Monday, June 27, 2011

ARC of CREEP Winner is............

JOANN!

Congratulations, Joann! Send me an email with your address to mkramersantiago@yahoo.com and I'll get it out in tomorrow's mail!

To everyone else who entered, thanks so much for stopping by. I wish I had a copy to give everyone. That is the one downfall of doing these giveaways :-( But please look for Jennifer's book when it comes out because it is really a GREAT story and worth the purchase. I myself plan on buying the hard copy. I'm kind of excited to walk in the store and pick up the book and tell the cashier, "I know her! She's totally a buddy of mine and I read an ARC of the book and I loved it so much that I have to have a hard copy because i gave my ARC away in a contest giveaway and I have to support my awesome writer friends!" And then I"m sure he'll look at me like I have 5 friggin heads and think to himself, "Okay, lady. I think they better up your meds." And then I'll answer him as though he actually said those words directly to me and I'll say, "Acually, Sir. I don't need meds. Reading is my drug of choice." And then he'll really look at me like I have 5 heads 'cause instead of thinking I need psycho meds, he was probably actually thinking to himself, "Wow, what a great person to support her writer friend like that." And I'll say, "Thanks! That's so nice of you to say." And then he'll really look at me like I have 5 heads because I'm having this whole one-way conversation and say, "Umm, yeah. Okay. Here you go. Have a nice day."

Yeah. It will be awesome!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

Thanks to all who participated in my new blog/Kramer prize giveaway! I wish I could give everyone a prize :( But I used Random.org and these were the first 3 names that appeared.

First Prize: Hayley!
Second Prize: Alina!
Third Prize: Jennifer Hillier!

Again thank you so much to all of you for stopping by and giving me some blog makeover love and entering my contest.

To the winners, I will get your stuff out in the mail as soon as you email me your address to mkramersantiago@yahoo.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interview w/author, Jennifer Hillier. Win an ARC of her debut novel, CREEP!!!

My buddy Jennifer Hillier has a book coming out on July 5th called, CREEP, and being the awesome gal she is, has kindly agreed to give me an interview. Thanks, Jen!


Blurb for CREEP:

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren't, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she's finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she's taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won't let her walk away.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancĂ© discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn't resist—who is now the monster who won't let her go. 



Does that not sound friggin' AWESOME??? I was lucky enough to win a copy of a CREEP ARC on her blog and while I suck at writing book reviews, I will say that the book was completely gripping and filled with heart racing tension. Jennifer managed to create a story with great settings, a plausible scenario, and a wonderful diversity of three dimensional characters, each of which had very distinct voices. I especially love Ethan who she brilliantly manages to make both incredibly hot and sexy and yet creepy and scary as all hell. The ending was surprising and while the story has a solid ending, she left it with an OMG moment which has allowed the story to have a sequel. WHICH IT WILL!!! YAYAYAY.

Now I want to share the love cause the book is, well, EFFING AWESOME! It's not YA, but it does take place on a college campus and since I myself have always wanted to write a YA Thriller, I was excited to read this book. And since reading it, I have in fact begun that YA Thriller :-) So, for all of you interested in writing a thriller whether it be in the YA or adult market, you should definitely check this book out!

Interview time!


Could you give us a brief herstory (J) about your journey to publication?

Ha, love the wordplay, Mel! Thanks for having me!

I started writing seriously back in 2007. Wrote one novel, trunked it, and wrote another in 2008. That second book was CREEP. I workshopped it like crazy, received some excellent feedback, and ended up with seven drafts just over a year later. Started querying in October 2009 and signed with my agent in February 2010. My agent took me through another two rounds of revisions, and we went on sub at the end of April 2010. The book sold to Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books in June 2010.

Summing it up like this, it seems like everything went pretty smoothly, but I definitely had my share of agent and editor rejections (52 combined – and yes, I counted! I've kept them all!).


Why Thrillers?

It's hard to explain how it started, but I've always loved thrillers. I love stories that are dark and fast, with high stakes and gruesome murders, and villains who are smart and unusual. I love heroes who are put in impossible situations and have to dig deep to survive. Reading and writing thrillers are an adrenaline rush!


Do you remember what you were doing or where you were when the idea for this story hit you upside the head?

I was hoping nobody would ever ask me this question, because my answer is SO LAME!

Mel, I had a dream. Yep, a dream. I dreamt about a college student who was also a serial killer leading this crazy double life. I woke up and couldn't stop thinking about him all day. He was gorgeous and twisted, and I thought maybe I'd turn him into a short story. What I ended up with was a first chapter.


As a former psychology major myself, I noticed that you had a strong sense of the terminology being used, which really authenticated the feel of what was going on in that respect. What knowledge/experience did you bring to the writing of your novel CREEP and what things did you have to research? How did you go about doing that research?

Thank you! I'm glad to know that paying attention in class paid off! Honestly, nothing, really. A good portion of the story takes place in a university, and having been a university student (I majored in psychology), plus having worked in a couple different post-secondary institutions, the college setting seemed natural to me. Other than that, I used my imagination! Obviously I drew from my own experiences in order to make the classroom scenes as authentic as possible. I did do quite a bit of research about psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists to make my villain as real as possible (I hadn't studied them much in school). I also spent a lot of time researching disguises (my villain likes to play with makeup and prosthetics), which was creepy good fun.


Do you use any kind of formula to writing your thrillers? Plotter, pantser, or other?

No formula, other than to revise revise revise! I'm a pantser by nature, but I'd love to be a plotter.


I LOVE thrillers and wish there were more in the YA genre. Would you ever consider writing a YA Thriller?

Oh, definitely! My only concern would be getting the voice right. It's been so long since I was a young adult myself that I worry I'd sound inauthentic, but I would love to write a YA thriller someday.


What advice would you give to a writer interested in trying their hand in the Thriller genre?

I feel a bit unqualified to give advice, but I'll give it my best shot. Read extensively in the genre. Keep your narrative clean and your dialogue snappy. A good thriller is always paced well (and fast), and timelines are usually short. Keep the stakes high, and never, ever lose tension.


Is there anything you can tell us about the sequel that's coming out?

There's so much I'd love to spill, but I'd better not! I'm only on draft two and it's entirely possible that everything will change by the time I hand it over to my editor. I will say this, though: I love villains. And there is no shortage of villains in my next book.


And now for some insanely random questions:

The mountains or the beach?
Tough one! I'd normally say beach… unless it's a choice between the beach and the mountains. So, I’m thinking mountains. The scenery and crisp air would be so inspiring.

Favorite music?
I like just about everything, but I could listen to '90's R&B anytime. Brings me back to my high school days!

Favorite book?
IT by Stephen King. I love the way he writes children, and the villain – who morphs into whatever/whoever your biggest fear is – scared the crap out of me.

Favorite movie/tv show
Dexter. True Blood. Mad Men.

3 things on your bucket list?
Visit Italy and Greece. Buy a cottage by the lake. Watch Wimbledon live.

Cats or dogs?
I'm a cat person (I have four!), but I've met some pretty cool dogs, too.

Biggest fear?
Dying with regrets.

Coffee or Tea?
Both! I love coffee in the mornings and tea in the afternoons.

Salts or sweets?
This is a close one, but I'd pick sweets. Chocolate should be its own food group.

Favorite holiday?
Easter.

Can you lick your elbow? Touch your nose w/your tongue? Cross one eye? Apply lipstick using your bra? J

Oh, hell. I was so sure I could lick my elbow – not even close. Also no to the nose/tongue thing, and a big no to the crossing one eye. As for the lipstick with the bra thing… well, it depends on the bra. ;)

Thank you so much Jennifer for being such a trooper and best of luck and much success in the release of CREEP!!!

Don't forget that Jennifer Hillier's book, CREEP comes out on July 5th from Simon & Schuster! To enter the contest to win your ARC of CREEP, all you have to do is leave your name and either your email address or a link to your blog in the comments section so I can contact you. That's it! Easy, right? Contest ends on Sunday, June 26th and I will use Random.org for selecting the winner. You can get extra entries if you blog about it and tweet about it, but be sure to let me know in the comments that you have done so. Good Luck!!!

About Jennifer:
Jennifer Hillier was born in Toronto, which is where she spent the first three decades of her life. When her husband was offered a transfer to Seattle, she didn't know which would be worse: leaving Canada or moving to the West coast. She spent her first few months on American soil bemoaning her existence and writing her first novel. Now nicely settled in the Pacific Northwest, the only thing she misses – other than family and friends – is snow.
Jennifer blogs at The Serial Killer Files (www.jenniferhillier.ca). You can also find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenniferHillierAuthor), Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/JenniferHillier), and her official author website, www.jenniferhillier.org.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Under Appreciated Books--Share Your Thoughts/Suggestions

I was visiting the blog of my good friend Naomi yesterday who had a great post about books she owns but has not yet read. And it started to make me think not only about the books I own (or have downloaded onto my iPad) that I have not yet read, but the books that are not even on my TBR list, but totally should be. There are a lot of books out there that for whatever reason, do/did not get the hype they so deserve. One book I read recently that is a great example of this is a wonderful YA contemporary written Bethany Griffin called Handcuffs. Most unfortunately, her book came out smack in the midst of the economic crisis and so for various economic reasons, Handcuffs did not get the recognition or publicity that it duly should have. The book is wonderfully written and has an MC with a wonderful and strong voice and the romantic tension is KILLER.

I'm very much aware that she is not the only author with the only book that has somehow managed to get lost under the radar. So my question to you is,

What book would you recommend in the YA category (any genre) that you feel everyone SHOULD read and add to their TBR list, but may not really know about for whatever unfortunate reasons? What is it about that book that makes you say to someone, you MUST read this book?

Thanks!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Contest has been extended for one more week!

I've decided to run the contest for another week. Hope others will join in on the fun!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

So...what are YOU up to?

I'm currently working on a YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi AND a YA Contemporary Thriller. I'm just over half-way through with the Dystop and about 8k in to the Thriller.

Was just wondering what all of you, my blogger buddies, are currently working on. What genre are you writing? How far in are you into your project? What stage are you in? Any new and exciting SNIs you are toying with? Revising? Editing? On a writer's hiatus? What are you up to?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rejection is not personal? I beg to differ.

Today I want to talk about where I am in my journey to publication. Yes, ladies and gents, I am going to go on a long rant talk about that dreaded capital letter, R. Anyone who is in this biz and has gotten to the querying stage knows what that letter stands for: R is for Rejection (they don't teach you that one on Sesame Street ;-)) I have gone from riding the Query Highway to riding the Rejection Highway and let me tell you, it has got to be one of the bumpiest most depressing roads I've ever traveled thus far in my writing journey. And to think I'm just in the beginning stages! Manhattan potholes? Psssht...They aint nothin'.

After reading a couple of posts on a couple of different agent's blogs talking about rejection and how it's not personal, I started to think long and hard about it and what I've come to realize is that rejection on an agent's end is NOT personal. As Nathan Bransford said in his recent post,  how can it be personal when the people rejecting you don't even know you?  And he's absolutely right. And I think it is absolutely insane when people get angry at an agent because they decided, for whatever their reason, to pass on your work. However, being the rejected and being the rejectee are two different things. Just as being the dumped, and being the dumpee in a relationship are two very different things. It may not be personal on the agents end, but it is most definitely personal on the receiving end. My work is a direct reflection of ME. It is my heart and soul and inspiration and ideas poured onto pages that have been revised, revised, revised and then edited, edited, edited, and then BETA read by a good number of people in the biz and then revised and edited again and again and again. And then I spend countless hours, days, or weeks on developing the perfect query letter and I go through Query Letter Hell where my peers tear the shit out of my query letter and break it down and around and smack it and flip it upside down until I am utterly confused and left in tears cause I don't even know where to begin or who to listen to because EVERYONE has an opinion and they are often quite contradictory. But eventually I plow through the query letter writing process and finally...FINALLY write a version that has a few people saying, "If I were an agent I'd request to see more." And then...AND THEN...I spend the next couple of days, weeks or months perfecting my synopsis. THE DREADED SYNOPSIS. And not just one synopsis. No, I have to cover all my bases cause some agents request a 3-5 page synop, some want a 2 pager, and others want a 1 page synopsis. Not wanting to limit my options of whom I can query, I prepare all three!

Then there's another good month of researching the agents I want to query for this particular novel, which is a whole other topic in itself, but it's a very important part of the process. To not do the necessary research on the agents I plan on querying is to waste all the time I've spent on everything prior to this point. It's a waste of my time and of the agent's.

So, (a year to two years later) I have a rock solid query letter, my 1, 2, and 3-5 page synopsis, a novel that has been BETA read to death and that I have been told is a very well written story with a unique concept/plot, my list of agents that I believe are a good match for my work, and then I get a glass of wine and start hitting the send button.

At this point, I've done EVERYTHING right. I've done everything I was told I'm supposed to do if I'm serious about being a published writer and so I wait. And I check my inbox 4,738 times a day. And then one day I see that number 1 in my inbox and my heart jumps into my throat and I feel like I might hurl all over my keyboard, And there's this tiny little bit of hope that when I open the email, it's going to be an agent requesting a partial, or a full, but in reality, I've mentally convinced myself that it will be an R because I think it will make the blow softer. I finally muster up the courage to open it and...and...AND...I receive my first R. It stings pretty bad that first R, but I tell myself, that's okay, I have more agents out there who have received my letter. It's just a matter of time. It's just a matter of finding that perfect agent. It's just a matter of...Hmm...another R. And another. And another.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Friggin' ouch.

Rejection is absolutely personal. Maybe not 1 rejection letter, and maybe not even 2 or 3 or 10, but when the numbers keep climbing up and up and all that is coming in are R's, I MUST take it personally.  If rejection wasn't personal, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't believe there is room for improvement. I wouldn't stop and think, hey, maybe I need to re-think my query letter. Or, consider the idea that maybe I need to re-think my my first chapter, or if there was a request for a partial and it was rejected, maybe I need to re-think the beginning of my story. Or maybe this story is just NOT THE ONE. Something is not working. I didn't do SOMETHING right. That is personal. It doesn't get much more personal than that. Individual agents sending a (form) rejection might not being personal, but when you are receiving multiple rejection letters, it is one huge conglomeration of personal. My work is a reflection of me and so to reject my work is to reject me and I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. I mean, if an agent LOVES your novel and requests a partial and then a full and then calls you to offer representation, you take that personal, don't you? So why can't it be so for the opposite? Rejection is not personal? I beg to differ. I think it is and I think it can be important to take it as so.

What are your thoughts?  
 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My New Blog Look and...A CONTEST!!!

So, here it is folks. My new blog look! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Lori (the designer) is a genius! She completely captured the feel of what I wanted and was so amazingly patient with my meticulous requests and wants. I love the idea that I have a blog that feels so ME. Take a look at her site and check out some of the other AMAZING designs she's created!

Now for the...CONTEST! This is my first!!! So, in lieu of what's been going on re: The Wall Street Journal article, which you can read here, I've decided it's the perfect topic for the contest. As someone who writes "edgy" and  "gritty" YA, this article was particularly...frustrating to me. Don't get me wrong, I also love to read some of the fluffier YA stuff, but edgy and dark is more in my comfort zone. To enter the contest, all you have to do is be a follower or become a new follower and leave a brief comment telling me how YA literature has impacted your life. Why do you read it and/or why do you write it? If you don't read or write YA (*spank, spank*, you should, give it a try!) then perhaps you can tell me about someone you know who has been impacted in someway. That's it. Easy, no?

Oh, there has to be a prize, right? Ha. Okay. So this is where the contest might seem a little...different. I know this is a blog dedicated to YA, but the prizes I'm giving away are not YA related. You see, I have this little connection to this guy named Kramer. I'm thinking that for some of you, that name automatically conjures some images and for others, a big question mark has popped up over your head. For those of you who DON'T know, once upon a time there was this insanely famous show called Seinfeld about 4 quirky neighbors living in New York City. And one of the most loved characters on the show was a guy named Kramer. But what some of you may or may not know is that the character Kramer is actually based on a REAL guy named Kenny Kramer. Well, I kind of know him and since I'm kinda broke at the moment, he has awesomely donated some prizes for me to give away! (*waves ferociously* thanks, dad!)

For those of you who are not fans of the show Seinfeld (yes, I do know there are some of you out there :D) and therefore say to yourselves that this is not a prize for you, I say enter anyway cause EVERYONE knows SOMEONE who is a fan of the show and/or of Kramer. If anything, this is a great prize to give as a gift for Christmas or Hanukah, Mother's Day or Father's Day, Three Kings Day, Chinese New Year, Congratulations on your Engagement/Marriage/Divorce, a birthday, or just to say thank you to someone for whatever. :-)

First prize:







*A choice of a gift certificate for four to Kramer's Reality Tour in NYC plus four admission tickets to the Stand Up NY comedy club OR the Kramer's Reality Tour on DVD, signed
*A Real Kramer T-shirt (XL), signed
*The Seinfeld Universe book, signed

Second prize:





*Kramer's Reality Tour DVD, signed
*The Seinfeld Universe book, signed
*Yada, Yada, Yada bumper sticker

Third prize:





*ASSMAN license plate, signed
*3 bumper stickers: Kramer for Mayor (signed), Yada, Yada, Yada, Vandelay Industries


Since the prizes didn't cost me anything (thanks again, daddy-O ;-)), I can afford to front the costs for shipping and have decided to open this contest to both U.S. and non-U.S. residents!

Contest ends Sunday, June, 12 at midnight. I will use random.org for the drawing and announce the winner on Tuesday. By leaving your comment about what I discussed above you are automatically entered. You can get extra entries by doing the following:

+2 if you're already a follower
+1 if you tweet about the contest
+1 if you blog about it
+1 if you add it as a sidebar on your blog

Please be sure to leave either your email, and/or a link to your blog so I can contact you in the event you are a winner and forget to check back (I know I enter contests and then totally forget about them. Who knows if I've ever won any of them and never got to claim my prize?)

Good luck and thanks for stopping by! Hope you come to visit again :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hey Blogger Buddies!

My blog is in the midst of getting a makeover. I'm very excited. Once the new blog look is complete, I'll be back to posting regularly and I'm even going to host my very first CONTEST in celebration of my blog's makeover. Woot! Hope to see you then.

Peace, love and positivity!
 
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