Wednesday, September 26, 2012


In case you missed my squeals of joy yesterday, this is the official news about my debut YA book deal from Publisher's Marketplace:

September 25, 2012
Young Adult

Kristi Helvig's sci-fi series BURN OUT, after the sun has burned away the atmosphere, Tora Reynolds
survives, protected by lethal bio-energy guns that bounty hunters and governments are desperate
for, to Greg Ferguson at Egmont, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2014, by Jessica Regel at Jean
V. Naggar Literary Agency (world).

I am beyond to excited to be joining Egmont, and am super grateful to my rock star agent for believing in this book! The deluge of awesome emails, tweets, and FB messages yesterday was amazing, and I feel lucky to know so many wonderful people. Wow, I use a lot of adjectives when I'm excited.

Also, don't forget to enter the 1000 Twitter Follower Giveaway to win books and all kinds of critiques (including the Wednesday Query Critique)!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1000 Twitter Follower Extravaganza

If you've read this blog before, you know I'm a big believer in celebrating the baby steps. You also know that I love random reasons to do giveaways. Though there are plenty of people out there with a gazillion Twitter followers (I'm looking at you, Lady Gaga), I have recently reached the 1,000 mark despite my random tweets about bacon and tater tots. So, I'm combining the Wednesday Query Critique (usually held on the last Wed. of each month) with other great prizes. Enter below for you chance to win a query critique, a 1st 5 pages critique, a 1st chapter critique, or a YA book of your choice! Feel free to tell me other giveaway ideas for future contests in the comments, and if you follow me on Twitter, I'll try to tweet informative writing links (along with random bacon tweets). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Perils of Being a Full-Time Writer

For the first time, my kiddos are both in school and I have oodles of time during the day to write. I'm not even a full-time writer yet as I work two days a week in my private practice, but that leaves THREE whole days of interrupted free time. Therein lies the problem. I wrote three novels in the past two years, and did it in the one to two hours of time I had in the evening after the kids went to bed. Those one to two hours involved nothing but fast, hard writing--because it was all the time I had to do it. I envisioned that once the kids were in school, I'd be able to multiply that output by ten, and could crank out a book every two months. The kids have been in school a grand total of 5 weeks now, which means I should have another book almost finished, right? 

Not quite. First, I discovered the joy of grocery shopping without little ones underfoot. If you haven't tried it, it's an amazing experience. Next, I thought I'd conquer my possessed laundry basket which never empties no matter how many loads I do. I've seen the bottom of my laundry basket several times in the past few weeks, a sight I haven't seen in years. My to-do list has been tackled, my dogs have have enjoyed walks with me in the morning after I take the kids to school, and I've caught up with friends for lunches and brunches and other food-related outings. The most productive writing time for me in the past few weeks...has been in the one to two hours after the kids go to bed at night.

What the hell? I mean, I'm still writing but not nearly the amount I thought I'd be. Part of it is probably the habit of night writing, and part of it is probably the fact that I have quiet time in the house by myself for the first time in over eight years. Part of me worries that even if I were a full-time writer, I wouldn't be writing more than I am right now--Stephen King would mock my current habits (if you haven't read On Writing, you should). I'm hoping the novelty of being home wears off quickly, and I just ordered a day planner and am going to set myself up on a much stricter writing schedule (NOTE: the day planner itself looks so fun and amazing that I'm sure I'll do an entire post on it once it arrives.)

Anyone else struggle with this issue? Any additional tips you'd like to share? Pretty please. Or just let me know if you're in the area and want to go to brunch. ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NERVE Winner and New Contest

Thanks to everyone who entered to win a copy of the YA thriller NERVE by the awesome Jeanne Ryan. The winner of the contest is...VIVIEN! Congrats, Vivien, and I'll email you with more info. There will be a new post tomorrow and another contest next week so make sure to subscribe to the blog to receive updates.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interview with NERVE author Jeanne Ryan and a Giveaway

Today, I am so excited to have author Jeanne Ryan on the blog (full confession: she’s also my critique partner). Her YA thriller, NERVE (Dial), releases tomorrow, 9/13/2012. When I read the first draft of this high-tech truth-or-dare game gone very, very wrong, I told her this was going to be her first published book. After getting my very own copy in the mail last week, I can tell you that the finished book is even scarier. Please check out Jeanne’s new website and make sure to follow her on Twitter.

I’m also giving a copy of NERVE to one lucky person. Enter by Tues. Sept 18th for your chance to win through the form below. Either tell us a dare you did (for the brave), or you can enter by less scary means.

Here is the cover for NERVE:

Hi Jeanne—thanks so much for joining us today, and huge congrats on NERVE! As I’ve told you before, I think the concept of a high-tech truth-or-dare game is awesome! Where did you get the idea for this book?

From watching my teenage niece and her phone. Seeing how fluidly she moved between her “real” life and her online life with her friends, with a lot of overlap between the two, got me to thinking about a story where a lot of the excitement and danger would be delivered via phones. I wondered how far a game of Truth or Dare could go if strangers could be brought together to perform and record the dares.

Yeah, this book was a far cry from the dares of my youth, like ringing someone’s doorbell and running. How long did it take you to go from writing it to publication?

I started writing it in May, 2010. It sold in April, 2011 and is being published September, 2012.  So two and a half years from start to finish.

Less than a year between starting the book and selling the book is pretty darn impressive. Was this your first book?

Nerve was my fifth manuscript. Although I decided to become a writer at age eleven, many other dreams got in the way between then and the time I started writing a manuscript that I’d actually finish. I got serious about writing in 2004, finished my first manuscript in 2006, signed with an agent in 2009 and got my first deal in 2011. That doesn’t count the years beforehand when I wrote many tortured poems, awful short stories and an unfinished novel (also awful).

It goes to show that persistence pays off, and you always need to be working on the next book. Speaking of which, can you tell us what you’re you working on now?

Two things. One is another YA thriller which is scheduled to come out with Dial in early 2014. It’s called CHARISMA and is about a terribly shy girl who turns to an experimental therapy that's supposed to make people more sociable. It does, but comes with some scary side effects.
The other thing I'm working on between revisions is an MG historical set in 1974 South Korea. It may never see the light of day in the publishing world but it’s a great way to cleanse my mental palate after working on the darker stuff.

Yay for another book deal! I love your MG historical, and definitely hope it sees the light of day…and what I’ve seen of Charisma is fantastic.  Writing several things at once seems daunting. Do you have a set writing routine or schedule?

During the school year, I try to get in about four hours a day, Mon-Fri, in the morning. During school breaks and summer vacation, I grab time whenever I can.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers out there?

Keep working on the craft. The writers I’ve seen who eventually landed agents and book deals are the ones who kept producing manuscript after manuscript until they wrote the story that everyone who reviewed it knew was “the one.” (Sometimes, the author is the last to know. J) Sure, there are those lucky few who sell their first attempt, but viewing that as the norm is a good way to set yourself up for misery. I speak from experience.

That’s great advice. So why don’t you finish by sharing something weird or random with us. (It doesn't have to be writing related)

Weird or random. Hmmmm. When I was a little girl living in Honolulu, our house was rumored to have a ghost, which everyone in the neighborhood called a Kahuna. My parents had a difficult time finding babysitters, because everyone was scared. (Their reluctance could also have been due to the fact that the number of kids in my family was already at six and growing.) Anyway, my parents finally solved the babysitter problem by hiring two at a time. And they approached the Kahuna problem the way a lot of things were solved in the hippie days--by throwing a large party that involved lots of chanting and alcohol. Whatever the grown-ups did worked, because we never had any weird bumps in the night after that. And the babysitters were eventually willing to work solo.

That’s a great story. Thanks so much for joining us today and Happy Release Day (a day early!)

Don’t forget to enter below for a chance to win NERVE by Jeanne Ryan.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Interview with Author Peter Salomon

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing one of my fellow MSFVSS’ers (that’s Miss Snark’s First Victim Secret Society), except we’re not so secret. ;) 

Please welcome the funny and fabulous Peter Salomon to the blog. His book, Henry Franks (Flux) will be released in a few days on Sept. 8th but you can pre-order it now. Here are a few links to Peter’s on-line shenanigans…
Twitter: @petersalomon

and here is the cover for Henry Franks:

Description from Goodreads:
Four thousand, three hundred and seventeen stitches, his father had told him once. All the King's horses and all the King's men had put Henry Franks back together again.

One year ago, a terrible accident robbed Henry Franks of his mother and his memories. The past sixteen years have vanished. All he has now are scars and a distant father—the only one who can tell Henry who he is.

If he could trust his father.

Can his nightmares—a sweet little girl calling him Daddy, murderous urges, dead bodies—help him remember?

While a serial killer stalks their small Georgia town, Henry unearths the bitter truth behind his mother’s death—and the terrifying secrets of his own dark past.

Sometimes, the only thing worse than forgetting is remembering.
1) Thanks for joining us today! So that description sounds super creepy, and you had me at serial killers. Where did you get the idea for Henry Frank?

I like to tell people that I was trying to figure out the 'Next Big Thing' as I figured vampires and werewolves were a little overdone...the problem with that is I was trying to figure out the 'Next Big Thing' in 2007 (when I started writing HENRY FRANKS) and five years later we still have vampires and werewolves. So much for that whole 'Next Big Thing' thing.

This book actually started life with an adult protagonist, a father raising a son 'off the grid' so much that every single thing his son knew to be true was what he'd been taught and how the father 'programmed' his child. As the story progressed, with the son slowly beginning to doubt the history he'd grown up with, it morphed into a story about the son. So I ended up starting all over again. The example I use is if you are taught that the green stuff growing outside your house is called 'hair' and the furry stuff on top of your head is called 'grass' then you'd naturally speak of mowing your hair and styling your grass (assuming you've been correctly taught the terms for mowing and styling, of course).

At that point, it still wasn't really a horror story, the creepiness factor came naturally once I started constructing a back story for Henry that would explain why he'd lost his memory. And, to be honest, to me the book isn't as creepy as I'd like it to be. It's all so familiar to me that every time I'd read through it during the revision process I'd keep thinking 'this isn't creepy enough...add more creepy...' so I hope people do find it creepy!!

Besides, you can never go wrong with the mantra: "Add more creepy..."

2) So true. You can never have enough creepy…or cowbell. ;) How long have you been writing and is this your first published book?

My first brush with fame and fortune (well, maybe not so much on the 'fortune' part) was in sixth grade when the Principal of my elementary school read a poem I'd written over the loudspeaker to my entire school. Not so much on the 'fame' part either, I guess. I'd been writing poems for a while by then but they weren't all that good. For years I stuck to poetry and even some of those tended to the 'creepy.' It wasn't until an assignment my Senior year of high school that I tried writing a novel (also, not very good). Over the next twenty years I wrote a handful of novels (mostly Fantasy, all for an adult audience) but though the quality of them greatly improved I remained unpublished. As my own children started reading I decided to try writing something they could actually read. I was querying my first Young Adult novel (still a Fantasy) when I came up with the idea for HENRY FRANKS and started writing. Actually, I was still thinking of re-querying that Fantasy when I ended up querying HENRY instead.

 3) I love hearing about twenty-year “overnight success” stories—it shows how important persistence is. Speaking of persistence, do you have a specific writing routine or schedule?

Yes and no. I'm a lazy sort of writer as well as an obsessive one. When I'm in the midst of writing a first draft or of revising/editing, I can spend hours and hours working on it to the exclusion of everything else in my life. But that's only if I'm motivated to start. Motivation is big, as is privacy. I don't like to write if people are in the room with me (well, I don't like to write if people are in the house with me). That first YA I wrote I ended up writing about an hour a day on my laptop sitting in my car in a parking lot. Not a recommended process.

4) That’s refreshing to hear. I’m suspicious of the writers who say they get up at 3am every day and write 2K before breakfast (well, also jealous). Can you tell us what you are working on now?

During the waiting period while HENRY FRANKS was out on submission I ended up writing not one but two Young Adult manuscripts (one action, one dystopian action). Actually I started working on the Dystopian, got bogged down in the plot and then started writing the first draft of the Action novel before going back to the Dystopian to finish it. In the months since I've been heavily editing and revising both of them (concentrating mostly on the Action novel first though the Dystopian is next) with the Action manuscript hopefully almost ready to go out on submission (in one form or another). Also, I've had two picture books that have gone out on submission over the past year and am currently working on another one. The picture book I'm working on now is actually one that I've been working on for about 15 years now and is still a work in progress.

5) Good for you. I personally think picture books are harder to write than novels—one of my critique partners has had several published and I’m in awe of her. What is a recent book you've read that you loved?

FLYING THE DRAGON by Natalie Dias Lorenzi. It's an absolute marvel. I tend to prefer YA to MG but this MG is sheer brilliance, highly recommended. Also ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, which, I'm not kidding had me in tears for pretty much the entire second half of the book. Beautifully written, heartbreakingly sad while being truly uplifting. A difficult combination to pull off but this one's a winner!

6) Oh, they sound great, but I’ll need a box of tissues at hand for the second one. Okay, I’ll make the last question a fun one. Tell us something random about yourself so people can get to know you better.

What a great question! I have a degree in Theater and Film Studies (with a concentration in set design and construction for musical theater) and most of the music I listen to is either 80s new wave (which I grew up with) or Broadway. For pretty much the entire writing and editing process of HENRY FRANKS I was listening to Next To Normal and many of the themes of the musical echo the direction I took Henry. Plus the music is just glorious and I need music playing in order to write, I tend to 'feed' off of the emotion of the music, if that makes sense.

That makes total sense--my entire book was based on a song I heard on Pandora. Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Peter, and happy early book release day!