My website is being dumb and not letting me post pictures (how rude!), so here’s an awkward link to tumblr, wherein I recap all the awesome that 2014 held in store for me. Which was a lot of awesome.
My website is being dumb and not letting me post pictures (how rude!), so here’s an awkward link to tumblr, wherein I recap all the awesome that 2014 held in store for me. Which was a lot of awesome.
People in want of an ARC of CHARMED…good news!
I’m one of 8 authors participating in #showmethemagic, a superfun Halloween contest wherein you can win signed, personalized copies of your favorite witchy YA novels!
To enter, take a pic of yourself dressed up as a witch, upload said pic to Instagram with the hashtag #showmethemagic, and . . . that’s it! You’re entered to win books from me, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures), Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall), Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die), Cara Lynn Shultz (Spellbound), Brittany Geragotelis (Life’s a Witch), and Valerie Tejeda (Hollywood Witch Hunter)! Also, you get to have fun and be super ridiculous with us. It’s going to be great. Check out Valerie’s website for all the details.
Have fun, dudes and dudettes! I know which witch I’m going to be!
The votes are in (all 700 of them!), and it’s finally time to announce the winner of the HEXED fanart contest! There were so many amazing entries—seriously, I wish I had 14 ARCs to give away—but alas I don’t. So, the winner, by over 100 votes, is . . . .
Congratulations! Winner, send me your mailing address, and your signed advance reader copy of CHARMED, audiobook of HEXED, signed bookplate and $25 Amazon gift card will be on their way to you!
Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and look out for another superfun opportunity to win an ARC of CHARMED around Halloween!
And here they are! The HEXED fanart contest entries. Please review each entry and caption carefully, then vote in the google form below for your favorite. (The voting is anonymous!) Voting will end September 23rd at 11:59 EST, and the winner will be announced on September 24th. One vote per person, please!
Happy voting! And thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who took the time to enter. I’m forever grateful for my Hexaholics
Inspired by some hilarious fan art by @indigoblackwood on Instagram (that’s a HEXED fan account, by the way, and you should follow it!), I’m hosting a HEXED fan art competition! What’s the prize, you ask? An advance reader’s copy (ARC) of CHARMED, which releases May 26th, 2015, plus a snazzy HEXED audiobook and signed bookplate. And because I love you, I’ll also throw in a $25 Amazon gift card.
Important point: Sure, this is an art contest, but you don’t have to be the best artist to enter. This is a strictly FOR FUN contest. Anyone who’s thinking about entering should. Stickmen are allowed!
Email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than September 10th, 2014 at 12pm EST. Contest is open internationally. After September 10th, the entries will be posted on my website and voting will open. The voting will be private (probably Google forms) so no one but me will see how many votes each entry gets, in case you’re insecure about that sort of thing like me. The winner will be revealed on September 24th, 2014.
I think that covers everything?
Have fun, Hexaholics!
Look what I have! Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs) of CHARMED!!!
It’s an exciting day, y’all! The cover reveal for CHARMED, the sequel to HEXED and the final book in the Witch Hunter series, is up over at YABooksCentral.com! Check it out and enter to win a signed ARC (Advance Reader Copy)!
The day is finally here. After almost 2.5 years, HEXED is out in the world.
Hold on a minute.
Now I’ve told this story a few times before, but I’m going to tell it again and I get to do that because it’s my pub day and you all have to be nice to me.
Four years ago, I was in the bath. (Bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this).
I was in the bath, talking to my sister on the phone. She nervously revealed that she’d started writing a book. She read the first couple of pages to me, and they were incredible. I sat up, my heart beating too fast. I’d always wanted to write a book. It was one of those things that I’d been talking about for years, but that I never really made the time for. It was always later, or when things weren’t so hectic, or when, etc., etc. But sitting there in the bath, I realized that I’d never have more time that I had at that moment. See, I was four months into a yearlong maternity leave. My son miraculously slept through the night and took glorious three to four hour naps during the day. I had the time to write a book, if I really wanted to. If I was ever going to do it, now would be my chance.
Inspired, I dried off and went downstairs, to where my husband was watching TV, and announced that I was going to write a book. This was very much out of nowhere, but my husband, to his credit, just smiled and said “that’s great”.
I joined a writing forum for newbie aspiring writers, where I met my critique partner. I got involved in the writing community. I read every writing blog and craft book I could get my hands on. And I ultimately wrote a book that didn’t go anywhere. But I loved what I was doing and kept writing.
Then next book I wrote was HEXED.
You all know what happened after that.
I’ve spent the last almost 2.5 years realizing my dream alongside the best people in publishing, and I couldn’t be more grateful. And glad I finally wrote that book! If there’s something you’ve been dreaming of doing, don’t wait for later. Do it now.
HEXED is yours now. I hope you enjoy ☺
Update: Winner has been chosen and contacted. Congrats, Becca Fowler!
Hexed hits the shelves in 3 weeks (OMG, WUT, HOW?), and in celebration, I’m hosting a pre-order giveaway!
So what’s the giveaway, you ask? (Calm down, I was getting to that.)
If you pre-order HEXED from any retailer (local, chain, or online), in any format (e-book, hardcover, or audiobook), and send proof of purchase to email@example.com, you will:
1. Receive a HEXED bookmark and signed bookplate
2. Be entered to win the grand prize pack of:
• A $100 Amazon gift card
• A custom handmade leather ‘Witch Hunter’s Bible’ from AshenFire Originals.
• A signed HEXED poster (Not pictured, but it’s the book cover, and it’s large, glossy and freaking gorgeous).
3. Have my undying love and devotion.
Sounds awesome, amirite? Seriously though. Look those bookmarks. Look at those Bibles. Aren’t they sexy?
30 extra rafflecopter entries will be awarded to those who send proof of purchase to the email address above, although due to certain legalities and to ensure Michelle no go to jail (and also because I like you), anyone can enter without purchase by filling out the form, and your entry will be placed into the Rafflecopter for the grand prize.
The giveaway is open internationally and ends June 10th, 2014 at 0600am EST.
So, I have some pretty exciting news.
I’m thrilled to announce another book deal with Wendy Loggia at Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books!!!
This book is called DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY, and I’m pretty freaking excited about it. It’s edgy and dark and fun and something I think fans of Hexed will enjoy. Here’s the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:
Author of HEXED Michelle Krys’s DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY, about a girl who escapes her helicopter parents by joining a high-stakes dare club, but she discovers more than thrills — girls are going missing, and she might be next, again to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, for publication in 2016, by Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary Services (World).
Isn’t that splendid?
Up next: WORLD DOMINATION.
Or nachos. Whichever.
It’s been four short years since I started writing, but I have learned so much in that time: interesting, eye-opening things, not the least of which is that Bose Noise-Cancelling headphones are a godsend and make you look and feel like a legit author. The following are some of the interesting things I’ve learned about authors:
They are regularly compared to J.K. Rowling. Or at least they are pre-book release. Flattering right? And not realistic. ‘But it could happen!’ people say. Well, sure, I guess. You could also be the next Bill Gates of computer programming, the next Florence Nightingale of nursing, or the Judge Judy of law. But probably not. And though the commenters are well meaning, it’s stressful thinking that your family and friends are measuring your success in terms of movie deals and theme parks.
They deal with rejection too. You’d think that signing a book deal with a major publishing house would mean the end of rejection as a writer, right? Wrong. Even New York Times Bestsellers are subject to rejection. Publishers want to put out books they think will sell. It doesn’t matter if they liked one of your books. Your next book still needs to be marketable in their eyes or they won’t want to publish it. Unless you’re Stephen King or the aforementioned J.K., in which case you can probably write on a napkin and they’d sell it.
Sweatpants are their friends. Writing a book seems pretty glamorous, until it’s 4 p.m and you still haven’t showered, your house looks like it’s been recently burglarized, and you fridge is reduced to only condiments.
They don’t always like writing. If authors waited until they were ‘in the mood’ to write, they might never complete a book. The harsh reality is this: writing a book is hard, and watching Teen Wolf isn’t. A lot of the time, it feels more like a sacrifice than it does like fun, but then again, it wouldn’t be a big deal to write a book if it were easy and all that jazz.
Procrastination is a plague and everyone has been infected. You click over to Google to do a simple fact-check for your book and the next thing you know you’ve fallen down a Wikipedia wormhole and it’s two hours later. And it’s not just me. There’s a reason programs like Freedom exist. Writers are basically like cats and the internet is a laser light on the wall: it’s irresistible.
They’re as insecure as you are. Are insecure people more drawn to writing, or does publishing turn normal people into insecure messes? I don’t know, but the fact remains that writers are often not as confident as they outwardly appear. They worry their latest work sucks. They read over their first drafts and wonder who was on crack when they gave them a book deal. They read a hundred great reviews and then spiral into depression at the one scathing one-star review they totally accidentally stumbled across on goodreads, sure that it’s the only ‘true’ review and that the other hundred people are either illiterate idiots, or are confusing your book with another one they read that didn’t totally suck.
They don’t have time to write books. One of the most common things I hear as an author is ‘I wish I had time to write a book.’ But here’s the thing: authors don’t have extra hours in the day, and most of the time, they’re working a day job too. Even those who write full-time, and therefore, theoretically, have more time to write, often have difficulty squeezing hours into the day to dedicate to their novel. So many things can get in the way of a productive day of writing, from copyedits or pass pages on a previous book, to blog interviews or simply responding to emails: tasks pop up all the time that steal precious writing hours. Authors just make writing a priority in their lives.
They like fan mail as much as readers like their books. Before I became an author, I read a book called Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren and loved it so much that I wrote the author a gushy email wherein I told her that I snuck her book into the bathroom because it was the only free time I had with a new baby at home. Not only did she write me back, despite the email being awkward and weird and it being the holidays, but she was so kind and sweet. At the time I thought, wow, that was so great of her to respond to her annoying fan! (Read earlier: insecurity). But now that I’m an author myself and have been the lucky recipient of fan mail, I get it: authors don’t find your fan mail and tweets and Tumblr asks and Facebook comments annoying. They like fan mail as much as their readers like their books. A gushy email from a reader is a day-maker.
They are all different. Fast-drafting, slow-drafting, outlining, pantsing, writing every day, writing in bursts and taking breaks—practically every author I know does it differently, and that’s okay. There is no one ‘right’ way to write a book, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a lying liar who lies. It doesn’t matter how the book gets written. The important thing is that it does get written.
Jealousy is a thing that happens. And I’m suspicious of anyone who claims otherwise. I’m not talking about arch-nemesis type of jealousy, though I’m sure that type exists too, but envy of people you like, respect, and call your friends. It’s hard to see others get what you want, and things like Amazon Rankings, bestseller lists, and even Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday posts, which sort of pit authors against each other, can make jealousy inevitable. That’s not to say that it’s okay or anything, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. Having said that:
They’re like family. The old saying is that writing is a solitary act. I’d like to amend that to: writing is a solitary act unless you’re a YA writer. Are adult writers great buds with each other too? Maybe. I can’t say. But I do know that the YA community is like a family—a family full of smart, kind, thoughtful, opinionated, hilarious people who support each other and generally procrastinate together a lot on Twitter. In fact, I’m going to go to that now.
Anyone who follows me on twitter will remember that I read an advance copy of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy a few weeks ago, enjoyed it immensely and basically wouldn’t shut up about it for three days. Well good news—it comes out next Tuesday!
SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is about a girl named Alice, who, after being diagnosed with cancer, creates a crazy bucket list to settle all her scores before she dies, only to go into remission.
DUN DUN DUNNN.
It’s as amazing as it sounds
In honor of SEMV releasing next week, I’m posting my own bucket list. Without further ado, the things I want to do before I die:
So there you have it. My bucket list. As you can see, I’m not doing too badly so far.
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To ma
ximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friendHarvey,
whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
Let me tell you a story. I was on break at work one night, eating my dinner in the coffee room as I scrolled through Twitter, when another nurse entered and politely asked me about my book. We chatted, all was well, and then the nurse said that she wished she could write a book, but she didn’t have any good ideas.
I almost choked on my Chunky Soup (It was night shift, don’t judge).
At this time, I’d just completed the sequel to Hexed, the last book in my contract with my publisher, which meant that I was now in the predicament of needing to come up with a proposal for my option book. In bookland, many book contracts come with what’s called an ‘option’ clause, wherein the author proposes their next book to their editor by providing a synopsis and sample chapters—which, in my case, was three chapters—and the editor then decides, basically, whether or not they want to keep the author around.
So yeah. Pretty daunting.
It’s not just coming up with any idea, but an idea that excites the author, their editor, and in many cases, a whole team of publishing professionals. An idea that aligns with the author’s “brand”, and that is just as good or a step-up from the books they’ve already written.
But I wasn’t overly worried about it. See, for months I’d been emailing myself book ideas and saving them to a folder in my email. The folder now contained 82 entries. 82 book ideas to peruse! It would be easy. Just a matter of picking the best of the best and churning out three chapters. Thank God I had the foresight to note ideas for times like these. I scrolled through the emails.
“Rich person who namedrops.”
Hmm. I guess that could be a neat idea for a character. Not a book idea, but I kept scrolling.
“Tim and his wife.”
Okay . . . I’m guessing that referred to the owner of the corner store and deli near my house. Why I thought I should include him in my book is beyond me. *scrolls*
“Pimple popping guy.”
Wtf, Michelle. What is that even?
I angrily closed the folder. There was nary a real book idea in that thing. I was back to square one.
I opened up a fresh word document. The blank white page stared back at me accusingly. It’s okay, I told myself. I totally have this. I’m a writer!
I made a coffee. I got my fingerless gloves out, for in case my hands got cold while typing. I got a lap blanket and electric heating pad for my back (Hey, no one said I wasn’t a high-maintenance writer). I stared at the computer. I hesitantly wrote a sentence, then deleted it. I stared some more. I made more coffee. I pushed my cuticles back and wondered if I should start laundry or clean the pantry. I ambled over to Twitter to “take a break”. I stared some more.
And then I faced reality. I had no ideas.
I stared at the word document for hours over the next week, panicking more and more as ideas weren’t just popping into my head. I got annoyed when I came across a book with a brilliant concept that I wished I could have come up with myself. I felt inadequate when Someone Who Won’t Be Named mentioned that James Patterson has a notebook full of hundreds of plot ideas. I mean, are you even a writer if you don’t have book ideas? Writers are supposed to be creative. And there I was. Being decidedly Not Creative. I felt embarrassed and ashamed.
See, there seems to be this big misconception that, as a writer, I must be overflowing with book ideas. And maybe that’s true for some writers, and even for me sometimes, when I get a rare burst of ideas, but in this case, my next idea didn’t come to me. I went to it. Inspired by Jack London (“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”) I got my club and went looking for the next great idea.
And good news! (See, this post wasn’t all pity and poor Michelle). I came up with not one, but three book concepts that I’m exceedingly and ridiculously excited about. I can’t pinpoint the exact method that eventually worked for me, but in the event that there are other writers out there who aren’t overflowing with ideas at the moment, here are some of the things that I did when a book idea just wasn’t coming to me:
And somehow, somewhere along the line, it happened. It wasn’t easy, but then again, what part of writing a book is easy?
Now the proposals are in my editor’s hands. And now? I wait.
Every year, I make a New Year’s resolution, knowing that I don’t really plan to take it that seriously. I might make a halfhearted effort for a week or so, but once the holidays are well enough behind me I forget about it entirely. Last year my resolution was to drink less coffee and use my iPhone less. I failed miserably at both (and the coffee one is just laughable now in retrospect).
This year, in an effort to be accountable so that I might, you know, actually follow through with my resolution, I’m going to state it publicly, and then you can all point me toward this blog post when I’m inevitably failing at it a few months from now.
2014 being my debut year, which is bound to be insanely hectic and all-consuming, I’m making a few resolutions:
Don’t stress about the things I can’t control. There’s so much writers have no control over the publishing world (whether or not people will like our books being chief among them), but worrying about it has no effect on the outcome, except to make some very cranky writers. We can, however, control our writing, so I resolve to focus on that and to not give much headspace to all that other stuff.
Be present. This one is sort of related to last year’s iPhone resolution. It’s so easy when you have a book coming out soon to get so wrapped up in the publication world that you let work be #1 in your life, which: not cool. So I resolve to put the iPhone away, push book concepts, marketing plans and blog interviews out of my mind, and just be in the moment with my family.
Keep my eyes on my own paper. It’s been said often before, but everyone’s publication path is different, and it’s crazy-making to compare yourself to someone else. And yet? It’s hard not to. But much like worrying about things you can’t control, playing the comparison game doesn’t actually have any effect except to make a person miserable. And plus, you can never really know someone else’s journey, or what came before it that led to their current success. You can only know you. Therefore I resolve to stop comparing myself to others.
Enjoy the ride. The publishing process has been compared to a rollercoaster ride, and that’s pretty much the most apt metaphor I’ve ever heard: there are thrilling highs and nauseating lows, and it’s very easy to focus on those lows when they’re happening to you. I resolve to focus on the highs instead, to actively seek out things to be happy about, and, to quote my critique partner, to quit being such a miserable cow. (Man I love that Ruth Lauren Steven).
So there it is, folks. I hope you all have a happy holiday season, and I’ll see you again in 2014! THE YEAR MY BOOK COMES OUT!!!!!
So the other day I read an incredible book that featured a strong, layered female protagonist (and I’m not going to say more about it than that because reasons.) After I finished reading, I headed over to Goodreads, as I often do, to check out what others thought about the book. While for the most part the reviews were positive, a good chunk of them, even some of the four and five star reviews, complained about the female protagonist. The general consensus amongst these reviewers was that the female character wasn’t strong, like they’d been deceived into thinking by the book jacket. If she was supposed to be strong, then why did she cry? If she was supposed to be tough, then why did she think about boys so much? If she was supposed to be badass, then why did she like dresses and makeup and shopping? One reviewer even called her a walking contradiction.
Well. This really disappointed me. Basically, what they were saying is that to be truly strong and badass, this character should have been less stereotypically feminine—especially troubling because most of the reviewers were women themselves.
Listen—female characters can be strong without being stripped of liking dresses and makeup and boys. They’re not signs of a weak character. They’re not flaws. Which leads me to the thesis statement of this blog post:
Being feminine and being strong aren’t mutually exclusive.
There was a quote going around a few weeks ago from Natalie Portman that perfectly summed up my feelings:
“I want [female characters] to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad – human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.” —Natalie Portman
Yes. YES. YES. YES. To hand a woman a pair of pants and a weapon and have her unflinchingly mow down everyone in her path doesn’t alone make a strong character. It’s like Portman says—that’s just macho. (And archetypical. And boring.) We owe ourselves more than that. We owe ourselves nuanced, layered female characters. And if that character happens to like makeup and dresses? That’s great.
There’s nothing wrong with being a girl.
(Side note: if you figure out the book, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back, but please don’t name it here. I don’t want to single out any reviewers. Thanks )
A part (arguably a big part) of being a successful writer is having some talent at writing. I don’t think many people would argue that. But it takes more than just a knack for writing to make it in this business. Here are a few things that aren’t writing a book that go a long way toward making a successful author.
This is huge. Every writer has undoubtedly met at least one person who asks for a critique, only to raise a debate about your feedback. And look, I understand. Writers put their hearts and souls into their books, and hearing negative feedback can feel like someone telling you your baby is ugly. The automatic reaction is to put up your defenses. I’ve told this story many times, but I still vividly remember posting the first chapter of my first attempt at a book on a critiquing website only to be left in tears when the first response was something along the lines of ‘I don’t care if the rain is falling like perfect teardrops. Never start your book with weather. It’s boring.’ (For the record, I didn’t write that line about perfect teardrops, dude was just mocking me, but you get the point—I’d described the weather in the first paragraph).
Was this guy a jerk in his approach? Yeah. But after I danced around the computer giving it middle fingers allowed myself to properly absorb and reflect on the critique, I realized that jerk was right.* Reading about the weather in the first paragraph of a book is boring. And so I edited, and my work improved exponentially. And at the end of the day, that’s the reason you share your work with others in the first place, right? It’s not to get a big pat on the back (though those are nice), but to pinpoint the weaknesses in your story and look for ways to make it better**. And in a competitive book market, going from good to great might be what it takes to get your work noticed.
*That’s not to say I worked with the guy again. Sure, the advice was helpful, but there’s something to be said for tact.
**And that’s not to say you should listen to every critique, even the person who tells you “Dont have a romance in your story, that wuz done in twilight”. You don’t have to agree, but don’t dismiss a critique without taking serious time to reflect on it. You may be too close to your project to be truly objective
After taking months, sometimes years, to write a book, there are bound to be countless moments in any writer’s life when you want to throw up your hands and say it’s good enough, then promptly drown yourself in queso and wine. But then you feel that niggle of doubt, and your writerly insecurity starts to creep in, and you wonder whether pressing “send” is really such a good idea after all. And what I’m saying is that sometimes you should let your insecurity tell you something: your book may not be ready. Don’t stop making your book better until you (and others you trust), can honestly say it’s the best work you’re capable of. DON’T RUSH. In the words of my idol Britney Spears (don’t judge), you gotta work, b*tch. Okay so maybe that didn’t apply, but I really wanted to use that quote. Kill me.
There is a 100% chance that if you’re a writer, you will get rejected. Maybe even often. Which is why it burns me when I see authors saying they’re going to give up because they got XYZ number of rejections, especially when that number is under 30. What stands between successful authors and everyone is that they don’t stop trying after they get rejected. They send out more queries. They rework their query. They rework their novel. They write another novel. They don’t let rejection get them down. If I’d have stopped writing after my first novel got exactly one partial request out of over 100 queries, I wouldn’t have written HEXED. And if I’d stopped querying HEXED after the first 15 rejections (of which there would be over 90), I wouldn’t have known that the next response would be a request for a full. You get the idea. There will be rejection. What matters is what you do about it.
This seems straight forward, but I’ll expand anyway: If you’re a dick, people won’t like you. And if people don’t like you, they might not want to work with you or support your book, no matter how great that book is. You’re never too big or too cool or too important to be humble, appreciative, professional, and most of all, kind.
I can already hear someone saying, “But hey, so-and-so- is a huge dick, and he’s successful. What gives?” Are there some dickish writers out there with massive book deals and huge followings? Sure. But for every successful dick with a book deal, I bet there are a ton more out there without one. Nobody wants to work with someone who’s got “difficult” stamped all over them. And besides, there’s nothing to lose by being a nice person, right?
So there it is. There doesn’t seem to be a casual way to end my blog post after so many dick mentions, so I’ll just quietly leave now . . .