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Sweet 16! – An Interview with Steph Bowe

4 May

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Vanessa Di Gregorio

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Hey everyone! Meet Steph Bowe – a sixteen-year-old author living in Victoria, Australia. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency; and her debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, is set to be published in Australia and New Zealand in September 2010, and in the US in 2011. She blogs at Hey! Teenager of the Year; and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I suggest you do! I got the chance to talk to her about herself, her writing, and a few things in between.

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Vanessa: Thanks for joining us Steph! The first thing I was wondering is, how long have you been writing? Have you always known that you wanted to become a published author?

Steph: I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, and I vowed to write and publish a novel, then buy a house with the royalties. I haven’t bought the house yet – I think I overestimated how much money authors make, and houses were a lot cheaper in 2001 – but I’ve realised my dream of being a published author. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was very young. I finished my first novel when I was fourteen.

V: Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming novel, GIRL SAVES BOY?

S: My debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, is a story about life, death, love… and garden gnomes. Sacha Thomas is dying of cancer, and has lost all hope – then a girl called Jewel Valentine saves him from drowning; a beautiful, mysterious girl with secrets of her own. Adventures, involving lobster emancipation and quirky teenage prodigies, ensue.

V: You’re also a part of the YA 5 – tell us a bit about it and how you became a part of it.

S: I was invited to join by Georgia McBride. It’s a group blog by a number of YA authors, written for teenage readers. We aim to blog about things that’ll interest teens – so that involves school visits and interviewing kids in libraries. It’s a bit different to other blogs out there because of this.

V: You were 15 when you got your agent. I know your agent, Ginger Clark, was aware of your age from reading your blog; but you also had 2 other offers of representation from other agents. Were they aware of your age? Many young authors worry that their young age will hinder them from finding an agent and getting a book deal. Would you agree with them?

S: One of the other agents who offered representation thought I was older, but when I told her I don’t think it bothered her. You really have to demonstrate you have the maturity of an professional writer. Your age won’t hinder you from getting an agent and a book deal, but it’s super important your parents are on board with it (since they will have to sign everything and drive you everywhere), that the agent knows from the start, and that you’re mature about it! Being a young author can be a good marketing angle, but writing a good book is more important.

V: You also found your agent through a contest on the blog Miss Snark’s First Victim (which, funny enough, is also how one of our soon-to-be-announced contributors got her agent). What was your querying process like, in regards to both the contest, and the queries you sent out to other agents?

S: It was very quick! I sent out three queries at the beginning of September ’09, entered in that contest, then sent out fulls and then a fortnight later I had three offers. So it happened very quickly and it was very overwhelming. I was very surprised by the response! I was expecting to wait months.

V: Many aspiring authors around the world are worried that agents from other countries won’t represent them. But you’re proof that they will! What is it like working with an agent who lives overseas in the U.S.? Do you think it makes it any more difficult?

S: I don’t think it makes it super difficult – there are just some limitations. Like, nighttime here is daytime there, so I tend to get email responses at night from her, and phone calls have to be scheduled so one of us is up late at night. There are some tricky tax issues and it’ll be difficult for me to promote my book in the US (unless I fly over there. Which I won’t. People have guns!). But apart from those things, it’s pretty much the same as being in the same country.

V: What is it like, working with two different editors (both Australian and American)?

S: My Australian editor is my main editor, so I’ve been almost entirely working with her. I haven’t done much editing with my US editor yet.

V: What do you enjoy most about writing? Do you have any writing must-haves for inspiration?

S: I love creating… the part where I’m typing out words is the best. It’s a great feeling. As for inspiration? It’s too abstract, so I can’t really look at a photo and be inspired, though I find image collages and playlists can help when I’m first starting a novel.

V: Your blog seems to hint at the fact that you’ve dropped out of high-school; so I was wondering… have you? If so, how has it affected your ability to write, time-wise? Are you considering going to college?

S: I’m currently doing Year 11 (the Australian equivalent of Junior year, I think) by correspondence (I receive schoolwork, complete it at home, post it back to teachers so it can be marked). So I can get my high school certificate, but I also have time to manage my writing and the business side of that. After I finish high school, I’ll definitely be going to university.

V: What do you want to do for the rest of your life?

S: I’d love to be able to write full-time, but I’m aware that’s next to impossible, so my second choice is working in the publishing industry. I’d love to be an editor.

V: Why gnomes?

S: Because gnomes are awesome! They’re so cute.

V: Are you working on any other projects?

S: I’m working on my second novel at the moment. The working title is Signs & Wonders, it’s contemporary YA, and it’s about a girl discovering dark secrets in the pasts of her parents. I’ve also got a lot of ideas and novel beginnings and lots of plans for more books…

V: You’ve shaved your head, gotten a book deal, and have a huge online following, all by 16! So the questions is… what HAVEN’T you done?

S: I haven’t played a whole lot of sport. I’m thinking I might take up tennis…

V: Thanks so much, Steph!!

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Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, she is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

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Steph Bowe is a 16-year-old YA author, whose debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, will be published by Text Publishing this September in Australia & New Zealand, and by Egmont USA in America in 2011. She represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown.

Publishing Abroad – An Interview With Gabriela Da Silva

8 Apr

Vanessa Di Gregorio
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Ever been curious about what publishing is like in other countries? We sure have! So what better way to get a glimpse into the world of foreign publishing than with an interview with someone published in another country? It’s my pleasure to introduce to you Gabriela da Silva (or Gaby, as she often goes by); an author who resides in Mexico. She is also someone who encouraged me to keep writing when I was still on Fanfiction.net (oh, the good ol’ days), and I can’t thank her enough.  Amazingly, she’s agreed to be poked and prodded by us while we question her about her experience with publishing abroad. Her first novel, a fantasy titled “Los Doce Sellos” (The Twelfth Seal), was published by Itaca on December 17th, 2009 in Mexico.

Want to know more? Well, here’s a little synopsis of “Los Doce Sellos”:

In the Empire of Lavinia, a group of orphans were adopted by a sorcerer…

Life with him wasn’t easy. They traveled with no respite, assisting the old man in the magic shows he offered in every village they came across. Even if the Teacher had never been kind or loving to them, he gave them clothing, food and a home during the long winter. They lived as a family, and Umberto was happy like that.

But when the group is invited to a princely court nearby, the youth’s placid world starts to corrode, with nothing they can do to stop it. With one of his sisters in the threshold of death and all of his friends in danger, Umberto finds himself in a bizarre place between two worlds, trapped in a battle between forces he never could have imagined.

“Gaby’s

Front and back cover of Gaby’s book

Gaby is currently translating her book into English, and so we thought we would ask her not only about her experiences with publishing abroad, but her plans for the future.

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V. Thanks so much, Gaby, for being able to offer us your time! We’ll start with some questions from me! So, to start off: what was your first reaction when you signed your book deal?

G. Anxiety, perhaps? I didn’t exactly “sign a deal” – it was mostly talking with the editor one afternoon.

By that time I pretty much knew it was going to get published, and I was getting nervous – how long would it take? Would I get a lot of corrections? Would I be allowed to mess with the cover design? (I was!)

Also, most of my friends work in the area of literary criticism – I, too, specialized in that. So I was very nervous as to how they would receive it, since some of them can be downright mean when doing their job. Luckily, most of them liked it, and the mean ones didn’t comment too much…

V. That’s amazing that you were able to get a say in your book cover design! So, how did you get to that part when you realized you were getting published? Did you/do you have an agent?

G. One more figure that doesn’t exist in Mexico! Literary agents sound like a dream come true here. I don’t have one, though I’d love to. Both my parents worked a little as agents, introducing me to what friends they had in the publishing business (they turned me down anyway).

V. No agents?! That must’ve been daunting! So, with no agents around to help you out, how did you go about getting your book published?

G. At the end of the day, the same editorial who had published my mom’s book on women’s writing, and who I hadn’t considered because they published only academic essays, turned out to be looking for novels in order to widen their appeal. I turned the manuscript in and finally, someone was willing to take the risk of publishing a first time writer…

V. How long did it take?

G. From the moment I started writing to when it was published, it took a little over four years. The publishing in itself took around six or seven months, with the editor correcting, me correcting the corrections, him correcting again and me agreeing.

V. Ah, editors. Gotta love them. The next few questions are from Savannah and Sarah. They wanted to know: did you go on a book tour?

G. There’s really no such thing as a “book tour” in Mexico. Famous writers sometimes tour, but it’s not the most common thing. However, I formally presented my book to the public during the National Book Fair.

V. Does Mexico have a popular best sellers list, or any other distinctive honors like that, and were you on any of them?

G. There are several lists; mostly, each bookstore has their own. I figured in one of them for January (16th most sold) and February (17th), right along Orham Pamuk and Paul Auster!

V. What’s your plan for your novel in the future?

G. As soon as I can I’m moving to a bigger editorial. There are only four or five editorials that distribute to the entire country – most work only within the city they were born in, as my editorial right now distributes only in Mexico City. So yes, first I’ve got to reach the rest of my country.

Also, I’m translating it into English, and with a little luck (and much more hard work) I’ll try and get in published in that language too.

V. I definitely think you should get in published in the U.S. and Canada. You know I would be the first one to buy it! The next few questions come from Biljana. She wanted to know: Can you tell us briefly how somebody would go about translating a book into a different language?

G. Sorry, I can’t really say I know the usual process… if your work is famous most of the time a foreign editorial will pick up the rights by themselves and have it translated. For us, I believe we need to see to the translation by ourselves and find an agent who doesn’t mind working with someone outside of the country.

V. Do you feel any bitterness to the fact that English seems to be more read that other languages? How do you deal with knowing that if your book were translated, it might not have the same beauty or meaning as it does in its original language?

G. Not bitterness! I love the English language. It’s beautiful and flexible, and it has so many pretty verbs… I love Spanish just as well. It has more degrees of feelings, and allows latinisms.

If I feel bitter about anything it is about my own fate, of being born in a country were writing doesn’t pay (literally. I didn’t get one dime for my book) unless you’re OMG famous, and famous writing means “about social struggle”. For an aspiring fantasy author, the prospect is just bleak, you know?

As for the translation, I don’t worry about that because I’m translating it myself 😛

In all seriousness, I would hope that the one to translate the book would see it as more than just another chore, and would do his/her best to take some of the beauty I put in and imitate it in the new language. Something will be lost – but something will be gained as well, and that’s the beauty of translation.

V. Didn’t get paid?! Well, you definitely need to finish translating and get it published here too then! Now, I just have one more question (technically, two, I suppose). Would you say Fanfiction.net or FictionPress helped you in your goal of becoming a writer? How much of an impact did these sites have on you?

G. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for Fanfiction.net and FictionPress! First of all, writing for those sites helped me practice. I know there are plenty of people out there who look down on fanfiction as petty wish-fulfillment, and for some people that’s what it is.

But for me, it was always about practice: you have a set of characters in a set of circumstances, and you inject a second set of circumstances. You have to combine both without breaking any of them – as a writer, that’s one great challenge.

As for FictionPress, well, I didn’t publish much there precisely because it made me realize two very important things:

1) It was time I started writing in my own language. After years and years of writing in English, switching back to Spanish was so difficult, I couldn’t believe it. I felt humiliated when I needed to use a dictionary for my native language.
2) Most importantly, it was time I got myself a good critique partner, someone I had to see face to face. Internet reviews are good, of course, but most comments in both FictionPress and ff.net are of the “OMG this is so kewl!” kind, which are encouraging but don’t help with your writing.

I believe those websites can be extremely valuable to any fledging writer, first of all because of the feedback, but also because they’ll give you the courage to actually go and show your work to others. This might come easier to some – but for me, it wasn’t. Showing my writing was like stripping down to my barest, most intimate me… I wouldn’t have had the courage to go through publishing if I didn’t start with the internet first.

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So again, Gaby, we’d like to thank you so much for letting us interview you about publishing abroad. I know you’ll have a bright writing career ahead of you!

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Vanessa is an intern at The Rights Factory, a literary agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program, and is trying to figure out where in the world of publishing she wants to end up in. Currently, she is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Gaby is the author of “Los doce sellos” (The Twelfth Seal), a fantasy story which was published in Mexico on December of last year. She is currently translating it into English in hopes of finding an agent and is already hard at work on her follow-up novel. She tweets @huesodeliebre, both in English and Spanish

Guest Author: Vivi Anna!

30 Nov

Let the Words Flow is proud to present our first Guest Author, Erotic Romance author Vivi Anna, who is signed with me at the the Bradford Literary Agency.

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Thank you Savannah for inviting me over! This looks like an amazing group of writers and I hope I can give a little bit on insight into what my life has been like being a published author.

1. How did you get your agent?

My first agent I got from sending out query letters. I made a list of my top five agents, made that the A list, then my next top agents, made that the B list. I sent out queries to all my A listers and waited. And waited. Rejections trickled in. Then I talked to an author friend of mine and she told me about an established agent that was just starting to take on romance authors. So I queried him. An hour later, I had an offer from him.

The second time around, I also sent out queries, but this time I talked to the clients of the agents I was looking at. To get in depth information about how the agent worked and such. I ended up getting a couple of referrals from friends, I queried those agents with a new project, but ultimately those agents passed. Then I talked to another author friend and she encouraged me to query her agent. So I did. And I’m so glad I did. That’s how I signed with the lovely Laura Bradford.

So my point in this is, never pass up an opportunity. Always be on the look out for them.

2. What was your submission process like?

Like I said, I made a couple of lists. I made my top dream list of agents, calling it the A-list, then the B list. Send them all out to the A-list and wait. Most times you’ll be waiting around 2-3 months for an answer, either with a rejection or with a request for a full.

If you go through you’re A-list start on your B-list. If you make it trhough your B list without an offer, then I’d be looking at you query letter, is it any good? And I’d be looking at my story. Is that any good?

3. How often do you communicate with your agent?

I like to talk to my agent once a week, but only if I have stuff going on like submissions, or working on a new project. If I’m fully submersed in a deadline, and I don’t have new stuff on the go, then there’s only need to talk to her when I need to.

4. Have you ever been on book tour, and if so, what was it like? How did you pick what to wear? What was the budget like?

I’ve never been on a book tour. But I have done a lot of books signings.

The key is to dress comfortably and be yourself. Don’t over dress but don’t under dress either. You can do jeans if you wear a nice top. Don’t go to a book signing dressed like a slob.

Not only are you selling your books but you are selling yourself. Be personable.

5. If you could give one bit of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Be determined, be ambitious, but learn to cultivate patience. You will need it above everything else.

6. Have you ever had a crazy/obsessive fan?

Thankfully no.

7. Which book that you’ve written is your favorite, and why?

My favorite books are two that haven’t been published yet. An adult UF and a YA UF.

Both are ME. Both are my true voices with subject matter that I really like. I think sometimes an author can lose their voice, or have to dampen it for whatever reason, to fit into a line, or a publisher, but these two books I wrote without deadlines, without pressures from anyone but myself and I think that has made a difference for me.

8. What was your shortest, and longest books written, and why?

I’ve written a bunch of short stories and novellas for various anthologies. Word counts from 6K to 20K.

But my shortest book would be the Nocturnes I’m writing for Silhouette. At 70K they are a shorter book. The longest would be a book I wrote years ago, a fantasy novel, that hasn’t been published. It sits at about 98K.

9. Do you have a ‘day’ job?

Nope. I used to work part time at a bookstore but quit after landing my second major publishing deal. But with the economy right now…who knows that might change.

I’m a single mom and homeschool my kid during the day, so that’s like two day jobs.

10. What are peoples’ reactions when they find out about your writing life?

First reaction. Cool! Second reaction: Can I find your books in the bookstore? Third reaction: So, you must be like rich, hey?

Ah no.

11. When did you write your first novel?

I wrote my first novel in 2004. I’d been writing short stories and novellas before that since 2000.

12. What made you want to start writing?

Honest answer: money.

I thought I could make some money quick writing short erotic stories for men’s magazines. I did that for a while, made a little money, then realized that maybe I could actually make this a real career choice, if I learned my craft and really dug deep and made a go of it. That was in 2000.

13. Do you write anything besides novels?

I write screenplays. I wrote like 12 back in 2002. I queried producers, got a lot of scripts read, came close twice, but quit. It is REALLY HARD to get produced. Getting a book published is HARD, but getting a movie made from you script…it’s a long shot.

But it’s always been a dream of mine, so I’m actually making a go of it again. I’ve rewritten a couple, wrote a new one, and I’ve gotten some interest. So who knows this time around what will happen. I’m a better writer now and have more experience and have a tenacious drive to succeed.

14. Do you have a pen name, or multiple pen names?

Vivi Anna is a pen name.

Eventually I hope to be writing under a couple of pen names. One for my romances, one for YA and maybe another one for something else.

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Thanks so much for stopping by, Vivi!