a dialogue between me and the author. Editing does not need to be a battle, though scrambling to finish edits by a deadline or for an entire manuscript can be overwhelming and make you down thirty cups of coffee.

One of the other things I keep in mind is what document I am working on. I edit both academic and creative texts, each requiring a different eye. For academic texts, I have to make sure the thesis aligns with the overall content of the paper, if the task prompts are being followed, if the sentences add to the message or are fillers. For creative texts, I’m paying attention to content, if rules of a magical word make sense, if characters are doing what their personalities support. The task comes down to: what is expected from each text and does it get there? If not, how can I help?

Books rely on editors to catch mistakes and plot holes the author cannot. It is what transforms one’s story from the first draft to the copy that ends up on shelves. This is never something to be taken lightly and it’s definitely something I remind myself of. When reading over a text, a couple of hundred different files open up in my head paying attention to grammar rules, the plot of the story, sentence structure. It’s like standing on one of those exercise balls while juggling a set of knives. Okay, maybe not so much knives, but you get the picture. The author-editor bond requires a mutual amount of effort and teamwork. I am always willing to put in my part as long as the author is too. Critique can be scary and it is a hundred percent okay to take a breather in order to look over everything. Even coming to me to talk it out is a big factor of said relationship.

At the end of the day, my job as an editor is to help the authors involved and get one’s story where it needs to be.

Xx

Megan

Short Stories & Editing Tips

Hey Readers & Writers,

Today I’m taking Monday blogging seriously for I have two posts to shove at you. Okay, I’m not really going to shove them at you. I’m going to politely ask you to check them out if you’d like.

The first post is a guest post on Kate Foster’s blog where I discuss how I write short stories, where the ideas come from, as well as why I sometimes prefer writing them over full fledged novels. Since this is a well debated topic in the writing world, I figured I would offer my perspective. That post can be found here.

The second matter of business I am sharing today is the third completed manuscript analysis on The Inkwell Council. Justine and Ismael tackle large issues such as the message of one’s story and how to convey said message, while I tackle how to convey a character’s thoughts without your grammar suffering in the process. That post can be found here.

I hope you enjoy them both and they help offer some insight in the writing and editing world.

Xx

Megan

Gilded Cage: A Review

Hello Reader & Writers,

I was lucky to win an ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James from VDBookVogi. Feel free to check out their site here. This YA book is due for release on February 14th, 2017. I will keep this review mostly spoiler free, so you don’t need to close the tab.

The plot centers around two kinds of people in the world: Equals and commoners. The Equals are humans who possess magical gifts called Skill. The families that have Skill are aristocrats, who also have money, power, and seats of government. The political and social strata of the world are set up like an alternative Victorian England.

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From my instagram, Written-Infinities

In this society, the Equals are free, but commoners have to do slave years, where they work for ten years and only then are they given full benefits of society. Commoners are deemed citizens before this time, but completing slave years opens up further doors for them. My main problem with this set up was it didn’t make sense for Equals to have slaves or this set up in society when they have powers that can complete all these tasks not only quickly, but without having to exert much effort on their own behalf. In a way, it has made them lazy, some choosing to not use their Skill often at all. The Equals claim it is so they can govern, but it’s clear they can do both with how powerful the majority of them are. If anything, it makes more sense that they want to keep this divide because they feel they are better than commoners.

My other issue with the book was a lot of history  was thrown into the early chapters, making it a bit difficult to muddle through and pin down when it happened. I did complete the book, and wound up enjoying it, but that was because a lot of the history gets teased out more efficiently in the later chapters.

I was hesitant at first when I saw this book had multiple POVs. These can either work really well or wind up giving away too much or complicating the book. Vic James did a great job of balancing what she was giving away and what you as the reader were going to find out. You are able to get a glance into not only the life of commoners, but the aristocrats as well, each holding notable and different personalities. It is through these POVs that the history of the world comes together, each character having their bits of the puzzle to share.

The view points that hold most of the story are Luke’s and Abi’s, a commoner brother and sister who undergo two very separate experiences. I loved Luke for he grappled with the complications of morality versus following his family. He finds it in himself to question how things are. Abi, on the other hand, tries to use the system in order to benefit her and her family. She is the leader who tries to keep things in order, but she realizes how the picture is not always black and white. The other POVs shift between members, or those involved with, the noble Jardine family. I found myself intrigued in all of these tales too for the Jardine siblings clash with their own agendas and you have a family navigating a politically charged climate. They’re not all good people, but it is worth diving into their heads and experiences.

Once I got past the early chapters, I was hooked into the book. I wanted to learn more about the politics, what secrets the aristocratic society had, how Abi and Luke were going to make it in a world that was geared against them. By the end, I was freaking out because Vic James throws some dark stuff in there that made my jaw drop. The book makes up for the majority of its complications in the beginning through its characters and in depth glances at this unfair world. It is heavily political and deals without a lot of questions involving human worth, class divide, and corruption.

Overall, this gets 4/5 stars from me and I’m looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

Xx

Megan