Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I kind of suck at the whole New Year's Resolution thing. I'm usually a glass-is-half-full kind of person, but most of the time, making resolutions just feels like I'm setting myself up for an epic failure. I've always admired people like Maggie Stiefvater who make their resolutions public and then chart their progress. Personally, the very idea scares the crap out of me.


I'm taking the plunge, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and resolving to hold myself accountable for the following actions...*gulp*

  1. I will play tennis at least once a week. So much more fun than working out in a gym.
  2. I will finish writing current wip as well as one other story waiting in the wings.
  3. I will be better at staying in touch with certain friends on the phone. Even though I don't understand what they have against email!
  4. I will be more present (i.e. not thinking about fictional people when I am with real people).
  5. If WISH YOU WEREN'T sells, I will buy hubby that kayak he's been drooling over.

Okay, so it's not a big list. I'm taking baby steps here. But I do believe that every new year is filled with plenty of hope and a belief anything is possible, even for someone who hates to make resolutions.

No matter what your hopes, dreams or goals are for the new year, I wish you all the best for 2011. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best of the Best

Some pretty amazing books have hit the shelves this year. There are seriously too many good books and not enough time to read them all! I tried, really I did. I've read almost 100 books this year, and if you count the beta reads I did, the number goes over 100!

My definition of a good book? One that either I can't put down and/or the story stays with me for days. Here are some of the books that I'm still thinking about and highly recommend (in no particular order). Some of the titles link you to my reviews either on this blog or at Goodreads. Note: Not all of these were released this year, but they're on the list because I read them this year. 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins dystopian YA
Yeah, you knew this one would be on the list.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis dystopian YA
This book releases on January 11. Buy a copy. A stunning debut.

Unwind by Neal Schusterman  dystopian YA
Horrific, disturbing, poetic in its justice. I still can't get this out of my head! The link goes to my Goodreads review.

Matched by Ally Condie dystopian YA
This just came out last month. If you like dystopian (which apparently I do!), don't miss this one.

Marcello in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork  realistic YA
Not the type of book I usually read, but I love this story. One of my favorite books ever.

Tentacles by Roland Smith  fantasy MG
My son got me hooked on this series (the first book is Cryptid Hunters). Full of fast-paced action.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman  fantasy MG
A fun story about a New York library that houses artifacts from the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick  realistic MG/YA
Love, love, love this book.

Hero by Perry Moore  fantasy YA
I love the way this story explores the father/son relationship, the fact that they're both superheroes (and one of them is gay) just adds more delicious layers

The Deathday Letter by Shaun Hutchinson  YA
The link will take you to a fabulous review my critique partner Lori did of this book.

Food, Girls & Other Things I Can't Have  realistic YA
Poignant and hilarious. The link will take you to my Goodreads review.

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden  realistic YA
The characters in this beautifully written debut novel pulled me in from page one.

And because he has good taste in books, here are a couple recommendations from my 11-year-old:

My #1 favorite book that I read in the glorious year of 2010 was GRIP OF THE SHADOW PLAGUE. It has an amazing plot, with enough excitement to keep you on the edge of your seat. I’ve always loved books with big battles at the end, and guess what the second to last chapter is about? A BIG BATTLE!!! The action is so satisfying, so nail-biting, when the part was over you couldn’t help but get your lazy butt off your chair and cheer. My favorite character is Graulas the demon, #1 because he has a cool name, and #2 he’s the only person who really knows anything!!! Without him, Fablehaven would be obliterated! I would rate this book an 8 out of 10.

SASQUATCH is Roland Smith’s best work so far (except for the Cryptid books). Amazing plot, believable characters, and a nice twist at the end. It's one of those books that you think you'd never want to read, but when you pick it up, it's exceedingly good. Unfortunately, there isn’t a big battle, but there is a giant explosion from Mount St. Helens that almost killed Sasquatch, so that might be just as good. My favorite character is the old man Buck. He’s gruff and grumpy most of the time, but he’s a good person and helps Sasquatch. I’d say this is an 8 out of 10 book.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Winners!

The winner of TELL ME A SECRET by Holly Cupala is:

The winner of CINDERS by Michelle Davidson Argyle is:

Congratulations everyone!! Email your snail mail address to solvangsherrie at gmail dot com and I will get your books out to you as soon as possible!

Happy Holidays! 

Monday, December 20, 2010


The winner of NEED was Laura Pauling, but since she already downloaded the book on her Kindle, I redid this drawing and the new winner is:

The winner of MIRRORSCAPE is:

The winner of SUBJECT SEVEN is:

The winner of the Ellen Raskin compilation is:

The winner of AFTER THE WRECK is:

Congratulations everyone!! Email your snail mail address to solvangsherrie at gmail dot com and I will get your books out to you as soon as possible!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Changing Face of Publishing: Author Michelle Argyle

If you've ever wondered if publishing a book yourself is worth the risk, Michelle Davidson Argyle is here to talk about her experience so far with her novella, Cinders. While some people may still take a negative attitude toward self-publishing, the fact is that many writers are working hard to make their books just as good as those offered by a traditional publisher. [Full disclosure: I edited Cinders for Michelle!]

Sometimes, the experience can even lead to a publishing contract...

You spent a lot of time working on full-length adult novels. What made you decide to write this novella?
Cinders originally started as a project me and my co-hosts on The Literary Lab blog were doing. We each wanted to write a novella and then put them into a compilation, but once I was halfway through the book I realized I wanted to self-publish the novella on its own. I'm glad I did. Now Davin has written his own novella he may independently publish, and Scott is starting on his soon.

I know you started off writing it just for yourself. At what point did you start to consider self-publishing Cinders?
was always for myself, but I did know from the very beginning that I would be self-publishing it. That was the reason I decided to self-publish instead of shop it around to traditionally publish somewhere. I didn't want to have to deal with anybody wanting to change anything or getting frustrated because I couldn't find anyone to take a novella. There was a point, however, near the middle of writing the book, where I decided to push more with marketing than I originally intended. I saw the potential of a niche audience really liking it.

I keep reading that e-books are outselling print books these days. Did you find that to be true with this novella or have you sold more hard copies?
Since releasing the book on July 28th, I have sold 251 books for profit. Out of those, 91 have been print copies either sold through online channels or directly through me. 160 copies have been e-books. I don't think I can really say yet if e-books are outselling print books these days. It's hard to say from my sales because I sold a lot of copies at my release party and I've sold a lot of signed copies. Since this is my first book most of my sales are obviously from people who know me, and because of that people were at first more likely to buy a print copy. Still, now the e-books are outselling the print.

Do you think the expense of creating a physical book paid off or do you think first time self-publishers will do better with e-books?
I don't think the expense of creating a physical book has paid off immediately, no. I've spent over $1500 on the book so far and most of that is shipping expenses (materials and postage, etc.) and the cost of ordering the physical books. It can get pricey so I can see why many writers just go with e-books to start with. I really wanted a print book, though, and I think after getting a few books out there the costs will dip lower than the profits. I hope. I've almost made back what I've spent, but not quite yet. I think this is pretty good, however, for only the first few months of the book's release and that it is my first book I put out there.

What was the most surprising thing you learned from publishing Cinders on your own?
It's hard to get people to buy your book. Really hard. Especially when most of the world has no idea who you are and it costs a lot of money to distribute the way a publisher would. I'll confess right now that I expected to sell 200 copies of Cinders within the first month of its release. I was sadly disappointed, but once my vision of how things actually work clicked into place I realized how well the book did for a first release of an independently published book.

You recently signed a contract with a small publisher to release your book, Monarch. I know that initially you still planned to self-publish more novellas as part of a trilogy. What made you decide to let Rhemalda publish all of your books?
When I published Cinders I didn't expect to sign a contract for another book, so I had already made plans to write three fairy-tale themed novellas and independently publish them. This became a project cemented in my head, so even after Monarch was signed to a publisher I still had that plan.

Because my small publisher has offered me so much freedom on Monarch, I seriously considered them taking on my novellas and then realized how much more time I'd have to write if I didn't self-publish the books as well as get them published through Rhemalda. It simply became too much work and seemed very redundant. I can only shoulder so much!

Do you think the experience you gained from self-publishing Cinders will help you with marketing all of your books through Rhemalda?
I do think the experience I've gained from self-publishing Cinders will most definitely help me with marketing all of my books through Rhemalda - and even other publishers if I get to that point. Already I've discussed with Rhemalda different ways of marketing and how I can add to it with my own networks. It's really nice! 

Thanks so much for your honest answers, Michelle! Congratulations on your publishing contract for Monarch and best of luck with all three of your novellas!

If you'd like to win a copy of Cinders, leave a comment before midnight, December 21. One winner will be announced Wednesday, December 22.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Changing Face of Publishing: Author Holly Cupala

You may have heard the rumor that first time authors can get lost in the shuffle of all the titles coming out from a publisher in any given year. Sadly, it's true. And the irony is that brand name authors often get a bigger cut of shrinking publicity dollars as well. 

What's a debut author supposed to do?

If your name is Holly Cupala, the answer is: a LOT.

In addition to working with a filmmaker to create an amazing book trailer, Holly and her husband produced an audiobook for TELL ME A SECRET. They've been releasing it chapter by chapter as a free podcast, growing a fan base for the novel. Holly has taken control of marketing her book in unexpected ways, facing the changes in publishing with her own creative flair. Today, she's here to tell us some of her secrets.

You received an offer to make TELL ME A SECRET into an audiobook. What made you decide to turn it down and do it yourself?

My husband Shiraz and I are big audiobook and radio theatre fans, so when we received the audio offer for TELL ME A SECRET, the first thing we asked about was the reader. Could we consult? Apparently this was quite an unorthodox request. We tend to do things a little differently anyway, so I think that only fueled our conversations! The more we talked about it, the more possible it seemed to do it ourselves.

My agent, Edward Necarsulmer at McIntosh and Otis, has been an enthusiastic counterpart. Right now he has deals in the works with major audiobook distributors to get the book on iTunes and Overdrive, and we are very close to completing a Special Edition full version (to be available through It’s been a lot of fun, and we’ve definitely learned an extraordinary amount about the inner workings of audiobook publishing.

You picked an amazing reader to bring the text to life. Did you act as director? How long did the project take start to finish?

Tell Me a Secret - Free Audiobook PodcastThank you! I’d heard Jenna Lamia read THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX and THE CHOSEN ONE and fell in love with her voice. She’s such a nuanced, talented actress. In fact she won the 2010 Audie Award for Best Female Performance for THE CHOSEN ONE right after we hired her! I was lucky enough to meet the director, Jerry Maybrook, when I went to Book Expo America 2010, and we bonded over great books and sourdough bread (we’re both bakers). The project actually went pretty quickly after all of the details were in place. Shiraz produced the whole thing, start to finish.

Why did you decide to serialize the story and offer it as a free podcast?

For us, it’s about making the book available to readers. A teen girl might not have book money, but she might have an iPod. And if a reader can’t wait to find out what happens, she can get the book from the library or bookstore! Plus it’s priceless to be connecting with readers.

That was totally the case with me. I listened to the podcasts, got sucked into the story, then had to run out and buy the book! :-)

But it sounds like it could be an expensive undertaking because of the upfront costs. Do you have any money-saving tips for people who might want to try turning their books into podcasts?

I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to do interesting, innovative things. To do a podcast just requires a little know-how and a bit of technical equipment. (Google “how to create a podcast” for some ideas.) An author could read his or her own work, or even upload vlogs of chapter readings—Neil Gaiman is doing this with THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, which I think is terrific.

I know it’s hard to quantify this sort of thing, but have you been able to see direct benefits as far as name recognition and/or book sales?

I get notes all the time from readers who are listening to the audiobook and can’t wait for the next installment—I’m so pleased it’s getting out there! The audience has grown to thousands of downloads per week, thanks to all of the kind bloggers who have posted our podcast widget. International readers have been very passionate about the book, and I’m pretty sure they had something to do with foreign rights sales in Germany and Brazil.

That's very cool that you are seeing results. I’ve read that you also worked independently with a filmmaker to develop your trailer. Was HarperCollins surprised that you were willing to do so much on your own to promote your book?

Yes, Shiraz and I worked with indie filmmaker Paul Michael Gordon, who took the script we created and turned it into something quite unexpected and amazing. The music is “Ironspy,” from our friends at Splashdown (and that’s me doing the voiceover!).

HarperCollins has been excited about the crazy projects we’ve come up with and very supportive of our efforts. In fact, just the other day they joked that they ought to hire Shiraz.

Sounds like he's been an amazing partner with you on all these endeavors!

With all the work you’ve done to promote TMAS on your own, has it been hard to juggle writing time? Are there things you plan to do differently next time?

Luckily I planned ahead and worked very hard to write a second novel before TELL ME A SECRET hit the shelves, so we’re just finishing details on that as TMAS projects wind down (DON'T BREATHE A WORD is slated for October 2011). On the writing horizon is a third novel, and I’m looking forward to carving out more time to work on that one! After the holidays, hopefully…

Thank you so much, Holly! You've certainly got me thinking about creative ways to go out of the box with promotion.

Holly may not watch a lot of television, but she's always online.
Here are some of the places she hangs out:

To win a copy of TELL ME A SECRET, leave a comment by midnight, December 21. One winner will be announced Wednesday, December 22.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Clearing Off the Night Stand

The stacks really are out of control over here and I need some help finding the top of my nightstand so I'm counting on you to help me out.


I'm giving away some books and FIVE of you are going to win. That's right, five books will be coming through the mail, quite possibly to your doorstep.

And how can you win?

It's very simple really. Two steps:
  1. Follow this blog.
  2. Leave a comment.
That's it. But in the comment, you MUST choose one of the books. Last time some of you tried to cheat and say you'd take any book. That's very nice and all, but I'm sorry. Your name will only be entered if you've chosen ONE book. So let's take a look at the selection, shall we?

Need by Carrie Jones  YA Fantasy   paperback
Pixies and werewolves and kissing -- oh my! Book three in this series comes out tomorrow. If you haven't read the story that started it all, here's your chance to win a copy.

Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks  Upper MG Fantasy    ARC
Enter the Mirrorscape - an amazing world limited only by the artist's imagination...One that involves stepping through paintings into a world where the bizarre is commonplace and all logic is irrelevant. A world where angels, pyramid mazes, imaginary monsters, talking houses and - most importantly - the simple paintbrush all combine to form a hugely original and deeply compelling fantasy. (from Goodreads) This book came out in 2009, the first ever released by Egmont.

Subject Seven by James A. Moore  YA SF/Action/Adventure   ARC
Years ago, scientists began developing the ultimate military weapon: deadly sleeper assassins housed within the bodies of teenagers. Now, Subject Seven, the dangerous alter-ego living inside a 16-year-old boy, has escaped the lab and is on a mission. His objective? To seek out others like him and build an army capable of destroying their creators. (from Amazon) This book releases in January, but you can read it before everyone else if you win it here!

Ellen Raskin Compilation  MG Mystery  ARC
Penguin is re-releasing three of Ellen Raskin's books: Figgs & Phantoms, The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel), and The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues. I have the ARC for all three books in one volume. If you're a fan of The Westing Game, you'll want to read these stories as well.

After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread my Wings and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates  YA  ARC
Winner of longest title ever! This book came out in 2006, but I am finally parting with my ARC. Here's the Amazon description: Jenna Abbott, 15, is struggling to come to terms with the car accident that killed her mother and nearly took her own life as well. Formerly athletic and smart, she suddenly finds herself unable to concentrate or communicate with anyone. She is broken in both body and spirit and desperate to escape into the blue, which is how she remembers the drug-induced haze immediately after the accident. Not wanting anything to do with her father and his new family in California, she moves to New Hampshire to live with her aunt and uncle, and begins looking for ways to escape. She steals OxyContin from her uncle's medicine cabinet and becomes friends with Trina, who is dealing with her own substance-abuse problems. It takes two near-disasters for Jenna to tentatively open up to her classmate Crow and face her fears and grief.

Make your choice in the comments. You have until midnight on Sunday to leave a comment. I'll announce the winners on Monday morning. And yes, I am willing to ship internationally. Good luck to you all!!

Friday, December 10, 2010


So you've finished your novel. Maybe even rewritten it once. Or twice. Is your job as writer done?

Probably not.

Middle grade author Kate Messner (THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.) is here today to talk about the revision process for her fourth novel, SUGAR AND ICE.


When I visit classrooms to talk with kids about books and writing, I always tell them this:

“The book you see on your library shelf is not the same book I started writing.”

And then I tell revision stories…stories of writing anywhere from eight to eighteen drafts to get the book where it needed to be.  Their mouths hang open.  They always thought that authors of kids’ books were GOOD writers, and GOOD writers didn’t need to keep fixing things all the time.  And then I tell them a secret I’ll tell you, too.

I’m not a very good writer.  I’m just really good at revising.

Here’s a glimpse inside the revision process for SUGAR AND ICE.  The draft I sent my editor was actually draft #4, after I’d written two on my own, gotten some help from my critique group, and written two more.  My editor wrote me a letter with a list of suggested changes, including things like:

•    Add more school scenes; it’s a big part of Claire’s life.
•    Show more of the relationship between Claire and her mom.
•    Maybe Claire and Natalie could have an argument? Add tension here.
•    Write a better ending.  (Okay…she was nicer about it than that, but that was the idea.)

I sat down with the letter and my to-do list and opened up the document in Scrivener, the writing program that I use on my Mac. 

The color-coded index cards you see on the screen are all scenes in the novel, and different colors stand for different things.  Green is for scenes set on the maple farm.  Orange is the Olympic Center. Turquoise is school.  And red…red cards show the scenes with the most tension.  This allowed me to look at what I had and figure out how to make it stronger and more balanced.

Then I attacked my to-do list, line by line and scene by scene.  I scribbled notes, outline thoughts, more to-do list ideas, and character sketches in my orange notebook, and I drank lots of tea.  I wrote new chapters and deleted some scenes that weren’t working.   Finally, I sent the manuscript back to my editor.

And she sent another letter with ideas to make the book even better.

Even the book’s original title, SUGAR ON SNOW, had to be reconsidered.  I brainstormed and brainstormed, trying to come up with something that captured the spirit of the family’s maple farm and still gave the idea that this is a book about skating. 

I even tried putting all my concept words on little slips of paper and rearranging them on the kitchen table to come up with something new.  Finally, we agreed on a title that seemed to do a perfect job capturing the book’s sweet spirit and its sharp edges, all at once: SUGAR AND ICE.


Thanks, Kate, for this behind-the-scenes look at your revision process.

Want a personalized, signed copy of SUGAR AND ICE?

The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid is hosting a SUGAR AND ICE launch party from 3-5 pm on Saturday, December 11th, so please consider this your invitation if you live in the area! If you can’t make it but would still like a signed, personalized copy, just give the bookstore a call at (518) 523-2950 TODAY, December 10th. They’ll take your order, have Kate sign your book after the event, and ship it out to you in plenty of time for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

About that Writer's Block...

You're stuck on a story, not sure what to type it another case of the dreaded "writer's block?"

If you enter the words "writer's block" on Amazon, it comes back with 337 results. I'm kind of shocked that 337 books could be written on the topic! Try it on Google and you'll get more than three million articles.

That's a lot of writing...about people who can't write.

But is it truly a writerly condition? Or is it just your brain working out different possibilities for the story? Or maybe it's the writer's faithful friend: self-doubt?

The definition of writer's block, according to, is:
a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.
The term first came into use between 1945–1950. I'm not sure if that means writer's before 1945 didn't get blocked, or they just didn't have a name for the "condition."

I've gotten bored with stories and abandoned them. There have been times where I wasn't sure which rabbit hole my characters should go down. Self-doubt has kept me from writing on far too many occasions. Still other times I had vague ideas that I couldn't quite put into words until my subconscious worked it out for me. But I've never considered myself blocked.

What about you? Have you experienced writer's block?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Virtual Hugs

This has been a very emotional weekend for me. I was completely awed and humbled by the comments, tweets and emails. This blog post by Susan Quinn brought me to tears, in a good way. Laurel Garver was inspired to include me in her Feature Friday. My critique partner Lori Walker, who has had a front row seat to all my ups and downs, wrote this sweet, funny post. My new agent-mate, Caroline Starr Rose, announced it on her blog. And the delightful Susan Mills posted about it as well.You guys are too kind. Thank you.

I've tried to respond to everybody personally, but a few people that I don't have emails for slipped through the cracks. Please know that I appreciate everyone who has read this blog over the years, and thanks to all of you for your good wishes.

Quite a few people asked what the book is about and I realized I've never posted about it at all! So, here's the pitch for WISH YOU WEREN'T:

Twelve-year-old Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents only notice him when something goes wrong, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn't expect it to make any difference. 

Until his annoying brother disappears.

Marten is whisked away to review his life with Tör, a star spirit. But when their journey gets interrupted, Marten realizes that there's more than one life at stake. With his brother's future in limbo and Tör's present uncertain, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And this time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves. 

The first chapter is up on my website:

But enough about me.

On a completely different note, Robin over at the Shrinking Violets blog has been doing a series on Online Persona and I contributed to the conversation today. Head on over there and see if you agree with my Four C's for Finding Friends and Followers.

Okay, I guess that's still about me, but hey, it's my blog! I promise I won't be self-promoting at all in my post on Wednesday. Until then, have a happy Monday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sometimes You Just Give Up

I have.
On more than one occasion.
Ask my CPs Kim and Lori. They have the tortured emails from me to prove it.

October 3
I'm at that point where I've put so much time and energy into it that lead nowhere that I just don't want anything to do with it. I swear I don't ever want to query again.
October 25
I still think it's a great story for younger middle grade, but we'll see. I'm not getting my hopes up again.
November 14
I give up.

But a funny thing happened in the depths of depression.

I found hope.
By encouraging someone else who was down.

November 21
I have to believe that persistence and luck are the only ingredients missing for us right now so we just have to keep trying and not be one of the people who gives up because it WILL happen. Hopefully before we're dead.

She wrote back:
You are right, of course you are. I think I just need a break from the submissions, for a bit. Anyway, sorry to bum you out.

I responded:
Oh, you didn't bum me out. I've been depressed for a while. But the funny thing is, after I emailed you, I sent out another query. It had been sitting in my query folder for a few days. I just wasn't sure if I should send any more out. Writing that note to you reminded me that I can't give up no matter how depressing it gets. Beth Revis wrote ten books before she found an agent. Cindy Pon queried 121 people with the same story before landing her agent. So yes, it's hard, and yes, we'll go through periods of hating the process, hating going through this torture. But in the end it will pay off...

Let me tell you people, that ONE more query I sent paid off.

The agent wrote back the next day to say she liked the chapter I'd included with my query and wanted to read more.

One week later, she emailed to ask if we could talk on the phone.

She could probably hear my squeals in New York!

Yesterday we had a wonderful conversation.

And I am now the newest client of Michelle Humphrey at International Creative Management.
Did you see that? Let me make it easier to read...
I am the newest client of Michelle Humphrey at International Creative Management!!!

I don't think I'll ever get tired of saying that!  
And trust me -- between 4:05 p.m. yesterday and right now, I've said it a LOT of times :D

Lesson learned? Even when you're at the bottom and it's hard and you think you've given up, you can't. Try again. Send out one more query. Take one more chance.

It could make all the difference.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Changing Face of Publishing: Author Kristan Hoffman

Serialized stories have been around for a long time. Many beloved characters like Aladdin, Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Twist started off as serials. These days, authors are once again experimenting with the serial format and growing an audience along the way. One such author, is Kristan Hoffman.

I know you wrote the web serial, Twenty-Somewhere, as an experiment. What were you trying to accomplish?
Mostly I was trying to have fun. For years I had been trying to write Serious Literary Works, but I was struggling to find motivation, to find joy in my writing. So when my best friends and I began emailing back and forth about our lives, and joking about how we could be a new Sex and the City, I thought, "Hmm, that's not a bad idea..." My friends were all for it, and I thought that writing weekly episodes could be a great way to establish a productive routine while also breaking out of my rut.

Twenty-Somewhere (20SW for short) turned into a lot more than that, but of course, I had no idea in the beginning.

How often did you post episodes? Were you more motivated by your self-imposed deadlines or the fact that people were actually reading it?

Oh, sorry, knee-jerk reaction to the term "self-imposed deadline."

At first I posted a new episode to my blog every Wednesday. Then it slipped to Friday. Then Monday, because I could cram over the weekend. Then it fell to every other week. That's as bad as it got, but I still felt guilty about not being able to stick to a schedule.

Unfortunately I find it very hard to do something if I'm thinking about it too much. So if all that's running through my head is, "Gotta finish this episode today, gotta finish this episode today, gotta finish this episode today..." then it's pretty much guaranteed that I WON'T finish that episode today.

What did motivate me to keep writing was (A) my love for the 20SW girls, (B) my friends begging for more stories about "their" lives, and (C) the wonderful reader responses. I received the most delightful comments/emails about 20SW, from friends and strangers alike.

Were you surprised when St. Martin’s Press asked to see a proposal based on Twenty-Somewhere? How did they discover your writing?
Surprised? Oh gosh, yes. But was it out of the blue? Not exactly.

In late 2008, St. Martin’s Press editorial assistant Sarah Jae-Jones (aka JJ) was running a contest through her blog. She and her boss, editor Dan Weiss, were looking (and are still looking) for "New Adult" books. In a nutshell, New Adult books are for/about 18-26 year olds, transitioning out of school age and into "real life." (I explain New Adult in greater detail in this article on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.)

Anyway, I entered the contest (which required a 2-3 sentence pitch) and was one of 18 winners. The winners were asked to submit partials of our manuscripts, and out of those 18, five of us were asked to submit fulls.

Long story short, St. Martin's loved my characters and story, but they didn't think 20SW would work in a traditional marketplace. They were highly complimentary of my writing, though, and even invited me to submit future manuscripts to them. So it was a rejection, but with a pretty solid silver lining.

Would you self-publish an e-book again, or do you plan to query agents/editors with your next novel?
After finishing the 40 episode arc of 20SW, I decided to run a little experiment and turn it into an e-book. Screenwriter John August, whose blog I follow, had published his short story "The Variant" through Amazon's Digital Text Platform (you can read all about that here) and it seemed like a fun thing to try. Plus I think it's important for writers to keep abreast of new technologies and opportunities (even if we ultimately choose to ignore them).

Would I do it again? Maybe, but I hope I won't need to. I want, and have always wanted, to go the traditional route with an agent and a big publishing house and all that. However, I did learn a lot from the experiment. My sales are modest but steady. I do no real marketing, but I have participated in forums at and and discovered a lot about what readers like/don't like.

What do you think has been your most important take-away from this experience?
I'm awful at singling one thing out as a most or a favorite (color, food, song, you name it) so I have to do a list, sorry!

1. 20SW taught me to focus on writing what I love. What moves me. That is truly priceless.

2. The experience with St. Martin's was my first taste of the publishing ride, and it connected me with some potential agents. Hopefully I can finish up my current ms and query them before I fall off their radar!

3. As I mentioned, publishing 20SW as an e-book got me to interact with readers and learn about their preferences. That was enlightening. It also taught me about what aspects of the biz I enjoy, and what aspects I'd prefer to let someone else handle. Publishing is like an uphill battle, and self-publishing is like fighting that battle alone. I never intended to get into that, because personally I'd rather have an army of people who love and believe in my book fighting along with me.

(Note: I do think once authors hit a certain level, like Stephen King or JK Rowling, self-publishing probably isn't a battle. Needless to say, most writers are not at that level.)

4. Last but definitely not least, 20SW reminded me of how wonderful my friends and my family are. Yes, it's fiction (it really is) but emotionally it's grounded in reality. I think it brought me and my girl friends even closer together, and that's worth the world to me.

Anyway, that's my story, about my story. Hopefully I'll have many more to come!

Thanks, Kristan, and best of luck on your publishing journey!


You can keep up with Kristan at her website:
You can download a copy of Twenty-Somewhere on Amazon or Smashwords.
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