Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DARK METROPOLIS and GLITTERING SHADOWS by Jaclyn Dolamore


I can't tell you how proud I am of these chilling, beautifully written and thoroughly wonderful fantasies from Jaclyn Dolamore, DARK METROPOLIS and GLITTERING SHADOWS.

The books are set in a Cabaret-esque world that is lush and corrupt and darkly shimmering, and feature things like Dangerous Magic! Awesome Lesbians! Political Intrigue! Creepy Necromancers! And basically every other fun thing to read about. If you haven't read book one, it is now available in paperback... and today, the sequel arrives in stores. WOOHOO!

BOOK ONE: THE DARK METROPOLIS (now available in paperback - check out the new cover!):

People are disappearing.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder hears the rumors, but she can barely make ends meet, let alone worry about strangers who've gone missing. Her mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. Thea must make a living for both of them in this sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.

Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club, attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets -- even as he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they discover a new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. Soon, Thea and Freddy begin to realize nightmarish truths about the city's dark underbelly, and that time is running out for Nan. And if they're not careful, the masterminds behind the disappearances will be after them, too.

BOOK TWO: GLITTERING SHADOWS  (out today!):

The revolution is here.

Bodies line the streets of Urobrun; a great pyre burns in Republic Square. The rebels grow anxious behind closed doors while Marlis watches as the politicians search for answers-and excuses-inside the Chancellery.

Thea, Freddy, Nan, and Sigi are caught in the crossfire, taking refuge with a vibrant, young revolutionary and a mysterious healer. As the battle lines are drawn, a greater threat casts a dark shadow over the land. Magic might be lost . . . forever.

This action-packed sequel to DARK METROPOLIS weaves political intrigue, haunting magic, and heartbreaking romance into an unforgettable narrative. Dolamore's lyrical writing and masterfully crafted plot deliver a powerful conclusion.

BUY THE BOOKS: Powells, IndieBound, Oblong, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Happy Minnow Bly Day!


Happy book birthday to Stephanie Oakes and her debut novel THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY. . . basically, I am obsessed with it and I hope you will be, too.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.
And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of if she's willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

Gorgeously written, breathlessly page-turning and sprinkled with moments of unexpected humor, this harrowing debut is perfect for readers of Emily Murdoch's "If You Find Me" and Nova Ren Suma's "The Walls Around Us," as well as for fans of Orange is the New Black."

From the STARRED Publishers Weekly review: "[S]uspense, dread, and hope intermingle in Oakes’s charged, page-turning debut." 

From the STARRED Booklist review: "[H]er story unfolds in a disaffected, yet bone-chillingly beautiful, first-person narrative."

Ask for THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY from your library, or buy a copy at your local indie bookstore. You can also find it at Oblong, Powells, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

Monday, May 25, 2015

SIX BY SONDHEIM for writers


The other day I watched the terrific documentary SIX BY SONDHEIM. (available streaming on HBO-Go, or on Amazon or iTunes.) It's part biography, part show-biz history, following Sondheim's career guided by six important songs in his life. It's excellent, and I was particularly struck by how many nuggets of wisdom I found, profound insights into not just Sondheim's creative process, but a creative life in general. Though he is writing musicals, obviously, I think that much of this is applicable to novelists as well. Just replace "put on a show" with "publish." You should watch the doccy yourself because I can't do it justice... but I can provide six things that I found worth remembering:


1) On "writing what you know":  "Part of the author is always in what he writes, and partly [it's] a work of imagination. It's like what Faulkner said about Observation, Imagination and Experience - you can do without one of them, but you can't do without two."

Sondheim was paraphrasing Faulkner, but yeah. This is good advice. You may not have lived something yourself, but if you have good observation and imagination skills, you can still bring it alive on the page.

2) On harsh reality: At 15, he showed Oscar Hammerstein something he'd written.... Oscar was nice about it, but Stephen said he wanted to get REAL feedback, just like he would rate it against something professional. (Young Stephen thought his own work was terrific, and was pretty sure he was about to be the first 15 year old with a Broadway show.)

Oscar said,"Oh well in that case, this is the worst thing I've ever read." Sounds pretty harsh, but Oscar then went on to show young Stephen point-by-point how his work was failing, and Stephen had to agree. Awkward! But a learning moment. You may not want to hear that your work isn't good enough - but if you are submitting to agents and editors for publication, they will expect your work to be on par with that of a professional.

And even excellent professionals get a LOT of stinging rejections!

3) On imitation: "One of the things he [Oscar] told me to do was not to imitate him. 'If you write what you feel it will come out true. If you write what I feel, it will come out false. Write for yourself and you'll be 90% ahead of everyone else.'"

4) On learning to write: "You can't learn in a classroom and you can't learn on paper. You can only learn by writing and doing. Writing and doing. A friend says 'write something, put it on. Write something, put it on.' -- well, you can't always put it on, but that's the only way to do it. That's how everyone who's ever been good got good."

5) On failure: "I experienced real failure when I did I Hear a Waltz... we thought, well, this'll be an easy job and we'll make a quick buck. Those are reasons never to write a musical.

It was a respectable show. It was not lambasted by the critics. It was politely received by critics, and politely received by audiences, and had no passion, and no blood, and no reason to be. And I learned from that, the only reason to write is from love. You must not write because you think it's going to be a hit or because it's expedient, or anything like that. It's so difficult to write, it's so difficult to put on a show, that if you have the privilege of being able to write it, write it out of passion

That's what failure taught me." 

6) PROTIP: "I work entirely with Blackwing pencils for a number of reasons. One is, it's very soft lead, and therefore wears down very quickly, so you can spend lots of time resharpening. Which is a lot easier and more fun than writing." ;-)




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Writers Digest Class: Writing and Selling Children's Books 5/21

I'm teaching a new Writers Digest Webinar this Thursday with critique incuded, and if you are interested in writing for kids, you should be in on it! The class on Middle Grade Fiction has been by far the most well-attended and often-asked-about - I think I've repeated it three times. But I kept getting requests for Picture Books, too! So this is a new class: WRITING AND SELLING CHILDREN'S BOOKS.

The live webinar is Thursday, 5/21 at 1pm eastern. Critique of your work OR query is included, and all questions will be answered.

If you cannot attend live DON'T WORRY! Everyone who signs up for the live webinar WILL get a critique and ALL questions will be answered, even if you can't be "in the room" on the day you'll have the opportunity to send questions in. And you'll have access to the program materials for a year.

The class will cover a brief overview of the children's market from baby books to middle grade fiction (some of this will be info that has been covered in prior MG only webinars). The ALL NEW sections are all about picture books, chapter books and early readers, including common Picture Book pitfalls, self-editing picture books, agent-snagging tips and more.

Some success stories:

I found my client Jennifer Torres from a WD Webinar when she submitted an early version of her awesome middle grade book STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN to be critiqued. Not too long after that, she revised, queried me, I signed her, and we sold her book in a two-book deal to Little Brown.

I also saw this on twitter - Julie Falatko not only got an agent after the critique, but that agent went on to sell THREE books to Viking/Penguin. Awesome!




There's more info on the Writers Digest Website - hope to "see" you there!