When I posted “What’s Up, Kylie?,” I asked you what question would you ask Kylie. Well, there were some wonderful questions. So, it was hard to pick a winner, but I said I would, so I did. The winner of the $10 Amazon gift card is Lilly G. So, Lilly, you have a week to email me at cc(at)cchunterbooks.com with your address to claim your gift card.
I received a shock this week. My Shadow Falls series made the New York Times Best Sellers List!!!! I hadn’t dared to even hope, but then it happened, and I got that call. After I stopped screaming and dancing around my kitchen, I thought about you because I know I never would have made that list without my readers. So, a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you who have supported me by buying my books. You rock!
Now on to today’s blog, and I have a special treat for you! Fellow Texan and YA author Victoria Scott is guest blogging. She writes dark, humorous books and shares my love of cotton candy. Victoria has some good advice for those of you who have told me you want to be writers.
The Awesomeness That is Beta Readers
Beta readers are people who read your manuscript before you submit it to agencies/editors and give their opinion on what should change. And for the record, I support the idea of using these peeps even after you’ve signed with an agent or pub house. One bit of advice, though. When utilizing beta readers, always have the following on stand-by:
A reason why you hate each person.
This is crucial to the process. It’ll help you dismiss any negative feedback. Also handy? A list of replacement friends. Any writer should have this. It’s as important as pen and paper.
On the reals, betas have taught me a lot. For example, if I haven’t answered every question man has ever thought to ask within the first 3 chapters, the book is crap. I kid. Kind of. Also, people who don’t read your genre are not good betas. They will hurt your feelings. Trust me. When this happens, reach for your friend-replacement list. I kid. Kind of. Lastly, don’t use as many betas as you have at your disposal. Choose 1-3 people who read your category, and can give honest feedback in a nice way. If you use more than a small group, you’ll get conflicting feedback and it’ll drive you bat shit. I kid. No, I don’t. This one’s true.
Overall, beta readers give me great feedback that I’m confident makes my stories stronger. They push me to answer questions. They ask for more description in some places, and less in others. They tell me what they love, and aren’t afraid to pinpoint what they hate. And they do it all with kindness.
So, once you’re done with your second draft (or first draft, if you’re an edit-as-you-write person), show the entire manuscript to your chosen readers, and incorporate the feedback YOU agree with. It’ll improve your book, and make you a better writer in the future.
Victoria Scott is a YA writer with a deep love for dark and humorous books. Her work is represented by Laurie McLean, and her debut book will be The Collector: A Dante Walker Novel (Entangled Teen, Mar. 2013). Visit her online at http://www.victoriascottya.com/.
“Hi, Kylie,” I say, giving her what I hope is a reassuring smile. I know it’s always disconcerting for my characters when I summon them to the office in my mind for a chat. If they’re not already freaked out by the idea of talking with their creator, there’s always the décor of my office. Let’s just say my mind is scary place to be. I’m talking abandoned plot devices sitting inside a broken basket next to the wall, smidgens of ideas I haven’t fully developed yet bouncing around the corner of my brain. Then, in the dark shadowy corners something is hiding, and even I can’t quite figure out just what that something is. Oh, and the occasional dead body that I haven’t decided how to use.
“I hope you don’t mind,” I tell her, “but I wanted to interview you for my blog to promote the release of Taken at Dusk.” I motion toward the sofa. “Have a seat. This won’t take long, I promise.”
She glances over her shoulder, looking for the exit. “You are one freaky, strange, and a few French fries short of a happy meal ol’ lady.”
“Now that hurts,” I tell her. “I’m not that old.”
“Sorry. I’m sixteen, everyone past thirty is old to me.” She frowns. “I don’t like being interrogated.” She wraps her arms around her midsection.
“This isn’t an interrogation,” I say, speaking calmly. “It’s an interview. Big difference.”
“Feels like an interrogation.” She takes her seat on the sofa.
“People are curious about you and Shadow Falls, and they want to know more about you.”
“People think I’m a freak,” Kylie says. “Even the other supernaturals at Shadow Falls.”
“No, they don’t,” I correct her.
“You made me glow in that last scene in Whispers at Moonrise. Believe me, they think I’m a freak. Fredericka called me a glow worm. Della said I looked like a firefly. Can’t you write me a few chapters of easy stuff?”
“You know it doesn’t work that way, Kylie,” I say, keeping my voice calm. “Easy stuff is boring.”
“And serial killers and ghosts are interesting?” She slumps back on the sofa.
“What’s interesting is seeing you stand up to the challenges. Besides, I write some good scenes. Remember the one in Taken at Dusk when you woke up and your entire room was filled with roses that some special guy had brought you. And then he–”
“That was a great scene.” She smiled. “But I’m furious at that guy right now.”
“That’s life,” I tell her. Men always do things to piss us off. If there not leaving the toilet seat up, they’re leaving their dirty socks everywhere.”
She sighs loudly. “Let’s get this over with so I can leave this whacky place. What do you want to ask me?”
I pull out my notes. “In Taken at Dusk, your ghost has amnesia. This must make helping her cross over even more difficult.”
Kylie nods. “Every spirit is a challenge. Like with the one I’m working with now. Spirits are supposed to be dead. This person isn’t dead. How can I–”
“Sorry,” I interrupt her. “We can’t talk about Shadows at Moonrise. This is about Taken at Dusk.”
She frowns. “You bring me here and then tell me what I can and can’t talk about. That’s not nice.”
“Sorry.” I wait a minute to continue. “Now. Without giving too much away about the plot, I want to ask you about the big game changer in Taken at Dusk. Namely, when someone you think is your enemy turns into a friend who’ll do anything to save you. How did that make you feel?”
A shadow crosses her face, and she folds her hands in her lap. “That . . . that was really an emotional scene. I honestly never thought. . .” She takes a deep breath. “It was a lot for me to digest, and I think I’m still trying to understand it.”
I decide to move on to a lighter subject. “I have to ask you about Burnett . . . and the kangaroo.”
Her face dissolves in a grin. “Poor Burnett. He was . . .”
“Hopping mad?” I suggest.
“Yes!” Then, she laughed. “Of course, he didn’t find it that funny.”
“Yeah, but vampires aren’t known for having great senses of humor,” I point out.
I nod and then flip the notebook closed. “Okay, that about does it for my questions. Thanks so much for giving me a few minutes of your time.”
“No problem.” Then, her forehead starts to scrunch up in concentration. “Okay, I have a question for you.”
“Why is there a bunch of rusty iron and herbs in the middle of your mind? I know that’s about me, but I can’t figure it out. What does it mean?”
I shake my head. “Oh, that’s for a scene in Whispers at Moonrise. Sorry, but we can’t talk about that because it hasn’t happened yet. But I promise you’ll find out in the next few scenes.”
She stares at my forehead again. “Uh-huh. Well, nothing personal, but I don’t think I want to find out. Change that scene!”
I smile. “Trust me, Kylie. This will all work out well in the end.” I rise to my feet.
“That’s what you always say.” She stands up and starts heading to the door.
“Mmm. And I’m always right, too, aren’t I?”
Kylie turns back. “Good point.” She pauses. “Can I have some more roses? And more of those kinds of scenes.”
“I’ll try to work one in,” I say. She heads out the door and back to Shadow Falls in a flash that sends a stack of papers on my desk fluttering to the floor. As I stand there, I realize that I’m almost done with Whispers at Moonrise, and that means I only have one more book in this series left to write. One more and I’ll have to make a lot of decisions. Like who is Kylie really going to end up with, Lucas or Derek? Will Miranda and Perry stay together? Will Della find her true love? Will Burnett and Holiday finally stop fighting and admit they love each other.
And then . . . then, I have to say goodbye to them to all. To all my Shadow Falls characters. But dang it, that’s sad. Very, very sad. I’ll end it on good note, I tell myself. I’ll leave them all in happy place.
Okay, I had my interview with Kylie, so now it is your turn. If you could ask Kylie a question, what would it be. And remember, I’ve only written the first four books, so her knowledge is limited. As for Lucas or Derek–don’t even ask!
Anyway, I will give a $10 Amazon gift card to the person who asks Kylie the best question. So, come on, what are you dying to ask her??
It’s here! The day has come at last! Taken at Dusk is now available at book stores and online! I don’t know about you, but I thought this day would never get here. Yes, I wrote the book, and yes, I know what happens in it, but you see, an author first and foremost is a storyteller. While I love writing, what I love more is sharing the stories I write. So I can’t wait for you to read Taken at Dusk.
Now I bet you are wondering what’s in store for Kylie in this book. Well…perhaps I’ll give you a clue. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I can tell you there are three things that leave Kylie breathless in Taken at Dusk:
- A curl your toes kind of kiss. (No, I’m not telling you from which guy!)
- A fire breathing dragon that nearly sends up the dining hall in flames.
- Falling off a cliff and seeing her life flash before her eyes.
Do I have your attention? Hmm…maybe you need a bit more. What about the three things that happen in Taken at Dusk that shock Kylie?
- Seeing Burnett get changed into a very unhappy kangaroo. (Which is also pretty amusing!)
- Seeing a sink hole pull Perry into it.
- Discovering the person she thought was out to kill her, was really trying to protect her.
Okay, that’s all I’m giving you, you’ll just have to read the book to get the rest.
Oh…don’t forget to enter the contest to win a T-shirt and some promotional items. Macmillan is giving away FIFTY t-shirts: http://us.macmillan.com/macmillansite/promo/shadowfallsgriffinteen?WT.mc_id=10582&WT.mc_id=0.
In celebration of the release of Taken at Dusk, I’m going to be pretty busy making appearances and signing copies.
~April 14th, I’ll be signing copies of Taken at Dusk at Katy Budget Books in Katy, TX from 2-4pm. For more information see: http://www.katybooks.com/.
~April 18th, I’ll be at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. I’ll be in the Macmillan Adult Booth #1704 from 10:15 to 11:15am. For more information see: http://www.txla.org/events.
~May 9th, I will be chatting at the Euless Public Library in Euless, TX. For more information see: http://www.euless.org/library/.
~May 12th, I will be at the Barbara Bush Library in Spring, TX from 2 to 4pm. For more information see: http://www.hcpl.net/location/barbara-bush-branch-library-cypress-creek.
~May 26th, signing at Barnes and Noble in Pasadena, TX.
~June 15th, I’ll be signing in Barnes and Noble in Oceanside, CA.
~June 16th, I’ll be speaking and signing at the San Diego Romance Writers of America in San Diego, CA. See: http://www.rwasd.com/.
~July 25th, I’ll be signing my books at the RWA Annual Conference and Literacy Autographing in Anaheim, California from 5 to 8pm. For more information see: http://www.rwa.org/cs/literacy_autographing.
Wow, there’s so much going on in my life right now. Where do I begin? Maybe by telling you how lucky I feel knowing my third book, Taken at Dusk, will be released very soon. And I just found out Awake at Dawn is a finalist in the New England Readers Choice Bean Pot Award in the Young Adult category. I feel so honored and excited. So, a big thank you to all my readers, because without you, none of this would be possible.
When my editor asked me to write young adult, I wasn’t sure how it would go. But then my mind started racing and the characters suddenly sprang to life. The rest, as they say, is history—at least what’s happened in the first three books. I am working on book number four, Whispers at Moonrise, and it isn’t done, yet. So I’m not sure how this one will end, but I know it will be interesting. And I’m oh so excited for Kylie and—Derek or Lucas! No, I’m not saying anything. You’ll just have to wait.
All the buzz for Taken at Dusk has been phenomenal! I have a blog tour, so check my Facebook page to see where I’m blogging and giving away books every day. I’ve also got several book signings and appearances scheduled, and I’ll be announcing those on Facebook as well. And to top it off, Macmillan is having a sweepstakes and they are giving away FIFTY Shadow Falls t-shirts, pens and note pads. If you want to enter, go to http://us.macmillan.com/macmillansite/promo/shadowfallsgriffinteen?WT.mc_id=10582&WT.mc_id=0, but hurry, the last day to enter is April 16th.
As an author, I can’t imagine my life any better. Well, maybe I can because I do have a pretty wild imagination. But I am very happy being right where I am as I am living my dream. So, tell me, if you were living your dream, what would your life be like?
And today I’ll give away a copy of Awake at Dawn and some pens and notebooks. So make sure you post and come back in one week to see if you won.