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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pitch Wars 2017

Emerging momentarily from my blog hiatus to participate in Pitch Wars! I so look forward each year to my time as a mentor in this contest, where unagented writers audition for a free full manuscript critique from agented/published authors and professional editors. Winners have their work showcased for top-notch literary agents in November. Over half of last years' entrants are now agented and/or have book deals. If you have a finished manuscript, I highly recommend entering! Click here for more info.


Okay, I know you've been on other mentor blogs, so let me just open with this:

[Shoulder devil pointing at shoulder angel] Don't listen to that guy. He's trying to lead you down the path of righteousness. I'm gonna lead you down the path that ROCKS.

If that's not enough to convince you, how about THESE qualifications:

  • Impeccable taste in dark chocolate
  • Love of mountains, the ocean, funny people, sarcastic people, random thoughts and fireplaces
  • East Coast survivor (lived in MA and NY). I now ride a horse to work in CO*
  • Video game savant
  • Swoon-worthy husband who is a marathon runner, expert hunter, and Forensic DNA Analyst He has a flashy agent badge, a conceal-to-carry permit, and has literally caught us dinner before. If zombie apocalypse survival is a priority to you, well. I think you know which mentor to choose.
  • Part hacker I mean... in my other life I used to program stuff.

Or these actually relevant qualifications:

  • I've been a developmental editor with Cornerstones Literary Consultancy since 2015. My job is to literally do the exact same thing I do for Pitch Wars (only you get me here for free!).
  • This is my fourth time doing Pitch Wars. In every year I've mentored, my mentee has pulled in no less than nine requests in the agent round. In 2014, we tied for second place overall with nine fulls.
  • That means I am three for three with mentees in the most-requested entries out of 100+ finalists per contest.
  • I'm represented by the incomparable Brianne Johnson of Writers House, who found me in an online writing contest much like this one. 
  • She is also one of THE Pitch Wars Agents. Am I conspiring to find my next agency sibling? Oh yes. Yes I am.
  • I'm published! My debut DUPLICITY, a cyberthriller about a hacker whose mirror reflection goes rogue and trades places with him, released from Macmillan in 2015. I'm honored to say the ALA named it one of their Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers last year.
  • I write both boy and girl POV. (And enjoy reading both)
  • I've also written contemporary and horror, and am currently revising a historical fantasy, so I have a wide range of knowledge for what's expected of each genre.

Or maybe you'd rather hear about my boss editing style:

Clients say my ability to present editorial notes in a way that's constructive without being abrupt is what they most appreciate about me. Should I be lucky enough to work with you, expect that I'll be 100% honest about the strengths of your work as much as its weaknesses, though always in the interest of preserving your vision. I'll provide high-level notes on things like characterization, world-building, structure, pacing and plot, as well as inline comments for more specific observations. You will have full creative freedom to address my concerns as you see fit. As long as you're willing to address them, we're going to get along just fine.

Please With A Cherry On Top, Send Me:
YA, and YA only please! I'm looking for horror and fantasy (historical, contemp, urban, low, high, etc - literally all subgenres except those in the "not a best match" list below). I'm drawn to voicey, flawed characters and redeemable villains, who may or may not ever be redeemed. I have a soft spot for antiheroes, creepy things, humor, Twinkies, and psychological anything. I love atmospheric books where the setting is its own character, and vivid, underrepresented cultures or unusual fantasy cultures. Diversity in all forms welcome. And if you have a villain love interest like the Darkling from Shadow and Bone, I WILL TRIP OTHER MENTORS FOR IT.

Some of my favorite authors are Patrick Ness, Renee Ahdieh, Leigh Bardugo, and Victoria Schwab. For titles I love, click here. You can also find out more about me on my official bio page and on Twitter.

**Added 7/23 (from Twitter): I'm especially drawn to conflict or fierce loyalty between close relationships, whether a parent/grandparent, sibling, villain or LI. Best friends qualify for this too. Basically, emotional intensity is just as important to me as external (plot) conflict.

I'm Not Your Best Match For:
Novels in verse, dystopian, apocalyptic (including zombies - I KNOW, sorry!), portal fantasy, anything with 'chosen one' heroes, good vs evil as main theme (i.e. LOTR) or quests, or any genre not listed above. I'm also not big on non-human characters (faeries, elves, aliens, half-anythings like werewolves, dragon people, etc), Greek gods, or sports themes. Also, I'm not allowed to consider Adult, NA, or MG manuscripts.

If you've subbed to me before: You are welcome to resub with a different manuscript, provided it meets the criteria of my wish list above.

In summary:
You have an amazing story to tell. I have a foot in the door.


*Part of this sentence is a slight exaggeration.

P.S. I'm giving away one of my last ARCs of Duplicity on Goodreads, if you like free stuff:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Duplicity by N.K. Traver


by N.K. Traver

Giveaway ends August 03, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

P.S.S. We're clearly meant to work together, but I'm obligated to remind you there are other fab YA mentors too:
Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Yes, I'm Still Alive

Sorry for the recent silence. Things have been a bit hectic since The Dragon entered my life last March (thusly named as she is an expert in demolition of building blocks, stacking bowls, and clean rooms in general. And she growls):

The Dragon luring you in with an innocent look

The Dragon destroying everything you thought you loved

BUT REST ASSURED that when The Dragon sleeps, I am writing you something new. And I'm very excited about it. I hope to have some news by the end of the year, but until then, I'll be on a bit of a blog hiatus. If you're missing me, you can find me on Twitter in the meantime.

Until then -

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Debuting 101: Everything In-Between

Finishing up the Debuting 101 series I planned on finishing in, oh, February (oops), here are the final three questions about what happens after you sell a book:

What's the process after the sale and before the book comes out? 

You would think the first thing that happens after the sale of a book is a contract. But oh, you patient writer, you'll be waiting for that for months yet. You're much more likely to received your edit letter in that time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after the deal is finalized. When you receive said edits, you'll be given a deadline to return them. Then you might go through another round of edits, depending on your editor, or your editor might send you this magical little file called [your book title]_FINAL.doc and fireworks will go off, birds will sing your name and stars will align in the shape of your title as you realize this thing you wrote is done. For reals. Forever.

After a small panic attack caused by said realization, the next thing that happens is a cover, which is basically the most amazing part of the whole process, because a complete stranger is about to mash 60,000+ words you wrote into a picture. Your publisher will likely ask if you had anything specific in mind - a symbol used in the book or a certain scene that was really important - as well as asking what you don't like to see on other book covers. They they'll come up with something magical (or potentially devastating, in which case you should share your thoughts with your agent asap), and in my case, I was asked for feedback. Once you, your editor, and the publisher are happy with the cover, it's considered final, and it's on to the next step - copy edits!

Copy edits give you a chance to make small changes to the text in case you've been having anxiety nightmares about a misspelled word you missed on page 106. But any big changes like new scenes or deleting scenes: ship has sailed on that one. Copy edits are meant to catch all the grammatical errors in the text. Proper use of commas, names, sentence structure, etc. Most copy editors will respect stylistic choices you've made that attribute to voice, but don't be afraid to decline a suggested edit if it's not right for the book.

After copy edits, the sun breaks through the clouds and you get these fantastic things called first pass pages. This is the first time you'll get to see your book laid out as an actual book with the right fonts, chapter headings, bold/italics, page numbers, etc. This is your last chance to catch any typos, weird spacing, missing pages, or other errors that might have been introduced in copy edits. After you approve these and send them back, that's all, that's it, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul, because the next step is a BOOK.

I'm realizing as I type this that I could write a whole essay on what happen after the book sale, so I'll try to paraphrase the rest: After first pass pages come advanced reader copies, which will be sent to trade reviews like Booklist and Kirkus, and also any bloggers who are interested in reviewing your book. Marketing and publicity efforts will also start now, and you'll likely be posting prearranged messages to your social media accounts to build up hype, while your publisher pulls their strings with Barnes and Noble and Amazon, etc, to get your book in stores. I also used this time to set up some local events, plan my launch party, order bookmarks, and all that good promo stuff. See my post on marketing here if you want more about that.

What kinds of interactions you have with your agent after the process: where edits go to, etc?

After I sold Duplicity, I was fortunate enough to have only a minor revision letter, so I passed my edits directly to my editor. If I'd done more substantial changes, I'd have sent the book back to my agent for review as long as I could still meet the deadline. Really, it depends on your working relationship with your agent, and how comfortable you are sending raw edits directly to your editor.

Beyond Duplicity, my superhero agent has remained my writing cheerleader, helping me pursue additional marketing opportunities with my publisher and working with me on new books.

What was the biggest surprise?

Aside from a publisher actually wanting and buying something I made up out of my own wacky brain, I'd say the biggest surprise was the awesome outpour of support from local libraries and bookstores. Places I spent my childhood were suddenly eager to host me for an event that they even invited other people to! AND PEOPLE SHOWED UP, not just my parents and friends! Also, I got to sign a shirt on a person. As in, someone wearing a shirt asked me to sign their back. I don't know if that has anything to do with this question, but there you go.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Debuting 101: Expectations

Continuing my Debuting 101 series, here are the questions I received about expectations and writing while marketing:

How to retain creative drive while promoting a book?

Individual strategies may vary, but for me, it's keeping a routine. I always write in the morning, and only after my hours are up do I allow myself to obsess about things like my next marketing post or Twitter. This is much easier to do if I physically turn off the internet. Otherwise I'm too tempted to check Amazon or Goodreads and Google posts like this very blog topic in an effort to figure out if I'm on the right track.

I'll be honest - the more time I spend away from social media, the more energized and creative I feel. The internet is full of distractions, and you're bound to come across a triggering news story or someone who just wrote 10,000 words in three hours or any number of things that raise your stress levels. If you're worrying about those things, you aren't worrying about your writing.

What realistic, unexpected (not necessarily bad) things should we be prepared for?

Let's start with the good things: your book is going to be doing things behind the scenes that you can't even guess at. You're going to stress that you can't possibly have as many sales as [this book], and then you're going to find out you've just been highlighted in USA Today.You're going to fret that you don't have any starred reviews, and then someone's going to nominate your book for a national award that makes your jaw drop.

More good things: You're going to meet people who think you are the bomb-diggity. They might even hand you a water bottle upside down or struggle with what to say because they are meeting You, a Published Author, and they honor what you do so much. These moments are incredibly cool, and incredibly humbling. Be prepared for people to ask you for advice - about writing, about not giving up - and to take every word you say to heart.

The not-so-good: There are going to be moments where things fall through. Whether it's a marketing effort or a cover you feel is wrong for your book, this business is not perfect. Your publicist or marketing manager (or editor!) might leave the company. They might leave the week before your book comes out. Their leaving might mean the support for your book changes. Your editor might decline your next project, and it might only be because your debut isn't selling as well as they'd hoped.

It's important to remember that this is an industry you have little control over, and so it's best to focus on what you can control: your writing and your next book.

Stay tuned for the next series post - sales process and everything in-between!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Brain to Books 2016 Convention + Giveaway!

The 2016 Brains to Books Cyber Convention is happening now on Goodreads, and to celebrate, I'm joining with fellow sci-fi authors to give away a signed copy of DUPLICITY! You can also win six other awesome books:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the con on Goodreads and my interview with Belinda!

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