One winner will win EVERYTHING seen above:
- Finished copies of:
TEN AFTER CLOSING
THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL
SEE ALL THE STARS
- ARCs of
DARE YOU TO LIE
- A custom Cafe Flores mug
- A custom TEN AFTER CLOSING key chain
- A spectacular 8GB high speed thumb drive
- The FEARLESS catchall
- and a slew of bookmarks & stickers and stuff
How do you enter for these lovely goodies? You can do so by following THIS LINK RIGHT HERE. There are many ways to enter, and you can enter daily. And since I was so bad about getting this post up, I am extending the giveaway for one week, so you have plenty of time.
For the memory drives, I partnered with a company called USB Memory Direct who supplied these awesome TAC themed ones just for me. I used one to back up all my books, and I couldn't believe how fast it ran. The folks at USB Memory Direct have another giveaway going on right now. You can enter that RIGHT HERE to win a box of Halloween Themed Goodies in honor of the #31DaysofHorror.
I can't believe it, but TEN AFTER CLOSING is now out! It's been a long road from when I started this book to today. I'm so excited to share Winny's and Scott's stories. with you!
Purchase TEN AFTER CLOSING
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Apple Store / Walmart / Target / Indiebound / Book Depository / Books-A-Million / Booktopia
So, it's now September 1st, and TEN AFTER CLOSING comes out on September 4th, which is crazy to me. I can't even believe the day is here. I know many of you reading this are writers too, so you know how long this process is. (Just to give those of you who don't write a feel, I started this book in January of 2015, and it was done by July of that year. I did an intensive revision period in winter 2016, so it was ready to submit by then. Of course there were more edits after we sold it to Sky Pony, but you get the picture.)
To celebrate the culmination of this long road, I'll be doing a series of appearances in the coming months, some in CT but not all, so keep your eyes open for info.
For now, here are the dates I have nailed down for sure:
I'd LOVE to see YOU there.
It's that time again: Pitch Wars time!
I am so grateful to be mentoring again this year after the fabulous experience I had in 2017. So, if you're interested in potentially subb'ing to me, you're in the right place.
So who am I and why would you want to choose me as a potential mentor? Why should you trust your work to my eyes and use one of your precious chances when there are almost 50 fabulous YA mentors?
Below you will find the top 11 reasons —updated for 2018.
Am I the mentor for you?
1. Last year, I was a mentor in MG. Though my mentee's situation was a bit unique in that she'd already made a connection with her agent-to-be, my mentee did share that the agent loved the work we'd done and that the revisions contributed to their sealing the deal. This is what she said when I checked in to ask if she minded my referencing our experience here:
Meanwhile, I’m simply grateful that Adrianna allowed me along for her ride on the Pitch Wars whirlwind.
2. I’m walking the wire and dancing through the fire. In other words, I know exactly what it feels like to be in your shoes because I’m literally in your shoes. As writers, we sometimes think we’ll reach this point where we’re finally there (does anyone even know what there is?), but the fact of the matter is, this is one long experience. Sure, there are milestones, but regardless of whether we have been in this industry for a short time or a long time, we're all dealing with the same things. We’re all subbing our work and hoping for yes’s. We’re all dealing with rejection and difficult feedback and just waiting for that next bit of good news or next step along our path. Now, that may sound discouraging, but it’s not. In fact, it’s liberating because it means that we never need to judge ourselves on where we are. And, if we keep the right mindset, we can enjoy every step. That’s why I LOVE the metaphors of walking the wire and dancing through the fire (and yes, I got those from two different songs—bonus points if you can guess which ones).
This writing thing is full of challenges, and it’s up to us to decide if it’s going to be a terrible ride or a party.
I choose to party. Want to join me?
3. I love YA, and I’ve written almost nothing but YA in the last few years. My first novel-length book, BROKEN CHORDS, a YA horror came out in 2017, and my official debut novel, TEN AFTER CLOSING, a YA thriller comes out (eep!) in LESS THAN A MONTH. I’ve also been included in a YA anthology for which I wrote a sweet romantic piece.
4. No one wants a crabby mentor. If you know me, you know I strive to inspire and motivate writers. I do it with my blog, I do it with my memes, I do it with the free chapter critiques I give away each month to people on my newsletter list. My Number 1 Motto is: You can’t fail if you don’t give up. I believe 100% that if you want to be a published author you will, as long as you keep at it. That’s the spirit I’ll bring to this competition.
5. Because I’m a psychologist, one of my strengths is in creating authentic, realistic characters that drive the action of the story. Being either a character-driven or plot-driven author is so last year; I want to help you be both.
6. This is my dog. As anticipated, he was no help last year, but he is so darned cute ...
7. But seriously, I’ve written 14 books and 9 short stories, and I’ve been published in four anthologies. My Number 2 Motto is: Finish what you start. Revise what you finish. Then revise it again. And send it out there into the world.
I also serve as an editor for Allegory Magazine, which is now in its 20th year! Since last year when I mentored in Pitch Wars, I received a promotion to Senior Editor, and I’m so proud to serve writers in this role, helping them to have their yes-moment.
8. Pizza and donuts. Pizza goes without saying, but I figured I needed to update my comfort food for 2018, so I give you donuts.
9. I’m looking to develop a real relationship with my mentee. Our friendship won’t end when the competition is over. Once I work with you, I’m going to be so excited to hear about all your doings and happenings. I hope to be a resource for the long-haul. (And don’t be surprised if, down the line, I bug you to be a resource for me. It’s all about writers helping writers.)
10. I still love to eat. Pizza (as above), ice cream, donuts, cheese. All the cheese. And coffee. I make a MEAN pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. But, most of the time, I’m into eating healthy. I’ve tried at least half the recipes on Skinnytaste.com, and I’m huge into working out. It’s my foundation. I’m a grunge rock girl at heart, but I love modern dance music and current rock groups. I can’t seem to get enough of Panic at the Disco, Imagine Dragons, or Fallout Boy. I’m also a bluegrass fan (especially “New Grass.” Crooked Still is one of my all time favorites. And Nickel Creek.) I love SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, PROJECT RUNWAY, TOP CHEF, DEADLIEST CATCH, FAMILY GUY, SILICON VALLEY, BUFFY, WEST WORLD, PORTLANDIA, MONTY PYTHON.
11. I did not start out as a writer. I don’t have an MFA. I didn’t study writing in college or grad school. But writing a book was something I always wanted to do, and one day, I said: Let me see if I can do it. And that started me off. I’ve been writing for only eight years, so I know what it’s like to be a constant learner. I’m still learning. So, unless you’re Shakespeare, I totally expect that you’re still learning too.
I’m a practicing, licensed clinical psychologist. I work with people every day on figuring out their strengths, understanding their barriers & things that limit them reaching their potential, and setting the kind of goals that work. On the education front, I’ve been teaching and mentoring students at all levels (from college to post-grad) for over ten years. My Number 3 Motto is: It’s not about being good. It’s about getting better.
What you can expect from me:
- Kindness and honesty. I’m the person who’s not afraid to tell you that you have broccoli in your teeth (and if I do, PLEASE tell me, okay?), but learning should never be punitive. You can expect a collaborative experience where I’ll tell you all my thoughts, but work with you to make your book the best it can be no matter what.
- When I read your book, I’ll be looking to understand the book as you envision it, then work with you to further hone the things that are already working well and identify places where you can bring out the heart of your vision even more.
- Once I’ve read the whole thing, I’ll send you an edit letter with all my thoughts. I’ll give you some time to read through it, then we can communicate about it (video chat, phone, email—whatever) and come up with a solid revision plan.
- Once you complete your revisions, I’ll read through the book again and give you comments in the margins.
- We’ll pay extra attention to your first chapter and your query; I’ll also do a line/copy edit of your first 30 pages, and then you can take those suggestions and carry them through the rest of the book.
- I’ll be here to cheer you on the whole way, including providing support during the hardest part of the competition—the waiting phase. We’ll get through it together with pizza, donuts, wine, and all the cheese.
My perfect mentee ...
Are you ... ?
- flexible and open-minded about revisions? Listen, when you sign with your agent (and you will, I know it), you’re going to continue to get tons of feedback on your work. Then you’ll sell your book (totally, it will happen), and your editor is going to have a ton of changes for you to make too. So, revisions are a normal and natural part of the writing process. (Personally, my favorite parts of all my books are born in revisions.) So, if you’re open-minded and willing to do an overhaul if it’s in the service of your vision, I really want to work with you.
- not afraid to work hard? There’s a timeline in Pitch Wars, and you will likely be eating, sleeping, and breathing your book. Are you reading this saying, Bring it on!--good!
- serious about your writing career? I can’t promise that if you work with me you’ll get an agent and a book deal. I can promise you’ll learn from this experience, and your book will be better than when you started. So, if you don’t sign, are you still going to be as motivated to keep trying as you were the day you entered this competition? Will you keep querying that book until you find your dream agent? Will you write a new one and query that if this one doesn’t get you there? Yes? Then send me your book, my friend.
Let’s get to work.
So, what kind of books am I looking to mentor this year?
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
- I’m definitely looking for genre books, but within that context, I’m excited to read stories with diversity of any type, including #ownvoices books.
- I will accept YA and NA
- My biggest request will be thrillers. I’ll take action-based thrillers, psychological, techno thrillers, and a tiny bit of sci-fi (sci-fi isn’t my favorite, but it can be amazing,so the right book could do it for me). Books like THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL (Maxine Kaplan), PEOPLE LIKE US (Dana Mele), THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN (Kristina McBride), or mysteries like DIVESMACK (Demetra Brodsky) and SEE ALL THE STARS (Kit Frick).
- I’m also open to paranormal YA and full-on horror. Books like DREAD NATION (Justina Ireland), THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE (Amelinda Berube), THE CALL (Paedar O’Guillin), THE DEVIL AND WINNIE FLYNN (Micol Ostow), and books by Kim Liggett.
- I love combining humor with more serious stories, so if you have something along the lines of SCREAM ALL NIGHT (Derek Milman) or THEIVING WEASELS (Billy Taylor), especially if there’s a thriller element, send it to me.
- I’m also open to magical realism or light fantasy as long as it’s at least mostly rooted in the present time and a contemporary world: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST (Holly Black) or THE HAZEL WOOD (Melissa Albert).
- These books are just examples; there's no need to know them to sub to me if your book fits my overall categories.
WHAT I’m NOT LOOKING FOR
- Anything that’s NOT YA.
- Quiet books. I’m a genre girl, so I’m looking for books with thrills and scares.
- Pure contemporary. I love these books (think SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE by Lindsey Champion), but I’m not looking for that this time around.
- High fantasy.
- No vampires or werewolves (UNLESS it’s a silly take on the trope. Think FAT VAMPIRE for or something like Molly Harper’s books for YA.)
- No space stories.
- No dystopians, please.
There's nothing wrong with these types of books, and my preferences have nothing to do with the chances of these kinds of books getting you an agent or book deal, they're just not my favorites and therefore you're better off using one of your submissions on a mentor who'd be a better fit.
Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to get to know me. I can't wait to read your submission!!!! And remember, the links to all the other YA mentors' blog posts are BELOW.
ORDER FROM YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Apple Store /
Walmart / Target / Indiebound / Book Depository / Books-A-Million / Booktopia
Everyone who enters will win ...
- A signed bookmark
- Special, supplemental chapters that show what the secondary characters were doing in the hours leading up to the hold up in Cafe Flores (I will send this out AFTER the book is released. No spoilers now!)
AND will be in the running for one of the other fun prizes I've created to go perfectly with the theme of a cafe, like Cafe Flores in my book.
- A Cafe Flores mug
- A TEN AFTER CLOSING key chain with the Cafe Flores mug charm, a clock charm, and other colorful beaded charms
- A signed copy of TEN AFTER CLOSING
and the GRAND PRIZE is ...
All the prizes above AND something to go in your mug (coffee or tea--winner's choice)
- - Enter the giveaway now. - -
TEN AFTER CLOSING will be available on September 4th, so the last day to pre-order is September 3rd, 2018. The prize winners will be chosen on the 27th, and I'll get them all in the mail promptly. Giveaway is US only.
And, last but not least, THANK YOU again for your support!
If you have questions, just let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And I get to be IN it!
My part in it takes the form of six non-fictional essays on the psychobiology of horror. These include one general essay as a sort of intro to the book, followed by one shorter essay for each of the five sections, which are dedicated to each of the five senses. Researching and writing these was super fun, and I got to deepen my own knowledge of this topic too!
I can't wait for you to see the finished product, which will be available on July 9th, 2018. For more information on the book, click HERE.
My publisher, Sky Pony Press, has created a little teaser of my upcoming release. If you want a taste of what's to come on September 4th, you can check it out. Click HERE to check it out.
NOTE: The teaser is a pre-proof (i.e., not fully edited) version and it's not for quotation.
Hello, Wonderful Writers!
The author journey is long. Long. It takes forever to get an agent. Even when you sign with one, it can take months to years to sell your book. Then you wait for it to come out. And to get the next book deal. In between, there are a lot of things to wait for: people to read and give you feedback, wait times until reveals and announcements, delays in getting an answer so you can move on to something else.
This process takes a LONG time.
But, it’s not all an endless, sweaty slog along a dusty trail. I swear. There are many bright spots along the way. Today, I want to talk about something else that happens during the writing journey: a bunch of seemingly inconsequential events that actually are really important.
I learned this concept as a psychology pre-doctoral intern, leading a CBT psychotherapy group for people in recovery from addiction. One of our therapy concepts was Seemingly Inconsequential Decision: or, the little, unimportant choices we make daily that keep us stuck in a loop that replays our addiction. The decision to get gas here instead of there (because here just happens to be near the market where we buy our cigarettes or the bar we like to stop at after work). The decision to skip a workout, which leaves more time open, which means we might get bored, which increases the chances that we’ll want to hang out with the wrong crowd. In therapy, by helping clients see how these seemingly unimportant events are actually important, they gain greater insight and more muscle to power forward in their recovery.
Right now you’re probably like: 1) what does this even have to do with writing? and 2) I thought this was supposed to be motivational; how is this positive?
I’m getting there, I swear!
Trail Marker 2: I joined a critique group that I located through those materials. That group wasn’t the best fit for me, so I ended up joining another one, which also wasn’t the best fit for me, so I found another one in the summer of 2013. In that group, I noticed an old friend, the wonderful Cristina Dos Santos, who I’d lost touch with maybe seven years prior, but who was apparently writing. I reached out to her, and she invited me into her writers’ group.
Trail Marker 3: That group was the right fit. Those ladies are now some of my best friends. Now, I have all these new best friends!
Trail Marker 4: One of them told me about a small press looking for stories for an anthology. So I wrote one, and that ended up being my first accepted story. That wasn’t the end of my journey; getting into an anthology wasn’t my end goal, but it was a fabulous success that motivated me and led to more opportunities. One of the authors on that anthology became one of my current CPs; we still trade manuscripts.
Trail Marker 5: Later, I was invited to attend an author workshop with one of those writer group friends (the fabulous Janae Marks, whose book, FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON, comes out next year), and I chose to attend a Middle Grade romance talk; I used what I learned there to write the second short for the small press.
Trail Marker 6: And that got accepted. No, it wasn’t an agent offer or a book deal, but it was so cool, and it led to more opportunities. That anthology was all MG horror stories, and one author in particular has a successful MG/YA horror series.
Trail Marker 7: Later, when I was working on a MG horror, I had some questions, and so I reached out to that author, Ty Drago, of THE UNDERTAKER SERIES. He was very open to talking to me since we were in the anthology together, and he was super helpful.
Trail Marker 8: Later, he came to me and asked if I’d like to help read submissions for his lit mag, Allegory Magazine, and I was like, “Sure!” Becoming an editor on the project wasn’t the end of my road either, but I learned SO much about story by reading those submissions; it helped me get better at writing. I also got to give other authors their yes-moment, and there’s nothing like that.
Trail Marker 9: Later, when I had an opportunity to be a mentor for PitchWars, I felt very confident I could help other authors with their books, and my work with Allegory helped there. Being a PitchWars mentor isn’t the end of my journey either, but now, through that, I’ve met SO many other authors, and I’ve learned from them, been supported by them, and helped to support them back. (The thrill I get when I ask authors to send me their full MSs is almost as exciting as when I was the recipient of such emails). And my mentee got an agent!
There’s more. I could go on. For example that same small press put out a call for novellas, so I wrote one, and that book, BROKEN CHORDS was published last year. Ty was kind enough to write a blurb for me. Because I wrote that novella, I was invited to Palm Peril in February, and I got to be on a panel and have dinner with R. L. Stine. This string of events never ends. If I come back in three months, I will see how it has grown again.
All of these things were little boosts along the way, but none was the ultimate end of my journey. It wasn’t like I started writing saying “Being a Pitch Wars Mentor is my goal,” but all of these things were endpoints in and of themselves anyway. They were all small successes that not only helped buoy me and keep me motivated for the longer hike, they also opened new opportunities that absolutely support my success long term. And, they’ve been hugely fun and rewarding and satisfying. I’ve learned from them. I’m growing every day.
So, my points here are: 1) you never know what one opportunity will lead to in the long run. 2) the journey may be long, but there are many, many places to pause and simply enjoy the view along the way. 3) You just have to get a little ways down the path before you’ll be able to see how these things have all been instrumental in your success.
What seemingly inconsequential evens have opened new paths for you on your author journey? Leave your stories in the comments. I’d love to hear them.
A huge hug to Amber Gregg for having me back on Judging More Than Just The Cover, and until next time, remember: You can do it! You can write!
A weekend in Palm Beach, FL. My first author panel, moderated by R. L. Stine, an icon and a personal favorite. Seeing my book for sale for the first time. My book with a library bar code! And the kids. They were INCREDIBLE. I can't even explain what it felt like hearing a mob of young readers say they want to read my book. Nothing was so painful as choosing one for my giveaway (I did eenie-meenie-miney-mo). And I got to do my first signing. And have dinner with this fabulous group of writers and Mr. Stine and his lovely wife and editor, Jane Stine. The weather was fabulous, and the other authors were wonderful. (Writers are seriously the best people, ever.) Amy Christine Parker (author and chair of the new International Thriller Writers Young Reader division) was a fountain of information and made the whole thing easy as can be. J.D. Fennell, Karen McManus, Megan Miranda, and Shelia Sobel were super fun to hang with, and I can't wait to see how things go with all their careers. The Palm Beach Library System set up the event with such professionalism, and helped to ensure we had a large crowd. We visited two high schools the day after the main event, Glades High School and Atlantic Community High School, where we met Elizabeth Zrodowski and Rebecca Radic, librarian and medial specialists, extraordinaires.
The event was also sobering. As most people know, February 14th, 2018 saw a shooting at the Marjorie Douglas Stoneman HS in Parkland, FL. The schools in the area were under high alert in the week after, which included our visit, mere days following the horrifying event. Security measures were in effect, but tensions were high. I wont lie; it was emotional and scary. Imagining what kids in America must experience on a daily basis when they walk into their classrooms was immensely moving. Being afraid of going to school. Fear of being in a place where something terrible might happen. Our schools have threats on a regular basis. Social media makes it so easy for masked threats, many of which are pranks, but how does anyone know? Not having children myself, this was a huge eye-opener. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated what all this meant, just nowhere near enough.
Our educators are heroes. Period. Our children are courageous. I don't know how parents get through. In life, we are occasionally exposed to things that change our worldview. This was one of them for me.
I want to end by thanking everyone involved. I also want to thank the International Thriller Writers and the Debut Program, organized by Shaun Harris (author and fellow member of Team Triada), for creating an opportunity for debut authors like me (in other words, clueless authors like me) to learn this valuable aspect of the business in a safe, supportive way.
I came to writing at a time when I was tired, worn out, burned out. I’d just finished my degree in psychology, which involved many years of classwork, exams, and applying for multiple training positions—many of which required competing against other students for scarce spots. For a decade, I did little for me other than my absolute necessities. I missed sleep, I missed parties, I missed trips. I stayed home when everyone else went and had a good time.
I told myself it was worth it.
And ten, a decade later, I was done, and instead of feeling energized, I was tired. And so I wrote. I wrote not knowing if I’d finish my first book. I wrote not knowing how to write at all, not really, not the way that works for fiction, but I did it anyway. And before that first book was done, I was ready for more and ready to put myself out there. My first queries met with only rejection, which was appropriate—they were terrible—but at that time, I didn’t understand how to make them better. All I knew was that I wasn’t good enough, which was hard. I thought of giving up, but as the stress built—from work, from rejection, from everything else in life—I needed to get it out, and so I wrote.
Three years in, I finally found my writer tribe, and they taught me SO much. And then life happened, reminding me that utter ruin is just around the corner. No matter how well you prepare and how hard you work, you can still end up with nothing. Then life took people I loved—including my cheerleader—and bestowed disease on people I can’t bear to lose. And the rejections kept coming, as if everything in my life was okay. As if could handle one more letdown. And I coped with the stress the only way I knew how; I wrote. Until the day I didn’t get a no. That day, four years into my journey, I got a yes.
My first yes.
My mom still had cancer, and the future was still uncertain, but my story was going to be published in a real book, and it was the most incredible moment of my life. Even to this day. I will never forget what that email was like. I had leveled up. New things were now possible. Everything was possible. I’d done it. And I was more motivated than ever, and so I wrote.
I didn’t sleep for about two weeks after that, because every time I tried, that excitement came back. And it was a good thing, because for the first time in over a year, I was not-sleeping for a good reason. The stories filled my brain, and I woke up, tired but exhilarated, and I wrote them.
That one yes helped ease the no’s that came right after, but then something amazing happened. Another yes. And then another one. And then, a maybe—from an agent. An agent! My first requests came in, and I was sure it was going to happen. It. I’d be a writer. For real. And so I wrote.
Then the big disappointment. The day the call came, but it wasn’t the real call. It was my lowest point of all. Everything that had happened in the months prior came down on me, and it was like all that potential I’d seen had been smoke and mirrors. I cried. Then I stopped. And the info from the call that wasn’t the call was running through my brain, and before the redness had left my eyes and the stuffiness had left my nose, I wrote.
The possibilities and potential weren’t gone. More good things came. The competition, the call that was the call, then the offer. With these things came more excitement than I can capture in words, but they brought stress and uncertainty and self-comparison and not-measuring-up. At times, I realized that, though six years had passed since I typed the first words, I almost felt like I was in the same place. And so I wrote, because nothing eases the stress of being a writer like writing, like the story in my head.
In mere months, my book will be out, and I have no clue what that road will be like. It will definitely be exciting, and I’m sure I’ll have more sleepless nights—the good ones—but I’m sure I’ll have some of the bad, too. But I’ll be okay, because over the eight years since I started this “hobby,” I’ve learned so much, I’ve met incredible people, and I have a fabulous team behind me (including my mom, who’s doing well!). I can’t control what people will think of my book. All I can control is what I do next. The thing I’m most grateful for is that the writing never stopped being fun, exciting, and energizing. It’s still the thing that gets me through. I really hope people love my book, but if they don’t, there will be another book. I don’t know that, not yet, but I know it all the same. And, in the meantime, I’ll write. Because what else am I going to do?
NB: Last month, I wrote a post about my journey, and this is the same story, but not a story of dates and milestones. In some ways, this is the real story. To all the Wonderful Writers out there, if you’re looking for your cheerleader, let me be it. As long as you’re writing, you’re a writer. As long as you don’t quit, you can’t fail. And, never forget: You can do it! You can write!
Jessica Bayliss Blogs about reading, writing, & other fun stuff