Agent Monday: Time for Something New!

Red TulipsHappy Agent Monday, everyone! Spring is finally here in the Northeast, bringing with it a quickening of step, buds on trees, new beginnings, and people emerging from their dark burrows blinking their eyes at the bright sun. Now’s a time for new beginnings. As a literary agent, I’m seeing in my submission inbox far too many tired subjects that have been done to death. What I want is for writers to dig deeper and explore things in NEW fresh ways. Here are some things I’m seeing far too much of:

1. Bullying – Bullying may seem to be the “new hot topic,” but it has been around since people have existed. If this is a topic that you are writing about, are you plotting to teach a lesson to readers? Please don’t. Not in fiction. That’s icky. And, are you bringing anything new to the table at all? Or seeing things in a fresh or witty way? Too many submissions are just trying to capitalize on what a writer sees as something somebody might want.

2. Diverse Just Cuz it’s Hot – There’s a great thing about everyone being represented in literature – I’m ALL for that. Hey, I’ve been “fashionably” multicultural even before there were hashtags for it! But that’s not why I wrote about biracial teens in my own novels. These were my characters because my own kids are biracial – and it was close to my heart. I wanted my kids to see people like them reflected back in stories that weren’t about “OMG I’m biracial!” I wanted them to see heroes they could relate to out there in fiction. Now, what I’m seeing far too much of is a novel suddenly featuring a character as a particular race or with a particular disability because, look!, my book is diverse and that is HOT and will SELL. Folks, if this doesn’t occur naturally in your writing, please please please don’t just insert it into your story so it’ll sell. That’s gross.

3. Strange Picture Books – And I’m not talking about zany or wacky or out of the box. I’m just talking bizarre — not in a good way. Odd plots that just make you scratch your head and say huh? Supposed issues that no kid I’ve ever known can relate to. Situations that are just trippy instead of fun and fascinating. Creativity is great, but these writers have forgotten that a reader needs to relate to a story somehow.

4. Already Seen it Befores – There’s a movie or a book series or a news story that has become “the thing,” so then for the next year or two I’m flooded with that same story in different incarnations over and over and over. If I’m getting these, you can bet every other agent is too. As soon as I spot a submission as a reboot, my eyes glaze over. 50 Shades…Divergent…Hunger Games…Twilight…Fault in our Stars… etc. etc. etc. I can guess, just from the premise, all the twists and turns that a book will take. I’m actually looking for fresh and original stories only you can tell. If you are still working in the realm of the obvious as you plot, or redoing the last great thing to catch a wave, then your submission isn’t for me. Dig deeper with your writing and dare to start the NEXT commercial hit.

So, think fresh and original, but don’t forget your audience. If something suddenly seems like a “hot topic” and it doesn’t come naturally to you, please don’t go chasing the market by inserting it into your story. Don’t offer up heavy-handed lessons, either. It’s about the story. It’s about your voice, and the way only you can tell that story.

Dig deeper. Let things grow naturally from you. Prune and weed and tend your story till it’s ripe and unique. That’s something that’ll take root.

Happy Spring!

*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.

Five YA Authors Walk into a Bookstore…

Sounds like the setup for a bad joke, but this was actually the start of a red-hot afternoon last Sunday, when I moderated a panel talk with some of my fellow YA paranormal authors: New York Times bestsellers Andrea Cremer and Beth Revis, and sizzling debut authors Marie Lu and Jessica Spotswood. It was part of Penguin’s “Breathless Reads” Tour hosted by the wonderful independent bookstore The Doylestown Bookshop.

The store had a fine crowd of fans on hand, as I introduced myself and my fellow authors.  And let me intro us all to you folks now as well…

From left to right, there’s, well, me, Marie Lamba (Hi everyone!), Beth Revis, Jessica Spotswood, Marie Lu and Andrea Cremer.

And here’s more info about us…

Marie Lamba: I’m author of YA novels, including the newly published paranormal YA novel Drawn, and I’m an Associate Literary Agent at Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency in New York City.  Drawn is about a teen artist who draws then meets and falls for a medieval ghost with a sketchy past. It’s been praised as “beautiful and endearing…I didn’t want to see it end” (The Cozy Reader), “Mysterious and enchanting…a breath of fresh air…a page turner with a unique twist” (TwilightMOMS), and a “lushly romantic ghost story…captivating and haunting,” (paranormal author Cyn Balog).

Beth Revis: Beth is the New York times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series, futuristic space-travel novels that feature Amy, who awakens light years away from home on an air ship and must face battling a tyrannical civilization. Her second book in the series, A Million Suns, has The Los Angeles Times saying, “Oftentimes, the second book in a series struggles to live up to the expectations set in its kickoff, but not here.”  Awesome!

Jessica Spotswood: Jessica is the debut author of Born Wicked, which had Entertainment Weekly so excited they actually told readers to “mark your calendars for the release.” An historical fantasy, it’s the first book in a series that features Cate Cahill and her dangerous destiny as
a witch. Sounds bewitching alright.

Marie Lu: Marie is the debut author of Legend, a futuristic dystopian thriller set in a dark future where North America has split into two warring nations. It features two characters, each from a different nation, and each as different as you can get, and when murder makes their paths cross, it’s, well, Legend. The Wall Street Journal calls it a “new contender” in the race to “conjure the next Harry Potter.” Talk about high praise!

Andrea Cremer: Andrea is the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade series. The first two books, Nightshade and Wolfsbane introduced readers to Calla and her conflicted future as the mate of a sexy alpha wolf…When she saves a beautiful human boy out for a hike, everything is thrown into question. Bloodrose is the stunning conclusion to the series, which Romantic Times Magazine calls “sexy and intoxicating.” Hot stuff!

Okay, with the intros out of the way, I got right down to business, tossing away the question sheet provided by the tour (sorry Penguin), and asking things folks really like to know.  Like: Can you tell us something about you that most people don’t know?

Andrea told us she has 3 tattoos, showing us the one on her wrist and the back of her neck, and saying that her third was inaccessible to show because it was on her ankle.

We learned that Beth is the “evil one,” and Andrea said that if any of them disappeared while on tour, authorities should immediately question Beth.  Beth responded with a wicked glimmer in her eye…  But it was all in good fun, right?  Seriously though, they all seemed like good friends, honest officer.

We also discovered that Beth has one thumb much shorter than the other, and Jessica demonstrated her freakishly fascinating double jointed arms.

I know that Marie Lu also shared something unusual, but honestly after that double jointed arm thingee I blanked out!  Marie did say that she always thought it’d be cool if half the country was underwater, which led her to her idea for Legend...

Next I moved on to the lightning round of questions (also NOT on the suggested question list…again, sorry Penguin!).  I asked them to vote on these either/ors: Cats or dogs?  50/50 split. (I’m dogs, myself.) Ice cream or chocolate? 50/50 again. (Chocolate for me, all the way.) Heels or flats? 50/50. (Flats for me…) Smart Car or SUV? 100% for Smart Car (yeah environment!)  Country music or rock? 100% rock (me too!).

And here was the clincher: Twilight or Harry Potter?  Remember, this is a bunch of paranormal/fantasy YA authors here.  I was fascinated that they were wholeheartedly 100% for Harry Potter.  Have to say I’m with them on that.  Not that I don’t like a bit of Twilight now and then, but Harry Potter? That’s deep and amazing stuff.

With that info taken care of, I next told the authors I would now ask REALLY personal questions, and, well, this is what it looked like as they ran away from me:

Kidding!  If you missed the event, I’m pretty sure the Doylestown Bookshop has extra signed copies of all of our books on hand, so stop in for your copies.

And look for my appearance at the Doylestown Bookshop on Friday, March 2nd from 6-9 pm when I officially launch the paperback of Drawn. My book launch party is part of the town’s First Friday celebrations, and should be a blast! The link for that event is here.

Hope to see you then.

Happy reads,

Marie

Feeling the Love!

This week, with Valentine’s Day less than a week away, I’m really feeling the love!

Over at my Valentine Blog Hop giveaway page, you can too.  All you have to do is click here and then leave a comment on that page about your favorite romantic movie and book. Then you’ll be entered to win a complete signed set of my novels What I Meant…, Over My Head, and my new paranormal novel Drawn, plus a yummy box of chocolates. PLUS you’ll be entered for a chance to win the Valentine Blog Hop grand prizes of a heart necklace or a $75 gift certificate. But you gotta hurry, cuz this giveaway contest ends on February 14th…

And speaking of love, and of Drawn, this week has been filled with some truly love-filled reviews of my new novel.  Share time!  Here goes:

“A fun, historical time travel full of creativity, beautiful scenes, and an engrossing mystery…I fell in love with the entire story…the setting was mostly amazing. The castle that Michelle meets Christopher in is spectacular.  And going back in time during that setting? Brilliant…I haven’t read too many time travel books and none that had such pure romance and a true mystery element to it…Their romance was very beautiful and endearing. I didn’t want to see it end. 5 STARS” — The Cozy Reader

“A clever and enjoyable paranormal romance with a love affair that fans of the genre are sure to swoon over.” — Tara Calaby, Agrippina Legit

Drawn has it all, 3 guys who are completely different, a castle, ghosts, an Earl who is in a spot of trouble, lest he know it, a girl who has a complicated family and a love that can endure centuries…an enjoyable read.” — Novels on the Run

“This is one of those books that has it all: romance, adventure, time travel, some creepy elements, a plot steeped in medeival history, and ghosts. What really makes the story work though is a lead protagonist that is impossible not to love. Her life is filled with adversity, from her psychic mother who left her to her grieving father to trying to fit in at school, and her troubles only increases when Christopher starts appearing to her. Yet she never backs down, and while uncovering the secrets of Christopher’s past, she also starts to make sense of her own life.” — Lucas Mangum’s Dark Dimensions

Plus some reviews have popped up on Goodreads.com saying, “A clever tale about family loyalty in both feudal England and the present day, the ending satisfying enough while hinting at the possibility of a sequel…Overall rating: Page-turner,” and “This book was so unexpectedly amazing…The plot was so fresh and new, unlike many other paranormal stories just being recycled and the characters were realistic…I really hope there will be a sequel, don’t get me wrong I love a stand alone novel but this one was so great I didn’t want it to end…”

To check out all the great Goodreads reviews (plus to find info about the giveaway I’m running there through the end of Feb.) you can visit Drawn‘s Goodreads page here.

So REALLY feeling the love!  Hope you get a chance to read Drawn and share your thoughts about it, and, of course, the LOVE.

Happy reads,

Marie

 

This Week’s Highlights!: DRAWN Blog Ghost Tour Continues

First, some quick updates:

*Drawn ebook is still on sale for just $0.99…but for a limited time…links are here.

**Also, through Valentines Day, you can enter to win all of my books signed, plus chocolates, plus have a chance at a grand prize…entering is as easy as leaving a comment: click The Valentine Blog Hop for the details.

AND NOW: News from the road…

The Drawn Blog Ghost Tour road, that is.

This week I’m criss-crossing the globe…I’ve packed my wrinkle free clothes, my passport and my writing journal… Well, okay, since this is a BLOG tour after all, maybe I haven’t packed anything. Maybe I haven’t left the country. MAYBE I’m sitting in my studio in my jammies all week long.

So? I’m STILL crossing the globe on this week’s tour, making not one but TWO stops in Australia, then racing back to the U.S. for the balance of this week.

But can’t we imagine that this author is wandering through cyberspace, a fashionable carry-on over one shoulder, and a well-read copy of Drawn under the other?  We envision this author as unstoppable. Her business-like heels click clack through the world’s airports.

Her passionate mission? To spread the word about Drawn, her new paranormal novel about a timeless love between teen artist Michelle, and Christopher, the medieval ghost with a sketchy past… Our world-traveling author won’t rest until everyone knows it’s gotten amazing reviews, like last week’s rave from The Author Chronicles, who said “If you’re looking for a book with an engaging protagonist, captivating plot, and paranormal twist, this is for you. Just make sure to clear your calendar first, because once you start, you won’t want to put it down!”

Our jet-setting author wants people to realize that if they like Twilight, Hush Hush and books by Beth Fantaskey, that they will fall in love with Drawn

Our trail blazing writer wants…well, she wants to get out of her jammies and into real clothes at some time this week, but never mind that.  On to this weeks highlights (the fourth week of the tour!), brought to you by the fabulous book bloggers on the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour!:

February 6th:  That’s today! Say a hearty g’day to our down-under blogger Novels on the Run as they host my guest post “Any Time but the Present.” I share why I think time travel is so seductive, plus some tasty excerpts from Drawn.

February 7th: Still in awesome Australia is blogger Agrippina Legit, who will feature a review of Drawn and an interview with me with that “Land Down Under” spin.

February 8th: We zoom back to the U.S. where The Cozy Reader posts her review of Drawn plus my  guest blog “Writing Magic,” where I share some of my own techniques for writing believable fantasy scenes…with examples from Drawn.

February 9th: Take a walk on the dark side at Lucas Mangum’s Dark Dimensions blog, where he’ll post his review of Drawn plus run an interview with me exploring the fascination with darkness and the paranormal…and the darkness that winds through Drawn.

February 10th: Twimom101 features a quirky Top 10 Q&A with me. I reveal some stuff… Er, hope I didn’t embarrass myself? If I do, please tell me!

As with any of these posts, leave comments and I’ll be sure to comment back.  See how dedicated I am? Even with ALL of this travelling.  Even with spending all day in my fuzzy slippers…er, I mean, my business-like heels…

Ah the glamour of being an author on tour!  Truly, there’s nothing like it…

To catch up on any of the fun you missed in the past few weeks on the tour (from authentic ghost photos, to reviews and interviews and posts that are illuminating and/or bizarre) just click here or on the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour tab at the top of my website at any time, and follow the links.

Bon voyage!

Things are Heating Up!: Drawn Blog Ghost Tour Week 3

TONS of excitement here.  This past week my new paranormal novel Drawn cracked #11 in its category on Amazon!!! Seems readers are really warming to this novel about Christopher, the hot medieval ghost with a sketchy past.

And the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour is smoking hot so far.  There have been a slew of guest posts about writing, hauntings, knights, passion and art.  There have also been two probing interviews, one ghost photo, and a bunch of really sizzling reviews…including one from TwilightMOMS who said: “Mysterious and enchanting, DRAWN is a breath of fresh air. If you are looking for a page turner with a unique twist, then look no further.”

Also, the winter nights have been heating up with not one but two giveaways. **There is still a chance to enter these…simply click here for the Elliot Review (ends Jan. 30th) and here for TwilightMOMS (ends Jan. 31st) and follow the directions to win your own autographed copy of Drawn!

Now Week 3 of the tour steams ahead with three red-hot stops:

January 30th: At Word For Teens, my guest post “Do Over” talks about how I overcame my own battles with bullies and how this helped shaped the novel…plus there’s a brand new Drawn BOOK GIVEAWAY!

February 1st: At Author Chronicles the bloggers host a writerly interview with me.  Plus they put up an amazing review of Drawn here.

February 3rd: Author Danyelle Leafty posts her review of Drawn on her Myth-Takes blog.

To visit all the stops on the tour, click here or on the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour tab at the top of this website. And for info on how to purchase your own copy of Drawn just click here.  Then you can find out for yourself why paranormal author Cyn Balog called Drawn, “A lushly romantic ghost story…captivating and haunting. I didn’t want it to end.”

Stay warm…cuddle up with a good book!

Marie

DRAWN Ebook on Sale!

Hot tip!!!! To celebrate all the great reviews we’ve been getting for Drawn, for a limited time all the ebook versions of my new paranormal novel will be on sale for just $0.99!

Don’t miss your chance to snag your ebook version, because like a ghost this sale will soon disappear… Get it? Like a ghost?

All purchase links can be found by clicking here.

DRAWN Updates and Giveaways!

Hi everyone!

It’s been a busy week here over at Casa Lamba, and it’s all because of my new paranormal novel Drawn. 🙂

First of all, Drawn, as of today, has hit #27 on the bestseller list in its category of medieval fiction on Amazon. Go Drawn Go!!!!  I’m so thrilled that readers are responding so well to my new novel.  Sure, I’d fallen in love with my story of a teen artist who draws a guy that might just be a ghost from the middle ages…and the love of her life.  But would anyone else feel the same? Was I completely nuts? And are these two mutually exclusive???

Well, reviews are coming in…including this one just yesterday from the huge Twilight fan site TwilightMOMs: “Mysterious and enchanting, DRAWN is a breath of fresh air. If you are looking for a page turner with a unique twist, then look no further.”

Happy HAPPY HAPPY dance!  And a big PHEW!  Truly, being a writer is such an uncertain thing.  We really thrive on this sort of encouragement…it makes me want to jump around the room…best of all, it makes me want to write more.

ALSO this week, there was a knock at my door, and three thuds outside as UPS delivered 100 paperback copies of the novel. There’s something about seeing so many of your books at once — a feeling like no other!  Kinda like love? What I could do with these! Stack them up in a neat pile…line them up like dominoes…cover the floor with them and roll on them like a puppy…Erm. TMI?  Now it’s time to set up my book launch signing (details will be coming soon) and to get these copies onto my local bookstore shelves! (I promise they have NOT been rolled on.)

ALSO ALSO this week, the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour is in full swing, so that means that every day there is something new about Drawn posted at a great book blogger site!  You can follow along with all the different interviews, insiders bits, reviews and giveaways by clicking here and going to the post links.

Two of the tour stops are currently running a giveaway of Drawn over at their sites!  Just click on either of these great blogs and either comment or fill in the entry form for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of Drawn: The Elliot Review and TwilightMOMS.com. These giveaways are running through the end of this month, so don’t miss your chance to enter.

So it’s been crazy here, but crazy in a GOOD way.  Keep the goodness going, by spreading the word about Drawn with others…sharing this post…buying the book by clicking here (thank you to my readers! <3).  And I’ll keep up the happy dancing and the writing…and thinking about a possible sequel called Sketch.

Happy reads!

Marie