Thursday, December 29, 2011

And... more contests

Okay, so I'll admit it. I don't have the energy to come up with anything interesting to say, so I'm VERY excited when I find a contest I can blog about instead. I have some posts in the works (by "works" I mean "an idea came to me two days ago, which I have subsequently forgotten"), but for now, other people's contests are good enough for me. :)

These TWO contests aren't even for writing--you don't have to have a WIP, a polished first page, or any sort of query. You just have to like free books.

First up is a contest by Kasie West, who is hilarious and sold her debut novel this year--it will be published in January 2013. If you're not following her blog yet, pop on over just for that.

Her contest involves a multiple-choice prize: you can win a free book (of your choice), a 50-page crit, or a query crit. I honestly can't decide which one I want. I keep going back and forth. Free books are awesome. Always. But, really, how often do I get a contracted-to-be-published author to critique any part of my book? And 50 pages? Wow. But, dang it, I need sooo much help on my query! Which one should I pick? (Assuming, of course, that I'm going to win. Because I'm gonna!)

To win Kasie's contest, you just have to comment, with extra points for tweeting and/or blogging. Her contest ends Friday, December 30th.

Next up is a contest by Shannon Messenger, who has a brand-new look to her awesome blog and a debut Middle Grade novel coming out in 2012. Shannon does regular contests to give away middle-grade books, but this one is a recap of her favorites from this year, so you get to choose between the five she lists. They're awesome, so I definitely want to win... though, again, I can't choose which book I want.  I'll probably pick BEYONDERS... though PETER NIMBLE sounds awesome... as does THE UNWANTEDS... and I'm definitely going to have to look up book 1 of NERDS... and, though I'm not a huge cupcake fan (it's a self-taught survival thing), SPRINKLES AND SECRETS sounds very sweet. *sigh*

So you might want to rush over and do your best to save me from having to choose. :) Shannon's contest ends when the ball drops in New York City, and all you have to do is leave her a comment.

So how is everyone doing on their last-minute 2011 goals? Do you have any chance of meeting them? I know at least one of mine that I'm deferring to 2012, but I'll blog about that... um... how about on Saturday? Yeah, I'll do a year recap on the last day of the year, which is perfect since none of you will be online to read it. :D

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Contest

This one is a contest I'd love to enter, but since I already won a 30 page crit from Gabriela Lessa and she's currently editing it, I figure winning another would be a tad superfluous. :)

Gabriela is teaming up with independent editor / literary agent intern C.A. "Cassandra" Marshall to host:
Sounds cool, huh?

Here's the basic deets:

  • Review their wishlists and pick one of them to judge your entry
  • Use the form here or here to submit your query and up to 1500 words of your book
  • Gabriela's winner will get a free 40 page edit and 30% off any additional services you want to hire (yes, that's a better prize than the one I won, dang it!) :)
  • Cassandra's winner(s) will get $35 gift cards toward any services you wish to hire
Go to Gabriela's blog or Cassandra's blog for complete details and to enter.

Contest runs from yesterday through January 6th.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Activity Update and Winner of FIRESPELL

UPDATE: just realized I had the title of the book all wrong. Can I use the excuse that it was really late in the year? Yanno, like it was the Friday afternoon of 2011? *sigh*

Boy, I'm late on this award. Sorry. Christmas season does tend to sap all the marrow out of life time out of the evenings, doesn't it?

Here's the short-list of the activities I've engaged in over the last week:

  • Adult Christmas Part-ay for church
  • Authors' Advisory Conference call with Jessica Day George--you totally need to check it out
  • Scout Pack caroling at the local nursing home--I flubbed up and had everyone meet at the church at the time we were supposed to be there, so I took my two scouts on ahead and we were the opening act. Those ladies were so cool!
  • Baking treats for work Christmas Party
  • Put my crabby self to bed and took a nap!
  • Christmas Shopping
  • Christmas Program for the 1st and 3rd grades--how convenient that I have one of each.
  • Lotsa reading to combat the Christmas blues--just finished my 101st book for the year. :) :) Happier now.
Best thing to do when feeling all Bah-Humbug? Give stuff away! Which is why I'm pleased to announce that the winner of CATSPELL FIRESPELL is....

Congrats, Skie! Email me (see my "Stalk Me" tab) and I'll pass your info on to Danyelle's husband. If I don't hear from you by the 23rd, I'm giving your book to someone else. :)

UPDATE: Sorry, Skie, but I don't have your email addy and I haven't heard from you. The new winner is:

David, I know how to contact you, so I'll be getting your info to Danyelle's husband. :) Congrats!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Breakdown: How NOT to Write a Query 2

So my second How NOT to Write a Query was very fun, and I had some great comments, but I don't think we actually covered all the mistakes, so I'm going to try to make a more complete list, as well as explain (in my own, poor, noobie way) what went wrong in mine. See the real blurb for Jessica Day George's awesome book TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE here.

Once again, this is my awful bastardization of her blurb (please don't judge a book by a bad blurb):
Celie's brother is training to be the next king--and the castle she lives in likes him enough to move his rooms right next to the throne room. Her sister is regal and efficient, just like their mother, the queen. The castle likes her, too, and gives her lavish rooms to live in. But the castle likes Celie the best. It gives her ramps to slide down and turrets to hide in. All of which comes in handy when Celie's parents go to pick up her oldest brother from wizard school and don't make it home. As the Counsel moves to set up a regency and control the royal children and as foreign powers close in, the castle will have to help Celie protect her siblings and keep her country safe... until her parents come home.
The comments on Tuesday identified the following mistakes:

  1. No sense of the conflict
  2. Too much backstory and world building
  3. Doesn't seem to be a point

Just for fun, let's compare the parts of the good one and mine, shall we?

Good Conflict:
But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown...
Bad Conflict:
Celie's parents go to pick up her oldest brother from wizard school and don't make it home. As the Counsel moves to set up a regency and control the royal children and as foreign powers close in...
What's the difference? 
In the good one, we know that the king and queen didn't just get lost or decide to stay longer at the wizard school. Also, though my bad one has more details about who the antagonists are (the Counsel and the foreign powers), it doesn't really explain why they're bad. This is a case of less being more: we don't always have to know exactly what the threat it--just that there is one and what the heroine will do about it. Details can sometimes confuse things. For instance, why is a regency so awful? Wouldn't that make sense when the new king is too young to rule? What do the foreign powers want? How do we know they're not just trying to help or express condolences? I'm starting to think that the confusing parts of my own query might be fixed if I don't try to explain quite so much....

Again?

Good Backstory:
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions.
Bad Backstory:
Celie's brother is training to be the next king--and the castle she lives in likes him enough to move his rooms right next to the throne room. Her sister is regal and efficient, just like their mother, the queen. The castle likes her, too, and gives her lavish rooms to live in. But the castle likes Celie the best. It gives her ramps to slide down and turrets to hide in.
What's the difference?
The good blurb frames the backstory as it helps tell us about Celie, the main character. In this way, the backstory does double-duty. In my blurb's backstory, we learn about more about Celie's brother and sister and the castle than we do about her. While her brother and sister are very cool, Celie is the main character. CELIE. She should be the focus of the query. In mine, all we know about Celie is that she has siblings, the affections of a castle, and occasionally slides down stuff. In the good blurb, we know that she loves her castle enough to actually map it out, even though no one else bothers. Make sure any backstory in your query is also helping your reader learn about your main character.

Also, in the good backstory, it is much easier to see how special the castle is. My backstory makes you wonder how the castle is doing all that stuff--does it just assign the best rooms to the people it likes? Does it just lead Celie to the already-existing slides and turrets? The magic system is completely muddled. Bad world building.

One more time:

Good Point:
...it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.
Bad Point: 
...the castle will have to help Celie protect her siblings and keep her country safe... until her parents come home.
What's the Difference?
In the good blurb, Celie saves the day. In the bad blurb, the castle does most of the work. No matter how it actually happens in the book (the castle does help a lot), the query blurb has to show the main character acting. As cool as the castle is, the castle isn't human. We can admire it, think it's gee-wiz-neato, but we can't really relate to it. Human readers will rarely be able to picture themselves in the castle's position--and, perhaps more importantly, the book itself doesn't try to make us relate to the castle. Celie is the main character and we relate to her most of all. We want to root for her, so the query must hint that she will ultimately triumph--not "help" someone else do it for her.

The Devil's in the Details
One main thing that wasn't mentioned in the comments that I intentionally did wrong was the wealth of inconsequential details. The following details aren't mentioned at all in the good blurb:

  • Celie's brother who's training to be king
  • Celie's sister
  • Celie's eldest brother who's at wizard school
  • The Counsel
  • Foreign Powers
  • Moving rooms next to the throne room (a sign of succession)
  • Giving lavish rooms to favored people
  • That Celie's parents went to pick up her brother from wizard school
  • That the Counsel wants to set up a regency and control the royal children
  • That Celie's parents might come home



What did the good blurb mention that I didn't?
  • That the castle adds stuff on Tuesdays
  • That no one knows what the castle will do next
  • That Celie maps the castle
  • That no one else bothers to map the castle
  • That the king and queen are ambushed

What's the difference? My details are inconsequential and we don't miss them in the good blurb. The good details, however give us specific and essential world-building or character-building or plot information. When they're missing, we feel it.

Go look at your query and see what details you've included that could go. What are you leaving out that could help explain things better?

Golly, it sounds so easy, doesn't it? 

What else did I miss? Can you spot any other mistakes? Would you like to suggest a book for my next How NOT to Write a Query?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How NOT to Write a Query 2

I'm still busy trying to fix my own query, so, until I get tired of it, I'm going to continue this feature. Mostly because it was fun last time. :)

Here's how the game is played: I take an excellent book blurb for a book I love that has demonstrably good sales (so it WORKS), and I see how badly I can screw it up. Sort of reverse-engineering it back to the drivel that it might have started out as, if the author had been a noob like me.

Today's book is in honor of my next Authors' Advisory guest: Jessica Day George. (She'll be talking about Retelling Fairy Tales, if you wanna come join us. Wednesday night. 8:45 EST. Just saying.) I love soo many of her books, but her newest is my favorite. Here's the real blurb:
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.
Sounds awesome, yes? It is. Magic castles rock.

So, this is how it could all have gone terribly wrong (again--don't do this with your own query):
Celie's brother is training to be the next king--and the castle she lives in likes him enough to move his rooms right next to the throne room. Her sister is regal and efficient, just like their mother, the queen. The castle likes her, too, and gives her lavish rooms to live in. But the castle likes Celie the best. It gives her ramps to slide down and turrets to hide in. All of which comes in handy when Celie's parents go to pick up her oldest brother from wizard school and don't make it home. As the Counsel moves to set up a regency and control the royal children and as foreign powers close in, the castle will have to help Celie protect her siblings and keep her country safe... until her parents come home.
Can you help me spot the flaws? Leave them in the comments: What did I do wrong, here?

In other news, it seems I'm not completely useless when I'm not writing a query, since my first page is a semi-finalist in Brenda Drake's Can We Guess Your Character's Age blogfest/contest! Yay!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winner! ...but first, some housecleaning


My mom always made me do my chores before I could play, so bear with me for just a sec....

The Guess Your Character's Age Blogfest is ongoing through December 10: see and critique my entry here.

You can still enter to win a copy of FIRESPELL by Danyelle Leafty. I've adjusted the rules to allow you to enter by posting about the contest on any social media site, or by telling a real-life person. Go here to enter.

And, finally, the winner of NIGHTINGALE is... Erin Edwards!
Congrats, Erin! I'll email your code for the enhanced ebook to you right away.

P.S. I was sitting at 199 followers for a long time... and suddenly, I was at 201! Now I'm at 202! But I COMPLETELY MISSED 200! Didn't see it at all! Celebrating now seems anticlimactic, but wow. I'm OVER 200. You guys are the best. :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another Blogfest: With a Contest!


Brenda Drake has such cool contests. This time, it's this one:

Anyone can play and you can still enter: you post your first 250 words on your blog and general crits as well as guesses as to what the character's age is. Then you polish them up and email them to Brenda before 11:59 PM on October *ahem* December 10 (thanks, Shelly). She'll winnow them out and post them on her blog, where they'll be judged by Gabriela Lessa. Prizes will be awarded. For full details, go here.

If you've been following my blog for a while, you've seen this a lot. It's mildly different, and I'm very open to further changes. There aren't any references to her age, so I didn't have to black anything out.

Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her questionable best. But she was late, it was rush hour, and home was thirty minutes away by car… but only ten by air. So she dumped her school bag, gym bag, and purse in her best friend Moira’s closet, threw open the window, and sat on the sill.
She closed her eyes, and, concentrating on the gland behind her heart, started pushing Black pixie dust through her body. When her fingertips started to tingle, she thought small and opened her eyes to see the window frame rising large around her as she shrank down, down, until she was the size of a small mouse, buffeted by the warm fall breeze.
Moira lifted a hand, already headed for her shower. “See you tomorrow,” she said.
Brina grinned, waved, and launched herself into the sweltering air of San Antonio, gliding above the manicured gardens that stretched out under Moira’s window.
The first flash came from her left and, like an idiot, she twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts. All of it glowing softly brown in the dusk.
As a special bonus, the magazine’s cover photo captured the moment her four bright white wings froze in shock, sending her plummeting a few feet downward. 
So what do you think? How old does Brina seem? Any tips to help me convey her age better?

Note: if you're looking for the winner of NIGHTINGALE, I'll have that up tonight... I hope.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Bomb--win a copy of FIRESPELL

UPDATE: THE CONTEST HAS BEEN EXTENDED--SEE BOTTOM FOR DETAILS

I know Danyelle Leafty from my online writer's group, though she has since moved on to a real-life group. Still, while she was in our group, I had the pleasure of reading one of her books, and I can tell you, she is tal-en-ted! She has an amazing imagination and backs it up with some of the hardest work I've ever seen. She was always out-writing everyone--and this while home-schooling four children! I was constantly amazed by her. The girl is an inspiration.

Anyway, when her husband contacted me, I was happy to volunteer to help out. What follows was written by her better half:

*******

Hi, everyone!
Danyelle Leafty, author of the Fairy Godmother Dilemma series, has gotten really sick, and we'd like to help her out. Here is a message from her husband about what happened: Danyelle had been working very hard to get her series up before Christmas. Then "IT" hit. Some kind of pain was there all day and by 10:45pm, she started experiencing unbearable pain that went until 12:15am when I got home. I got our four kids out of bed and loaded up, then helped Danyelle into the car and drove her to the ER. As soon as we pulled into the hospital parking lot around 1:00am, our six-year-old autistic son flipped out. He hates doctors. He didn't want to be there, and I didn't want to leave my wife. I contacted someone from our church who volunteered to sit with our kids at home so I could stay with Danyelle. Turned out to be a kidney stone. We got Danyelle home around 4:00am. Luckily, during the last two days a great lady has filled in for me at work, so I could wait on Danyelle hand and foot, and tomorrow my mom is coming. Having Danyelle get sick right when she was working on releasing her books has been very stressful. We'd appreciate any assistance anyone has to offer to help us get the word out before Christmas. Three of Danyelle's books are available as eBooks, and she has five total for this series. Here are the three on Kindle: The Fairy Godmother Dilemma: Catspell, The Fairy Godmother Dilemma: Firespell, and The Fairy Godmother Dilemma: Applespell. Her website. Her blog. Her Facebook account. Her Facebook Author Page. Her Twitter Account. Thank you!


*******
Isn't he amazing? Behind every great writer is a great, supportive husband. How can we possibly do it without them?

So we're doing a book bomb for Danyelle today, to try to drive her books up the Amazon charts and get her some well-deserved and timely attention.

This is the blurb for CATSPELL:
Sixteen-year-old Breena never thought anything could be worse than being forced to leave the faerie realm. Then she got stuck with a fairy godmother. But if she has to choose between the two, she’d leave the Faerie Realm over getting bossed about by a faerie with a pointed stick any day. Unfortunately, her attempt to evade her fairy godmother gives her growing pains in the form of fur, whiskers, and a tail.
Turning into a cat is the least of her worries, though. The potion wasn’t meant to bring out her inner feline, it was meant to put her to sleep. Forever. If Breena wants to make it to her Happily Ever After, she’ll have to accept that sometimes a fairy godmother really does come in handy, after all.

Doesn't that sound awesome? Don't you want to go buy it right now? It's only $3.99 and is available immediately. For the book bomb to work, we need lots of purchases done today, so off you go. :)

THEN! (There's always a then.) Then come back here and tell me you bought it (I'll trust you--MY blog followers don't lie) and I'll enter you in a drawing for the second book in the series: FIRESPELL, which is currently on sale for $4.99. Here's the blurb for FIRESPELL:
The fairy godmother dilemma continues in book two: Firespell.
When Alora’s Prince Charming is chosen due to political expediency, she tries to put her best foot forward. But thanks to a magical mishap, her feet are webbed and her body resembles that of an overgrown goose.
Her brother creates a charm that enables her to look human from moonrise until moonset, so she sets out hoping she can convince the prince she is a girl, rather than the main course. Alora soon
learns that she isn’t the only one with secrets after she stumbles upon an ancient plot that would warp the threads of magic holding the land together. When her plan to foil the plot ends up with her Prince-Charming-to-be walking into a trap, Alora finds herself caught between an age old grudge and the most powerful creature in the world: the Firebird.
What she needs is a fairy godmother. What she gets is a frog.
You wanna read that one, too, huh? I do.

But, you say, I already own CATSPELL! Is there another way I can win FIRESPELL? YES! If you have a blog, you can blog about Danyelle, her books, tell people about the book bomb and this contest, and direct people here. Put the link to your blog in the comments and you'll earn an entry.

If you buy the book today AND blog about it, you'll get TWO entries! If you want to buy multiple copies (Christmas presents, anyone?) I'll give you an entry for each copy you buy, PLUS your blog post.

Simple enough? Excellent!

This is a one-day contest, so I'll tally the winners tomorrow and announce them with the winner of David Farland's enhanced ebook, NIGHTINGALE, on Thursday the 8th. (And, yes, there's still time to enter the contest for NIGHTINGALE.)

UPDATE: Since we didn't have any legit winners, I've received permission to extend the contest and relax the rules. (Which, really, I made up all by myself. My blog, my dumb rules.) So, now, all you have to do is mention Danyelle's books on any social networking site, then come back and report. I care nothing for multiple comments from each person, so if you have time to tweet now and Facebook later, feel free to comment more than once. (Do feel free to use the handy-dandy buttons at the bottom of this post.) Also, feel free to mention her to a real-life person. You'll get one entry per social networking site. And up to oneYou'll get 5 entries if you buy one of her books, and 3 entries if you blog about it.


Contest will end next week, on December 14th. I'll announce the winners of this contest sometime on the 15th.

Good luck, everyone!

Also, check out these other blogs featuring Danyelle and her books!
Andrea Pearson Books Notes From the Writing Chair - Giveaway! Anne Bradshaw's Place Diana's Amazing Book Adventures - Giveaway! Christine Fonseca, Author - Giveaway! Roots in Myth - Giveaway! Robin Weeks - Giveaway! An Author Incognito & Janette Rallison's Blog - Giveaway!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm Lovely!

Laura Barnes gave me this award yesterday:

Pretty!
I'm extra-thrilled about this one because she's a marketing guru, who blogs about building an online platform as an author. I'm choosing to believe she thinks I'm doing something right. :) Thanks, Laura!

So what's everyone doing on this, the first Saturday after the madness of NaNo? Still diligently writing away, trying to finish that project by the New Year?

Yeah, me neither.

I haven't cleaned my house in a month, I have to do the stats for my writer's group, and I have to make a dessert for a church Christmas Party tonight. Might play some Angry Birds, too. Take a shower, start reading a new book. Make sure the boys don't kill each other (harder than it sounds).

Two words of advice:
One: Head on over to my Thursday post and sign up to win a copy of NIGHTINGALE.
Two: Don't query your NaNo project until it is thoroughly edited. Like, six months worth of editing, alphas, betas, line edits, etc. Unless you're a professional author who's used to writing that fast (and, really most of them edit for months, too), it's probably horrific. You know it's true.

Oh, one more thing. It starts about 5 minutes in, but the lead-up is fun, too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guest Post by David Farland: and a Chance to Win NIGHTINGALE!

I'm sure I've mentioned David Farland a time or two. He's an internationally bestselling author who still takes a large part of his time to help educate newbies like me. He speaks at conferences, holds his own writer's workshops which are rumored to be amazing (sadly, I've never been able to afford one), and is the sponsor and most frequent guest on David Farland's Authors' Advisory (you're shocked, I know).

David isn't just good at writing novels, though. In his career, he's written screenplays, video games, and a host of other things. He knows so much about the industry, I'm thrilled to know him and even more thrilled to get to learn from him on a regular basis.

So, without further ado, I present David Farland, who will tell you about how he's using his industry knowledge to move forward with an exciting new project. At the end, because it is the Season of Giving, I'll tell you how you can win your own copy....


Reading in the Future

Imagine that you put on your “reading glasses.”  The glasses are dark, fitted with lasers and high-quality stereo earbuds, so that as you put them on, your entire field of vision is captured.  A laser inside the glasses flashes a novel title on the interior surface of your eye. 

Of course, the book you see is my book (why not, it's my fantasy). The letters start small, off in the distance and they quickly draw closer to you, but they don't stop, they wash right over you and just when it seems they're all around you, they explode in a burst of light, “Nightingale, by David Farland.”  You can hardly imagine what life was like before 3D. As soon as you read the last word, a laser with a computer link that tracks your eye movement cues the background music, and images begin to flash in your eye—a holographic video-clip of the character of Bron, as an infant, being abandoned outside the door of a cheap hotel in the Utah desert.  The camera pans up to the face of his mother, Sommer, bitter and broken, with tears in her eyes.  We flash to the prologue, where Sommer runs through a forest at night, her breathing deep, while dogs snarl and bark as they give pursuit.  Fireflies rise up around her.

Words to the novel appear on screen, as background music continues, and you begin to read.  As Sommer twists her foot and falls, the lasers pace your reading and insert a sound-effect—the thud of a body falling, the hiss of breath knocked from Sommer’s throat.  The dogs bay more excitedly.  A man’s heavy footsteps can be heard tromping through the brush behind the reader, and a startled mewling cry escapes Sommer’s throat. . . .

Welcome to the future of reading, where text, images, sounds and music forge a collage.  That’s the vision I have that led me to become a co-founder of East India Press.

The technology to do this already exists. The use of heads-up displays in fighter jets was pioneered in the 1960s, and that technology has now gone public.  Though readers now are using the iPad2 and the Kindle Fire, I’m looking forward to the devices we’ll have five years from now, or ten years.

How can reading technology be better than with current books?

We don’t want to replace reading. We don’t want to make movies.  Reading often engages the audience’s imagination in ways that movies fail to.  We want to keep it that way.  We want the reader to be a partner with us in bringing a tale to life.  At the same time, we hope to ‘enhance,’ the story, help readers become more fully involved with it, yet keep budgets reasonable.  With film clips, animations, illustrations, background music, and sound effects, we can create something that fuses a lot of storytelling tools.

Creating e-books has become cheap and easy.  This year, it is estimated that three million people will be putting their own e-books up for sale.   That’s a staggering number.  If you spend twelve hours a day just examining those titles, and spend only ten seconds studying each e-book put up this year, you wouldn’t be able to glance at even 1/100th of all the books that will be published—much less read one!

Readers are being deluged, often with books that aren’t any good.  Most of those books, unfortunately, wouldn’t have made it past an editor.  The author just wasn’t ready.  Sure, there will be a few diamonds among all of that coal, but no editor will have time to sort through it.

I've had my share of sorting through manuscripts.  For nearly a decade I was the first judge for one of the world’s largest writing contests.  A funny story, once an editor of a major publisher asked me to help pick a book to give the “big publicity push to” for the next year.  I read through thirty books and selected a book that the marketers thought was “too-long” for its intended audience.  I pointed out that the book was also written several grade levels too high for its intended audience. But it was a great book, so I urged them to push it despite the book’s apparent problems.  It was called Harry Potter.

Even though authors can publish their own works, we’re going to need editors in the future who understand how to green-light a novel, who can recognize what will please an audience.  But once a work is selected, the editor will take the role of a producer—assembling a creative team of composers, musicians, illustrators, animators, directors, sound-effects engineers, and so on.”

Distributing enhanced books won’t be expensive.  After all, it will be done electronically.  There are no copies to print, ship, or store.  But creating them will be expensive and time-consuming.  

Still, it will be a lot less expensive than making a movie.  To create a really great movie with a lot of special effects can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it will only give the viewer an hour or two of entertainment.  But by meshing technologies, we can create a similar experience with novels, spending perhaps only a hundred thousand or two—and it will give a reading experience that might last for twenty or thirty hours or more!  Novels have a unique ability to let us achieve deep penetration into the minds and emotions of a character, much more so than with a film.  I’m excited about the possibilities.

In fact, I am so excited about the possibilities that I went indie with this next novel. I didn't have to by any means. I'm an award-winning New York Times bestseller. Instead, I decided to start my own publishing company for enhanced novels.  I see potential. Nightingale is the first young adult novel I’ve written, outside of a little work with Star Wars and the Mummy.  I knew it could be a hit, but I wanted to do something . . . unique with it. I've trained dozens of other #1 international bestsellers, people like Brandon Sanderson and Stephenie Meyer, and I've learned to spot “good,” whether it's someone else's work or my own. Nightingale has it.

Now that it’s done, this is a first step toward creating a more-engaging form of novel, the kind that kids who are reluctant readers might devour.  I’m looking forward to see what we can do in ten or twenty years. But Nightingale is a step toward that future.

Nightingale is the story of a young man, abandoned at birth, rejected from foster home after foster home.  People see that he’s brilliant and talented, but also “strange.”  He’s the ultimate loner until he meets Olivia, a marvelously gifted teacher, who recognizes that Bron is something special, something that her people call a “Nightingale,” a creature not quite human.

I was excited to see how it would be received. I was even more excited when the first reviewer said, “I devoured the novel.  It was absolutely incredible! . . . I struggled to explain just how much I enjoyed it in my review. . . . After reading Nightingale, I don't think I will even be able to go back to reading regular e-books again.  Like it says in my review, reading the enhanced Nightingale felt like an ‘experience.’ It didn't feel quite like a book or a movie. It initiated all of my senses.  . . . enhanced ebooks are actually a real deal.” That's what we were hoping people would see in it. The future of books is beginning now.

Best of all, East India Press has created a new web simulation technology that mimics how the book appears on the iPad, so you can see and hear it for yourself for free at www.nightingalenovel.com.

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Sounds amazing, yes? You want to read it, don't you? Of course you do! (When you do, check out the acknowledgments page. I helped edit Nightingale and... I'm in there. Squeee!)

To win your own copy of Nightingale, you have to do two simple things: First, watch the trailer:



Second, leave a comment telling me your favorite part of the trailer (don't forget to include your email address if it's not attached to your profile). Do those two things and you'll get one entry into the contest.

Want more entries? That's cool.
1 extra entry each (3 possible) for Tweeting / Facebooking / G+ing about the contest (include links, please)
2 extra entries for doing a blog post about the contest and including the trailer (link, again)

If you do everything (trailer/comment, Tweet, Facebook, G+, blogpost w/ trailer), you can earn a total of 6 entries.

Contest will run through December 7, and I'll announce the winner here on December 8.

Good luck to you all!