3 S.R. Johannes: May 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bookanistas Relaunch Book Fest

The Bookanistas kicked off in July 2010 and included a group of reader-writer-bloggers. Our mission was to share our love of books as authors and as readers. ONly posting positive reviews from the YA and MG genres we loved so much.
Since then, some amazing things happened. Two Bookanistas became NYT best-sellers: Beth Revis (Across the Universe) and Veronica Roth (Divergent). Many others published novels, had babies, moved into new homes, changed jobs, got married... Life. So we faded into the background.

We've decided to kick off a new Bookanistas and relaunch our site with a BIG BOOKANISTA GIVEAWAY of signed copies of Bookanista publications, favorite books, and some fun swag.

Come and join the Bookanistas as we continue praising amazing reads! Join the fun, win some stuff, and help us ensure that READING IS ALWAYS IN STYLE.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner of the "Bookanistas Summer Fun" giveaway will receive signed copies of these Bookanista-authored books…
  • IF I LIE and TOUCHED by Corrine Jackson, plus ARCs of JUST ONE DAY and SPEECHLESS
  • LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger
  • BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart
  • TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini (plus a swag surprise)
  • BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris
  • AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe
  • THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca (plus sweet swag)
  • MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
  • LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans + swag 

And a second winner will get a box filled with Bookanista-beloved reads including:

  • DITCHED by Robin Mellom 
  • JELLICO ROAD by Melina Marchetta
  • TAKEN by Erin Bowman
  • CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
  • MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama
  • SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor
  • WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON (signed by John Green!) by John Green and David Levithan

To celebrate, I thought I'd list of a few beachy reads for you this summer. Since I love thrillers, it's what I do, here is my fav list.

Dead Silence By Kimberly Derting

The fourth book in the Body Finder series

Sometimes the Dead Can't Be Silenced.

Violet thought she had made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers . . . until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team she works for have no intention of letting her go.

Violet will do whatever it takes to keep her loved ones safe—even if it means lying to her boyfriend, Jay. But when an echo calls to her, she stumbles upon a murder scene unlike anything she's ever witnessed. The murders are frenzied and twisted, and the killer left a disturbing calling card for all to see—a brimstone cross sketched in blood on the wall. And Violet finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a vicious madman with an army of devoted followers.

Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

The Program by Suzanne Young 

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

From Possess and Ten author Gretchen McNeil comes a deliciously eerie science-fiction horror story in the tradition of Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy and the movie Sliding Doors.
Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. And just when she thinks it can't get worse, she wakes to an image of herself in the bedroom mirror. Except it's not her at all—the girl in the mirror is blonder and prettier. And her name is Jo.

The two girls are doppelgängers whose universes overlap every twelve hours at 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to pass through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo's world is far from perfect, and the stuff of nightmares lurks around every corner. And when Josie finds herself trapped there, her life becomes more dangerous—and more deadly—than she ever imagined.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A fresh start with a new agent!

I have a new agent!

Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary Agency!

This is my dream agency and has been on my radar for years!! Many of my critique partners are with ABLA  so I've heard such wonderful things.

I am so happy to be at another crossroads in my publishing career.

As many of you know, I have had many ups and downs in publishing over the last several years.

Got a great agent. Didn't sell my first book - boo! hiss! (though it got sooo close!)

Wrote another book. Didn't sell that either. boo! hiss! (again close, but no cigar. As my dad says, 2nd place is just the first loser :)

In the spring of 2011, my agent and I parted ways. I was back to square one.

Even though I knew the separation was the right decision, it sucked big time. I liked my agent. She worked hard and did everything right. I'd worked so hard too. At the time, I thought my career was over and didn't write for 6 months.

In the fall of 2011, I finally decided to self publish my books - it was not a strategic decision, it was simply a way for me to move on in my writing. Get my mojo back. I lost some friends over this decision, yet gained many new ones who supported me along the way (esp the Indelibles!). I had nothing to lose. 

I had no idea my books would sell well. If at all. I just tried to put out the best book I could and invested in the product.

2012 became a very interesting year. It was hard, yet I had a blast. Full of tears, frustration, cheers, and some big wins.

Untraceable did great in sales, but on the other side, my beloved middle grade, On the Bright Side, sadly didn't do as well. Even with a great Publisher's Weekly Review! "Johannes kicks off the Starling series with this fresh novel about an angel's peripatetic path to earning her wings...A humorous addition to the angel story genre. "- Publisher's Weekly

Recently, I took OTBS off the market to shelf it for later- a hard personal decision but a smart business decision. And in the end as much as we don't want it to be - publishing is a business. (IE: Middle grade ebooks  just don't sell well. For now.) 

Since self publishing, in 18 months, I have sold approx. over 30,000 copies of my series. I've won several national awards and gained a great Kirkus Review. I've learned a lot about the business and made some wonderful indie friends. I've gained confidence and learned to swallow my pride along the way.

But this has been a very hard road. Self publishing is tough! It's a lot of work, some guessing, and about overcoming many hurdles. I have loved the challenge and plan to continue in some fashion b/c I enjoy it. But sometimes I just want to write again. Leave the business aside for a little.

Not to mention, I missed having an agent. Since then, I have still wanted that one person on my side. The one who believed in me and my writing. My career as a writer not just my books. Self publishing can be lonely and invalidating.

Yet, as I said awhile ago in a post, I want to experience both sides of publishing. This was before Hugh Howey's crazy deal and during Amanda Hocking's traditional success. No matter what some people believe, I personally think traditional publishing offers authors some things that are hard to find in self publishing. And vice versa. So I feel both sides have pros and cons. Both sides are hard. Both sides are sometimes a total crap shoot. Luck and timing is 20% of the battle.

Last year, while the Untraceable series was selling, I started writing a brand new secret series that only a few critique partners knew about. The project I've been really excited about.

Last Nov, I attended the Atlanta Writers Club conference in Atlanta as well as another conference to work the manuscript. If agents are ever in Atlanta or at a conference I'm attending, if I can, I always try to pitch or have something critiqued.  The knowledge I gain in those critiques and pitches is invaluable.

Lara Perkins happened to be in Atlanta along with other great agents. I almost didn't go but some spaces opened up at the last minute. I signed up for a pitch and critique with two different agents.

To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about getting an agent at the time or a few reasons. 
1) I'd given up on that dream.
2) I was planning to self publishing my new book. 
3) Lara wasn't even taking on her own clients at the time. She was working as Laura Rennert's asst as well as the digital manager for ABLA. The other agent, Anita Mum, was the foreign rights agent at Kristin Nelson's agencies. So this conference was just about gaining some feedback.
4) It was ABLA and Kristin nelson agency - those are too good to be true.

But I did know those 2 agencies were on the forefront of publishing and digital publishing so I figured of all the agents, they would understand where I was coming from. And many agents don't take too positively to self publishing.

At the conference, I ended up winning Best Pitch from Lara and Best Manuscript from Anita in the AWC awards (which I almost didn't even attend!!)  They both offered to see the book when it was done. I really hit it off with both of them so I figured "why not" and continued writing.

In late Jan, as I was working to finish the book, an agent I met at another conference requested a partial of my new series. Out of courtesy, I asked Lara, Anita and a couple others I had met if they wanted to read the partial too. They all did.

What I didn't know is that Lara had been recently promoted to an agent and was actively building her client list.

Within days, I had a couple offers for exclusive revisions (on a partial!). But as you may remember, I went through 3 noncontractual revisions with my tween book during the Acquisitions process (only to not sell the book) so at first, I was not too keen on this. But i decide to listen to them anyway.

I went ahead and set up a meeting with the agents and listened to their visions/ideas. I have found you just never know what will work for you in this industry unless you meet people and listen. Still unsure of traditional pubbing. 

After talking with Lara, I realized not only did we click but we had the same vision of the book. Our meeting went well over the scheduled time and by the time I got off, I wanted her to rep me so bad. My husband kept telling me not to get my hopes up - after all they had been dashed so many times and I was doing fine on my own.

Lara and I set up a couple phone meetings in Feb and brainstormed the synopsis and book.  She gave me her editorial notes and talked me through what worked and what didn't.  We really hit it off.

A few months later (after several email exchanges and a couple calls), I sent Lara the full manuscript and she asked for a 2 week exclusive read. I was hoping she would take me on but told myself she prob. wouldn't (b/c I have not had the best luck with agents.). 

I decided that it was either Lara or self publishing. This was my crossroads and this time, there was no downside for me. It was a matter of which path I was moving ahead on. I wasn't interested in querying the world and taking whoever would take me. I didn't want anyone else after working with her on the project. Of course, I didn't tell HER that :) 

There were so many other small serendipitous things that connected us like : she had been to place where my book was set, she knew the history behind my character's name (which no one does), and she's a thriller geek like me (knows them all!), and she is really interested in the news on computers/hacking (my book is a hacker series).

Before the 2 weeks was up, an email popped in my inbox. She said she loved the manuscript, was 1/2 way in, and wanted to talk. I - of course - was still skeptical, afraid she was going to reject me over the phone. Which has happened to me in the past - believe it or not!

Last Monday, we spoke on the phone for 1.5 hours and she offered representation. I immediately said yes. What I love is that Lara was very supportive of my self publishing record and she knows all about digital publishing. 

So I am now with my dream agency. Almost 2 years to the exact date I parted with my first agent.

Moral of the story? 

Keep your chin up and know things can always change at the drop of a hat. 
Keep writing and keep trying. 
And, even when things seem over, maybe it's just a new beginning.

Good luck! :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bookanistas - better late than never

I forgot to post these last Thursday!

Lenore Appelhans  is blown away by REBOOT by Amy Tintera

Carrie Harris adores BEYOND DINOCALYPSE by Chuck Wendig -- with giveaway!

Tracy Banghart  & Debra Driza join THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca book blitz!

 Corrine Jackson is stunned by BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Nikki Katz  wonders at THE GRAVE WINNER by Lindsey Loucks

Gretchen McNeil talks TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green

Elana Johson admires INSOMNIA by Jenn Johannson

Tracey Neithercott celebrates THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jacqueline Moriarty

Katy Upperman fawns over FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta

Rebecca Behrens is wowed by THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What moms really want for Mother's Day!

Things almost every mother wants for Mother's day but never asks :)

1) Catching Zs. I miss the days of lying in bed late with the sun streaming through my bedroom. Getting up and having lunch. IN order to do this - Kids need to be removed from house.

2) Breakfast in bed. - I'd love to not have to make someone's breakfast. Maybe lie in bed reading, awaiting coffee, eggs with cheese, strawberries and scones. Then more coffee with extra cream. I'd love to eat it in one sitting too. Like not having to stop and get up to get something for someone. To sit and eat in peace.

3) Spa Day. Massage, mani/pedi. Need I say more. If chocolate or cupcakes were involved - it would be awesome!

4) Shopping without kids. Hey I'm not picky. This could even be grocery shopping, running errands, browsing bookstores or hitting up Target without kids in tow asking for every item on every shelf.

5) Homemade Gifts. Not socks or underwear. Not even an organizer b/c that says I'm not organized. Maybe just homemade items. Those are the best. The kind that dad helps them do on a rainy day - in advance of course - not day of.

6) Night out. This can be with girls or a date night. But I'd love a night out on town. Babysitter planned, reservations made. For me to just show up and drink margaritas or martinis.

7) A Ban on Bickering. For the kids to start bickering about who's bossing who or how hit who. What belongs to who, what TV show to watch. Just happy kids with smiles and bells on.

8) Child Labor. A day of the kids and hubby completing the following tasks -
cleaning toilet seats
boxing up winter clothes and pack away in closet
organizing closet
going through old toys and cleaning out rooms/play room
cleaning out under seats in car

any will do!

9) Jewelry. Those earrings I've been eying but would never buy myself :) (by hubby or child)

10) Compliments galore - nothing short of:

"You're the best mom"
"Thanks for cleaning my underwear."
"I wouldn't trade you in for chocolate or toys."
"What would I do without you."

The top 5 things no mother wants to hear on Mother's Day

1) "I have tee time at noon."

2) "You look great for having 2 kids."

3) "We're out of coffee."

4) "I thought you'd want a new vacuum cleaner. And it was on sale."

5) "Lets just grab MacDonalds."

That's not too much to ask for - right? :)

Thursday, May 09, 2013



Christine Fonseca  marvels at MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza – with giveaway!

Corrine Jackson is blown away by BRUISED by Sarah Skilton

Elana Johson  buzzes about STUNG by Bethany Wiggins

Stasia Ward Kehoe fawns over THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

Jessica Love raves about THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING by Ashley Elton

Shannon Messenger  shares an exclusive excerpt from INSOMNIA

Tracy Banghart  swoons for THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson