Monday, January 30, 2012

Selling on Partial

Hey y'all,

I was supposed to blog about this last week, but it turned out to be a difficult week words-wise (they weren't coming easily and sometimes I was at my desk 8-10 hours a day). After a day like that, the last thing I want to do is sit in a chair and blog (and my treadmill desk is in the garage so it's kind of cold to blog there and the last time I used my treadmill desk I couldn't walk for a week. I think I needed new tennis shoes at the time--and I WAS on the thing for about three hours--but still....the scars, they linger...<--dramatic).

But this is a new week! And I'm sure the words are going to flow much more freely (I'm not really sure, but I'm trying to think positively<--optimistic).

So. Anyway. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was working on finishing the book I just sold to Delacorte (a twisted retelling of Beauty and the Beast due out in 2013) and a commenter asked how I could sell a book that wasn't finished. Which is a good question! I had no idea that was possible when I first started writing, but it is, and here is how that happens:

Instead of submitting a complete manuscript, you prepare 3-5 sample chapters (usually 10-25,000 words) and a detailed synopsis. For the book I just sold, I had written five chapters (16,000 words) and a 9-page synopsis.

Now, selling on partial has some obvious pluses, probably the biggest is that you don't have to invest all the time you'd invest to write a full book before finding out if there is interest in the project. It also has some drawbacks. If something goes wrong halfway through, you can't give up and start something else. You're under contract and you MUST finish that book.

(Though this can also be a plus if you're the sort to flit from project to project and need a deadline hovering over your head to make you pick a project and see it through. I never used to be this type of person, but...lately... There are just so many sparkly stories, and the first 5 chapters are always my favorites to write. I have three partials on my computer at the moment. Presently, all of them are more attractive to my brain than the one I've been contracted to write. That's because that story is now at the 50k mark, the place where ALL SEEMS LOST. At least to me. Every time I hit a little over halfway through, I start to panic and become certain this is the book I will never be able to finish. 50k is the place where threads need to be tied and climaxes need to be approached and twists revealed and...*clutches stomach*...I get vaguely ill just thinking about going down to my office later today.)

And that's basically it. Despite the "omg will I be able to finish this" anxiety, I do enjoy selling on partial. It's heartbreaking to finish a book and not be able to find a home for it. I'm a little too goal oriented to simply enjoy the process at this point in my career, but maybe...someday... I am working on something that makes me giddy every time I sit down and open the file, something I want to finish no matter what, so...<--mysterious

I will say, however, that it is much more difficult to sell on partial before you've been published because you haven't proven to anyone that you can get from a great beginning to a killer end. My first book, YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME, was complete before it was sold (though I then proceeded to rewrite all 80k of it after the book was acquired by one editor and then passed to another, so...there you go. Finishing the book didn't really save me any work that time around. I ended up writing two manuscripts instead.) Since that first book, however, every book I've sold has sold on partial. FYI. For anyone who is interested.

Any other questions about this? I'm happy to answer if I've left anything unclear.

Happy Monday,

Stacey

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cats and Chickens. For your consideration.

Dear Family (and blog friends who will enjoy these creatures vicariously, should they come to live in our home and/or small side yard),

We need a cat. Something soft and fluffy to love. I know we don't have the room, I know there's concern about where we'll place the litter box in our 800 square feet of downstairs living space (that includes the boys' room), but do common sense concerns like those really have any place in affairs of the heart? Can reason triumph over cuteness? And cuddling? And purring on laps? I think not. I think...not.

In defense of my argument, I offer the following:



Or, I suppose we could get chickens instead:



After viewing these videos, The Old Man said, and I quote "I don't know, I kind of like the evil one. That's a cute cat." *rubs hands together* *cackles* I'm getting closer. Soon, a cat will be mine!! Mine!!!

(And maybe some chickens, too. They're just so unexpectedly adorable! The little beaky punkins, I want to hold them in my hand and pet their fluffy backs.)

This post has been brought to you by Procrastination and iMovie and Cute Chickens and Cuter Cats and Freeplay music. Special Thanks to Rhianna for bringing my attention to the adorable Scottish Fold breed, and to that lady in my ballet class who extolled the virtues of Banty Hens.

Sincerely,

Stacey Jay

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mendocino Writers Conference-Come see me get my faculty on

Hey!

I'm thrilled to announce that I will be joining the faculty of the Mendocino Writers Conference July 26-28.

Jody Gerhman, Ginny Rorby, and I will be doing a panel on:

The Secret Ingredients of Successful Teen Fiction
What makes some novels so appealing to young readers while others languish on the
shelves? How can adults capture the elusive teen “voice” editors seek? In this interactive
panel discussion, Young Adult authors Stacey Jay, Ginny Rorby and Jody Gehrman will
address the most sought-after ingredients in YA fiction and how to make them work for you.

Now...I'm not completely sure I can do everything that panel description is saying we're going to do in an hour and fifteen minutes, but I often find I know more than I think I do once I start answering questions. I also have no filter between my brain and my mouth, and often find myself saying something inappropriate and/or controversial and/or delicately foul-mouthed--because I am from the South and even my cursing is delicate--so that should make for an entertaining session.

In addition to being delicately controversial, I'm also capable of answering questions in a reasonable and informative manner. And I have sold nine young adult books in less than six years so I'm sure I have a secret or two worth sharing (even if I don't know what those are yet). So come see me! Let's hang out on the beautiful Mendocino coast and talk writing and eat seafood and have our hair whipped about by the ocean breeze. (I was on the coast a few weeks ago and it reminded me why I want to keep my hair long enough for pigtails. Not much else you can do with it in a situation like that.)

I'm also doing one on one critiques at the conference.. You can request one of those when you register. (FYI on critiques: I give a gentle critique, but I also strive to be productive and give people something they can use. In other words, if you think your words are perfect as they are and are looking for confirmation, don't sign up for a critique. That won't be useful to either one of us, and, on the off chance I don't agree with you, things can get...uncomfortable. But on the other hand, if you live in fear of a mean author with a red pen lunging over the table and tearing out your creative jugular, fear not. I will be gentle. I promise.)

Registration opens mid March, learn more about the conference, who is speaking, and where to stay while you're there over at the Mendocino Writer's Conference Website:

http://www.mcwc.org/mcwc_expect.html


Any questions? Thoughts? Concerns? (I've been told it's okay to whip out some interpretive dance if the session gets slow, so we're good there.)

Back with pictures of chickens later this week.

Stacey

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vote for Juliet Immortal? Chickens, fox urine, etc.



Happy Friday!

I am thrilled to announce that JULIET IMMORTAL has been nominated for the Children's Choice Book Awards. They're trying to narrow down the selections to five finalists and it would be spiffy to be a finalist. I've never been a finalist...unless you count the pie eating contest at the Fourth of July picnic in Caraway, Arkansas when I was eight, but that was a long time ago and I ended up losing to a twelve year old boy in the mixed ages division so I don't count that. (Though I can still take down a small pie with intimidating speed, so...do with that information what you will. Fear me. Guard your pies. Etc.)

Anyway, if you're a person under the age of 18, perhaps you might like to go vote for Juliet Immortal? If you do, here's the link:

http://www.teenreads.com/2012-teen-choice-book-of-the-year-nominees

Voting is open until February 15th.

I'll be back next week with news about a writer's conference at which I will be faculty-ing (hope to meet some of you northwest US people there), a blog about selling on partial that was suggested by one of your comments (go you!), and some pictures of chickens because I want to get chickens.

(Not really. I'm just telling my husband I want to get chickens. I'm even going to drag him to look at chicken coops this weekend. But what I really want is a cat. I'm just going to make the Old Man think we're getting chickens so that he'll be relieved and happy about getting a cat, instead of grumpy about getting a cat, which is the current State of the Husband when I start talking feline companion. But after all this chicken nonsense, he'll be happy to get a cat because a cat is easier than chickens because we have a lot of foxes near our house and the chicken wire would have to be pretty serious stuff to protect them. Otherwise, I really would want chickens. And a cat. But I don't want to risk dead chickens. Especially if some stinky fox is going to get to eat it instead of me. I used to like foxes, but they really stink up the joint around here. Something they spray when they're feeling frisky or something. Or maybe their urine, which is allegedly used to mark territory. Damn frisky, peeing foxes.)<--this is what I wrote instead of the 1000 words I was supposed to write in the last hour. I should be slapped.

Happy weekend,

Stacey Jay

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

PRETEND YOU CAN't SEE THIS!!

And click on this link:

http://americancensorship.org/modal/call-form-moz.html

(I would have blacked out this site and my website in honor of the protest of SOPA today, but I am technically challenged. Censorship like this is a scary, scary thing so please do click and learn more if you haven't already taken steps to protest SOPA.)

Stacey

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Big News!

First of all,

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day. Go forth and fight social injustice in his honor. (For real. If you want to skip reading this blog entry and go straight to fighting social injustice, I support that.)

Secondly,

I teased with the big news last week. Now I will share. Here's the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace

"Stacey Jay's futuristic retelling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, to Michelle Poploff at Delacorte, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown."

I am SO very excited to be writing two more books for Delacorte! They are an amazing crew made of awesome over there and I feel honored to continue to work with them for at least two more books. And I'm really excited about writing a stand alone book for book one (no word on what book two will be at this point, but that's kind of nice too. A bit of mystery is exciting.).

Now, the Beauty and the Beast inspired book is unfinished at this point (I'll be starting Chapter Nine tomorrow), but I can say with a certain amount of assurance that it's not so much a "retelling" as a "reinterpretation." Those of you who've read "Juliet Immortal" know that I like to twist my retelling. A lot. Sometimes to the point that it resembles the original story hardly at all. This book will have more in common with the original fairy tale than "Juliet Immortal" has with Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," but there will definitely be surprises.

And also, just for clarity, I wouldn't really call it futuristic. (Though it does take place in the future. Sort of.) But it's definitely not sci-fi, so that description didn't work. (Though there is advanced technology in use. Sort of. Though the people using it don't understand it because the science behind the technology has been lost.) And...um...and...

Well, it's still a work in progress and won't be published until 2013. Let's stick a pin in it and I'll be back with more information later in the year. In the meantime, I've got other book related newsy bits to share:

1. JULIET IMMORTAL will release in paperback in September of this year. In the meantime, Barnes and Noble is still selling the hardcover at a discounted rate. So if you haven't snagged a copy yet, you can get one for less than $12 (33% off the list price): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/juliet-immortal-stacey-jay/1100083575

2. The Page Sage interviewed me over at her blog. She's quite clever and asked great questions. So maybe cruise by there, if you'd like?: http://thepagesage.blogspot.com/2012/01/author-interview-stacey-jay.html

3. Also a very nice review of JULIET IMMORTAL over at Chicks with Crossbows: http://www.chickswithcrossbows.com/?p=1002 (I don't often link to reviews, but come on, Chicks with Crossbows. The name alone necessitated some link love.)

4. I am still sore from the Friday ballet class (that's not book related, but it's on my mind, and legs and back and neck, so...).

5. My husband and I had a date day yesterday (he got tickets for a Winter Wineland event), and while wine tasting I met a girl who plays the electric ukulele. We chatted and I gave her my email and we're going to meet up next time she's in town for a ukulele lesson. I am going to learn to play the ukulele! I am one step closer to performing in an all girl folk band (one with appreciation for the uke)!!! I love it when New Year's goals fall into place in January. (Also not book related, but ukulele related, which is almost as good.)

6. ROMEO REDEEMED (Fall 2012) has a cover and it is GORGEOUS. I will post it here as soon as I am allowed to do so. But trust me, it is...yummy ;).

7. I like cheese. But not Chuck E Cheese, where I will now take my children. I'm so ready for winter to be over. I like it when there are outdoor things to do and lots of good excuses to stay away from The Rat Hole.

Happy day to all,

Stacey

Friday, January 13, 2012

OhmyholygodIhurteverywhere and Foreign Covers

Hello,

This morning I went to a real, hardcore ballet class for the first time in over a decade. And like any self respecting Type A personality, I refused to take it easy and instead hurled myself into the class despite the fact that I no longer have the ballet-specific muscles or endurance to do that sort of hurling. Good news, I can still do a lot of things I didn't think I would be able to do. I can still jump like a fracking gazelle and spin in lots of circles without puking (though I did get a LOT dizzier than I used to) and decipher a combination that is spoken to me in French rather than fully demonstrated. That rocked. I felt sparkly and the other students in the "adult" class--would be more accurate to call it the college girl class, as few looked older than twenty--were very sweet and let me trail along behind them and watch when I got too confused.

It was great, and I am now filled with the burning desire to get back into performance worthy shape and try out for next year's Nutcracker. I can do it, I think. And my supportive husband is being very supportive, as usual, and said that he'd love for me to do that and would help watch the kids and would love to come see me dance and that meant so much to me because I never realized that he realized how much I miss dancing and oh la la la happy day!

So that's the good news.

The bad news, is that now I hurt everywhere. Ev-er-y-where. My toes, my back, my shoulders, even my thumb, and the place between the thumb and pointer finger. I will not be writing much more today. *ow* *wince* Or maybe even tomorrow. *ow* (Good thing I was very productive with the word count earlier in the week.)

So I thought it would be a good show and tell picture day! Let's look at the pretty foreign covers and I will be back with a real blog post next week. I promise. Mostly. Probably....

Unless I have an amazing writing week like I did this week in which case I will continue to draft because I'm loving this book and writing it is fun. (In related news, those of you with Publishers Marketplace will have seen my big news. For everyone else, I will save the big news until Monday. So come back Monday. Big news and more specifics than the Pub Marketplace memo.)

Now without further ado:

Juliet Immortal in Turkey:



Dead on the Delta in Germany



Juliet Immortal in France (just came out this week! Hope my French readers enjoy it.)



Juliet Immortal in Germany




Thank you very much.

I'm off to down a few ibuprofen and try to walk through the agony.

Happy weekend,

Stacey Jay

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Fruits of Fruitful Procrastination

Good Wednesday!

It's back to real work tomorrow for me, but before I start drafting again, I wanted to share my new procrastination outlets for 2012.

One of my goals for the year was to find healthier ways to interact with the internet. Ways that didn't leave me feeling stupid or unpopular or small or depressed or filled with useless angst and woe. And that also didn't take up too much time since I need to stay focused on the jobs at hand. I'm happy to say I've found several fun things to do that have made me happier both on the net and out and about in the world.

First up, I've started a Tumblr--http://staceyjayya.tumblr.com/--primarily for the posting of photographs. (I've really let my photography hobby slip in the past two years, and I want to take more pictures in 2012. I'm aiming for 400 entries by the end of the year, so there should always be something to look at over there.)

You'll see some nature-y stuff:



Some preshush loin fruit stuff (this one with nature included):



And snapshots of some of our local heroes, including Lief Goatrickson, the bearded Viking goat who lives down the lane. (And who I've been stalking for over a month, waiting for him to be at the fence when I happened to drive by. My camera made many useless trips to the grocery store and gym, but finally we were ready and we snapped Lief, and his beard, in action.)

Lief is a charming guy and modeled for me with enthusiasm and much tossing of his chin hair. If only I'd known he was that amiable, I would have called him over to the fence sooner. Really, a great goat. I'll be visiting him with a treat again soon.



If you're on Tumblr, friend me or whatever and I'll friend or follow or whatever I'm supposed to do back. (Can you tell I'm new over there?) I'd love to see what you all are tumbling.

I've also started three Pinterest Boards. Lovelies, Scaries, and Books, the Good Stuff. I'm having so much fun discovering news artists and illustrators and revisiting my old favorites (and I think this will be a good way to keep track of my reading for the year). I find art very inspirational. It's a great break from writing that leaves me feeling excited to dive back into my work.

So there you go! I'll include a link to those places on and off throughout the year, when I think I've got something fun to share.

Starting to get ready for real work to begin!

Off to brainstorm titles and pay bills and finish filling the office shelves with books. Before and After office pictures to come next week.

Stacey

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Goal Post. On time this year!

In 2012, I'm going to open every blog post with--

*maniacal laughter*

Okay, maybe not. There may come a time when maniacal laughter will be an inappropriate way to open a blog post, but still...after the butt whooping I gave the goals (and even the half formed promises) of 2011, I'm feeling gutsy about 2012.

But first...a look back...

*wavy lines fill your screen as you glance back into the past...*

So here's my post from last year: http://staceyjayya.blogspot.com/2011/01/thoughts-for-new-year.html In this post I had 8 goals:

Sort Of Not Really GOAL 1: I told you I probably wouldn't have time to write a Megan Berry novel/novella, but that I would try, but that I wasn't promising anything.

Outcome of SONRG 1: I wrote this-->



VALENTINE'S DAY OF THE UNDEAD is a Megan Berry novella that (for me) ties up the loose ends from UNDEAD MUCH? and leaves Megan and companions in an interesting, but not dire, place. It was fun to write, and I've received emails that assure me it is fun to read, as well. Happy Ending for everyone except the people who keep writing me demanding more Megan Berry. To those readers I must simply say, I'm sorry, but the sales just aren't there.

In an effort to be completely transparent I'll tell you numbers. VALENTINE'S DAY OF THE UNDEAD sold 320 units this year (which is great!). But YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME has sold 26,000 copies to date and the sequel roughly half that. The numbers for the self pubbed book can't compare, and I can't justify taking the time to write and self publish more Megan Berry books at this time. If I self publish anything this year, it will probably be a different project.

Don't shoot the messenger, okay! I'm a creative person and a storyteller and a lover of Megan (she's like my much younger sister who I wish all good things for), but I am also a businesswoman. I run a business, look after a career, and have to make decisions that will enable me to keep earning money for my family.

So, anyway, bad news if you are one of the people who writes me email about Megan, but good news for New Year's Goals! I fulfilled a goal that wasn't even a goal! *gives self rare pat on back*

GOAL NUMBER 2: Get off Ambien

Outcome G2: After two promising starts that backslid into failures, I have now been sleep aid free (no Ambien or the Chinese herbs I was taking after I got off the Ambien) for two whole months. Not total victory, but this is the longest I've made it in years. Feeling optimistic enough that I'm not going to list this as a goal for 2012. Going to call 'er done and cross my fingers I've seen the last of chronic insomnia.

GOAL NUMBER 3: Have a big adventure.

Outcome G3: Well, no big adventures were had, but we had several small adventures, so I'm going to add those up and call number 3 a win as well. *high fives self* (Actually did that. It looks a lot like clapping...)

GOAL NUMBER 4: Be a joiner

Outcome G4: Joined SCBWI and it changed my writing life. It's an amazing organization that lifted my soul up and breathed new life into it when I thought for certain I had no more enthusiasm left in my entire body. So grateful that I found them in time.

GOAL NUMBER 5 and 6: More music, fewer apologies.

Outcome G5/6: More music, check (found some amazing new bands and old stuff I'd missed). Fewer apologies, also check, but still working on that one.

GOAL NUMBER 7: A dozen new things.

Outcome: I didn't make it to a dozen, but I did go camping for the 1st through 5th times. And I did train for Roller Derby tryouts (though I ended up not trying out when we moved and I realized I'd never be able to drive 45 minutes home after practice at 11:00 at night. A night owl, I am not). I also got back on my bicycle and my hubs and I were regularly taking 4 hour rides before the weather got too chilly. I also got waaaayyyy into acupuncture (getting stuck with needles once a week is relaxing as all get out, I swear it is). And I also spoke at my first book club meeting (eep!) and self published my first book and competed in my first creepy cake off.

So if I count each camping excursion, I made it to....11 new things, which isn't bad.

GOAL NUMBER 8: Read more

Outcome: My goal was 35 books, I made it to 58! It was an amazing reading year, too. See my previous post for my top ten of the year.

*wavy lines fill your screen as you are sucked back into the present*

Now! My favorite part!

2012 GOALS!!!! (Now with more !!)

Goal One: Read even MORE books. I'm aiming for 60 this year.

Goal Two: Go back to ballet class at least 3 times. I've found an adult class not too far away and I'm going to do it. I miss dancing so, so much. I need it back in my life before I get too old and inflexible.

Goal Three: Avoid becoming old and inflexible, which will include a three pronged attack of a) eating a bit healthier b) doing Yoga once a week and c) taking two days off per week to get out and about and out of my chair and LIVE because after writing 6 books in the past 18 months I have not had as much chance to do that as I would like.

Goal Four: Write fewer books. I'm going to aim for 2 and 1/2. And if I happen to write more, okay. If not, then I'm just a winner! And a goal achiever. (See how I'm setting myself up for WIN!)

Goal Five: Set myself up for WIN! Also a multi-pronged attack that will involve:

a) staying off Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and any other place that reviews my books. I'll read a few reviews here and there, I'm sure, but I can't read them all anymore. I write the very best book I can write, but once it's on the shelves, it's over. I can't change the book, I can only keep trying to tell better stories, and I already do that so... Yeah. I need my self esteem to remain fairly healthy in order to be a productive writer. And I find it hard to hold onto self esteem in the face of stars. Even 10 five star reviews can not banish the one star review from my brain, you know? So I must understand my brain and take brain protective measures. *pets brain* *good brain* *have some salmon and blueberries<--brain foods*

b) Finding more soul feeding ways to procrastinate on the internet. I'm going to procrastinate. I can admit that. But now I've found creative ways to procrastinate! I'll share more on that in a post very soon.

c) Continue to make more writer friends. I made some great new friends this year and I'm so grateful for them. There are times when a writer friend is the only thing standing between you and certain insanity. Thank you writer friends. I heart you.

d) Learn to say no. Some months I have time for interviews, some I don't. Sometimes, I have money to send goodies, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I need to say no. I'm going to learn how to do that and not feel badly in 2012.

Goal Six: Spend at least one day a week spoiling my kids with attention. I'm pretty good about giving attention, but I want to be better. They are growing up waaaaayyyyy too fast.

Goal Seven: Take more pictures. Take a photography class if I can make the time. (So I can more beautifully document the growing up of Loinfruits the Elder and Younger.)

Goal Eight: Learn to speak Spanish (at least conversationally), take a cartooning class and write/illustrate a comic strip, do something wild and untamed that I've never done before, get out of the country (and back in without incident), write and submit something unexpected, hang pretty things from the ceiling in my office, dress in costume on days that are not Halloween, learn how to play the ukulele and start an all girl folk band.

(Had to put goal eight in there, just to really give myself a challenge ;).)

Goal Nine: Spread some loving kindness.

And that's that. I have two more top secret goals, but they are top secret and so I can't share them because that's the definition of secret. If one of them happens to be achieved, however, I'll let you know.

Anyone else want to share a goal for the year? I've been trolling the internet and reading lots of good lists, but would love to hear from you all.

Many good vibes and beautiful wishes for you in 2012

Stacey Jay