Ok, I admit it.

October 24, 2012
I am a terrible blogger.

I mean, I think I do okay blogging with YA Misfits and HerKentucky, but when it comes to this blog right here? I can never think of anything to talk about.

For whatever reason, blogging just seems like a lot of work to me--maybe because I'm doing so much writing and revising on my book lately, the idea of sitting down to write one more thing is just really unappealing. Plus, I feel like I have to have some sort of plan so the blog post will make sense. I end up spending WAY too long thinking about it, finding links, editing, revising, and DEAR GOD I MIGHT AS WELL WRITE MORE ON MY BOOK.

But I like having my own little blog here, in the event that I do have something to say.

SO- in order to keep things active over here....I'm going to start vlogging weekly. Just a quick update to talk about whatever I want. Vlogging comes more naturally to me anyway, because I like to talk (as you are all WELL aware) and when I start rambling and going off topic in a vlog, it doesn't seem as bad as when I do it in a blog post. It's just part of my charm!

I'm also hoping this'll be a good way for me to set goals. I figure if I tell you guys my plan, you can all bust me on it if I don't reach the goal for the week. With that in mind, here's the first weekly update!


The HerKentucky 60 Things Project: Lancaster

October 23, 2012
(This post originally appeared on HerKentucky.)

In last Sunday's Herald-Leader,  Cheryl Truman, with the help of many readers, listed 50 things that define Lexington.  We thought it would be fun to make a similar HerKentucky list, with 10 things that define our respective hometowns. Here's Megan's list of things that define Lancaster. 

1. Every town has that perfect local diner, and Burger House is ours. It's right off US 27 before you reach the Lincoln County line, and if you're passing through I simply insist you stop there to eat. Be sure to try the onion rings, and when you leave get yourself a peanut butter milkshake for the road.

2. I always smile when I see Mom Blakeman's Candy in stores around Lexington, because the business is family-owned and based in Lancaster. The original creamed pull candy is great, but the peanut butter flavor is my FAVORITE.

photo courtesy of the Garrard County Historical Society

3. It seems like so few towns have a traditional town square, but we do. The courthouse , library, and local newspaper office can be found there, as well as a few banks, shops, and restaurants. The picture above shows the historic town square, with a circular park right in the middle of the intersection. Plans were recently approved to renovate the square and rebuld the park there. 

4. Known for it's great fishing reservoirs, the 3600-acre Herrington Lake is also the deepest lake in Kentucky and spans Garrard, Boyle, and Mercer counties. 

5. Like any self-respecting Kentucky town, we're proud of our football team. The Garrard County Golden Lions played in their first ever state semi-final game last year, and a huge crowd turned out for the game. Alumni from all over came in, wearing their letter jackets and cheering for the boys. It was a heartbreaking loss, 34-27, and the crowd gave the team a standing ovation at the end of the game. 

6. The Grand Theater was originally built in 1925, and used to show films as well as plays. It eventually closed, and the building was rented out for various housing and commercial purposes. In 2007, renovations began to restore the building, and many of the original furnishings were returned to the theater. The project is expected to be completed in a few months.

7. Retired teacher Jean Turner runs Hammonds Hall Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Lancaster. Hammonds Hall hosts themed tea parties throughout the year, including murder-mystery teas and princess teas. I've been to a couple of them, and there's not a more perfect person for her job than Ms. Turner. She provides costumes, will help you adopt a foreign accent if your part calls for it, and serves the BEST food.

8. The Owsley House, also known as Pleasant Retreat, was the home of Kentucky's 16th governor, William Owsley. For the longest time, the house stood off US 27, abandoned. When I was a little girl, I always wondered what it looked like inside. (My fascination with abandoned homes is probably worthy of an entire blog post all by itself.) In 1991, several forces joined together to rescue the property, including my great-aunt Rose Holtzclaw, and restored the home. The home is now open for tours, and the carriage house can be reserved for special events.

9. Peninsula Golf Resort in northern Garrard County has been ranked as one of the best 200 courses to play in North America. The 18-hole course was designed by world-renowned designer Pete Dye

10. Lancaster has had a few notable residents and other random claims to fame:
  • Country music stars John Michael Montgomery and Eddie Montgomery grew up in Lancaster. John Michael even filmed a couple of music videos here. (He also performed at the Garrard County Fair in 1994. I got there hours early so I'd be in the front row. It was all worth it because HE TOUCHED MY HAND while he sang I Love The Way You Love Me. I'm sure he thought I was the cutest 14-yr-old EVER.)
  • The 1957 movie Raintree County starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift was filmed in the area, and a few scenes were shot in Garrard County just a few miles from the house I grew up in.
  • Carry Nation, whose radical stance against alcohol was one of the factors that contributed to prohibition, was born here in 1846. Because of this, Garrard County is known as the "Birthplace of Prohibition."


Interview: Jessa Russo

October 16, 2012

Jessa Russo has been a friend of mine for several months. We both write YA, and wound up in a few contests together, and she's always been wonderfully supportive and very involved in the writing community. Her YA paranormal romance, EVER, was published at the end of September by Curiosity Quills.

You may have seen an earlier post about EVER when my blog was hijacked by one of the main characters on her release date! In case you missed it, here's the (gorgeous, so so gorgeous) cover as well as the back cover copy!

Seventeen year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.
Frustrated, and desperate to move on, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.
Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.
*I* have my VERY OWN AUTOGRAPHED COPY. (I know, sometimes my awesomeness is too much, even for me.) If you would like a copy of your own, you can go here for a signed copy, or here for a list of other places EVER can be purchased. Note: I'm sure the e-book is great and all, but if you get the paperback, you can marvel at its soft, caressable cover like I did. It's just so smooooooth.

When Jessa announced her book deal, my knowledge of small publishers was pretty pathetic. Her deal opened my eyes to a whole new set of people to query whenever Between is ready. So when EVER's release date finally arrived and Jessa made plans for her blog tour, I was most interested in learning more about her experience with Curiosity Quills and what it was like travelling a nontraditional path to publication.

There's one answer in particular that makes me just FREAKING LOVE HER, as I've been screaming its message from the rooftops for the past few weeks. See if you can guess which one it is.

1. How did you hear of Curiosity Quills, and what made you want to work with them?

Believe it or not, until the contest responsible for my publishing contract, I hadn’t heard of Curiosity Quills. I had only started to consider smaller publishing houses, and had queried a small handful of them when I entered Sharon Bayliss’ contest. I continued to query smaller publishing houses while the contest went on, as well as a few more literary agents, not wanting to put all of my eggs into the contest. We all know how crushing those contests can be, and I had no doubt in my mind that this one would end up like all the others I’d entered.

(Psssst … it didn’t.)

As far as what made me want to work with CQ, I’d say Krystal Wade can take all the credit for that. She was an awesome face for the company (and I don’t mean looks, though she’s pretty too! Lol) … she was very upfront with me about editing issues, and the revisions she would require of me moving forward, but she also conveyed how much she loved my manuscript. I had some people gush about loving EVER, but I think that in order to maintain professionalism, there has to be a certain amount of seriousness to go along with the gushing. Krystal had that mastered in her offer email to me, and I was impressed.

(And most of you already know this, but I was obsessed with the skull on the CQ website. LOVE!)

2. How involved were you in the cover design and marketing plan for your book?

I was completely involved in the cover design. 100%. I had an idea that I wanted to see, and CQ allowed me to make it happen. I was incredibly blessed to have my favorite photographer (Face On By Tamara) take the picture, and she found models that were PERFECT for Ever and Frankie. She also doctored the image to make Frankie’s body translucent before we forwarded the image to a cover designer. My cover designer then made the cover EXACTLY what I was picturing. We have some amazing cover artists at CQ, but I have to say that Michelle (Alex and Me Designs) is my personal favorite. She knew what I wanted and delivered more than I had imagined. She understood my vision immediately and created the gorgeous cover you see now.

With a small publisher, a lot of the marketing falls on the author. Though I will say that CQ is extremely supportive and helpful, and they do everything in their power to help promote. I don’t know how much this really differs from Big Six pubs these days – I’ve heard that many authors are slightly surprised with how much falls on their shoulders. But in the end, no one – even a publisher with money at stake – is going to care about how high I climb or how low I fall the way I will. I have to remember that this is my baby, and I have to nurture it and present it to the world as such.

3. Why did you choose to publish with a small press rather than self-publish your book? What are the advantages? 

I don’t know much about self-publishing, to tell you the truth. When I was looking for representation/publication, I just knew there was a horrible stigma attached to self-pubbing that I didn’t want to have. Unfortunately, I have since realized that small, indie presses carry a similar stigma, which has opened my eyes to the negative way I once looked upon self-pubbing. It’s a shame we can’t all just support each other and lift each other up. I have followed my dreams and shot for the stars as much as the next author, whether they are big six authors or self-published, and regardless of how I chose to go about it. The differences between us are insignificant when you’re looking at your book for sale in bookstores. Isn’t that end goal the same for all of us?

(Megan's busting up in Jessa's answer to say: THERE! RIGHT THERE! Did you catch it? The moment I fell in love with Jessa all over again? It started right about "It's a shame we can't all support each other" and wrapped up around "Isn't that end goal the same for all of us?" I swear y'all, it is like she is INSIDE MY HEAD.)

4. What's the biggest surprise, good or bad, that you've encountered so far in the publishing process?

That’s easy. I’d say that the biggest surprise for me has been book reviewers. And yes, I meant reviewers, not just reviews. I knew going into this that not everyone was going to love my book. That’s just life, and I’m not an idiot. But I can honestly say that I am appalled at the behavior of some of the reviewers on Goodreads, and it has definitely tainted my experience, as well as the validity I place in that website as a whole. I no longer check there for reviews on books I want to read. I continue to add books to my TBR because I know authors like that, and I post reviews for books I’ve enjoyed, but as far as my own reading preferences? I will pick a book based on the blurb, the cover, and the recommendations received from friends, not the Goodreads reviews.

5. If you could tell everyone one thing about being an author with a small press, what would it be?

I really want to drive home the point that there are multiple ways to realize your dream, and small presses are a perfect option. I am so, so glad I made this choice. The people at Curiosity Quills are tight-knit and supportive, and I couldn’t ask for more. We help each other and build each other up, much like the online writing community does – but how blessed am I that I can find that same love and support within my publishing house!?

An Interview with Gwenda Bond, Young Adult Author

October 9, 2012
(This post originally appeared on HerKentucky.)

Gwenda Bond is a Lexington author whose debut novel, Blackwood, launched in September. I had the pleasure of meeting her when I went to her launch party at Morris Book Shop, and she was nice enough to let me interview her for my very first HerKentucky post! First, here's a little info about her book: 

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundred of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda Blackwood, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips Rawlings, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.

Doesn't that sound GREAT? (It is. I personally vouch for its awesome-ness, as well as that of its lovely author. I mean, it combines one of my favorite American mysteries with 1. young adult audience, 2. alchemy, and 3. KISSING. Because of course.) If you're interested in grabbing your own free, signed copy, I'm giving one away this week on my blog

And now, eight questions with Gwenda!

1. Where'd you get the idea for Blackwood? How long did it take from the time you came up with the idea to the time the book made it to the shelf?

The Lost Colony story had been rattling round in the back of my head ever since I first encountered it in elementary school. It’s a tantalizing bit of history that you breeze past in a few minutes, moving on to less mysterious topics. I’ve always loved unsolved mysteries, strange historical topics, etcetera. My husband and I were on a road trip to visit friends in Raleigh and passed a sign for Roanoke—Virginia, of course, not Roanoke Island, but something about seeing the word brought what was an almost fully-formed idea into my mind. I asked Christopher is anyone had ever done a story where there was a disappearance like the original one, but on modern day Roanoke Island. Neither of us could come up with one, and so when we got back home I started developing the idea.

And I managed about 50 pages before I stalled out, because I had no clue how I was going to link the modern mystery with the historical one. I didn’t know what solution the book would propose. I put the manuscript away and worked on other things for several years, finally returning to it a couple of years ago. This time around, I encountered a mention of John Dee, the famous (or infamous) alchemist and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, early in my research and that brought everything together.

2. I've always been fascinated with The Lost Colony, and I love that you found a way to tell a story that feels like it COULD have happened. Did using such a well-known American mystery make things easier or harder for you? How much pressure did you feel to stick to the facts?

This is an excellent question. I definitely wanted to know enough that I knew where the leaps were being made; I wanted there to be a sense of history infusing the book, and to incorporate some little-known facts. So I did do a great deal of research and reading. This being such a well-known subject made it very easy to find vastly different approaches to the history, and being a tourist destination made doing research on modern Roanoke Island easier as well. But I also was aware that by proposing a supernatural solution—by bringing fantasy into the mix—I’d be departing from reality, obviously. So that was freeing. Many of the leaps I make in the book involve the fantasy elements. And there’s a long and grand tradition of people riffing on the Roanoke Island story, using history but also speculating. The most famous example is the long-running The Lost Colony production, which made it perfect to include in the book.

3. I love Miranda and Phillips (and of course, Sidekick), Blackwood's main characters. Do you have a favorite character in the book?

So hard. I love all three of them, too. Sidekick is based on our sadly departed golden retriever George the Dog, so I have a completely sentimental attachment there. But I think Miranda ended up being my favorite to write, because it took me a while to get under her skin and figure out what she was about. And it was fun writing a character who’s into lots of nerdy things.

4. If you had to pick a theme song for Blackwood, what would it be?

Probably “Devil’s Playground” by Gram Rabbit, for reasons that will be obvious to those who read the book.

5. Tell me about your favorite writing spot. Do you have a certain routine to help you get in the mood for writing?

The closest thing I have to a routine to get me in the mood is lunchtime walks, where I listen to the playlist for whatever I’m working on. Other than that, I do most of my writing early in the morning, during lunch, or occasionally in the evenings in the back yard. The back yard is actually my favorite place to write—especially when I’m stuck, since there’s no wireless—but I don’t do it nearly often enough.

6. What's been the most rewarding part of your writing career so far?

I would definitely have to say getting to know so many wonderful book people. This includes other authors, writers of other types (bloggers, reviewers, reporters), and readers. Both YA and science fiction/fantasy have such active and enthusiastic communities. It feels very tight knit and supportive. Meeting so many wonderful new readers and booksellers and librarians (and other authors) has been the most fun part of having a book come out.

7. What's it like being an author in Lexington? 

Lexington is a secret literary hotbed, I think. We are tremendously lucky to have such a vibrant scene. There are many wonderful writers of diverse styles around here, and lots of readers to boot. I believe that Kentuckians truly value storytelling and support it, in a way that’s unusual. And just look at our thriving bookstore scene! In a time when many places are losing their independent stores, we have the venerable Joseph-Beth Booksellers and the new and just as exciting Morris Book Shop, not to mention an even newer entry The Wild Fig (owned by fab author Crystal Wilkinson), plus a Barnes and Noble, and a host of good used bookstores. Our libraries are fabulous, and the Carnegie Center is an excellent hub of literary activity. I have been completely overwhelmed by the level of support for Blackwood locally. I pause to blow kisses at Morris and Joseph-Beth and the Carnegie Center, in particular.

8. What's next for you? I know Blackwood was a standalone title. Can you tell me about the book you have coming out next year?

Happily! The Woken Gods is a bigger book than Blackwood in many ways, and should be out in July of next year. Here’s the set-up: Ten years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke, all around the world. Now, in a transformed Washington, D.C., that has become the meeting ground for a no-longer-secret society and a council made up of the seven tricksters who are the gods’ main emissaries to humanity, a 17-year-old girl must find a mysterious missing relic and navigate intrigue involving dangerous gods to save her father. I have been known to describe it as Raiders of the Lost Ark meets American Gods, but with more teenagers.

Thanks so much for the interview!

Gwenda Bond's debut novel, Blackwood, was released in September as a launch title for the new young adult imprint Strange Chemistry. She is also a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly, regularly reviews for Locus, and guest-edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online. She grew up in Eastern Kentucky--Jackson County, to be precise--and did her undergraduate work at Eastern Kentucky University. She also holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ program in writing for children and young adults. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe (an Adair County native), and their trio of pets adopted from local rescue organizations


Giveaway! - BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond

October 8, 2012
**My love for ALL CAPS is fully evidenced in this blog post. You have been warned.**

So I've learned this very cool thing about the city I live in.

Fabulous people live here.

Fabulous WRITING people.

One of whom is the lovely Gwenda Bond, author of one of my new favorites, BLACKWOOD.

While I'd followed Gwenda on Twitter as soon as I found out she was in Lexington, I didn't actually meet her until a few weeks ago when I attended her launch celebration at Morris Book Shop. (And then I had the pleasure of running into her again when Libba Bray came to town. So basically, my life is awesome.)

Sidenote: Her twitter handle is @Gwenda, which pretty much means she runs the world, right?

Here's the thing- she's from Lexington, she writes YA, and she's so open and friendly with a great laugh. And me being ME, I immediately thought- "SHE SHALL BE MY FRIEND." (She's reading this going, "Megan may be a stalker." I swear I'm not.) But you know, I hadn't read her book yet. So there's always that awkward, "What if I don't like it?"

Which was just a SILLY concern because HOLY CRAP I loved it. I can't even tell you all the things about this book that are so great. Miranda. Phillips. Sidekick. The romance. The whole Lost Colony connection (because come on, who DOESN'T love the Roanoke mystery??). AND THE ENDING. The ending is fantastic.

Here's the back cover copy:
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back. 
Miranda Blackwood, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips Rawlings, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.
I mean, RIGHT?? Who WOULDN'T want to read this book? (Sidenote: Did you NOTICE it has "MISFIT" in the cover copy?)

And guess what. I just happen to have a SECOND autographed copy, and because I think you're cute, I'm gonna give it away.

SO. To win your own signed copy of BLACKWOOD, leave a comment on this blog entry with the answer to the following question....

What's your favorite young adult novel OF ALL TIME? (OF ALL TIME! Oh, Kanye.) 

This giveaway closes Friday, October 12, 2012, at 12:00pm EST. I'll use random.org to pick a winner from the comments. Come back to see if you won!


Random.org chose #10, which is Jeigh!! I'm so excited because Jeigh mentioned one of my most favorite books of all time and I NEVER hear anyone talk about it anymore! Jeigh- I'll find you on Twitter! Congratulations!

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered. I love love love hearing about your favorite books!!



October 4, 2012
(If you're here looking for the #PitchOn entries, scroll down to the next two posts!)

A little over a week ago, I was spending my Friday night with BETWEEN (just like I do every Friday night, basically, because my life is so insanely wild). I tweeted something about how we should have a Write Club for those of us who were spending our Friday night writing.

It was kind of a joke. I enjoyed the fact that Write Club rhymes with Fight Club. I thought a couple of people would jump on board. So you can imagine my surprise when basically all of Twitter was like, "HEY! THAT IS A FANTASTIC IDEA AND IT SHALL HAPPEN NOW."

It took about 20 minutes for #WriteClub to start trending and I counted over 115 writers using the hashtag. It trended for at least four hours before I went to bed. Since then, I've seen the hashtag pop up all over the place at various times of day during the week when someone's looking for company to write with. We did it again the next Friday night, and I'm hoping to keep it going every Friday.

I've gotten several tweets and DMs about it since that first night, so I thought I'd compile a quick FAQ for you here, if you're interested.

So what exactly IS #WriteClub?
We do thirty minute writing sprints with fifteen minute breaks between them. I tweet start and stop times from @FriNightWrites. It doesn't matter what you're writing. And at this point, I'm revising, not writing. Basically this is just something to help us stay focused and get things done together!
How do I join?
There's a pretty complicated membership process. It involves you following @FriNightWrites and using the #WriteClub hashtag so people can find you. And also you have to tell me how delightful I am at least once a day. That's the biggest requirement.
What's the quickest way to annoy Megan?
I'm SO happy you asked! If you use #WriteClub to tweet nonstop marketing about your book, I will be super annoyed. If you don't know how much the aggressive tweeting about your book irritates me, then you obviously don't pay enough attention to me. I can't stand it when people do this. So spamming me and adding #WriteClub to the end of it really irritates me. Please don't.
(Sharing good news is one thing. Announcing a book deal with all your #WriteClub buddies is great. Telling me your book is on sale, fine. But if you tweet and tweet and tweet and tweet and tweet about it, I will have all the unkind thoughts about you. All of them.)

I usually start the sprints around 8pm EST and quit around midnight. Then the lovely Darci Cole (@Darci_Cole) offered to run some sprints for the West coast folks, so she takes over when I quit and runs them til around 11pm PST. (So BASICALLY- we're doing #WriteClub from 8pm - 2am EST).

You can also look for the hashtag anytime to see if anyone happens to be writing during the week, or tweet it yourself and see who wants to join in. I've seen several tweets that mention how much work everyone is getting done by having some kind of structured writing time...and I just LOVE THAT. It definitely keeps me from getting too caught up in tweeting when I should be writing, and I'm glad that other people are finding it useful also!

So jump in anytime! It's a great way to meet other writers, find critique partners and beta readers, and generally just get to know some fun people!



October 2, 2012

Hey gang! My feedback is below the pitch. Please comment on this post with your own suggestions. (And see yesterday's post if you have no idea what I'm talking about! While you're at it, take a few minutes to critique the pitch in yesterday's post as well!)


Genre: YA urban fantasy with sci-fi elements

Word count: 54,000

Pitch: When five sixteen-year-old girls of various races discover their awesome elemental powers, they think of themselves as superheroes. However, normal superheroes aren’t distracted by hot dates and mall shopping when dark forces from another planet want to destroy them. It’ll take more than sexy costumes and kick-ass fighting skills for these girls to defeat their enemies; only their bond makes them stronger than any other force in the universe.

I think it' s a good idea to pick either urban fantasy or sciifi for your genre. I've read in various places that agents prefer it. For what it's worth....this sounds more sci-fi to me.

Can you be a little more specific about the plot? What kind of dark forces want to destroy them? And is it THEM specifically that have to be destroyed? And why? (I'm guessing because they're so powerful?) Is it their lives that are at stake, or their powers? 

I don't think you need so much detail in the first sentence...it's probably not absolutely essential to note that there are five of them and that they're from various races. 

Basically- I'd just like a clearer picture of who or what exactly is threatening them, and what stakes are involved. It sounds like a fun story and I like the voice in this pitch a lot. The idea of superheroes who struggle with typical teenage girl angst is hilarious!



October 1, 2012

If you caught my blog post last week, you know that I'm one of the host blogs for the PitchOn contest! 

Since the writing community is SO SO SO awesome, there were several blogs that volunteered to host entries. And because of this, each blog just has one or two to host! So here's my ONE. And it's a YA contemporary, which basically thrills me to pieces.

To PIECES, y'all.

I'll include  my own suggestions below her pitch, and you guys leave your own feedback in the comments! And be sure to check out this post, which will tell you the other host blogs involved, so you can go check out and critique more pitches!

ORIGINAL PITCH: (It's been through two revisions, be sure to scroll to the last revision at the bottom of the post!)


Genre: YA Contemporary

Word-count: 57,000

PitchAfter a brutal attack, seventeen-year-old Alaina is afraid of most boys. When one she has begun to trust steals a not-so-innocent kiss, she’s afraid to ever let her guard down again. Alaina has to find a way to trust herself and listen to her heart, or she may never be able to believe in anyone.

First off, I love the title.

I'm curious about the attack. I know it's hard to provide a lot of specifics in a short pitch, but I'd like to know if she was attacked by just a random guy (because based on the rest of the pitch, I'm assuming she was attacked by a boy) or a boyfriend, a male family member, etc. I think providing that detail would give me a better idea of the issues involved in the story.

I'd also tighten the wording up a bit. Instead of "has begun to trust," why not just say "When one she trusts steals a not-so-innocent kiss..." And instead of "EVER let her guard down again," why not just "afraid to let her guard down again."

And this is probably nitpicky, but- saying she'll never be able to believe in ANYONE doesn't seem to match the rest of the pitch to me. Did the attack make her afraid to trust everyone, or just boys? I think finding a way to be more specific about exactly what's at stake would be nice. She'll never be able to believe in love, in relationships, give her heart to a boy,  whatever.  Again, I think knowing what kind of attack she suffered would probably help explain the stakes too.

All in all, I think it's a great pitch. I've been in the mood for contemporary lately, and I'd pick this up if I found it on the shelf!

REVISED 10/1/12


Genre: YA Contemporary

Word Count: 60,000

Pitch: After narrowly escaping a rape attempt by a close friend, seventeen-year-old Alaina is afraid of boys. When one she thinks she might love steals a not-so-innocent kiss, she’s certain that she can’t trust her own judgment. But the friend she turns to for advice doesn’t have her best interests in mind. Alaina must learn to listen to her heart, or she may not be able to trust anyone.

I think this is much better- now I understand what kind of attack she suffered, as well as the fact that we're talking about a threat to her trust in friendships as well as love interests.

Of course NOW I want to know more about this friend. Is it a girl or a boy? Just curious if there's a love triangle here. And why would the friend be working against her?

REVISED 10/4/12


Genre: YA Contemporary

Word Count: 61,000

Pitch: After narrowly escaping a rape attempt by a close friend, seventeen-year-old Alaina is afraid of boys. When one she might love steals a not-so-innocent kiss, she’s afraid to trust her own judgment, but the jealous “best friend” she turns to for advice is more interested in controlling than helping her. Alaina must learn to listen to her heart, or she may lose herself completely.

I think this is great! I'm a little iffy on "lose herself completely," only because...it seems a little bit cliche. I'd go back to saying exactly what she'd lose. BUT that's super subjective so wait and see what other people say!

Since she'd had a previous rape attempt, I'm wondering if that means she's doubting her ability to judge things anymore (if the rape attempt was from a boy she thought liked her, a boy she got close to). So it's important for her to be able to trust herself again too, right? And for this age group, that's huge. 

Random thoughts from someone who hasn't read your book, of course. :)

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