The YA Gal Facebook Party!

Readers: want to win books, bookmarks, and bookish swag?

The YA Gal Holiday PartyAuthor Jennifer Bardsley, aka The YA Gal on Facebook, is hosting a Facebook party that’s all prizes! No gimmicks to sign up for newsletters. I’ll be giving away a fashion emergency kit like my character discusses in Alterations!

Here are the details: Sunday December 17, 3 pm PST (6pm EST) on the party Facebook event.

Please RSVP so we know you’re coming: The YA Gal Holiday Event

Prizes! Discussions! Funny pet photos and more! Come join sixteen of your favorite YA authors for a virtual Christmas party. Every ten minutes there will be a new giveaway. Bring a picture of your favorite food to share in our virtual potluck.

 

 

YA Gal party Alterations

 

Hope to see you there!

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Insecure Writers Support Group Wednesday

Insecure Writers Support Group

 

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support.

The first Wednesday of every month is a blog hop – check out more writer blogs here!

 

 

October 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Part of the fun of writing is exploring what I like and want to know more about, and sometimes that means adding in a bit of what we see around us. I stay away from naming characters after people I know or using obvious traits. What I love about writing is finding inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it’s a funny thing someone says or a super quirky interest. My husband’s elaborate rules on donuts ended up in one of my (unpublished) books where a character is super picky about which donuts she eats. It’s part of her character having expertise on snacking and feeling the need to share this expertise widely.

Far From Falling Book Image

Today I’m also featuring the first book in the series I’m writing for – the first book is free, called Far From Falling. Isn’t the cover perfect for fall? My release Falling Into Place is coming this fall too, my first foray into self-publishing! Big thanks to everyone in the IWSG community for being a support through the years. I’m so excited to share this accomplishment.

Here’s the link for the free book!

What’s your most anticipated read this fall?

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Welcome Home Book Release Event

Last month, I had the pleasure of joining three other authors for the Welcome Home book release event at Schuler Books in Lansing, Michigan. The short story collection sold out of books at the event! The stories are all fiction involving themes of adoption, created and edited by author and literary agent Eric Smith.

Here are a few pics from the event:

 

 

Stephanie Scot with Welcome Home book and Alterations bookmark

Me with our books and my Alterations bookmarks!

 

Authors at Welcome Home book event

Welcome Home authors Stephanie Scott, Eric Smith, Erica Chapman with moderator Darcy Woods – bookended with the same black ballet flats!

 

Photo of authors at Welcome Home event

Panel: Eric Smith, the creator and editor of Welcome Home, with Erica Chapman, Stephanie Scott and moderator Darcy Woods

 

Author Stephanie Scott with her Mother at Welcome Home bookstore event

With my mom!

Welcome Home is available in print and ebook from many book retailers!

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble 

IndieBound

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Last Day of Alterations Sale!

Today is the last day to get my Romance Writers of America RITA® Award Finalist Book ALTERATIONS on sale across ebook retailers!

Buy here:

Amazon

iBooks

Barnes & Noble Nook

GooglePlay

Happy reading!

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Surprises in Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. The goal is to offer assistance and guidance and to help writers overcome their insecurities by offering encouragement and creating a community of support. Check out the IWSG website and the other blogs in the hop: IWSG monthly blog hop

September 6 Question:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?

For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?

 

Welcome Home Anthology CoverFunny you should ask, randomly generated IWSG question. Actually, YES. Just yesterday, the short story collection Welcome Home by Eric Smith released, including a contribution from me! Some writers excel at a short story format. I would not say I am of that excelling demographic. But, the challenge was a great experience. Writing a short story showed me how every word matters, and how to sharpen my focus on every aspect of the story for maximum impact.

Wait there’s more! I’m also venturing from young adult books to a contemporary romance I plan to publish this fall! It’s part of a group series, meaning three of us authors will be writing stories set in the same world with overlapping characters. Too often, I’ve seen people say things like, “I should just write a romance book and cash in,” or how romance books are paint-by-numbers. I’m here to tell you, it takes the same amount of writerly sweat to write a romantic work of fiction as it does anything else. You still go through rounds of editing and feedback and multiple drafts. This was a fun challenge – to see if I could put my own stamp on a genre I’ve come to really love reading.

I still feel new enough at this writer deal that any project feels new and challenging. What surprises me most is the end product itself. After all the doubts and hair pulling, to see the finished product is incredibly satisfying.

Writers: have you written in different genres?

Readers: what are two very different books you enjoyed?

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Welcome Home Release Day and Alterations Sale!

Today is the day – the Welcome Home short story collection is out in the world!

I’m honored and excited to be part of this story collection with adoption-centered fiction stories. I worked for a foster care and adoption agency as my first real job out of college. I tend to say my most interesting and saddest stories come from that job.

 

Welcome Home Image and quote by author Darcy Woods

Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors.

The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times best-selling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres. The full list of contributors includes: Adi Alsaid, Karen Akins, Erica M. Chapman, Caela Carter, Libby Cudmore, Dave Connis, Julie Eshbaugh, Helene Dunbar, Lauren Gibaldi, Shannon Gibney, Jenny Kaczorowski, Julie Leung, Sangu Mandanna, Matthew Quinn Martin, Mindy McGinnis, Lauren Morrill, Tameka Mullins, Sammy Nickalls, Shannon Parker, C.J. Redwine, Randy Ribay, William Ritter, Stephanie Scott, Natasha Sinel, Eric Smith, Courtney C. Stevens, Nic Stone, Kate Watson, and Tristina Wright.

Welcome Home Cover

 

Buy now:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

 

 

 

And bonus news! Alterations is on sale for .99 cents all month! This is the lowest price the book has been (or will be!). If you end up picking up the book, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you some fun book swag!

Alterations book: her world is about to burst at the seams

Available for .99 cents now from these retailers:

B&N Nook  iBooks  Amazon 

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Welcome Home Bookstore Event

Hello, happy readers! 

The Welcome Home short story collection is releasing in just a few weeks! Tuesday September 5, Flux Books will release this multi-author young adult collection featuring adoption themes. 

I’ll be at a bookstore event in Lansing, Michigan to celebrate the Welcome Home release! Join myself, contributor Erica M. Chapman, and the Welcome Home editor, who himself is an author and literary agent, Eric Smith.

If you’re in the vicinity, we’d love to see you!

Here are the details:

Welcome Home Cover
 
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 – 7:00pm

Schuler Books & Music 
2820 Towne Center Blvd. 
Lansing, MI 48912

Join us for an author panel featuring contributors to Welcome Home, a new anthology featuring a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times best-selling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres.

Praise for Welcome Home

“The best [stories in this anthology], reflect the bittersweet truths that adoptive families differ profoundly from biological ones and that coming to terms with these differences is a lifelong process.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Authors across a variety of genres share stories that range from the fantastical to gritty, but all will touch readers hearts (and cause a few to shed some tears).” –School Library Journal

“This volume earns a place in every YA library and it is up to YA librarians to put it into the hands of teens who need it most.” –VOYA

About the Editor

ERIC SMITH is a young adult author and literary agent who grew up in the wilds of New Jersey. When he isn’t working on books (his and other peoples), he can be found writing about books for places like Book Riot and Paste Magazine. He lives with his wife, Nena, and their legion of small furry animals. Find him online at ericsmithrocks.com or on Twitter at @ericsmithrocks.

More information here:

http://www.schulerbooks.com/event/welcome-home-adoption-anthology-panel-event

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Read-a-Romance Month Blog

Today I’m part of Read a Romance Month! This is a cool, month-long blog feature where three authors who write romance books post each day.

The theme this year is the power of romance. Plus: PRIZES! I’m giving away an ebook copy of ALTERATIONS with some book swag (bookmark and mini sewing kit), plus there is an ongoing giveaway of more book stuff every day. 

Check out my post here: www.readaromancemonth.com

The full schedule is here:

Read a Romance Month 2017

 

 

 

 

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My Top First Pages Pet Peeves and How to Fix Them!

Insecure Writers Support Group

Looking for a supportive writing community? Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site and the IWSG Facebook group! It all started with a blog hop that still goes on every month. Visit a few new blogs here.

August 2 Question:

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Perfect timing for this question! I’m about to dive into Pitch Wars submissions, which means a whole slew of first pages. (If you don’t know about Pitch Wars, see my previous post, or go here to the brand new Pitch Wars website! The skinny: writers submit pitches and first chapters to other writers for a chance to be mentored before an agent showcase round 3 months from now.)

Let me say this first: just about anything in writing can be improved or fixed. Writing is a craft that takes time. I’m light years ahead of where I was five years ago, but there are books I pick up sometimes that make me weep at their greatness. So, in the spirit of Pitch Wars, let’s turn this pet peeves post into more constructive advice.

Writing Books Stephanie Scott Author Instagram

 

My Top First Pages Pet Peeves – and How to Fix Them!

  1. A lackluster first line
    • A first line is your first impression to a reader. It’s a great spot to display your voice, set the tone, and show off a little. Highlight a contradiction, present a shocking statement or a concept that poses a question. Get creative and craft a memorable line.
  2. A perpetually pondering character
    • Ever read a first page without any action? Where the character explains their thoughts, their dreams and setbacks, and wonders about everything from their own emotions to impending doom? There are always exceptions, but typically a whole page of solid narration with no sense of place, setting, or movement is kind of a drag. You don’t have to land readers in the middle of a gun fight, but starting your story where something is happening, changing, or active can entice readers to turn the page.
  3. Character soup
    • Too many characters too fast. For example, laying out the hierarchy of a magical monarchy on page one. Focus on one or two characters at first. Ease readers in.
  4. Any writer syndrome
    • This is a perfectly nice page full of grammatically correct sentences. That could be written by anybody. Look at the first few pages of your story. Can you see your personality in them? Is the type of story you’re trying to tell obvious from the tone you’re setting?
  5. The unnecessary prologue
    • Everybody wants to write a prologue. How else will you know that the chosen one came from a long line of ancient Viking pirates cursed by rebel fairies? Consider whether you’re able to start the story in a different place without backtracking centuries to ancient lore. Or, write the prologue for yourself so you know your character’s backstory, but resist (if you can!) using it in your actual submission. Prologues aren’t “bad” or “wrong” per se, but they rarely are needed in the way authors think they are. Believe me, I have tried!

First pages have a lot of heavy lifting to do! What are pet peeves you encounter in books? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Pitch Wars 2017 Mentor Bio: Stephanie Scott and Erica Chapman

Pitch Wars Revision Warriors

Stephanie and Erica at RT Con 2017

Stephanie & Erica at RT Con’s 1920s party!

 

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Mentor Bio for Erica M. Chapman and Stephanie Scott, co-mentors for Young Adult!

If you’re thinking of entering Pitch Wars and want help with your unpublished young adult manuscript, you’re in the right place!

Erica and Stephanie both grew up in Michigan and even lived in the same city, though (sadly!) not at the same time. Our debut books released the same month – last December – and we’re both included in Eric Smith’s upcoming YA adoption-themed short story collection Welcome Home releasing by Flux Books in September.

We’re ready to find a manuscript to help shape up. We’ll work hard to get you ready for the agent round! 

 

About Erica:

So excited for Pitch Wars. I took last year off and I’m thrilled to be back co-mentoring this time with the incredibly talented Stephanie Scott!

Tina and Amy Hey Girl

I’m SO proud of all my past mentees and have been so fortunate to work with all of them. My most recent mentee (I co-mentored with PW founder Brenda Drake) was the talented Jenny Chou who signed with Steven Chudney! Before her, I had the pleasure of mentoring Whitney Taylor whose amazing debut Definitions of Indefinable Things released this year with HMH!

Previous years I worked with more amazing writers. I even had a sister duo! Leah and Kate Rooper were so much fun to work with and their debut Jane Unwrapped released with Entangled Teen Crave! I also had an excellent experience with my very first mentee, Linda Budzinski. You can read our story here and her awesome novel The Funeral Singer!

My history in publishing…

I’ve been writing for over 11 years in total! My YA debut Teach Me to Forget is out now with Simon Pulse!

My writing is represented by the always awesome and patient Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. I began in publishing as an intern for the incredible Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Louise taught me a lot of what I know about the industry and writing/editing. I was also an associate editor at Entangled Publishing where I had the opportunity to work with amazing authors and editors including the talented Liz Pelletier and Stacy Abrams. I’ve learned a lot over the years about publishing, queries, voice, and most recently, story structure that I’m eager to share with my mentee(s). I’m an SCBWI member and I love the Detroit Lions and University of Michigan football, alternative music, going to concerts, singing, reading, good movies, golfing, running, and yoga.

 What I’d love to see in the YA category…

This is always the hardest part. The truth is… I don’t know. I know what my tastes are like. I love YA contemporaries, a great sic-fi or thriller. I love stories about football, music, love interests who antagonize each other then fall for each other. DIVERSITY – Multicultural, QUILTBAG, disabilities – physical or mental, whatever you got. There has to be TENSION and STAKES, CONFLICT. A good romance is always fun to read. That doesn’t mean have them kiss on page 14. Have them almost kiss a few times then kiss somewhere around 60% or so, then tear them apart [insert evil laugh]. I want to stay up late reading your story. Torture me. Make me angry at you for not giving me what I want right away. Make me CARE about your characters. MAKE ME LAUGH. I love laughing so if your MC is funny AND has emotional baggage that’s a total win for me.

Am I crying or laughing?

Please no verse or lots of world building. And keep the info dumps in those beautiful brains of yours. Nothing really scares me off except people eating people. Horror – yes, Thriller- yes. Fantasy – yes, Sci-Fi – yes. I do love Dystopian but agents are shying away from it right now, so… unless it breaks the mold completely, I would submit something else. Same for paranormal romance. As I say every year, GREAT WRITING trumps anything I write in this bio.

STILL VALID —> My ideal love interest –  Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf (if you’re not watching it, you’re missing out)

Stiles from Teen Wolf

Why do I love him? Stiles is goofy, funny, sweet, loyal, smart. He’s kind of the whole package, folks. He makes you love him. Also, throw in some Mr. Darcy and you’ve got a dangerous combo.

My mentoring style…

I’m pretty blunt when it comes to editing. I will say exactly what I think is missing and what I believe will help, even if it’s something that seems ridiculous (like changing your love interest – it happened, ask Linda). This doesn’t mean you need to change anything. Feel free to tell me no. If I strongly believe something will help your story, I will encourage you to try to think differently. That’s our role–to guide you through this process. Many have encouraged me to explore other opportunities in my stories. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I was wrong and ended up changing it later. I will mostly point out big picture stuff; motivations, plot holes, structure issues, character arcs.

As I say every year I do Pitch Wars, this will be a partnership. I want to work with you to make your story the best it can be.

Some of my all-time favorite books:

GOING TOO FAR by Jennifer Echols (really, anything by her)
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir
The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson (anything by her, but this is my favorite)
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
UNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee
THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey
HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno
JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta

Some New Faves:

GIRL IN PIECES by Kathleen Glasgow
WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE by Ingrid Paulson
THE WAY I USED TO BE by Amber Smith
STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco

How are we doing? Take a quick break and –

treat yo self

About Stephanie:

While Erica has been with Pitch Wars since its origins, I’m here for Pitch Wars cuatro! That’s a four-peat, folks.  My last year’s mentees, twin sisters Sasha and Sarena Nanua, signed with an agent this spring!

My own agent is Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Lit who I matched up with after a round of blog contests similar to Pitch Wars, but without the mentoring. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and the YA chapter YARWA (say it like a pirate!). For the past five years, I’ve critiqued a TON of contest submissions for multiple Romance Writers’ chapter contests and for the national level Golden Heart and Rita awards. I also do mentoring with the Adventures in YA Publishing Blog’s monthly 1st Five Pages workshop. My debut ALTERATIONS is a finalist for RWA’s Rita award for Best First Book—a huge honor I’m still doing various versions of double-takes when I see my name on the list!

Other stuff:

I’m an Instagram addict, my TBR pile is out of control (in a good way), I do dance fitness, play video games like Fallout, Destiny, and Dragon Age, and I like to cook. I also like to eat, hence the dance fitness. I’m part of a tabletop gaming group for a game that’s like D&D in space, which, admittedly, I’m still getting the hang of, but I’ll roll for initiative and see what happens. Cones of Dunshire Parks and Recreation

What I’d love to see in the YA category…

Erica and I both write contemporary young adult, and while our books are quite different, our reading tastes overlap. I love a YA character with distinct interests, a hobby, or who plays sports. Bonus: layered friendships, complicated family dynamics, and a dash of romance.

We are both eager for stories written by authors from marginalized demographics.

We have our eye on high concept stories. High concept means you can pitch the story in a handful of words. If you can pinpoint your ideal reader (for fans of [example of a book]) this helps too!

Historical YA with an undercurrent of magic (think Iron Cast by Destiny Soria or Libba Bray’s Diviners) and contemporary stories with magical elements like The Raven Boys series. We may not be the best mentors for high fantasy with deep world-building (but plenty of other mentors are!). Same for paranormal. Mystery or thriller elements are welcome. I said this last year too, but a story with a Mr. Robot vibe is of interest!

My mentoring style…

I’d like to think my mentor style is to help writers shape their own voice. I give a lot of examples and detailed comments in the first pages/chapters and then trust the writer to implement changes using their own voice and style throughout. I provide suggestions on pacing, what to cut or build up on, and how to sharpen conflict and plot points. I always recommend Donald Maass’ books on writing, in particular Writing 21st Century Fiction and the more recent The Emotional Craft of Fiction, along with The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Prepare thyselves!

A few newer favorite YA books:

BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray (this is my mainstay fave!)

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon

I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE by Maureen Goo

TEN THINGS WE DID (AND PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE) Sarah Mylnowski

SOMETHING IN BETWEEN by Melissa de la Cruz

FALLOUT – LOIS LANE by Gwenda Bond

TINY, PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Also: contemporary young adult romances by Kasie West, Jennifer E. Smith, Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, Miranda Kenneally. Ally Carter’s Embassy Row series, Also Known As by Robin Benway, The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. All of Nova Ren Suma’s books.

 Bonus Tips!

QUERIES – Read your query and pages out loud. Read it as a reader would on the back of the book. Would you want to read your story? What is it about your story that you like best? Use that.

  • Make sure to infuse your voice in your query (as hard as that is), that is what makes them stand out.
  • Choose what makes it unique and emphasize that. Remember agents/editors read a lot of submissions. Make yours one they won’t forget.
  • White space is your friend. Push that return button to emphasize an important line or phrase.
  • Pay attention to the structure. Don’t forget to tell us what will happen if the MC doesn’t reach their goal! Less is more.
  • The only purpose of a query is to get us to READ MORE. That’s it. It’s a sales pitch for your book. You don’t need the kitchen sink.

PAGES – Your first line should introduce your voice as well as the tone of the MS. Make sure you snag us right away. Don’t bog us down in description and info dumps; it’s okay if we don’t know your MC yet, we shouldn’t! Just make them interesting and unique enough that we keep reading.

  • Pay attention to the rhythm of the words too. Do they flow? Are there any awkward phrases? Look for sentences that are trying too hard, or repeat the same thing as the line before (I do this a lot).
  • Check your dialogue. Does it sound authentic? Do they sound like real people/creatures/robots etc.? Read the lines out loud too.
  • Make sure the actions you write are really possible. If you have your MC performing some crazy, flip-turn combo, make sure it’s something they can realistically do–in your world, of course.
  • Most of all, don’t censor yourself or think about someone reading it yet. That’s where a lot of writers get hung up. Just let your voice shine.

And that’s it!

We’re rooting for you and we believe you can do this!

believing intensifies

Watch for us on the #PitchWars twitter feed! You can find us at @ericamchapman and @StephscottYA

Here’s the link back to the blog hop!

Our books:

Teach Me To Forget by Erica Chapman

Alterations Stephanie Scott

Welcome Home Anthology

 

 

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