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Interview with Shelli Johannes, author of UNTRACEABLE + GIVEAWAY!

30 Nov

by Susan Dennard

You might have seen my book review for Untraceable on Sunday. If not, read it. This book is impressive–and its author, Shelli Johannes, is quite possibly even more impressive.

Why do I have such glowing praise for Shelli? Because she’s done something a lot of us are too scared to do: she has indie-published her debut novel.

But more importantly than that, Shelli has indie-published it right. She has approached it as a professional author who knows the industry, knows what readers want, and knows how to tell a damn good story.

If you want to hear more about her amazing and empowering journey, I suggest reading her blog series on it (which begins here). I was lucky enough to get an interview with Shelli about her publication process, and all I can say is: WOW. She is an inspiration to us all.

When you started writing Untraceable, what was the inspiration behind it?  A dream? A musical clip? Plain, old-fashioned brainstorming?

My husband came home one day from being in the remote woods for the weekend and said, “I was so far out–a terrorist camp could set up there and no one would ever know.”

The story started out called Grace Under Fire. And it was about terrorist cells in the wilderness (hides face from embarrassment). Years later, I got rid of the terrorist camp but kept Grace and the wilderness.

It actually came in the quarterfinals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award of 2009. 1 of only 7 thrillers to make the list.

Wow–I did not know that about the Breakthrough Award! (Can’t say I’m surprised either ;)) And what a COOL way for a story to start…mine are always lame dreams, so I’m totally jealous.

What was the biggest challenge for you while writing UNTRACEABLE? 

Editing it. Back in 09, I remember agents HATING the terrorist angle but loving Grace and the overall setting (go figure :)) so I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the entire plot from scratch. I did that more than once. But that time was the hardest.

You’re taking a different, unique path for getting your book out there, and you’re really showing other writers how self-publish in a professional, and reader-focused manner. It’s obvious you care about your readers more than making some quick cash. When and why did you decide to indie-publish?

For a few reasons:

  1. I was tired of people telling me a contemporary thriller would not sell well to teens.
  2. I wanted to see if I could do it on my own and learn more about publishing process in general.
  3. I thought it would be fun to create my own thing my own way.

Because I was scared everyone would think I suck, I decided to blog about the process openly – the ups and the downs to see if I could help others decide if indie pubbing was right for them.

I also hear so much about the stigma of indie/self pubbing. I wanted to break through that barrier and create a high quality product I was proud of and show people that you can do it the right way.

Yeah, I think that stigma is starting to fade as more and more writers with high-quality stories take that route. All I can say is: GOOD FOR YOU! For having the courage and the determination to do this the “right way”.

Is there anything that, in hindsight, you wish you had done differently with UNTRACEABLE–either in the writing or publication process?

I’m having so much fun I wish I had done this a long time ago. I wish I had skipped all the unnecessary anxiety. But I believe everything happens for a reason and I am where I am supposed to be.

Too true–I’m a firm believer of that as well. What’s your next writing project? And do you think you’ll continue on the self-publication path with it?

I have a special edition of Untraceable coming out in Jan/Feb with a different ending. And I am putting out Grace 2 – called Uncontrollable early next summer.

Beyond that – I’m not sure. I have manuscripts that have almost been bought on my shelf. Who knows maybe I’ll pull another one out.

But I am writing a WIP that I would like to get an agent for down the road. I love the traditional pubbing process so I hope to do both someday when I am ready to jump back in the pit.

I think it’s so awesome that you’re interested in both approaches and that you want to try to tackle both. I would love to as well…one day…when I’m not so lazy.;) Honestly, though, writing all these books and self-promoting–it must take a lot of perseverance and hard work. What’s a typical writing day for you? 

I drop off my daughter at school around 8 and then hang with my son until I drop him off at preschool at 9. I spend about an hour on the Internet with emails, twitter, Facebook, catching up on blogs etc. I usually write from about 10-12ish. Then I catch up on emails again before I get my son at 1.

But this is not how it is all the time. Especially not right now.

Right now, I imagine your life is wrapped up in UNTRACEABLE promotion. In your spare time, though, what are you reading?

Just finished The Pledge by Kimberly Derting and Fracture by Megan Miranda.

And any final words of advice or inspiration? 

Don’t give up. Let go of you ego. And follow your heart.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win not only an ebook of Untraceable, but also a copy of Escape Velocity and an ARC of Promise the Night.

It’s open internationally, and we’ll announce our giveaway winner on FRIDAY! ALONG WITH OUR BIG NEWS!

And Monday’s giveaway winner (for a copy of PRETTY BONES) is

Nicole Steinhaus!

Email us at letthewordsflowblog (at) gmail (d0t) com with your mailing address!

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Book Recommendation: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares + GIVEAWAY!

28 Nov

DASH AND LILY’S BOOK OF DARES by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Published October 26th, 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
272 Pages

With Christmas just around the corner, this seemed like an appropriate choice for a book recommendation. I read it about two weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In fact, I’ve already convinced three of my friends to read it, and lent it to a fourth.

There’s something magical about Christmas, and I think this book hits it right on the head. Christmas is full of endless possibilities. People are nicer, the world is brighter, and smiles are out in droves. Everything is over-the-top, from decorations to the amount of food we eat and the music we listen to. But nobody cares because it’s the holidays. Personally, Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. How can you not be in a good mood?!

That warm, fuzzy feeling you get around the holidays is something you get while reading this book. And I don’t think it matters what time of year you read it — the feeling will still be there.

But! More about the book and less about my love for Christmas.

First of all, I think the plot is one of the most creative plots I’ve seen in a while. Sticking a red moleskine on a shelf in the Strand with clues that could maybe lead to romance is an amazing idea. The fact that Lily’s brother did it to keep her out of his hair is even better. (Also, I will freely admit to having gone to the Strand since reading this and checking to see if someone had dared to replicate the moleskine idea.) Everything was woven together so well, and those clues! Part of me wonders if I would’ve been able to decipher them, had it been me. The creativity that went into this is mind-blowing.

Also, collaborations can be tricky. I’ve seen plenty of submissions where the two authors’ styles just didn’t mesh. It was obvious who was writing for which character, and the flow was awkward because of it. David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s voices blend seamlessly together. Even with each of them writing a different character, you’re never once pulled from the story because things don’t work well together. The pair also wrote NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST and NAOMI AND ELY’S NO LIST KISS, neither of which I’ve read, but both of which I intend to pick up.

Dash and Lily were fantastic characters. Dash is a little pretentious, but is still one of the most likable guys I’ve come across in fiction. Boomer is hilarious, and I can’t imagine the book without him. Lily’s cooky family made me wish they were a part of my own, and as a main character, I thought Lily was great. She’s so naive, and it’s fun to watch her get out and test the waters when her parents are gone. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to go to some skeezy underground club on Christmas eve (By myself. In New York.), so she gets major props for that.

Now that I live in New York, the book had an extra ounce of charm because I knew where things were located. The Strand was one of the very first places I visited when I moved here, and I still pay homage at least once a month. Even if I don’t buy anything, it’s nice to be surrounded by that many books. (Supposedly there are 18 miles of books in that store. I want to know what kind of math they used to figure that out…) I’ve also made an effort to locate the rest of the places mentioned in the book. When a book motivates you that much, I feel like it has to be good.

So, if you’re in need of some extra holiday cheer (or just enjoy overdosing on Christmas), you need to get a copy of this book. I promise you’ll be smiling like an idiot by the time you’re done, and it’ll take a while before it wears off.

~~~

Continuing the tradition of building up suspense for our Super Awesome Super Exciting News, we’ve also got another giveaway! You can leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Aya Tsintziras’s debut novel, PRETTY BONES.

Raine has a family, good grades, best friends, and a boyfriend who loves her. But then anorexia takes over, and her life spirals out of control. Her efforts to hide her condition are finished when she collapses at a school dance. Although she’s whisked away to treatment, Raine isn’t ready to accept who she really is and get the help she desperately needs. For Raine, coming-of-age means coming closer to death.

Sooz will be announcing the winner on Wednesday. Stay tuned for the rest of our giveaways!

DARKER STILL Giveaway Winner!

24 Nov

Happy (American) Thanksgiving!

If you haven’t heard yet, we have BIG NEWS coming on the very near horizon. To build up the excitement for you guys, we’ll be wrapping up November with a bunch of giveaways!! ARCS galore!!

So keep your eyes peeled for the next one!

Now, to announce the winner of an ARC of Leanna Renee Hieber’s deliciously dark and romantic novel, Darker Still!

Kairee-Anne!!

Email us  letthewordsflowblog (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and we’ll ship this ARC to you ASAP!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

the ladies at Let the Words Flow

Big News Giveaway #2: DARKER STILL by Leanna Hieber

22 Nov

Hi everyone! It’s time for our second blog giveaway in preparation for our BIG NEWS.

Today, we’re giving away an ARC of Leanna  Renee Hieber’s DARKER STILL, the first book in the MAGIC MOST FOUL series.

Here’s the story:

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart’s latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing…

Jonathan Denbury’s soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

Sounds pretty freaking good, no? ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is

leave a comment for a chance to win!

🙂

It’s open internationally, and we’ll announce the winner on Thursday. Also, stay tuned for our next giveaway!

TEMPEST Winner!

18 Nov

Happy Friday!

If you didn’t read the post Wednesday, we have BIG NEWS coming on the very near horizon. To build up the excitement for you guys (‘cos WE’RE already excited!!), we’ll be doing a bunch of giveaways for the rest of this month!! ARCS galore!!

So keep your eyes peeled for the next one–it starts TODAY on Twitter. All you have to do is retweet about the giveaway to be entered! NOT HARD, huh?

Just head here and RETWEET!

Now, to announce the winner of an ARC of Julie Cross’s highly anticipated novel, Tempest!

Danielle!

Email us  letthewordsflowblog (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and we’ll ship this ARC to you ASAP!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

the ladies at Let the Words Flow

Big News Giveaway: TEMPEST by Julie Cross!

16 Nov

Hi, everyone!

LTWF has some big news coming up at the end of the month–REALLY BIG NEWS–and to prep for the coming excitement, we thought we’d do a giveaway! This is just the first of several before November comes to a close, so stay tuned!

Today we’re giving away one ARC of TEMPEST by Julie Cross, one of the most anticipated debuts of 2012 (out January 17th)!

Here’s a summary of the book:

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

~~~

Sounds really awesome, right? ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is leave a comment for a chance to win! 🙂

Good luck!!!

LTWF Live Blog Word War for NaNoWriMo Begins!

4 Nov

See yesterday’s post for the low-down! Here’s a recap:

Beth Revis and Stephanie Perkins‘ latest writing war live blogged throughout the day inspired us to do our own!

Participants (or people who just want to watch the fun!) can connect with each other through a Twitter List, or using the hashtag #ltwfwordwar

Remember, if you’re participating (or even if you just want to be nice!), please visit one another’s blogs and cheer one another on!!

*Let Kat or Savannah know if you finished and aren’t marked as such below by leaving a comment!

List of Participants

1. Kat Zhang – Word Goal: 6,000 (US Central time)

Finished with 6,063!

2. Savannah Foley – Word Goal: 10,000 (US Central time)

Finished at 10,377

3. Jessica Lewenda – Word Goal: 8,000 (Australia)

Finished with 6,399!

4. Brittany Severn – Word Goal: 3,000

Finished with 3,162!

5. Amanda – Word Goal: 4,000 (US Eastern time)

Finished with 4,011!

6. Kae – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Eastern time)

Finished with 3,200!

7. Heather – Word Goal: 15,000 (UK) Kat’s note: I know folks, I’m scared, too 😉

Finished with over 15,000! Holy crap Heather totally won the word war!

8. Ellen – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Central time)

Finished with 3076!

9. Ashelynn Hetland – Word Goal: 5,000 (US Mountain time)

Finished with 6500!

10. Kayleigh – Word Goal: 2,777 (France)

11. Julie Fisher – Word Goal: 4,000 (UK)

Finished with 4,008!

12. Katelyn – Word Goal: 3,500 (US Central time) *Now with the correct link!

Finished with 3,572!

13. Adeeti Goswami – Word Goal: 3,000 (US Pacific time)

Finished with 2,518!

14. Asia Morela – Word Goal: 3,000 (Canada Eastern time)

Finished with 3,051!

The Rules

There are none! Just report your progress in regular intervals, and try to stop by the blogs of the others to post inspiring encouragement! Some participants, like Kat and Savannah, are taking a page from Beth and Stephanie and engaging in snarky commentary (this is a word war after all!), but only with each other. Don’t worry, you won’t get snarked unless you explicitly ask for it!

We’ll post tomorrow with everyone’s results.

Have fun, and thanks for participating!

NaNoWriMo Live Blog Tomorrow! And you’re invited!

3 Nov

(depending on where you live, this might actually be happening…I dunno, today. Don’t look at me to calculate timezones :P)

ETA: Alright, this is Kat here going to bed, so I won’t be updating this until tomorrow morning. Just assume everyone’s started, lol. Either Sav or I will do a fresh post tomorrow with the list and such. Good night! Happy writing!

ETA: Most of us have started now!! 😀

Edit from Savannah: I made a Twitter list so if you’re on Twitter you can follow other writers participating tomorrow as we cheer each other on (or try to psych each other out, as Kat and I will be doing!). You can view and follow the list here! @ me if you’d like to be added! Tomorrow let’s use the hashtag #ltwfwordwar for our live-blog-related tweets!

ETA: We’re getting closer to the start time for those of you in Europe, I believe (again, timezones…don’t ask me), and I’m really excited about the great group we’ve got going! Anyone is free to request to be added anytime, even if the 4th has already started where you are. Just comment below! 

I do want to remind everyone, though, that part of the reason we’re doing this is to get everyone writing as a group and provide encouragement to one another. So please, please, whether or not you’re participating as a writer, visit the blogs in the list below and say something nice! (unless you’re Sav or me….we’re allowed to be mean to one another ;P) This is not the time to be shy. I really hope that by the end of the day, everyone has gathered up a nice chain of comments cheering them on. For sure, I’ll be making the rounds and leaving notes as much as I can!! 🙂

So even if you’re in the US and are behind the people in Europe (or poor Jessica alone in Australia, lol..), go say nice things!! It’s good writing karma. Really.

Hey guys, Kat here! So, how’s everyone doing with their NaNo writing? I’ve heard of some people already hitting 25k, which is RIDICULOUS, I tell you. RIDICULOUS 😉

Anyway, I dunno if you guys saw the writing war that Beth Revis and Stephanie Perkins did a little while back, but we here at LTWF thought it was pretty awesome and fun, so we decided to shamelessly steal borrow their idea for NaNo! Hopefully, they won’t mind, cause we think they’re awesome 🙂

The difference between their liveblog and this one, however, is that we’re inviting all of you!

So this is how it works (you can click on the links above to Beth and Stephanie’s blogs if you want an idea of how theirs looked like)

Savannah and I are both in US Central time, so we’ll be starting in the morning of that timezone…whenever we get up, haha. We’re waiting to see if any other LTWF folks throw down the gauntlet, but at the very least, Sav and I (Kat!) will be doing this for sure for just about the WHOLE DAY. We’ll be posting updates on our own, private blogs (you can find the links in the right-hand sidebar) every so often…as well as talking about what’s distracting us, haha.

But you, dear readers–we’re inviting YOU to join the great writing war! It doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. You’ll just get a head start on us or get to stay up later! Post in the comments if you want to join the great End Of Week One NaNo Word War, with a link to your blog and your word count goal (if you’d like, tell us your time zone, too), and we’ll add you to the enlistment list here. Then tomorrow, we can all check out each other’s progress, leave each other sassy and sarcastic encouraging comments, and so on!

Any questions? 😀

Enlistment List (please see note in blue at top of post):

1. Kat Zhang – Word Goal: 6,000 (US Central time) <–Has started!!

2. Savannah Foley – Word Goal: 10,000!!!! (US Central time)

3. Jessica Lewenda – Word Goal: 8,000 (Australia) <–It’s the 4th there, so already started!

4. Brittany Severn – Word Goal: 3,000

5. Amanda – Word Goal: 4,000 (US Eastern time)

6. Kae – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Eastern time) <–Has started!

7. Heather – Word Goal: 15,000 (UK) Kat’s note: I know folks, I’m scared, too 😉 <–Has started!

8. Ellen – Word Goal: 3,000-4,000 (US Central time) <–Has started!

9. Ashelynn Hetland – Word Goal: 5,000 (US Mountain time)

10. Kayleigh – Word Goal: 2,777 (France) <–Has started!

11. Julie Fisher – Word Goal: 4,000 (UK) <–Has started!

12. Katelyn – Word Goal: 3,500 (US Central time)

13. Adeeti Goswami – Word Goal: 3,000 (US Pacific time)

Anyone else?? LTWF wants YOU for the Word War!!

Winner of Zombie Book Drawing!

13 Oct

Aaaand the winner of the zombie book drawing is..

*brains*

etripp83!

~~~

Please email me your address at savannah@savannahjfoley.com and I’ll send you a copy of WWZ!

Be safe out there, survivors!

(If I don’t hear from etripp83 in a few days we’ll pick another winner!)

-Savannah

Giveaway! Win a copy of THE FAERIE RING!

30 Sep

To prepare for an upcoming interview with author Kiki Hamilton, we’re giving away a copy of her debut YA fantasy, THE FAERIE RING!

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger. 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

I (Sooz) have read it, and let me tell you guys: it’s awesome. I’ll have a full review coming on Sunday on my personal blog, but the general lowdown is this:

This is one of those books you want to read curled up in your bed while the blustery wind blows outside.

It’s just got that atmosphere–you know the one I mean. That feel of cold and magic and high stakes and romance. It’s a definite must-read for fantasy lovers everywhere.

So if you’re interested in winning a copy, leave a comment below! The giveaway is open internationally, and we’ll announce our winner on Monday after the Kiki Hamilton interview.