And The Winner . . .

Sorry for posting this so late. I'm off to Black Mountain, North Carolina on vacation. Cars all packed up, but then I realized I didn't pick a winner for last week's interview and giveaway. Soooo, since I'm pressed for time (and sleep) the winner of Sarah Aronson's MG book, Beyond Lucky is


Whoohooooo!!!!! Congrats.

Marjorielight, please send me your address via email and I'll get that right out for ya. I'm be gone from the blog sphere for the next week. Hope you all have a wonderful week of creativity and summer fun!!

Writer Spotlight Interview - Brittany Roshelle

Brittany Roshelle
Today, Brittany Roshelle is here to step into the spotlight. Brittany, welcome!!!

Brittany is a freelance writer from Colorado. Her articles on fashion, beauty, and style can be found in various women’s magazines, including BettyConfidential. She's also a food critic for The Coloradoan (yum), and writes social and health psychology articles on family, relationships, and the mind & body.

 On Brittany's blog, TheWrite Stuff, you'll find author and journalist interviews, plus giveaways. Great insight into the publishing world over there. Plus, her website is super-cool, too. A must see.

But of course Brittany also writes novel length stories, so on to the interview.

What manuscript would you like to tell us about today?

THE POPULAR GIRLS is a contemporary young-adult novel with a word count of 65,000.  It’s a phoenix tale of teenage wreckage and rebirth.

Follow the link to her website to read more about her YA.

Can you give us a three to four sentence pitch?

Everything Lily knew about the world she grew-up in has changed. Her parents have seemingly moved on and left Lily stranded in the past clutching old family albums. The next day, Lily discovers an old crush from the fifth grade, who had treated her like a princess, has turned up at her high school. The only thing she wants is someone who knows her. But Lily’s plans to talk to Nate are foiled when the most popular girl in school, Farrah, sits in his lap. Lily, a nerd to the core, can’t possibly compete with Farrah. Or can she?

We've all been there. Nice, Brittany.

Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph (up to 250 words)?

You know he’s not showing up, my brain chimed in. But my heart refused to hear it. I looked idly over at the busy waiters and laughing families littering the restaurant at lunchtime. I obsessively checked my cell one last time. It’s only 12:45. Fifteen minutes late isn’t that bad, right? No. He probably got stuck in traffic. That’s it. I scratched my wrist, hoping in some way it would distract me from the fact that I was staring at two empty plates, two pristine water glasses, and was the only one in the restaurant sitting alone.
Every few months I would get an email, like the one I got two weeks ago saying how sorry he was and how busy he had been. That we should meet for lunch. I tried not to think of the fact that he had done this very routine six times before. No contact. One email with “meet me” in the subject line and a time. No show. Each time I forgave him too. Thinking this was it. He had been busy. He wanted to see me. I yearned to see him as much as I hated that. But the fact that he took the time to write and send me an email always hit me. I mean, at least he hadn’t completely forgotten he has a daughter? That says something. I wasn’t invisible to him.

AW,  poor Lily. I want to read on.

How would your main character describe you? If you entered into a scene in your manuscript, how would you be introduced, how would the MC perceive you? (Give us a scene of 250 words or less : )

She entered the cafĂ© like she owned the place. Manicured nails, sleek high heels, and hair so flat I could practically smell the iron. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. She’s supposed to help me? Who on earth puts that much time into their looks? Not I said the skinny blonde cow.

LOL, good one.

What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

Favorite word? I think that may be one of the hardest questions to answer as a writer. A certain word can make the sentence feel right. So it really all depends for me, but if I had to pick…I’d say brownies. Wait, am I doing this exercise right? Maybe I can combine my favorite food and favorite word as in, “Lily’s senses were overwhelmed by the delectable aroma of her grandma’s brownies.”

Leave it to a food critique to pick food : ) Must go make brownies now. Yum.

My least favorite word is decaffeinated…maybe I should change my favorite word to coffee?!

LOL. Also my least favorite word, but one my doctor is making me use lately, grr.

What else are you working on while you wait?

I’m working on a new manuscript! It’s a women’s fiction novel about a woman who takes a few hard blows in her working and romantic life and decides to take on a whole new life. It’s very much like Sophie Kinsella except with a giant emotional punch to it.

I run a blog, The Write Stuff in which I interview authors and journalists for their tips into the publishing world and I host weekly book giveaways. I also write freelance articles for fashion, food, and healthy living. My minds always whirring!

Whirring in many different genres, too!! Good for you.

I see it’s an adult novel, why the switch? Did the story prompt it or was it a conscious decision? Do you find yourself writing things in a different way with your adult ms?

In order to write thousands and thousands of words, you really have to love the story your working on. I found a quote by Jennifer Weiner she said, “Tell the story that’s been growing in your heart…the characters you can’t keep out of your mind, the tale that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning.”

Great quote!! So true!!

I find that’s very true for me. I tend to perceive people extremely well, like my older brother, I inherited this ability to see right through some people. It’s their stories I feel I have to tell. With my first novel, it involved young girls desperately seeking attention and validation from our society and the men, or I should say boys, in their lives even if it’s in a way they regret later. For my new novel, it’s the same. I feel compelled to tell the story. I have them in my mind and it’s almost like a detective trying to give a voice to someone who really needs one. 

I like that. Writer detective. Cool.

I am finding myself writing differently with this one. I’m definitely putting more humor and deep embarrassment into it as well as a lot of lies out of my main character, which only add to the funny.

Sounds great!! Good luck!!

What book have you read in the past six months that’s inspired you and why?

I am Number Four. You know it’s a good book when they can create a fake reality and you fall for it. It reminds me that fiction has no boundaries.

I enjoyed this book, too.

Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

Let’s see….I can’t start my morning without a white mocha latte--an expensive habit to keep.

My father paid me a dollar for every story I wrote as a child. Isn’t that sweet? The funny thing is I can’t remember that, I only remember loving to write. I wrote imaginary tales that I thought my new puppy could go on while I was away at school.

I can never have too many purses or fabulous shoes. I have three sisters and we all share the same love for bags and heels. In fact, I once went rock climbing in high heels. What can I say? I was smitten in love with my future husband whom I had my eyes on…not the pain coming from my feet! In my defense, I thought we were going to a nice restaurant, not a hike. J

LOL, too funny.

Brittany, thanks again for sharing your works and yourself with us today. Best of luck finding the perfect home for THE POPULAR GIRLS. 

Be sure to check out Brittany's ultra-cool website here, and her blog, too!!!

Famous Author's Rejected - Pump up and Write Now

Think this happened to only a select few? Guess again. My local SCBWI crit peeps shared these snippets with our group recently. Read rejection excerpts and stories of famous authors below as a reminder that this industry is truly subjective. It's all about finding the right person (agent/editor) at the right time who shares your vision. Read and then go back and dig into that manuscript!!  

1. Stephen King

Mr. King received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie; he kept them tidily nailed to a spike under a timber in his bedroom.

One of the publishers sent Mr. King's rejection with these words:

We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.

2. William Golding

Mr. Golding's Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers. One denounced the future classic with these words:

an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.

3. Anne Frank

According to one publisher, The Diary of Anne Frank was scarcely worth reading:

The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level.

My all time favorite, of course:

4. J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorceror’s) Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including many biggies. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book. Thank you!!

Feeling more inspired? Good. Now, go write!!! Happy Monday, everyone.

Want to read more? Come back next Monday. Also, tomorrow I'm pleased to have Brittany Roshelle  stepping into the Writer Spotlight. She'll be sharing her pitch for THE POPULAR GIRLS. Check it out.

Author Interview & Giveaway- Sarah Aronson's, Beyond Lucky

Sarah Aronson
Author Sarah Aronson is here today to talk about her newest book, Beyond Lucky (which is beyond awesome!!!), released June 30 by Dial Books for Young Readers.  AND, Sarah has agreed to give away a copy to one lucky winner!! Thanks, Sarah!!!

As a teen growing up in Pennsylvania Sarah fell in love with theater and considered majoring in drama at college, but opted for English instead. Learn below just how Sarah's love of theater and film found a unique place in her writing process.

But first, let's talk about Beyond Lucky.


Can you give us an overview of your MG, Beyond Lucky?

Ari Fish believes in two things: his hero-Wayne Timcoe, the greatest soccer goalie to ever come out of Somerset Valley-and luck. So when Ari finds a rare and valuable Wayne Timcoe trading card, he's sure his luck has changed for the better. Especially when he's picked to be the starting goalie on his team. But when the card is stolen-and his best friend and the new girl on the team accuse each other of taking it-suddenly Ari can't save a goal, everyone is fighting, and he doesn't know who, or what, to believe in.

Before the team falls apart, Ari must learn how to make his own luck, and figure out what it truly means to be a hero.

What sparked the idea for Ari’s story?

This book really evolved over time.  At first, I wanted to write a story about a quirky town full of quirky people. (My goal was to write like John Irving.) When that did not produce enough conflict…or even a main character, I began to focus on a boy who loved his hero. I think I picked soccer because my son was a daisy picker! I thought the soccer culture was interesting—on the field and on the sidelines.

(Better a daisy picker than the, er, kind my five year old was on the soccer field : )

But it wasn’t until I discovered Ari’s obsessions—his superstitions and love of the Presidents—that I found his voice and realized what he wanted. I can thank Elliot for that. My son has been interested in US Presidential history for a long time.

Check out my Facebook page. All summer, I will be posting Elliot’s Presidential Facts on video!

What a great idea!! I'm SO there.

There's a very nice review of Beyond Lucky on Publishers Weekly among others, congratulations. This is the second novel length book you’ve published. I’ve read how many authors find their sophomore book more difficult and stressful in some ways. What was different and/or the same this time around for you?

First of all, writing is hard. Period.  It is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. It takes tenacity and fortitude. You can’t give up. You have to re-evaluate all the time. And most of the time, there’s no promise waiting for you at the end.

All of that was true for me.

But I am not the kind of person who does anything the easy way.

After Head Case was released, other writers might have written a novel in the same genre. Not me! Early on, Beyond Lucky was also in third person. Beyond Lucky also has a huge cast of characters.

Writing a second book IS hard….maybe because you think it’s going to be easier. (I’ll admit: the third one isn’t easier either!) I also think that the more you begin to understand craft, the more you think about every word.

That is so true, Sarah. I never thought about it like that, but it makes sense. The more you know, the more options you have, the more choices you need to make/consider all the way down to each individual word. Sooo, what you're saying, if it IS hard then you must be doing something right, . . . right?  . . . . Um, Sarah?

Many reviews for Beyond Lucky comment on the spot on voices of the three main characters, Ari, Mac, and Parker.

Thanks! I have to admit: I LOVE Ari, Mac, and Parker. They are so real to me. What really made Parker come alive?  When I made her a girl. (In the early drafts, she was a buff boy….he created very little tension.) I LOVE when she stands up to Mac.

Do you have any pre-writing routines (like Ari) to get yourself ready to write?

I am the Queen of Rituals!

First, I believe we must celebrate and honor every step of the process. I have rituals for good writing days and bad. I make special meals when I hit page 100 and 200.  When I write THE END, I often buy myself a prize. (Don’t tell my husband!)

I won't if you don't : )

As for prewriting rituals, I develop one for each novel.

I love that idea!!! I listen to different music depending on what I write, but this is even better. Tell us more.

For Head Case, I started my day by reading (out loud) a Billy Collins poem. For Beyond Lucky…and now as I write my new novel, I make myself some cappuccino, and then I pull out a card from my “inspiration deck.”

Here’s today’s inspiration:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  —Mark Twain

I recently visited the Met in NYC. I love this quote from Alexander McQueen: You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for—to demolish the rules but keep the tradition.

Great quotes, thanks for sharing.

Your approach to writing a first draft is unique. Would you share a bit about your process for writing Beyond Lucky? (hint: this is where her drama background comes in)

I write skinny. Sometimes just dialogue. I try to write as fast as I can. This is because I LOVE to re-imagine scenes. My opinion: everything is arbitrary. It’s the point of the scene that matters.

My early drafts are all about getting to know the characters. I put them in a variety of situations and I let them talk. At some point, early in the process, I change POV’s. It may seem unnecessary, but I always figure out A LOT about my characters this way. I consider myself the director of my book. I like to see the characters from all angles.

For Beyond Lucky, I did something I had never done before. I deleted the first big draft. Thank Cynthia Leitich Smith for this. (She revealed that she does this regularly.)

I've heard about this but have yet to muster the guts to do it. Good for you!!!

Here’s the whole story!

I had written a version of this book way back in 2003. I submitted it to a few editors, and they all rejected it, offering similar feedback.  Feeling ill equipped to address the problems, I put it away. I went to Vermont College and wrote two more novels. I played around with the manuscript a little bit—Margaret Bechard gave me some great feedback. But even then, I knew that there was something missing.

Back in the drawer it went until 2008.

What made me take it out? An SCBWI dinner. I sat next to a woman who was an agent.  Although we had never met, she insisted my name looked familiar. After the main course, she snapped her fingers. “You wrote a soccer book, didn’t you?” Apparently, one of the editors that rejected the book in 2003 had sent it to her for a second opinion. I figured if she could still remember that book five years after rejecting it, something had to be working.  So I opened the file. I re-examined those rejections. And then, because I knew I could do it now, I deleted the whole thing. I wrote the book from scratch. I re-envisioned every single character and situation. I created a new structure and even a new POV. What emerged was the book that would become Beyond Lucky!

Deleting a manuscript—and I mean really getting rid of the entire thing—was pivotal. It let me think about the characters in a new way…and this time I knew what they wanted. My best advice to new writers: don’t be afraid to delete.

Yes, it was an act of faith—in myself and my story. But if I had held onto those bad scenes, I would still be playing with them now. I would never have discovered the voice of my protagonist, Ari Fish.

Wow, good for you!! I hope you have a special way to celebrate deletes, too : )

You are not only a writer but a teacher (and a dang crazy good one, I know, I've taken many of her classes). How do these roles mesh together and how do you manage your time?

Studying the craft of writing with a group of smart colleagues is the best way I know to fuel my engine. Reading and thinking about why writing works makes me look at my manuscripts with a critical eye. Nothing is more important to success than a supportive community (that, and good coffee!!).

So true. Sarah has her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, she teaches writing and runs the spring Novel Writer's Retreat held at Vermont College annually. If you have the opportunity to take a class of Sarah's (learn more here) or attend the Novel Writer's Retreat, do it!!! I know from personal experience both are life and career changing experiences!! And Sarah does such a great job at creating that supportive community setting we all need for success.

I ask my spotlight writers what their most and least favorite words are. What would Ari’s be and how would he use them in a sentence?

Ari’s favorite word is EXTREMELY. As in “It’s an extremely bad omen.” (Parker likes spectacular.)

My least favorite word is moisture. Don’t even say it near me. It makes me squirm.

LOL!!!! Did you know . . . on Facebook there's a page dedicated to those who hate the word moist (moisture), seriously, and to date there are 6,739 others that 'like' this page or rather hate the word moist. I'm guessing there will soon be 6,740. Too funny.

I love the word, serendipity. I guess I’m all about providence and luck!

What a perfect way to tie up the interview. To win a copy of Sarah's book, leave a comment (+1), be a follower (+1), tweet about the giveaway (+2).
I'll announce the winner July 14th. Good luck!!!!!

Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to share your writing process with us AND tell us about your book, Beyond Lucky, available now!! I look forward to your next and your next and . . .
In closing: Beyond Lucky's book trailer.