Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Author Victoria Scott Shares Her 13 Foolproof Steps to Publication + a Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to welcome Violet Grenade author Victoria Scott to Thinking to Inking. We asked Victoria to share her publishing advice with us and I have to's brilliant.

Make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about Violet Grenade and to enter for a chance to win a copy!

Victoria Scott’s 13 Foolproof Steps to Publication

1)   Start writing a book.

2) Firmly believe it’s a future bestseller. Mortgage a place by the sea. No worries. You’ll have the money for it soon.

3) Reach the middle of the book. Start to wonder if it’s quite the bestseller you initially believed.

4) Reach the end. Start to wonder if life is worth living.

5) Show the books to beta readers. Incorporate their “constructive” feedback. Then plot their demise.

6) Show the book to your mom, because at least she recognizes your sheer genius.

7) Query your book to agents.

8) Create a list of reasons why agents suck.

9) Get a call from an agent who likes your book and wants to represent you.

10) Destroy ‘Agents Suck’ list.

11) Wonder if life is worth living while your agent tries to sell your book. Decide it is. Who needs to be published? Published people are stupid. Start another list about this.

12) Get a call saying an editor likes your book. Learn that are being published. Rejoice. Buy champagne. Make lists of all the things you will buy with your royalties.

13) Start writing another book, because shit just got real.

About Violet Grenade
Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Publication Date:  May 2, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind. Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson

About Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her novels are sold in fourteen
different countries, and she loves receiving fan mail from across the world. Victoria loves high fashion, big cities, and pink cotton candy. You can find her online at

Giveaway Details:
Signed paperback of The Collector, a signed paperback of Titans, and a signed galley of Hear the Wolves.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Do You Really Need a Short Pitch for a Conference?

This post from the BookEnds Literary Agency blog was shared around last week: Why Authors Need to Dump the Elevator Pitch. The dreaded "elevator pitch" is suggested in most conference preparation materials as essential—what if you happen to be walking down a hotel hallway with an agent, or standing in the buffet line, or in an elevator together? Surely you'd want to have a few sentence pitch for your book so you wouldn't waste the golden opportunity?
Well, I couldn't agree with the post above more. If you're feeling exhausted after a few days of the conference, imagine how it must be for the faculty. You might want a few-sentence pitch for the new friends you're going to meet at the conference, but definitely not for agents. If they want to hear about your book, they'll ask—and if you've gotten to that point, trust me, you'll have more than a few sentences to get their attention.

It basically comes down to the reminder that agents are people too. If you wouldn't like to be accosted by endless streams of people stammering out elevator pitches while you're on the way to the bathroom, or to your hotel room to lie down for ten minutes before the next round of pitches and classes, then why would you do it to someone else?

If you're planning to attend a writer's conference this summer, we have a series of conference survival tips here on the blog that can help you put your best foot forward!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

From Summer to College and Beyond

Summer is fast approaching now.  Vacation time!! Woohoo!
Pools, parties, and popsicles.
Maybe a little light reading and maybe a little writing or at least journaling.

For me, my summer writing will take a different direction this year.  It is time to start thinking Common App or the college essay.  Time for me to get creative about myself - kinda like author bio.  I won't be following same format, but I will be trying to think along those lines.

So what can I take from author bio to apply to my writing?

Voice of course.
Humor  for sure.
Include just the details that apply to the situation.
Word count.
And my own personal motto?  Keep it real.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Signings for Future Readers

I never got into book signings until later in life. As a child, it never occurred to me that this was a thing. Having been in the writing industry for a number of years, I now enjoy a good signing. It's a chance to meet authors face to face (if only briefly). Even in short time periods, you get a sense of an author's sincerity and authenticity. 

Now that I'm a mom with a rambunctious almost-three-year-old, I've asked authors to sign books to the future him. It's been remarkable to see award winning writers write cool notes to the little guy. Hopefully these will inspire him one day. 

Here are a few:

Animals Anonymous, Richard Michelson, award-winning poet

Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Non-Fiction

The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Fiction

A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James, Man Booker Prize Winner, Fiction

Animals Anonymous by Richard Michelson Autograph
Animals Anonymous by Richard Michelson Book Cover

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder Autograph

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James Book CoverA Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James Autograph

Monday, May 1, 2017

How Reading Outside Your Genre Can Help Your Writing

I try to always be reading a middle grade or young adult book (since these are the two age groups for which I write). Reading widely in your chosen age group and genre is essential for anyone who wants to be a published author. This way, you can see how successful (published) writers tackle subjects and get examples of writing that resonates with the target audience.

As I mentioned in my last post, though, my family just completed a cross-country move. During the weeks of disruption, I really needed some comfort reading—something I didn't have to think about or analyze—so I turned to several of my favorite dog-eared women's fiction novels.

It was surprisingly enlightening. Even though these books were obviously written for adults, with plenty of bad language, violence, and even a sex scene or two, they shared many elements with my kidlit favorites. The writing is spare, without any unnecessary words or overly flowery descriptions. Witty asides are just as funny for kids as for adults. And my favorite characters were fully developed, with believable motivations and understandable reactions.

I'm going back to my writing with a renewed sense of what's important. Although I'm going to be switching back to MG/YA for a while, I'll try to read outside my usual age groups more often. Good writing is good writing, no matter where it's shelved in the bookstore.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Author Melinda Friesen shares writing advice + her latest release SUBVERSION + a chance to win a copy!

Today I'm excited to welcome author Melinda Friesen, who's here to chat writing and her latest release SUBVERSION. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win your own copy of Subversion, and check out it's predecessor Enslavement if you haven't already!

Thanks so much for coming to Thinking to Inking! We're so excited to have you here! Tell us a little bit about Subversion.

Subversion the sequel to Enslavement and book two in the One Bright Future series picks up a few months after the end of Enslavement when Rielle James, protagonist extraordinaire, is hell bent on rescuing her friends. She refuses to live free while her friends are still enslaved. She devises a plan to save one of them who has been sold to a logging camp in northern Montana where slaves are disappearing without a trace.

Who's your favorite character from Subversion?

I dearly love Rielle and Nathan, my two main characters, but I introduced a new character in Subversion named Dek. Dek is a rugged, crusty, crotchety old man. He’s got a hot temper and smokes a couple packs per day. Despite his tough and cranky exterior, he’s got tons of heart. He sprang to life in my head, fully formed from his nicotine-yellowed fingers to his dirty work pants to the way his truck floor is a dumping ground for jackets and plastic coffee mugs.

How did your writing process for Subversion differ from Enslavement, the first book in the One Bright Future series?

I wrote the entire series in nine months. The writing part wasn’t much different from book to book, however, I revised, edited, and rewrote huge portions of Enslavement, so those changes had to be reflected in Subversion. Bringing Subversion into line with Enslavement was a huge task. A book that had taken me a couple of months to write, took me nearly a year to edit.

The covers for both books in the One Bright Future Series are amazing! How much input did you get in the design of your cover and what was that process like?

I really love my covers too. I did get some input, mainly in the sense of the publisher showing me the cover and me giving it the go ahead. At first, I wasn’t sure about the bar code idea because the book uses microchips, not bar codes, but eventually it grew on me because it symbolized my protagonist as a product. In terms of conveying the subject and tone of the books, the designer nailed both covers.

What advice would you give writers still working to make their publishing dreams a reality?

Work at improving your writing. Never allow yourself to stagnate. Learn everything you can about writing and publishing. Get some writer friends for moral support and good advice. And keep going!

What advice do you have for authors working on writing book two in a series? Any tips or tricks you learned along the way that you can pass along to us?

Write book two, but don’t spend a ton of time revising it. You will make changes to book one in the editing process which will translate into changes to book two. The series may deviate from your original direction as you go, so it’s best to hold subsequent books loosely and be open to going in a different direction.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and Blood of the Dead by A.P. Fuchs.

If you could be one character from any book or movie, who would it be?

I had a hard time of this question, but I finally narrowed it down to Elizabeth Swan from Pirates of the Caribbean. She had an amazing adventure. Or maybe it was the drinking rum with Johnny Depp on a beach in the Caribbean that intrigued me.

Congrats on the launch of the second book in the One Bright Future series, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Thank you so much for having me!

About Subversion (One Bright Future #2) by Melinda Friesen 
Publication Date: August 31, 2016

“I surrender my days, my efforts, myself to the OneEarth Bank . . .”

After fleeing slavery, Rielle James burns with the desire to topple OneEarth Bank and end its enslavement of young people as Contracts. When she learns that her friend Nathan has been sold to a logging company where Contracts die or vanish without a trace, she assumes a false identity and becomes a slave again to help him escape.

Her act of subversion uncovers the horrific truth behind the OneEarth Bank’s role in Contract disappearances and its link to a global pandemic.

Can Rielle and Nathan escape and expose the truth before it’s too late?

About Melina Friesen:

Melinda Friesen writes novels for teens and short stories. Her contest winning short stories have appeared in various periodical and an anthology. Enslavement, book one in the One Bright Future series, is her first novel. 
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Giveaway Details:
·         Two (2) winners will received a physical copy of Subversion by Melinda Friesen (US/Canada) and  Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Subversion by Melinda Friesen (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 24, 2017

So years ago, my boys and I were all in the grocery store waiting in the checkout line.  It was nearing Valentine's day and the store was decked out for the holiday.

My middle son (who at the time was probably in second grade) looks at me and says that he must be romantic.  We all looked at him and asked why.  He proclaimed that he was romantic because his favorite color was red and that he liked strawberries and chocolate.

  I told him that wasn't romance, so the boys then asked what romance was.  I'm ashamed that I gave them terrible advice.  I said limos, flowers, all the things a girl my age grew up watching on TV.

 My youngest set me straight right away.  He looked at me and said, "So you have to spend money to be romantic?"

I totally started back pedaling, but still my stale advice hung in the air like a deflated balloon.

The conversation and the idea of romance still haunts me to this day.  Everyone has a different idea of romance and it really doesn't even have anything to do with gender.  Everyone has different ideas.  Some people want small, daily affirmations, others want grand gestures, and then there are those that want both.  Romance is also further ever changing.  Sometimes romance flows naturally other times it must be hunted down.

 So what then is romance and why is it so hard to pin down?  I'm going to have shift my brainwashed ways and go with today's prevailing ideology that romance can be found in small and simple gestures, but the little girl in my who grew up with fairy tales, I'd still like the occasional grand gesture too.  So, I'm guessing today's YA lit.  must follow this pattern too.  And I guess if I had to tell my boys about romance, I'd say it is all about wanting to spend time with other person, share experiences with that special someone, and maybe even surprise that person.  Romance I would say is the moments that take your breath away and the gift of one's time.

So romance and love are not exactly the same thing, but closely entwined.  Romance implies flowers, candles, candy, red, pink, heat, gifts, love, longing, wanting, sharing, surprise, jewelry, and togetherness.  In the end, romance is about love and wanting to do something special and meaningful for the other person.  Romance is knowing the other person so well that you catch the person off guard.  Romance is smart!

So challenge . . . how do you define romance?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kickstart Your Writing

We've all been there. You're twenty five pages into writing your great novel and find yourself unable to move forward. You want to start a new project, but you've been staring at a blank page for hours, possibly days on end. So how do you get yourself out of a rut? Here are a few ideas to kickstart your writing again.

A table with a typewriter and papers 1) Short Stories

Whether your halfway through your epic novel or at the beginning piecing things together, sometimes you just need to let it go a bit and try your hand at something else. A short story is a great opportunity to stretch your brain and try something new without feeling like you're taking too much time away from your baby. 

2) Time Yourself

If you need added pressure, try entering a short story prompt competition like NYC Midnight. They provide prompts and you must complete the assignment within a specific amount of time to submit. 

3) Analyze A Book You Love

Take out that book you love (a copy you're not afraid to ruin) and a pencil. Now go to town on the book. What had the author done from a craft perspective that you love. What don't you love? How have they structured the story? What techniques do they use? Don't be skimpy with the notes, go to town in the margins!

How do you kickstart your writing?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How to Find Writer Friends

My family is moving across the country in a few weeks, and a few days ago, we got together with most of the writer friends we've made here to say goodbye. While we're planning to keep in touch with everyone online, it's tough that we won't be able to get together in person anymore. There's no substitute for face-to-face time to talk about the writing and publishing journey.

With that in mind, I'm already thinking about ways to connect with writers in my new city. Since everyone can benefit from finding writer friends, not just those who are moving, here are some of the first places I'm going to look:

As a MG/YA writer, I get to take advantage of the great resource that is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Although my current city doesn't have a very active chapter, my new city does—which means I'll definitely be checking out what they have to offer.

2. Conferences
Writing conferences are a fabulous way to connect with like-minded people. In fact, I met most of my local writer friends through a local conference (and if you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that we co-bloggers all met at a conference as well!). There are several large conferences every year in my new city, so I'm going to try to attend one as soon as possible.

3. Twitter/Other Social Media
I follow and am followed by lots of writers on Twitter, and I'm also a member of several writing-focused Facebook groups. I mentioned where I was moving in one of these groups and was thrilled to find that several of the people I'd been talking to for months lived right in my new neck of the woods! You may find that announcing your location on your favorite social media channels brings nearby people out of the woodwork.

4. NaNoWriMo
One of the fun things about signing up to participate officially in National Novel Writing Month each November is local meet ups. I'm nearly always revising in November, rather than drafting, but this year I'm going to try to be ready for a new project. My new locale is famous for its independent coffeeshops, and what better way to try them out than drafting parties?

Would you add anything to this list? How have you made writer friends?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Interview with Don't Kiss the Messenger author Katie Ray + Giveaway!

I'm excited to bring you another successful author chat, this time with Katie Ray who's here to chat writing and her newest release Don't Kiss the Messenger. Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy!

Thanks so much for coming to Thinking to Inking! We're so excited to have you! Tell us a little bit about Don't Kiss the Messenger.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today! I appreciate you’re hosting me. Don’t Kiss the Messenger is a YA modern day retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. I actually followed the movie version more closely (a 1987 romantic comedy called Roxanne). Except in my case, I made Cyrano’s character a girl. I thought it would be a fun twist.

Ooh I love retellings and I absolutely love the movie Roxanne! Don't Kiss the Messenger just jumped to the top of my to-read pile. :-) Which character do you relate most to?

I was really insecure in high school, and I spent most of my time feeling like an outsider, like I wasn’t “all in.” For that reason, I can relate to CeCe.

Was your writing process for Don't Kiss the Messenger different from your previously released books? If so how? Anything that surprised you along the way?

Yes, this book was a very different approach. Since it’s a retelling, the book was basically already outlined for me. I thought that having a blue print would make the writing process easier, but it was actually more challenging. I felt tied down to the story sometimes, which made it harder for me to sidetrack and go my own way. Eventually, I figured out my own story and pacing.

The cover design for Don't Kiss the Messenger is really fun! How much input did you get in the design of your cover and what was that process like?

I really didn’t give a lot of input. I only told the designers what I DID NOT want (like a glistening abdomen or an ‘almost kiss’ kind of cover). I’m a sucker for hearts on covers (three of my other books have hearts on the cover) so this one fit my style. I really like it.

Are you a write-one-thing-at-a-time author, or do you typically juggle multiple projects at once? How do you stay focused?

I’m a one-book-at-a-time kind of person. I feel like I’m in a relationship with my characters, so when I’m writing a book I’m committed to them 100 percent.

What advice would you give writers still working to make their publishing dreams a reality?

Practice, practice, practice. Write every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes. If you back away from your story for too long, it’s really hard to get back into it.

What are you reading now?

I just read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I LOVED IT. I’m totally author crushing her right now.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?


Congrats on the launch of Don't Kiss the Messenger. I can't wait to get my hands on it! And thanks so much for stopping by Thinking to Inking!

Thanks so much for having me! I hope you enjoy my book. If you like music, and a slow-burn, old school romance, you will love it. :-) 

About Don't Kiss the Messenger (Edge Lake High School, #1)
by Katie Ray
Publication Date: April 10, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.

CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.

Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings them all together. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll fall in love. 

About Katie Ray
Katie Ray (also known by her previous author name, Katie Kacvinsky) writes teen and new adult fiction novels. Her books have been nominated for YALSA awards, and First Comes Love was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her screenplay, A High Note, was a semifinalist in the Austin Screenplay Competition in 2015. She currently lives in Ashland, Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a slightly insane dog.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Let Your Inner Kid Out

So a couple of weeks ago, my baby brother had to write a persuasive paper and needed help.  My mom with her weird sense of humor assigned me the task.  I took one look at his paper and thought two things.  The first thing I noticed was that he didn't have an audience so after much debate on the subject we settled on President Trump.  The second thing I noticed was that he didn't have a clear thesis.  When I asked him about this, he just gave me a blank stare.  So I tried again and asked him what his point was.  After an even longer discussion, we finally neatened up his topic and knocked the paper out in record time.

This experience got me thinking of just how important it is to have an identified audience and point otherwise readers are like what the heck.

 So what's the point of my article?

Work with younger children on their writing because I kid you not it will help you with yours.

  Happy Writing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

13 Reasons Why and other Books to Screen

NY Times Bestseller Jay Asher has graced our pages several times and his blockbuster 13 Reasons Why is set to launch as a thirteen part series this Friday March 31st on Netflix.

We're thrilled for him and the whole 13 Reasons Why team and can't wait to binge on the series this weekend.

Interested in more page to screen projects? Check out these shows currently on air:


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
(Currently Available)


American Gods by Neil Gaiman 
(Release Date: April 30, 2017)


A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
(Currently Available)

                                                                  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
                                                                  (Release Date: May 12, 2017)

                                                                 What do you plan to watch this weekend?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Query Strategy: Target or Blast?

There's no one so worried about etiquette and detail as a querying writer. I've talked about the personalization debate here on the blog before, but today's topic is a little different: should you only send queries to agents who say they want the genre, themes, and/or tone of your novel ("dark epic fantasy," for example), or should you cast a wider net—anyone who says they want YA at all?

Searching the internet yields varying responses. Janet Reid, for one, is a big fan of querying widely. Victoria Strauss, on the other hand, suggests targeting your queries as closely as possible, picking only agents whose interests and specialties appear to be a good fit for your manuscript.

The truth is, we're spoiled. There are very few other creative fields where industry professionals publicly state their preferences and wishlists. I've had more than one discussion about this with my husband, who spent years querying managers and agents for screenplays and would have KILLED for the kind of information that's freely available for fiction on agency websites, MSWL, and more.

While it's important to keep this information in mind, one lesson I've learned is that agents often won't know they're interested in something until they see it. I've been around the contest circuit enough to be surprised over and over again at who requests my pitches. It's often someone I would never have thought to query based on their wishlists.

My ultimate take on the target vs. blast question? Query widely. Use agent wishlists and agency guidelines to find people you definitely won't query (if they say, "I don't like sci-fi," or "adult fiction only," stay the heck away from them with your YA space opera), but everyone else is fair game. You never know who might fall in love with your work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Conference Networking Tips: Social Media Marketing World (in pictures)

When possible, go with a friend. If you're having a great time together, you have a safe base to invite others into the fun. :)
If you're going solo, try to befriend another singleton and from there you can scoop up all the other singletons to form a mob of supportive conference-goers. 

And always have your hand sanitizer at the ready. You don't want to get sick mid-conference!

Wear a statement piece of jewelry, even better if it has a story to share when people ask.
Mine was bought from a Bedouin who gave me a roadside camel ride on the way out of Jerusalem.
He said it was made by one of his wives & the polygamous arts & crafts story usually draws a smile.

Long days. I need chocolate. And sunglasses for when I take a break outside.
Chocolate at conferences is kind of one of my trademark moves as well.
I assume that since I want it others will too & sharing things I love is always a fun way to meet new interesting people.
And of course, you always want to have a business card handy...

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Ending

Writer's block is the worst, but what happens when it comes at the end of your story?  You've just spent countless hours and months slaving over a project and have no idea how to end it.  Frustrating right?!

Here's some ideas that might help.

First of all, if you are a planner, then perhaps write without plans and see where your writing takes you. Now if you are a panster, do the opposite by creating several endings and pick your favorite.

Here's a few ideas on how to end your story:

1. Plot Twist - you know how this works and talk about an exciting ending!  Just make sure to give readers a few hints along the way.

2. Tie the story back to the beginning.  One of my friends wrote a fan fiction piece where she ended the story with a letter that was revealed earlier in the story.  It was a pretty fun and clever ending!

3. The resolved ending where everything comes together neatly.

4. The unresolved ending which is good for those planning to write a series.

5. The what the heck happened ending - you know the kind that lets the readers determine the ending.  Talk about fun for the reader!!!  Only problem is for the writer.  This ending is tricky, especially if you are having writer's block.

And if all else fails, maybe you just need some feedback.  Take your WIP to someone you trust and use them as a sounding board.  That might be all it takes to jump start you back into writing.

Here's a to a happy ending!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Author Casey Griffin talks SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS, writing advice + a chance to win a signed copy and a tiara!

Today we have another successful author chat, this time with author Casey Griffin. Her latest release, Secrets of a Reluctant Princess, is out now! Please join me in giving her a big Thinking to Inking welcome, and don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess AND a tiara!

Thanks so much for coming to Thinking to Inking! We're so excited to have you! Tell us a little bit about Secrets of a Reluctant Princess.

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess is about sixteen-year-old Andy Bottom who just wants to make friends and avoid teasing. Now that her family has moved to Hollywood, it’s the perfect opportunity to blend in at a new school. Well, except for her family’s incredibly embarrassing toilet business. Oh, and the fact that they have their own reality TV show so now the whole world can laugh at “Awkward Andy” on primetime television. And that cute guy, Kevin, from the hardware store? He’s totally off limits, unless she wants to be a social pariah. When reality TV finds her a little too interesting, she finds the perfect escape in live action roll playing. There, she can get closer to Kevin and escape reality. But for how long?

Which character do you relate most to?

That’s a tough one. I think a little piece of me goes into every novel I write, and that includes the characters. If I can identify with some part of them, then hopefully so will the readers. However, I definitely try to avoid writing a character totally like myself—or other people in my life, for that matter. The qualities that I think I share with my characters is that I’m totally geeky like Kevin, the love interest. I’m gullible like Lennox. I’m blunt like Keelie. I’ve been teased like the main character, Andy, and I’m cheesy like her dad.

Was your writing process for Secrets of a Reluctant Princess different from your previously released Rescue Dog Romance series? If so how? Anything that surprised you along the way?

While I was working on Secrets of a Reluctant Princess, I definitely felt like I was beginning to find my writing groove, but the process was still a bit rough because I actually wrote it before the Rescue Dog Romance series.

When my agent was first shopping Reluctant Princess around, an editor at St Martin’s Press read it. They were so drawn to the “voice” that they asked me if I’d like to write adult romance for them. I said, very coolly, “YESSSSSS!” Then shortly after, Reluctant Princess was picked up by Entangled, and that’s how I ended up with two contracts at the same time.

I find that with each novel I write, the process becomes smoother, more refined. There might be hiccups, but the more I write, the better I’m able to work through them.

The cover design for Secrets of a Reluctant Princess is fantastic! How much input did you get in the design of your cover and what was that process like?
Entangled gave me a big list of questions about things like scenes in the book that resonate with me, and what color I’d like (yay pink!), but I was honestly open to anything. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s so eye grabbing. I love it!

Are you a write-one-thing-at-a-time author, or do you typically juggle multiple projects at once? How do you stay focused?

I’m usually working on two different projects at a time. At one point, my deadlines overlapped between projects, so I was working on three different novels, all at various stages in the writing process. I think that I get bored if I’m not always working on a new novel. It keeps my mind active and in the routine of writing.

To keep all my projects straight and to refocus when hopping from one to the other, it always helps to go over the outline as a refresher. My outlines are usually pretty detailed, so I don’t have any problem figuring out where I want to go next. It gets me pumped about picking up where I left off. If all else fails, I’ll start reading the novel from the start to get back into it.

What advice would you give writers still working to make their publishing dreams a reality?

“You never fail until you stop trying.” – Albert Einstein

Don’t feel disheartened if your current book doesn’t sell. Writing is a process. We learn, we grow, we constantly improve our craft. Rejection is just part of the process. It doesn't mean failure.

There is no failure in the path to publication unless you give up trying. No matter how many books it takes, if you truly love writing, you’re still doing something you enjoy, regardless of the outcome. As long as you keep trying and growing as an artist, you’ll get there. You just need to believe in yourself.

What are you reading now?

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and The Diviners by Libba Bray (See? More than one even when reading).

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

I’ve spent many an hour pondering and debating this question. I’ve always said it would be to fly. That would be so amazing. But after the last couple of years, I think I’d want to be like Quicksilver. He moves so fast that it’s almost like he’s walking through a still photo. Just imagine how many books I could complete and still have time to catch up on Game of Thrones (seriously people, no spoilers. I’m way behind).

Congrats on the launch of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess. I can't wait to get my hands on it! And thanks so much for stopping by Thinking to Inking!

Thank you so much! I hope you like it :-)

About Secrets of a Reluctant Princess:
Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen

At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

About Casey Griffin:

Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess + a Tiara!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Should You Hire an Editor?

I generally spend just as long editing as I do drafting, so naturally I've wondered from time to time whether it would be worth it to hire a freelance editor. On my last manuscript, I splurged on a first-chapter edit from a talented editor friend of mine, and it was hugely helpful in identifying the weak points.

Here are some points to consider before you hire an editor for your manuscript.

1. Do your prep work before you take the plunge.
To get the most out of your editing experience, you need to make sure your manuscript is in the absolute best shape you can get it before you send a word of it out to an editor. This means resisting the temptation to send it when you're heartily sick of it and just want to write something else (trust me, we've all been there!).

Books & Such Literary Management has a great blog post that covers some other vital preliminary steps.

2. Check compatibility.
As you probably know if you've worked with critique partners in the past, it's important to make sure you mesh well with someone who's giving you notes on your work. Try to talk to past clients of the editor to make sure they were happy with their experience. In addition, most editors will give you a few pages of edits for free—that way you can make sure their edits will work for you before you commit to anything further.

3. Get the most bang for your buck.
Editors' rates vary, but in general you can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars (and often a lot more than that) for a full, in-depth manuscript critique. If this is a little rich for your blood, you can choose to focus on key parts of your manuscript. For example, if you're not getting a good response from sending the first few chapters to agents, hire an editor to look at them. They'll be able to tell you any immediate turnoffs that might be causing the problem. Many editors will also work on query letters, synopses, and even contest pitches.

4. Going indie? Don't skimp on the editing.
There are many advantages to self-publishing, like complete creative control and the ability to put books out on whatever schedule works best for you. But it's important to remember that you won't have access to professional editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders like you would if you went the traditional publishing route. This makes hiring a top-notch freelance editor a really, really good idea. I have two friends who have built up a huge following by self-publishing books, and both of them consider extensive work with a freelance editor as an essential part of the process.

Have you worked with a freelance editor before? What was your experience?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

TBT: DFW's Footnote Frenzy

In the 90s, David Foster Wallace burst onto the literary scene in his classic bandana and changed the literary landscape in the way Nirvana shifted the music world. One of DFW's classic techniques was to use in-depth footnotes. Their physical space on the page are distinct and should remind writers that we have more tools at our disposal than we realize. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Deadlines and My Friend Procrastination

Writing is 90% Procrastination and 30% Panic
As readers may recall from my previous posts, I am in the process of applying to low-residency MFA programs for the summer semester. As part of the application process, I'm required to submit 25 pages of my own creative work. 

I started the process in December and with an application deadline of mid-February, I thought "oh good, plenty of time!". I mean, it's just 25 pages and I've already written a significant amount so how hard could it be?

Apparently very hard. Here's my timeline:

Late December:     10 pages completed 

Early January:        Took a break to work on my critical essay (4 pages) and personal essay       
                               (3 pages)

Mid January:           Reviewed first 10 pages. Something didn't feel right. Mauled over story    
                                for a few more days

Late January:          Finished another 10 pages (pretty much pulling teeth) but couldn't
                                muster energy to complete another 5 pages (still wasn't 100% about the 

Early February:       Ack! Scrapped the first twenty pages. Started from scratch. 
                                Scramble to write 25 pages of something that "feels right"
5 days before          Finish twenty five pages.
deadline:                 Review, Review, Review!

1 day before            Do final edits on both essays and 25 pages

Deadline day:          Final edits UP TO THE LAST MINUTE!

It seemed fitting that this chart popped up the day after I submitted.

How's your writing process? Similar? Totally Different? Tips to prevent procrastination?

The Creative Process Diagram

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Traveling Writer: Best Mobile Apps

I'm going on a cross-country trip next week and will be gone for more than two weeks, which means I'm thinking about the best ways to keep up the momentum on my current draft.
Here are some mobile apps that come highly recommended by other writers. I'm going to check out at least a few of these!

1. Scrivener for iOS
If you've been following this blog for a while, you've probably learned that I puffy-heart love the computer program Scrivener, the best drafting and organization tool around. They recently released a much-anticipated mobile version that syncs seamlessly with the desktop program. It looks like a great way to get a few hundred words in here and there in airports or before bed.

2. Evernote
Because I'm still in the ideas phase of my draft, you can bet I'm going to be using this mobile note-taking application frequently. Evernote saves notes, pictures, sketches, lists, and other items all in one place. It's then easy to access them on your main computer later.

3. Freemind
I haven't tried mind mapping as a way to organize a story, but it sounds really interesting. This app lets you easily create a mind map, or system of points branching out from a central topic. I used to like this method when it was mandatory in my English classes, so I might give it another try!

4. Pomodoro Timer
What writer doesn't have trouble with time management? This app follows a traditional pomodoro method time schedule (25 minutes working with a 3-5 minute break), which seems like an ideal short stretch for writing on the go.

What are your favorite mobile writing apps?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Journaling & Writing

The journal I'm keeping these days.
I love that it's silver, zips up, and has a mark from my hot cocoa mug.
Doesn't loving the journal make it so much more fun to write in it?

"After my husband died, I could not write much - I could not concentrate. I was too exhausted most of the time even to contemplate writing. But I did take notes - not for fiction, but for a journal, or diary, of this terrible time. I did not think that I would ever survive this interlude." --Joyce Carol Oates

Confession: While I'm in a different situation from Joyce Carol Oates, this is the first time in my life I've wrestled with something so hard I've been unable to read or write outside of work (even that has become more challenging). Lately, though, I've been finding that I am able to keep a journal, something I haven't done regularly in many years. I'm really kind of loving it, and I'm not alone. Here are some thoughts from the greats on journaling:

Even when I'm not journaling regularly,
I always love to carry a small Moleskine
notebook to jot down ideas, poems, entries, etc.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” 
― Virginia Woolf

“A good journal entry- like a good song, or sketch, or photograph- ought to break up the habitual and life away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.” 
― Anthony Doerr

“My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies' ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journalizing which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are celebrated. Every body allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.” 
― Jane Austen

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -- Ray Bradbury
The last time I regularly journaled was in this
(only blank page pictured). My best friend took
a classic black Moleskine and glued in pics,
quotations, etc. as a gift when I left to spend a
summer in Israel. Really cool idea if you want
to try it.

"The only thing I have done religiously in my life is keep a journal. I have hundreds of them, filled with feathers, flowers, photographs, and words - without locks, open on my shelves." --Terry Tempest Williams

"When I write notes in my journal, I'm just trying to scribble down as much as possible. Later on, I decide whether to follow some of those first impressions or whether to abandon them." --Natasha Trethewey

"I keep threatening to keep a formal journal, but whenever I start one it instantly becomes an exercise in self-consciousness. Instead of a journal I manage to have dozens of notebooks with bits and pieces of stories, poems, and notes. Almost every thing I do has its beginning in a notebook of some sort, usually written on a bus or train." --Walter Dean Myers

"The first set of lyrics for the first songs I ever wrote, which are the ones on 'Pretty Hate Machine,' came from private journal entries that I realized I was writing in lyric form." --Trent Reznor

"I've always written. There's a journal which I kept from about 9 years old. The man who gave it to me lived across the street from the store and kept it when my grandmother's papers were destroyed. I'd written some essays. I loved poetry, still do. But I really, really loved it then." --Maya Angelou

"I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot... and memory is important." --Judy Collins

"For me, writing is a way of thinking. I write in a journal a lot. I'm a very impatient person, so writing and meditation allow me to slow down and watch my mind; they are containers that keep me in place, hold me still." --Ruth Ozeki

What are your thoughts on journaling? Any tips? Favorite styles of journals? Times a journal saved you?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Pinterest for Writers

Projects and recipes I find on Pinterest don't always turn out so well - like this pumpkin-duct tape book report project my son brought home.  Even if I've had a few pinterest failures,  that hasn't stop me from trying out new things or from spending hours and hours on searching for ideas.   I love Pinterest, but not just in my personal life, but also in my writing life.

In terms of writing, I like Pinterest for two reasons:

1. Writing advice - need I say more?
The advice is often short, sweet, and to the point.  Everything I want is at my fingertip and can be saved to my board!

2. Pictures!!!!
Lots and lots of pictures that I can use to help bring my setting and characters alive.  Having those visual images in my front of me can really help sharpen the details of my writing.

So, love it or hate it. Pinterest can be another tool for writers.  Happy Writing!