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ECHOES OF US by Kat Zhang releases today!

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Kat Zhang!

HOORAY! Throw the confetti and pop your champagne! Pub Crawl’s very own Kat Zhang has a new book–a book I know I’ve been anxiously awaiting. The third book in the Hybrid Chronicles, Echoes of Us hits stores today!

In case you’re new to the Hybrid Chronicles, they follow Eva and Addie–sisters whose souls share a single body. The first book, What’s Left of Me, has an INCREDIBLE trailer to introduce you:

And here’s the trailer for the second book, Once We Were (which the amazing Kat MADE the trailer for. She’s a regular ol’ Renaissance woman!):

If that doesn’t make you want to read this series, then I don’t know what would. I highly recommend these books. Kat Zhang’s prose is powerful, vivid, and always makes me feel like a complete hack when I read it. :) I’m not even joking, and I’m SURE this final installment in the series will prove just as heart-wrenching (and ego-smashing) as the first two titles.

Now were’s a summary for the latest epic release:

Echoes of UsAll Eva ever wanted was the chance to be herself. But in the Americas, tobe hybrid—to share your body with a second soul—is not tolerated past childhood. Now Eva and Addie, her sister soul, are constantly on the move, hiding from the officials who seek to capture them. But the tide is changing. A revolution is brewing, and people are starting to question the hybrids’ mistreatment.

Then Marion, an ambitious reporter, offers Eva and Addie a daring proposal: If they go undercover and film the wretched conditions of a hybrid institution, she will not only rescue them, she’ll find a way to free Jackson, the boy Addie loves. It’s risky, and Eva will have to leave Ryan and her friends behind, but if she succeeds, it could also tip the scales forever and lead to hybrid freedom.

As Eva and Addie walk into danger, they cling to each other and the hope of a better future. But the price they might pay is higher than they ever could have imagined.

ACK! I need my copy now!

To celebrate Kat’s release, we’re giving away a copy of  Echoes of Us. Or–if you haven’t started the trilogy yet–you can opt for a copy of What’s Left of Me instead. To enter the giveaway, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. :)

AND CONGRATULATIONS, KAT!!

We’re all so happy for you and so proud to have joined you on this trilogy’s journey! ♥

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Happy Book Birthday to The 8th Continent by Matt London!

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Matt London

8CIt’s always fun to celebrate an author’s debut novel, and this one’s in the family; Matt London is a dear friend of mine, as well as Jordan Hamessley London’s other half. Matt’s one of the hardest working writers I know, and I’m so excited that people finally will be able to read his novel. Tomorrow, his first book, The 8th Continent, will start finding its way into the hands and hearts of middle grade readers — as well as older readers who love a good adventure story and anyone who hasn’t quite grown up.

Yep, I’m definitely the latter. While I was reading an advance copy of The 8th Continent last weekend, it kept reminding me of favorite stories from my childhood. I used to love adventure books starring smart kids like the Danny Dunn series by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams; the Alvin Fernald books by Clifford B. Hicks; the Three Investigators by Robert Arthur, Jr.; Matthew Looney by Jerome Beatty, Jr.; and of course, the Tom Swift books by Victor Appleton. It also captured the same humor, epicness, and thrills of one of the best cartoons of all time, DuckTales, and the fun and gee-whiz factor of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Spy Kids.

I know I’ve just horribly dated myself, but what I’m getting at is I loved The 8th Continent, but 10-year-old me would have been obsessed with it. Oh, for a time machine…

The 8th Continent has broad appeal in the age of its readers and their interests, but if your kids love science, technology, and biology, you have to give them this book. There are lots of teachable moments throughout, from little quizzes forced upon the main characters — 10-year-old Evie and her 11-year-old brother, Rick — to discussions you can have with young readers about ecology, zoology, and even morality and family dynamics.

There’s also plenty of action and excitement with some tense chapters that will keep you turning the pages, and Matt sure knows how to turn a phrase. His liberal use of goofy similes always made me smile, and I often laughed out loud. One of my favorite sentences: “And then he saw it, a vacant white socket behind the wires, looking at him like a surprised ghost.” So adults will enjoy reading this adventure with their kids, too, and it could also be an introduction to other stories they’ll like: Matt has filled the book with sly nods to books like The Wind in the Willows and Charlotte’s Web, and when kids pick up on them, they’ll probably be grinning as much as I was.

But wait, what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Evie and Rick Lane are determined to transform the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a real life pile of floating garbage — into an eighth continent, using a special formula developed by their father. This new continent will be a place where their family can live free from the intervention of Winterpole, a global rule-maker run by bumbling bureaucrats. But eleven-year-old pink-and-plastic-obsessed Vesuvia Piffle, the secret mastermind behind the villainous Condo Corp, also has her sights set on this new land, and she wants to use it to build a kind of Miami-on-steroids. Now, it’s a race against time and across the world as the kids gather the items they need to create their continent. Because whoever controls the eighth continent controls our future. And the future can’t be both “green” and pink.

In honor of Matt’s release day, I’m giving away one hardcover copy of The 8th Continent (open internationally). To enter, just leave a comment saying what you would do with your own new continent and then fill out the Rafflecopter form below. And be sure to wish Matt a happy release day!

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Congrats again, Matt! I’m really glad I won’t have too long to wait for the next book. :) I think this is a charming and clever series that will stick with kids for a long time and one day be remembered as a childhood favorite by a geeky 36-year-old reader like me.

EC MyersE.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and the public library in Yonkers, New York. He is the author of the Andre Norton Award–winning young adult novel Fair Coin and Quantum Coin, as well as numerous short stories. His new novel, The Silence of Six, a thriller about teenage hackers and government conspiracies, will be out on November 5, 2014 from Adaptive Books. You can find traces of him all over the internet, but especially at http://ecmyers.net and on Twitter: @ecmyers.

 

 

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An Agent’s Top Ten Thoughts

Industry Life

 

by Joanna Volpe

We’ve all seen the “day in the life of…” posts.  In fact, the awesome Jordan Hamessley London of Pub Crawl has posted one, too–one of most popular posts on our blog.

What I’d like to do is take that idea a step further and invite you into my brain.  It’s fascinating to see what someone does, externally, on the daily.  But what are they thinking while they do it?  Well, below is what I’m thinking these days.  Of course this shifts and morphs based on external situations and forces.  For example, a few weeks ago I was thinking “Is summer almost over?  How did that happen?  I need to go on vacation, quick!”  and about 6 months ago I was on the red carpet at the Divergent premiere and thinking “Theo James looks rather dashing in his suit!”  But now that I’m back into the the swing of things for work, that’s on my mind most.  So come on over and take a peek and what’s in this crazy thing I call a brain.  These are not in order of priority.  Thoughts don’t work that way!

1.  What do I need to print to take home with me today?  It’s Friday, and that means the weekend provides some serious reading time.  I’ve been more cognizant of having a work/life balance, so I won’t take home 3 full manuscripts this weekend because it’s unrealistic and I will forget what my husband’s face looks like. I’m going to go for: 1 contract for review, 1.5 manuscripts (both which do not need line edits), and a synopsis that I’ve been working on.  And yes, I still print my manuscripts.  What’s it to you?

2. Where are we with XX contracts?  These days contracts are taking longer and longer to negotiate with publishers.  With all of the industry upheaval, each side is trying to look into their crystal ball and figure out the new and vitally important things we need to ensure are in the contracts to cover our needs.  In my case, the needs are the needs of my authors.  Right now I have 7 outstanding contracts on my personal list that I wake up thinking about almost every day, even if it’s just for a minute or two.  Of course I have a badass contracts person handling them, but we go over them together weekly.

3. Damn. B&N didn’t take any (or very little) copies of title X. What can we do to help the book get the exposure it needs for readers to find it?  I can only speak for my agency, though I know colleagues at other companies have the same worries about this.  In this ever-changing industry, it’s getting harder and harder for new voices to be discovered.  We’ve cultivated a Client Care program that focuses on: publicity & marketing (both traditional as well as school & library) as well as educating authors/illustrators to give them the tools they need in today’s publishing world.

4. This work is just not at the level it needs to be for me to take it on submission.  This happens more frequently than I think people talk about, and not just with queried project.  Even with clients I’ve worked with for a long time.  We can both do a ton of work on it, but it Just. Isn’t. There.  And I have to be the one to break that news.  But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I was sending out work that wasn’t up to snuff with the competitive market.  It would be doing a disservice.

5. This manuscript is amazing!  Where am I going to submit? This is always, always going on in the back of my head as I start to approach submission time for a project.  It’s like I’ll be reading and email and suddenly think “ya know who would be perfect for project X….” and I jot it down.  This goes on over and over until submission time comes, and then I’ll sometimes share my sublist with the team to see if they have any thoughts or ideas to add.  I love this part of the process.  It’s all about sharing a great story with the right person.

6. I should tweet/FB/pin/post about that.  “That” is referring to whatever awesome thing one of our clients is doing.  But of course, I don’t want to be just a self-promoter online, so I also try to balance it with enough social media that’s simply for funsies.  It’s a lot of work to be mindful of that balance!

7. What is the next big industry thing to happen?  Of course I don’t always have a prediction here, but sometimes I do.  And in either case, we’re always touching on the big items in our weekly meetings (at the very least) and how they affect our clients.  Right now, it’s the Amazon-Hachette business.  We have Hachette authors, and this whole ordeal has really affected their sales.  This is the kind of thought that will lead me back to thought #3! And of course we’re discussing who is going to be the next publisher that will be in this situation.

8. I can’t make the email stop; make it stop!  Yes, I actually have this thought.  Sometimes the sheer volume of email becomes so heavy that all I can think is “stop!”  At that point I usually take a walk, have a coffee, come back and plow through.  But with it being so easy to stay connected these days, the workload has shifted with a heavy emphasis on email.

9. I wonder if there’s a book in this?  I’ll be reading an article, having a discussion, reading a script, a web comic, watching a youtube video…whatever!  And usually somewhere in the back of my mind there is something connecting dots and thinking about book potential.  If I’m still thinking about it a week later, that’s usually when I’ll bring it up in our weekly meeting.

10. I need to follow up with X person on Y thing.  There is a lovely app called Mailbox, and without it, I would go crazy.  It will pop something back into my inbox when it’s time for me to follow up, based on a pre-determined date/time that I set.  I don’t even remember what I did pre-Mailbox. I think I always had 10 or so To-do lists going at a time (I still do this a little).  Either way, there is ALWAYS things to follow up on.  Where are our cover comps?  What’s the eta on the publicity and marketing materials?  Where is our payment?  Did you lock in that date with the venue?  Have you had a chance to review our contract notes? How are revisions going?  etc, etc.  A lot of the work I do is about keeping things moving.  I don’t want anything to slip through the cracks for our clients.  And also, I have an amazing, godsend of an assistant who takes over most of this follow-up so I can focus on bigger picture items.  Like “how many books are selling for title X?”  And yes, I just snuck in an 11th thought to this top ten list!

There you have it.  And that’s just the Top Ten (11)!  I’d love to hear about what goes through your mind on the daily, too.  Please share in the comments!

Joanna Volpe

Joanna Volpe is a literary agent who represents all brands of fiction, from picture books to adult. When she’s not reading, she’s either cooking, playing video games, or hanging out with her husband and chihuahua.

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Guest Post: Three tips to increase productivity when writing from home

Industry Life

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by

Michelle Krys

Here’s a story that might sound familiar. A few years ago, after I got a book deal, I dropped down from full-time work at my day job, to working just a few shifts every two weeks. I was ecstatic about all the writing I’d surely get done. But when I started writing every day, I made a disturbing discovery: I wasn’t getting any more work done in my eight new hours of free time than when I had to cram it all into the one free half hour I had all day. I would write 1000 words no matter how long I had to do it.

Last year, I blogged about some tricks I picked up to increase productivity when working from home (internet blocking apps and what have you), but since then, I’ve learned a few more helpful ways to kick my butt into gear when the pull of the internet is strong and another episode of Big Brother is on the PVR (don’t judge). And because I’m nice like that, I’ll share them with you.

1. Use a calendar system to record progress. (Red dot sticker for 1000 words, blue dot for 500, yellow for 250, etc). To give credit where credit’s due, I got the idea from Victoria Schwab. It seems so juvenile, dare I say kindergarten-esque, to want to work hard for a sticker, but . . . I really want that sticker. A calendar with only a few pathetic red dots is so motivating. Conversely, a great week with many red dots is also motivating—I don’t want to sully my awesomely-full calendar with a bunch of yellow dots, or worse, no dots at all. It also doesn’t hurt that the calendar is in a prominent location in my home, there for all to see should I start slacking off.

2. Take more frequent breaks. It sounds counterintuitive, but there’s all sorts of research out there that says more frequent breaks improves the quality of work. I won’t bore you with that research, but basically: it’s a lot easier to focus on one thing when you’re only doing that thing for thirty minutes. Because I have epically horrible focus, I like to work for twenty minutes, then I’m “allowed” to take five minutes to unwind, check email, tweet, or what have you, before I start another twenty-minute session. After I reach 1000 words, I break for lunch, and then it’s back to work. Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in both my focus while writing and the quality of my work.

3. Push past “writer’s block”. When the words just aren’t coming, it’s easy to put it down to writer’s block and give up. And honestly? Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I just need a break. But since contracts and deadlines mean I don’t have the luxury of being able to take breaks every time I’m stuck, I’ve had to learn techniques to push forward. What I’ve learned is that most of the time, it’s just a matter of figuring out why the words aren’t coming. Maybe it’s that I don’t really know what I want to achieve with the scene, or maybe I’m not sure how I want to achieve it. Sometimes, it’s because I’m not sure where the scene will take the plot next, because even though I’ve outlined, my outlines are often written in broad strokes and finer details can cause major problems. Once I’ve figured out the reason I’m stuck, I can usually find my way back to the words. Laini Taylor says it best: “Never sit staring at a blank page or screen. If you find yourself stuck, write. Write about the scene you’re trying to write. Writing about is easier than writing, and chances are, it will give you your way in.”

HExedMichelle Krys is the author of HEXED and the upcoming sequel CHARMED. She works part-time as a NICU nurse and spends her free time writing books for teens. Michelle is probably not a witch, though she did belong to a witchcraft club in the fifth grade and “levitated” people in her bedroom, so that may be up for debate. Visit her at michellekrys.com or follow @MichelleKrys on Twitter.

Posted in Guest Post, Industry Life, Inspiration, Writing Life | 10 Comments

How Going to Military School = Writing a Book

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Guest Post by Joy N. Hensley

Joy N Hensley Author Photo

Jodi Meadows, my fifth-cousin-by-marriage, asked me to write this. “It should be funny,” she said. Apparently, she doesn’t remember reading Rites of Passage or the fact that I don’t/can’t do funny. Just like I can’t write poetry. (She’s a lot like my mom that way—see told you we’re related.)  Anyway, here goes. Remember: it’s not funny. Sorry/not sorry.

How Going to Military School = Writing a Book

  • Do it for yourself first—Military school is hard. It’s grueling. It’s like boot camp on crack because you add classes on top of everything else. If you’re doing it to prove something to yourself, then you’re more likely to succeed. If you’re doing it to impress someone else, it’s going to be hard to make it. There’s a lot of talk about trend in writing. What’s selling, what’s going to sell next. If you focus on that part, writing is going to be hard. Here’s the thing—the publishing industry moves slow. So by the time you’ve gone through writing, revising, subbing, selling…the trend is over. At its essence, writing is about telling a story. A story you can tell that no one else can. If you’re writing the story of your heart, then you’re more likely to succeed. If you’re writing toward a trend, it’s going to be hard to make it. 
  • Determination—Military school ain’t no walk in the park. You get yelled at, woken up insanely early, yelled at more, forced to do millions of push-ups and other forms of physical torture, and then yelled at again. In the case of Sam, the main character in Rites of Passage, you might also get bullied and hazed. But if you (like Sam) have heart and can remember why you’re there, you’ll make it through.  The same thing goes with writing. Writing a book from start to finish requires a certain amount of…chutzpah.  There will be pages and pages of words you write/love/delete/rewrite/revise, etc. There will be rejection, bad reviews, and days you want to stick your head in the sand. But if you have heart and can remember why you’re writing, you’ll make it through. 
  • Use critique but don’t sell your soul—When you’re marching/shooting/running an obstacle course, everyone seems to have a tip for doing it better/faster/more efficiently. The problem is, those tips work for them—they may not work for you. The tip-giver might be taller/faster/stronger/more daring than you. But think about what they said—don’t just toss it away. See if you can find something in there, however small, that might help. If you take what they give you and make it your own, you’re golden. Don’t feel bad if you don’t use it—this is your life.  It’s a lot the same with writing. Everyone reads your book with their own background knowledge. They may want your character to do one thing while you don’t think it fits. It took me a long time to realize I didn’t have to please everyone when I write. As long as I stay true to the story and make it as strong as I can, I’ll be happy. Every critique helps in some way. If you can take what critique partners give you and use it to strengthen your story, you’re golden. Don’t feel bad if you don’t use their suggestions—in the end, this is your story. 
  • It’s not you, it’s you ALL—In military school, it feels like a lot of attention is on you as an individual. To an extent, it is. One cadet out of step in a platoon is really obvious and looks pretty bad. But your platoon, your company, your battalion, when everyone works together and helps each other, it looks amazing. All you can do is your best and hope everyone else does their best, too. It’s the same way with books.  At some point your book is out of your hand. Other people get input—your editor, your design team, your publicist—everyone looks at the book from a different angle, checking that it’s in-step, that the uniform is polished and looking its best. The goal is the same, though: to put out the best possible book. All you can do is write the best book you can. Then you hope that everyone else does their best, too.

RitesofPassage Final Cover

Sam McKenna has never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so trivial . . . no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they won’t rest until she gives up. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active . . . and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust . . . and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

RITES OF PASSAGE is available at bookstores and is also available at:

Indiebound, Books-A-Million, iBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository.

If you want an autographed copy of RITES OF PASSAGE, please e-mail or call Anna-Lisa at my local independent bookstore: Books & Co….Toys, too! Let them know if you want it personalized. They’ll even gift-wrap it for you for free if you ask nicely!

E-mail: orders (at) booksandtoys (dot) us
Phone: (540) 463-4647

Joy N. Hensley is a former middle school teacher. She used to spend her twenty-minute lunch breaks hosting author Skype chats for her students. Once upon a time she went to a military school on a dare. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children, finding as many ways as she can to never do another push-up again.

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