3 S.R. Johannes: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winner and Unplugging

The winner of Jessica Leader's Nice and Mean is..

Adventures in Children's Publishing

email me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com for instructions :)

Couple things:

1) I've decided to take a break and unplug until Tuesday so the schedule has changed for next week.
2) I plan to get the books won to date on friday so if you have not received it yet, it is probbaly in this next batch.
3) I have gotten several awards recently and have been awful at paying those forward. I am planning on doing that in the next couple of weeks so please don't hate me yet if you gave me one. I love them and plan to pass on each one!
4) I still have so many books so BEA Bonanza Giveaway is going to be extended into July!

Signing off for now.....don't worry....I will be back Tuesday! :)

Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jessica Leader - She's as Nice as they come. I mean it.

The winner of Forget Her Nots is...

Emily from Emily's Reading Room!

Today, Jessica Leader has stopped by and wants to give away a copy of her newly released book, Nice and Mean.

Nice and Mean appears on the Summer 2010 Kids IndieNext List.

Hi Jessica, tell us about yourself.

I am a young-adult writer, teacher, director, lover of cake and everything pickled.

Tell us about Nice and Mean (only in 140 characters – your twitter pitch!)

NYC seventh-graders, one nice, one mean, face off their high-profile video elective. Deception, unveiling, learning, laughs. You can read an excerpt here.

What inspired the story?

Nice and Mean’s two main characters, Marina and Sachi, were actually supporting characters in the first manuscript I ever wrote. That first story didn’t have enough action to make it work, but I remained intrigued by Marina and Sachi and knew that for my next piece, I wanted to focus on the two of them.

Throughout the first story, I had wondered: Why was Marina so mean and angry? How would she react if she ever came up against a force as strong as herself? And Sachi—the Indian honor-roll student, so nice, so loved, but so secretive—what would make her assert herself? When I realized how much these characters could learn from each other, I knew they belonged in a book together, and to make them interact, I paired them up in a video class they both cared about tremendously. I wanted to show how niceness and meanness (or assertiveness, really) both have their place but need to be tempered with their opposite. I hope I’ve succeeded.

Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up? Why didn’t you?

I can’t remember if there was any one time, but I do remember a meeting with an editor at an SCBWI conference that left me so incredibly frustrated that I peeled out of the parking lot leaving bitter voicemail messages for everyone I thought would listen. (Sorry, gang.) The editor did like aspects of the story, and some of her suggestions were spot-on, but she also gave me feedback that I just didn’t know how to translate at the time.

As upset as I was, though, I don’t think it occurred to me to give up. Call it confidence, call it arrogance, or call it late for dinner, but I believed that I had the skills to write stories worth telling and the dedication to make them worth reading. So I kept at it, and finally, after approximately five million years, one publisher—Simon and Schuster—said Nice and Mean, you’re on!

What have you learned about promoting books in your publication journey? What worked well for you? 

I quote my friend, writer Varian Johnson: “There are only two things you need to do: set up a website and write your next book.” He added (and now I’m paraphrasing) If you’re doing anything additional, do what you love. If you’re taking on additional promotion efforts and you don’t love them, it will show.

For me, doing what I love meant finding my target audience and forging genuine connections. I like talking about the craft of writing, and as a former middle-school English teacher, I love talking with teachers and librarians. Kidlitchat on Twitter led me to a local English teacher, who in turn led me to the bookseller that—unbeknownst to me—nominated Nice and Mean to the Summer 2010 IndieNext List. I hadn’t schemed to land there, and if I had, it probably wouldn’t have worked. But I did connect with the type of readers I cared about, and it turned out wonderfully well.

What was a waste?

The book hasn’t been out long enough for me to know if anything ended up being a waste, but I have heard from other debut authors that focusing on Amazon rankings is not a good use of time. Amazon represents only a small percentage of your sales, and the rankings are updated so frequently that any ground you might gain will probably be offset by someone else’s efforts. Focus on your next book instead!

What creative promotion ideas do you have for Nice and Mean?

Because the book deals with niceness, meanness, popularity and assertiveness, I’d love to connect with organizations that go into schools and do workshops on these issues. Teaching middle-school, it wasn’t hard to notice the uber-importance of social interactions, and I loved seeing how a good book discussion could affect students’ beliefs. I’m hopeful that Nice and Mean could be a part of such a conversation.

What’s your biggest fear and why?

Airplane turbulence. Just answering this question, in fact, reminds me that I have to send three copies of Nice and Mean to the man from Connecticut who calmed me down during a particularly stressful flight up to New York. (The three books are for his triplets. As kind as he was, I’m not assuming he needs three copies of the book.)

Thanks Jessica!

Thanks for having me on the blog, Shelli! I always come here when I need a boost, and I hope I’ve given something useful in return.

You can follow Jessica on her blog or Twitter.

To be entered in the drawing, tell us. Throughout the book, Marina pushes people to do things they don’t want to, and Sachi does things she doesn’t want to in order to please others.

Name one example of each that you have done in the past.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Amy Brecount White & her book are unforgettable!

The winner of Friday's Middle Grade lot is....

C. Lee. Mckenzie

Congrads and email me your address (sjohannes@bilaninc.com)

Today, Amy Brecount White is here to tell us about her new book, Forget-Her-Nots.

Hi Amy, tell us about Forget-Her-Nots and your journey?

Seeing Forget-Her-Nots on bookshelves is a complete dream come true. I usually say that my road to publication was long, windy and had a lot of potholes. Some were crater-sized. Sometimes I thought it would never happen. In fact, my husband turned to me when I got the offer from Greenwillow and said that he would have given up a long time ago. Persistence and faith are vital to the writer’s journey.

How did you get the idea for Forget-Her-Nots?

I used to freelance a lot for The Washington Post and magazines, so I was always on the lookout for story ideas.As I was browsing in a bookstore, I found a coffee-table book on tussie-mussies, which are symbolic Victorian bouquets.I tried to pitch the story, but never had much luck. Then one day I made a tussie-mussie for a friend who was very ill.I included flowers for strength, courage, good spirits, and love. She adored the bouquet, and how I wished that its messages could come true for her.From there it was a small leap to imagining what if they did come true….

What do you wish you knew now about publishing that you could have used before you got an agent/book deal?

I wish I knew how long it can take. You hear about the overnight successes, but I was recently on a YA panel at the Teen Author Carnival in NYC, and all of us. Becoming a successful writer usually takes lots of practice and some false starts.I had expected to write and sell a novel in about two years, which was completely unrealistic.My learning curve, both as a writer and promoter, was steeper that I thought it would be.

What is one thing we don’t know about you that you want us to know but might be afraid to say?

I guess I’m not afraid to say it, but I’ll take this opportunity. I’m so grateful to all the bloggers, readers, teachers, and librarians who have received Forget-Her-Nots with open arms and enthusiasm. White bellflowers (for gratitude) and orange crocuses (for mirth) to you all!!It’s amazingly wonderful to connect with all these readers.

What do you think works most when promoting your book?

Most people are first intrigued by the language of flowers, because they don’t know much about it and want to know more. I mean, who doesn’t like flowers?! So I usually have flowers at my events and signings or do a tussie-mussie (a symbolic Victorian bouquet) demo to attract people.I also wear clothes with flowers all over them and flower-themed jewelry. I’m living my brand.

What is your favorite flower and why?

I love almost all flowers, but I truly adore the sweet scent of a gardenia. It’s lovely but not too overwhelming. A gardenia means “ecstasy and transport” in the language of flowers.

Thanks Amy!

Thanks so much for hosting me Shelli!

Note: You can follow Amy on her blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Amy is giving away a signed hardback of Forget-Her-Nots along with some swag.

To enter the drawing, comment and tell us: what is your favorite flower and why?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Five/Marketing Round Up (6/25)

Winner of the Fixing Delilah Hanniford ARC is

Joyce Lansky!

congrads and email me your address (sjohannes@bilaninc.com)!

Now for my marketing favs for the week:

  • 7 powerful ways to find new blog readers - It’s one thing to have a blog, it’s quite another to get readers. Now, it’s just a question of finding readers and (of course) keeping them. Here are a few tips to get you started.
  • Role of publisher in Social Media - What is a publisher’s role in the information age? Should publishers be engaging readers or authors? Should they be a resource, an educator, a publicity tool, or serve some other purpose beyond producing books?
  • The Author Power Team - As an author, you are always on the lookout for new ways to improve your marketing strategy and grow your platform. One of the best ways to do this is by developing your power team.
  • Quickest Blog Book Tour Guide - a virtual book tour or blog book tour not only saves money and travel expenses, it likely will reach a larger and more interested audience via the Internet.
  • The Real Secret about Twitter - Here are some key things to look at when measuring anyone's Twitter-success. It's not just about the # of Followers.
Today's giveaway is another Middle Grade Lot (MG needs some love!)
  • ARC egalley of What Happened on Fox Street (Aug 2010)
  • ARC of the new Judy Moody Girl Detective (Aug 2010)
  • Arc of Clementine Friend of the Week (Aug 2010)
All you have to do is comment today with your email address. After all - it is Friday!

Coming Next week - Ally Condie will stop by with an ARC of Matched, Suzie Townsend's Agent Contest, Amy Brecount White Contest/Giveaway, and more!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Advice from one YA Rebel to another!

The winners of Paranormalcy are:

Lisa Gail Green

Dorothy Dreyer

Congrads! Email me and I will send you eGalley instructions!

Thanks to YA Rebels for having me! Go check them out for more awesome videos. If I were you I would just subscribe so you don't miss any of their awesomeness.

Ok, so not that anyone needs my advice, but they asked me so hear it is.

The worst and best advice I've gotten so far in the business.

Comment and tell me "what is the worst and best advice you've gotten in this business?"

Today's giveaway is the ARC for Fixing Delilah Hannaford by Sarah Ockler (Nov 2010)

Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her friends are drifting away. Her "boyfriend" isn't a boyfriend. Her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided the Hannaford family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, runs in the family.

When Delilah must spend the summer helping to settle her estranged grandmother's estate, she's suddenly confronted by her family's painful past. Faced with questions that cannot be ignored and secrets that threaten to burst free, Delilah begins to doubt all that she's ever known to be true.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kiersten White on Paranormalcy (eGalley ARC giveaway!)

The winner of the Harlequin Teen books is

Jesse Harrell!

Congrads and email me your address (sjohannes@bilaninc.com)

Now for Kiersten!

For those of you who are not following Kiersten's blog, you are so missing out. I've been following her blog for about a year now and not only is she hilarious but she's adorably cute. The kind of person you want to be your friend and critique partner b/c she tells it like it is in a funny way.

She stopped by to talk about her book coming out in September, Paranormalcy (as if you haven't heard about it! :)

I'm reading an ARC now and it is funny and different and pulls you through.

Today, I am giving away 2 copies of her eGalley ARC that I got at BEA. If you comment and tell us what is the most abnormal thing about you, I will put you in the drawing.

Remember - you must be a Follower of my blog to win.
(come on its only fair right? Do you know what I had to endure to get these eGalley Arcs for you! I'm still not OVER it.)

Extra points for following me on twitter (+1), following Kiersten's Blog (+1), following her on Twitter (+1). Add up your points in the comments,

Hi Kiersten! I am so excited for you and your book coming out. I am just finishing it and loving it. Can you tell us about Paranormalcy and your journey?

Paranormalcy is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Evie, who works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. Turns out all of those creatures of legend and myth do, in fact, exist, and it's her job to make sure the rest of us remain blissfully unaware of the various monsters that walk among us. But that's a pretty big job for a teenager who is more interested in boys, and school, and boys, and normal life, and also boys.

When a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormals starts coming true, though, it's up to Evie to save the paranormal world. After all, normal is so overrated.

Paranormalcy is actually the fourth novel I wrote. I got my fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson, for another novel. While that one was on submission I wrote Paranormalcy on a whim. When the first failed to find a home, I edited Paranormalcy like a maniac and sent it to Michelle. We both thought we had something special, and fortunately many editors agreed. It sold to Erica Sussman at HarperTeen in a pre-empt, and I couldn't be happier with how things worked out.

I'm amazed every day at where this journey has taken me.

How did you get the idea for Paranormalcy?

It was a combination of elements. A friend had asked me if I'd ever write a vampire novel--to which I firmly responded no--and my husband had been talking about writing vampires as nothing more than hideous, living corpses. Which got me thinking about what you'd do with a vampire if you didn't want to kill it, which got me thinking about a government organization created to do just that, which gave me Evie in all her pink Taser-toting glory. Three weeks later I had a finished draft!

What do you wish you knew now about publishing that you could have used before you got a agent/book deal?

Honestly, I'm so glad I didn't know as much as I know now! If I'd had any idea starting out on this journey just how bad the odds were, and how hard I'd have to work, and how much rejection would be involved, I think I would have picked a different hobby. That being said, I wish I'd tapped into the amazing resources out there sooner. There's a wealth of information on the process of pursuing publication (once you have a finished, edited book) that I was pretty clueless about in the beginning. Blogs like Nathan Bransford's and Pubrants are an excellent place to start. It's good to know exactly what you're getting into and not to waste a year on a bad query for a worse book.

Not that I, uh, did that. (Okay, I totally did.)

If you were a letter of the alphabet, which one would you be and why?

K, of course. Underutilized, but not a floozy like C who thinks it can just take the place of K and S whenever it wants to. C, your only function is for CH. Leave the K sound to the experts!
I mean, umm, K because it's how kissing starts, and heaven knows we can't have YA novels without some good kissing.

If you believe in past lives – what/who do you think you were?

I don't believe in past lives, but if I did, I'd probably have been a cat. What's not to like? (Aside from gross food and litter boxes. Those I could handle for the sheer luxury of sleeping all day, every day, everywhere I want.) (Also, clearly I would have been a lazy house cat and not a useful mouser or stray.) (Also, I may or may not be fixated on sleep at the moment because I've been getting so very little of it.)

What is one thing we don’t know about you that you want us to know but might be afraid to say?

Anyone who reads my blog can tell you there's very little I'm afraid to say : ) I can't think of a secret that is a) funny or b) not too revealing. And that's the glory of the Internet--you can always be funny and you can always hide secrets! So I guess that's my thing. I like writing because I can be whoever I want, and I like writing YA fiction because I can create characters who can be whoever they want. Yay fantasy!

You can also follow Kiersten on Twitter or Facebook.
Harperteen on Twitter for latest updates.

Thanks Kiersten! :)

Comment for an eGalley!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Natashya Wilson - Senior Editor Harlequin Teen

I'm back! Thank you guys soooo much for all the emails wishing me well. I'm fine but the attention never hurts :) It was so sweet of you - I could not believe it!

Now onto business!

The winner of the Middle Grade Lot is...

Natalie Acquire!

Today we have Natashya Wilson from Harlequin Teen. I had the privilege of meeting Natashya at BEA and we chatted about the publishing biz for a while. I loved talking to her and didn't want it to end, but she was so busy and nice enough to give me some of her time. Have you ever just wanted to chat with someone over coffee that you just met? That is Natashya. She's so down to earth and fun. Really - not scary at all :)

Today, I have a group of books to giveaway from Harlequin Teen. Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamer series (The newest one is signed - thanks Rachel!) and Intertwined by Gena Showalter. I met both these authors at their HQ signing and they were adorable.

Just answer the question below to be entered.

Hi Natashya, thanks for taking time out today. First, tell us about yourself as an editor and about Harlequin Teen.

Before coming to Harlequin , I was a graduate student at Syracuse University. I started working for Harlequin from 1996-2000 as an editorial assistant, then as an assistant editor . I left for a few years and worked as an associate editor for McGraw-Hill and then for the Rosen Publishing Group, where I edited children’s nonfiction books. But in 2004, I came back to head up the Silhouette Bombshell series.

In 2009, Harlequin was ready to launch the new YA imprint. The company had discussed doing YA for years, and last year, the timing felt right. I jumped at the chance to head up this new venture because I’ve always loved young adult books. We launched with titles by three of our Harlequin adult authors, two of whom created brand-new YA series for the program. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (August 2009) features a heroine who discovers she is a banshee. Intertwined by Gena Showalter (September 2009) features a teen hero with four souls trapped in his body. Elphame’s Choice by P. C. Cast (October 2009), a reprint of our 2004 Luna title, features a goddess-blessed heroine destined to leave her home and save a banished people.

Our 2010 lineup has 16 titles, a mix of paranormal, science fiction and contemporary romance. Our list includes a girl who discovers she is half-faery, a police chief’s daughter on the trail of a mysterious graffiti artist, and a teen dating expert who gives her peers advice through her Web site. We’ve got a loner-turned-rebel-leader fighting for justice in a future world, more Soul Screamers banshees, a teen witch, the next Intertwined novel, and ghosts.

What a interesting lineup. I especially love the loner-turned-rebel! I know HQ is very new in the YA Market. So what types of books is Harlequin Teen looking for? Is romance a requirement?

For now, we are primarily targeting girls ages 13-18 and want books that will appeal to that audience, but we may consider branching out as we grow. I will say that the YA market has an ever-growing crossover readership as evidenced by Harrry Potter and Twilight.

Many teens have told us they do like some romance in their stories. Knowing that, it’s hard to appeal to this age group without some romance element, but a romantic relationship is not a specific requirement. There is enough romance in our books to satisfy those who want romance, combined with intriguing characters and storylines for those who don’t care about romance as much.

We are looking for good books. I’m always up for being surprised! As an editor, I’m always looking for something special that grabs me on the first page. But for me, in the end, its about voice and that special something that sets a story apart from everything else. I think there are a lot of great ideas and writers, but we want the exceptional few.

There are so many great YA imprints. What do you feel is unique about the Harlequin Teen line?

Our program is comparable to many of today’s top YA publishing programs. The type of stories we’re doing would fit in at Little, Brown; Razorbill; HarperTeen; Simon Pulse; Flux; and many other houses. Our program is currently fairly small, but I hope people are starting to see us as a major contributor in the YA market.

One thing that is pretty unique to Harlequin Teen is our Harlequin brand recognition. This is both a bonus and a challenge, depending on the preconceived ideas readers have about Harlequin. Part of our plan with this program is to utilize the strong reputation Harlequin has to build curiosity, draw readers in, then explode those preconceived notions with our compelling editorial.

How is Harlequin Teen changing the way they market their authors? What are you doing in the way of social networking to expand your readership?

With limited marketing budgets, online social networking and marketing is a terrific way to go. We are now focusing on egalleys (go to netgalley.com to request a copy of one!) in addition to starting Facebook and twitter pages. We know our teens are online, so that is where a lot of our promotion lies. Blog tours, banner ads, splash pages, and book trailers are the start of many ways we'll reach out to potential readers online. If you follow Harlequin Teen on twitter, you'll be following me directly, with all the inside scoop on Harlequin Teen, including reviews, book trailer links, news of author signings, excitement when I edit a great new book or acquire a new project (pre-previews of what's coming!), and much more. And our Facebook page, where our editors and authors post frequently, also has all the latest news.

We do also utilize traditional marketing, with advertising to the trade and seeking opportunities for optimal store placement and ways to highlight our authors through conventional means. But we are very conscious of staying on top of developing technologies and finding innovative ways to deliver our editorial.

Currently, we have two free ebooks available online for digital download, Rachel Vincent's prequel to the Soul Screamers series, My Soul to Lose and Julie Kagawa's new Iron Fey novella Winter's Passage, download available free until July 31.

I read the novella and it was awesome! Rachel and Julie are very visible online. What do you think authors need to do to best promote themselves online? Before and after publication?

It helps if an author establishes an online presence. Most of our authors are pretty savvy. Many have a website, blog, Twitter account, or Facebook page, for starters. I don't think it is ever too early to get online and start establishing connections with YA reviewers, librarians, other authors and, most important, readers. I believe readers appreciate having access to authors, being able to tell them their thoughts on the books and hearing firsthand what an author is up to. If an author has established connections and has reviewers who are particularly supportive, s/he can tell her editor too, and make sure her material gets into the desired hands.

That said, authors should be wary of spending TOO much time online! The number one priority should be writing the next fabulous book.

I admit I am guilty of hanging out online too much sometimes. What are you looking for and how can writers submit to you?

I'm looking for authors with strong, distinct voices, stories featuring compelling characters, fresh twists on familiar plots, and anything unique. It's so hard to pinpoint what makes something work. I've said no to a lot of truly good books, for various reasons--perhaps a story was similar to something we're already publishing, or the story was good, solid, but not ultimately outstanding, or was strong but just didn't light my editorial fire. We do have a small program and don't want to compete with ourselves for sales, so if a story feels similar to something we're already doing, we're likely to pass.

At this time, we're accepting agented submissions only. This makes me a little sad, because traditionally Harlequin has been a house where you don't need an agent to get a foot in the door. However, it got to a point where we had such an overwhelming number of submissions, I had to find a way to control the flow, and limiting it this way made sense. For the latest submission status, you can always check our writers guidelines online at www.eHarlequin.com.

Thanks Natashya!

You can follow Harlequin Teen at website and facebook and twitter.
You can follow Rachel Vincent at facebook and twitter and blog.
You can follow Gena Showalter at facebook and twitter and blog.
You can follow Julie Kagawa at facebook and twitter and blog.

Comment and tell me "what makes a romance real for you in a teen book"? I will include you in the drawing for "awesomeness!". (Remember you must be a follower of my blog to win!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

More BEA Bonanza....

Hey guys - sorry I was not here on Friday. Don't worry, I'll make this Friday's round up and Vlog extra stupid :)

I had a procedure done last week and I was not expecting it to kick my arse!

Until then, I can still give stuff away - right? :)

So last week's winner of Eternal Ones signed by Kirsten Miller is...


email me your address (sjohannes@bilaninc.com)

Since we've done alot of YA books, today's giveaway is a Middle Grade LOT (mostly new ARCs by Little Brown)

Obert Skye's Pillage (bestselling author of Leven Thumps, Shadow Mountain) , President of the whole 5th grade (10/2010, Little Brown), Tumtum and Nutmeg - The Rose Cottage Tales (10/2010, Little Brown), and Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream (01/2011, Little Brown).

Just comment and I'll enter you :)

Tomorrow, Natashya Wilson, Senior Editor of Harlequin Teen will be here giving away a bunch of HQTeen books including the The Soul Screamers Series by Rachel Vincent!

Go check out Lisa and Laura's blog about Characterization - if you don't learn anything (and don't get your hopes up :), you'll at least laugh! :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Win Kirsten Miller's Eternal Ones - Signed!

The winners of The Duff ARCs are (actually I only had 2 books so Natalie email me offline and I'll find something great for you!):

1 Laura Pauling (signed)
2 Sharon Mayhew
3 Natalie Bahm
(email me for your choice- sorry :(

Congrads and email me your addresses sjohannes@bilaninc.com!

Today, we have Kirsten Miller (also author of Kiki Strike novels) who dropped by to answer a few questions. You can also visit her blog.

Win a signed hardback of Eternal Ones. Just comment on the post and tell me: If past lives were real, what/who do you think you were? (only open to US residents)

Hi Kirsten, thanks for stopping by. Tell us about you as an author. Tell us about Eternal Ones (in 140 characters :)

Much like my books, I appear normal at first glance and get increasingly weirder the more you get to know me. (Or so I’ve been told.) I’ve always found myself drawn to odd facts and ideas that make the world seem more magical. Which is probably why all of my novels follow heroines who accidentally discover that beneath the ordinary often lies something quite extraordinary.

For instance . . .

The Eternal Ones is a twisted tale of past lives, passion, and sinister secret societies that asks the question: Does true love ever die?

(All that with three characters to spare!)

What inspired the idea for Kiki series? Eternal Ones?

Before I wrote the Kiki series, I used to daydream about a girl mastermind who secretly controlled New York City. Over time, the character started to become increasingly real to me. She was the sort of girl I always wanted to be—powerful, enigmatic, and good with a bazooka. I started writing Kiki Strike to entertain myself, and I never really expected anyone else would ever read it.

The Eternal Ones was the result of a life-long fascination with reincarnation. If it were real, reincarnation would explain so much—déjà vu, phobias, child prodigies, and (of course) love at first sight. I also wanted to write a book that was set in the two worlds I love best—the rural South (where I grew up) and New York (where I’ve lived since I was seventeen).

Every author has some kind of ritual when they write. What is your writing process like? What do you need in your creative writing process?

I write in mad spurts, and these days I would be unable to function without my drug of choice: Manhattan Special. What is it, you ask? Only the most delicious and potent espresso soda available over the counter. I don’t know if you can get it anywhere but Brooklyn. (It’s even hard to find here.) It’s been made and bottled by the same little family for over 100 years. I love it so much that I’m thinking of giving them a shout out in one of my books. Not for money (never for money!) but out of pure love and sincere appreciation.

Did you ever get rejections or feel like giving up? If so, how did you get through it?

I struggle with self-doubt every single day. I don’t need an actual rejection to question my worth as a writer. (Though I’ve experienced plenty to be sure.) Some days it’s almost impossible to soldier through, and I begin to fantasize about other careers. (I’d really like to be an auto mechanic.) But usually I’ll end up having an idea that amuses me so much that I can’t wait to get it on paper. And that will make writing fun again.

What is the most creative thing you have done to market your book?

When the second Kiki Strike book (The Empress’s Tomb) came out, I commissioned a street artist to draw an enormous rat-filled sinkhole on a sidewalk near the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. I’m not sure if it sold any books, but I really enjoyed watching pedestrians stop, stare, and try to step around it.

We know you are really, really good at writing, but what is something that you are you really, really bad at?

Gee, thanks! I am really, really bad at lots of things, unfortunately. Singing, organic chemistry, dusting, dancing, spelling (boy am I a terrible speller), and cooking chicken to name just a few.

I’m particularly bad at keeping plants alive. I am responsible for the deaths of countless orchids, cacti, and ferns. I love them, and I try my best to save them. But the poor little things always shrivel up and die the moment I come near. I worry I may have to answer for these atrocities some day.

I am a terrible folder of laundry. I just fold them in way they come out. What is your biggest fear?

Excellent question. The older I get, the more I fear being eaten by something much larger than myself. (Armchair psychologists will have a field day with this one.) Sharks, bears, sumo wrestlers—I do my best to avoid them all.

I’m also terrified of spiders and millipedes. Especially millipedes. **Shudder** I hope none of my enemies are reading this.

You can read an excerpt of Eternal Ones

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Win 3 ARCS of the The Duff by Kody Keplinger

The 5 winners are of Holly Cupala's, Tell Me a Secret, signed booklets and swag are : (BTW you should be following these peeps!)

Riv Re
Solvang Sherrie
Bookaholic (jessica)
Claire Dawn

Please send me your addresses today and Ill get these out tomorrow!

Package A Winner - The winner of Kay Cassidy's The Cinderella Society package is Kelly (book hunter)

Package B Winner - The winner of 3 Middle Grade books from Little Brown is Emily Casey!

Please email me your addresses at sjohannes@bilaninc.com!


Today, we have Kody to talk about The Duff. I met Kody on her blog before she got her deal so it's been great to see her journey! BTW, you can follow (stalk) Kody's awesome blog and on Twitter.

I have 2 ARCs to giveaway (1 is signed and will go to the 1st name I draw).

Hi Kody! Tell us a little about you. Tell us about The Duff in less than 140 characters.

Hi guys, I Kody and am 18. THE DUFF is about a cynical girl who deals with friends, sex, and self esteem. (wait, how many characters is that? :)

What inspired the story behind The Duff?

When I was a senior in high school, I was introduced to the word "duff" and it's meaning - designated ugly fat friend. I was sure I was "the duff" of my group, though my friends argued that this was their role. From there, it was a joke. I jokingly said I'd write a book called THE DUFF only my "duff" wouldn't be that sweet girl everyone regrets not getting to know better. Instead, my "duff" would be harsh, angry, and kind of a bitch at times. Little did I know then, a month later I'd be hit with the opening line of a book.

Ha, I think I was the DUFF of my group too. Now I'm just more of a DULL (Dorky,
Under-appreciated, Literary, Loser! :) What have you learned about promoting books in your publication journey? What worked well for you? What was a waste?

This is hard. With the book not being out yet, I don't really know what has worked or what hasn't. I will say all of Little Brown's support - like BEA promotion - has DEFINITELY helped. Joining twitter has also given me some promotion, I"d say, as well as partaking in group blogs like YA Highway and the YA Rebels. I can't say anything has been a waste thus far - I think every little bit to connect with readers helps!

The Duff was the talk of BEA. What creative promotion ideas do you have for The Duff?

I mostly plan to keep my Internet presence up, be open and friendly and willing to connect with readers - especially my teen readers. As a teenager myself, I think connecting with teen readers will be my strong suit. And it'll be fun, too!

What is one of your biggest fears? (heights, spiders?)


Thanks girlie! :)

OK now down to business, as you could tell from last week's response - This book is in High Demand! :) So this is a serious contest - not for the weary! :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And the Winner of the Agent Pitch Contest is...

Giveaway - Update!

Oops sorry - I almost forgot today's giveaway(s)!!!! WTF!

I went to Kay Cassidy's Book signing this past weekend and hung out with her, Jackson Pearce, and Vania (Reverie). Had so much fun. Kay gave me a few items to give away with a signed book.

So today, I have 2 packages to giveaway!

Package A - It is Kay Cassidy's The Cinderella Society. Its signed and comes with a cue glass slipper, a adorable glass slipper book marker, and an Inspire notepad. (trust me - you want this - its adorable!)

Package B (b/c I have so much to give away!) is a lot of Middle Grade books from Little Brown (President of the Fifth Grade Oct 2010, Tumtum and Nutmeg Oct 2010, and Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream, Jan 2011)

If you are a Follower, comment and tell me what is one thing you are planning to do this summer! Also - if you have a preference, tell me what Package you would like.

Now for the Pitch Contest Winners!

First let me say that your pitches were awesome!

So much so that Bree could not narrow it down to 3 so she picked 4!

Now, if you didn't win, don't fret. The last week of June, Suzie Townsend from Fine Print Lit will be here to judge another pitch contest so perfect your pitches. This one will only be 140 characters (a Twitter pitch)

Here are the awesome winners: (please email me for instructions at sjohannes@bilaninc.com)

1st place: Dorothy Dreyer (submit full manuscript)

As seventeen-year-old, Faith Daniels gradually pieces together the forgotten events that landed her on the neurosurgeon’s table, she becomes haunted by her past — literally. And there’s nothing worse than being stalked by a bunch of your dead classmates, except perhaps becoming one. When Faith eventually recalls the details of the catastrophe that lead to these unexpected and ghostly class reunions — and the horrific realization of her brother’s involvement in the death of her friends — she must make a heart-wrenching decision: hide the truth (and continue to be pestered by ghosts) or betray her family.

2nd place:
Larissa (submit partial - 3 chapters)

When people in his small town begin obsessing over a book and literally reading themselves to death, thirteen-year-old Mitch must find a way to break the obsession before he loses everyone he loves.

Tied for 3rd place: (query critiques)

Kristi Helvig

When wings of a murdered faerie fetch big bucks on eBay, a teenage girl discovers her kind aren't only being oppressed--they're being hunted.


Claire Daniels and Toby Reed were never supposed to meet, but they have, and now one is fated to kill the other. Their fabricated destiny takes it's toll on the people they love, so it's up to them to stop the hands of death before everyone gets squeezed.

Congrads! I'm so excited for you guys and be sure to let me know what happens! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Marvelous Marketer: Holly Cupala (author of Tell Me A Secret!)

The winner of the Bloombsury/Walker lot is...


Congrads and email me your address (sjohannes@bilaninc.com)

Special Announcement! Winners of the Bree Ogden Agent Pitch Contest announced tomorrow! Don't miss it!

Also - don't miss the announcement of the new WriteOnCon!! Free online conference Aug 10th-12th. Speakers include Mark McVeigh, Joanne Volpe, Mary Kole, and more. I'll even be doing a marketing workshop for all writers. Go check it out!

Today, Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me A Secret is here!

Hi Holly, tell everyone about you and your new book coming out next week.

Hi Shelli, thanks for having me. My debut YA novel, TELL ME A SECRET (out next week on June 22nd!), is a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a little bit family story.

In the five years since her bad-girl sister’s mysterious death, seventeen year-old Miranda has been holding the family together—her suffocating mother, her disappearing father, and the secrets that bind them. Now she is on the edge of everything she’s ever wanted—art school, a best friend to unlock her sister’s secret world, and a boyfriend who will take her away from it all…only she has a secret of her own. Two lines on a pregnancy test will shatter everything. That’s where it gets interesting!

This wasn’t my first novel—those would be the teen romances I wrote in eighth grade before I actually experienced teen romance. Tragic poetry followed actual romance! For a long time, I thought I would write for adults, though I secretly kept working on kidlit manuscripts. I eventually found my way to SCBWI and spent years learning the craft and trying to find my voice. It took a devastating life event to uncover it, but some friends encouraged me to keep writing. And suddenly, the whole story just fell in my lap.

How did you get your agent and can you share some of your submission experience with editors?

In so many ways, I’m an SCBWI success story—I’ve gone to local and international conferences for years, received a Work-In-Progress Grant, and learned much about the craft and business by volunteering and taking classes.

I met my agent (Edward Necarsulmer, Children’s Director at McIntosh and Otis) in a moment of incredible serendipity—I was assigned to his table at the 2008 SCBWI Conference/NYC Writer’s Intensive. I read my first five hundred words, and he said, “W-w-w-w-w-ow. I...I…I can’t think of anything to suggest…wow.” So, he had me at wow, and he’s been wowing me ever since! We went through one revision (I had another agent offer, but for some crazy reason I picked the one who wanted me to revise before going out with it), and he sold it in a pre-empt to our top choice!

One strategy that I think was helpful before teaming up with an agent was to meet with editors. They would ask to see the full manuscript, but I didn’t submit it myself. So when Edward asked me about the manuscript’s history, I could tell him there were five editors who wanted to see it—he ended up getting a two-book deal in the space of a few weeks.

I love those kind of stories! I had dinner with Edward at an SCBWI conference when we were on . He is funny and very passionate about his work. Can you talk a little about readergirlz? What is the concept behind Operation Teen Book Drop?

A few years ago, four award-winning authors (Justina Chen, Lorie Ann Grover, Dia Calhoun, and Janet Lee Carey) began readergirlz as an online teen lit community devoted to encouraging girls to “read, reflect, and reach out.” The day after their first major project, 31 Flavorite Authors (an entire month of live author chats), they called me! It only took seconds for me to realize they were asking me to join an amazing group of women with an important mission. I’m very excited and grateful to be the featured author in August!

Operation Teen Book Drop came about because Justina (besides being a brilliant author) has a huge heart. She was researching at Children’s Hospital for her second novel, GIRL OVERBOARD, and noticed the lack of comfort objects for teens. Publishers, YALSA, GuysLitWire, and 30,000 books later, we have brought Operation Teen Book drop to Children’s Hospitals across the country and, for the first time this year in teaming up with If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, to Native teens living on tribal lands. Plus our readers and tons of YA authors participate. It gets bigger every year!

How has getting involved with this passion helped you build a stronger network?
Readergirlz is all about making connections among readers—teens, librarians, teachers, authors, and book lovers. It has been an amazing journey to get to know people as a result of our shared love of great YA books.

Not only have you been involved in giving back to readers through readergirlz but you also contribute a percentage of your book profits to World Vision's Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls? Why? Is that a passion of yours?

My husband and I have supported World Vision and that program for a number of years now—even though TELL ME A SECRET isn’t about sexual exploitation, it is about women and secrets and shame, and I felt there was a connection there. I was really excited to be able to be able to tie two of my passions together and give back in some way.

In addition to giving back, what are a few creative things you have done to promote your books?

A few projects we have going on: this blog tour, Story Secrets (interviews with YA authors), a 2-chapter sneak preview booklet and exclusive excerpt at Hunger Mountain, making DIY swag, events in several cities, a book trailer (coming soon!).

My husband has been kind of amazing in this regard and has embraced TMAS publicity with gusto! He redesigned my website, produced the trailer, designed the Tell Me A Secret site, and has been having fun making t-shirts and other swag. He’s has a lot of business and tech savvy, so he’s always coming up with these crazy, out-of-the-box ideas. I say, “But honey, nobody in publishing does that.” But then we try it, and it works! He’s slowly expanding my Holly 2.0 comfort zone—and we’re having a lot of fun doing it!

Plus, there are some very exciting things we can’t talk about yet…but very soon… So much of it was just making friends and being at the right place at the right time.

What marketing advice do you have for authors/writers?

A very wise author friend with 20/20 hindsight once gave me a gem: make writing your next book a top priority. Why? Because once the dust settles and you’ve calmed down a little after the sale of your first book and as you wait for editor revisions, there will be a valuable gap of time before the revision letter arrives and the marketing machine begins to rumble. Once you’ve gotten those revisions, once you’ve started a blog and tweeted and talked to every bookseller in the nation and planned your virtual tour and teamed up with other authors (all excellent things to do), your book will hit the shelves and maybe even become a runaway bestseller…and you’ll realize that a second book is due. Yesterday. And suddenly there is a lot less time and a lot more pressure. Give yourself the enormous gift of a head start.

Also, I’ve learned that it’s just not possible to do everything! There are so many potential areas of marketing: social networking, a blockbuster book trailer, jaw-dropping website, tweeting, blogging, vlogging, school visits, bookseller meetings, blogger networking, swag and contests, tours and virtual tours…the possibilities are endless. Choose what you can do—what you like to do!—and do it well. It helps to be kind and thankful, and to make lots of friends along the way.

Speaking of which…thank you so much, Shelli, for inviting me to your blog!

Thanks Holly!

You can also find Holly hanging out on Twitter and Facebook.

Also Holly is having a TELL ME A SECRET Tour Contest! Prizes each week for blog comments – we’re giving away signed books each week, t-shirts, journals, gift cards, and more!Leave comments at any official tour stop or Holly's blog throughout the tour schedule ! Go to her blog for more details. The next stop on the tour is Tuesday at Amy Brecont White's blog.

Comment on Holly's interview and tell me: "When you get published, is there a group or organization you would like to help or contribute to? And why?"

I will draw 5 names of 5 preadvanced samples of Tell Me A Secret (along with some swag). And I will mail them this week so you can read it before the release! :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My first vlog and Friday's Roundup!

I announce the winner and the next giveaway in the video. Its my first one so please watch it so I don't feel totally stupid (yikes too late! :)

Win the ARC package mentioned in the vlog by commenting and telling me:

1)"What else should I vlog about?" or
2) Ask me a question that I can answer in a vlog!

Favorite marketing posts for the week:

Do I deserve as an author? Unless you are among the elite best-selling authors, your publisher will probably not have much of a marketing plan for you. If you rely on that, your three months to make a splash will come and go before your publisher moves to the next book. What do you deserve?

What works for you in book marketing?
Authors, whether first timers or seasoned, share what they have found to be the most effective tool in their marketing plans?

10 steps to handselling your book
Yes, your own efforts really can make an impact on your sales, one reader at a time. Here are 10 simple steps to word-of-mouth success.

How you can use social media - Does marketing via social media outlets really help sell more books? Writers are spending time on Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other Internet sites with the hope of marketing their books. The question we all keep asking is this: Is the time cost-effective?

Maureen's Johnson's Manifesto - I am not a brand
! Don't get carried away with marketing as an author. You are not a brand - you HAVE a brand.

Getting tweens to review ARCs - Some booksellers are getting tweens involved with their reviews.

A teen's take on social networks - While now that time is mostly spent on Facebook, back then I used different social games and another social network. Here's how I got from there to here..log.

Come back Monday to see who won The Agent Pitch Contest!

The awesomeness of Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade

Winner the ARC of Firelight (by Sophie Jordan)

Cleaverly Inked

Congrads! Email me your address at sjohannes@bilaninc.com!

O.K. so Nightshade was one of THE books to get at BEA.

Not only is it a gorgeous, amazing, kick-ass cover but it is an amazing read!

Comment and answer the questions at the bottom to win an ARC of Nightshade, not released until Oct 2010!

Today, blogger buddy and history buff, Andrea Cremer, has stopped by to talk to us :)

Hi Andrea! Thanks for coming by! Tell us about Nightshade and your journey?

Nightshade will be in stores October 19, 2010 (Philomel/Penguin Teen). The first in a gritty and spellbinding series, the world of Nightshade is filled with living shadows, sinister forces, and dangerous magic. Alpha Guardian Calla Tor must unravel mysteries that will lead her down a path of love and treachery where she is forced to choose between the life she believed she was destined for and the secret desires of her own heart. Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) will be published in summer 2011 and Bloodrose (Nightshade #3) in spring 2012. The trilogy will be followed by a prequel, scheduled for publication in fall 2012!

My journey has been an odd, wondrous trip. It started when a horse jumped on my foot in the summer of 2008, setting me on crutches for eight weeks. I couldn't do anything so I decided I'd finally try writing a novel - something I'd always dreamed about doing but had never given myself permission to try. Once I started writing I couldn't stop - and I knew there was no going back. It was terrifying - knowing I had a dream that I wanted so much and yet had no idea how to make it happen. I was a complete publishing "noob." There's a myth among aspiring writers that you can't get published without connections. It really is a myth. When I made the commitment to publish Nightshade even if it took everything I had, I didn't know anything about that world. I did research. I learned about agents, practiced writing queries. Submitted to the agencies that seemed the best fits for my work. And my ms was pulled out of the slush pile. No connections whatsoever. To get published you need patience, an iron will, and belief in the value of what you've written.

The premise for Nightshade rocks! How did you get the idea?

Nightshade is Calla's story and she was the inspiration for the book. I tend to write from characters and Calla was floating around in my head for a week or two before I started putting her story onto the page. I knew she was a girl who was also a wolf. I knew she was strong, but also in serious trouble. I couldn't figure out how someone so powerful could be in that sort of a fix. That's where Nightshade's world emerged, it was all about building a history and society that explained Calla's predicament.

Not that you are published, what do you wish you knew before you got a agent/book deal?

Biting your nails, waiting by the phone, and most of all not writing something new, while you're on submission is such a waste of time. Let it go and focus on doing what you love instead. Or else find a new hobby.

What is one thing we don’t know about you that you want us to know but might be afraid to say?

Like many other writers, notably JK Rowling, I suffer from chronic depression that started in my teens. It's actually an important issue to talk about, but the fact that depression is often misunderstood and mental illness still carries some social stigma makes me sometimes hesitate to be open about it. I did, however, do a blog post about authors and depression last year - but it was before Nightshade was on many radars so I'm guessing a lot of my readers haven't seen it. But it's an important, and often neglected, issue that many people face and I want my readers, especially teens, to know that you can have this struggle and still find your way to happiness and a healthy sense of self worth.

Thank you so much for sharing that. One last thing, if you believe in past lives – what/who do you think you were and why?

Past lives and most other 'beyond the veil' subjects I tend to approach with a gigantic question mark. Do I believe in them - I just don't know. If I did have a past life I think it was in the highlands of Scotland because whenever I visit that part of the world it feels like coming home.

Thanks Andrea!

Thanks Shelli!

You can follow Andrea on Twitter, her awesome blog, and Facebook! You can also follow PenquinTeen on Twitter!

Comment for a chance to win Andrea's ARC. (don't 4get, my only request to getting gifts is that you are a follower :) (wait, not in general - be a leader - just be a follower of mine! ;)

Tell us, like Calla, what life do you think you were destined for and why?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Win an ARC of Sophie Jordan's Firelight!

The winner of Dead Beautiful is...


and please email your address to sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Today's Arc Giveaway is Sophie Jordan's

This was one of the books on the YA Buzz Panel.

Don't you love the cover? And the premise is awesome!

With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.

Today, all you have to do to enter is sign up for my new monthly Market My Words newsletter to enter.

Starting the end of this month, I will be sending out marketing tips, scoop on upcoming contest news, book giveaways, marketing book reviews, special newsletter interviews, and more.

Good luck to all on the Pitch Contest! They were great! :)

Update: Bree says she will have the winners by Monday!!