Friday, December 04, 2015

Author Interview: Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson

Today's blog tour post comes with free stuff! Not only are the authors hosting a great giveaway, but I'm giving away my advanced reader's copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Just comment and say you want it and you'll have a shot at this:

Back when I read the Advanced Reader's Copy of this book, December 2015 seemed so far away. But here we are. Today, the authors of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow are here to talk about their book. Here they are...and don't forget to enter the giveaway and/or comment to possibly get your own free copy.

 Jessica Haight                    Stephanie Robinson

How did you write a book together? A question often asked of authors who decide to collaborate on writing a story. The underlying truth of what they are really asking is, “How did you manage to not end up hating each other during the process?” The answer to this is simple, it’s not about the ego; it’s about the book. We decided this first.

What was a surprising thing you learned while writing your book?

Jessica: I learned a lot about myself and about discipline in writing. I am sort of a free-form writer, and it's absolutely essential to keep everything in tune and orderly to progress. Stephanie is the master of organization, so I am very lucky to have her as my co-author. Most of the time, instructions and lists sound to me like the adults in Charlie Brown, whoh, whoh, whoh. However, after working on this with my awesome writing partner, I embrace the list.
Stephanie:  I have been surprised by the amount of time Jessica and I spend discussing Fairday and her friends and coming up with ideas. Most of our conversations center around our writing and blog. I never knew how exciting it would be to write a book with someone who shares my vision and makes work fun. Also, I have been pleasantly surprised to find support for my book in places I never expected. Thanks to all of our supporters.  

What was the writing process like?

We started off brainstorming about our characters and the basic plot. Our daily conversations were about Fairday and the DMS. We flushed out characters, story lines, and everything else both in person and on the phone. Our meetings were always productive. Using Google docs for an online format allowed us to post a chapter or two at a time that we could work on together. What an amazing tool! Being able to make changes to our book from any location opened up our world of writing and our story was written in Poland, Yellowstone, from our town libraries, and the comforts of our own homes. Usually one of us would start a chapter and the other person would go in and start working their magic- adding, deleting, and crafting the writing until it was a blended expression of both of our ideas.

What's it like to receive criticism and revise a manuscript?

There were times when we threw away whole chapters and started over. This was painful, but we knew it had to be done. We wanted to write the best story we could, and so swallowing our pride became a common occurrence, which became easier to digest. Now when we receive criticism, we think of it as an opportunity to improve our story and hone our writing craft.

What advice would you have for new authors?

Be brave. Let yourself to be inspired. Enter contests, attend conferences, listen to other authors tell their stories, visit book fairs and events. If you commit to your work and take yourself seriously, you'll be surprised by what you find along the way. We've met some amazing people and made great connections all over the world. We've become better writers and had loads of fun learning about what it takes to bring a book project to life. 

Stephanie Robinson at the Unicorn Writers' Conference
From Left: Rachael Dugas (Agent/ Talcott Notch Literary), Jessica Haight, Stephanie Robinson, Krista Vitola (Editor/ Delacorte/ Random House)

"I really enjoyed this book. It was a marvelously done, debut, thriller novel. Ms. Robinson and Ms. Haight are great authors that really pull you into their story. I couldn’t get out until that final sentence. And, by then I wanted more. To say I want a second book is an understatement. The writing style is compelling, and makes me feel as if I was there with Fairday and her friends. I really like the illustrations in the book. They are like the ribbon on a present, or the icing on the cake. I give this book five out of five bookworms!"
~ Erik Weibel/ This Kid Reviews Books  

"Mixing realism and fantasy, Haight and Robinson’s debut opens with 11-year-old Fairday’s move from Manhattan to a small town in Connecticut, where her relentlessly cheerful parents plan to turn a dilapidated Victorian into a bed and breakfast. No sooner has the family arrived than eerie sights and sounds begin to haunt Fairday. The house turns out to hold dark secrets that everybody in town suspects but nobody can explain: a perfect mission for Fairday and her best friend Lizzy’s Detective Mystery Squad (DMS)."

~ Publishers Weekly

"Fifth-grader Fairday Morrow's new home lives up to its spooky reputation, but she and her companions in the Detective Mystery Squad find out why. At Begonia House, strains of bagpipe music issue from behind a padlocked door, grains of sand in an hourglass have stopped falling, and a malevolent weeping willow looms in the backyard. A magic mirror shows an invisible door; a wardrobe hides secrets and a portal. Ruby Begonia vanished more than 50 years ago. Is there also a ghost? Fairday has a new, helpful friend in classmate Marcus, and her best friend Lizzy can visit on weekends to help solve the mystery. What more could readers want?" 
~ Kirkus Reviews

Jessica Haight is a true New Englander, with a deep desire to be near the ocean and a love of the four seasons. She enjoys drawing while standing up and cultivating magic in her garden. She easily floats away in the pages of a good story and is still waiting for her owl from Hogwarts. Jessica lives in Connecticut with her charming fiancé, James.

Stephanie Robinson lives with her husband in a quiet town, though not as quaint as Ashpot. After teaching fifth grade for almost fifteen years, she is now enjoying her role as a school media specialist. One of the many benefits of her job is that she learns something new every day. When Stephanie isn't working, she spends her time creating stories, getting lost in books, and traveling to new places. 



Don't forget--if you want a copy of the book, say "I want the book" (or some variation of it) in the comments. I'll pick a winner from the comments. Also be sure to enter the authors' giveaway here:

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Thursday, December 03, 2015

Introducing A Clueless Woman by TB Markinson

TB Markinson is no stranger to this blog. I've told you about her book launches before and even recommended her book The Miracle Girl earlier this year. Today I'm helping her celebrate her brand new book (which is FREE for download today). Check out this beautiful cover:

And here's all you need to know about it before you click over and download your own FREE copy!


Graduate student Lizzie Petrie feels more comfortable around books than people. Although an expert in the Hitler Youth, she’s a novice in love. Her former lesbian lover is blackmailing her, and not even those closest to Lizzie know the full story of their abusive relationship.

When visiting high school English teacher Sarah crosses Lizzie’s path at the campus, their attraction is instant, but not without complications. As they start to spend more time together, suspicions arise from both women in this sexy piece of LGBT fiction.

Plenty of good-natured teasing takes place between lovers as well as between PhD students in this lesbian contemporary romance. No relationship path ever runs smoothly, and oftentimes, those who can’t keep their mouth shut hasten necessary confrontation.

Lizzie finds herself buried in a mess of lies in this romantic comedy. The harder she tries to keep Sarah and the rest of her friends from finding out the truth about her first girlfriend, the more endearingly clueless she becomes.


T. B. Markinson is an American writer, living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order.

Get the first book in the series, A Woman Lost, for FREE by signing up to TB’s Readers’ Group here.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

IWSG: The True Secret About Writers and Marketing

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you're a writer, join in!

From the time you first decide to write a book to the day you see it on shelves (or on Amazon), some time passes. During that time, you work hard to land an agent, get a publishing deal, or take the steps you need to take to self publish.

During all that time, do you spend one second thinking about how you'll promote it once you do get a book deal? If you're like me, the answer is...

"Published book" is the end goal. Then you assume you'll be worried solely about getting more published books out there. Your books will, of course, magically fly off shelves and become bestsellers overnight.

Once you've finished celebrating your book deal and the big release day gets closer, you realize you are supposed to magically know what to do. There's no blueprint to promoting this thing and all the writers' conferences in the world don't really help. Most writers' conferences are focused on getting published, not being published.

So you watch other published authors on social media. Meg Cabot is on a tour of Germany. Maybe your publisher will send you on one of those.

You soon realize your publisher isn't flying you to some exotic location. So you schedule a booksigning or four. That's what you're supposed to do, right? At your first booksigning, though, four people show up. They're all related to you.

You watch social media a little longer. Every other author seems to be constantly promoting. They're leading workshops at conferences and hanging out at bookfairs and doing TV interviews. How did they get TV interviews? do the same. You sell about three books at each one and wonder if it's worth it.

You eventually learn the secret of writers and book marketing. None of us has any idea what we're doing. No idea whatsoever. We're basically throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Either you're scrambling to sell one book or you're just doing what your publisher put in your contract that you had to do because there are a few people somewhere who don't know you have a book out.

Wherever you are in your publishing journey, at least you aren't alone. We're all just trying to figure it out! There's comfort in that, I suppose.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Don't Email Me About Your Blog

Earlier this year, I participated in a group blog hop. I thought it might help, but mostly it was a waste of time. These things usually are...for one big reason:

Okay, maybe most of the people reading this blog do. Because my readers are smart. But raise your hand if you've participated in a blog hop.

Now raise your hand if you read any of the other blogs participating in that blog hop.

Which brings me back to the story about the blog hop. The host seemed extremely concerned that we all not be no-reply bloggers. I have no idea what that meant, but I was told soon into it that I was one. So I fixed it...and guess what happened?

I still don't know the specifics of "no-reply blogging," but it seemed to somehow mean that if you are one, people can't email to respond to the comments you have left on their blogs. Email. Let me repeat my above graphic...

When I participate in a blog hop (including IWSG), I make a point of reading as many blogs as I can that day. I just go through the list and read and comment. If you want to have me as a new reader, you need to click on the link and comment my blog. That's how you get added to my regular blog-reading rotation. If you email me to say, "Thank you for commenting my blog," guess what? This is me:

Am I supposed to email back? Become email pen pals? Because...excuse me...but I thought we were reading each other's blogs here. I just am so confused. So about 30 minutes into the blog hop, the answer to this question...

...was once again "YES!" I immediately stopped getting annoying spam mails. The result was I participated in a blog hop full of people who wanted pen pals, I guess, because I don't think I met a single person whose blog I still read today.

I think you guys know ignore it. Maybe someone will stumble on it while Googling, "Why are so many people no-reply bloggers?!" But here's the thing. The next time you participate (or even SEE) a blog hop, go through and leave comments on all the interesting blogs you see there. If anyone new comments your blog, read their blog and comment back. It's how you build a readership. It's worked for me since 2006 when I was blogging on MySpace. Emailing thank-you notes to people who comment your blog...well, I'm not sure what that accomplishes...except maybe being seen as polite?

How do you build your own blog readership?