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Author Archives: Mikko Azul

About Mikko Azul

Award-winning author of The Staff of Fire and Bone, a new release through Not A Pipe Publishing.

Oregon publisher accepts challenge to sell only books by women in 2018

Not A Pipe women authors

By Jenn Director Knudsen | For The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Willamette Valley town of Independence is home to a small book-publishing company whose mindset reflects its town’s name.

Not a Pipe Publishing, founded in 2013 and co-owned by spouses Benjamin and Paige Gorman, appears to be the sole U.S. publisher that accepted a challenge to publish only women authors this year.

In 2015, the British Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie formulated a challenge to publishing houses. According to the website SheKnows.com, she wrote, “I’m going to assume that the only people who really doubt that there is a gender bias going on are those who stick with the idea that men are better writers and better critics. Enough … Why not have a year of publishing women: 2018, the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote in the UK, seems appropriate.” Shamsie did not respond to requests for comment.

A few British publishing houses took up the challenge. And so did Not a Pipe.

“Publishers, reviewers and prize committees are not intentionally shutting women out, but the financial incentives support male authors,” said Benjamin Gorman. “Who would be foolish enough to buck that system? I am.”

Taking on the challenge is “consistent with our values and it’s actually helped us find some incredibly talented authors who wouldn’t have noticed us otherwise,” he said.

First up of Not a Pipe’s nine women-authored books in 2018 is Mikko Azul’s “The Staff of Fire and Bone,” a work of fantasy with metaphysical elements that hit shelves in late January. The book’s main character, Cedron, a privileged 16-year-old, is thrust into war and the challenge of making tough choices about when and how he should use his magic powers, all while fighting demons and deities.

Azul, 50, is a previously published author and social worker. “It’s surprising that only one (publishing) house took on the challenge to publish only women,”  she said from her Grapeview, Washington, home. “But this is Not a Pipe’s values: Let’s lift up the people that are underrepresented.”

Gorman, who teaches high school English in Independence, said that in his classroom, he wants the boys to “read books by women to see women’s words are more powerful than fists and bullets. And I want my female students to see the names of lots and lots of women (authors) so they can learn their opinions matter just as much as any man’s.”

Such as Heather S. Ransom, 46, of Grants Pass, who teaches seventh-grade life and earth science.

This summer Not a Pipe is publishing “Greener,” her second dystopian novel inspired by her 165 students.

“Students at these ages are still full of those ‘What if’ questions,” she explained recently from her classroom while grading assignments on the spreading of the seafloor.

“Greener” and her first book, “Going Green,” feature an 18-year-old female protagonist and take place in a world where people can choose to become literally green, fed solely by sunlight, just like plants. The change is permanent and expensive, so not everyone gets to go Green.

“What if you’ve made a choice that’s permanent and then it’s the wrong choice for you?” she asks rhetorically, citing an oft-discussed question she poses to teens.

Not a Pipe is also publishing Portlander LeeAnn McLennan’s “Supernormal Legacy” trilogy, about a 14-year-old girl coming to terms with her supernatural powers. A server engineer, McLennan is aware women are gaining ground and finding their voices in her field and in others. Books like hers help, she says. “Women’s voices now are surging, like the sea,” said McLennan.

McLennan also expressed concern that publishing only women could lead to a backlash. But she added, “If there is a backlash, it won’t silence the voices; they’ll be louder than when first the voices surged, like a natural ebb and flow.”

Not a Pipe also has male authors on its docket; two agreed to have their books postponed to make way for the Year of Publishing Women.

“I was happy to support my publisher in this, especially in the current climate when so much is coming to light about harassment and abuses of power,” said Kurt Clopton, of Marshfield, Wisconsin, author of 2017’s “SuperGuy,” about a city government intern who accidentally becomes a superhero. “Sometimes it can be hard to find useful ways to show support,” added Clopton, “so this was an easy decision.” His second “SuperGuy” is slated for 2019.

Portland’s Jason Brick, author of the 2019 time-traveling urban fantasy adventure “Changing Streams,” said, “Taking a year to help balance the scales in an industry that has favored men for centuries … that seemed a small sacrifice.”

Until the author playing field is level, Brick said, “the art won’t be as authentic as it should be.”

Also in the works for Not a Pipe’s 2019 plans is a focus on authors of color and from the LGBTQ community.

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Not a Pipe Publishing

What: Independence-based publisher that is publishing only women authors in 2018

Books:

  • January: “The Staff of Fire and Bone,” an epic fantasy by Mikko Azul (Grapeview, Washington)
  • February: “The Supernormal Legacy: Dormant,” a young adult superhero adventure by LeeAnn McLennan (Portland)
  • February: “Shadow Girl,” a young adult Irish folklore fantasy by Kate Ristau (Portland)
  • March: “Djinn: The Book of the Concealed,” a young adult fantasy romance by Sang Kromah (Sykesville, Maryland)
  • April: “Survivors’ Club,” a sci fi/action adventure by M.K. Martin (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • May: “Daughter of Magic,” a young adult high fantasy by Karen Eisenbrey (Seattle)
  • June: “The Supernormal Legacy: Root,” a young adult superhero adventure by LeeAnn McLennan
  • July: “Greener,”  a young adult sci-fi dystopia by Heather S. Ransom (Medford)
  • November: “The Supernormal Legacy: Emerge,” a young adult superhero adventure by LeeAnn McLennan

Event: Not a Pipe is celebrating female and female-identified writers with readings, love letters and book signings from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at TaborSpace, 5441 S.E. Belmont St.

Information: notapipepublishing.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on January 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Press Release: The Staff of Fire and Bone Kicks Off Publishing Company’s Year of Publishing Only Women

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 9th, 2018

 

Mikko Azul’s Amazing Epic Fantasy The Staff of Fire and Bone Kicks Off Publishing Company’s Year of Publishing Only Women

 

Grapeview, Washington. Mikko Azul’s stunning epic fantasy novel, The Staff of Fire and Bone, will hit shelves on the 30th of January in hardcover, trade paperback, and on Kindle. Azul, a former Marine and mother of three, has been working on the novel since 2005, and she gained renewed inspiration when an earlier version of the manuscript won awards and recognition at the San Francisco Writers Conference. She then signed with Not a Pipe Publishing, a small press in Independence, Oregon and the first publishing company in the United States to announce their acceptance of author Kamila Shamsie’s challenge to make 2018 “The Year of Publishing Women.” Azul’s The Staff of Fire and Bone will be the first of nine novels released by the company in 2018.

 

The Staff of Fire and Bone is set in Muralia, an elaborate and richly conceived world filled with magic and different factions living in tension. It tells the story of Cédron Varkaras, a young man who is already isolated because he’s the Regent’s son and has a Shäeli demon for a mother. Approaching manhood, his demonic powers manifest, proof of his mother’s legacy. Cédron is blamed for the devastating ground shakes that have begun tearing the world apart and he flees. Hunted by those who would kill him and others who want to exploit his powers, he races against time to find the real cause of the destruction. With little hope of redeeming himself or saving his world, Cédron must choose: become the hero that destiny has conspired to make him or join with the great demon and embrace his true heritage.

 

The early critical reception has been effusive. Karen Eisenbrey, author of The Gospel According to St. Rage and the forthcoming Daughter of Magic, writes, “The Staff of Fire and Bone is a thrilling tale of a misfit with a destiny to save the world of Muralia – and the power to destroy it. Like the best fantasy settings, Muralia feels both familiar and deeply strange. And the staff of the title? The most shocking and beautiful magical object I have encountered in 40+ years as a fantasy reader.”

 

After so many years of toil to bring this world to readers, Azul has learned a lot about persevering through adversity and overcoming self-doubt. “My advice to aspiring authors is to follow your bliss,” she says, “to find bliss in your writing and your life, and to not worry about anyone’s definition of success. Relax and take the ride!”

Ask about it at your favorite independent bookstore,

or get it on Amazon HERE

at Powell’s HERE

or on B&N.com HERE

And check it out on Goodreads HERE

 

For more information or to schedule an interview with Mikko Azul, contact the publishers directly at:

Paige and Benjamin Gorman

notapipepublishing@gmail.com

P.O. Box 184

Independence, Oregon 97351

(971) 506-5606

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Posted by on January 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

How To Find Success as a Self-Published Author

Guest blogger August Wainwright weighs in on the definition of success as a self-published author in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Enjoy…

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone for the great response to the 50 Best Sites for Indie & Self Published Authors post. The reaction has been amazing and many of the writers and sites on the list have weighed in to say thanks. I’ve also learned about a few new sites that are worth a regular visit. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed answering emails and spreading the word, so I haven’t gotten around to posting a new article for the last 2 weeks. No bueno.

Recently, I’ve been struck by a recurring conversation that continues to pop up everywhere I turn. In various forums, on websites, and in comment sections, it seems to be what so many indie and self-published authors are thinking (and complaining) about right now.

So what is it?

Well for me, it’s a discussion about success. It’s a discussion about how to define what success looks like and a discussion about how to achieve that success.

However, on all of these sites, the argument is framed as one of failure – not of success. Here are just a few examples of what I’ve recently heard:

“Now that Amazon has changed their algorithms to target indie authors…”

“Now that free is dead…”

“Last year, with the post-free run bump in sales, I could count on getting at least “X” sales after it went back to its regular price. Now I’m barely getting any post-free sales. Either free is dead or Amazon is targeting authors like me…”

“There’s no way to sell books if you don’t use Bookbub…”

“Bookbub won’t feature my book because I don’t have enough reviews, but I can’t get enough reviews if I’m not featured on Bookbub.”

“No new authors in 2013 are finding any real success…”

“I published my book last week and only had 5 sales, this is ridiculous…”

No, sir, you are ridiculous!

(Sorry, that was an outburst).

The point of highlighting these arguments is to show the thinking of some self-published authors. And, seeing as how this site is quickly turning into a place to help writers perform better in the current publishing marketplace (which I love the direction it’s taking), I believe this is a conversation that needs to be openly, andtruthfully, discussed.

So let’s dive into a few of the issues surrounding the success of a self-published author…

 

You are NOT an outlier

I hate to have to be the one to tell you this, but you aren’t Hugh Howey. You aren’t. Statistically speaking, it’s an extremely safe bet for me to say that you, the one reading this post, will never sell a million copies of anything you write – especially over the course of just a few months.

This idea that because one out of every ten thousand writers finds overnight success (that’s a completely made up stat; it’s probably much more rare than one in ten thousand), that it somehow translates to the idea that overall success as a writer is framed by these outliers is so wildly off-base that it’s comical.

The idea of a brand new author showing up with their first work and finding major success with no pre-established base was just as absurd in 1983 as it was in 2003 as it is now in 2013.

This skewed idea of success has led so many new authors to believe that if Brad Thor does it or Russell Blake does it or Joe Konrath does it, then they’re simply a click of a “Publish” button away from doing it too.

You aren’t that writer.

But what you probably are is a good writer. You might even be a great writer. So how do you attain the success that you’re seeking?

 

Slow growth is the sustainable way to success as an author

Let me ask a blunt question, and I want you to really think about this for a second:

Do you really want crappy books with crappy covers and crappy amateur blurbs to be able to get post-free sales bumps? Do you really want poor products to represent indie authors? Do you really want YOUR marketplace to be that easy?

You’re entitled to your own opinion, but my immediate answer is NO. I don’t want things to be that easy. Either way, you should stop to think about what the marketplace of 2011 and 2012 have done to the thinking of new authors.

The algorithms and marketplace of the last 1.5-2 years allowed unknown self-published authors to become overnight successes, sometimes regardless of the quality of their product. That 18-month period of the “free” gold-rush WASN’T the norm; it was never going to stay that way. Now the systems and algorithms are starting to normalize.

Is Amazon perfect? No. Is B&N or Kobo or Apple perfect? No. But the technology is still amazing and it’s still unbelievably liberating.

And yet, I’ve actually watched multiple authors on various forums publish their first book, with absolutely no prior following, openly discuss their first and second week sales numbers with smiling emoticons, and then after the sales fall off over the next few weeks, they post about how they are barely staying afloat and that they don’t know what to do and that it seems like the time of the indie/self-pub author is dead.

I say – GOOD.

As much as I want to help other authors that are on a parallel journey to mine, I have no time for the people who think that if success doesn’t come in less than 30 days, then it’s not coming at all.

Real success – the lasting kind – takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.

Whether it’s Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hours idea or Dean Wesley Smith’s thinking on slow growth, true success as an author takes years, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words.

Did you know Issac Asimov is believed to have written or co-written 512 books (a New York Times article from 1969 credited the then 49 year old Asimov with 108 books and over 7.5 million words). Ray Bradbury published more than 30 books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays. Stephen King has published 55 novels and close to 200 short stories, and probably has many more that are yet unpublished.

So here’s the path to success:

Write. Edit. Re-Write. Re-Edit. (Do this a few more times). Get a great cover. Write a great blurb. Publish. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Notice the three repeats there at the end. That is the key. Most series don’t find success until at least the third book. Most authors don’t find success for the first few years, maybe even the first decade.

But what’s really worth discussing when it comes to “success” in today’s marketplace is what that success looks like when it finally comes.

 

A real example of a brand new author (with numbers)

Look, if you’re one of the lucky ones who hit it big because of a free run or the hot ad-company-of-the-week, well then great. But the idea is to keep writing, get better at your craft, and plan for the future.

That is what self-publishing allows for. I entered the industry full-time somewhere around late February of 2013, with no writing experience other than as a hobby. I’ve been writing off and on my entire life, but I’ve never approached it as a potential career.

Last year, my wife deployed, my other business was doing well, and I had a lot of free time on my hands. I started writing letters to mail to my wife (a dying but extremely valuable art) and she eventually asked me to send her a few stories. (You can read my first ever post and a little more about the start of my journey here). That’s how I initially got into writing on a semi-regular schedule.

I never submitted to agents or publishers; I also never submitted a single story to competitions or magazines. I published my first book via Amazon in late May 2013. I just finished publishing the 2nd in my current series, a short 12,000 word novella, in late June. The 3rd is due out in the next few days. I’m not yet on any platform other than Amazon.

And now I’d like to take a minute to talk specific numbers. I know most people frown on the idea, but I’m not begging and I’m not bragging, so I see no issues with discussing real numbers.

So far, in the month and a half I’ve had books available to purchase, I’ve sold roughly1 book per day, per title (full disclosure: those sales are both as myself and under a single pen name where I have two books published). Just a single sale per day, per title.

So, again, I ask: what is “success”?

Because under almost any metric you’ll find online, I’m a complete failure.

 

Yet, here’s the reality for someone who is a completely new author in 2013:

  • In roughly 4 months (beginning of March to present day), my website has attracted close to 500 subscribers who are actively engaged in the articles I write.
  • In the roughly 2 months of being “published”, I have 115 subscribers to a newsletter specific to my book series. (The cross-over between these lists is minimal, roughly 4%).
  • In the those 2 months, I’ve averaged about 1 sale per title released, per day.

 

This is what those numbers project to be by the end of 2013:

  • My website subscriber list should be somewhere between 1000-2000 people.
  • My book series subscriber list could be anywhere from about 500 up to “who knows”. The reason this is hard to quantify is because I only have 2 titles out right now in the series (and an additional 2 under a pen name), whereby the end of 2013 I plan on having 8-10 books out.
  • I plan to publish to all platforms later this summer. Should I be able to bump the 1-sale-per-day-per-title up to a modest 3 sales per day (across all platforms) and, accomplish my goal of releasing 8 titles by years end, I would be selling 24 books per day. 24 books per day at my current avg. profit price of $2.35 would equal just over $20,000 in 365 days.

 

Also, it’s worth noting that I have a KDP Select run scheduled for July 26-27th, but as of right now, all my current numbers are with no free runs and no advertising. I’ve yet to use a KDP free day, and as of writing this, I’ve not submitted my books to Bookbub or any other major advertiser (but I do plan on doing so).

Are those numbers blow-the-roof-off amazing? I don’t think so, but what IS amazing is that they are completely attainable.

Is it “success”?

To me, it’s a damn good start. To you, I don’t know, I guess that’s for each individual to decide. But for me, the idea that a very realistic minimum of $20k in 2013 with ZERO pre-established base before March of this year, I have to say that I think that’s quite amazing.

With the right marketing (which is something I plan on discussing in great detail on this site), a mediocre free run (regardless of what that means right now), or a well-placed ad, my numbers could be well in excess of that projected minimum.

And the key is still the long term. Look at what happens if I publish 8 titles a year, for the next 3 years and STILL only average 3 sales a day per title at an average sales revenue of $2.35.

8 titles per year X 3yrs = 24 titles
24 titles X 3 sales a day per title = 72 sales per day
72 sales per day X avg. sale profit of $2.35 = $169.20 per day
$169.20 per day = $61,758 per year

With 50 titles available and STILL only 3 sales per day per title, that yearly income becomes $128,662.50.

So from writing 1000 words a day on my laptop over the course of the next 5 years, I could possibly end up making an additional six figure income doing something I love. That’s “never hitting it big” – never selling more than 3 copies of any title on any given day.

And that income should continue on forever. In the digital marketplace, my books never go out of print.

To me, it’s amazing what is possible for a new author in 2013. The technology and networking at our fingertips is nothing less than incredible. But you still have to write. Sit down, every day, and write. Write a little; write a lot. Just keep writing. Keep turning out great products and, eventually, you’ll find an audience.

Success isn’t something achieved overnight – it’s earned over a long period of time, with a tremendous amount of effort. But it’s very attainable – now more than ever before.

by August Wainwright on July 10, 2013

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

World Book Night

World Book Night at The Harvest Program, BHR

World Book Night at The Harvest Program, BHR

This year I had the distinct pleasure of being chosen as a “giver” for World Book Night 2013. My friend Mandee Graham and I were chosen to give a box of books to the group of our choice. The targeted population for this years’ gifts were non or light readers. We chose Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It was an easy choice because it is small enough not to intimidate reluctant readers and because it delivers such a powerful message.

We decided to donate the books to a group of women in our county who we thought would both be likely to read them and who could benefit from the positive message of the story. The Behavioral Health Resources in our town offers a program that we felt gave us ideal candidates. The Harvest Program is designed for mothers and expectant mothers who are in recovery from addiction. They are actively seeking positive ways to cope with the stressors of life and childrearing in the face of often insurmountable adversity. They are a group with whom I feel a kinship in my own way.

Growing up, reading was my personal form of escapism. Fantasy realms were my abode while outside my bedroom raged the storms of adolescence then marriage and parenthood that would otherwise have carried me away. I have suffered from mental health issues during stressful times, as nearly everyone does, and have always turned to reading as a method of coping. Sometimes I was more successful than other times, but it was always there. The loneliest person is the one who is by himself and cannot read. When I’d read everything available to me, I turned to writing my own stories as a form of therapy. Books have given me hope, joy and a new outlook on life that I fervently hoped to share with these women.

Having programs available for women that support them during the difficulties of recovery and especially through the challenges of recovery while trying to parent is a phenomenal boon for our community. The women in The Harvest Program find solace in the storms of their lives and support where otherwise none would exist. Mandee and I were both humbled and honored to be able to contribute this small gift to those women who appreciated it so very much and will, in many cases, continue to seek hope, adventures and excitement between the pages of books.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Askari: The Next Big Thing!

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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Writer’s Digest running competition for YA and SciFi Writers!

13TH FREE “DEAR LUCKY AGENT” CONTEST (YOUNG ADULT AND SCI-FI)

January 17, 2013 | Chuck Sambuchino | Comments: 25
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Welcome to the 13th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing either a science fiction novel (adults or teens) or any kind of young adult novel, this 13th contest is for you! (The contest is live through January 31, 2013.)

 

 

WHY YOU SHOULD GET EXCITED

After a previous “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, the agent judge, Tamar Rydzinski (The Laura Dail Literary Agency), signed one of the three contest winners. After Tamar signed the writer, she went on to sell two of that writer’s books! How cool! That’s why these contests are not to missed if you have an eligible submission.

HOW TO SUBMIT

E-mail entries to dearluckyagent13@gmail.com. Please paste everything. No attachments.

WHAT TO SUBMIT

The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of your sci-fi novel or young adult novel. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any social media. Please provide a social media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your offical e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is http://tinyurl.com/a8msdw2. An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino somewhere in your mention(s) if using Twitter. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks.

 

Want to pitch this contest’s agent judge (Victoria Marini) in person?
Then check out the gigantic agent pitch slam as part of the 2013
Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC, April 5-7, 2013! The event
will have anywhere from 60-80 agents taking pitches.

 

WHAT IS ELIGIBLE?

Science fiction novels of any kind, as well as young adult novels of any kind.

CONTEST DETAILS

  1. This contest will be live for approximately 14 days—from Jan. 17, 2013 through the end of Jan. 31, 2013, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.
  2. To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.
  3. You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.
  4. The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W Media, Inc.
  5. By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) fwmedia.com. The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.)

PRIZES!!!

Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com ($50 value)!

MEET YOUR (AWESOME) AGENT JUDGE!

Victoria Marini is an associate literary agent with the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, and an assistant to the boss-ladies: Jane Gelfman, Deborah Schneider, and Heather Mitchell. Gelfman Schneider has been in business for over 30 years. They passionately represent a wide range of authors including American Academy of Arts, Edgar Awards and Pushcart Prize winners, as well as severalNew York Times bestselling authors. Victoria began taking on clients in 2010. Currently, she is building her list and hungry for more.

Here are some books that she has represented:

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott (Adult General/Other)
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (YA)
OCD Love Story by Corey Haydu (YA; July 2013)
forthcoming: Loop by Karen Akins (YA sci-fi)

        

 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Marissa Meyer, bestselling author of Cinder, prepares to launch Scarlet!

Bestselling author of Cinder and Scarlet

Bestselling author of Cinder and Scarlet

We met at a Barnes and Noble author event in October where I picked up a copy of Cinder. I became an instant fan! With the launch of her sequel Scarlet due out next month, I was able to get Marissa to sit down for a few moments before her next book tour to share her thoughts.

What first inspired you to write Cinder?

I’d been trying to write a novel since I was sixteen, but had never found an idea that I could stick with to the end—I always got bored of the stories I was working on. Then at one point I wrote a short story that was a futuristic retelling of the fairy tale “Puss in Boots” – it was so much fun that I wanted to try to write a longer futuristic fairy tale retelling, maybe even a whole series of them! A few months after I had that idea, the vision of a cyborg Cinderella popped into my head and immediately began to fill me with ideas for her world and story. I knew as soon as I started writing it that it would be the first novel I finished.

 Why fairy tales?

I’ve always loved fairy tales—since those first Disney movies when I was a kid. There’s something very universal about them. We all know the stories, we can all relate to their underlying themes, and yet they still offer so much potential for twisting and re-imagining them. I don’t think we, as a species, will ever grow tired of fairy tales.

Tell us how you came to create your world of New Beijing.

I chose to set Cinder in futuristic China because I wanted to pay homage to the original Cinderella story, which was written by a 9th-century Chinese scholar. But as I wasn’t able to travel to the real Beijing for research, it allowed me more flexibility to create a made-up city, so I decided that our current Beijing was destroyed in a horrific war, and New Beijing was built to replace it. I had a lot of fun envisioning what that new city would be like—full of high-technology, towering skyscrapers, and lots of flashing advertisements and experimental architecture. But at the same time, I figured the people of the new Eastern Commonwealth would want to embrace their history, so there are also traditional zen gardens, sculptures, and art everywhere.

Are your characters molded after particular individuals? If so, who?

Nope—they’re all straight from my imagination.

 Tell us a little about Cinder and what her conflicts are. 

16-year-old Cinder is part-human and part-machine, making her a cyborg. Unfortunately, she lives in a society in which cyborgs aren’t largely trusted or understood, so she’s considered a second-class citizen and a piece of property to her adoptive stepmother. This obviously creates a lot of problems for her in general—questions of her worth and freedom—but it’s further complicated when she meets and begins to fall in love with Prince Kai, who has no idea she’s cyborg.

 Your next book, Scarlet, is a twist on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood right? What’s next after that? How many books in this series?

 That’s right! There will be four books in total. Book 3: Cress will be based on Rapunzel and Book 4: Winter will be based on Snow White, but Cinder will continue to be a main character throughout all four books.

 Your writing is extremely tight with no slow moments or extraneous passages. Tell us about your editing team and how they molded your revisions to come up with this beautifully written book.

Thank you! While I did have a copyeditor who graciously caught a number of typos and consistency issues, I don’t really have a team that focuses on the writing like you’re talking about. That’s just my voice, I guess. Although I do at least one editing round, when a manuscript is almost completely final, where I’m only looking for unnecessary words or phrases. I often cut anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 words during this round, and don’t lose a single bit of the plot.

 Could you share with other aspiring writers your story of how you navigated your journey from concept to publication?

The first step, of course, was to write the best book I could. Cinder took almost two full years to write, revise, and edit. After that, though, my path to publication went very quickly. I queried about a dozen literary agents and two months later signed with the first agent I’d queried. She and I worked together for a couple weeks to compile the submission package, including summaries for all four books in The Lunar Chronicles. She then sent it to editors on a Friday and we had our first offer the following Monday. It was all very dizzying! But again—the important part of this story is all that time I spent upfront trying to craft a strong, engaging story.

Who are your personal heroes? Why do they inspire you?

J.K. Rowling—because she’s J.K. Rowling! Her story of hardship and persistence is so encouraging, and I admire her so much for how well she knows the world she created. She is an absolute genius.

 What’s next for Marissa Meyer? Please plug any of your upcoming events or marketing here so that we can get the word out! Please also give me the website and facebook (and twitter) address that you want me to plug for you.

Scarlet: Book Two of the Lunar Chronicles will hit bookstores on February 5 (and I’m so excited!!). I’ll be going on book tour (the schedule can be seen at http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/the-scarlet-tour-schedule-other-upcoming-events/) so I hope some of your readers can come out and see me! Besides that, I’ll be diligently plugging away on Books 3 and 4.

I can be followed at:

Blog & newsletter: http://www.marissameyer.com/blog

Twitter: @marissa_meyer

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marissameyerauthor

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Mikko!

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized