FIRSTS has a cover! (And it’s stunning!)

Hello, everyone! You might have seen the cover for FIRSTS revealed at YA Highway yesterday, or over at Griffin Teen. But if you haven’t, here it is in all of its glory, along with my thoughts!

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My first (pun intended) reaction when I saw the cover? I was floored. The insanely talented cover designer, Danielle Christopher, captured the essence of FIRSTS perfectly. It’s bold without being too provocative, edgy without being too suggestive. The color palette took my breath away. I was lucky enough to have the wonderful Amanda Maciel, an author whose work I greatly admire (TEASE is one of my all-time favorite young adult books), provide a blurb that makes my heart beat faster whenever I read it, and having her words on the cover is such an honor.

The first time I saw the cover turned into the second time. And third time. I whipped out my phone to check it while I was at work, oh, probably a hundred times. (I think I walked into a wall one of those times….)

FIRSTS is a story about a lot of things. It’s about sex and rumors and secrets and slut-shaming. It’s about mistakes and friendship and lust and love. There’s laughter and tears and heartbreak and at the very core, a girl who is slowly learning that the only way to find the control she craves is to stop looking for it. And in one image, I think this cover conveys all those things.

Don’t forget to enter the ARC giveaway on YA Highway before the contest ends!

FIRSTS is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and for the Canadian crowd, Indigo!

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Foreign rights news!

Hi everyone! I’m thrilled to share the news that Russian rights to FIRSTS have been sold to AST. Huge thanks to the incredible Taryn Fagerness and my amazing agent, Kathleen Rushall!

I think this needs to be celebrated with a vodka cocktail… За здоровье!

RussianRights

SWEET MADNESS Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

Today, I’m thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for the incredible, chilling, and unforgettable SWEET MADNESS by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie! You can read more about this YA Victorian horror below…

SWEET MADNESS

Coming September 18, 2015 from Merit Press

 

Lizzie Borden took an axe,

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty one.

 

BLURB: 

Who was Lizzie Borden? A confused young woman, or a cold-hearted killer? For generations, people all over the world have wondered how Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby, met their gruesome deaths. Lizzie, Andrew’s younger daughter, was charged, but a jury took only 90 minutes to find her not guilty. In this retelling, the family maid, Bridget Sullivan, shines a compassionate light on a young woman oppressed by her cheap father and her ambitious stepmother. Was Lizzie mad, or was she driven to madness?

And without further ado, here’s the haunting, beautiful cover!

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SweetMadness

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Mark it to read on Goodreads

Preorder Sweet Madness:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

TrishaLeaverTrisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life.  She writes Young Adult Contemporary fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. To can learn more about Trisha’s books, upcoming shenanigans, and her quest to reel in the perfect tuna, please visit her website: www.trishaleaver.com

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LindsayCurrieLindsay Currie lives in Chicago with her three awesome children, husband, and a one hundred and sixty pound lap dog named Sam. She has an unnatural fondness for coffee, chocolate and things that go bump in the night. She spends her days curled up in the comfortable confines of her writing nook, penning young adult psychological horror, contemporary fiction and science-fiction and is published with Flux/Llewellyn, Merit Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary. Learn more about her at www.lindsaycurrie.com

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To celebrate, we are giving away four AMAZING books from our publisher Merit Press.

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Check out a Rafflecopter giveaway and enter to win!

January, briefly

January has never been one of my favorite months. It seems particularly obnoxious, like a guest who has long overstayed his welcome and doesn’t realize it. Maybe it’s the reality of New Year’s Resolutions sinking in, or just the comedown after the Christmas festivities. Usually by January 31st, I wonder how a month can possibly feel so long.

But this January has been different somehow. Instead of feeling tired and defeated, I feel inspired. When I looked at the calendar today and realized it was January 29th, I wondered where the month has gone. Then I realized where: into several Word documents and a couple handy notebooks.

I'm a handy notebook! Fill me with words!

I’m a handy notebook! Fill me with words!

When you work a lot, whether as a writer or at any job, it’s easy for the days to blend into each other. It’s even easy to forget what day of the week it is. (At least, for me.) So I thought it would be fun to record a little bit of what I’m up to at the end of each month, to remind myself what I have accomplished and how I got there.

This month, I have been…

Working on: The Young Adult contemporary I wrote after FIRSTS. This isn’t just a book of my heart, but a book of my sanity too—it has been a decidedly tricky one to write. I’ve been playing with a mix of perspectives and tenses and actually plotting (gasp), which felt foreign. But this is one story I’ve realized I can’t just “pants” my way through. I tried. I failed. I moved on. Which leaves me here, with an outline and lots of chapters in the process of being written. Now that I have taken January to plot and really know the story and characters, I feel confident that February will be the month where ALL THE WORDS come out to play.

Reading: I started the year off on a very high reading note. The first book I finished in January was Marci Lyn Curtis’s debut, THE ONE THING. I was lucky enough to read this book before its release date (September 8, 2015—mark your calendar!) and was totally blown away. A witty, sarcastic protagonist, an amazing concept, and writing that grips you and doesn’t let go—this is a stunning debut that I’m still thinking about. (Psst… come back on Monday and you’ll get to see Marci’s brand new cover! Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!)

I also read THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black and loved it. Holly Black has created a setting in Coldtown that feels chillingly real. Her writing is rich and beautiful and makes everything in the book so easy to visualize.

I just finished HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown, which had been on my TBR for quite awhile. I had high hopes, and the book exceeded all of them. I love how it’s not what it appears to be, which is a book about a high school shooting—it’s a book about Valerie, the girlfriend of the shooter, and her long road to recovery.

Watching: My husband and I started watching LOST on Netflix. I had seen parts of it several years ago, but watching it a second time through and picking up on more detail has been really fascinating. I forgot how totally captivating this show is, and what a brilliant job the writers did with the characters and their backgrounds and their interwoven lives. Not to mention… the suspense! Oh, the suspense. The reason I stay up way too late.

So that’s my month in a nutshell. Words, words, and more words. Written, read, listened to. February, I can only hope you’re equally verbose!

A bit of news…

On a recent gray, chilly October morning, my day started with my dentist informing me that I have a cavity (damn those pre-Halloween mini-chocolate bars). Then I burned myself with a curling iron and got stuck in traffic and was in a mad rush to make it to work on time. I figured it was just going to be one of those days– the kind wherein nothing goes my way. The kind that practically demands a big glass of wine after work.

Boy, was I wrong– about everything except the wine champagne. Because later that day, I got a call. A call from my fabulous agent, who had the best news ever.

WE HAVE AN OFFER!

I’m so thrilled to announce that my YA contemporary debut, FIRSTS, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Press in 2016! My editor is the wonderful, super-smart Kat Brzozowski. I can’t even express how excited I am to be working with her on FIRSTS.

I’m still pinching myself that this is all happening– that what started as an out-there idea in my head is now going to be an actual book, a physical thing I can pick up and flip through. (And maybe hug tightly to my chest from time to time. Just kidding. Sort of.)

I feel like the luckiest writer ever to have the dream team of Kats supporting me. My rockstar agent, Kathleen Rushall, who has been so unfailingly positive and helpful every step of the way. And my new editor, Kat, who is so insightful and enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She has made me feel right at home already. Both of these lovely ladies understand my book so well and I know that I couldn’t be in better hands.

What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, the idea for FIRSTS was just taking shape. I had no CPs and no agent. I was querying a different book and poring over other writers’ success stories, hoping that someday I would have my own to tell. I was reading widely and writing every day, turning it into a habit. I was learning to trust my instincts more. I was determined to never give up.

And in the end, I think that’s the most important thing– not giving up. Not quitting because it’s hard or because finding an agent or getting published is taking longer than you thought. FIRSTS was the third book I wrote. Beforehand, I wrote two NA contemporary books that I shelved. There were times when I felt sure I’d never be published. But ultimately, I realized that the only way I would ensure that nobody would ever read my writing was if I stopped writing. So I kept going. I kept writing and learning and querying and entering contests. (Like Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars, which was the greatest experience. Read about it here!)

The one thing I did stop doing was comparing myself to other writers. Everybody has a different journey and a different story, and rarely do we know the full extent of these stories. Once I stopped comparing myself to other writers and focused on enjoying the stage of the process where I was at, I honestly felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Like I had given myself permission to live in the moment I was in, not the moment I wanted to be in or the moment somebody else was in.

Now I’m in this moment, and I’m loving it. I couldn’t be happier that FIRSTS has found its perfect home with Kat and Thomas Dunne Books!

Now, for that glass bottle of wine champagne…

PWAnnouncement

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I have an agent!

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So, the superexciting news I have been dying to share with everybody is that I have signed with the amazing Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency! I’m so thrilled and honored to be represented by Kathleen and I can’t wait to start working with her!

That’s the short version. The long version? I wrote a book. I queried it. I learned from it. Then I wrote a second book, and learned from that one too. Then I wrote a third book, my first attempt at YA contemporary (ironically, titled FIRSTS)  and decided to enter it in a contest called PitchWars, run by the fabulous Brenda Drake. My PitchWars mentors, Lori Goldstein and Evelyn Ehrlich, helped whip my manuscript into the best possible shape. FIRSTS garnered several requests during PitchWars, but after the contest was over, I started sending out queries as well, and this is where Kathleen found me– in the slush pile. Regular, old-fashioned querying DOES work!

When I received an email from Kathleen asking to set up a call for later that day, my stomach started doing flips. Was this the call? I tried not to get my hopes up and did my best to get through the rest of my workday without thinking about it at least once every ten seconds. (It didn’t work.) But when Kathleen called, she made me feel at ease right away. She told me how much she enjoyed FIRSTS and my writing. Then she told me she wanted to offer representation. (At least, this is what I think happened. I was too excited to remember it exactly!)

I sort of lost my ability to string sentences together, but Kathleen was smart and kind and answered all of my questions. She let me know her ideas for FIRSTS, great ideas that all resonated with me. And she was interested in my future writing, too. I had the feeling Kathleen was somebody I could have a great and long-lasting relationship with– somebody who would fully support me throughout my career and advocate for me and my work. She appreciates that I like to push boundaries in my writing and is willing to take risks with me, which I think is so important.

The next couple weeks were pretty hectic. My husband and I moved into a new house and I received three more offers of representation. I feel so honored to have been considered by every agent who offered. They were all so thoughtful and insightful, and made me realize even more just how amazing the writing community really is. I’m grateful for all of the agents who took the time to read FIRSTS and offer feedback and kind congratulations. Really, I just feel so lucky to get to be a part of such a great community.

If you are reading this and in the query trenches right now or feeling down about writing, don’t give up. There were several times with my first book where I wanted to throw in the towel, that I thought life would be easier without the cycle of stress and hope and rejection that came from sending my work into the world. And yeah, it would be easier. But I could never give up, because I had to write. A huge, irreplaceable part of my happiness is tied to it. So I started reading more YA and figuring out why I loved the books I loved, and what made them so memorable. I wrote without self-editing, something I had always struggled with in the past. I spent more and more time logging in word counts every day. I used to struggle to hit the 1K mark, then found myself reaching 5K or more without even realizing it. I was having more fun with writing because it didn’t feel like work. I wasn’t so critical or hard on myself. I let myself write things that definitely sucked and probably didn’t make sense, knowing I could go back and fix them later.

Another piece of advice I have is to enter contests. Inevitably, there will be some you are chosen for and some you’re not. I have had my share of both experiences. But I can honestly say that entering PitchWars was the best decision I made for my writing career. Lori and Evelyn are HUGELY influential to me, and I have learned so much from them. It didn’t stop when the contest ended, either. Lori and Evelyn have been there for me every step of the way. They have answered all of my silly questions and offered so much wisdom and encouragement and support.  So to both of you wonderful ladies– a wholehearted THANK YOU! I only hope I can help somebody out in the future the way you two have done for me. The best thing about contests isn’t the exposure or the requests from agents– it’s the amazing people you meet. Like my lovely CP, Emily Martin, who offered several invaluable insights on FIRSTS. (Thank you, Emily!)

And lastly, here are the stats, for those of you who are interested. I have included the stats for the first book I wrote along with my stats for FIRSTS, just to show how much of a difference reading widely and writing every day makes.

WAITRESS

Queries sent: 57

Full requests: 12

Partial requests: 5

Rejections: 22

CNRs: 18

FIRSTS

Queries sent: 33

Full requests: 16

Partial requests: 1

Rejections: 12

CNRs: 4

And last of all… remember that it only takes one yes, so if being traditionally published is your goal, never stop until you find it!

Happy writing (and querying)!