Friday, August 31, 2012

Guest blog by THE author Kelley York & Drawing

Today I am forunate to welcome author Kelley York to The Scribbler in the Rye! Kelley, author of Hushed, which was released in 2011 and the most recently released Hollowed (Half Light) both received rave reviews. Kelley is going to speak about traditional publishing versus self-publishing--a publishing trend that every writer is curious about. Since she has done both, and since I've very positively reviewed both of her works on this site...

I am excited to share the post below from Kelley! Look below this post for a drawing for a free book!

Self-pub versus Traditional Pub
Hi everyone! I know I've talked a bit about the self-publishing process versus the traditional process in other posts, but for this post, I thought I'd do a side-by-side comparison of some of the aspects of both routes.

Well, write a book. Whether you're going for an agent, a publisher, or self-publishing, the next step should be:

Traditional Publishing: You're assigned an editor. Maybe more than one. With Entangled, I went through a few edits with my main editor for content editing. We fixed any inconsistencies, plot holes, and issues with the actual storyline and flow. Only when that was done did another editor get hold of it. She checked for spelling and grammatical errors. The fine tuning, if you will.
Self-Publishing: This falls all on the author. Send it out to a bunch of betas, preferably ones with strengths opposite your own, so they catch things you don't. Let it sit for a few weeks or months. Then come back to it. You'll find a lot of things you missed. Pay attention to ARC reviews prior to release date because they're likely to pick up on even more things you missed.

Cover Design
Traditional Publishing: You don't have to worry much about this, do you? Your publisher will take care of it. Maybe you'll have some input, but maybe you won't.
Self-Publishing: You have ALL the say! However, keep in mind you have to either pay someone to design your cover, or do it yourself. Always ensure you have the license to an image to reproduce it for e-book and print. (Dreamstime has nice images and is cheaper than most other stock sites.) Also, not all fonts are free to use! I suggest Font Squirrel, which carries only royalty free fonts.

Traditional: Another thing your publisher should take care of. (Unless they're a publisher who doesn't send these out.)
Self-Publishing: I don't see many self-pubbers sending out ARCs. They're a pain. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for my reviewers, so I did a crap load of formatting to ensure I had epub, mobi, and PDF files that would read properly on all e-book readers. They came in handy and helped me catch typos I wouldn't have caught otherwise.

Traditional Publishing: Of course your publisher takes care of all this. They made sure all digital formats will display properly on Kindles, Nooks, iPads, in print copies, etc. Chances are, they'll even send you a copy and you get one last chance to "galley proof" and look for errors.
Self-Publishing: While I used programs like Calibre and Sigil for my ARC formatting, that didn't do me any good when it came to uploading to places like Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Smashwords has an e-book formatting guide that is for their site,'s incredibly useful for anyone. I followed every single step in the Smashwords guide, and had ZERO errors uploading. I was approved for the Smashwords premium catalog within a couple of days.

Distribution and Marketing
Traditional Publishing: If you're lucky, you'll have a publicist, someone assigned to marketing your book. They'll arrange blog tours, signings, help in the way of designing swag—and if they're a large publisher, they might even supply the swag. All you have to do is keep a good online presence so people don't forget about you.
Self-Publishing: I hope you don't have to do anything else with your day, or sleep or something. (I'm kidding.) Be prepared to organize your own tours. Chances are, you aren't going to find many book signing opportunities because you're self-pubbed, but it's worth a shot if you have print copies on hand. Your books also aren't likely to see the inside of a book store unless you have a local indie store that would be willing to stock them. All the swag (I used Overnight Prints) and promo is also up to you, so get ready for lots of computer time.

And there you have it! I hope some of these resources will be helpful to those of you planning a similar journey, or who just like to know the process.

Thanks, Erin, for having me!
And now...for the drawing to win Kelley's latest novel...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review of Break my Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Break My Heart 1,000 Times
By Daniel Waters
5 Scribbles!
To be released October 16, 2012
Since “The Event” years before, where millions of people were killed in an instant, ghosts have become a constant part of the world. Veronica cannot walk to school without seeing a ghost, sit through a class or have breakfast without a ghost being present—in fact so many ghosts exist, that ghosts are quite normal. People are accustomed to seeing them and have stopped trying to figure out why they appear—with the exception of Mr. Pescatelli, who is writing a book on the subject, and employs Kirk and Veronica to do field work observing and taping ghost appearances. But when Kirk and Veronica begin to uncover grisly clues to the murder of several local girls, they realize that they are putting their own lives in very serious danger.

First let me say that this is my first Daniel Waters book, despite the fact that he has written many successful YA novels before. How did I miss this talented author? The first noticeable strength of this work is the style, the prose is so rich that at times it borders on the literary, the tone macabre and sinister without being egregiously violent. Veronica and Kirk are typical, relatable teens who want a simple, uncomplicated relationship but face roadblocks at every turn, while the villain and murderer of the story is complex and more than adequately creepy. The reader will loathe the killer as they listen to his thoughts, but they will also sympathize with him, and this story element speaks for the sophistication of the writing and the author’s insight into human nature. And then there are the ghosts! It becomes clear as the novel progresses that ghosts are not simple creatures. Ghosts may differ in nature, some merely images, others harbingers of doom, and others bent on helping, facts that Veronica and Kirk discover through their chilling investigations.  Readers will be spellbound by the discoveries the protagonists make, and they will anxiously await the constant and seamless appearances of new ghosts at every turn.  In addition to the riveting story line, the reader is also led to ponder philosophical questions that make the mind bend; is time really linear? Is there life after death? Are there ghosts all around us? Why do ghosts appear?  A phenomenal work that successfully combines mystery with the paranormal and is impossible to put down, I encourage anyone with an interest in the paranormal, in mysteries, or anyone who just wants a fantastic, creepy read to buy this book the instant it hits bookstores!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review of Stealing Air by Trent Reedy

Arthur A. Levine Books
Stealing Air
by Trent Reedy
o be released October 1, 2012
3 Scribbles
When sixth grade skater, Brian, moves to a small town in Iowa from big-city Seattle, he sees it as an opportunity to “start fresh.” However, it doesn’t take long for Brian to land on the radar of the class bully, Frank, and to fall for Frank’s sister, Wendy.  It seems like things couldn’t get any worse—that is until Brian’s parents can’t find an investor for their company invention, Plastisteel. Now Brian has bigger problems to face.  If Brian can’t help the company find an investor fast, Brian’s family will lose everything, and Frank will be the least of his problems.  

One of this novel’s strengths is the fact that its main characters are layered. Readers will enjoy meeting Brian, an everyday kid who struggles with everyday decisions. For instance, when class brainiac, Max, makes friends with Brian and they begin to build a flier made of plastisteel, Brian has no idea that he will be in Max’s class at school. Once faced with the decision to sit with Max at lunch, Brian wonders if being Max’s friend is worth being seen as a nerd, and he must meet cowardice head-on—not an easy thing to do at any age, let alone in the sixth grade. Frank is your typical bully but he has a sad past and a caring sister; Max is a genius with a sophisticated vocabulary but he hides a dark secret; and Alex is a successful “bookie” whose family seems rich but might not be. Readers are encouraged to look beneath the surface of the characters and to make real-world application of this lesson. Of course, in every good “guy book” there is action, and this novel is no exception. Brian and his crew face dangerous risks to create a flier that will fly like a regular airplane but with none of the safety features, and like typical guys, they jump into the dangers head first. Each trial run is fast-paced, easy to read, and makes the heart pump; and in between test runs, Brian’s confrontations with Frank amp up the tension. Reedy does a great job portraying the way young boys interact with one another, all the while keeping dialogue squeaky clean. Couple that with traditional values and multi-generational families, and this book would be at home in any library, especially in smaller communities. For guys who only care about action, this book is for you, but for books with similar stunts and lots of humor try How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen or Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review of Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Feiwel & Friends
By Ann Aguirre
4 Scribbles
With all of the dystopian novels flooding the market, it must be challenging to come up with truly unique outcomes for a post-apocalyptic world. Yet, in this novel, distinctive and separate social structures develop in the ruins depending on whether one is born above or below ground. Cleary, this is exactly what would be highly likely to happen in a country whose infrastructure and population has been decimated, yet Aguirre, to my knowledge, is the first author to tap into this unique dystopian approach of factions who are unaware of one another and who evolve separately.  This means that for Deuce and Fade, the main characters in the novel, survival in their own “Enclave” where hunting is strength, starvation is a real possibility, and the life-expectancy has dropped to the low-twenties, is easy compared to the world they face outside the Enclave. In fact, one of the strengths of the novel is the constantly changing environment fraught with dangers from sunburns to “Freaks,” zombie- like creatures starved for flesh.  There are bloody fight-scenes in nearly every chapter, and not just with the Freaks, because in this future, chaos reigns! Thus, the story moves quickly, teasing the reader with action throughout.  Notably, characters die and are injured, something that would really happen in such a future, and sometimes decisions death are made without regard for the value of human life.  Make no mistake, in this novel, the rules of humanity have changed. In fact, that change is best represented by Deuce, the narrator, whose cold view of murder and disdain for “breeders” is crystal. It’s an unusual tactic for a protagonist to be so difficult to identify with. Yet, slowly, the reader may begin to see the huntress coldness in Deuce diminish and want to watch her grow morally. What is not so crystal about the novel is the cavalier attitude that is developed towards rape. Without revealing too much, suffice it to say that I doubt that any girl who knew a boy was a rapist, or who had been a potential victim of his would later cuddle up to said rapist when such a solid, empathetic guy like Fade is available.  In fact, the inclusion of a rapist in the latter half of the book diminishes not only Deuce’s character development, but the novel’s overall value as an addition to YA literature. Perhaps the author was trying to show how value systems in society degrade without structure and easy access to basic needs—but since this novel is a YA work, that message may be lost in the cavalier view that a rapist makes for a good love interest. It is for this point that I have to give this novel 4 out of 5, not the full 5 scribbles.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review of Hollowed by Kelley York

on Kindle now for
only $2.99!
Hollowed (Half Light Book 1)
By Kelley York
4 Scribbles
Since her sister Ruby disappeared, Briar Greyson has had a hollow place inside, but when she moves away from home and into the city to find a way to fill that emptiness, she never imagines that she will suffer the same fate as her sister—death. Or will she? When the virus that infects her begins to turn Briar, she discovers that the world is populated by all sorts of murderous monsters, and she must choose if she will become one of them.

Despite this story’s paranormal slant, Briar’s righteously angry voice keeps this mystery grounded in reality. At first an innocent and trusting character, Briar quickly changes into a sassy protagonist bent on finding who killed her sister and her best friend. And kudos to the reader who can figure it out before she does. Little does Briar know that the mystery surrounding this individual’s identity will lead her to form a new group of companions—companions she isn’t entirely certain she can trust—and for good reason. Briar’s “entire foundation has been yanked out from under” her in the space of one night, even those she thought she could trust seem changed. The development of Briar from lovesick waitress to cocky street fighter is one of the strengths of the story, although readers will love the mounting tension that builds continuously throughout.  Fans of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead will love Briar, and enjoy the mystery and action that weaves throughout the story, while fans of  works like Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia will enjoy the development of secondary characters like Oliver, Daniel, Noah and Cole. Here’s hoping we see more of these secondary characters in future installments of the series—even the brief snippets revealed from the pasts of these characters serve as appetizers to what promises to be a yummy new series!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review of Paper Towns by John Green

Dutton Books
Paper Towns
By John Green
5 Stars

When Q spends the night helping gorgeous Margo Roth Spiegelman, his next door neighbor and secret crush, get revenge on her peers, he sees a side of her that he never imagined existed. He can’t wait to return to school and really become part of her world—but suddenly—instead of Margo, Q has a series of clues that lead him on a bizarre quest to find out who Margo really is behind all of the illusions.

Quention, aka, “Q” has idolized Margo since they were children; to him she is beautiful, brazen, and perfect. And it’s not just Q; everyone at their small Florida high school either worships or envies Margo, and why not? Tired and perhaps broken, Margo has no desire to perpetuate the “paper girl” image that others have substituted for who she really is.  And so, through a brilliant series of clues that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat, Margo forces Q to “find her”—to begin questioning his view of first Margo and then other people he thought he knew. And yet, despite heavy and incredibly insightful themes about projection, roles, social norms and growing up, the story has no shortage of hilarity that will be sure to result in peals of laughter. Each character contributes to the fun; best friend Ben is obsessed with scoring a prom date and insists on calling women “honey bunnies,” best friend “Radar” has his own obsession with Omnictionary, an online wiki constantly in need of Radar’s intellectual gifts, and even Q’s clueless (yet strangly intelligent) parents contribute to the humor.  The fantastic dialogue that parleys between these three friends, coupled with the typical high school culture of recklessness  and adventure make this an authentic and entertaining road trip no high school senior will want to miss.  Fans of Green's previous works like Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review of Pinned by Sharon Flake

Scholastic Press
by Sharon Flake
3 Scribbles
To be released October 1, 2012.
Thank you to NetGALLEY for providing the ARC to review!

Autumn is a superb wrestler who struggles with reading and school in general, a problem which may prevent her from competing in the state wrestling championship. Adonis was born without legs, and an extraordinarily high intelligence who struggles with nothing except his humility.  In the simple, truncated voice of Autumn, and the precise, smug voice of Adonis, the reader quickly learns that Autumn “loves” Adonis, despite the fact that Adonis seems to hate her.  In fact, Autumn’s relentless indifference to Adonis’s snide remarks and self-centeredness seems to only cement her resolve to have Adonis as a boyfriend. In her eyes (and in his) Adonis is perfect. 

Flake does an excellent job showing how a person’s opportunities and their family background can shape a person’s values. For instance, Adonis, even after losing his father at an early age, has a highly educated mother who has taught him that, despite his disability, Adonis is not at a disadvantage in the world.  This, coupled with his natural intelligence, help him to succeed. Yet, “looking good” is a priority for Adonis. At one point, while admiring his reflection in the mirror, he describes his appearance as “perfect.” Clearly, appearance is all that is important to Adonis; in his own words he equates appearance with “integrity.” However, Adonis has little integrity. He doesn’t value people. He judges others ruthlessly. He considers himself above the “regulars.”  He is a self-absorbed snob who gives to no one.

On the other hand, Autumn’s parents are high school dropouts who work hard to provide for their child. Yet even when they try to support Autumn and encourage her to focus on her academics as well as her wrestling, they are unable to help her because they themselves are poorly educated. Yet, Autumn has integrity and at times seems wise beyond her years. She doesn’t cheat to get what she wants as some do. And rather than immediately announce plans to improve her situation that she does not intend to carry out, she waits until she is ready to face the challenge, then seeks the support of otherss by announcing her plan. Perhaps most admirable, Autumn doesn’t value others based on their physical appearance the way Adonis does. She simply doesn’t stand in judgment of others, even when they have done wrong. She’s a giver whose heart is pure. She is a selfless, humble athlete.

Perhaps Flake’s purpose in the novel is to show how Autumn’s purity, her longsuffering, and her patience with Adonis’ imperfections changes him.  However, Autumn’s tolerance of Adonis’ rudeness (she takes a stand only once when he belittles her) is hard to accept. What is more troubling is the fact that Autumn seems to virtually stalk Adonis at the start of the novel, and then accepts and encourages his secretive nature about their friendship later. Instead of creating an image of Autumn as a strong, healthy and independent protagonist with a pure heart, Autumn comes off as a desperate girl with very low self-esteem.  Instead of Adonis turning out to be a more humble, changed boy, he comes off as being even more concerned with what others think and his beloved image—at best he is simply confused, but unchanged.  However, despite its thematic shortcomings, the novel does reflect the reality of many young relationships. Perhaps this lack of sugarcoating is the novel’s appeal and redemption.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

Scholastic Press
The Scorpio Races
By Maggie Stiefvater
5 Scribbles!
Sea foam-misted Thisby is the exotic setting for this unique retelling of the myth of the Water Horse, or “Capaill Uisce,” of Celtic Legend.  But the story is more than just a clever myth retold, it is the story of plucky, redheaded, orphan, Kate Connelly, a.k.a. Puck, who has the courage to challenge a cultural tradition hundreds, perhaps thousands of years old in order to save her family home. It is also the story of another orphan, mysterious Sean Kendrick, a quiet horse-whisperer who has won the traditional Scorpio Race the last four years, and whose restless spirit is searching for more than just a job on millionaire Mr. Malvern’s horse farm—Sean wants to own his beloved and dangerous stallion, Kor. Even though he knows that Kor is a killer, a breathtaking stallion that will feast upon human flesh if left to his own devices. When these two orphans come face to face, who will win the race and capture their hearts’ desire; or, will their desires change?

So much is admirable about this novel that it is difficult to isolate the magic that makes it one of the finest works in young adult literature today. First off, the mythology of the Water Horse is seamlessly incorporated into a modern Thisby—so much so that one cannot imagine that Water Horses might not actually exist. The descriptions of the horses are so rich, so precise, that one can smell the briny fish-stink of their hides and see the glitter of their slanted, dark fish eyes. Indeed, it is not hard to feel the horses, smell the horses, visualize the water horses and fear the havoc they can bring to Thisby. Additionally, minor characters are superbly developed—from mildy autistic Finn (Puck’s brother) who struggles to control his own grief over his parent’s death to Gabe (Puck’s older brother), a conflicted young man unsure of the future, to the three sisters who own a tourist shop and who function as wise, “aunties” to Puck—each character will resonate with readers.  And who doesn’t know an evil bully like Mutt Malvern whose jealousy and hatred consumes him?

Ironically, this bloody, action-packed story at times has romantic overtones but not in a traditional sense. The love that Sean shares with his horse, for example, is perhaps the closest relationship in the novel, yet the love that Puck feels for her family and the land that surrounds her mirrors Sean’s passion for Kor. Thisby is an island of wonder and magic that will certainly captivate readers. In fact, Thisby itself almost serves as a character, an island with a thirst for human blood, that is home for flesh-eating horses, but an island that Sean and Puck love and would be lost without. With an ending that is hard to predict yet more satisfying than expected, horse lovers, lovers of romance and orphan narratives, and readers of all ages will be beg for a Water Horse series upon finishing this book. Yet this novel is a masterpiece that would be difficult to improve upon.