Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Blog - Redirect In 10...9...8...

Update: You should be automatically redirected to the new blog in 10 seconds. Commence the countdown!

My blog has moved...I have a shiny new website and blog, so please go to www.kristihelvig.com. See you over there!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My BURN OUT Cover Reveal and Publication Date

I'm beyond excited to announce that BURN OUT has a cover! A huge thanks to my fellow YA Valentine, Lynne Matson, for doing my formal cover reveal over at the YA Valentines. They are an amazing group of writer peeps, and there are links to more of them in that post. Also, check out the awesome Kelsey Ketch from Ketch's Book Nook and my fab critique partner, author Valerie Kemp, who helped to spread the cover love. I LOVE (yes, in all caps) this cover, because my cover designer, A. Castanheira, at EgmontUSA is uber talented and awesome. In celebration, I'm doing a giveaway. First, here is the cover that perfectly captures my main character Tora, and her world:

I seriously stared at this for like an hour, because 1) did I mention I love it? 2) it reminds me of Star Trek which I also love and 3) I finally feel like my book is A REAL THING. Also, I have a real publication date: April 8, 2014! That's less than a year away which is mere minutes in the publishing world.

To celebrate my cover happiness, I'm doing a giveaway. The winner will win the YA Book of their Choice PLUS a copy of DEFY THE DARK (a short story anthology by amazing YA authors, including Myra McEntire, Carrie Ryan, Saundra Mitchell, and the aforementioned Valerie Kemp). The contest runs through Tuesday July 9 and is open to US residents (sorry, but I'm doing another giveaway soon that will be global).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last but not least, I'm so excited to announce that my book is available for pre-order on Amazon. I'm giving something special to every single person who pre-orders, so let me know at kristi (at) kristihelvig (dot) com.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Release Day for DEFY THE DARK

I'm so excited for today! It's the release day for DEFY THE DARK, a collection of stories by awesome writers including Carrie Ryan, Malinda Lo, Rachel Hawkins, and one of my critique partners, the fabulous Valerie Kemp. I've read Valerie's story, STILLWATER, and it's incredible...I can't wait to read the whole book.Valerie is doing a giveaway of Defy the Dark and discusses what inspired her story. Hurry, because you only have until Friday the 21st to enter!

From Goodreads: It features 16 stories by critically-acclaimed and bestselling YA authors as they explore things that can only happen in the dark.

You can order the book here. Also, if you don't win Valerie's giveaway, you have another chance to win next week. I'm giving this book away too, because I have something big to share with everyone...so check back for details next Tuesday the 25th!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cover Reveal for DEFY by Sara B. Larson

One of my fellow 2014 Valentines, Sara Larson, is revealing her awesome book cover for DEFY (Scholastic). The official release date is....January 1, 2014. Happy New Year to Sara! I'm so excited for her and so in love with this gorgeous cover:

From Goodreads: 
The fiercest member of a prince's elite guard is actually a girl disguised as a boy, who gets embroiled in a deadly game of thrones while keeping her secret, and realizes she has far deeper feelings for the prince than she thought.

I can't wait to get my hands on this one, and in celebration of her cover reveal, Sara is giving away two books to a lucky winner! Enter below for your chance to win...good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

3 Tips for Dealing with THE EDIT LETTER

Whether you are traditionally or self-published, at some point you will receive an edit letter from either your publisher or your hired freelance editor. If you've already received one, you know why I used capital letters. Just the idea of this letter can inspire fear, insecurity, and dread. I saw writers in social media comparing the length of their letters, "Wow, yours was only five pages long? Mine was twenty-six." After reading some of these disclosures, I actually emailed my editor and told him I just needed to hear that my letter was less than twenty-five pages long. He thought I was kidding. For me, it was mostly a fear of the unknown, e.g. what if they want me to re-write the entire book, replace all my characters with new ones, and change the genre from sci-fi to contemporary romance? So yes, the fear can be irrational, but it's still there.

Anyway, after getting the letter (which, thankfully, was WAY less than twenty-five pages), and later, after finishing all of the edits and having them accepted, I thought, "Huh, that wasn't so bad after all." More importantly, I couldn't believe how much stronger my book was afterward. So, here are three things you should do after you read your edit letter for the very first time:  

1) Nothing. Seriously. Don't open your manuscript. Don't bust out the highlighters and red pens. Don't think about how you're going to address the plot issue raised about chapter seventeen. So what should you do? Take a day and let it all sink again. Then, when you're ready, read the entire letter again before you do anything. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing and I'm a big advocate for "sleeping on it." By the time I re-read my edit letter, the answer to several issues had magically appeared in my head, and I hadn't even started on the edits yet. Next, read the comments by your editor within the manuscript itself. Let these sink it as well, even if your fingers are twitching on the keyboard.  

2) Talk to your editor. Schedule a phone call with your editor after you've done Step 1, not before. This way, you can ask for clarification on any issues that you are still unclear about. If you're going the traditional route, you can also discuss the expected time frame for edits. I had one month to do my edits, so I knew I'd have to work quickly. This phone call only lasted about 30 minutes for me, and I hung up feeling very confident about what I needed to do. Excitement had replaced the fear--well, mostly.  

3) Develop a strategy. Some writers I know like to go through the edit letter and address each point in turn, so they can check it off as they go. This works great for some people. For me, after talking to my editor and reading his first few comments within my manuscript, something clicked and I went through the entire manuscript without even looking at the edit letter. When I finally went back to the edit letter at the end, I found that I'd addressed almost everything, and only had to tweak a few more minor things. I tend to be less detail-oriented and more big picture oriented, so this system worked better for me. Everyone is different, so listen to what other people have tried, but do what works best for you.

I'd say you can relax after this hurdle, but I'd be lying. I only had one week of downtime after turning my edits in before I received my copyedits to do. That's another post, but I'm finished with those now as well...hence, why I have time to do my first blog post in forever. The bottom line is that having a great editor is priceless, and the end product is totally worth all the blood, sweat, tears, and Haagen Daaz ice cream.  NOTE: If you haven't tried the Caramel Creme de Leche variety, you don't know what heaven tastes like.

In other fun news, I saw my book cover and can't wait to share it, because it's SO FREAKIN' COOL! Also, I have a shiny, new website coming soon, and I'm posting a book rave today over at the YA Valentines.

Any other editing tips you'd add to the list? Any favorite editing snacks, like ice cream?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Goodreads and Public Humiliation

These are actually two separate things. First, I've finally emerged from my editing cave *throws confetti* and found my publisher had posted my book on Goodreads *throws more confetti*. If you're into sci-fi and want to check it out, or add it to your shelf, you can find it here: BURN OUT on Goodreads. The cover is coming soon! Second (and this one is much more embarrassing), it was my turn this week to subject myself to public humiliation via YouTube. As part of the YA Valentines, a group of authors whose novels debut in 2014, I had to profess my love for chocolate via poetry. I'm sure you can tell how much I hate being filmed, but sometimes you have to suck it up in this business. If you have 90 seconds to spare, check out A Writer's Ode to Chocolate: YA Valentines.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I'm so excited to be asked to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. I've been tagged by the awesome Phil Siegel to answer a few questions about my debut novel coming in 2014. Here goes:

1)      What is the working title of your book? BURN OUT

2)      Where did the idea come from? A song I heard on Pandora (right after watching a space documentary) led to an intense dream that became the basis of this book. Strange but true. Tora’s character was pretty fully formed upon waking and she was screaming at me to write the book already.

3)      What genre does your book fall under? YA sci-fi.

4)      What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Emily Browning looks almost exactly how I pictured Tora and would be incredible in the role. Cam Gigandet is probably the closest match to James, and definitely Alexander Skarsgard as Kale because he’d be perfect. Oh, and Joss Whedon would be the screenwriter—because hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

5)      What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? During Earth's final years, a teenage girl struggles to escape the planet after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

6)      Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? My book will be published by Egmont in Spring 2014, and I am represented by the amazing Jessica Regel from the Jean V. Naggar Agency in NYC.

7)      How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About 6 weeks for the first draft, but it took about a year total before I felt it was ready to send to agents. 

8)      What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Well, it’s strange but the book that I’d most compare it to is Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which is a YA fantasy. They both feature a strong female character facing terrible situations, albeit in very different settings. In terms of sci-fi comparisons, I’ve been told my character is the female Han Solo, which is hands down my favorite compliment so far about the book. 

9)      Who or what inspired you to write this book? Aside from Question #2 above, I have a fascination with a concept captured beautifully in the movie, Kung Fu Panda (no, I’m not kidding). The quote is something like “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” Without giving too much away about my book, mankind tries to avoid its destiny--with catastrophic consequences.

10)   What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Hmm, an astrophysicist helped me with some of the technical science behind the story because I wanted it as real as possible. The “science” in sci-fi is so interesting to me, because several of the things I imagined in the book have already come about in the year since I submitted the book to my agency, and last month, astronomers discovered a planet remarkably similar to the one in BURN OUT.

Also, it's a great book to read if you want to feel better about your own life. No matter how much your job or situation might suck, you’ll glimpse Tora’s world and think, “Hey, things aren’t so bad after all.” How’s that for an ad?

As the final part of the bloghop, I'm tagging two other fabulous writers with books releasing in 2014:  Paula Stokes and  Jaye Robin Brown. Check out their posts next Wednesday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Author Interview on One Four Kid Lit

I was interviewed today on the wonderful OneFourKidLit blog, for authors whose books debut in 2014. Click here to hop on over and read my thoughts about my book, writing inspiration, and chickens. Okay, the chickens aren't related to the book, but I still talk about them. Happy Friday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Awesome Agent is Seeking Clients

My agent of awesome, Jessica Regel, stopped by Writer's Digest to talk with Chuck Sambuchino and discuss what she's looking for in submissions. She also mentioned my book (BURN OUT)! Swing by and see if you might be a good fit for her, because in case I haven't mentioned it...she's awesome!

Monday, January 14, 2013

5 Tips for Your Author Photo Shoot

Let me start by saying that I don't love having my picture taken, but sometimes we have to suck it up and do things we dislike (have I mentioned laundry here before?). Also, I was embarrassed that the photo my publisher had to send to the Frankfurt book festival a few months back was a quick pic taken in my dining room. I knew I'd have to get an acceptable photo taken sooner or later, so here is my new author photo...

                                               (Photo by MaryLynn Gillaspie Photography)

...and here are a few lessons I learned from the experience.

  1. Have it done by a professional. I know this costs money, but this will part of your "brand" that you present to the world via social media, book jackets, etc. If you have a photographer friend who will do it for free or at a discount, all the better.
  2. Do your research. Get referrals from friends or other writer's whose pictures you admire. Check out the photographer's website and look at their portfolio. Do you like their style and does it match what you're looking for?
  3. It takes a village. Okay, it did for me anyway. I'd never had my make-up done before, even on my wedding day, arguing that I wanted to "look like me." As my make-up person pointed out the day of my shoot, he did make me look like me, just "a more polished version." I also had my hair done because my idea of doing my hair is brushing it, and I'm hopeless with a flat iron. Plus, I can deduct the shoot, make-up application, and hair styling on my taxes. (NOTE: Please contact your own tax person before taking deductions, because telling the IRS you heard it from me won't fly with them.)
  4. Make sure the photo reflects YOUR personality. Wear clothing you are comfortable in and that shows your style. Sure, follow all the photographer guidelines as far as sticking with solid colors, etc. but this is not the time to try out a new "look." Also, have your expression match your personality. For instance, I'm considered a pretty upbeat person and am usually smiling. A Victoria Beckham-type pout would look ridiculous on me. I've seen serious looking author photos, which is fine if you are a serious person (or have written a book about scurvy), but just make sure you are being you.
  5. Have fun. Stressing about what to wear or how to pose for your official author photo is a pretty lucky problem to have. I'd actually choose it over doing laundry any day.
What were your experiences with your author photo? Any other tips to share?

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 Revisited and 2013 Writing Goals

HAPPY 2013!! Is it just me or does each year seem to fly by a little faster? I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing holiday, and is ready for great things to happen in the new year.

So, this time last year, I was basking in the happiness of finding the perfect agent for me. As you can see in the post, I'd written my big goal of finding my dream agent in ALL CAPS (you know, so the universe would know I was serious). You can also see in that next sentence that my goal for 2012 was to HAVE THE PERFECT PUBLISHER BUY MY BOOK (again, in ALL CAPS). In 2012, I had the perfect publisher buy not one, but two of my books, which clearly means that ALL CAPS possesses a strange magic--use it wisely.

Anyway, since my first book doesn't come out until next year (Fall 2014), I've struggled to come up with an all-caps goal for this year. Instead, my goals will be more task-oriented, so here are my main goals for 2013:
  1. Finish revising Book 1 of BURN OUT series (this is easy because I'm under contract and I do really well with external deadlines) 
  2. Write Book 2 of BURN OUT series (again, the contract thing, so no problem).
  3. Finish writing and revising new urban fantasy YA and send to agent. (I am on track to finish this in the next month or so)
  4. Start writing final BURN OUT book. 
  5. Get my a$$ back online, as I've sorely neglected  Twitter, FB, etc. for the past few months. 
  6. Read more books!!!!
I'm keeping my goals short and sweet for this year, because I work best that way. What about you? What are your writing or reading goals for 2013? Has anyone else found ALL CAPS magical?